Thursday, June 11, 2015

Mission to Marseille It's been exactly a month since I've returned and I have so much to tell you about!!! Not only do I have the *whole* mission trip, but my time in London and what's been happening the past 30 days...and that's all before Simon comes to visit, Madeline comes to visit, and my dad comes to visit! Ok, let's get crackin'...

Because I was joining a team from our Every Nation church in London, I arrived in there 2 days before the flight to Marseille. I came in on the perfect Sunday - London has 3 'campuses' and they only come together twice a year. This was one of those times! It was amazing to meet so many people who knew members of my church family in Boston and get to experience how church is done in another part of the world. This service was held in the conference room of a local hospital.

Ooooooooh's been 6 years since I've used it, but it brought back college memories!

We stayed at a local hotel, which was very nice

The view from our window - I loved getting to experience such a different part of France. Because Marseille is on the southern coast, it felt a lot like Italy/more mediterranean.

How great is this concept?? You have to put your room key in the slot for the lights to work in your room. Makes sure you don't waste electricity *and* you don't lose your room key.

I could get used to eating French continental breakfasts...I had crepes, cheese, fruit, and coffee every morning. Soooooooooo good...

You all know I *love* metro stations...Marseille did not disappoint with having a different theme at each stop!

Walking around the city on the first day - a central square

The London team! Rommel in front, Titi on the left, Mark in the back, and me

Team dinner! We were lucky enough to be on our mission trip at the same time as a YWAM team from Hawaii - such an awesome group of people!

A shot of the lovely YWAM Team - Jim, Mary, Dani, Ana, Michael, Lydia, Lindsey, Burim, Eileen, Sara, Christina, and Elise

So...part of being on mission is really exploring the local culture. Tartiflette crepe for me, please and thank you.

...and for dessert...
(yes it was delicious)

Marseille was filled with graffiti - some of it was quite lovely

We passed a flower stand every day and I reeeeeeeeeally wanted to get this lemon tree. No way to bring it back though haha

Walking to the cafe...couldn't believe bagels were 12 euros!

Team London in front of Evolution 13, the Every Nation church plant in Marseille. This little cafe was purchased by the team and operates as a smoothie shop in the front, and a church in the back.

The ad for English camp!

 Each morning, we would gather in the back room of the cafe around 9/9:30 to pray and plan for the day

On our first morning out, we headed towards the center of the city to give out free hugs. Along the way, we came across this statue of a momma and baby giraffe. What was especially cool was that the body of the baby one held free books - you could come and trade in existing books for new ones! Kind of like a mini-community library...

At the center of town

Me and the lovely Titi

The evangelism portion of the mission trip was the part I was most nervous about. I'm an outgoing person and love meeting new people, but the idea of trying to start a conversation with a random stranger about God was super nerve-wracking and intimidating to me. Going out and giving hugs on the first day was a great way to 'break the ice' in a way. 



...and more hugs!

Heading back to the cafe after our first morning on the streets

You could see allllllllllllll the way down this road (and we walked the whole thing! I wish I had brought my fitbit so I could see how many steps I'd taken each day.)

Some delicious Middle Eastern food (lamb kebab) for lunch

And I *finally* got more samurai sauce! I haven't had any since I studied in Paris 6 years ago!

First day of English camp! The divided the kids into 3 groups - green frogs, orange monkeys, and yellow ducks. I was one of the 'translators' (one of the few people who spoke some French) for the yellow ducks.

The yellow duck crew - Lydia (from the YWAM team), Valentine, Chathel, Jules, and Rafael (Lindsey teaching)

Rafael and Leo - two brothers who loved each other so much, the rough-housed the whole time ;-) Rafael was in my group, so I got to spend quite a bit of time trying to corral him. 

Snack time! One of the quietest parts of the afternoon haha

Along with learning English, the kids learned two songs to perform at the final showcase for the parents - '5 Little Monkeys' and a dance routine to Pharrell's 'Happy' (which I will never. ever. listen to again)

Dinner and a little site-seeing in the Vieux Port

Totally laid on the ground to take this one ;-)

Notre Dame

The London Team

Dinner - AMAZING moules frites (mussels and fries)

Om nom nom nom

I *love* carousels and ride them any chance I get...of course when I saw this one, I had to go for a spin!

Glorious sunset

A parting shot of the port

On Wednesday nights, Evolution 13 hosts Stu'Dieu nights - Q&A sessions for young adults curious about Christianity. The Wednesday we were there, Rommel shared his testimony and a great message on God's plan for us. Luciana acted as translator, and 2 girls came to Christ that night! It was SO COOL to witness and experience! 

The next morning, we headed to St Charles Station for more evangelism. This time we approached people trying to start information conversations using the God Test. I quickly discovered that while I was decent enough at conversational French, I didn't know 'Christianese' in French (i.e. faith-specific words like 'sin,' the Devil, 'faith,' etc.) It was a good thing the God Test was translated into English, French, and German!

Heading through the train station

Gorgeous view of the city and Notre dame from the train station

The stairs leading up to the station.

This was one of the *coolest* experiences of my whole mission trip. Mary and I were too nervous to venture out individually, so we approached this girl, Weronika, together. She was sitting by herself on the steps and we just asked if she had time for a brief survey (the God Test). She started talking and knew English really well, and quickly told us how she had come to be sitting on the steps at a train station in Marseille - she was from Poland but currently working in Paris as an au pair for a family there. The kids were on spring break and she needed time away, so was traveling on her own. I was at how easily she opened up to us - I think that traveling by yourself can get lonely, and she appreciated being able to talk with us. I won't give away too much personal information, but Weronika shared her ideas on faith and details of her life at home and let us pray for her. I am so glad to have met her!!! 

Gorgeous peonies in a local street market

Another very cool experience - we met these two young ladies (both 15) during our lunch break and got to talk to them about their beliefs. They both came from Muslim backgrounds, so it was very interesting having a conversation in broken French and English. I had a great connection with the girl on the left, and gave me a keychain her grandmother had given her in the shape of Morocco with her name written in Arabic. I 'traded' the pair of cross earrings I was wearing that day. Yet another example of God's awesomeness in leading us to people who were open to talking.

Back at the cafe for another afternoon of English camp - our group of yellow ducks along with the team leaders - me, Burim, Lindsey, and Michael.

Practicing the 'th' sound (very hard for native French speakers)

Getting to practice manners with 'les enfants' (the children)

Isn't this awesome???

Learning how to ask for a plate in English

...and learning how to ask for a napkin :)

Practicing the 'Happy' dance - the final pose

Practicing for the show on the last day!

Back for more delicious seafood...

The view from our table

That night I tried the Aioli Provencale - tons of fresh seafood and an awesome garlic cream sauce!

The next morning was spent prepping decorations for the 'Hawaii Party' we were hosting for the community that night. It's funny how things you take for granted in the states just don't exist elsewhere in the world (like a Party City with leis and pineapple garlands)

This was hilarious - the kids were making hand puppets to go along with a lesson and Rafael kept saying he wanted to make a thief. I showed him a picture of one on my phone and he said 'no no - a Thailand thief!'

After a few tries, I figured out he meant a ninja!

Gathering to watch the kids perform

Final presentation/exposition

Me with Valentine and Chathel and Jenny (she is on-staff for the year with the Marseille team and coordinated the whole English camp)

Rafael really bonded with Burim - he had a tough time saying good-bye...but it was so amazing to witness these kids learn English and develop relationships with the team members!

Our fearless leader - Matt Rasch, the pastor of Evolution 13

Evolution 13 hosts monthly parties as a way to invite people from the community to have fun and get to know the church and its members. Here we have some Hawaiian treats

Christina, Eileen, and Jim

A group of locals who frequent the church and cafe

Learning how to hula

On the walk home from the party, we ran into a Bike Festival - traffic was at a standstill as hundreds of bikes zipped around the square!

This cracked me up! An advertisement for 'Snoop Chien' (dog in French)

I *loved* having the beautiful sunshine streaming through my window to wake up to

Playing tourist on our last day in the city...

...of course this meant a stop at a bakery.

Love me some metro signs :)

We headed to the highest point in the city - the hill with Notre Dame de La Garde. The views were INCREDIBLE

A short video I shot :)

Even though it seemed like more of a tourist attraction than a place of worship, getting to experience a church like this had a special meaning for me after this week on mission.

A view of the church

We walked around the whole church so that we could see all of Marseille

You can see Chateau d'If - the island where the Count of Monte Cristo is based - in the background

It was absolutely stunning!!!

I love visiting new countries and seeing how different even the most 'normal' and commonplace things are - even the vegetation


It was the *perfect* day to see the city from this point!

Inside the church - you can definitely see the Islamic influences from the arches (take that online Islamic art course from sophomore year of college!)

Absolutely stunning

I just can't get over how intricate it is!

Final shot from the top

That afternoon, I was fully planning to hang around the city and visit the local markets, but I got talked into hiking les calanques (the cliffs) slightly outside the city. I don't really care for hiking, but I was told it was an easy 30 minute hike out and 30 minute hike back, so I went for it. I was wearing a pair of Keds and a skirt. Little did I know it would mean hiking down steep, craggy, rocky hills and completely ruining my feet for the rest of the trip! That said...I'll (grudgingly) admit it was all worth it. Just look at that view!

Eileen...the one who convinced me to come

The 'beach' was tiny and all pebbles

And the water was *freezing* - but after a long and arduous hike, it was just what I needed.

Team Marseille!

Pure happiness

And so begins the long hike back up....

The group - such an amazing collection of people from all countries, backgrounds, and walks of life!

Parting shot - a gorgeous view of the Mediterranean

A well-deserved dinner post-hike.

I can't even begin to fully capture everything that happened on this trip - from meeting amazing people from across the world to sharing my faith with others to teaching English and having incredible conversations...all while getting to be in a part of the world that I absolutely love. It was such an incredible experience, and I cannot wait to go back!!!!

(coming soon...the blog post about my vacation in London post-Marseille!)
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