NS: During my time in Paris I’ve been working with the amazing group of people of the national office of Alpha France. They are a wonderful bunch of people, and have made work always enjoyable, even on days when I was super tired or work itself wasn’t the most fun. In the office I’ve mainly been working with Charly in all things youth, and being the ‘structured’ one quickly took over the more administration style tasks. However, at the Alpha office there is always plenty to do, and I’ve had a whole range of jobs, from the joy of putting name badges in their plastic holders (actually not as bad as it may sound, its quite soothing), to working spreadsheets full of contacts, to helping create a new website… the list goes on! Along with the office work I’ve also helped out at some events, meeting people, running around behind the scenes, and, probably my favourite event experience, being a cameraman!
Outside of Alpha I’ve been making the most of my time here in Paris by packing it full with exploring the city and all the sights to be seen. I’ve even been to watch things, the cinema (ok, so it was ‘Frozen’ – but it was in French!), the opera (ok, ok, a ballet, but at the Opera) and the theatre (‘La Belle et la Bête’ – so good!).
Bless: What was your favourite find in the city?
NS: La Sainte-Chapelle. Ok, I admit it, this isn’t actually a ‘find’ as such as it is pretty well known and not exactly hidden, but when people visit the Île de la Cité they generally head straight for Notre-Dame and miss out on the gem that is La Sainte-Chapelle. With the upper level totally of stained-glass windows it is a beautiful sight, and if you are lucky enough to go on a sunny day then it truly is stunning!
My other find would have to be my favourite Religieuse. If you’ve never tried this type of pâtisserie (or have never had a real French one) then you are missing out. As it is, my family have had a love of religieuses as early as I can remember on our French holidays. So after trying various religieuses from different Pâtisseries around Paris I found my personal favourite at ‘Au Levain d’Antan’ near Abbesses. The real test will be what my parents think when they come to visit this weekend…
Bless: What have you learnt from the whole experience?
NS: That being part of a church family is really important. Here in Paris I’ve had a church, but not really a church family – and it is something that I have really missed, being able to get involved and make real bonds and not just attend on Sundays. So I’m glad that in going to Perpignan I’ll straight away be getting involved with church life, and hopefully be able to really become part of a great church family in the 5 months that I am there.
I’ve also learnt that you can still be there for people even when you’re miles and miles away. Its hard being in another country when all you want to do is being to give a friend a hug and make them feel better. But there are so many ways you can still be there, on Skype, in the random surprise phone call, over emails and best of all in your prayers, loving and caring for them despite the physical distance.
On a lighter note, I’ve also learnt lots of French! My time here in Paris has helped so much in my ease of speaking, my vocabulary – basically in all things French!
Bless: Tell us a little bit about what you’re up to next..
NS: After a nice little 2 week holiday in which I’ll get to spend some time with all my friends and family, I’ll be jumping on a plane and heading down to Perpignan. This will be a complete change of scene to what I’ve been living the past few months, from big city to countryside, from the cold and wet to (hopefully!) the warm and sun, and I’m really looking forward to this new experience.
During my time in Perpignan I will be working with a local church, Centre Chrétien Roussillon, where I’ll be doing a variety of jobs, from helping in the church office, to more pastoral activities, even to helping with the Alpha courses!
It looks like this is going to be a great new experience and I can’t wait to get stuck in and really get involved with the church community life.
Bless: How can we pray for you?
NS: Can you pray for this transition – that my time are home would be blessed and a time of rest as well as a time to make the most of being reunited with lots of loved ones, and then that the start of work would go well in Perpignan, that I would settle quickly and be able to use my gifts to bless the church that I am going to be a part of.
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