After a long bus ride yesterday, today’s trip from Bourges to Paris would be a cinch in comparison!
Initially, the plan was that we’d leave the group in Bourges and head straight back to Châtellerault, given that they were in a straight line to Paris and that missionary Paul Brochu (overall coordinator for #AYCFrance19 on the French side) would be meeting them there.
In then end, however, we stayed with them for longer than planned… let me tell you about that…
Prolonging the Blessing
There were essentially two reasons that we ended up spending more time with the group than had been originally planned.
The North American chaperones were just a bit nervous about being on a 4hr bus ride without anyone who was (a) fluent in French and (b) familiar with the culture. To that point everything had gone without a hitch, but in case of trouble… they’d be in a lurch.
Our kids melded into the AYC group like hand-in-glove and the leaders wanted to give them even more time to spend with these other North American (English-speaking) Christian youth – knowing that they were, for the most part, somewhat far removed from any semblance of a regular youth group.
Just one hiccup…
Because of Sophie’s exam the other day and since we’d been planning to separate in Bourges, we were having to deal with our car as well as the bus. It was one thing for Liz to drive the car from Bordeaux to Bourges, but there was NO WAY she was wanting to drive to/in/or anywhere near Paris. So she stayed on the bus with the group and I took the car from there. We’d meet back up in the city.
The group made it and had lunch upon arrival, after which they headed out by metro into the city (since noon – 1pm was still too early to get into their rooms).
Friday, June 21st was “Fête de la Musique” in France – so there are special things going on all across the country, in every town, village and bourg and while it’s common to see street performers in Paris, a day like that just takes it up to a whole new level!
For this reason, the group headed out to a couple of locations (around Les Halles and Place d’Italie) to sing and hand out invitations to church at Paris-Center (the work pastored by missionary Paul Brochu).
Prolonging the blessing…. again!
AYC organizers and missionary Brochu approached us about spending yet another day with the group… the following day, Saturday – all expenses looked after.
It wasn’t possible for Liz & I (who needed to prepare some things for Sunday) but we were cool with Soph, Dominic & Timo spending the extra day – we knew that they’d LOVE it (especially since it would be Sophie’s birthday).
They would spend the day visiting the Louvre, doing a segway tour of the city and… most importantly… doing it all with this great group of kids!
Supper at 5 Guys on the Champs Élysées (our first time – Ohhhhhhh the salted caramel milkshake!!!) then we saw them off and said goodbye as they boarded the Bateaux Mouche for an evening boat tour along the Seine River.
Long Drive Home
Liz & I were about to embark on a 3hr drive, leaving Paris at nearly 10pm.
We caught one last look at the Eiffel Tower then hit the metro with Pollux – our faithful little fur-friend (who metroes like a pro!) and hit the road.
Our 3hr drive ended up taking nearly 6hrs because we made two coffee stops and two cat-nap stops to help ensure we arrived safely home (around 3:30am).
While the kids were frolicking in Paris last Saturday, we were able to sleep in a bit, get the church cleaned up and prepare for service the next day – they arrived home later that night by train.
One More AYC for the Books
This was now our second #AYCFrance tour and both were huge blessings – both for the local churches we visited but also, personally, for our kids (which is, in turn, a blessing to us).
The General Youth Division of the UPCI (our church & sending organization) is doing an incredible job with our young people. Specifically, AYC provides great experiences for young people who (a) want to find out a bit more about missions (b) experience life on the mission field short-term and (c) do all of that with a group of other like-minded individuals.
Such trips are breeding grounds for new friendships and, by getting out of their comfort zone, many participants are better able to get a window into the direction that the Lord may be leading them – whether missions-related or just generally speaking.
I’m thankful for AYC in general and for #AYCFrance19 in particular.
What a privilege to share the work in France with this group.