Friday, March 29, 2019

Breakfast at La P.O.

It's taken me almost a week to write!  The weekends have been super busy here, and Mondays come quickly.  I wanted to share about last Saturday morning's women's breakfast.  The church here has started having women's events.  Not only has there been a great response, but the men are wanting to start something now!  :)

Entre les Fran├žais et le pain, une histoire d’amour
Okay, not from our breakfast, but I needed a pick. :) (iu)

A group of ladies gathered around a table with all types of breads and pastries to discuss a book they've been reading on our new identity in Christ.  I loved hearing the different women share how God has been speaking into their lives, particularly who they are in Christ.

My favourite part of the morning was when we divided into four groups of 4-5 to pray.  The lady who had sat next to me had been invited by a colleague.  It was her first time like mine.  Her questions revealed that she was uncomfortable to pray out loud.  Even though she's Catholic, she doesn't have a Bible and had some questions.  She decided she'd go last and follow our lead on the prayer.

She ended up praying for me, and it was very pertinent and touching.  I was impressed with how a couple of the younger women were able to clearly and accurately share their faith.  

After we all said our goodbyes, she started asking me about my own conversion, and I was able to share how I started to have a hunger to read the Bible.  That even though I'd always known that Jesus was the Savior of the world, I didn't really understand my own personal need for a Savior because I was pretty good, though of course not perfect.  When I understood that God was holy and no matter how good I was, I couldn't be in His presence, that communicated my own need for a Savior.

She said she was going to think more about that.  We exchanged numbers, and I do hope to get together with her soon "to explore the region" as she put it.  Please pray for this beautiful woman with many questions, that they would lead her to the One who Himself is the answer.  Please continue to pray for all of these women--and the men--to encourage one another in their faith.

Note: la P.O. stands for la Porte Ouverte, the name of the centre here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Discipleship Class in Lyon

Last Saturday I was invited to a day trip to the Lyon area  for a discipleship class.  I gladly accepted and joined 6 others from la Porte Ouverte.  The theme was on children and youth and to my advantage, the speakers were Swiss German!  One spoke French, but the other had his brother translate.  The reason it was an advantage is because I got to hear the messages twice, which is helpful when it's not your native language.  Side note: I was amazed that I could understand so much Swiss German since I didn't understand very much when I lived in Switzerland, and then found out he had been speaking high German (from Germany)!  ☺️

Benjamin and Emmanuel sharing practical ideas with the group

Anyway, it was wonderful to be amongst French and Swiss believers wanting to be better equipped to make disciples.  We had times of worship, prayer, and teaching.  The first speaker, Benjamin, shared very practical ways to relate to and teach our children who God is and how to live according to His Word in this world.  He emphasised that our children are not just the church of the future, but they are part of the present church!  

His brother, Emmanuel, focused on 1 Timothy 1:18-19, particularly how Paul addressed Timothy as "mon enfant" or "my child."  While servant or disciple are both Biblical words, he was intentional to speak as a father to a son.  According to Emmanuel, children have enough "maitres" (French for master, but also like a classroom teacher) telling them what to do and what not to do.  What they need is spiritual mothers and fathers who have a long-term vision for their life and help them develop into who God wants them to be.

Thankful for the gorgeous weather since we grilled out for lunch!

I left very grateful and encouraged to have been able to join them.  I also was thinking how this could be a potential future site for an EE intro, though I'm not positive what that would look like.  That seems very far away as I still need to find people to revise the materials, much less start training others.  I was encouraged in this week's Bible Study when David acknowledged that God "enabled him to understand all the details of the plan."  This has become my prayer as I seek to serve God's plans, not my own, and need His help to both form a plan and then carry it out.  Thank you for praying with me!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

My God is a Rock

Yesterday as I was cleaning my studio apartment, I decided to place my scarf--the warm, cozy one I've worn every day since my arrival--out on the window sill to air out.  I placed a rock on top of it to weight it down and closed the window.  Alas, as I returned minutes later, I was chagrined that it had made its way to the ground along with its not-so-supportive rock.  To make matters worse, there was a cat prowling nearby with its eyes on my winter essential!  Shoes and coat on, down I went to retrieve my item which was now presumably dirtier than my intended airing out. 

The wind, which gets incredibly strong here, had picked up.  Last week I asked if it's the Mistral, and they assured me that's only in the south, that these are just (wind) storms.  To give you an idea of how intense they are, like our hurricanes, they get names!  As I headed back to my room, I spotted some much bigger rocks which were heavier and can presumably withstand the gusty gales of Burgundy!  I didn't actually bring one up, but I think they would do the trick!

The whole experience has me thinking about rocks.  Moses and David both called God their Rock.  Where I'm from, we don't have tons of rock.  Cobblestones, yes.  Rocks in the dirt, lots.  But no caves or mountains.  My mind needs some education as I consider what this means.  Our God is no pebble or lightweight, but He is strong and can resist and endure the pressures that come against us.  No news or horrible circumstance can shake Him.  He has power to save and deliver even in the fiercest of storms, meteorological or circumstantial.   Sadly I'm sometimes guilty of reducing my God to a dinky rock that I can hold in my hand.  It sounds ridiculous, but when life's problems and difficulties slam us full force, what does our response reveal?   May we have fresh vision to see and comprehend how great and mighty our God, our Rock, really is!

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2 ESV
For it's God's Name I'm preaching--respond to the greatness of our God!  The Rock: His works are perfect, and the way He works is fair and just; A God you can depend upon, no exceptions, a straight-arrow God.  Deut 32: 3-4 Message

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Bonjour de Lux!

How do I sum up the last week since my arrival to this quaint, rustic town in Burgundy?   Getting here was full of adventure and the Lord's hand.   Upon my arrival at the gate in Charleston, I was immediately told I'd miss my connecting flight in Dulles because of the delayed flight out of Charleston.  The man at the desk did a lot of typing, tore my tickets, and informed me he'd re-routed me through Chicago; and my bags were going with me.  I'd arrive at 11:00 instead of 7:55 AM.  Oh and on Swiss Air rather than United.  In case you're not aware, that's a major upgrade. ­čśë I was in awe as this was clearly the Lord and nothing I could do!  In Chicago, I had to run the whole way and made it in time for final boarding. There were more stories, but I arrived safely and soundly by the grace of God.

Room with a View :)

My boss and his wife picked me up from the Zurich Airport, which has become very familiar to me, and drove me to France!  When we arrived, it was so good to be back, and I immediately felt at home.  Sara greeted us, showed us to our rooms, and gave us a tour.  That evening I took Helmut and Christine to eat at a restaurant of their choice.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn of a part of town I didn't know of.  Very beautiful!

Bridge in Chalon sur Sa├┤ne
 (literally the town of Chalon is on the Sa├┤ne River)

Chalon sur Sa├┤ne 
The next morning Helmut and Christine left after breakfast, and I attended church where I was warmly welcomed.  We had a nice meal together, then went hiking in the surrounding area where you could see the fields of vineyards everywhere!

Hiking in Burgundy

My second night was my first b├¬tise (dumb thing), at least that I'm aware of!  I was awakened about an hour after I'd gone to bed to inform me that  my running toilet which was going to dry up the well!  We can get city water, but it is expensive.  I had trouble sleeping after that news, but had a dream that put me at ease.  

It's very much community living here.  We eat lunch together as well as other meals when guests are here like this weekend.  I've attended three prayer meetings--two for staff and one for the church, which is also on site.  

I was able to get Internet for my room yesterday, so it's been a lot of shuffling around earlier in the week for my various Skype and Zoom meetings, emails, and What's App calls.  

Overall, it's been a lot of adjusting, but very good.  So very much to be thankful for.  In fact, I think all of us do always and was reminded of this in Psalm 136 earlier in the week.  Thank you, Lord, for you are good!  Yes, your love is for forever!

Thank the Lord, for He is good!  Yes, His love is forever!   Thank the Lord, the greatest of all gods!  Yes, His love is forever!  Thank the Lord, the most powerful of all masters!  Yes, His love is forever!  Psalm 136, 1-3 PDV translated