No Danish in Denmark


Would you like fish or fish?

I remember traveling with my 13 year old son to Hamburg, Germany.  He told me that he wanted to get a hamburger in Hamburg—we were at Trader Vic’s, a Polynesian restaurant.  It still makes me laugh.

So I was thinking of that moment as I entered the hotel’s breakfast room this morning, hoping to find danish sweet rolls.  No such luck.  The choices were ham, salami, cheese, bread, hard boiled eggs, cereal and yogurt.  I had what I usually eat for breakfast at home in Milan: cereal with yogurt instead of milk.  It’s probably better in the long run because sweets for breakfast usually give me that instant sugar spike, then by 10AM, comes the crash and I find myself starving hours before lunch.

Speaking of lunch, yesterday I asked the person at reception where I could go for authentic Danish food.  Happily, the place was very close.  I just had to walk past the erotica shops again (see Open Heavens over Copenhagen)—walking faster than my usual hurried American gait.  The lunch menu had lots of choices, most of them fish.  So I went for the herring assortment.  I’ve never had herring before, so I didn’t know what to expect.

The assortment was picked herring, curried herring, marinated herring, and the restaurant’s specialty: creamed herring in akvavit sauce (like a brandy).  The waitress was pleased to instruct me on what I was eating and how to eat it—by smearing pork fat on a piece of nutty dark bread.  I declined the pork fat, using butter instead.

The waitress also assured me that the usual Danish thing was to wash it down with akvavit.  I declined and just had a beer instead—a Danish beer.  The herrings were pretty good.  I think I liked the mild curry sauce the best, though they were all good.

danish restaurant

So over breakfast I was thinking about Denmark.  The coffee shop I had gone to yesterday morning hadn’t had danish either—at least not in their pastry display.  So there you have it: another myth busted!  Lots of fish, but no danish in Denmark.

By the way, here in the land of real blue-eyed blondes, my bleached hair sticks out more than blue hair ever did.  The difference is that people here are way too polite to say anything about it.

Open Heavens over Copenhagen

HC Andersen

Me and my friend, Hans Christian Andersen–He cared more about children than those teachers (see below).

As I landed in Copenhagen this morning the sky was bright sunshine.  Then I noticed something strange: the bright sunshine was only over the airport, which was surrounded by massive dark clouds that looked like big gray mountains.

I went down to the train station under the airport and took a train to the city center.  When the train came out I noticed that it was again bright sunshine directly overhead with massive clouds all around.

It was the same story in the city center: sunshine with surrounding clouds.  I arrived too early to check in, so I put my suitcase in the hotel’s luggage room and went for a coffee.

That was when I ran into those big dark clouds, not in the physical sense, but in the spiritual.  Just one door away from the hotel was a huge erotica shop (what we in America call “adult,” though it has nothing to do with maturity).  What they had displayed in the window was so shocking and embarrassing that I wanted to cover my eyes.  Not that I haven’t seen this stuff before.  But it’s very uncomfortable to see it right there on the street where you are among strangers who are seeing the very same thing.  And being a huge shop, there were six windows filled with dildos and thongs and crotchless panties and so forth.

Suddenly I was surrounded and overtaken by a large herd of about 50 school children (ages 8 to 10).  The children’s eyes were drawn to the shop windows, too.  Even though I don’t understand a word of Danish, I could tell by the hoots of the boys and the giggling of the girls that they were reacting to the window display.  At the corner I tried to get through the group so that I could cross the street to where the hotel reception person had told me that I could enjoy a nice coffee.  But I couldn’t get through them, so I stood there as they filed past me and the horrible shop.  Across the street where they went, I saw another erotica shop.

I crossed the other direction wondering what in the world their teachers were thinking to bring those children down this street.  I found the coffee shop, settled in to enjoy a cappuccino, and looked across the street to see a big sign over an old factory gate.  The sign said Einstein of Sex.  That’s when I began to wonder what kind of town Copenhagen is.  But then I remembered that my hotel is very close to the train station, and the neighborhood around the Central train station in Milan is also like this.

Copenhagen Train Station

View of the Copenhagen Train Station

As I explored the city after lunch, I noticed that I had only seen the erotica shops in the neighborhood of my hotel near the train station.  So I decided on two courses of action.  1) Prayer walk in the neighborhood around my hotel; and 2) always from now on check Google street view when choosing a hotel.  God is good!

When God is Your Collaborator

rain market

I’m letting a smile be my umbrella–well that and this umbrella!

Now, I’m not saying that I’m perfect—far from it!  But on those days when I make the deliberate decision to cooperate with God and really do as His Word says, things always go better.

Take this morning, for example.  I started out by telling God, “I know that You already know all the people and things that are important to me.  So, instead, I want to hear from You, to know what’s on Your mind, and what’s important to You.”  Now, when you say something like that to God, expect to have your plans derailed.  But know this: even if your plans get derailed by God, it’s always because there’s something better.  You might not even know it until years down the road, but you can trust it because you can trust Him.

So I left the house with my list and some of the papers I knew that I would need along the way.  I opened my umbrella and walked to the tram stop for my first errand: buy Icelandic currency for my trip.  I had already gotten Danish Kroner, but the Icelandic money was not available when I got the Danish money.  Now it was available.

The tram pulled up within 30 seconds of when I arrived at the stop.  I always say that I have a tram/bus anointing, and arrive at just the right time.  Even if I have to wait, there is always a good (which is to say a God) reason.  On the tram, I realized that my transport pass was about to expire.  I took it out of my purse and looked at the date: tomorrow it expires!

Since I was going to the train station for the currency, I might as well take a swing by the transport office in the metro station and renew my pass.  But I will probably need a new picture for the new card, so I also planned to pop into a photo booth for passport pictures.

Then I heard an announcement on the tram’s PA system that there was going to be a public transportation strike tomorrow.  So I wrote a quick text message to Dimitri, just in case he was planning on going out tomorrow, he might be able to do it today instead.  But the message didn’t go through.  I checked and found that my credit was exactly zero.  So I added a stop by the phone store to buy credit for my phone.

When I arrived at the train station there was a miracle: nobody was in line at the currency exchange booth.  In all the years that I’ve been buying currencies there, this was the first time that there was nobody ahead of me, and no line.  But a man walked up just as the girl was starting to wait on me.  He was standing way too close, and it got on my nerves.  Then I noticed that he had money, a bill, in his hand—all he wanted was change.  So I stepped aside so that he could ask for change.  They refused him.  Apparently they don’t do a Euros-for-Euros exchange.  That was a moment when I could feel God smiling on me because rather than just get angry, I let the man go ahead of me.  A kindness to him hadn’t cost me anything (I’ve gotta remember that!).

After getting my money, I went into the metro, bought credit for the phone, sent Dimitri the message, got passport photos taken, and got a ticket for my turn to renew my transportation pass.  Again, there is usually 20 or more people ahead of you at the transportation office, but this time, there were only 2 ahead of me.  When my number was called, a girl rushed up to my window to muscle me out and jump ahead of me.  The man at the window saw the number ticket in my hand and understood what was going on.  He told her to go get a number from the machine by the door.  She didn’t understand, so I repeated his instruction to her in English, which apparently she did understand.  Again, all this was done without the usual temper flare and muttering under my breath about line jumpers.  And again, I felt God smile on me.

The man at the window told me to fill out a form, but I assured him that none of my details had changed.  Then he looked at the photos I had handed him.  He said, “I don’t need these.”  I told him that the only thing that had changed in the last year was the color of my hair.  He replied with a smile, “You look younger like this.”  This might be the first time ever that a transportation employee (besides the train driver—see The Train God) has even made a joke (or possibly flirted!) with me.

With the pass renewed, I had one last errand: the Post Office.  There were a couple of things that I needed to do there, and these were usually not fun errands.  But with the determination to enjoy the day and whatever God brings, I went to the Post Office with a different attitude than usual.  And even those Postal errands went off without a hitch—and a Postal Worker actually joked with me, too.

Finally it was time to head for home, but the rain had suddenly started to come down hard.  I made my way to the tram stop and found that my tram said 15 minutes, while the tram that stops a few blocks farther from the house was coming in 5 minutes.  So I got on the other tram, ready just to walk a little farther and enjoy one of the more pleasant streets in the whole city—the far end of my own street.

At the stop where the trams go in different directions (this one from my usual tram), just one stop from my home stop, I noticed only after the driver had shut the doors that my tram was being announced.  I looked behind our tram and saw that indeed, my usual tram was right behind us.  If I had hopped off then, I could catch my usual tram home and save the walk.  But the driver had already shut the doors and edged to the corner, ready to go.  Rather than beat on the door, insisting on being let off, I decided to just enjoy the walk anyway.  On the way to the next stop, where I would be getting off, I noticed a little mom and pop stationary shop.  Of all the things to love about Italy, my favorites are street markets and stationary shops.  Amazingly enough, this one was open right now—on a Monday morning.

So I got off the tram and walked back to where I had seen the stationary shop.  On the door was a sign about the importance of supporting the small neighborhood shops.  I couldn’t agree more.  Inside was a lively little woman.  She was eager to engage in conversation and very pleasant to talk and joke with.  She told me that she’s 77, which is my mom’s age.  I told her that she certainly looks like a very young 77.  She said that she owes it all to having a happy heart, which she indeed does seem to have.  As I made my purchase she said her first and only words of complaint.  She was suffering from back and neck pain.  So I told her that I would like to pray for her.  And I did.  As I opened my eyes after the prayer, I found that she had apparently been watching me the whole time.  She thanked me for the prayer, and we wished each other a nice day.

Then I was aware that this was what God had wanted to show me, why I had been lead to take the other tram: He had wanted me to meet Lucia and pray for her.

In the meantime, the rain had let up and I enjoyed that pleasant walk home from the far end of my street.  Now if only I could keep this attitude of cooperation with God whenever He comes in and wrecks my plans with blessings soaking me like rain from Heaven.  He never fails to amaze me with new discoveries of just how amazingly good He is.  God is good!

Encouraging Bulgarian Believers

Bulgarian Bible

Dimitri is staying in my house while he is looking for a job.  We’ve been friends through a mutual friend over the computer for several years now, and I finally got to meet him in person a couple of weeks ago.  Dimitri and his wife are from Bulgaria, but they have lived in Sardinia for the past fifteen years.  Alexandra remains in Sardinia with their three children.

Dimitri has been unemployed for almost six months now, but he has remained busy.  At the beginning of the year he went home to Bulgaria to take courses for getting his commercial license.  He returned to Italy with three new licenses for driving passengers, trailer trucks, and hazardous materials.  He was certain that with these licenses he would quickly find work, but that has not been the case—so far.

Dimitri has also remained busy by helping out at a little Bulgarian church here in Milan.  I was surprised to learn that there is a Bulgarian church.  Milan has lots of little ethnic congregations, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised.  When I learned about this church, and about Mikhail, its pastor, and heard how highly Dimitri spoke of him, I decided that I wanted to visit this church.

The church meets in a strip mall storefront at the edge of town.  The storefront is owned by an Italian Assembly of God church that meets there on Sunday evenings.  When we arrived, the service had already started.  Mikhail plays guitar and is accompanied by a young man on the bongos.  Half the songs were in Italian and the other half were in Bulgarian.  Where I knew a song in either Italian or English, I sang in those languages.  During the unfamiliar Bulgarian songs, I sang in tongues (something I have come to really enjoy).  Since Bulgarian sounds rather like tongues that I’ve heard, it felt very natural to do that.  More than that, it also felt like a good and joyful thing to do.

After the announcements, I was recognized as a visitor.  Actually, it would be hard not to notice visitors, since the church is very small.  There were 13 adults, including Dimitri, myself, and the pastor.  I was invited to come up front to introduce myself to the congregation.  I can imagine that this kind of thing could be very intimidating for most people, and I really wonder why some churches do this.  To me, this is the opposite of “seeker sensitivity.”  Anyway, there was a time when it would have terrified me to stand in front of 12 people and their kids and explain who I am and why I’m there.  And many times when I am scheduled to speak to churches, it still scares me, but it no longer terrifies me.  The difference is that the fear has been faced and conquered.  But I am very aware of how much I need for the Lord to show up.  So when I know that I will be speaking to a church, I spend at least an hour in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to come and speak through me.

This time, however, I didn’t know ahead of time that I would be asked to speak, so there had been no time to prepare in prayer, but also no time to become scared, either.  Dimitri speaks only Bulgarian (and some Russian) and Italian, so I had to introduce myself in Italian, while he translated into Bulgarian for me.  I briefly explained that I’m an American missionary living in Milan for most of the last 15 years, with a calling for Europe.  I told them about my ministry of missionary support and encouragement through Prayer, Hospitality, and Collaboration.  And pointed out that hosting Dimitri was part of that ministry.

Bulgarian Bible open

Then Mikhail gave a sermon as Dimitri translated into Italian for me.  It was very obvious to me that Mikhail has a gift for preaching the Word of God.  Even with translation into my second language, the sermon moved me to tears as Mikhail preached about God’s love and care for each of us and our children (whether they are walking with the Lord or not).

After church, I was invited to join them for lunch in the Sunday school room.  One of the women (who turned out to be Mikhail’s daughter) had made a seafood pasta dish that was absolutely delicious.  All 13 of us scrunched together around the table.  A couple of people spoke to me in Italian, and tried out a few English phrases on me, too.  Then the conversation switched to Bulgarian and became much more animated.  This left me free to allow my thoughts to wander.  Whenever I heard a word or two in Italian, it was easy to guess that I was the one being addressed.

After lunch the church was cleaned and put back into order for the AoG hosts.  Then we went our separate ways.  It was a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday morning, and it was obvious to me that once again, I had been able to encourage this body of believers just by showing up.  Never underestimate the power of presence—God can use you, too, if you will just make yourself available.  God is good!

A Sticky Situation

Arabic Bible

Today I went to help an organization that reaches out to Muslims.  They have put hundreds of Euros into materials for sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.  My job was to help put sticker labels onto the materials, which included tiny Bibles in Arabic, the Jesus Film, and Arabic Bibles on flash drives.  Some of these items are so cleverly disguised that unless you knew what to look for, you would never guess that they contained Christian materials.  The whole idea is to make these materials safe to carry into countries where they would otherwise be confiscated and destroyed, and the person transporting them would be in danger of his or her life.

The first thing that Kitty and I did was to pray over the materials, that they would find their way into the right hands; and that the recipients would be ready to receive both the materials and Jesus as Lord.

As we worked, we prayed and talked.  Kitty is one of the most interesting and fully committed missionaries I’ve ever met.  Her calling is for Muslim women, so a few years ago she moved to a Middle Eastern country as a student of Arabic.  She threw herself into the language study, not just during school hours, but also during her leisure time.  She started out in the large city where the language school was, but then moved to a small suburb.  Why?  Because in the big city all the shopkeepers wanted to practice their English with her, but she wanted the opportunity to put her Arabic into use.  She watched only Arabic TV, and got to know her neighbors so that she could have friends who spoke only Arabic.

Friendships between Muslims in the Middle East and westerners are not easily built, but Kitty was persistent.  Because of her sweet and open nature, the Muslim women did accept Kitty as a friend—but only after she had been approved by the husband.  Even friendships with children are difficult, Kitty told me.  She said that the same small child who had been hugging you in his living room would often follow you down the street, throwing rocks at you.  One four year old sweetly asked Kitty, “Are you really an infidel?”

Now Kitty has returned to Italy, and teaches Italian to Muslim women.  Outside of their own culture, the women are more open to building friendships, but some still need the husband’s approval.  Many Muslim men doubt the importance of education for their wives, so many of them are illiterate, even in their own language.

The wives buy groceries mostly in the halal (literally permitted) shops, where the meats have been butchered according to Muslim tradition—much like kosher groceries.  Sometimes her students will bring her a packet of cookies or snacks and ask if they are clean to eat.  The problem for Muslims is usually the presence of pork or pork fat.  Once a student brought a bag of popcorn to class, asking if there was pork fat in it.  Kitty looked at the ingredients and found the fats to be clean, but one other ingredient was unacceptable for Muslims: gin—in popcorn from the UK.  The woman was very grateful to have been advised about the presence of alcohol in the popcorn.

Kitty’s love for the Muslim people was obvious.  And she is very excited about the prospect of many Muslims coming to Milan for the Expo.  Brother Andrew, the famed Bible smuggler of the Iron Curtain era, would surely love these clever new devices for transporting Bibles in miniature.  But rather than packing up his little VW bug and crossing the borders with Bibles, the people are coming here.  The theme of the Expo is sustainability—with special focus on food.  People will come, eager to learn how to feed their hungry countries, but will leave with much more than that.  They will return home with the Bread of Life, which will sustain them forever.  God is good!

If you are interested in helping share the Gospel with a hungry world this summer, please register at GoMissions.  There are lots of opportunities for English speakers to share the love of Jesus with people from all over the world.


Bitterness is a strongman of the enemy.  Just as there are ranks of angels (like in the armed forces), there are also ranks of fallen angels and demons.  Bitterness is a high-ranking evil spirit, but it comes in so subtly and so gradually that we’re unaware that we have even strayed into the enemy’s territory.  Here’s how it all works:

Unforgiveness – It all starts with unforgiveness.  Someone hurts you.  They say or do something that hurts you.  You must understand that people were not made to hurt, betray, or be mean to each other.  It is not in our original design.  But under the influence of the demonic voices all around us, we can inadvertently say or do something that hurts another person.

You are probably not even aware of it, but there are voices speaking to us all the time.  There is the voice of God, and there is the voice of the enemy—and we don’t even realize that we are listening to the enemy and being influenced by him.  So when someone says or does something to hurt you, they are acting on what they are hearing from the enemy.

Then you respond, acting on what you are hearing from the enemy.  The enemy says, “How could she say that about me?” and you repeat it as if it was a thought born from your own mind: “How could she say that about me?”

Every time you think you might be over the hurt, the enemy reminds you of it so that you have a very hard time getting over that hurt.  Unforgiveness is a small spirit, but now that it has been welcomed into your heart, it becomes very hard to forgive.

Resentment – Then resentment joins unforgiveness.  Under resentment’s tutelage you vow never to speak to that person again, to never allow that person to hurt you again.

Retaliation – The spirit of retaliation goads you into getting some satisfaction for the hurt you’ve suffered.  Retaliation promises to feel so good, but in fact can get you into a whole lot of trouble.  Retaliation actively seeks to prevent blessing from coming into the offender’s life.  Now, ask yourself, who exists to prevent blessings from coming into people’s lives?

Anger, Wrath, & Murder – When unforgiveness is finally joined by its bigger, stronger brothers, it is very difficult to go back and forgive.  Of course, not all unforgiveness ends in physical murder, but it can often end in character assassination.  We’ve all heard of an unforgiving father say to his son: “You’re dead to me.”  In his mind, the father has murdered the son, and the relationship is as good as dead from then.

People think that negative emotions, such as anger, depression, and unforgiveness, are merely emotions.  In fact, they are not emotions at all.  They are demons that can be cast out or sent away.  I have suffered lengthy very profound bouts of depression.  I was unaware that depression was a spirit at the time, but during the worst depressions I suffered suicidal thoughts and even suicidal hallucinations that I knew were not originating from my own mind.  I wasn’t possessed, but rather, I was suffering terrible demonic oppression.

Bitterness wants to produce fruit in your life: hatred, cruelty, revenge, self-pity, hypocrisy, jealousy, competition, frustration, and confusion.  Yes, even a little thing like competition, which American culture says is healthy, is in fact a foothold for the enemy.  Think about how many times you’ve seen someone get frustrated that the game didn’t go their way, and they turn the board over, scatter the cards everywhere, or they let the game’s physical side become too violent.

Self-pity is not an emotion, it’s a spirit.  It brings thoughts of entitlement—entitlement that has been violated.  Once we become aware of the enemy’s tactics, we can guard ourselves from jumping to the enemy’s camp.  I don’t want to give the enemy even the smallest victory over myself.

Bitterness can be present in your life without you even being aware of it.  And once this process is begun, it is very difficult to reverse it.  Sometimes you will have lived under the influence of bitterness for such a long time that you might not even believe that you are bitter.

Let me show you how bitterness can enter in: the offender, under the influence of the enemy says or does something that is truly wrong, evil, and bad.  The spirit of bitterness has been standing by, and takes that moment of offence to push its way into your heart.  Were you wronged?  Absolutely.  That is how the enemy works: by pushing his way in.  There’s no waiting for an invitation.  When you’re at your most vulnerable, he pushes his way in and begins speaking poisonous thoughts to you, playing on outrage, embarrassment, humiliation, hurt pride, physical suffering, violated boundaries, etc.  You believe these thoughts to be your own, when they are not.  And thus, piece by piece bitterness builds until it has become anger.  Anger can be so strong and so swift that it is literally just a heartbeat away from murder.

Forgiveness is a decision, not an emotion.  You can decide to forgive.  And that decision takes follow-through.  There were some people in my life that I have had to forgive all over again every time they came to my mind.  And I always did so, hoping for the day when that decision to forgive would finally become an emotional fact.  But true forgiveness did not come until I went back (in my mind and memory) to the time of the offense and forgave it there.  In that final act of forgiveness, I had to consciously give up all my rights to be angry or outraged at the offense.  The next time that person came to mind, the thought that came almost reflexively into my mind was: how could she possibly have known how precious I am to God?  My only feeling toward her, even remembering what she had done to me was pity that she hadn’t known how precious I am to God.

Forgiving was made easier once I understood the enemy hiding behind the person used to hurt me.  In truth, I have also been used by the enemy to hurt other people.  When you truly can grasp the realities hidden from our eyes, it becomes so much easier to give people the mercy and grace that we hope for from them, too.

Giving in to a spirit of bitterness or forgiving as generously as God has forgiven us is a life-changing decision.  Bitterness can prevent blessings in your life.  And through bitterness, the enemy might use you to prevent blessings in the lives of others.  Worse than all that, it can bring curses, especially in the form of physical illness.  Anger, hatred, and bitterness go coursing through your veins like a caustic, like poison.  If you’re aware, you might even feel it burning in your veins.

Giving up your right to be angry at an offense can feel like dying to yourself—in fact, that’s exactly what it is.  But you won’t truly begin to live until you do die to yourself.  It’s part of God’s upside-down logic that turns the world’s logic on its head.  Why is it so hard?  Because you are making a frontal attack on your own pride.

Make a decision to begin seeing people the way God sees them—ask God to help you to see people the way He sees them.  You will find that you have more love and mercy for them, and forgiveness will flow easier and easier.  More than that, blessings will flow in your own life as never before.

So let go of your anger and bitterness!  God is good!

BBQ Becomes Ministry

dance BBQ

There was music and dancing at the BBQ.

I was invited to a grigliata in Biella.  A grigliata is a barbecue.  This was for Pasquetta, which is Easter Monday.  I had just met Caroline, a missionary who I immediately thought could turn out to be a valuable collaborator.  Caroline is a sweet little Italian-American with a big smile and a bigger heart.

The day after Caroline arrived, I had a young missionary coming to visit from Prague.  It was exhilarating to watch Caroline in action with Debbie: now cheering her, now helping her, now questioning her false assumptions—and all done in love.  Debbie was here overnight, and after we saw her off, we made our plans to go to Biella.

When we got there, the BBQ was in full swing.  There was lots of food, music, dancing, and games, in other words: fun.  Even though I had already visited Biella a few weeks ago, the greeting I got was as warm as if I had been gone a year.

There was a young woman at the BBQ who I knew slightly: Bo.  She greeted me, then sat with Caroline, sharing her story for the next half hour or so.  I already knew a little of Bo’s story, but learned more from hearing her pour out her heart to Caroline:

I’m a gypsy from Albania.  Well, OK, my mother was a gypsy and my father was a Serb.  My father left before I was born and my mother died when I was five years old.  A nice neighbor took me in and raised me as her own.  At fifteen I was sold in a marriage contract to another gypsy.  He raped me, and I became pregnant with my daughter.  He was very cruel and controlling.  I can’t tell you all the ways that he abused me sexually.  So I ran away from him and came to Italy.

Bo told Caroline all this with no trace of emotion in her voice or on her face.  This much of the story, I had already heard.  Then Caroline asked for more details about her daughter and step-mother.  It turns out that they were in hiding in a town just across the border in France.  And the ex-husband?  He was looking for her in a larger town in France, where she had put her daughter in school back at the beginning of the school year.  Somehow, he had tracked her down there.  “He is waiting there for my daughter to go back to school after the holiday, but he doesn’t have the right to take her from the school.”

Many years ago, when I worked at a daycare center, I had seen a father under a restraining order snatch his child right from the yard, just by calling him to come to the fence and talk.  So I knew that the school’s rules didn’t mean that the daughter was safely out of reach.

But how had he tracked them down here—and why had he gone to the expense and trouble of following them?  The answer to the second question is a repeat of history: Bo had been sold in marriage, and the daughter, though still too young to marry, could still be promised in a marriage contract to be sold when she turns fifteen.  A more sinister possibility is that the daughter might be sold even now to traffickers for a life of prostitution.  Either way, losing the girl was a financial loss for the father.  Bo said that a virgin girl could be sold for as high as €10,000 for one night.  But whether traffickers or marriage, Bo wanted a better life for her daughter.

It turns out that the father had tracked Bo down simply by watching her posts on Facebook.  Her posts and pictures on social media, intended to keep family and friends informed of her whereabouts, had also kept her husband informed.  Now he was threatening to take the girl, with the help of the French police.  If she doesn’t show up at school, then she will be truant.  Being a gypsy, the girl already has a lot going against her.  Truancy could jeopardize her asylum in France and cause the girl to fall even farther behind in school.

Caroline sensed that she was holding something back because she could just as easily bring the girl into Italy, apply for asylum here, and put her into an Italian school.  Bo said that God had told her to go back to Albania and get the gypsy divorce there.  But when questioned, she broke down and admitted that it was her step-mother that was pressuring her to go back to Albania.  The step-mother was convinced that this would solve the problem and get the husband off her back.  And Bo admitted that she was considering it.  But if she did that, she would have to take her daughter back to Albania with her, and there was a possibility that the gypsy council could decide that the daughter belongs to her father.

“Why would you even consider going back?” I wanted to scream the question.  Bo shrugged, having no answer.

I realized later that probably, having been the one who had sold Bo to this man in a marriage contract, the step-mother was pushing the gypsy divorce to save face in the gypsy community back home.

Caroline, seeing that there was a lot of cultural issues and some underlying issues that Bo was still hiding, made the wise suggestion that we all just stop and pray.  So we prayed and put the whole thing into God’s hands.  As we prayed for her, Bo’s shoulders shook as weeping erupted from within her.  Then we left her.

I don’t know what Bo will do or what will happen with her.  But we have done all that we can to help her make a good decision that will keep her daughter and herself protected.  I know that if Bo will depend on God for help in making those tough decisions, He will protect her and her daughter.  However, these are Bo’s decisions to make.  In the end, we each have to decide whether to trust God or not.

But I know this much: although God will not save you from the consequences of your bad decisions, He can be trusted to guide you and protect you when you surrender your life completely to Him.  God may take you by some ways you do not want to go, but His way is always better.  God is faithful.  God is trustworthy.  And as I always say: God is good!