Monday, February 6, 2012

An Ordinary Day

I am often asked how we spend our time on a day to day basis. Ministry is a difficult thing to quantify, but I will tell how TODAY was spent, and perhaps that will give you glimpse of the wonderful chaos that is our new "normal."

Let me start at 10 p.m. last night, when we received a text message from our pastor, Raphaël, asking David if he could lead prayer in the morning. It seems that an unexpected snowstorm would prevent him from getting home at a decent hour. David replied, "no problem!" and changed the alarm from 6:15 a.m. to 5:15 a.m. We had been debating about whether we were going to stay up late to watch the Super Bowl, and decided then that we ought to go to bed.

David woke up at 5:15, showered, and came downstairs to prepare the morning's worship set. That involves choosing 3-4 songs and creating a sort of power point presentation for their lyrics. Then he packed up the computer and his guitar and headed to the church to set up. I dragged myself out of bed at 6:45 and arrived at church just as the worship was beginning. There were 8 of us this morning. We did what we do every morning: we worshiped, we read a passage of the Bible (today we were on Genesis 24:1-14), we meditated on the passage, and we prayed about what God showed us in His Word. Next we spent some time praying for the persecuted church (today the focus was Belarus). Finally, we asked for prayer requests from those who were there. We prayed for assorted needs, including health, friends and neighbors who need Jesus, and safe travels. Then we went our separate ways for the day, expecting to see each other again at 6 p.m. for evening prayer.

Normally I go running right after prayer on Monday mornings, but because there was about 10 inches on snow on the ground and because I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for 9:15 a.m., I opted to go home for a cup of tea. I spent an hour checking e-mail, playing Words with Friends, and making a quick shopping list. At 9:05 a.m. I set out for the doctor's office on foot. His office is about a block and a half away.

While I was in the waiting room, Julie, a friend from church, called. It seems that one of the young mothers from Magnificat--a home for women in crisis--was going to arrive in Loches by bus at 11:20 and, because of the snow, had no means of getting back to Magnificat. Julie, who lives quite a ways outside of the village, asked if we could pick this young woman and her baby up at the bus station and bring them to our house until someone could figure out how to get her home. (Snow in this part of France is a bit of an anomaly, which means roads are not plowed and people have no idea how to drive in it.)

Just then the doctor came for me, and seeing that I was on the phone made some sarcastic remark that could be translated, "I am so very sorry to interrupt you, but I am ready to see you now." I told my friend that I had to go, but that she could give the young mother my telephone number and we would work something out.

I was examined by my doctor, who exclaimed that I was extremely healthy for someone whose blood work is  as messed up as mine. I am still anemic and I still have horribly low thyroid levels. He adjusted all my prescriptions accordingly and told me to go back to the lab to have my blood drawn again in three months.

At 9:45 I returned home and told David that I needed to do some grocery shopping as it appeared we may be having a guest for lunch. The only grocery store in walking distance from our home is closed on Monday mornings, so this meant we would have to dig our car out from under the snow. We ran to the store and just when we arrived home I received a text message from the young mother, Valerie, saying that she and her baby would be at the station at 11:20, and would it be too much trouble for us to pick them up? I replied that my husband would be there to meet them.

At 11:15, while David was on his way to the bus station, two things happened at the exact same time: 1.) Graham informed me that he needed to take an Algebra test (which requires parent supervision) and 2.) My friend Christine called to tell me that she could stop by my house to help me with an article that I had written in French for our church's website. I did not want to delay Graham in his schooling, neither could I put off Christine's help because technically, my article was already past-due. So I told both, "Okay!"

At 11:30 David arrived with Valerie and Léa, her 3 month old baby. He took over the supervision of the Algebra test while I worked on making the mother and baby comfortable. Valerie made a bottle for Léa while I made a cup of tea for Valerie. Just as mama and daughter were settled on the sofa, Christine rang the doorbell.

I waved her in and saw that her two youngest, Sebastian (4) and Elodie (2), were tagging along. Of course they were--schools were closed because of the snow! In fact, the snow was what made Christine's visit possible, as she is a junior high school teacher who normally would have been at work on a Monday morning.

Greetings and introductions were made all around, and then Christine and I went to work on my article. Sebastian and Elodie were perfect little visitors who were completely captivated by two wonders in my home: the precious baby with her bottle and our cat, Jack, who patiently endured the hands-on love of his small admirers.

Christine corrected my article with the care and efficiency of a junior high teacher, and then proceeded to tell Valerie that I am horrible to speak to on the telephone. It is still difficult for me to talk on the phone in French, so I tend to be very curt. Apparently French people consider this to be rude, so even though Christine is forgiving and knows why I am not very verbose on the phone, she loves to tease me about my lack of telephone etiquette. Valerie quickly joined in the ribbing, telling Christine that she should make a point of calling me every day, just to chat. I should have thrown them both out, but I didn't. They are much to dear to me.

Christine did leave fairly quickly, however, because Chandler came in asking about lunch. By then it was 12:30 and Graham had finished his Algebra test. We all sat down to simple lunch of soup and baguette. During lunch Valerie explained that her time at Magnificat was almost up and that she was looking for a place to live in Loches! This delighted me because our church has been praying fervently for Valerie and Léa. They spent some time in our community over the holidays and they have been coming to Sunday services whenever someone is available to transport them to and from Magnificat. Léa, who has downs syndrome, has worked her way into all of our hearts. I can't wait to share this bit of news at evening prayer. Valerie is one for whom we had prayed that very morning.

After lunch David offered to brave the roads to take Valerie and Léa home. Over lunch we learned that Léa had a doctor's appointment at 2:30 p.m., and David thought that he could get them there in time. They packed up and headed out into the cold.

Meanwhile, I glanced at the clock and panicked. It was 1:30 p.m. and I had a huge house to clean before my weekly meeting with Naomi--my French conversation partner. I tried to call Naomi to see if, given the snow, we were still going to meet. She didn't answer, so I left a message and started cleaning.

I started in the bathroom that the boys share with guests because tomorrow at noon we have a guest arriving. Sara, a French Bible student, is coming for ten days to do an internship at our church. She is a brilliant young woman that David and I met at church planting conference in Frankfurt. Since David and I are passionate about supporting and encouraging French believers to reach their country for Christ, we were thrilled when Sara e-mailed us last month to ask if she could do an internship at our church. She arrives tomorrow on the 11:20 bus, and I want the house to be warm and welcoming for her.

With Chandler's help, we had the house in pretty good shape by the time David got home. It was close to 3 p.m. by then (Valerie and Léa got to their appointment on time!) and I was guessing that Naomi would not be braving the snow for our regular appointment. So I made a cup of tea and sat down to send my freshly edited article to the church for approval. Raf quickly replied to my e-mail declaring that the article was "brilliant" (he was being kind) and asking if I could take a photo to go with it.

We needed a photo of the dungeon to go with my article, and fortunately, we have a great view of the dungeon from Graham's room. David went upstairs and took the photo, and I sent it on to Raf. I'm sure you can imagine how it felt to check something off my list. Article for Website: Check!

It was just after 4 p.m. when David took off for the church. He went there to meet with Raf about sound equipment that they need to buy for the church and about a hermeneutics class that Raf wants David to create and teach for eight eager lay-people in our church. Back at home, I started writing this blog, folded a load of laundry, and prepared two chickens to roast.

Suddenly it was 5:45 and time to head to church for evening prayer. When I walked in I saw Raf handing a guitar to David and asking him to play. David took the guitar and asked, "What song?" Raf had already chosen Béni Soit ton Nom (Blessed be Your Name). The 10 of us who were there joined in singing and then Raf asked the same question that is asked every evening at prayer: "Où était Dieu aujourd'hui?" which means, "Where was God today?"

We shared our story about having Valerie and Léa for a few hours and David shared about God's protection in driving back to Magnificat. Others shared about divine appointments, special blessings, and some plain old ordinary things that are often taken for granted. We then thanked God for all He had done for us. After praying we discussed how we would house and feed a group of nine people who were coming to visit our church this week, and then we parted ways for the evening.

Now we are back at home, and the timer on the oven just went off, calling me to baste chickens, mash potatoes, and steam Brussels sprouts. It is 7:30 p.m. and we will eat dinner at 8 p.m., which is pretty typical for us. After dinner I will probably knit a few rows, and then we have our family devotions and prayer time. I realize that I didn't have a personal quiet time today--that happens sometimes. But other than that, I'd have to say that this was a pretty typical day for us, here in the lovely village of Loches. God is always at work, and we just try to do whatever he puts before us each day.


  1. Sounds like a very full day! So, how do people know when you are not having a morning prayer meeting at your house? Or did Graham and Chandler oversee that?

  2. Ever since the holidays we have not been having prayer at our house...we all go to the church. This is primarily because Raf travels a lot and David covers morning prayer when Raf is out of town and David can't be two places at once. Good question!