Well, it has definitely been a wild, crazy week. We left Opole Lubelskie last Monday, everyone packed tightly into our crowded van. We left early and drove several hours into Germany. Once there, we discovered that our alternator was dying. It was, in fact, pretty much dead. Miracle of miracles, we somehow managed to drive solely on battery power until we found a small dealership in Dresden, Germany. Unfortunately, it was closed. And after driving 50 kilometers our van refused to start. Ok, we thought. Guess we're spending the night here instead of our previously planned destination, Erfurt. We found a good hostel, though, and spent a nice night in real beds again.
The next morning, we discovered that nowhere in Dresden did they have the part needed to fix the van. It would take at least a day for the part to get shipped in. So, the shop charged the battery up, which allowed the van to drive another 10 kilometers to a bigger dealership, where they had more room and could fix the car quicker than the little shop. In the meantime, while Josh and Mitch were dealing with all this, the Yarbroughs, girls, and I got to tour Dresden!
Now we come to my birthday. Originally, I was going to get to spend it in Paris. Instead, I got to wake up in Germany, where my mother was born, which was also incredibly cool and special. The team lit sparklers and sang to wake me up, and then a few hours later we got in the newly fixed van to continue our drive. I spent the rest of the day in the car, watching movies with Sasha and occasionally being handed chocolate. And I was able to call my family when we stopped for lunch. For dinner, we found a Pizza Hut in Luxembourg, and the waiters came with little chocolate treats and sang to me again. We arrived in Paris at 1:30 AM, which technically wasn't my birthday here, but it was still back in the States. Either way, I got to be in 3 different countries for my birthday!
So we have now been in Paris for a few days. We're living at the church, which is technically outside the official city limits but everyone calls it Paris anyway. Luckily, we had a day of rest after a long journey. Naturally, we spent the day preparing for our various ministries and exchanging money. Oh, and we saw the Eiffel Tower, too. We didn't get to climb it (yet), but it was still pretty cool.
We've only been here for a few days and I already love this church. It's fairly small compared to what I'm used to, but it's very healthy and active in ministry. We got to attend their weekly prayer meeting on Friday, and I was able to speak Russian (in very small, limited topics with awful grammar) to people from all over the world! The church has people from Belarus, Kazakstan, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Japan, and more. Everyone speaks Russian and French, some speak a little bit of English. Sunday the church was full all day; after the service, we had dinner and fellowship until 6, but some people stayed around until 8. It was really tiring to have to constantly figure out what people were saying without a translator, but I think I did pretty well and was encouraged by several people. I have a feeling my Russian speaking skills are really going to improve over the next few weeks.
Saturday we helped the church feed some of the homeless. Most of them are Russian-speaking and the church is trying to develop relationships with them. Since I don't have that much speaking skills yet, I helped hand out the food so that those who actually could talk had the time to do so. And it was across from Notre Dame, too, so that was cool. Monday night we organized a young adults gathering to get to know them more. A good number of them speak English, and I loved getting to talk with them more in depth than I can in Russia. I love the fact that we're in Paris but what's even cooler is getting to minister and talk with people from Russia and all over Eastern Europe! These next few weeks are going to be so much fun!