This weekend, I drove six hours south to a town outside of Marseille to speak at an "Aglow International" group. (You may remember that a young man at the Lyon Easter retreat put my in contact with his mother's women's group.) Since I had some business to take care of in this area of France, I wanted to take advantage of my time there and do some ministry as well.
I had heard of Aglow before, but to be honest, I wasn't much informed about their work. One of their core beliefs is to mobilize women to evangelize, including an emphasis on Muslims. To that end, the ladies of Aglow Marseille meet each week to pray with women in an impoverished ghetto, and host a "tea"/Bible study once a month in the same ghetto, inviting women to share their testimonies around a table full of desserts.
I chose to share something from Eccelesiastes, because I've been discussing that in the English-speakers Bible study I'm doing at my apartment. Like the writer of Ecclesiastes, I spend a lot of time observing people in France. At first, in my desire to fit in, I would watch how the French did things, so that I could imitate them--how they ate, how they drove, etc. I didn't want to stand out or make a fool of myself. In time, I saw that the average French person was wrapped up in many pursuits that were just as vain as Ecclesiastes mentions. The pursuit of pleasure is just as evident here in the fancy food, choice wines, and the growing materialism of the French culture. I saw people that were obsessed with other people--young people who sell pieces of their own soul to find quick "love." I noted as well the heavy emphasis on the zodiac, horoscopes, and clairvoyance, which only reminded me of Ecc. 3:11 "God has put eternity in the hearts of men, but they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." I saw people desperate to know and control their future, but without any appreciation for God's place in it. In all those things that I observed in French culture, I was disappointed to see how meaningless their lives were. Without God, what meaning does life have? That is why Ecclesiastes ends with this conclusion, "Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." I asked the ladies there how we can fear God and keep his commandments, if we are not in a right relationshp with Him and His Son? How can we live a life of value and meaning apart from God and His plan for us? There were only two women there who were unsaved, but I hope that God spoke to them somehow during our meeting.
I came away from the afternoon with a great appreciation for Patricia Trebuchon, the director who has been faithfully doing this work for years, oftentimes with only one or two other helpers. I also saw a lot of great ideas for things I would like to do in Lyon, when I return to France. All in all, it was a great weekend!
In other news . . . . Early this morning, I was dozing in and out, the way you do when you're just too lazy to get up and start the day, and I had a quick little dream of home.
I was in the kitchen with my mom and sister, and we were all getting ready to go shopping at AC Moore, a crafts store where I always shop the scrapbooking aisle. I said to them, "Don't forget the JoAnn's flyer, because AC Moore will beat a competitor's price by 10%!"
"I already got it, because I figured we want the coupons," my sister said. (AC Moore also honors competitor's coupons).
Then Mom said, "Do you know what you want there already?" And I answered, "Yes, paper edgers."
Then I woke up. Oddly enough, I never use paper edgers--scissors that cut in decorative patterns, not straight lines--and I have no idea why I dreamed that. It was just so real. It was like conversations I've had with my mom and sister a hundred times, at least. But it made my upcoming arrival back home much more definite. I found myself realizing that its a good thing I'll be home in 32 days, or that dream would have really bummed me out.