February was an exceptional month – there was no Sozo travel, la grand-mère usurped my babysitting earnings, and David’s computing skills weren’t much in demand either. Obviously, God had freed our schedule so that we had energy to host 3 different teams and do some reconnecting with YWAM!
Through our HOP connections, our church welcomed a YWAM team from Brazil to come and do manual labor on our building as one of their outreach projects. (Small teams coming through a few of times a yr are a real shot in the arm to our renovation work, even if they aren’t skilled and don’t speak French!)
I was thrilled to have 6 young women who could help me with some deep cleaning and de-cluttering of certain areas of the church. I kept 2 of them that spoke English and learned how YWAM schools were helping them to get back on track after their lives had gotten derailed. They were equally interested us, especially our love story! But the highlight for me is often food-related: During the FIFA World Cup last summer, I was reading news stories about the Brazilian culture, rather than keeping track of winning teams. A foodie article about a popular dessert caught my eye that was made by simply heating sweetened condensed milk with cocoa and butter until it was thick enough to roll into balls. David and I have been off dairy since then, but I still had a can of milk unloved and forgotten in my cupboard. Who would have guessed that 6 months later a Brazilian would use it to concoct that very dessert for me in my own kitchen!! And yes, they are delicious!
The 3 young men on the team had no construction experience and they were so proud of the bathroom drywalls they learned to put up. Then on Sunday morning they were all in tears after dancing with us in worship and receiving prophetic words that were right on target. Having lived through YWAM outreaches, I wanted to bless the girls for their hard work and great attitudes. So on Monday, I made sure they got in some shopping since this was their only moment in France. Needless to say, they left beaming…
2 weeks later we had the honor of housing New Zealander Jeff Fountain, director of YWAM Europe for 19 yrs and his Belgian translator Cedric. They spoke to the high schoolers during the day and to a packed house at our church that evening. We mentioned spending a week with him at a YWAM camp in Switzerland in a 2005 newsletter and David continues to receive his weekly musings about European issues. Jeff graciously thanked us for his 36 hr visit with a copy of his latest book – Deeply Rooted.
We got the bed sheets washed and dried just in time to welcome two Chinese grannies. The backstory here is that our church supports one missionary – a local boy named Yohann who has spent the last 20 years in Hong Kong. He comes to visit every few yrs and this time he wanted to bring 12 of his Chinese church family with him and tour this region together for a couple of weeks.
We were told they just needed "bed & breakfast" from Fri. night to Mon. morning, but plans changed at the last minute, and I was seriously concerned about their level of English faced with longer encounters. I had to feed them Friday night supper without the support of David and Olivia, who had rehearsal at church. They didn’t seem too excited about my chef salad and conversation was awkward.
Then Saturday Yohann decided the team was tired and needed to sleep in and wouldn’t start sightseeing until after lunch.(!) So we spent the morning huddled over my iPad as I tried to use images of Hong Kong to bond, esp. food images! I really hadn’t decided what to feed them, but they were begging for rice. Then "Judy" wanted to visit a grocery store, so we took a quick walking tour of the village in freezing rain and chatted up the owners of the local Chinese restaurant, but much to my disappointment, they didn’t want to stay for lunch.
Then back at home – surprise! Judy unzips her suitcase and digs out 3 cans of apparent emergency rations from home and asks if she can make lunch for us! Relieved, I eagerly volunteer to make the rice, (since they had no idea how to do it without a rice cooker!) Then alarmed at the lack of vegetables that could help us force down what looked like warmed cat food, I offered some cabbage, peppers, mushrooms, oyster sauce and a wok, and she got to work. We ate heartily and happily and didn’t learn until the next day that Judy is a RESTAURANT CHEF back home! Another food highlight!
At church that evening their pastor explained that their church didn’t know what a missionary was until Yohann arrived and now they have formed their very own mission to get food and clothes to poor mountain villages in the Philippines, showing a video to prove it, with our Judy in several scenes. Then at the end of the service to thank the host families, the pastor painted our names in Chinese characters on silk scrolls and they look absolutely gorgeous hanging in my hallway…
What a privilege to be able to touch 4 nations in 3 weeks without leaving home! (Though to be honest, by the end of the month I was so fatigued that I might as well have flown to Asia and back!) But at the end of March, I’ll be flying to England instead, while David nurses Olivia after her wisdom teeth extraction, so stay tuned for more international adventures!