Monday, August 13, 2012

August Update : Make Us One

August Update
(retroactive from beginning of July)

There are so many photos and special moments to share that I have to depend on the generosity of others to chronicle it all.
To stay connected to the renovations and events at Brie Church itself click here to connect on Facebook.
After you "LIKE" the page you will see all albums and posts in your newsfeed.
(I sometimes also share the albums posted there on my own page too but you can get news and photos hot off the press there first.)
So much has happened in just a month!
1-Brie Church began to renovate the building we just purchased in a quite miraculous way. Donations and bureaucratic steps(complicated here) all seemed to fall into place even sometimes at the last minute but all so God could be glorified.
2-Brie Church received a Mission Team from North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA(think Andy Stanley). For a week this highly specialized team focused on moving the renovations forward exponentially, especially the environments for our youngest children, the lobby welcome area, and the sanctuary/stage area. They donated sound and lighting equipment and worked like ants overtime each day. We at Eglise de la Brie are truly grateful for all they brought concretely and spiritually. Most of the team lodged with families from the church so that we also had the privilege of getting to know them personally. Each testimony, time of prayer, personal moment strengthened us as one family in Christ and reminded me how beautiful are plans God has in store for all of His people in every nation.
3-I have been blessed to connect quickly with several of the volunteers and participants of Brie Church through the renovations. I've been amazed to realize I have already made some new eternal French friends. Some are believers of course. The big surprises are how many UNCHURCHED friends of church members have volunteered and bonded with the Brie Church family! God has truly planted eternity in their hearts so that despite their temporary lack of faith they are irresistibly drawn to what He is doing in the building and more importantly in hearts!
4-Family Reunions with French friends from years past is one of the reasons I came here. In 2005 I was a camp counselor at Camp des Cimes in Grenoble, France. I had the 10 year old boys and bunked with the high school boys. The final night I celebrated with David Braesch (then 15) as he joined the family of faith during our moving and profound conversation. I connected as well with Josias Eyraud (then 17) whose brother David was in my group. Josias and I became fast friends that summer, but he left camp a non-believer. I saw him again duirng my Vision Trip in the fall of 2010 just after his marriage and the birth of his daughter. At the time Josias' wife Eve was the worship leader at a Congolese language church and he attened a French church. Yesterday we all attended the church they now attend together! I had been praying for such a change for over a year. Last night I had the extreme pleasure of reuniting with Josias, his wife Eve and 2.5 daughters, AND his Father Jean and brother David Eyraud (now 17)! What an amazing moment! And we all sincerely agreed we will all be seeing a lot each other since they all live less than a half hour away from my new apartment! Pray for their family as Jean's wife, mother of Josias and David, left him some months ago. Jean is leaning on his faith in Christ and his family to survive.

5-Despite warnings to expect obstacles and delays Team Brie has already been able to help me personally open a bank account, complete the visa process(required after arrival), get a loaner car to drive(and GPS...thank God for  the GPS), apply for and be approved to move into my very own apartment August 1st! Photos next month...I know I know but there is so much sorting to do and you need something to look forward to next month! All these things were supposed to take months: all of us, French and American alike are in awe of how much God accomplished in such a short time with so little resistance!

6-I am being refreshed after a month and a half of hard labor and moving piecemeal into my apt at United World Mission's Euro Conference in Slovenia. A team from the US came on Mission to work with the children as well as to provide worship for us. On the first day they did several of the songs close to my heart from my time support-raising. In that set they also included a song I had recorded just before I left France for this newsletter! Here is that song.

Welcome "Home"
On August 1st I signed a lease for a bright apartment in Brie-Comte-Robert
Here are pics and a video to give you a virtual tour:

The pics walk you from the elevator to the parking enclosure outside next door.

The car I'm borrowing for the moment.

My parking spots.

We continue to upfit the building, to get as much done as possible for the Fall Kickoff on September 9th. You can be praying for the work, hands to help and God to unite us thru common purpose. The best part is seeing all of the extended family and friends of the core team of French leaders come to help out even tho they are still far from God or even professing atheists and even a Muslim!

My host Eric getting ready to steam off some wall-paper.

A drink almost named after me. Tastes like liquid licorice.
Eric and I played snuch out to the Moroccan restaurant in Ozoir where he and Sandrine live, while she was taking the girls to camp near the border with Germany.

The view across from the Moroccan restaurant in Ozoir-la-Ferriere

Back in Brie-Comte-Robert I explored a little downtown, starting at the Town Hall and Town Park just next door.

For the summer they set up games and a sand pit and offer all sorts of kids activities, all under the banner..."Brie Beach (Plage)! So I still haven't left the beach ;)
First piece of mail at my new apartment!
More work at the church. Because even while signing for my apartment or completing the requirements for my visa (official documents to stay for a year) most of my time has been renovating (painting and sanding) and getting to know Brie Church and our extended family and friends.

In the middle of July I received 2 friends from Your Next Step Institute in SC. Doug mentored me and Steven is a fellow alumnus of Your Next Step. It was so great to have them come and interact with and speak into the lives of Brie Church mmbers, especially Sandrine and Eric Furter ,my hosts.

Doug Dorman and Steven Boatwright
Doug speaking into the lives of Eric and Sandrine for their future work in the Kingdom worldwide.
Right after Doug and Steven arrived we,at Brie Church, received a Mission Team from Northpoint (and Buck Head+a satellite site ) Community Church in Atlanta where Andy Stanley is Pastor. They came with designs and skills to create the childrens environments and to equip the auditorium from scratch. So much work was accomplished between when we picked them up at the airport and saw them off just over a week later!

Lorenzo welcoming the first arrivals!

Eric greeting the 13 Mission team members as well
We took an outing on their 2nd day to a castle where we experienced a tour and a unique concert that included music about and the cooking of escargot (snails) Blandy-les-Tours nearby.

Surprising statements posted around the castle.

Back to work. Ron was a non-staff volunteer and just a great guy to work with!!!

Steven and Doug could only stay a few days so on Monday I saw them off.

The best part of the week with the American Mission team was how God drew American Christians, French Christians AND their lost friends close together in an intense but short 5 days!

In the middle of the week we (French) took the Americans on a tour of Paris.

Yes that's Notre Dame in all her beauty.

In the metro we saw this sign that gives a great view of a famous Chateau in Brie...famous mainly because when the King saw it hew was so jealous he had a larger copy built to overshadow it's speldor...thus the inspiration for Versailles!

We ended our tour at the Eiffel Tower by moonlight.

I still have a small connection to the virtual world back best effort in months...118 points!

Back to work.

Sunday we saw the team off after a wonderful but too short week. Here they all are that day. So blessed to get to know them and begin some new eternal friendships! Some will return next year to continue work they started!
Either skip to the end to see my most recent pics or continue scrolling for Tour de France pics! Below are a ton of pics from the Tour de France. Some of the team, and I, wanted to experience it in paris. We found a place near the 1 km mark and were amazed to get the last 8 laps of the tour thru Paris. The yellow jersey passed us 8 times in his sort of victory laps.
The winner is really decided by the next to the last day and in a gentleman's agreement he is allowed to ride victoriously first across the finish line on the Champs Elysee!

After the team left I had a day or 2 to reconnect with Paris where I lived during my 4th year of teaching on a Fulbright teacher exchange. I revisited my favorite spots and saw the latest Spiderman movie. I was so moved because memories rushed back and this sense of coming home came back to me and I was grateful for God's affirmation that I'm right where I'm supposed to be!

The Furters and their 3 girls!
The Furters leaving on vacation at the end of July!

Josias and his family at their apartment in Creteil a half hour from where I'll be living!
At the beginning of August when I reconnected with Josias, his wife Eve, their 2 daughters, and his father and brother. I met Josias in 2005 and he has been one of the reasons I was excited to land close to Paris. Praise report: Josias and his wife now attend church together! She's expecting their 3rd child in October as well. I'm excited to hopefully influence Josias to be the leader in the Kingdom and in his home that he already is on the rugby field and in his secular social circle.