The south of France is beautiful. What a privilege it is to journey through the countryside, to walk the historic cobblestoned streets, and taste the culinary delights of these regions. Add the increasing light of the sun and voila – light, warmth, good company and a beautiful town – parfait. Here’s a little summary, in trios, of the voyage so far:
- Creamy, historic buildings stretching out along the banks of the river, and arches – yes, count the arches.
- Three cinemas – the first has English options, the second tout en français, and the third, a little theatre for international films.
- Waiter: “Australia! Oh it’s hot over there, 40 degrees!”
- Red brick buildings and “club-trees” in the park.
- Five short stories by William Tennessey, performed by some very talented French actors
- Waiter: “Have you ever tried this dish before? (then insert full conversation about people in his family who study medicine and how the shop across the street manages with a cook that speaks no French)”
- Walking in the vast courtyard of an ancient castle. Need I say more?
- Two songs written down for future reference after our viewing of the 2013 French music awards.
- Waiter: “Are all Australian girls as pretty as you two? I’ll come visit then.”
- A random walk from the gare revealed the presence of a park, bridge and ancient courtyard.
- One hour in transit
- Man at la gare (on at least 3 occasions after we had already given him more than the original amount asked for and we saw other people giving him some money): “4 euros please… I still need 2 euros please for the train ticket to Toulouse…”
- Across the road, there was a wall. Within the wall, there was a street. At the end of the street, there was a Palace. Past the palace, there was a park. In the park, there was a tree. I climbed that tree.
- Countless sheepish (literally and figuratively) friends for Lambie
- Supervising person at Le Palais de Papes : “(insert full conversation on variety of topics in French, + more after being introduced to his colleague)”
- Water, sunshine and many many boats! Fish, seafood, navette and colourfully painted animals standing guard by the dock.
- Alot of stairs to climb to the top of the hill where Notre Dame is situated, but definitely worth it.
- Helping person on the boat: “Come with me” – he proceeded to give me a tour of the sights and history of Marseille as we saw it by boat, then introduced me to the captain of the boat who let me sit in his chair, then proposed to give me a tour of the old city after lunch… which, though he was very lovely, I kindly declined.
What’s down the south?
Sun, warmth and, a picture of restored buildings, paintings and towns which emit the historic aura of war, peace, dissension and progression. Amidst the adventure and beauty of this trip, I continue to remember my Lord Jesus. I’m just continuously captivated by what He is showing me and teaching me about His heart and about His work. I have really met a vast number of God’s people faithfully ministering, faithfully serving, faithfully building in so many different ways. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone, it is the same God at work.” [1 Corinthians 12:4-6] I am also reminded of Isaiah 58:6-8:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
During my time in France, I have met people and churches who have devoted themselves to these things, all done in partnership with the Lord and with wisdom. People who open their homes to house others, who feed the hungry, who are inventive and creative in their proclamation of the gospel, prophetically gifted people who pray, discern and take action, people who support others in their ministry, those who quietly encourage, people who uphold the instructions of the Lord, people with hearts of worship, people who find God in the word, in personal testimony, and in the everyday.
Before coming to France, the Lord had been teaching me some things. It is interesting how all sorts of circumstances have come together in France to complement His teaching me through the word.
- [1 Corinthians 9:19-23] – I’ve had so many opportunities to see how different people process the “grey” areas of living as a witness for God, and encouraging others to do the same. I have learnt lots as people have shared their struggles, their thought processes, and their practical experiences.
- [Matthew 28:19-20] – Seeing the different parts of the body work together in carrying out this commandment, and in particular, the different ways of communicating the gospel. Visionaries, missionaries, evangelists, teachers, prophecy, in the marketplace – all these I have seen in action.
- [Matthew 19:14] – Children are so precious to the Lord, and I’ve had the opportunity, particularly in Marseille, to spend time with a group of beautiful children and their families. It has also been good to to speak with a family who has gone through the adoption process successfully, as this was something I had looked up briefly in Adelaide during my obsgynae rotation.
So, here’s one final summary for this trip down south.
Sun/the Son: “[Jesus] said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”” [John 8:12]
Warmth (of the Father’s embrace): “…But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” [Luke 15:20]
Restoration: “…he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment – to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” [Ephesians 1:9-10]
And, I’ll finish with a very simple hymn, one which has continuously popped up in my mind the last 7 weeks in France:
“Oh how I love Jesus
Oh how I love Jesus
Oh how I love Jesus
Because He first loved me.”