I know…the first word that comes to my mind as I am writing that title is “Finally”.
Almost two weeks into my trip, and three weeks after I left North Carolina for training, but it has finally happened!
Where do I even begin…
I flew to West Palm Beach for training from June 1st to June 5th. The morning of the 6th, my team as well as one of the teams going to Asia boarded the train from West Palm to Miami International Airport. We experienced some tropical storm weather, so we were a bit late with our flight to Heathrow, and then were pushed back to another flight to Nice. By the time you counted our flights, train rides, and car time, we were traveling for about 21 hours straight. Kind of a crazy time. I still didn’t sleep though for another 12 hours ish, so to say that I was going through exhaustion for the next day or so is a bit of an understatement! Fortunately though I think we were all back to normal for Monday morning!
This has pretty much been the average day for us since we have arrived:
Get up, eat breakfast, have about an hour of devotion and prayer time, do some cleaning or planning around the house (there are 11 of us living under the same roof), Brad, Jason and I have a French lesson, make lunch, do some activities with local kids (lately it is ESL classes, last week we had water games every day celebrating the end of school…they all think it’s pretty funny that I can’t speak french. I think it is funny too, come to think of it) and then depending on the day, have time at church, cook, or go to the center of the city (we are in the outskirts).
Funny story…I arrived in France on a Friday, and was told that in the evening we would go to the family’s church. They have actually turned the entrance into a small coffee shop to catch the eye of locals and then invite them to attend a worship service. When we drove up, the name said Calvary Chapel. I stated that that was the name of my church in Chapel Hill that I had just left (and missed), and we realized that this one actually is affiliated with those in the United States.This is their website: http://calvarychapelnice.free.fr/
The biggest thing I would say that I have been working on this first week is growing in my willingness to serve. When you are in a foreign country surrounded by people speaking an unfamiliar language, and may or may not understand you, it is incredibly humbling. You realize just how much you have to show people that you care by your actions, and not by your words. You have to communicate God’s word through service, and not just through conversation.
When I first began I was a little nervous that I would be completely useless not being able to talk to the kids or explain things about the Bible to others. I wanted to feel like God was using me to the fullest extent possible, and while I was not really anxious, I was a bit confused as to how that was actually going to happen. What I decided this meant was just to try and help as much as I could. This sounds a bit obvious, but when you are going through some culture shock (even when it is a first world country) and don’t even understand how the washing machines here work, you aren’t thinking perhaps quite as clearly as usual.
So I started small. I’ve prayed constantly for God to use me. Most of the time this has meant cleaning, bringing people drinks or picking up after them, just offering to help where I can in general. I’m sure I could be doing even more and am still trying to figure out how to go about doing that, but more than anything what I want to focus on is having a joyful spirit along with all of this. I decided that if nothing else, God would use this time to make my heart more humble and willing so that I could be a support to the long-term workers here, and have a greater effect on my community in North Carolina.
Yesterday, however, we got to begin an exciting project that I could actually help lead. I cannot really go into detail about it here, so if you know me and are curious, feel free to Facebook or email me! I have access to both while I am here, and would love to share.
As always, I cannot express how much I appreciate everyone’s support, both through prayer and fundraising, during the last five months! I am continuing to pray for positive changes, no matter how small!