When we landed in France I was immediately struck with gratitude. I remember looking at Alicia, who was sitting next to me, and freaking out a little bit. Part of me couldn’t believe that we were in France. I was just extremely blessed to have the opportunity to spread God’s love and truth here. We continued to marvel in all God’s goodness and his beautiful creation.
The day we arrived we had the pleasure of meeting the other missionaries that we were going to be working along-side. Everyone met at one of the missionary’s house for dinner. The instant we walked to the back of the house, I was BLOWN away with the view. I was actually speechless. The entire time we were there, I couldn’t stop thanking God.
I was a little overwhelmed with all the people I was meeting, but I felt a connection with them that made me feel at home in a way. One missionary that I met, Amy, really struck me. The first night we met we had a great conversation. I got to hear her story and learn how she ended up in France. She knew she wanted to do missions, but wasn’t sure what that would look like. In addition, she didn’t have a calling to a specific place. When she learned that her sister and her sister’s family were going to France, she decided to join them. She wasn’t sure what she would be doing in France, but she had faith and trust in God that she will be used for his glory. In the states Amy works as a veterinarian. In France, Amy serves as a teacher, which is quite different from being a doctor. I asked her if she missed being a doctor, and she said yes, but she said she is satisfied and content because she is serving God. I couldn’t imagine surrendering your profession that you worked so hard for. I instantly began to ask her more and more questions and quickly grew to be fond of her.. Her story is a true testament of God’s might ways, and I admire Amy for obeying God. Throughout my time in France I also bonded some with a couple of the kids that live there with their families. It was really cool to hear their stories and how different their lives are in France.
Before coming to France, I was extremely excited, yet I was becoming spiritually drained and disconnected. I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually tired. For a couple days I was just going through the motions and I began to fear that I was missing out. I was afraid that I wasn’t giving my all and as a result I wouldn’t be eternally changed. What if I went home and everything stayed the same? I was becoming overwhelmed with negative thoughts.
Our second night in France, Alicia prayed with me and asked that the Lord will renew my spirits and that I will continue to hear and feel his spirit. The next day, God answered my prayer in an unexpected way. It was Sunday evening and we were at a church in Nice. At the beginning of the service, the pastor opened up the floor for anyone who wanted to pray out loud. During that time, an older lady said a prayer in French. During her a prayer, I felt the need to pray for her. So while she was praying, I whispered a prayer for her. I didn’t know why or what to pray for, but I did. After the church service, everyone gathered in the lobby area for snacks and refreshments. As I was sitting in a chair in the lobby, the old lady approached me and reached for my hand. She grabbed it and told me that I had a warm heart. It was at that moment that I became renewed. There was no doubt in my mind that was a God thing. It was just what I needed to keep going. It was a reminder that God is always working and moving, even when I don’t feel him. I no longer felt disconnected with the Holy Spirit.
Leading up to the start of VBS I was filled with anticipation and some fear. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to fully share God’s love and truth with the kids because of the language barrier. Once VBS started, I did find myself becoming frustrated because I couldn’t converse with the kids. Some of them would just look at me and talk in French, and I would just stare back longing to know what they were saying. I yearned to just understand them and communicate with them. As the week went on I was able to find ways to communicate love to them in a way that brought peace and contentment. One day in particular, I was not feeling very good, and I was sitting on the ground waiting for the kids to arrive. Then all of a sudden, a girl named Lea, immediately ran to me and jumped into my arms and gave me the biggest hug. In that instant I saw love in action. Even though I couldn’t tell the kids about God’s love for them, I could show it to them, and that was enough. Most of the kids at the VBS had never been exposed to the gospel or any bible stories for that matter. Any exposure I could give them was precious and a privilege. God reassured that I was making a difference and pouring into these children. I truly felt like God’s hands and feet. I pray that I never lose that feeling.
While I was falling in love with the kids, I was also falling in the love with the country. Everywhere we went, I was amazed with the scenic views. The town we stayed in was quaint, simple, and serene. It felt like a dream to wake up there and walk around town. However, it was disheartening to see the juxtaposition of beauty and darkness in the same place. There was so much brokenness among the people of France. My heart broke for them and yearned for them to know Jesus. One of the missionaries told our team a story of a man who depicted the brokenness of living in a first world country. This man had gained wealth over his lifetime and acquired many materialistic items. However, he said he still didn’t feel content or happy. He went on to purchase an extremely nice yacht, in hopes of solving his problems. Inevitably, it did not satisfy him and he had decided that he was going to kill himself. The missionary asked him about his yacht that he had just bought and he didn’t even care about it anymore. This story clearly illustrates our need for Jesus. He is the only one that can give us abundant life. When I heard this story, I was deeply saddened for France, but quickly told myself that God is bigger. If God saved me and fixed my broken heart, he can do the same for the people in France. At the same time I was reminded on how broken I still am and how desperately need Jesus.
While my time in France was filled with frustration and brokenness, I wouldn’t change my experience there. I learned a lot and had many realizations about God. I can’t thank y’all enough for your continued support and prayers. As this amazing journey is coming to an end, I ask that you pray for endurance, strength, and continued focus. God Bless!