Working in France

It’s been an amazing seven weeks in France. It’s been quite different than the staff and I had originally anticipated, but it’s been an incredible time despite the changes that have taken place. I’ve been able to participate at two local churches, a Bible study, and the Institute to learn more about the French spiritual condition and to teach about it as well.

The churches I have been able to participate at are both about twenty minutes away from the Institute, though in opposite directions and they are two of the only Protestant churches in the region. Though others do exist, they are few and far between. There are some people who drive around an hour to go to one of them because it is the closest Protestant church.
Last Sunday, we were able to partake in what is the near equivalent of a potluck at the smaller of the two churches. This church averages about ten people and has been without a pastor for nearly two years. They learn about God from having guest speakers who are willing to come for free and by listening to podcasts.The commitment they have to learning about God is incredible; however, it is extremely difficult when they do not have the resources available to them to learn in a clearly understandable and cohesive way.
The other church we attend is much larger averaging in about seventy people. The building is barely large enough for the size of their congregation, but it only encourages them to continue spreading God’s word and trying to grow in size. This church was able to host two services for Easter as well as help host a Southern Gospel concert put on by a group from Paris. It is a very charismatic church, full of people who want to see that all people know they are loved by them as well as God, despite differences in beliefs, religions, and lifestyle so that the people they encounter might come to know Christ.
The Bible study I’ve been going to is held at the university in Caen. Technically, it is not allowed, and it cannot be called a Christian group. Because of this, it is a group averaging around twelve people some Christians, some not. They go through different selections of scripture each week. They do this by reading through it two times and then going through verse by verse and asking questions, which may or may not have definitive answers. It is an amazing way for some of the very few Christians to interact with each other and a few who disagree with their beliefs in a friendly and intelligent manner. This group has become more than just a discussion group though as many of them have become close friends. They have become more willing to talk about religion, beliefs, and God, and this has opened many hearts.
The groups that come through at the Institute are mainly here to learn about the region and have a cross-cultural experience in France. While they are here, though, they are able to learn about the spiritual condition as well. This, combined with their many other experiences, leads many of the people to have a desire to learn French and return to study as well as minister. These groups have come to an end, and we are now preparing for the students who will be coming to study for the summer. These students will have a chance to impact the churches and the lives of people in France in combination with their studies, and I am excited to be able to work with them, even if only for a short time.
I do, however, still owe the Institute some money for my internship. I would really appreciate your prayers as I continue trying to raise the rest of the funds. I have raised all but $1600.
If any of you are interested in helping support me in my last month, please contact me.
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La première semaine

My travel experiences have always been a little bizarre or planned last minute. I can’t say I like it, but it certainly keeps life interesting. When I found out my itinerary just one and a half weeks before coming to France, my nerves were wrecked. All the unexpected changes on flight day didn’t help. But even after a majorly delayed flight, a changed flight, and running through the airport like a maniac running from a herd of charging rhinos, I finally made my first connecting flight and met up with a friend from school afterward until our next flights.

Since then, my life has been a strange mixture of the familiar and the brand new, as the village I lived in two years ago has changed and the people I’m living with are no longer the twelve people I came to know as family, but instead three of them and four people completely new to me (as well as one visitor who left before I awoke this morning). I’ve already become incredibly attached to these fantastic people, but my heart is being pulled seven directions for John, Marshall, Cate, Dylan, Karrisa, Anna, and Michelle.

Because of all the groups who will come and stay at the house throughout the spring, I’m living with Claira in Elvira’s apartment, and it’s incredibly different from what I had known before. But it’s only a block from the house, and it’s nice to be forced to go outside every morning. The view from my window is gorgeous and will never fail to be so, especially just as the sun is peeking it’s first rays over the horizon in an attempt to grab onto our beach and stop blushing after its first sight. It’s still fairly shy most of the time, but the sun has made more of an appearance the last couple days.

I’m so excited to start working on a more set schedule this week, even if it means working at 7:15 in the morning. Because my week of ease and jet lag is over and the first group’s arrival today, I will be working on overload in the mornings and the evenings and then have a bit more time to work on my own projects and the language learning content (editing, creating, and artwork) in the late mornings and mid afternoons. I get to take part in helping several groups of American’s learn more about France, French, and the state of the church as well as make their stay as enjoyable as possible. I’m so excited to see how God uses my time here to impact the people I encounter and change my own life as well.

Starting this week, I’ll try posting more often about the details and funny/interesting stories and such. But here’s to my first week finished and to my second week beginning.
Feel free to comment below and ask questions about my stay, experiences, travels, and work.

I am still trying to raise the last $1600 for my stay, so if you would consider donating that would be wonderful. There are several ways to contribute, and they are all listed on this fundraising page: http://www.gofundme.com/faith_in_france

Stay faithful, and stay fantastic. I’ll write you later this week.

A New Journey

Early this semester, I was asked to return to France with the Jacques Lefevre Institute as an intern. I’m glad to say I decided to apply and was accepted for a three month trip. I wrote this poem the day I was asked to return:

Longing for Tomorrow (or Sword Beach)

Whoosh! Wave. Whoosh! Wave.
The delicate hum of misplaced air
Mingles with the constant rustle
Of the shining green blades.

This. That! This. That!
Silver speech and pointed hearing
Interrupt the gentle melody
With beautiful clashes of excitement.

Water. flowing Water. flowing
The sweet scent fills the air
As imagined bread bakes
Near the beach so far away.

Pit. Pat. Pit. Pat.
Feet move in the style of the blades
While aching for the foam soaked grains
Piled high with shells of yesterday.

This is an amazing opportunity for me to continue learning French as well as gain work experience in both language as well as art and writing. I will be helping create the language learning content that the Institute is putting together for French learners. However, because I will be working with a non-profit, I need to raise the funds to go for these three months. Please consider looking at more specific information and donating at http://www.gofundme.com/h0cqb0. Also, please consider sharing the link with the people you know.

Thank you. I hope you enjoyed the poem!

Fernweh

Today a good friend of mine returned to where we first met. She technically landed tomorrow morning in France. As stated in my last post, I always want to go back to Normandy, a place I call home, but getting a message from her this afternoon saying she had arrived to the very home we lived in last year is really difficult. It had been a goal of mine to return this summer as well, but things just didn’t work out. All day, before I even got her message saying she had arrived, I have been dwelling on thoughts of Normandy and my French family and friends. I long to return so badly… I want to be back in France, thrown into the culture and language that fascinate me so. I want to see the people I met while there and spend hours talking with them. I want to walk along the beach and eat crêpes. I want to have fresh baguette sandwiches with butter, meat, and lettuce. I want to be able to wake up and see the only place that I have truly and completely considered home. But that probably won’t happen soon, and it breaks my heart.

One Year’s Time

One year ago today, I was in France experiencing D-Day like I never have before, nor ever will again. I saw some of the most breathtakingly beautiful views, which were also some of the most heart-wrenching. To think of tens of thousands of men losing their lives on the same beaches and cliffs that I stood on was too much. We spent days discussing the impact of D-Day and visiting various sites and witnessing beautiful ceremonies; despite how much I learn about D-Day and how it changed history, I will never fully understand a single bit of it. My heart has been aching for the places I call home: Merville-Franceville, Springfield, Ozark. But today, more than ever, I truly wish I could be back in France, in Normandy. I long to experience the heartbreak and joy that is felt by all because of what happened on this day 70 years ago. I want to walk the beach where part of the Atlantic Wall still stands and remember the way the world would have been. I want to witness the veterans embracing their past, remembering the lives that were lost, as well as those that were gained. I want to see the celebration of the nations as their continue living in freedom because of the storming of the beaches and the mourning of the lives that were lost. I want to walk to the memorials and battlements and simply touch the concrete and marble with the most unfulfilling “thank you” I can manage. Because no matter what I do, I will never be able to saying “thank you” in a fulfilling manner to these people. No matter what I do, the full extent of my gratitude would never be seen. I can never thank the men who laid down their lives to free people they never knew. I can never thank them.

The amount of recognition of this day, has declined incredibly in the States. I’ve been witnessing a bit more recognition over the last few weeks than I ever have before, but it’s still such a small amount. Many of us barely think of D-Day and then continue with our days. But after experiencing the celebration and mourning that takes place in Normandy, I will never look at this day the same again. When I think of it at random, no matter when it is in the year, tears are brought to my eyes, my heart yearns for some way to show my gratitude and thankfulness, and my mind is overwhelmed with everything that took place. Please, whoever you are, wherever you are, take some time to learn about how the world was, especially in Europe, at this time and think about what the world would be like if D-Day didn’t occur. Appreciate what took place. Even though it was horrible, it brought freedom and life to millions.