Exchanging Surprises

After returning from Biella, I chatted on Facebook with my dear friend, Angelica. Suki and I visited Angelica at her home last year after Tony Anthony’s visit to nearby Modena (which I wrote about in last year’s post Encouragement from Above). From that visit was born a very deep and dear friendship. Angelica is one of those people who God has put into my life to encourage me, so visiting her was one of my priorities upon returning to Italy.
Angelica is Albanian by birth, so I wanted to tell her the exciting news about going to Tirana to pray for Albania with Operation Capitals of Europe, about Bogdan (her countryman) going with us, and especially about taking Albanian worship to the Feast of Tabernacles in Poland in October (all of which I wrote about in my last post Surprises).
Here’s our Facebook chat, after we set up a day & time for me to visit:
Angelica: can you stay here till sunday afternoon ?
only, if you can
Me: No, I can only stay for the day.
Angelica: ah ok
Me: But we can plan for a longer visit sometime
Angelica: would be great !
Me: I have something exciting to tell you!
Angelica: wow ! I can’t wait.
Me: But I want to tell you in person.
Angelica: good
Me: See you tomorrow!
Angelica: I have something good for you too…
you will like it a lot
Me: We will both have to wait
Angelica: hehehe yeah
I was so excited about telling Angelica my news that her surprise for me was almost completely eclipsed. I must admit, this is also what I do with any surprise. I am like a little kid when it comes to surprises and gifts, I get very excited and can’t think about anything else (if you notice, I’m also that way about the coming Rapture!). So what I do to enable myself to function is that I deliberately make myself forget that there is a surprise coming. This time it was so effective that I literally had forgotten all about it until after the lovely meal Angelica had prepared for me. First, I told her my surprise, about going to Albania and taking Albanian worship to the Feast of Tabernacles in October. Then she told me her surprise for me: she has talked to her pastor about having me speak at the Women’s Retreat in June. The pastor countered with an invitation that I speak briefly this coming Wednesday at the Women’s Tea.
This is a fabulous opportunity to encourage a local body of believers. I have never been invited to speak to any church or church group in Italy (or anywhere in Europe) before, not even my own home church in Milan. Of course, I said that I would do it.
After I returned home, Angelica wrote to me that her pastor said she had already gotten a speaker for the Women’s Retreat. The disappointment that she felt was obvious. However, a lot can happen between now and June. I have already prayed that if God wants me to speak at the retreat that He will open the door for me. I feel peace about it. After all, it’s out of my hands now. If God wants me to speak there, then nobody can stop me. Still, I am invited to speak on Wednesday evening at the Women’s Tea. So I have been praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit about what to speak about. I have an idea what He wants me to talk about, but I always leave room for the Holy Spirit to flow and say whatever He will through me.
It’s possible that the pastor doesn’t really have someone else, and is just putting Angelica off to take the pressure off until she’s heard me speak. But whatever the case may be, I feel at peace about it because I have put the whole matter into God’s hands. I just want to be His instrument to bring healing, hope, and encouragement to these women, whether it’s only on Wednesday or also in June. God is good!

Blessing We Are Blessed

I’ve just had friends, Doug and Jane, come to visit me from Poland on their way to Spain.  I was hoping that during their visit they could help me with information for the next Feast of Tabernacles.  Worship groups from all over Europe come and bring praise in their own languages—and this continues 24 hours a day for the 7 days of the Feast.  Ever since attending Tabernacles two years ago, it has been my desire to bring an Italian worship team.  In my small way, I did bring Italian worship, singing in Italian when I heard a song I know in Italian.  But it’s not the same.

Doug and Jane did more for me than just provide the necessary information.  They are people who understand my calling and desire to encourage missionaries.  They brought gifts, designed to encourage: books, magazine, and newspaper in English, a pretty coaster with the words, “The Lord is faithful,” a pretty shopping bag in a traditional brightly colored Polish design, and tasty wafers for which Kalisz is famous.  Their visit was so encouraging.  I felt very pampered and loved.

They wanted to see the city, but not the traditional tourist spots.  It was such fun to take them to the places that I consider special, and let them see my Milan.  They also wanted to meet my friends.  They met Paula, who worked for me by buying the furnishings to make the apartment livable—not just livable, but very comfortable.  And they met Sally, the mastermind behind GoMissions (http://gomissions.eu/).  Doug and Jane also encouraged Paula and Sally.  It was a wonderful few days of friendship, prayer, networking, and strategizing.  But it was also a fun time, eating delicious food, talking, laughing, and relaxing.

Through Doug and Jane’s visit, I was able to see how my visits to missionaries encourage them.  Even encouragers need encouragement from time to time!  God is good!

The Table

I was going through my computer documents and, I came across the following piece that I had written in October 2011, while I was at the 24/7 worship celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles in Poland.

A theme that kept recurring during that weeklong celebration was The Table.  About six months before I went to Poland I was in Alessandria, Italy, visiting a small church there.  My friend, Pastor Matteo, was guest-preaching that evening, and after the sermon he gave three altar calls:

  1. For anyone wanting to receive God’s free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ
  2. For anyone needing healing or other prayers
  3. For anyone wanting more from God

At that third invitation I leaped to my feet.  Pastor Domenico and his wife prayed for me, and then he told me: “God says that He has put a big Table before you, and it is full of everything you could ever want or need.”  Then he added, “But of course, you need to share with God’s people.”  He didn’t need to add that because it is my heart to share with God’s people.

So in Poland six months later, when there were several teachings that mentioned The Table, I knew that I had to share the Word that God had given me through Pastor Domenico.  And when I did, I told the people there that I believe The Table is for all of us, not just me.  And the next day, the following is what I wrote:

Last night the French team was leading worship and I suddenly became overwhelmed and scared by the task ahead of me: five months of speaking to churches and at conferences all over the US about missions in Europe.  And I said, “God, if You don’t help me, I’m in big trouble because I don’t know what I’m doing!  I need You!  I need You!  I need You!”  And I began to cry in my desperate need for God.

I tried to calm down a bit, but then the thought came: “If Europe’s future depends on me, then Europe is in big trouble.”  Of course I know that Europe’s future does not depend on me, but such is my burden and call for Europe that I cried even harder because it wasn’t my own embarrassment and failure, but Europe and her missionaries.  So I cried and cried some more.  While the French team was singing songs of love and praise to God, I was weeping from a broken heart for Europe.  And I continued to beg God: “I need You!  I need You!  I need You!”

Finally, I calmed down, remembering the table full of everything I could ever want or need.  And I said, “Lord, the gifts are great, but I don’t want any gifts!  I want You!  I need You!”  And I began to cry a third time from my desperate need for God.

Then God spoke, and in a very tender voice He said: “My child, I am in every gift!  I am on the table!  Every gift is simply more of Me!  Why do you think I keep inviting you to take everything you need, everything you want from the table?  Because I am everything that is on the table!  Take all you want of Me!”  And I said: “Lord, I want ALL of You!”

And I saw myself dropping all the things I had been holding onto: the desire for a home, the desire for a godly husband to share my life, the desire to spend more time with my new grandchild.  These things that I had thought were so important, I just let them go.  And I said, “Now I’m ready, and I want only You, and ALL of You!”

And after that I was exhausted.  So when the team leader took the French team back to the hotel, I went with them.  And I slept and dreamed:

Fire came down from Heaven and suddenly I clearly saw the way to go, but I held back because there was someone else there and I thought that person should lead.  But that person couldn’t see the way to go, so I had to lead.

Then I woke up.  There was my answer!  God will lead me during my five month speaking tour in the US!

And now, four months after my speaking tour of the US has ended, I can say that it went very well, but not because of me.  I spent at least an hour in prayer before each speaking engagement, yielding myself, and asking the Holy Spirit to speak through me.  And from those speaking engagements, I got several more intercessors, which is a very precious gift, indeed!

God is good!