Interrupting the Tour of Italy…

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.

Good food and conversation at a French retreat is a given, I guess.

Good food and conversation at a French retreat is a given, I guess.

We gather to practice a song for the host church's worship service Sunday. It was the French version of "Open My Eyes, Lord."

We gather to practice a song for the host church’s worship service Sunday. It was the French version of “Open My Eyes, Lord.”

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.

The courtyard, with bedrooms, the kitchen, and a meeting room facing it.

The courtyard, with bedrooms, the kitchen, and a meeting room facing it.

This is a lovely canal that runs behind most of the building, and actually UNDER parts of it. Very cool, and the babble of the water was refreshing.

This is a lovely canal that runs behind most of the building, and actually UNDER parts of it. Very cool, and the babble of the water was refreshing.

I definitely hope I have the privilege of attending again next year!

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under faith, France

3 responses to “Interrupting the Tour of Italy…

  1. I’m so glad you had this opportunity, although I am sure it was thoroughly exhausting being surrounded by french non-stop! How long are you planning on being in France?

    • 4pam

      It was tiring! I was grateful to have little oases of English here and there. We expect to be here until late summer or early fall of 2014. Maybe by then I will actually be able to contribute intelligibly to the conversations. Any chance you may return in the future?

      • Oh that’s great I didn’t realize you were going to stay so long! Don’t worry in a year language won’t be an issue. I will probably come back to Toulouse eventually since my boyfriend’s family lives there, but I don’t foresee anything long term. But you never know what will happen! Keep posting, I love reliving my toulousan adventure 🙂

Share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s