Team France is now writing to you from back in UK! If you didn’t know already, we have been pulled out of France early due to the steadily worsening situation across the globe, brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. So that you’re all in the loop with the latest events of our adventure, sit back and enjoy the story of our departure…
THE CHRONICLES OF FRANCE: THE VOGAGE OF THE TEAM
Once upon a time, the 16th March 2020 to be exact, after the French government had brought out increasingly strict measures to combat the spread of coronavirus, the brave members of Team France were issues with their tickets home. Now, Team France was not only full of bravery, but also perception and wisdom, so each of them had already packed their bags in anticipation of this event, which was very fortunate as the tickets were to be used to voyage home the very next day, due to imminent lockdown and border closures in the King(less)dom of France!
Team France had, sadly, very little chance to bid farewell to those they had met as their projects had all been shut down suddenly, and limits on gatherings mean that their Farewell Feast had been cancelled along with the usual church service which could have also served as a send-off opportunity. Nevertheless, despite the unfortunate circumstances, Team France were able to say goodbye to a handful of people who had been important to their quest in person, with a few more sending kindly worded emails scrolls wishing them well.
Then, the day of departure came. It was at this point that our heroes had to split up, as the Prince Bridget of Wales, Lady Jennie of Didcot and Ruth, Knight of the Realm of Yorkshire, were travelling by train while Sir Hamish of Broughty Ferry was going to fly on a dragon back to his fortress. After a courageous and emotional goodbye, the adventurers went their separate ways. Thankfully, Team France all managed to leave before borders shut, with just minutes to spare, 45 minutes for the ladies and 15 minutes for Hamish!
Now that we’re all back safe and sound, readjusting to UK life (especially life in lockdown, to which we’re all having to adjust!), we’re starting to look back on our time in France and trying to process it all. Thankfully, at present, we have plenty of time for contemplation and reflection, so we thought we’d mull over a few questions and share our thoughts with you – after all, we started this whole journey with a bit of a Q&A, so we might as well draw to a close with one too!
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU FACED WHILST OVERSEAS?
Bridget: The biggest challenge I faced was when progress being made with our projects was slow and not always obvious. It made it difficult to constantly stay excited and motivated but meant that when we did see our hard work paying off, it was even better!
Hamish: My biggest challenge whilst I was in France was definitely missing my family. Throughout my time in France though, I realised that mission was never set out to be an easy thing and part of mission is sacrificing things that you love to extend the kingdom of God. Although it was challenging to not see my family it was a really good experience and has helped me understand how much I appreciate them.
Jennie: My biggest challenge was, day by day, not being able to see if we had an impact on our projects and the people we met (however, after a few months reflecting on it, I was able to see the difference), so it was hard to stay motivated when things got tough because I was unable to see my use in France, at times.
Ruth: I found it really challenging to try and understand God’s purpose for me in France, especially as our projects didn’t ‘jump out’ at me, initially, and progress was slow. However, as time went on, I was increasingly able to see what I could bring to the table and how God was using me in France, especially in Sunday School and the English Clubs.
WHAT IT ONE THING YOU LEARNED WHILST OVERSEAS THAT YOU’LL TAKE WITH YOU?
Bridget: I’ve learnt what it means to step out in faith; to take a blind leap, with no idea what will happen, for no other reason than because God tells you to, and to trust that He will be there to catch you. I also learnt that I should never make carbonara, and how not to say ‘yoghurt’ in French!
Hamish: Whilst in France I learnt that I believe I have a calling to spread God’s word in France for longer than just our time we spent there. So next year I’m going back to France to further understand my calling to be in France and also learn the language.
Jennie: Something I learnt was how to trust God overseas in unknown situations. I have never been a missionary and it felt like I was a little out of my depth, so just trusting God to keep me afloat.
Ruth: I think I learned a lot about both obeying and depending on God whilst we were away. There were lots of times where things felt really difficult or not quite up my street and I was tempted to throw in the towel, but at those times I really learnt to both obey God in His placing me in France, and to rely on Him to sustain me through these hard periods.
WHAT IS SOMETHING FROM HOME YOU’RE GLAD TO BE BACK WITH?
Bridget: I’ve missed carpets and curtains, halloumi and Heinz, the countryside, the seaside and my family and friends.
Hamish: Whilst being away in France I missed my friends and family lots, so I am happy to be able to see them when Coronavirus has calmed down.
Jennie: I missed my friends, family and Goddaughter. It felt like, in the time apart, people had changed so much, because 6 months is a long time, so it felt like I was not just missing the person but also their life.
Ruth: I’m really enjoying being back with my friends and family (albeit from a distance!), as well as being back at my home church (via livestream) because I missed these great relationships whilst in France!
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU’LL MISS FROM FRANCE?
Bridget: From France, I’ll mostly miss the people we met and the work we invested ourselves in. I’ll also miss having dance parties and karaoke with Ruth, Jennie’s amazing hugs and morning hair, and playing music with Hamish.
Hamish: I will miss the people we worked with, Christine, Rosemary and Philip. I will miss the homeless shelter lots and I will miss our church family at Gif because they were so kind and loving towards us.
Jennie: I’ll miss Christine, the Hallidays, the people from the church and, most importantly, my teammates!
Ruth: I’m going to miss the friends we made in France, as well as the novelty of being able to hop on a train and find myself under the Eiffel Tower in no time at all!
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR?
Bridget: I don’t know yet what I’m going to do next, I am still seeking options. I have a place at Portsmouth University in 2021 to study Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology.
Hamish: Next year I plan to go to Nice as I have already said, I plan to understand my calling to serve in France more. I would love prayer to understand what God is calling me to do after that as well.
Jennie: Next up for me is a Theology and Ministry degree, starting in September!
Ruth: I’ve got a place for American Studies (basically American Politics, History, Literature, Film and all that jazz) at the University of Sussex for September, which includes a year abroad, so hopefully my international adventures will continue!
Thank you for coming with us on this wild ride, we hope you’ll stay in touch with us (@viveteamfrance on Instagram) and please don’t hesitate to get in contact because we’d love to chat!
Love, Team France x