One woman dreamed of a thermometer; the other heard a voice at the carwash.
Both found themselves unexpectedly called upon to share their testimonies of faith at the Edmonton Catholic Renewal Services prayer breakfast when the scheduled speaker became ill.
A few weeks ago, Julie Papp dreamt of a thermometer. The thermometer was set at 17. The next day she picked up a French newspaper in the mail, and on the last page was a huge photo of a thermometer with the temperature reading 17.
"You know that when God speaks to us, we are always so thrilled. Do you know what 17 is in Scriptures? It means victory," Papp said.
"The Lord told me that he had set my thermometer at 17, and he has set your thermometer at 17."
It is a reminder to people, she said, that they are not defeated; they are set for victory through Christ.
Papp attends every monthly prayer breakfast, hosted at the Chateau Louis Conference Centre. She plays the keyboard with the worship band, Dayspring CCR.
She had a sense that she would be bringing a word to others, but not until the morning of the Feb. 8 breakfast was she asked to step in as a last-minute substitute.
So Papp spent some quiet time at home with the Lord. She could see a spotlight, and people were scattering from the spotlight, evading it.
"They were running from the light of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wanted to penetrate their hearts and expose the true condition of their hearts. He is calling us deeper, and calling us to have the spirit of Phinehas," she said.
Phinehas was a high priest of Israel during the Exodus. He is commended for having stopped Israel's fall to idolatrous practices, as well as for stopping the desecration of God's sanctuary.
Papp prayed for the spirit of Phinehas to be released upon everyone at the prayer breakfast so they might have a thirst for God.
Her central message is that God will not tolerate a lukewarm, halfhearted attitude towards him.
"We've been hearing a lot of prophetic words out there of a judgment that is coming. But God is saying, 'Judge yourself now.' Allow the Spirit of truth to fully examine your heart," said Papp.
God also spoke to Mary Ann Sosa. She was at a carwash and having a conversation with God. All of the water was swishing around her, and she heard a voice say, "Be on deck."
God was telling her, she said, that if she was asked to speak at the prayer breakfast, then do it, because it was his story and not hers. Sure enough, Sosa was also asked at the last minute to fill in as a speaker.
"About 10 years ago I was going through a very difficult time with my job. I had a great job. I was working for a big telecommunications company, but at that time there was a lot of downsizing and my workload expanded," said Sosa.
She had children at home, yet worked 12-hour days. Even when she arrived home, she would isolate herself in the bedroom and continue working more.
A turning point came when her daughter's teacher asked to speak with her. Her daughter was in Grade 1, and the teacher showed Sosa a family picture that her daughter had drawn.
The drawing showed her husband and their two children building a snowman in the yard, but Sosa was not shown in the drawing. Their house was in the background.
Mary Ann Sosa
When the teacher asked why her mother was not in the drawing, the girl replied that she could not be seen in the picture because she was in her bedroom working.
"That was the most hurtful thing I could hear from my daughter because anybody who knows me knows that it took us 11 years to have a baby. So to hear that from my daughter was painful, and I didn't really like my job anymore. It wasn't the job I was meant to do," said Sosa.
Unfortunately, she had to remain at the job because her husband was unemployed at the time, and she was the family breadwinner.
"Day in, day out, I didn't want to get up in the morning. I think it was classic burnout. I didn't want to go to work, but I didn't really have a choice either," she said.
Recently she found a prayer journal that she kept at that time, and on its pages were her frustrations, pains and anxieties that she shared with God.
"It was a very painful book to read because it contained all of my sorrows," said Sosa.
Instead of using the journal to share her burdens, on Sept. 15, 2003 she wrote a prayer to God. Her prayer spoke of a great new job that paid well and allowed her to spend more time with her children. She prayed that she wanted to drive them to school and go travelling together.
"I look back on these words that I wrote over 10 years ago, and everything has been fulfilled," said Sosa.
"Nine months after I wrote this, my company offered severance packages. I was first in line. I got a year-and-a-half severance pay, time which I used to spend with my kids."
Her husband soon landed a job. After 18 months off, she got a new job with the Government of Alberta, which was more fulfilling and allowed her family time to travel.
"I praise God for answering all of the prayers that I put in this prayer journal," she rejoiced.
In November 2013, she and her husband went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. She shared a short video of their trip. Titled In Jesus' Footsteps, the video contained music, Bible passages, and showed such images as King David's Tomb, St. Joseph's home and workshop, and the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized.
The next prayer breakfast will be March 8 with Father Luan Vu, associate pastor at Edmonton's St. Theresa Parish.