Dancing on the Roof

Here in Dave and Sharon’s beautiful villa the roof is open and flat, so in the morning while it is still cool, the dancers practice on the roof.  Tonight I will do another overnight shift, so this morning I decided to spend some time with the dancer team.

Most people don’t know this about me, but most of my childhood was spent in ballet class.  I also took modern dance, tap, and jazz.  Dance is something I dearly loved, but gave up to become a housewife and mother.  There was a time when I believed that Heaven would be an endless dance of love.  I have recently come around to believe again that Heaven will be an endless dance of love.  But I had felt shy among the dancers because all that was almost 40 years, 2 pregnancies, and 75 pounds ago.  That means that my center of gravity has dramatically changed and my muscle memory cannot be trusted.  What had been easy for me all those years ago has become quite difficult indeed, and I don’t balance as easily as I once did.

My shyness with the dancers also had to do with a bad experience a few years ago.  I had taken a class called Dance as Prayer.  It turned out that it was misnamed.  The teacher had actually wanted Dance as Show dancers.  I had gone, hoping to learn to pray in a new way.  The teacher criticized my dancing so harshly that I simply quit going.  I figured that I don’t need to spend €20 a week to be told what a bad dancer I am.  I do forgive her, and understand that I didn’t fit into her profile of dancers because of being too old, too fat, and too awkward.  Still, it stung very badly.

So I have made my interactions with the dance team very tentative and cautious.  I admit, I don’t want to be rejected again.  But instead of rejection, they have been very welcoming.  They seem genuinely glad to have me here on the roof to watch them practice and to pray for and with them.  I haven’t shared any of my history with them, and I’m sure that they would never guess at it.  But those fears of rejection turned out to be unwarranted.  Perhaps I’ll tell them when the moment is right.

I know that God has set all this up to bring healing to my heart through dance.  God is good!

Dream Big!

Day Eight

After writing about all my devil dreams, I didn’t want to leave the impression that I only dream about the devil or even mostly dream about the devil—nothing of the sort!  I dream God dreams all the time.  In fact, so many that sometimes I am in danger of forgetting them.

In my book, Laughing in My Dreams © 2012 Alisa K. Brown, www.lulu.com, I told about some of my dream confirmations about getting this apartment, but I had forgotten to write about one dream that was particularly beautiful.

The dream came in 2 parts.  In the first part I was on a bus with Giulietta, the wife of the Music Pastor at my Italian church.  Giulietta is a professional dancer, and dances mostly modern dance and ballet.  So, Giulietta and I were on a bus, going to see my apartment (which I was fasting and praying to get).  The bus was filled with people from church.  Elisa said, “The Lord will give you every place where you put your feet.”

When we got to the door of the apartment I woke up.  I started praying, thanking God for my apartment, and fell asleep again.  The dream continued right from where it had left off.

The bus arrived in front of the apartment—and there is a bus that passes right in front of the apartment, for real, though it stops in the next block.  We went inside and immediately Giulietta started praying in Hebrew.  Her prayer became a song, and although I don’t understand Hebrew, I recognized that it was a song of conquest and victory.  As Elisa sang everybody began to dance, touching all the walls, the windows, the doors, the furniture, etc. (even though it was an unfurnished apartment, it has furniture in my dream).  Then one after another, the people left, and finally Giulietta left, too, and I was alone in my apartment.

This dream came when I needed reassurance that I was on the right track.  Of the people who knew that I was fasting and praying for this particular apartment, only Bethany was truly supportive.  The rest would try gently to persuade me that I should probably look for an apartment in a less expensive part of town.  But not long after this dream, I had a breakthrough.  And now I am in the apartment.

Now, while I am fasting and praying for understand for End Times strategies and preparation, I know that I am on the right track.  Breakthrough is coming.

This morning I got on the bus to go to church, and the bus got about 10 blocks from home, stopped and had everyone get off because the Stramilano marathon was blocking the bus route.  The driver then turned the bus around and went back the way we had come.  I went to the tram stop, but the tram was also blocked.  So I went back to the train station about 5 blocks away.  But by the time I got there I was so exhausted and weak (fasting and physical exertion do not go together!) that I decided just to go home and pray instead.

There is a beautiful golden church at the end of my block, and just as I got to the corner, I stopped.  There was procession of 4 priests and 2 altar boys carrying gold crosses and incense censers, and maybe 4 parishioners with olive branches in their hands.  I watched as they crossed the street toward me.  I had forgotten that it was Palm Sunday today.  (In Italy, they use olive branches instead of palm fronds.)

In my prayer time, I felt such a strong presence of God that I hadn’t felt in a long time.  An hour passed very quickly, then another.  We didn’t spend a lot of time speaking to each other, we just embraced and cuddled.  It was really wonderful.

I’m not advocating skipping church, and I’ll go to an afternoon service in a little while.  But God is willing to meet you whenever and wherever you seek Him.  He might even send a procession to meet you!  God is good!

Hey American Girl, Lighten Up!

Note: I started writing this on Friday, but got busy and didn’t finish it until today.

Yesterday I learned that there would be the screening of a documentary about human trafficking in Bologna: Nefarious.  Human trafficking is an issue that I have been intensely interested in ever since attending an International Justice Mission informational event at the University of Texas.

I was an usher with the Texas Performing Arts Center.  I had become an usher because a dear friend is an usher at the San Francisco Opera House.  About 6 months after my divorce, I went to visit her, and she arranged for me to work as a guest usher.  I handed out programs at one of the main doors, and got to watch La Traviata for free.  I was hooked.  Since I don’t own a television, it was a good way to get out among people and see some entertainment for free.  TPA, which is on the campus of the University of Texas, hosts operas, ballets, plays, musicals, concerts, etc.   They required that all ushers work a variety of events, and not only “entertainments.”  These included student events like commencements, workshops, and informational events like IJM, all of which we are free to choose.

When I learned that IJM was a Christian event, I signed up, even though I didn’t know what it was.  The auditorium was packed out, so I stood at the back, fascinated and horrified, and heard story after story of women kidnapped and put to work in brothels far from their homes; men who had been tricked into working off bogus debts while living captive in squalor; and even children sold into the sex trade.  There were success stories of people liberated, but clearly the vast majority had not been affected yet.  The most encouraging thing about that evening was seeing the response of the students.  I realized that only young, idealistic, committed people could ever make an impact on the trade in human trafficking.  Most people my age feel bad about the situation, but never do anything, having had our idealism beaten out of us by life.

It was only after returning to Europe as a missionary that I became aware of the prevalence of human trafficking here.  I started educating myself on the subject, reading as many books about human trafficking as I could get my hands on.  Over time, I started to notice just how many people in my city, and even in my own neighborhood, have probably been trafficked here.  It’s shocking.  A few times I have had the opportunity to talk frankly with these trafficked people, but mostly it’s not possible because they speak neither English nor Italian.  Here are a few of the different slaves I have seen:

  • The girl from China who cuts hair 15 hours a day in a busy salon that charges prices so low they can’t possibly pay her a living wage
  • The man from Sri Lanka who goes from restaurant to restaurant selling flowers, bringing all the proceeds back to his “boss”
  • The teenaged girl from Romania standing on the street corner waiting for a man to pick her up in his car and take her away for sex
  • The man from Vietnam who washes dishes in a restaurant for 12 hours a day, every day, with no day off
  • The woman from Thailand who works all day sewing, weaving, and mending in the dingy room in the back of the tailor shop

If any of these people sound familiar to you, understand that their fellow slaves are in your town, too—yes, even in the United States.  Check out the Slavery Map: www.notforsalecampaign.org/slavery-map

So that is how I became interested in human trafficking, and why I’m going to Bologna to see the screening of Nefarious.  The friend who told me about the screening is Annie, a missionary from the US.  In fact, we decided to go together.  So I booked us a hotel room because our friends there all have full houses because of the screening.  In trying once again to buy train tickets on the internet, I found that the website still didn’t work right.  I don’t live terribly far from the train station, but I am busy enough that I wasn’t happy about having to go down there to do something that, in theory, I should be able to do online.

At the first opportunity, I went to buy train tickets.  Usually I buy train tickets from the machine so that I don’t have to stand in the long line.  The machine also wasn’t working, so I went into the ticket office.  One big improvement is that there is no line now, but a machine that gives you a number instead.  That’s nice.  Now if they would just give us some chairs, things would be even better.  When my number came up I went to the window and asked for my trains.  I found that the price was slightly higher than the internet price, which might be due to being closer to the date of travel or the special priced tickets having been sold out.  Still, it wasn’t much higher than expected.

As we finished the transaction, I asked the ticket seller why the train company’s website never seems to work when it comes to buying tickets online.  He said, “If everything worked as expected, then there would be no surprises.  We Italians have learned to live with these inefficiencies.”  I replied, “I’m American, and we expect things to work as they should.”  He just smiled and said, “That’s your problem.  When things don’t work as they should, it’s trouble and chaos for you.”  That’s when I realized that God was speaking to me through this man.  It’s the same lesson He’s been teaching me since I began the Faith Trip almost 2 years ago: relax, don’t worry, and remember that God is in control of it all.

How embarrassing to have to keep learning the same lesson again and again!  I was so sure that I knew it!  In fact, I have written about not being worried about missing trains, buses, or planes: A-DivineAppointment and I-missed-the-train-but-made-it-to-the-divine-appointment, and older posts.  But I do intend to make it to the train (and the film) on time.

Thank God that He’s so patient with me!  God is good!