Wow, we've been in France now for nearly five months! We've found somewhere really nice to live, we've cycled several thousand kilometres, we've helped start a new church, and we've acquired a telephone line!
Our weekend with David Stroud will, we are sure, prove to be extremely significant for the church. He was very well received by all and brought us much wisdom regarding building a large city centre church. On the Sunday morning we had, we think, our largest gathering to date (54 people were there) which was very encouraging. It means also, of course, that we must find somewhere else to meet in fairly soon as there is no way we can fit another ten people in the Neals' house.
We are now preparing to launch small groups (probably to be called Groupes de Vie) in the new year and we will be focussing on how these groups can effectively reach out to unbelieving friends.
In terms of our own time, Gill has re-registered for some more courses at Alliance Francaise for the two weeks before Christmas and for January (concentrating mainly she hopes on conversational French) so she will be back there on her bike on Monday morning. I will probably be looking for some form of part time employment from January onwards for a while. Frankly, I have no idea what to look for at present and am praying for some clear guidance. My current ideas of being a siffleur in the local park or a pousseur on a metro station platform are unlikely to come to much. A siffleur, by the way, whistles for five minutes each day to get people out of the park at closing time, and a pousseur helps push commuters onto already overcrowded metro trains at rush hour.
I am being interrupted this morning by a game of tennis on the clay court below as the losing player has completely lost it and has started to bash the tennis balls at his very placid opponent whilst using what I can only imagine is a (very long) string of the most lurid swearwords. All highly educational for the likes of bloggers six stories up!
Our house sale is still an item of real frustration. The agents have an interested party, a lady who first viewed the property several weeks ago. Then all went quiet and we assumed that she was not interested. Then suddenly she announced she wanted a second look which was, of course, extremely encouraging indeed. I think that she is the first person since the house went on the market in February who has returned for another look. Then she announced she wanted to take her interior designer friend round. So she did. Then nothing again for a week or so. Then the interior designer wanted to take an electrician and, would you credit it, a quantity surveyor to have a look. That was last weekend and nothing since! We are going to ask the agents to start charging her rent because she is virtually living there it seems. We are fully expecting her or the quantity surveyor to want to re-visit next weekend with a cutlery specialist before feeling able to make an offer.
I had my first ever experience of treasure hunt evangelism on Wednesday. We have three UK students in the church who only have to work 12 hours a week as language assistants in local schools and, now I have a bit more time after finishing language school, I decided to throw them in the deep end. The problem was that I had to go in too. And it was cold and very wet and very windy. Anyway after meeting at our apartment to pray, with all of us scared and none of us really knowing what to do, we asked God to give us words of knowledge to help us find the treasure and, as we prayed, we wrote down what we thought God showed us. I wrote down: 1. Red, 2. Right leg and 3. Crossing road. The others had various other things. We went into town and, to cut a long story short, after already getting wet and frozen for nearly an hour, Kirsty and I were stood in the rain near the Metro at Place St Michel when a lady in a red coat approached us walking with a slight limp and asked us for directions which we provided and which involved her in needing to cross the road. We asked her if we could pray for her leg and she explained that she had broken her right ankle two years ago and in wet and cold weather it still gives her some jip (I don't know what jip is in French). We explained that God had shown us earlier that morning that we would meet someone in red with a problem in her right leg. She was delighted and amazed explaining she was a non practising Catholic. We prayed for her and briefly shared God's love with her before she crossed the road to get the metro.
We were so encouraged that God speaks and I intend to do more treasure hunt evangelism next week. Maybe the sun will shine.