Tuesday, May 22, 2012


When I asked for blogging ideas, my friend KK sent me a bunch of great questions to answer. He asks really good questions because he has lived abroad for a number of years and he understands many of the things that we experience as ex-pats in France. I always appreciate his comments and his input. 

Each one of his questions could merit the space of an entire blog post--and while I may elaborate on some of my responses in future blogs, I thought it would be fun to give short answers to all his questions together. In this way, it sort of feels like I am being interviewed by a reporter who really knows what to ask! 

So, what follows are KK's questions, exactly as he posed them, and my attempt to answer them. 

KK: Describe the thoughts and questions that go through your mind when you consider the people that financially support you. What sort of thoughts dare you not share?

JW: I have mostly thoughts of gratitude and appreciation for those who support us. We pray for our supporters in general terms almost every night, but if we know of any specific needs, we pray for those as well. We think about their lives, their families, their ministries, and their friendship.

I sometimes wonder what each family is sacrificing in order to give money to us every month. I wonder if they realize how integral their generosity is to our ministry. I wonder if they know that we really think of them as our partners--they are our teammates! I wonder if they feel God's pleasure when they give. I also wonder if they ever feel disappointed in us. Are they satisfied with our efforts? Do they regret giving to us? I wonder if they feel like they KNOW what we are doing, that is to say, do they feel informed? Included? Engaged? Do they pray for us?

As for thoughts I "dare not share,"...well, I usually dare. I dared to share when we took a Mediterranean cruise, even though some might have thought it an extravagant vacation for missionaries. I dare to share my feelings of frustration, even though some might think me incapable of the task before us. I dared to share about David playing in a bar on St. Patrick's Day, even though some might frown on such a "ministry" as too worldly. I share because I value transparency. I know there is some risk involved.

KK: What things would not have happened at your congregation if you hadn't been in France?

JW: How can we know? God is over all, and He will do what He will do. Sometimes He uses us, but He certainly doesn't need us. We lead worship, we preach, we teach classes. But if we had not been here to do those things, someone else probably would have done them.

KK: What other sort of feedback did you receive after preaching in French?

JW: David was really proud of me, and the boys told me that they only heard a couple of mistakes. A dear British friend, who is absolutely fluent in French, told me, "There is NO WAY I could've done that after only being in France for a year and a half!" Our pastor was not there the Sunday that I preached, but he told me that he heard from other sources, "Tu as déchiré !" Which literally means, "You tore it up!" I think that's a compliment. Also, the day after I preached, a guy who has been coming to prayer pretty regularly for about 3 months told David that he had been thinking a lot about what I had said and that he was on the verge of making a decision to follow Jesus. He did, indeed, make that decision shortly thereafter.

KK: What percentage of your congregation speaks absolutely no English?

JW: If you are only counting the French congregation, 90% do not speak English.

KK: Have you experienced any anti American sentiment from those inside your church? From those outside the church? Has anyone hinted at these imperialistic Americans coming to shove their faith down our throat?

JW: We have not  felt any anti- American sentiment from those in our church, unless you count the way the Brits razz us about our American accents! Neither do we feel any anti-American sentiment from the French at large; Quite the contrary--we feel very welcome here. No one has accused us of being imperialists. MANY French Christians get tears in their eyes when they thank us for coming to help reach their country for Christ. They are overwhelmed that we would care enough about their fellow countrymen to leave our own country to share the Gospel.

KK: Do you feel people contentedly look past your accent and speaking and grammar and pay attention to the msg you try to communicate?

JW: Yes, but they still correct me! :)

KK: Do you do anything now that you live in France that you would not have considered doing while in the USA? What caused the change? Would you stop doing those things if you ever moved back to Les Etats-Unis?

JW: David has joined all French men in taking the liberty to stop anywhere along the auto route to relieve himself. We cannot drive ANYWHERE in France without seeing at least one man watering the grass. David's change is due to the fact that this behavior is culturally acceptable in France. I think he would use rest stops if we were back in the States, but who can say for sure!

I do marketing twice a week, and we eat a lot of locally grown fresh food. I did eat fresh veggies from my own garden in the States, but other than that, I would hit Costco twice a month for the bulk of our food. We started marketing more often because we do not have very much storage space in our kitchen. Now we can actually tell the difference and appreciate the freshness of the food.

We walk everywhere, and one car is more than enough for our family. I don't think we could have gotten by with one car in the States. We changed because we only had the budget for one car here, but two would be silly! We barely need the one car!

I always take my own sacs to the grocery store here, and YES, I would do that if I ever moved back to the States, though I did not do it before we left. We made the change because the stores here charge for sacs!

I am sure there are other things, but I can't tell you what they are because life here just seems normal now.

KK: Describe what it is like to sing the English lyrics to a song while everyone else around you is singing the same song with French lyrics.

 JW: We never sing English lyrics in French worship services. We have actually forgotten a lot of the English lyrics to songs. Sometimes, when we are at conferences with Americans, where worship is being led in English, we sing the French lyrics--because we can close our eyes and sing in French, but we have to look at the words to sing in English. When this happens, I smile inside, because it is one of the few places in life where French comes easier than my mother tongue, and it feels--for a moment--like the language of my heart.

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