Nice! Team France has had the absolute pleasure of spending the last 9 days down on the south coast of France, so stick around for a brief insight into our time there, what we got up to and some of the brilliant people we met…
This was our travel day, and the ever-organised Team France also took the opportunity to pack on this day too, since our train wasn’t until the evening. Once we’d completed the first leg of our journey, making it to Gare de Lyon in time for us to buy ourselves a meal deal for tea and Jennie to grab a Starbucks, we settled in for the 6-hour train to Nice.
We arrived at the station around 11pm, and were collected by Peggy, our wonderful host and boss for the duration of our stay! After the car ride back to the Linkowskis’ home and a brief chat, we all found where we’d be sleeping and headed off to our beds, eager to find out what the next few days would bring.
We woke up bright and early the next day, so that we could get a lift down to church with Peggy and Étienne (who were in charge of worship and preaching, respectively). Breakfast was a very exciting time for Ruth and Bridget who made the most of the abundance of oranges which can be found in Nice, by making freshly squeezed orange juice to go with their bread and Nutella – a real treat, and a sign of the brilliant food that lay ahead of us, our hosts served us such delicious meals!
We really enjoyed the chance to see another French church family, building and service, while down in Nice, making the most of it by embarking on a private tour before church began!
In the afternoon, we ate with the Linkowskis and another family, who were visiting Peggy and Étienne, before our 2nd private tour of the day began! Pauline, one of Peggy and Étienne’s daughters, took us to the Promenade des Anglais which let us walk along the beachfront and see a little more of Nice. We really enjoyed the opportunity to get out in the warm weather as well as being able to hang out with someone close to our age because, in our regular projects, we don’t get the chance to do this very often!
As a team, we wouldn’t have usually described ourselves as artists, but after our time in Nice I think we’re a lot closer to being the next big things in the art world! The main reason for this is that we had the opportunity to hang out and work with a wonderful Canadian guy, Jeff, who is a missionary in Nice who hopes to bring people into church via outreach art classes. We basically acted as guinea pigs for Jeff and let him test his ideas and teaching plans on us, which was a lot of fun!
Jeff also set aside some time after lunch to head out, in the glorious Nice sunshine (we really can’t understate how much we enjoyed the weather in comparison with Paris’ moody grey skies of late), to the Chagall Museum to catch some of his really cool biblical art. After a quick Brexit joke with the lady at reception, we were in and free to wonder round, find inspiration and admire the Chagall’s work (it wasn’t a patch on ours though).
In the evening we hung out at our home for the week and played a few games with Pauline (a firm favourite was a game which can only be described as 4-D Connect 4), with which we became infatuated over the next few days. Ruth played (and lost) an embarrassing number of games, in hopes of eventually being able to beat Pauline, the Grandmaster.
Another day with Jeff was on the cards for us here, and none of us were complaining there because we really enjoyed getting to work alongside him, encourage him and have a good laugh! Instead of art, however, we spent our time with Jeff making and distributing packed lunches for the homeless people in the church’s neighbourhood. As a team, we have done a fair amount of work with people who are homeless, whilst in Paris, and so we appreciated the chance to do something which connected to this while we were in Nice.
That evening, Jennie was very excited to hear that Peggy and Étienne were happy for her to do plenty of baking in their kitchen, and the rest of the team were very excited at the prospect of baked goods! Although Jennie’s culinary skills go far beyond fairy cakes and the like, she started off simple with some brilliant chocolate chip cookies, which were polished off very quickly and with positive reviews all-round.
Peggy was keen to give us plenty of free time whilst we were under her supervision, so we had Wednesday to ourselves and decided that we’d pack our bags and head off to Monaco to find our fortunes…
During the 6-hours we spent in Monaco we found a few casinos, had numerous photoshoots, found a secret way of watching turtles without getting into the aquarium, ate a picnic and walked almost the length of Monaco itself! It was a good laugh and very tiring, so we ended up crashing pretty soon after eating tea that night.
The church we were helping during our stay in Nice is hoping to launch its Café Project in the next few months, so we spent Thursday helping Peggy and Étienne with some practical work in preparation for that.
Hamish and Jennie spent the morning taking the fabric off some seats, for them to be upcycled and reupholstered later, as well as sanding down some drawers and Hamish even found time to paint some of the walls as well! Meanwhile, Bridget and Ruth worked together to sand and remove the paint from a coffee table, before cleaning up and sanding down another tabletop used in the church. I think it’s safe to say that if you have any DIY needs, you’re best off calling Team France!
That evening, the girls went to home group with Peggy and Étienne, while Hamish stayed behind at the house to do his own Bible study. The Bible study was entirely in French, thus the girls struggled to keep up with the discussion, although they gave it a good shot and definitely understood a reasonable amount!
We were back at the church on Friday, doing some more art with Jeff and chatting to some of the many people who work in and around the church during the week! In the evening, Peggy and Étienne were at church for the first night of their new Alpha course, so we stayed at home and had a crêpe party with Pauline, Pierre and their visiting friend, Elodie. We all had way too many crêpes (both sweet and savoury), then played a game of Ticket to Ride before turning in for the night.
Peggy gave us more time to relax on Saturday, so we had a leisurely morning and spent plenty of time outside playing music, singing, chatting and playing 4-D Connect 4 out in the garden with Pauline and Elodie. We also had a Skype call with Encounter (the interview weekend for next year’s prospective Action Teamers!), where we spoke to them a little bit about what Action Teams is like and how we’re found our time in France – it was quite helpful for us as a team because it gave us a good opportunity to reflect and process the ups and downs we’ve experienced so far.
In the afternoon we went out with Peggy, Pauline and Elodie for a walk by the sea and had a chance to chat and admire the beautiful views Nice has to offer!
We were back at church on Sunday (surprisingly enough!) and found, to our excitement, that we all understood Étienne’s sermon fairly well, which was a good encouragement to us all (in terms of language ability) and a challenge to love and welcome others (in terms of the talk)!
After church, we headed out to the beach for a picnic and spent the afternoon there as a team. We ate ice creams, skimmed stones, made friends with an American family who came over to admire Hamish’s stone-skimming ability and Hamish also added Nice to the list of places he’s jumped in the sea during our time overseas!
We’re now back in Paris and getting stuck back into our projects and everyday lives here, continue to pray for the people we met and work we saw taking place in Nice. We’d love if you could keep Peggy, Étienne, their family and their church in your prayers, especially as they prepare to launch the Café which they hope will be an exciting opportunity to spread the gospel! Follow @vernierbaptiste on Instagram to keep updated with them.