I have fallen a little behind in my blogging because the last few weeks of Outreach were so busy. So I'm going to do a few catch-up posts. First of all, Paris was SOO much fun. Yeah, the Eiffel Tower was kind of cool and we had a nice day off at Disneyland thanks to a generous sponsor (thanks, mom!), but that's not what made it so great. We've had a fantastic time hanging out with the people at the Ioppie church. It's pretty epic, let me tell ya.
The church is very active and community-oriented. We organized a couple youth/young adult events and joined their home groups. Our main ministry with them was fellowshipping and encouraging them to do missions. I shared my testimony about being called into missions at such a young age and having to wait and trust God to show me His plan instead of trying to follow my own. Several people have talked to me about it and have been really encouraged. I've also shared how we as Christians, even though we think we are inadequate to serve, are enough because Christ works within us. I wondered how I could possibly do any kind of work or fellowship when I didn't speak Russian, French, or Polish. Well, it turns out that I was willing to go, so God brought me to people who can speak or at least understand English. AND He used the little Russian that I've learned to bless people as well.
We also got to play with a bunch of kids at this church! Daniel and Tetyana held a family seminar one night, so the girls and I provided childcare. We had a dozen kids from 4-11 years and all but two had high energy. They were quite a group but between a few organized games and Toy Story 3 (which I watched in Russian) we managed ok. The kids especially loved the game where I was blindfolded, spun around 19 times (because of my age) and had to catch them and guess their names. I got really dizzy but we all had fun. Like most nights here, it ran late and we were exhausted by the end of it. But it was totally worth it.
I want to end with a story. This picture was taken during one of our evangelism walks through Paris. Mostly, this involves Zoya (the blonde lady, one of the members of the church) speaking to the homeless and beggars in French, while we provide smiles, prayers, and the occasional sandwich when someone's hungry. This man wasn't asking for anything up front, just constantly looking around eagerly for something or someone. Zoya talked to him in French, translated quickly into Russian, so Tamara told us in English what was going on. Zoya was giving him the address where her team also feeds the needy, and the man was on the verge of tears because no one ever talked to him. When I heard this, I got down so I could look him on eye level and smiled. I only know a little bit of French, but it was enough. His reaction was everything: "Je m'appelle Emily." I shook his hand. "Stephan." "Enchante." (Enchanted to meet you.) His eyes disappeared behind the crinkles of his huge smile, the first one, I'm sure, in a long time.