to bring you a glimpse of my Ladies’ Retreat! Last weekend, our church organization sponsored a spiritual retreat for the French churches of South France with the theme of Free to Serve Him. Aside from an interest in the topic, I loved the idea of learning and worshiping alongside my sisters in Christ here. The one big hesitation I held was, well, it would be a French retreat in French. I’ve been working on this language for 10 months, but I still can’t say I speak it. One of my French friends who was attending, though, and who translates, offered to let me ride with her and the pastor’s wife, and she would make sure I understood the teaching. YES!
One of the joys of being a part of the family of God is that, where ever you go, regardless of cultural or language differences, the Holy Spirit in each of you is able to communicate a bond that transcends these barriers. Poor tribal women in the mountains of Mexico who know the Savior lit up at meeting a white, clueless English believer in Christ (and vice versa), and it is the same in France. I sang songs in French, whose lyrics I could only mostly comprehend, but some I knew in English, and what a joy! I prayed with women in French, and enjoyed 3-course French meals preceded by lovely songs that were benedictions, like we used to do in camp! And I was able to follow French Scripture readings in my English Bible.
And folks, the liberating grace and mercy of God is the same in every language! It was a first for the women of the region, and I pray it will double in size next year.
It was a mercy and a delight, though, to find that a third of the ladies in attendance, while speaking French for the retreat, were yet native English-speakers. And additionally, the matron who was caretaker of the retreat location was an American missionary who had come to France long ago to minister to lovely French people. The world of the family of God is small indeed! I had an abundance of help with the material, and people who were ready to talk about Jesus in my own heart language, too. I did sometimes grow weary of all the foreign-ness. It is hard work and a constant alertness to focus on a foreign language, and it wasn’t just a few hours with French class. It was definitely a weekend that helped my language listening skills, though.
The location was a retreat in itself, too, though. Maubourguet is a quaint ville, and this building the retreat met at was right on the market square. Looking at the solid wall facade that faces the square, you’d never guess all the courtyard and home behind them.
I definitely hope I have the privilege of attending again next year!