Sunday, July 29, 2012

Final Day / Departures


Our prayer team before going out on the streets.
Yesterday was our final day of outreach to the city of Clermont-Ferrand. Overall it was a really powerful day. Since it was a Saturday, we had quite a lot of extra help from people in the community. We began the day with prayer, asking God to make our efforts effective for Him. It was so great to see so many people gathered to pray.

Just before the flash mob on the city square.

This particular day's focus was on one of the main squares in Clermont. We set up a large flash-mob, did mime, testimonies, and Sketchboard presentations. 

The many faces of Timothy after jumping in a fountain at the central park in Clermont-Ferrand.

The response seemed to be very good. We also passed out invitations to a BBQ that the church hosted that evening.

Emily and Nathanja passing out invites to the soiree.

Le Flash Mob in front of Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral

Aforementioned store...

We moved locations several times in order to present the gospel to more people, and the last location was in front of the Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral. It was so good to be part of shining God's light in such a spiritually dark place. This was evident because a local shop owner threatened to call the police if we didn't leave. She put up signs in her store windows warning other people about us!
The night ended with a meeting at the church (called a soirée, which is just a really fun way to describe what we were doing!)
This included an all-you-could-eat BBQ, songs, traditional Irish dancing, skits, etc... We had a very positive turnout from the community, and had a chance to share the gospel with many for the first time.

View of the courtyard from our balcony during the BBQ.


Today was a final celebration service. All of the local churches gathered together at Les Eaux Vive (the host church during the outreach), and we all worshiped together. It was really amazing to see the unity of the local churches.
Me and my buddy Sam!
Me and the pastor of the
church in Riom, Jean-Pierre
The pastor of the church, Jean, preached on using our gifts and talents for God. Each person is unique with different skills and abilities, but all of us have to be willing to let Him use us for His purposes. The Spirit of God was so strong in the room.

After the service, we all ate a final meal together, and began saying our “goodbyes” to one another. There were a lot of bittersweet tears, hugs, and prayers for one another. It was hard to believe that we had only known each other a week.
Our family and Marlene, she really
connected with Emily and Daniel!

This afternoon a host family invited our kids to a local waterpark with some splash pools and inflatable rides. We had a little trouble when we got there, because Daniel and Timothy’s swimming suits were not considered proper “swimming costumes” and they would not let them into the splash pool.

Fortunately for them, our host family knew someone nearby with two boys near Daniel and Timothy’s ages and size, and they got to borrow their swim trunks. I really wanted to get a picture of the boys in their French swimwear, but they were already in the water, and I didn’t want to be the creepy guy taking photos of kids in a pool.


We then went to the Michelin tire plant where we saw the world’s largest tire.
It was pretty big, but I was forbidden to climb it. :(
Afterwards, we had a lovely outdoor dinner with our host family in their backyard. Tomorrow morning, we board a train to head back to Paris for one last night before our flight to the states. Thanks so much for your prayers for us this week. God is really moving in our family, and I can’t wait to tell you what He is doing in our hearts over a cup of coffee, or a 3-course meal!
We won't invite this weirdo, though. Emily in the backyard
at our host family's home.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Winding Down

"Le Flash Mob" during an afternoon outreach session.
We are nearing the end of our time in Clermont-Ferrand, but today was one of our most productive ministry days here. As I may have said earlier, we were able to share our testimony on Tuesday morning. Many members of the team have since come up to us to tell us how much it meant to them. We are just both so excited to talk about what God has done in our lives to bring us to France. Michelle and I both had opportunities again today to share our story. Michelle got the chance to share her story during on of our afternoon outreaches.

While she was doing a Sketchboard presentation, she met a couple from Russia that happened to be traveling through the city that day on their way to Paris. She was able to share the love of God with them and offer them hope, in both a literal and metaphorical way. She happened to have one of her pieces of artwork with her, a round, wooden disc, with the word "Hope" painted on it, and gave it to the the woman. I know that this was more than just a chance encounter!

In the courtyard of our "base" church in Clermont-Ferrand, Eaux Vive.
Tonight's international service was in a church in Clermont-Ferrand, just west of church where we have been gathering each day. Daniel and Timothy both got to participate, Timothy by introducing Daniel, and by Daniel doing his Napoleon Dynamite dance (which has had a great response every International night so far!). They also sang with some of the other kids in French and did the hand motions!

Daniel and Timothy, singing a song in French
during our international night.
One of the best part of the trip so far has been the international nights. It has been so good to see how God is working in the different cultures around the world. Tonight was special for me because I was asks to share my story about how God brought me out of sexual addiction and totally redeemed me. I have felt God give me the courage to be honest about my past, and I feel that He is using something so destructive to help the church in France. Many men - pastors of the churches here especially - have told me that this is a secret struggle that many men are dealing with, and that it is good to bring it out into the open. I am just so thankful that I get to be part of God's process of healing for other men. It is so humbling.

The French part of the OM team performing a sketch,
making fun of how often they go on strike. Notice how
the man on the right, has been on strike for so long, that
he doesn't have the money to buy a sign.
God is definitely doing something here in Clermont-Ferrand, and he is doing something in our hearts. I have really felt the love of God for the French people in a way I never felt before I came here. God is certainly stirring my heart and Michelle's and we're both very excited to see what the next step is going to be.

We have one more day of outreach ministry here in Clermont. Please be praying that everything will go smoothly, and that the seeds of the gospel will be planted in the hearts of those who will see and hear the presentations tomorrow.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Update from Michelle (Outreach Day 3)

Hello again!
The last week has been a blur of activity! We meet together daily for devotionals, worship, prayer, testimonials, meals, and the outreaches.

So far we have done outreaches in 3 different towns and have visited 3 different participating churches. There are only 8 evangelistic churches in this region, which is strange coming from Dallas, where there seem to be ten on each major street.

Yesterday we climbed one of the highest dormant volcanoes in the area. A local man told us there are around 80 volcanoes and craters of different sizes, and many of the buildings are made out of the volcanic rock.

From the top of the mountain, the view was breathtaking! There are also ruins of a Roman temple built to worship Mercury, built in the 1st century AD.
View from the top, you can see some of the volcanic range
of mountains in the background.

Another view from the Puy de Dôme

"I think I can see my house from up here." Daniel Wallace

The ruins of the temple of Mercury at the top of the Puy de Dôme.

Timothy, Ted, and Daniel at the top of the mountain.

Tonight was our 2nd international service, which has been so much fun! Team members from France performed a skit about how they're always on strike, we learned a song in Swiss-German, a traditional Scottish dance (so much fun!), watched an African drum line perform, and listened to some French gypsies sing. The Americans performed a skit featuring Timmy as a host and Daniel doing his Napoleon Dynamite dance.

It's been wonderful to learn more about the other cultures, have great conversations, and do ministry together. Not to mention the food- several courses of homemade French cuisine that takes 2 hours to eat and several more to digest!Ted and I were also asked to share our testimony, and we've had a tremendous response. So many people have told us that it blessed them, and then we've had the opportunity to encourage them as they share their struggles with us.

International Night in Riom
Timothy introducing Daniel during the "America's Got
Talent" skit for an International Night Service

After the service tonight, our borrowed little car died on the road. But a while later, a van load of OM friends rescued us. We are loving France! :)

OM Team - Clermont-Ferrand July, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Kids in France

I thought it would be best to take today to show a video interview we did with the kids this evening. Today was "officially" our day off, which meant that we did laundry and toured the Puy de Dôme (a dormant volcano) before turning in an hour earlier than normal.

Tomorrow is more outreach, and another International Night service, that Michelle will talk about more in tomorrow's post.

In the meantime, I hope that you enjoy this:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Another time...

So it is now after 1:30am, and I still haven't taken a shower. That said, we'll post about today's events tomorrow. I'm just too tired to go through the effort of putting up more photos, and I want to get the kids involved in the update process as well.

Just know that we are safe, but sleepy!
Au revoir.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hitting the Streets

Today was the real thing! We began the day with some worship songs, and small group devos. The worship time was fun because like so many missions trips, everyone is included and there is almost no practice time. We all got about 2 minutes practice time before the group worship time, and there were 3 guitars, a bass, a trombone, keyboard, clarinet, congas, 3 backup singers and songs in English and French - none of which I had ever heard before! We had a good time once we all got warmed up!

Doing my thing!

After our small group meetings, we had about another hour to go through our different outreach presentations. The presentations aimed at the adults are Sketchbooks and mime.

Michelle working on her Sketchbook presentation.
 Both of these presentations are performed in a public place where crowds can easily gather. They are meant to allow people to view the presentation, stop, and think about it. The mimes are pretty straightforward - an act and an explanation. The Sketchbook presentation links art with a story that presents the gospel in a simple, yet powerful way. At the end of the presentation, the people in the crowd are then offered invitations to the international services that we are holding each night this week (except tonight and Wednesday).

Man, whoever set up that puppet theater did a great job!
Since I do not speak French, my direct role in the outreaches are limited, specifically, I am part of the Kid's Club ministry, and my responsibilities include:

1) Setting up the puppet theater.
2) Being a friendly bouncer during the Kid's Clubs.

The second responsibility is really just an extension of the first, since any good tech guy will tell you to leave his stuff alone, and during the Kid's Club outreach puppet show, I just make sure that none of the kids knock the stage over (this pretty much involves me trying to look intimidating).

Danny - boy at the Kid's Club
In reality, we get to play games with the kids, and I got a 30- second crash-course in making balloon animals. (I can make a killer poodle or giraffe, depending on how you see it, and something that looks a bit like a sword.) The Kid's Club is set up in the same place each day of the outreach so that the local churches can build relationships with the children there.
Michelle, doing her Sketchbook presentation.
While I was fighting a crowd of kids, desperate for balloon puppies, "Monsieur, monsieur, je veux un chit!" Michelle and Emily were in a different part of the city doing their presentations. Michelle was part of a Sketchbook team, and Emily handed out invitations to passersby.
The finished product!

Emily, and some of the other ladies from the team (in this photo, there are members from Switzerland, the US, and New Zealand)
 All in all, it was a very good day. The adult-focused outreach teams were able to have several good conversations with those who watched the presentations, and we had over 30 kids come to the Kid's Club on the first day.

After the outreach, we went back to the church for dinner, and to practice for our presentations during the international services that begin tomorrow night. When that was over, we packed up and headed to our host home.
The house in Riom where we are staying for the week.

We studied Acts 2 today for our morning devotionals. Please pray that the people of Clermont-Ferrand will respond to the gospel the same way the crowd responded after the Apostle Peter shared the gospel, saying, "What should we do?"

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Déjeuner à Riom, dîner à Clermont-Ferrand, de la Formation dans l'intervalle!

Lunch in Riom, Dinner in Clermont-Ferrand, Training in Between!

We began our Sunday, joining in worship with another church in the Clermont-Ferrand area. I can't describe how amazing it was to sing and pray with other believers who speak different languages and come from different cultural backgrounds. The pastor of the church is Jean-Pierre, and he is from Togo, Africa. The presence of God was so strong in that church as we lifted our voices together. I think the most significant aspect of the service was the realization that I finally got to meet the people that we have been praying for for the last 8 weeks. Our family has lifted up prayers for the people and churches of Clermont-Ferrand, but I know that many of you have been doing the same thing for weeks as well. It was such a humbling honor to be a representative of God's work, sent by his Church, to the people of France.

The pastor of the church is Jean-Pierre, pictured here at the far right.

Today was special, because it was Jean-Pierre's 39th birthday, and we were able to take part in the celebration.

We like each other.
This was in a small courtyard, just outside the main room of the church.
I think the town of Riom looks good on these kids!
"Hands down the best dessert I've ever eaten. C'est magnifique!" - Ted Wallace
Following our time with Jean-Pierre and his church family, we went back to the church in Clermont-Ferrand that serves as our staging point. We spent several hours training for various outreach activities that we'll participate in throughout the week.

Steph Dixon (OM Missionary) conducting training for the Kid's Clubs.
Paul Dixon (OM Missionary) conducting training for the "Sketchbooks" outreach.
After we completed our workshop training, we took a short tour of Clermont-Ferrand to get an impression of the town and the people that we'll be working with. Like most of Western Europe, the people here do not readily recognize their need for God. They equate faith to superstition. It is a sad truth that a church that thrived at one time, has withered away and for the most part become something very different.

The Cathedral of Clermont-Ferrand
One of the points of local pride for Clermont-Ferrand, is that in 1095, Pope Urban II issued a decree, only meters away from this cathedral, that began the First Crusade. For more information on the Cathedral, click here.

Inside the Cathedral

Inside the cathedral, just to the left of this picture, is a statue dedicated to the Roman gods of Mars and Venus. We were also shown a masonic inscription on the outside of the cathedral, and we were told that there are actually Satanic meetings that take place in the basement of the church.
On the streets of Clermont-Ferrand

There are very real obstacles in the path of reaching the lost in Clermont-Ferrand, but we believe that nothing is impossible with God. I know that I don't have to ask, but please continue to pray for our outreach efforts this week. Pray that God will lay out a path before us, and that He will prepare the hearts of the people.

I hope that you are finding these updates helpful, we want to do our best to keep our team updated on our progress.

En route à Clermont-Ferrand

Yesterday was mostly a day of travel and orientation. We left our hotel in Paris around 11am, and took the Metro to the Paris-Bercy train station. Our 3 1/2 hr. ride was pleasant and relaxing. Most of the time, Michelle and I looked out the window and saw the French countryside rushing by us. It looked something like this:

The French countryside at 120k/hr
But every time we looked up we saw this:
Nerds who wouldn't know a beautiful landscape if it jumped up and slapped them in the face!

 Okay, I'm joking, I know that they can appreciate culture... (and I appreciated how quiet it kept them on the train!)

Anyway, around 4:30 pm, we arrived in Clermont-Ferrand and met with the rest of our team at a local church where the outreach is being organized. We had a wonderful dinner, including some absolutely delicious homemade crème de chocolat, and then did some orientation and ice-breaking games to get to know everyone. The kids were especially happy to meet new friends, 9 according to Timothy's count!

The day ended quite late, with us going to bed near 1 am at a host-home around 15k north of Clermont-Ferrand, in a town called Riom.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Paris Day 2

Outside of the Louvre
Today we went to Versailles, had lunch by the water, took a row boat, saw the Mona Lisa and more at the Louvre, and had chocolate crepes!

In front of Versailles
Row, row, row your boat...
Angry Tim!
The kids in front of one of the many beautiful gardens at Versailles.
Lovers in the garden... hehe.
The Wallace Boys
Snack time at Versailles
At the Hall of Mirrors
Dinner in the Latin Quarter
The Louvre
The kids hanging out with Venus de Milo.
The Girls!
No Paris excursion is complete without crepes filled with Nutella!
All in all, we are totally exhausted, but loving the city. We are all ready for a more relaxed day tomorrow. We'll sleep a little later, eat breakfast, then board the train to Clermont-Ferrand. We should arrive that afternoon, where the missionary we're working with will take us to our host home and introduce us to the team.
Keep praying that we will maintain good attitudes and perspectives as we adjust to life in France. We're really excited to meet the team and begin the outreach!