Last weekend Team France had the exciting opportunity of helping out at Connexion, a Christian youth event which takes place every other year. We had a a lot of fun and wanted to take the time to tell you all about it!
We arrived at the boarding school in Poitiers, (where the event was being held) on the Thursday afternoon and helped the wonderful Peggy Linkowski (who hosted last year’s Team France in Nice) get the prayer room ready, by setting up fairy lights, moving cushions, spreading out Bible verses and much more! That evening we ate pizza with the rest of the volunteers then spent some time worshipping and praying for the weekend ahead. We had an interesting night, as none of us brought bedding, so we had to Bear Grylls it (us girls were able to borrow blankets off our lovely roommate, Emily) and make the most of the little sleep we got!
On Friday morning we got up, had team breakfast and prayer time (at 7am?!) and were given our instructions for the day… then found someone who spoke English and clarified what we were doing! We were helping in the Cafe run by Bonnie and Jessica Wilson, the daughters of two BMS missionaries in France, so had a great time setting up and getting to know them better. After trying many different design ideas, sweeping the floor 100 times and collecting enough ivy to cover the Eiffel Tower, we grabbed lunch and made some finishing touches, ready for the young people to arrive that afternoon.
In total about 460 young people came to Connexion, which was amazing to see, especially as this was just the 3rd time the event was run and the last two times saw just 100-200 people attend! Most excitingly, the arrival of the young people also meant the arrival of some sleeping bags for us, courtesy of a pastor from the local area! The later afternoon and evening was a bit of a blur, filled with loud worship, making hot chocolates and selling snacks… all in French. It was good fun, but we were very grateful for our beds that night.
Saturday had us back in the Cafe, where we made drinks, swept floors, washed up and attempted conversations (in a mess of English and French) with some of the young people. We were also able to attend the first meeting which was particularly interesting as the speaker, Boppi, didn’t speak great French so preached in English! It was a real encouragement for us as a team because it was the first proper teaching we had received in our own language since arriving. The grind never stops, however, so we left the meeting early to get the Cafe ready for the young people, but made sure to chat with Boppi and thank him for his talk when he came in for a hot drink.
Saturday evening was a fancy dress party under the theme of the letter ‘C’, so we whipped out our creative, last minute costumes and got ready to party (there’s a prize for anyone who can correctly identify what we’re all dressed as).
We spent most of Sunday making packed lunches for everyone, which was a mammoth task, but in true Min Y Don style Team France pulled together (along side the other lunch-making volunteers), stuck on some music and put together 500 packed lunches in just 3 and a half hours! Then we helped set down the Cafe (almost crying at the prospect of releasing all the ivy we collected back into the wild), ate our amazing packed lunches and before we knew it we were on the train back to Paris.
Connexion was an incredible weekend for us all, and a huge encouragement to see God moving and working in France. This was particularly true as the churches we’ve seen so far in the Paris area have been made up largely of older people, so seeing so many young French people who love and want to serve God was brilliant!We also really enjoyed the times of worship because we were amazed that we could still really connect with God, despite singing in another language, and even recognised some songs (check out ‘Hillsong en Francais’ on Spotify for a taste).
If you would like to pray for us, we would love if you could also pray for the young people who attended Connexion! Many of them come from small churches where they might be some of the only youths, and most young French Christians face opposition in school and other areas of their lives, so please pray for perseverance and that they’d continue to live out their faith in God’s strength.
Love from Team France
(follow @viveteamfrance on instagram for updates on our day-to-day antics)