This year the Lord has had me stay home more to focus on the hospitality aspect of my ministry of missionary encouragement and support. It makes sense, too. With the Expo here, lots of people are coming to Milan from all over the world. As I wrote in Revival is Coming!, this is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus in English with those who have come for the Expo.
This week I had a large group come from the US. Usually, I go to the airport or train station and meet my guests there, but since this group was renting a van, it didn’t make sense for me to go to the airport to meet them.
The morning of their arrival, their beds and towels were ready. Then the Holy Spirit told me that they would arrive tired, and He had me go shopping for cheeses, olives, and fruits so that I could offer them an Italian-style healthy snack. So I pulled out the leaves of my large dining table, transforming it from 6 to 12 person size, put a colorful tablecloth on it, and set about slicing cheese and fruit, arranging platters, and setting out a buffet-style feast.
Just as I got it all set out, they arrived, and of course the Holy Spirit was right about them being tired. Most of them had not been able to sleep on the plane—and most of them are my age and up, so sleep is all the more necessary and appreciated. They gratefully dug into the snack, and then they started asking me about my ministry. A few of them nodded off as I described what I do, which I didn’t take personally at all. One woman excused herself and went to take a proper nap in bed.
Another woman began asking about my past, and how I came to be a missionary in Italy. The answer is that I had already been encouraging missionaries, I just didn’t know that it was ministry. After divorce, God gave me a total life makeover at age 55, and now I work for Him, living the life of my dreams. She took notes as I spoke, with the intention to pray into the details of my life and ministry, and then she and the others prayed for me.
Then the group’s organizer asked if there was a park nearby, and asked if I would like to join them for prayers in the park. I took them to a little round park in the middle of a piazza just a block away from my apartment. In the park we met a man with a huge dog—or maybe it was a small horse. He told us that the dog’s name is Timoteo. I kept expecting him to get bored with us and decide to take Timoteo home. Instead, he seemed to really enjoy our company and conversation in English. He was even enjoying showing off his Bible knowledge, learned in Catholic high school. He talked with us for about 20 minutes, then we exchanged names, and we learned that his name is Paolo. Later, I pointed out to the group that he was Paul with his Timothy.
Some members of the group had brought a few items from the US to bury in the soil of Italy as a prophetic act of prayer. We found a hole that had already been dug into the hard soil. The items were placed in the hole and covered over as we prayed.
Then they asked me to anoint and pray over each of them. I did, and received words of prophecy for each, which they later told me were exactly perfect. I don’t remember what I said, but that’s what the gift of prophecy is like: since it wasn’t born in the brain, it doesn’t tend to stick there.
As we finished up and prepared to return home, we heard music overhead. On a fifth floor balcony of the building closest to where we were standing, we saw two young guys. One had a trumpet and the other a flute. They played a brief song, and we applauded wildly, crying, “Bis! Bis!” Which means Encore! Encore! They waved at us, and played again. Then a couple of cars entering the roundabout added a couple of honks. But the strange thing is that the car horns did not sound at all like car horns—they sounded musical. I got that familiar goosebumpy feeling when God has done something supernatural for you. We looked up again, but they were gone. I said, “I think those guys were really angels. Also the ones in the cars.” Everyone agreed that it was certainly possible.
Then we returned home, and soon each had gone off to their bed. The next morning I enjoyed coffee with these, my new friends. It was nice to get a chance to get to know them better. It turns out that almost all of them are in some way artistic. They are very interested in using the arts as a vehicle for sharing Jesus. A couple of them even turned out to be writers.
They unpacked one bag and brought me a treat from the US: Bibles in English. With the Expo, and all the English speakers it will bring from around the world, it is good to have Bibles available in English. Revival is coming!
They discussed their plans for the day, ate breakfast, and then packed up and were on their way with their tummies full, their bodies showered, and looking well-rested. They will be back in a couple of weeks to spend the night with me before their return to the US.
Today as I washed sheets and towels, discovering creative new ways to line dry several sets of sheets at a time, I enjoyed the grateful, happy feeling from all this. You know the feeling: that having blessed someone, you are yourself blessed.
As I hung sheets in the sunshine, I remembered how I had felt just a half dozen years ago: like I had lost my identity when, after 26 years as a housewife/stay-at-home-mom, my kids were grown and gone, and my marriage of 33 years was also gone. Now, here I was, using those homemaking skills for the Kingdom of God. In fact, as a missionary I have cleaned house, cooked meals, babysat, tutored, washed dishes, driven missionaries to meetings, and done laundry—lots of laundry. And this year all the more, with the focus on hospitality. Yes, indeed, I am living the life of my dreams! God is good!