Our Schedule:

Teaching English and Art together, putting on the GospelCafé concerts, prayer, meeting with our new French friends. It's a good life!

A complete listing of very specific requests for prayer can be found under "Prayer Requests."

For those just getting to know us, please visit the special sections to the right.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

As I was packing..........

      Have two months really gone by? Believe it or not, it has, so I'm preparing for my journey back to the states leaving this Saturday morning. I would appreciate prayers for safe travel. As I was packing, I was reminded of a conversation with a widow who lived here at the Language school, working with various groups. She recently moved to Nice to work with an organization (pronounced Neece). While at the airport in London, a while back, she was asked to be completely searched - herself and her belongings. This woman is a seasoned traveller.
     The woman/officer searching her things had on her own nationalistic dress, not a security uniform and began going through her papers. The officer asked her what kind of work she was doing. Then asked her more specific questions about who she was working with—and confiscated her paperwork. This woman, we'll call her Maggie, became very nervous. I don't recall if they returned her papers which had all the names, addresses, type of work, her schedule and where she was going, etc. I imagine they did return her papers but she said it altered her view on traveling, even in countries which have freedom of religion. She said going forward she would not have any of her work information in paper form with her. So far, even though our computers are put through the screener, they are not being read while trying to get on the plane.
     I've decided not to have personal info about others I work with, or about the conference, in paper form in my purse or suitcase. Am I paranoid? I shared earlier on this blog about a woman who came to our school to get information, trying to take pictures, and was asked to leave. She was of another belief and they caught her snooping. If you know me at all you know that I love all mankind, no matter who they are but we are living in interesting times which call for using wisdom.
      I am looking forward to seeing family and friends. This trip was a fantastic time, and an opportunity for me to use the skills and gifts given to me. It gave me more insight into our future work and the wonderful team that is here working diligently, waiting for our full time arrival. Thank you for sending me. - Carol

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Joyeux Paques!! - Happy Easter!!

     Easter in France is known as Pâques. (pronounced "Pack"). Something I read said, "The historic country of France is widely famous for its deep rooted religious faith in Catholicism; hence Easter festivities in France are in perfect tune with the secular French rituals of today." They leave for the vacances (vacations) here as they have a week off. Many go to Tunisia or other warm places by the beach but it was in the 70s all week so many stayed here. People here rarely go to church. Some might show up on Easter morning - but few. They are willing to go to the malls to get ready for spring and they have a meal with families and of course have the bunnies and chocolate eggs for a hunt with the children. I did not buy one chocolate egg or boil any. A little girl in church today handed me a blue foiled chocolate egg. It's still in my purse and her beautiful dark face and large dark eyes will forever shine in my mind as she handed me that precious little gift.
     One of our churches had an Easter egg hunt in a neighborhood yesterday which I helped with. 30 children came to hunt eggs and the parents had their cameras as the 3 to 6 year olds played a bunny hopping game to pick up the boiled eggs in the center of the field. The older children played a "ball" game while some of our adults and youth hid the chocolate eggs in various places around the park. I helped to poor the drinks and cut the gateau (cake) for them after the celebration.
     Pâques, the French word for Easter, comes from the Hebrew word Pesach which means Passover. The Jewish feast was at the setting for the Easter events recounted in the Christian Gospels.
     The only written record explaining the origin of the word Easter dates to: AD 725. The English historian Saint Bede explained the origin of the word Easter in his work "De Temporun Ratione". Eosturmonath, meaning "Easter-month", was the Anglo-Saxon name for the month of April. Easter comes from ancient roots meaning "shine and dawn". East—the direction of dawn, came from the ancient root, aus.
     For those of us who may do an easter egg hunt in the states but have gone beyond our wonderful Easter family times to know what Easter truly means, we say, "He is Risen, He is Risen indeed!!" He lives forever with his saints to reign!
     Thank you Lord Jesus! We are forever in your debt. - Carol

Saturday, April 23, 2011

From a French perspective

       R spoke at one of our gatherings at the conference last week. I wanted to share his powerful story with you.
     He grew up in Burgundy, France and never knew a Protestant in France. In school they did talk about Protestantism and he knew a little. He grew up with a little Catholicism. (He's probably in his 40s now). His father was an atheist and his mother was rejected by the Catholic church because she married a divorced man. As an adolescent he liked most to make fun of Catholic Christians. His friends and he formed a "hard rock band" and they mocked people who believed in God.
       It was ironic because in his band they were involved in the spirit world of demons - making tables move and dealing with spirits themselves. He met friends who were in secret societies like the Masons. His experience went deeper into esoteric studies. While in high school and later he began doing more religious study, and more into the occult world. "The Bible is a reference for those in the occult but they twist its meaning". As he began to understand the Bible better he hadn't met an evangelical Christian yet but one day he and a friend were playing their guitars and singing down in the Metro train area to make some money. Someone with a "shining, smiling face who looked peaceful" dropped a paper into his case. He thought, I'm going to read this later. But he didn't find the paper and forgot about it. A year later someone was in his guitar case and found the it stuck in a section of the case. His friend asked him if he was interested in Christianity, Jesus and the Bible as he'd read the paper. He told him that yes he was so he read it too. It was a tract about the Gospel.
       Next he went to Grenoble, France to school and got into another secret society. But on the floor where he lived at the school there were others there who invited him to come to a Christian meeting. He told the guys that he didn't believe in their ideas and felt that truth could be explained by esotericism and secret societies. He decided to go to the meeting to explain his thoughts. (I looked this up - what is esoterism? Here's what Wikipedia says).
       The term energy has been widely used by writers and practitioners of various esoteric forms of spirituality. Spiritual energy is often closely associated with the metaphor of life as breath - the words 'qi', 'prana', and 'spirit', for instance, are all related in their respective languages to the verb 'to breathe'. Sometimes it is equated with the movement of breath in the body, sometimes described as visible "auras", "rays", or "fields" or as audible or tactile "vibrations". These are often held to be perceptible to anyone, though this may be held to require training or sensitization through various practices. Many energies of this type lack scientific evidence.
       R told these other students at the meeting that you can't gain understanding from the Bible. They weren't convinced but glad he came anyway. He talked to the guy from the US who led the group and was shown that from their perspective Jesus was the Savior of the World and that the Bible was the inspired words of God. The man was patient with R but R was not interested in believing. 2 years later the group leader felt R was so closed. He said this guy will never believe.
       R said to us, that fortunately, the guy was wrong. He felt God was opening his mind. His conviction was strengthened by reading the Bible more. He'd found out a certain number of Christians had been praying for him. "I began to believe that something was happening to me." I came to believe that Jesus was the Savior of the World and that the Bible was the inspired word of God.
       I didn't understand about rebirth. Six monthly later he said, "I received a strong conviction about my sin. That evening alone in my room, and has never happened since, I saw scenes of my life played out. You know how people see their life flash before them before they die? I began seeing things in my mind that I had done and how impure I was. I fell apart. It was like a pin in a balloon. I became more conscious of God. I remembered the holiness of God. I felt I couldn't come close to him. But, in the midst of this conviction I realized Jesus had taken my sin on him. The revelation of the cross became real to me and what it meant for me. In that moment God truly revealed himself to me. The room was full of light. I understood the love of God for me! A watershed moment. I never turned back." he said.
       "It was a revelation from God. As we turn to him we are completely forgiven."
       His studies led him first to become a computer professor. He went to Bible school in Grenoble for 3 years and to school in the US for 1 year. He got his Masters of Arts in Missions and he studied French history in the US. For 10 years he helped to start churches south of Grenoble. Then he began to get involved in a group where churches work together in France. He's been a pastor for 10 years in the Paris area - not far from where I'm currently living. He feels the doors are opening for the gospel in France.
       He said, "God's church goes across boundaries to work together. That's what we are doing." He's starting to see college students coming to Christ in the universities and in the ivy league schools here.

       Pray for R today as he embarks on a very big job in the coming months.
- Carol

Monday, April 18, 2011

Remember praying for Lambert?

Lambert (pronounced Lahmbare) accepted Christ as his Savior 2 weeks ago! I shared with you that he is dieing and Pastor David told him he needs to make a decision for Christ because he's going to meet God soon. Lambert finally told David that he believes but that he didn't think he had sin in his life. David said to Lambert, you are a really good man and you have loved your family and your neighbors but it is not good enough for God Lambert. David asked him if it was okay to lead him through prayer to Jesus and Lambert said it was fine so David led him into salvation after 8 years of trying to get this man to understand. Praise God!

I have so many wonderful stories I will share in the upcoming days but for now I need to rest after a great week. Enjoy this week of preparation for the celebration of our resurrected King - Jesus!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Paris Conference

   The conference is going well and I am enjoying this very much. It's hard work and long hours since I'm working during all this. But I get to hear the speaking and join in after we get the lunch ready for everyone. I have a few helpers and we get to the site early and go to a nearby store to buy our groceries and baguettes at the boulangerie every morning. Then I help the participants get to the sites an hour or more away from the downtown conference area following the speaking and worship. If you ask Russell he'll tell you they are helping me get to the sites. Sometimes they have a better sense of direction as we all try to figure out the train and bus rides. Some locations I've gone to before and other times it's a first for me. A couple of the old timers who have lived here many years are going with us on the train to some locations. I am sooo glad!
     Yesterday we had a little break in the afternoon and took some attendees down to the Eiffel Tower. It's a marvelous monument. People are all over and some are trying to entertain others but what you hear and see is a very dark side and you can see these things in America. We don't really have a gypsy problem, though, like they do in France, or in Europe for that matter. The gypsys were really out trying to ply money off people with a handicap scam. (asking for money to give to people who have handicaps) I noticed the police rounding a bunch of them up as we were leaving. We prayed for the people of France while gathering there.
    Today, after the morning session, we will go to a town that we pronounce Jeezors (spelled Gisors). We will hear what is happening with the new work there. I will update on the blog this weekend. Tomorrow we will go into an area where Said (pronounced Sah-eed) and his wife will share their work. We were able to hear him speak in 2005 and I am very excited to see them again to hear about their work in the downtown area.
     We will share more specifics through our newsletter that we send via email since some things are more sensitive.

Dieu vous binesse! (God Bless You!)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cowboys, Indians, the Wild West & Kansas City in a Paris English class

     I'll have 45 min to an hr. to share about anything I want with an English class. One of our teammates, Suzy, has been doing this class for a few years now. I have decided to share about our "Middle West" cowboy/Indian heritage in Kansas City. (The first cowboy boot was made in Olathe and continued the tradition until the late 1990s) I'll share about some of Russell's Cherokee background. France calls Missouri and Kansas "The Middle West." I like that.
     I decided to add in the part we heard from a Belgium guy at the "Perspectives" class in Olathe, KS who was approached by 2 large cowboy clubs in Belgium to do Cowboy Church. "Include everything", they said. "We want it all." So he came to Kansas City to speak and had to find out what a Cowboy church was. He didn't know. Someone told him there is an active church in Lone Jack. He had to find some cowboy boots and a hat. They are so expensive when bought new, so he found some used ones in the area. Off he went to experience it all. One of the cowboy clubs in Belgium has 250 members and the other one has 500 members. They do country line dancing and anything they can think of that relates to what American cowboys do or did.
     I thought I would throw in some Cowboy songs for my little French group. I googled Cowboy church to see what I can find.  Maybe she'll provide the harmony. I found some fun ones to play. One has a bluegrass sound and the other from Johnny Cash.   I'm getting excited! I heard the folks here are crazy about Black Gospel. So how about Country Gospel?
     Please see my daily requests for the next week, as the conference starts on Saturday!  -Carol

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Flyers for the train people

     As you know I'm on the train most days traveling around the area usually taking an hr or more most ways. Our church plants are spaced out around the city and into the suburbs. Our team is getting ready to start a church this summer in downtown Paris.
     The church I visited today distributed small flyers that said at the top, "Venez decouvrir la FOI qui change la VIE" In other words, Come discover the FAITH that changes life.
     2000 flyers were passed out to people while getting off the train and also in the nearby neighborhood where the church meets at a community center of indoor tennis courts. One young man came  because he got a flyer. About 20 others came who  attend very infrequently. We probably had around 40 adults and a good number of children. They don't have a piano player but have a guitarist so they asked a small group of musicians from another church to come and play to make this day special. The jazzy choruses and hymns were a lot of fun. It definitely added to a sweet spirit.
     I thoroughly enjoyed it. They had testimony time where three of the French shared their thoughts and why they decided to trust in Christ as their Seigneur - Lord. Franck gave the message. He is very tall and very enthusiastic. He's also a bicyclist. The Lord told him one day that he should start speaking to people more. He was on his bike and saw another biker and began talking and after a while he realized the man had ear phones in and didn't hear anything he said and then rolled away. So he had to try again another day. This time the man he spoke to was listening and told him that he had followed Christ a long time ago, before he got married, but then fell away from his faith. He told Franck that he had never told his wife. One's whole life can change with one conversation.
     Are you looking for opportunities to share what God is doing in your life? Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Ask him for opportunities. He will. - Carol

A Bible for a special baby

     C & A (initials only), asked a couple of our teammates, their friends, if they'd be godparents for their baby. They said they would. A is a Christian and has come to the church on and off for a while. They'd moved further away and she has not been able to be as faithful. After the ceremony for the baby they gave her a Bible. 
     C & A had other friends there for the party and they scoffed at the gift. The husband, who is not a believer told them it was a beautiful gift. Our friends watched as the others came up and flipped through the children's Bible looking at it. Today C & A were both in church. Please pray for him. Normally he's only attended at Easter and Christmas. Sometimes a heartfelt gift can make a big difference.   -Carol

Friday, April 1, 2011

Getting to know Mademoiselle artiste

     Yesterday was eventful. I accomplished purchasing my monthly transportation pass with the help of a sweet young woman who worked at the train station. Then I went back to the small artist atelier/boutique to buy a gift for Rebekah, daughter-inlaw for her birthday. This gave me an opportunity to visit with la mademoiselle, the owner, and artist of many fun, sweet, very creative things she's made. I gave her my business card so she can look at our art work. She was very interested. This provides a common ground. She had an older woman behind the sewing machine with her today. She listened to us talking as I tried to speak in a little French and she spoke in a little English. The older woman was responding to our weak conversation too!  I'm looking forward to my next opportunity to get to know them better.   -Carol