Monday, June 9, 2014

Beauty from Ashes

Alright….where to begin…. ?! It’s been an interesting beginning to my trip to say the least. There were some last minute changes to my lodging situation, a moment of panic when no one knew where Abby was going to be sleeping when she arrived 2 Tuesdays ago, and a lot of crying on my part….which is an unusual occurrence. (I’m blaming it on lack of sleep….) No internet access my first week and no way to contact my family... The house that I'm at is not close to the church or anything that I am familiar with here... The people I live with don't speak a word of English (which is both good and bad...good because I HAVE to speak French to them...bad when neither of us can figure out what the other person is trying to say lol!!!) Either way it was a very rough start. But through that rough start (and my many threats to get on the next plane out) I have found peace and strength and had answers to prayer. Everything that went wrong was just another sign that I was indeed suppose to be here and there were spiritual battles being waged over the very fact that I was here. I don’t say that in a proud or haughty way, but in a very humble way. The thought that my mere existence, let alone where in the world my mere existence is occurring, has that much importance to God (and apparently the devil) and His plan for my life is positively astounding to me. Let’s just say there was lots of prayer going on both here in France (by me!!!) and in the States by my family and some blessed saints at our church there. The Psalms have positively become my best friend these past 2 weeks! I had bought a new, small KJV Bible before leaving instead of bringing my huge Thompson Chain with this time and the Psalms have already been thoroughly underlined lol! I will look back at those verses and remember the absolute darkness I was going through and remember the strength and peace they brought to me. Mornings have become my quiet time with Jesus and it’s become a very precious time for me. At home, mornings were too hard with me having to get up at 5:30 am to start getting ready for work to have any kind of decent prayer and Bible reading time right away in the morning. That’s the thing about life in France…you’re able to take things at such a slower pace, they’re not rushing around all the time like chickens with their heads cut off like we do in America! Anyways, me and Jesus have our morning meetings and have been working things out slowly but surely and taking this road one step at a time, hand in hand. 

I will say that things have gotten much better. This is not going to be a doom and gloom post don't worry! :) While where I am staying is not ideal, it is working for now and hopefully this month I will be able to move in with the girl that I stayed with last time. She is within walking distance of the church and right in the center of town so I will be super close to the grocery store, train station, etc and I know my way around there. But until then I am VERY grateful that someone was willing to open their house up to me with only 2 days notice!!! And to put up with the little American who speaks bad French lol!!!

I have been settling in and getting reaccustomed to life in France :) The young people at the church here in Melun are extremely welcoming and have helped me to feel right at home! They make sure that I'm never standing around by myself or sitting alone! I went to my first choir practice last Sunday (not yesterday, but the Sunday before). They have such an amazing choir and music department here! Seriously.... everyone sings (and has a good voice too!!) and they have an abundance of amazing piano players.... I'm pretty jealous of their over flowing piano skills actually. Anyways. 

I started working at the church last week and spent Monday - Thursday working at the church for 6-8 hours a day. I mainly work in the office with the church secretary. I'm doing some of the same things that I did the last time I was here, like putting together all of the text books for their Bible College here, helping pack up and do inventory on the church's bookstore to take to the convention we were at this past weekend, doing random odd jobs that need to be done, etc. I told them that I'm here to absolutely whatever they need me to do so that is what I do!!!

I think that this time I will be going out to some of the smaller churches to help out there as well. Bro and Sis Nowacki were talking to several of the pastors this past weekend at the conference to see if any of them wanted or needed me to come. So that will be fun to get to do a little bit of travelling and help out other churches (although I will miss the Melun church while I'm away from it....I love the church here! Don't worry GLT, you'll always be my absolute favorite...there's just not another church like GLT!). You can all pray for me though because I'm NOT a huge fan of speaking (majorly stresses me out!!!) and if I travel to different churches that means that I'm probably going to have to do a little bit of speaking/teaching of some kind... Lord help us all! It's definitely not my strong point. But I am here and told God that I'd do whatever He had planned for me and if that means speaking then I guess I will just have to suck it up and speak. I get this strange feeling that this trip is going to be quite the growing experience for me... scary.... The Melun church will also send out groups of young people to some of the smaller churches for a weekend to do street evangelism and help with their Sunday service(s) and one of the guys asked me if I would want to come with on some of those trips and I said yes, so it looks like as long as Bro and Sis Nowacki approve it I will be able to do some traveling and helping out the smaller, more home missions like churches with the young people of Melun as well!

This past weekend was the Pentecostal Convention that they have every year over the Pentecost Sunday weekend. It was held in Arras this year, which is in northern France. Bro. Weber from Lafayette, Louisiana was the evangelist and he did a great job! It was a 2 hr drive there and I rode up with 2 of the young people from the church. There were 2 services on Saturday, one at 3 pm and one at 7 pm, so we really only had a little over an hour in between the 2 services to change and rest for a minute. After the evening service I went out to McDonald's with all of the young people from the Melun church and we had to sit outside because there wasn't enough room in the restaurant for all of us plus the other customers. So we ate outside and had us a good time! We had a good theological debate about Abraham sacrificing Isaac and whether or not he knew that God would provide another sacrifice (well as good of a theological debate as you can have at midnight...and then there was my bad French - that I finally refused to use after a few tries because it was too complicated and deep of a subject for me to use French)....we came down to the conclusion that a few of us had different interpretations/definitions of the word "faith" and just left it at that. But I couldn't stop thinking about it so the next morning before the first service I found one of the guys and explained my view in a more clear, concise way (funny how sleep can help with!) and we finally agreed with each other lol! 

Anyways, Saturday night I didn't get to bed until 1:30 am and then was up at 7:30 to get ready, eat breakfast, pack up and check out of the hotel before the first service started at 9:30. We had 2 services again on Sunday, the 9:30 am and then a 3 pm. And we had us some good church! By the 3 pm service we were all struggling to stay awake...we'd all eaten a big lunch, it was hot and no one had gotten enough sleep. But by the end of the service we were all jumping and dancing in the altar! (first time wearing heels in weeks...the feet were killing after that...) That last service Bro Weber preached about miracles and one of his points really stuck with me. He said that you have to pour out in order for the God to pour into you. Whether that is pouring out praise, pouring out in the sense of letting go of something, etc. Such a simple point, but it really stuck with me. SO many times we want God to perform the miracle, but we don't make room for it. We want it to happen without us giving anything first or without having to get rid of something in order to make room for it. He also talked about how you have to prepare for your miracle/vision and live like it's going to happen. He gave the example of how they only had 1 changing room for baptisms at their church and only 3 baptismal robes. God had given him a vision that their church was going to grow, so the saints went to him and asked to build more changing rooms down one of their church hallways and people brought clothes from their houses to be used as baptismal clothes and they had a week of evangelism and then that following Sunday they ended up baptizing over 60 people (he said they were baptizing 2 people at once lol!), with at least 30 of them receiving the Holy Ghost as well! The point being that your miracle can only be as big as you prepare for it to be....what if he had only had that 1 changing room and those 3 baptismal robes?! 

Here's a couple videos of the choirs singing:

All in all it was a great weekend! It was refreshing, there was great fellowship, not enough sleep and I earned the title DJ Abby after controlling the iPod on the way there. I was able to both minister and be ministered to in the altar. The music and choirs were incredible! And the power of God was very much present! It says something when you get home from a conference like that and can't wait for Tuesday night because that means church again! I would say that God is DEFINITELY on the move in France. I can feel the excitement and anticipation in the people and I must say, it's contagious :) Only thing that I can say that I'm sad about and/or regret is that I didn't take 1 picture the whole weekend and while I took a couple videos of the choirs I didn't get any video of our hoppin altar service...but then again I don't regret it because I was a part of it! It's hard for me to take pics and videos in church because I'm there to worship and hear the Word, but I do know that people back home that are supporting me both in prayer and finances want to see these things so I will try to be more concientous of that!

And now on a non-spiritual note.... I am super stoked that I'm going to be in Europe during the World Cup!!! I know I'm not like a huge soccer (yes, I know it's called football here in Europe but I feel like if I call it that then everyone will think I'm referring to American football...) fan but I do enjoy watching it and am going to try to keep up with the World Cup. I kinda want to go buy a soccer jersey just because :) I wish soccer was bigger in the States. It really is a fun sport to watch....and to play. I was a pretty good (and occasionally mean) little soccer player when I'd play at Jr Camp! (yes, I was sometimes a mean girl at church camp.... let's not talk about the time I got into a fight during a basketball game at Jr Camp....) 

So that is the latest update in the life of Abby in France! Things can only keep getting better in my opinion so here's to 2 1/2 more amazing, God-filled months in France! I will do my best to give frequent updates! Thank you to everyone who has and continues to lift me up in prayer (it means more than you will ever know!) Sometimes all I need is just that extra boost that comes from someone else's prayers! 

1 comment:

  1. YAY! I just read all three posts! I'm so excited for you Abby! What a wonderful, if sometimes scary and unpleasant, adventure! The best is yet to come! And I dearly hope you get some speaking engagements, Preacher Abby! >:) Also, I hereby grant you permission to go purchase a soccer/football jersey for yourself! Why not?! I still have the one I bought in Bolivia! Can't wait to hear more from you! Love and miss you!