Now that we’re getting into the flow of things, we thought it might be interesting for you to walk a week in our chaussures…
Unlike most people, we all love Monday on Team France because we get to start the week with a day off! Sadly, adult jobs, like doing a food shop and prepping for projects later in the week, often get in the way, but we try our best to get out into our area and explore! We’ve visited the Eiffel Tower, the Pompidou Centre and Notre Dame as a team, bought crêpes and ice cream, and had a few photo-shoots by Paris’ best sights (check out Ruth enjoying herself at one of Paris’ most beautiful and popular landmarks). We also take time to do things individually, such as going to the gym, swimming, going for walks/runs and writing the blog!
Our mornings are technically free on Tuesdays, but, increasingly, this means we spend them planning for Christmas, going to Cora to buy craft supplies and practising music. It’s normally on slower mornings, like this, that we sit down for our team devotional, prepared wonderfully by Bridget, where we’re currently working through Romans and trying to apply it to our everyday lives in France.
In the afternoon, we have a 2-hour French lesson with one of our tutors, which is brilliant because, although it’s difficult, we are excited to get better at French in order to be able to build deeper relationships with the people around us! After class we’re all usually very tired, so hang out at home and get any other little jobs done. Most Tuesday evenings, we have the absolute joy of sharing a meal with the Halliday family, who work with BMS across France, which is a real highlight of our week as a team, especially as they have a dog AND can access British TV!
Wednesdays are a bit of a beast for us, as we’re our of the house for around 12 hours, but we still manage to have a good day! We’re up quite early as we need to be in Gif-sur-Yvette to teach classes from 11am until 12pm, then 2pm until 3pm. We have 2 classes of 12 kids (aged 5-11) who we teach some basic and practical English and help them have fun whilst doing so! The lessons must be secular, but they take place in the church, and the idea is to build relationships with the families and help the kids have positive memories associated with the church setting, rather than boredom or fear.
We have tea with Christine, our supervisor, and Kathy, a lovely American lady who runs English Club, at Christine’s house, before heading back to church for Bible study. We love Bible study because we can dig into God’s word, discuss it and work out how it applies to us, which we really value since the Sunday sermons are in French and we find them very difficult to understand! Lastly, we help out at an English club for adults, where we chat about different themes/topics in a really friendly and informal setting in the church, with the hope of building good relationships with them and being able to show God’s love through sharing our lives.
These are also usually slower mornings, so we may fit in another team devotion, practise French or continue any Christmas planning. In the afternoon, we meet with Christine in Gif and travel to an elderly care home where we spend a few hours. Currently, we are engaged in maintenance projects and have so far cleared and sorted the books in the library, we’re getting ready to do some painting and also help clear the garden space and make it more welcoming for the residents. As well as this, we make our best efforts to chat to the old people, with plans to perform some music and make origami decorations for them!
Friday mornings bring more time for planning, with us often travelling to Gif and meeting Christine to discuss Sunday School and worship. We also may do some handiwork around the church, like painting furniture or cleaning the floors. In the afternoon we have another 2-hour French lesson, with another tutor who visits us at home and loves talking about all sorts of things (such as why Wales is called Wales, what he thought about Star Wars Episode 8 and which battles Napoleon won and lost) with us in a mixture of French and English!
We spend all day (9-5, just like Dolly) volunteering at the shelter for homeless women, which is run by the church in whose manse we are living, but are split between the morning and afternoon shifts. 2 of us will help from around 8:30am until 1pm, which involves unlocking the building, switching on heaters, setting up beds and serving (and eating) lunch, as well as playing games and chatting with all the 10 or so women who come, alongside other volunteers.
After lunch, the other half of Team France take over, supervised by other volunteers who run the afternoon, which mainly involves chatting and playing quiet games, as most of the women spend time sleeping, as well as serving goûter (a sweet afternoon snack, with tea and coffee) and tidying up after the women leave at roughly 4:30pm. The evening is usually a quiet one as we’re often tired, but we may need to practise music or finish planning Sunday School activities.
Church starts at 10:30, though we’ve learnt that, in reality, it starts once we reckon most people are here, and those of us involved in the service are ready and have prayed, but we generally arrive about 45 minutes early for band practise and to set up chairs, tea and coffee. Anywhere between 8 and 20 people may come along for the service, so it’s often quite a small group of people, but we love that it means we can get to know our church family so much better, especially as they are such loving and generous people. So far, we have been invited for lunch with a different family each week (we’re curious to see how long this lasts), which has given us the opportunity to build relationships, practise some French and get to try out more French cuisine!
If you want to be praying for us, it would be great if you take time to pray that God would sustain us to carry out His will each day of each week, and that in each project we might be able to glorify Him and bring others to know the gospel of Jesus!
Keep in touch via our instagram (@viveteamfrance) or drop us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)