Photographs often drive my posts each week. I look through my phone, grab highlights of the week that was and craft the post from there. Today though, let me tell you about photos you don’t see.
Pics we look for…
One of the things that we typically like to see, from missionaries that we keep up on, are pictures of “progress” which, in a church setting, is measured by quality of Christian growth – whether in prayer, worship, study of God’s word or overall life-change.
A picture does tell a thousand words, which is why the photo of my friend Sebastien getting baptized last April was so powerful (see right). Knowing what’s involved in a decision like that, you understand the feelings connected to such a powerful experience. In a sense, you can relate.
You have not seen pictures like this very often. Specifically, you’ve not seen photos of people praying or worshiping in our services. There’s a reason for that.
Altar time is personal…
Time spent at the altar is a very personal moment. When that happens in a crowded service there is often so much going on that people feel lost in a crowd (in a good way) or inconspicuous. When you have between 12 and 20 people though, it’s more difficult; no matter what you do, you are visible. We don’t want to distract or risk interrupting such moments, or make a new person feel uncomfortable… after all, it’s really about them.
In addition to that, one of our most faithful people is excruciatingly self conscious about being photographed, making it difficult to get group pictures, whether formal or spontaneous.
It’s also cultural…
Each culture has its spoken and its unspoken norms. North Americans wear their heart somewhat on their sleeve – we’ll ask a perfect stranger how they’re doing the first time that we meet, it’s part of our greeting – not so in France. Here, unless you’re already IN their close circle or have a strong mutual connection… asking someone how they’re doing is just not as common. There is a bit more distance between people.
Because of this, moreso than in North America, if a French person lets their guard down or shows emotion in a group of near-strangers (like in church, at the altar, for example), you risk losing their trust by trying to capture or worse, publish that moment. We don’t want to jeopardize their trust… it’s too important.
So for now…
… in other meetings or in places where folks are more accustomed to it, you’ll see pictures, but in our little group, you’ll have to be content to read about it. I promise to keep it under 1,000 words!
In other news…
- Last Sunday we were glad to have Sebastien and his family back after a 3 month absence due to travel. After church we had dinner together at the house along with other folks from church.
- Sunday evening we drove out to Angles-sur-l’Anglin for a fireworks display. Amazing with the 12th century baronnial castle for a backdrop.
- Thursday we had a real treat! We were invited, by our neighbours, to join them for a pic-nic some 30km away. The kids swam, we talked & did some walking too. A wonderful day building friendship.
- Yesterday the 2014-2015 school year was officially OVER! Liz shipped off the instructional DVDs and mailed the grades to Abeka Academy. There was much joy and we celebrated with supper at the local Chinese Buffet! (I know… “How French, right?”)
- We’re looking forward, on Monday, to the arrival of a young lady from home who will be spending two weeks with us. She has a heart for missions and this will be a blessed time!
- That God would keep us safe as we travel to pick up Miranda on Monday and that her travel is safe as well.
- I’ll be spending some regular time this week building a new relationship with another neighbour. Pray that our time together benefits the Kingdom of God.
- A tragic death has struck the youth group in one of our sister-churches here…. pray for God’s hand to strengthen and comfort.
Thank you! … Your support means a great deal to us!