France Mission Update #8

July 20, 2016

 

Hello family, friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

Before I begin, I want to thank all of you for all the prayers said and text messages and emails sent to both me and Jeff this past week.  They have shown nothing but concern and love and we appreciate them so very much.  Thank you to those of you who have seen Jeff and asked about me this past week.  We are both very blessed to have people that care for us and are lifting us up in prayer.  While here last year, my counseling pretty much stuck to the areas of domestic violence and sexual assault, but this year my role as counselor has expanded to also include the areas of grief, physical and mental health issues, divorce and separation, spiritual abuse, and terrorist attacks. Only the Lord could have seen this coming and I am thankful that He equips us for everything that comes our way.

 

On Monday at noon the whole country of France had a moment of silence in remembrance of those who lost their lives in and were affected by the terrorist attack In Nice.  I was downtown for the moment of silence and was deeply touched by it.  The general mood of the country seems to have changed from shock to anger.  Some people, however, have just seemed to expect it as part of life and something no one can change.  Some have told me that regardless of what is done to protect the country, ISIS will continue to find other ways to kill people, as that is their goal and there is really nothing that we can do about it.  This hopeless point of view is all over France at this moment.  We have the hope that says, “Absent from the body, present with the Lord.”  There is nothing better than that.  Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the people that don’t know Jesus and the Holy Spirit reminds me that it is not my job to save.  It is my job to tell others about Him and it is His job to save.  I do feel, however, that I have made a good amount of progress with the people that God has put in front of me last year and this year.

 

Due to everything that has happened because of the terrorist attack, I have gotten behind with updates of my life here in Saint-Raphael.  I apologize for not giving an update on the Scrabble group for a while.  As those of you who received emails last year may remember, this is where I initially met my “French mom,” Mauricette.  Mauricette is a huge fan of Scrabble.  I joined the Scrabble group last year to meet some people, form friendships, and thus get to talk to people about Jesus.  This, of course, is my goal in everything I do here.  I also joined to help increase my French vocabulary.  To say the least, this Scrabble group has been a humbling experience for me.  I am not even good in Scrabble in English, so that tells you I am definitely not any better in French.  I could always do better if I were able to use both languages, which I am never allowed to do.  The members of the Scrabble group are very, very competitive and so they are not extraordinarily friendly.  They are very intellectual.  Most people in France believe that if you are smart or intellectual, then you have no need for God or spiritual things, so these members do not believe God exists nor do they want to have anything to do with any discussions about Jesus.  All doors there are closed, but I still go.  A door may open while I am there and if not, these people still need my love and prayers, as one day they are going to be overwhelmed by the grandeur of God and their own feeble attempts at intellectualism.  I am overwhelmed just when I realize how long is has taken me to learn French (and I am still learning) and then remember that God hears the prayers of people who speak every language on earth.  He created all the languages.  He has never needed to learn them.

 

Last week I once again had lunch with the same family I have mentioned before.  The grandfather is feeling 100% better after his heart operation and is up and cleaning the pool 😊.  Both granddaughters were present and I had the opportunity to talk to the one I worked with last year who was saved and baptized.  She seems to be doing well and I am happy with the way she is progressing spiritually.  The girls’ dad was there and I got a chance to meet him.  He was staying at  the grandparents’ house for a few days, as he was there to pick his daughters up to take them up to his house in Dijon for a month.  He is British, so we had an opportunity to speak in English.  The grandmother told him I was a counselor so he talked to me for a long time.  He has been struggling with a number of issues and I felt compassion for him.  I feel that the Lord gave me the words to say to him and I hope that he will take my advice and do better in the future.  I also had the opportunity to talk a bit with the grandmother, who is struggling with a lot of issues as well.  I was happy to be there and happy to help.  When the grandmother told me that she really feels that I am a woman sent by God, a true pastor’s wife, I felt blessed the people were seeing Jesus in me.

 

Last Friday I had lunch once again with my atheist friend and was able to meet her son, who is almost two years old.  It was truly a joy to meet him.  He is a delightful little boy.  He is very well-behaved, social, and observant.  He has a lot of energy, like all little boys.  As I observed him, I noticed that he has very few of the same characteristics that I have seen in children with autism, and I was able to tell my friend as much.  He can concentrate on one thing for a very long period of time but doesn’t have meltdowns when it is taken away from him.  He sometimes has a hard time looking people right in the eye, but he looked me straight in the eye without any problem.  My friend was relieved and said that the doctor said the same things I did.  If he does have autism, it is very slight.  They won’t know for a while yet, as he has to get a little older before the complete diagnosis.  I didn’t meet her until last summer when I was here and I am blessed because we are becoming very good friends.  We had lunch once again on Monday and I got the opportunity to meet her husband, who is a super nice guy.  I can tell that he loves her and their son very much.  I was able to get into a small spiritual discussion with her husband as well.  They are both atheists, but I feel that there is a good chance that they will become believers.  It will take time and I will need to work more with both of them, especially him, but if she gets saved, I believe he will, too.  Unfortunately, I am leaving Saint-Raphael next Wednesday and will be heading towards my next placement in Paris, so it will be a while before I see them again.  Please pray for this family of three.  I believe that God has them in His hands.

 

I will talk more about this week in my next email.  I hope to write again either Friday or Saturday.  May God bless all of you.  Thank you so much for your prayer support.  I am excited about what God is doing.

 

Ilene

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