A Clanging Cowbell

This last birthday the best present I got was from God: He gave me my singing voice.  I’m not saying that I sing like Maria Callas or Judy Collins.  I’m not even sure that I can sing on key, but now I have the courage and freedom to sing—into a microphone!—without fear, and that’s a miracle.  You can read about it in my latest book, “Laughing in My Dreams,” available through Lulu.com (http://www.lulu.com/shop/alisa-k-brown/laughing-in-my-dreams/paperback/product-20585131.html).

This was at the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) in Kalisz, Poland, where the local church celebrates in praise and worship 24 hours a day over 7 days.  This past fall was my second time there, and for the second time, I was the lone representative of Italy—me, a foreign resident, representing Italy.  But I did my best to represent Italy, bringing my Italian flag and singing as strongly as possible whenever I heard a song I know in Italian.

Upon returning home after my first time at Tabernacles I talked to a few local pastors and worship leaders about taking a team to represent Italy.  The response was underwhelming, very discouraging.  And after God gave me back the freedom to sing, I thought perhaps I would get a guitar and see if I could learn enough to represent Italy in worship from the platform.  Interestingly enough, the first person I mentioned this to said that she had told her son just that morning that he should give me his guitar, since he no longer has time or the inclination to play.  I have a guitar now—one that I’m too intimidated to even try to tune (not that I remember how to tune a guitar!).

While I was in the US for Christmas break I went to a music shop and bought a tambourine and a cowbell.  My sons laughed at me for buying a cowbell, but I love the sound of cowbells.  And I love the idea of keeping time with a cowbell instead of clapping hands.  Plus, it’s small and easy to travel with, which is a definite plus in my traveling lifestyle.

It is the best cowbell ever--it says so right on the sticker!

It is the best cowbell ever–it says so right on the sticker!

When I returned to Italy, I mentioned once again (this time to Pastor Fabio) that I would like to bring an Italian worship group to Poland for Tabernacles.  Unlike his reaction last year, this time he was very enthusiastic about the idea.  I am hoping that everything works out, and that I can bring the worship group from the Biella church.  But even if they don’t come, I will be there with my Italian flag, my cowbell, and my tambourine, representing Italy the best that I can.

Wafers that Doug & Jane (Blessing We Are Blessed) brought me--Kalisz is famous for them!

Wafers that Doug & Jane (Blessing We Are Blessed) brought me–Kalisz is famous for them!

Singing in My Dreams

Kudos to Mom for the title!

Greetings from Kalisz, Poland!  I am here for Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, hosted by this really amazing, generous, wonderful church with an unpronounceable Polish name (well, I can’t pronounce it!).  The whole week for twenty-four hours a day over seven days they have continuous worship, dance, praise, prayer, and singing by sixteen different groups from twelve European countries, in their various languages.  Each group performs for two hours in various time periods throughout the day and night.  Twice a day there are also teaching sessions followed by people sharing what the Lord has done or shown them during this time.  It is amazing!  And the church people make these wonderful Polish dishes for lunch and dinner—and it’s all free!  They never ask for a penny from the participants!  I had such a great time, and such intimacy with God during last year’s Feast of Tabernacles that my birthday gift to myself was a return to Kalisz this year.  My birthday is tomorrow, but God gave me an early gift.

I try to go to all the English language worship periods, and the two English language groups had early morning times yesterday (two to four AM) and today (four to six AM).  After their sessions, I returned to the hotel to rest until breakfast.  Sleep was not possible because I have one of those early morning brains that won’t stop talking if it is awake any time after three in the morning, but rest was essential, especially today.

I need to give you some background: I was in a verbally abusive marriage for thirty-three years.  My husband had told me not to sing “Happy Birthday” because he hated the sound of my voice.  In fact, I was so deeply ashamed of my voice that I used to only lip-synch the words at church for fear that God would be displeased with the sound of my voice.  After the divorce, I began to use my voice in church again, and it was incredibly liberating.

So this morning when I returned to the church a German group was singing, and it was wonderful.  The Russian group was supposed to come next, but they were late.  The girl at the keyboards started to play one of my favorites—“The Revelation Song” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofNBuMdrbcg&feature=related).  I was singing along with everything inside me.  Then she said, “If you know the words, please come up to the stage.”  I looked around, but there was hardly anybody there, and she had been looking right at me.  She motioned for me to come up.  I did, feeling a bit fearful, but when we started to sing, I got completely lost in my love for Jesus.  If you don’t know the song, follow that link, it’s a wonderful song.  Then she continued playing, probably to fill the time while somebody located the Russian team.  And she started to riff (singing whatever came to her heart about Jesus), so I began to riff, too.  We were not following any particular melody, she was just tinkling on the keyboard, and we sang.  I think we went along like that for about 10 minutes, then the Russian team showed up.  When I saw them, and the sound engineer unhooked my microphone, I stepped off the stage.  But the violin player coaxed me back onto the stage.  So I just stood there worshiping Jesus silently.

Afterward, both keyboard and violin players congratulated me, saying, “You’re so brave!  Thank you so much for helping out!”  But they didn’t know about my singing issues until I shared my story a few minutes later in the morning teaching time.

When I was here last year, as the sole representative of Italy, the pastors of the church asked me if I could lead worship in Italian.  I had to say no, but I did ask some of the worship leaders I know in Italy to come.  Nobody was interested at all.  A few days ago I was singing along with a familiar song, but in Italian.  Then the thought came into my head: could I possibly lead a two hour worship session in Italian?  Immediately I dismissed the thought.  But after this morning, I’m wondering.  We’ll see!  Meanwhile, please pray that God will provide a genuine Italian worship group so that I won’t have to do that all by myself.