We’re definitely back in the northern latitudes!
When we last left our “ragamuffin” band of families we were headed SOUTH…should’ve stayed down there! We left Matour and our visit of the Cluny Abby and our next stop was Bourg-St.-Andeol for an overnight stay. We learned first-hand just how narrow streets can be and still be “navigable” in old European towns. As we followed directions to the place we were staying, we surely thought we had made yet another navigation error (we are WAY used to that now!) since all there was, was this narrow alley that seemed to close in more and more (moving trash cans as we went just to get by). Low and behold…we had actually followed the directions correctly. Thankfully this was only one night!
Bourg-St-Andeol is 12 km from the southern France YWAM base we visited last year and we paid them a brief-but-good visit during our short time there. Then, the next day, we headed towards Nice…our final “real” destination.
We stayed in 3 “gîtes” during our time in France. The one near Nice was probably the only one that lived up to my “imagination” of what such “rustic”, and “culturally-representative” houses should be like. The one in Matour was a terrific accommodation but was basically a modern, 5 story dormitory building.
The town we stayed in, about 30 minutes from Nice, was called St. Jeannet. “Jeannet” was not some spiritual lady in France’s history. Rather, it refers to John the Baptist. St. Jeannet is a village on the side of a foothill/mountain in the Maritime Alps. This part of the French coast is a combination of a small amount of flat area near the river basins interspersed with mostly steep hills that jump right up from the coast and continue up to snow-capped peaks. These coastal, steep hills often are quite built up with houses practically on top of each other. St. Jeannet itself is an old and very picturesque village and very compact together as well.
We were there 6 nights and 5 days, including 1 free day. As was our custom in the entire trip, one of our team did research about where to visit and pray. In between getting lost and separated as a group, we visited and prayed at: * The promenade (the beach) * A high crest over-looking “old Nice” and the port on which are the ruins of the first church in Nice * A Roman ruin which exalted Caesar as god and overlooked Monaco * The Marc Chagall Museum which has 19 large murals from the Bible
On the free day the rest of the team drove into Italy and back and our family went to a mall in downtown Nice! Necessary…but I would have rather spent the day just sitting on the beach being soothed by the breaking waves and light-azure waters. Angela and I also had the opportunity to go to a local sacred choral music concert in St. Jeannet one night at the local church. It was a wonderful time for us. One of our deep desires is to worship (meaning with music specifically) in European cathedrals. This was close, in that it was sacred music resonating in an ancient French church…even though we weren’t singing it. Truly beautiful.
Our drive back concerned us in that it was basically 4 straight days of long drives punctuated by unpacking-sleeping-packing-going again. At this point in the outreach we were all feeling fatigue from the entire 6-week journey. It did not seem like a pleasant prospect. Due to this, we altered one of the stops…London, and decided on returning via a different route. This would be an overnight ferry from Zeebrugge, Belgium to Kingston-upon-Hull and had 3 advantages for us: a shorter drive from Paris; actually moving towards our destination while we slept; a shorter last day back into Paisley.
Our drives from Nice to Lyon and from Lyon to Paris were, thankfully, shorter than we had anticipated and the weather was not too bad either…but it definitely got colder when we went north! In Paris we had the delight to stay with the same family that hosted us the first time and they also hosted a “crépe party” for us at their church. The pastors wife probably made crépe’s for 3 hours straight! We then had a time of worship with their church and finally headed towards bed.
The drive to Zeebrugge was punctuated with getting lost and bad weather at the end and having to run around and find our last-minute reservations when we arrived at the pier. Though it frayed nerves and stomachs, it was par-for-the-course by this time and seems a distant memory now. We got on the boat in plenty of time and it really was a much better way to go on our way back…kind of like a one-night cruise…economy-class.
This was Thanksgiving Day for all of us Americans but there was little outward evidence of that (other than the nasty weather). Hot dogs on the boat in a baguette were good, but a poor substitute for turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie….and familiar faces back home. It wasn’t morose by any means, but I certainly felt a “quiet” in my heart as I contemplated home and the 21 people shoe-horned into my parents house that day.
The last day of our journey dawned bright and clear as we pulled into port in Merry Old England. We were driving on the left again so we had to concentrate a bit but understanding shopkeepers was a nice feeling to come back to. Kind of odd for us who have set up home here to land on “foreign soil” and have some measure of feeling “at home”…or at least “familiar” with my surroundings.
We literally drove east-to-west across England and were treated to lunch by some friends of ours whom we met in our Marriage Ministry days. They are the UK directors for MMI and, amazingly, offered to feed 19 hungry, weary travelers for lunch! Thankfully their house is much larger than ours and they could actually fit us comfortably. It was an ideal setup and a delightful time with some VERY gracious people…with one drawback…we didn’t want to leave and still had about 4 hours ahead of us!!! We reluctantly got back on the road and headed home. We managed to get separated from each other on a dark, rainy and busy highway and miraculously (thank God) got joined back up again. We even managed to make wrong turns once we got back to Paisley…quite comical by this point!
Well, we’re home now and finishing the school this week. We’ll send more about life post-school and what our near-term future holds later. This update was too much to digest already and I appreciate your patience. Still working on web site pictures. We’ll let you know when they are there…probably next week.
Happy Thanksgiving (late) and Merry Christmas (early)! David
I’ve had (and am still having) some difficulty with Internet connectivity. I had something all set up to dial my ISP in Scotland just to download/upload e-mail via our long-distance calling card. It worked great halfway through Paris but then it stopped working. Because local calls cost money over here it was important that I had an arrangement that didn’t cost our hosts any money. This was such an arrangement. I’ve finally bought a calling card that facilitates the same thing and has a certain amount of minutes on it. It may actually be cheaper too. In our last stop, I had to go to an Internet café and fumble my fingers on a French-layout Mac keyboard to try and do e-mail…never again, hopefully!!! Anyway, I think I’m back on-line now!
Much has transpired since the 29th of October in Paris….duh…!
I’ll just do more of an overview to cover the last two weeks or so…
In addition to the prayer times we had during the day in Paris, on Halloween night (which is ONLY 4 years old as a “holiday” in France…imported from the good ol’ US of A), Angela had the opportunity to go with the pastor’s wife and daughters to an all night Halloween prayer and worship vigil. 500 people of all denominations gathered in a large Catholic church to worship and pray. Angela didn’t stay all night but what she was able to attend was powerful.
We finished the week in Paris with a time of sharing and praying for our hosts, Monika and Josef Berchtold. It was a very valuable time. They really opened their hearts to us and I feel that we got a good picture of what a great many of the pastors in France experience. In addition to our chance to pray for them, I think that one of the main reasons we were hooked up with them for that week was to more closely identify (as much as we COMPLETE outsiders could), with the circumstances and struggles of a typical pastor’s family (and what a wonderful family they are!)
From Paris, we drove north to Roubaix near Lille, to attend the Heart for France conference. This conference was put on by World Horizons, an international missions organization. The conference was primarily targeted towards people NOT from France who have a heart for France. There were a good number from the UK and the US, and everything was bilingual (speaking and worship) between English and French. World Horizons staffed the conference with a group from Iceland who were part of a school that they were running and they helped take care of our kids during morning sessions.
We stayed about a 5 minute walk from the church where the conference was being held in a budget hotel chain (shared bathrooms, etc.) It worked out well though as they were able to give us a wing all to ourselves with a door. That helped a lot since the “spirit” of the hotel was not exactly a family-friendly one. Fortunately, the conference staff agreed to feed all of us along with the other staff and that made our lives much easier.
Getting our clothes clean was hard enough! Laundromats here are stripped down: no change machines, no rolling baskets, 2 chairs, one big table, and lots of smoke. It took us an hour just to get there and round up the right change! It takes another hour to wash and dry, and another half hour to fold and sort the laundry of 5 different families! (You know you’re on outreach when you’re folding other people’s underwear!)
The conference itself was really outstanding for many of us on our team. There was fantastic revelation into what God is doing and wants to do in France. Each morning there was a time where the “French half” of the conference leaders shared several strategic prayer issues and we had a time of corporate prayer. This was great and confirmed much of what we had been sensing as well. There was worship every morning and night.
I say for “many of us” because some others on the team were experiencing some intense input from the Lord simultaneously with distractions of the spiritual environment of the area, that completely consumed their focus and made it difficult to “connect” with the conference. It was good for us to understand what each person was experiencing during this time and better accept our differing perspectives.
I was blessed to be able to join the worship team at the conference to do percussion. The conference was relatively small (about 200 people by the end) and the small worship team consisted of a wonderful, talented Irish guy, Ian McMaster on guitar, a French keyboard player and an American (living in Belgium) synth player. They were lacking a sound technician for a few days and put out a call for anyone who knew a “little” about sound. Since I barely qualified for that, and no other hands were raised, I foolishly raised my hand. I was able to turn the knobs but when it all started, it was MUCH more eventful than I expected. My hat is off to all sound technicians for their ability to work under that stress. Once they got a sound technician I played around on a djembe that was lying about and the worship leader asked me to join in on the team. It was wonderful fellowship between hearts and with music. A week of straight hand drumming was more than I’ve done before, however, so my hands were quite sore by the end.
The kids made worship streamers and enjoyed participating in worship with the other banner wavers. At one point, after people prayed on a huge map of France and lit small “tea candles” and placed them on the map, Olivia remained up there and waved her streamer while we continued worshiping. Several people said they were touched by her presence there. We’ll have that Kodak moment on the website as soon as we get back to Scotland! I’m excited by the new relationships started there with wonderful people from the UK, France, and the States.
The week was stressful for Angela and me as a couple. As has happened many times in the past, as I become more involved in something (worship activities, making contacts with people, etc.) there seems to come a separation between us. It becomes a perception from me that Angela’s not joining up with what’s happening and a perception from Angela that I’m abandoning her and the children. This causes inevitable strife between us until I finally get a clue and understand what is really going on. We’re still trying to overcome that week just a bit. It’s obvious to me that God continues to allow circumstances for us that put us into these reactions until we learn to NOT react in our usual ways. Life patterns of behavior are very hard to adjust…Help God!
We drove from Roubaix on Saturday to a gîte near Troyes for one night and then last night to Matour.
Today we drove through the gorgeous Burgundy countryside in the rain to tour a small winery. We wanted to buy the most recent vintage that they sold to use for a communion time at Cluny abbey, pouring out the remainder of the bottle on the ruins, symbolizing our desire for God to pour His “new wine” out on France. The Abbey in Cluny has a rich history in Europe. It was once one of the most powerful forces for reform and renewal in the church. It’s influence for God throughout Europe was significant. We prayed there for God to renew that flow of His Spirit in France and Europe. But the best part was that Noah and Olivia decided that they wanted to ask Jesus to live in their hearts right then and there. Until now, they’d had no desire. So standing in the rain (God’s baptism?), up on the ledge of a ruin, side-by-side, I led them in a prayer of salvation. We all clapped and then sang “I have decided to follow Jesus” before taking communion with them for the first time. This was an emotional and prophetic act for our family being that it occurred in France and in a place like Cluny. Ironically, this morning, I got up in a HUGE “funk”. I was good for NOTHING and yet God is so much bigger than my puny emotions. His eternal purposes stand regardless of my temporal purposes! He showed me that He can redeem any situation and use it for His Glory!
Tomorrow…an overnight stop and then on to Nice!
(well…a southeast suburb called Noisy la Grand)
21-10-00 – Well this is the next day that I should be describing…I’ll have to see how much I can remember. We arrived in Normandy on the 20th fairly late but we got there easily from the ferry. The biggest blessing for me was that the Additional person for the team that we were to meet up with in France was there at the house where we were staying. God Is so good! Otherwise there would have been additional driving that night to find her at a train station in Caen…a nearby City.
We stayed in Merville-Franceville-Plage, just to the north of the mouth of the Orne river in Normandy. Our location was Fantastic. We spent two days off, resting and adjusting and planning for the week. The week was spent going to several Locations that were key during the D-Day landings during World War II. At each place we asked God to show us what was Significant about this place. We were looking to see what parallels existed between the invasion of France in WWII and What God is doing and will do in moving in France now. We had two days off but on one day we went as a team to visit Mont-St.-Michel. Just an incredible place…truly a “wonder” to see.
23-10-00 – We went to Arromanches-les-Bains where an artificial harbor was built in WWII to allow ships to off-load military Materiel. The harbors were created in the UK as huge concrete blocks and then floated/towed to France. They were then Put together to break the power of the sea in that area so that landings could occur in calm water. We felt that God was Saying that He would be raising up teams to be the pieces of an artificial harbor for facilitating the movement of people in to France. What we would do, as we felt that God was giving us any kind of insight, is that we would pray “into” that insight as We felt He was leading us.
24-10-00 – We visited Pointe-du-Hoc where a strong set of German bunkers were. They had been bombed HEAVILY just prior to US Army Rangers climbing the steep cliffs and taking the bunkers on the morning of D-Day. The bomb craters are still there and the destruction that was loosed there 55 years ago must have been beyond belief. The Lord brought to mind Psalm 2:4,5,9 as I saw this and reminded me that His power is so much more incredible than anything we know of and that He can prepare the way for what He wants to accomplish.
25-10-00 – We spent time closer to home (the other days had taken some bit of driving to get to and back) by going to see Pegasus Bridge and the “Commonwealth Cemetery” and the Merville “big guns” battery. Pegasus Bridge was about 5 minutes away from us and was significant on D-Day as the first bridge taken…just 20-30 minutes after midnight on June 6th. One of our number James Skaines (15 years old), had studied this particular bridge extensively. While there, he had the opportunity to meet a member of the British team that took the bridge and the daughter of the owners of the café at the end of the bridge who had been key in the French Resistance. Earlier in the trip there was an indication from God that we would meet a “Rahab” in our travels in France…it seemed that meeting this lady may have been that key person. She was quite impressed with young James and his knowledge and interest in history and asked that he keep in touch with her. We’ll see what God makes of that connection.
26-10-00 – We opted to spend this day re-grouping and planning our leaving the next day and working through team issues. During the week we’d had opportunities to be offended with one another and to experience problems in driving in France (getting lost, etc.). It was incredible how often we got lost. At first it just seemed to be problems with confusing roads in big cities and poor signs, etc. Then, though, it became comical about how we made mistakes on even the most simple routes. It became obvious that it was being used to divide us. This day-off was a good day to work those issues out and observe what God was/is doing in our hearts about coming together as a team. Hard, but necessary “iron-sharpening-iron” times. We are a better team for it. For me, personally, I’m learning to be more flexible…long a problem with me.
27-10-00 – We drove to Paris this day. The bulk of the day was a pretty driving day but in the beginning we got lost a bit and when we got to Paris and the place where we’re staying, we actually lost one of our 3 vehicles. Eventually we all got there but this “getting lost” thing has definitely gotten OLD! We are being hosted by a Swiss-German family who has been in France for 20 years pastoring a church. It is AMAZING how they have opened up their house and church. We can’t see how they are doing it, but it is a tremendous blessing to us!
28-10-00 – This was a free day to get ourselves settled here. Some of our group went into Paris to begin scouting out our routes for the week.
29-10-00 – Today some of our team went into Paris again to continue logistical planning (and the Louvre is free on Sundays!) and the rest of us attended the church we’re being hosted by. (If we’d all been there we probably couldn’t have fit in their church as we about doubled the size of the church). I was blessed to be able to play the drums during worship and give a brief talk about what our team was about. James Skaines (the elder) actually gave the sermon for the day. It was a real blessed time as God challenged the young people to serve Him. After church we had a good “old fashioned church pot luck” and had a great time of fellowship with the people of the church.
Tomorrow…the beginning of Paris for a week!
Much more is “set” now and that’s nice (although I’m sure God has some surprises up His sleeve). We’re not completely covered (literally) for every night of lodging yet, so your prayers are certainly welcome there. Additionally, it looks like the money is coming in for everyone who needs it so we’re praising God that everyone is going. Some are stepping out in “financial faith” as not all of it is accounted for just yet, but God knows all these and other details.
We leave in the morning and we all have many packing details to complete…not to mention still reaching contacts in France for other details.
We’ll try and keep you all posted as we go…pray all Internet connections work!!!
Here is the updated itinerary:
Mon 16/10 Travel To: London
We’re still don’t have our lodging in place, but we believe that we have gotten some direction from the Lord for our outreach itinerary to France, and we are passing that on to help you pray more effectively, since internet connection may be spotty. Here are our requests for our team of 19 traveling around France in 3 vehicles:
16-Oct: Drive to London from Paisley
17-18 Oct: London (St Paul’s cathedral, etc.)
19-Oct: Drive to Portsmouth; Ferry to Cherbourg
20-26 Oct: Normandy (WW2 spiritual parallels)
27 Oct-4 Nov: Paris area (Joan of Arc)
4-10 Nov – Lille: Heart for France conference with Martin Scott
12-13 Nov: Cluny abbey
14-15 Nov: St. Paul-Trois-Chateaux (YWAM base)
16-23 Nov: Nice (Gage’s outdoor church, prayer-walking)
24 Nov: Drive to Lyon
25 Nov: Drive to Paris
26 Nov: Drive to Zeebrugge, Belgium; take overnight ferry to Kingston-upon-Hull
27-Nov: Drive back to Paisley
At the end, we will have covered nearly 3500 miles and will have gained a wealth of experience. Hopefully will have also tapped into God’s heart for France, as well as how He wants to change OUR hearts!