Tuesday, 26 June 2007

So, why MISSION Paris?

Some of you may have been wondering why I have titled my blog "Mission" Paris. I didn't come to Paris with a mission organisation, nor did I go door-to-door handing out flyers about Jesus. What made it a mission? Well, my story of how I even ended up in France is the beginning of all this.
I never really planned on studying abroad until the end of my Freshman year of college, when I decided I was ready to be independent and force myself to try new things and meet new people. I remember very well standing in my friend Joy's kitchen telling her how I hadn't developed the type of friendships I had wanted in Richmond, I was frustrated with how shy I was, and I was ready to go move on. I looked into a million places to go, and I had especially wanted to go to Italy because I have always had a passion for my family's heritage and the language itself. I couldn't find a program that seemed to be what I had pictured. I wanted to be in a city. I wanted to live on my own. Suddenly, it occured to me that maybe Paris would be the perfect place for me to go. Yes. That was it. I'd go there. I found a program that was perfect for me, and reported back to my parents. "What happened to Italian?" My dad said. I didn't know. Something did, but I just felt like France was where I wanted to be.
I didnt think about it, I didnt pray about it, I barely spoke to anyone else besides myself about it.
I was going to France.
It wasn't until about halfway through fall semester that I began to freak out. What was I doing? Why was I doing this? I knew nothing about this country, I hadn't even thought to seek God's will on this one, I just did it for my own selfish purposes. All of a sudden I didn't really wan tto go. In December I went to a missions conference in St. Louis, Missouri. It was there that everything became clear to me- France is dark. I went to a series of seminars on Jesus and the Francophone world, Christiantiy in Europe, and other related topics. Sudenly I felt God calling me- I was over there to make a difference. There is a silent movement in France right now for Jesus that needs to be getting louder and louder- and I was going there to become a part of it. I needed to go witness.
It was little things that I did while I was over there. I sat by the river and sang praise songs. I read my Bible in a café. I gave candy to a kid on the metro. I gave bread to the poor people on the streets- but I would always make sure to say "soyez bení" (God Bless you) in doing so. I never left anything untouched. BLESS THE PEOPLE! The apartment building across from mine caught on fire. I went and bought a case of water and cups and gave water to the residents as they watched their building burn. I gave what was left to the firemen. One woman asked me if I was with the fire department. "No, I live in the student foyer over there." Just little things. I only shared the gospel a couple of times. Mostly with people I knew. One girl told me I opened her eyes to a lot of things. One guy told me he was bored. I was given an assignment in my grammar class to do an exposé on anything I wanted. After a lot of arguing with God, I got up on a Thursday morning in front of my entire class and shared the Gospel. I dont think I have ever been so scared in my life. I drew the diagram on the board, and I told them about Jesus. My Catholic teacher beamed in the back of the room, while the rest of the class looked a bit annoyed. However, I gained a lot of respect that day.
People noticed something different about me. Some liked it, some didn't, some were indifferent about it. But there was definitely something different. Everybody in my foyer knew I was Christian. Because I was the only one. And there was something different about me. I wasn't religious, I was just different.
They'll know we are Christians by our love.
It was my goal to show people the Christian lifestyle.
And let me tell you, it was hard to lead that lifestyle in such a city. I was surrounded by sex. I lived in an extremely tempting environment. I was forced to live in two different worlds-- one in which I was physically and one in which I had been promised. I had to know I was different. I had to know that sometimes I wasn't liked. I had to be okay with it.
I didn't bring anyone to Christ while I was there. I didn't see anyone accept Him. Some people would say that mission was failed. But I did open eyes. I did live outside the box in a city where living outside the box isn't always acceptable. But I did show people who Christians were for possibly the first time in their lives. Or maybe in just a different way.
I call that mission accomplished.

Praise be to God. Thank you for your prayers. Amen.

Monday, 21 May 2007

9 new albums...

COUCOU! 9 new albums up on Facebook! If you have facebook I strongly suggest you just look there... its a lot easier than to click on 9 different links. But here they are...

picture links:

Friday, 11 May 2007

A typical week.

This entry, as well, was originally in French. You can kind of tell that I got bored and lazy towards the end.

Okay. I will begin with a typical week:
Monday (lundi): Class at 9 h. Language and Grammar. Usually, I return to my place to make some lunch. I work a little, and maybe kick back or take a nap or something like that.
Tuesday (mardi): No classes! I sleep late, and eat lunch usually as my first meal because the French aren't big on breakfast and by the time I wake up I'm not in the mood to eat just bread like I usually do (I am going to miss 85 centime (cents) baguettes when I get back to the states... I can finish off a whole baguette in about two hours.). Depending on what I feel like doing, I might do some errands or visit some friends or something. I love Tuesdays.
Wednesday (mercredi): The worst! At 10 h, I have phonetics. That is the course with the professor who hates me. So basically I want to die for about 3 hours. Sometimes I play Sudoku on my computer while she isnt looking. Maybe thats why she hates me.... Anyway. I usually try to economise my Wednesdays by using my leftover baguette and going to Franprix (a supermarket) to buy some cheese and maybe fruit if I'm feeling lucky, and I'll make a sandwich. Those are always pretty good. That way I've now only paid about 3 E for breakfast AND lunch combined. THEN I use the leftover cheese to mix with my pasta for dinner later on... aren't you proud, mom? :) I spend time eating lunch and talking with friends in the courtyard at my university, which is beautiful. I fill up with coffee to keep myself awake until 5, because at 2 I have French history for 3 hours. I kind of had no choice but to talk myself into liking that class.
Thursday (jeudi): Grammar in the morning, until noon. Lunch, and maybe meeting up with a friend... or a nap... or a book... or something. Thursdays look very much like Mondays for me.
Friday (vendredi): Grammar in the morning, until noon. I get back to my dorm around 12:30 and eat lunch, although today I took myself out because all through grammar I was craving a salad. I hang out and do stuff like I am doing now (writing in my journal, editing photos, etc.) and relax until I go to Hillsong around 6:30. After, usually I go buy a crêpe from my crêpe vendeur friend. I think I talked about him earlier. If I didn't I will later.
Saturday (samedi): In general I try to spend a little time with my friends from the foyer (dorm) on Saturdays, though most know I am a late sleeper so depending on how late I get up and whatever else I have to do it may or may not fall into my schedule. I usually end up doing laundry at some point. Laundry in France is ridiculously expensive, by the way. Around 6 I go hang out with my friends from Hillsong until who knows when or whenever I have to be back to the dorm before I get locked out, whichever comes first.
Sunday (dimanche): I usually go to Leigh's for breakfast for what we call "connect group" (also a thing with Hillsong). We eat, have coffee, talk about random things both important and not, talk about the message at church on Friday, and pray. Its a great time because usually it is just girls and it is nice to have a small group here. Generally afterwards I end up studying because I've been putting it off all weekend. Pretty much just like home :)

Not all weeks are like this, but in general, thats what it looks like.

France VI- http://vcu.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2092372&l=aa924&id=25511422

France VII: Normandie-

France VIII: the family trip-Jen's version-

France IX- the family's trip- my version

COMING SOON...Sète with Sandrine's parents, London, Hillsong life... I'm working on it!

may the grace and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you...

Thursday, 10 May 2007

My first days here

This entry is in my journal, and was originally in French. I am translating it as I put it up on my blog, so I guarantee the grammar is not going to be great.

I arrived in Paris the 20th of Feburary It was interesting because when I arrived, I reaslied that I could speak French at all. Well, I could a little, but certainly not very well.

It is interesting, the people and personalities that one meets... The first night I met a girl who later became one of my best frriends here. She is exactly like me. And the thing especially great was that she only wanted to speak in French. how great! Some who I met during the first week, I spoke with frequently, but it is strange how life i the city works... there are some of those who I never see anymore! Also, there are some who aren't very friendly either. Its unfortunate.

I think my first weekend was a little weird. I thought about going to Hillsong, but there were also those Americans who were going to the Louvre. I was torn and had no idea which to chose. I changed my mind at least ten times about what to do. At last, I decided to go to the Louvre with the other American students. There were some people who were really nice and friendly but unfortunately I chose to spend the time with those who were incredibly exclusive. Oops. I spend a lonely night at the museum, wishing I had made the decision to go to Hillsong. But, God is good, and he works with his own plan, right?

I loved my classes. I at first hated my classmates. But, as most things go, after some days, I'm used to them and am amused by them. Especially, I love my grammar teacher. She is like a grandmother, adn I want to but her in my pocket and take her back to Richmond with me. I was at first terrified of my French History teacher, if anyone says anything wrong she mocks them for about ten minutes and you just about want to kill yourself. But I've discovered that if you go in with the expectation of feeling that way, you really just don't care and now I get a complete kick out of her. For some reason my phonetics teacher hates me. I haven't figured out why yet, considering I've practically already taken her course and know exactly what I'm doing... oh well. I've discovered it takes time to get used to people. I know that is an incredibly brilliant revelation that most people have when they are about 10, but hey, experience is everything.

But, I immediately felt at home when I met my new friends from Hillsong. Yes. I adore my friends there. The first night that I went there, that was interesting! First, I left late (of course). And next, I became incredibly lost in the neighbourhood. The neighbourhood in which this place is located is impossible to navigate at night because everything looks the same. I was onlly late by 10 minutes, but to me it felt like hours. Someone welcomed me and I was scared. I don't know why, all I remember is feeling increidlby nervous. The first thing that I remember is hearing the music... it touched me somewhere in my heart that made me start to cry... I had to find a place to sit and I waited in sadness and in hope. The music made me feel like I was at church at home, at Harvest. When I entered the room full of people, I was surprised... there were at least 200 people there. I didn't even know that there were that many Christians in France, not to mention Paris! It was awesome! The service was amazing, and I cried for most of it... because, see, it was the first time that I had felt the Holy Spritit since I had arrived. It had been a long time.
As a result, I started my true life in paris. Now, I have many friends... French, English, Americans, German, Australians, Kiwis (New Zealanders), Ethiopian, Colombian... its amazing...yes... its amazing. The next day I went to my first party. A party with my new friends. It was an awesome night- because, I was comfortable with these people there. And even better I was speaking French almost fluently. ALMOST. The Sunday after, I went to my friend Leigh (Kiwi) house to have discussion, breakfast, and some prayer. I loved it!

So. That, that is the story of the first week in Paris....

Wednesday, 9 May 2007


Finally, I have put pictures up online! They aren't ALL up yet, but I'm getting there- at least I am making some progress!!! If you have facebook, you can look me up under Kimberly Nichole Orlando and get them there. Otherwise, here are the links!

I know its a lot and its annoying to look them all up differently... but its more annoying for me to have to put them up on two different websites :) Also, don't forget if you can't get the links fromyour email try the links that are in my blog: http://www.mission-paris.blogspot.com

France I- http://vcu.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2089434&l=75b3f&id=25511422
France II- http://vcu.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2089273&l=6937b&id=25511422
France III- http://vcu.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2089442&l=1f6b6&id=25511422
France IV- http://vcu.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2089447&l=ea048&id=25511422
France V- http://vcu.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2089461&l=81bde&id=25511422

love you all! enjoy!

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may
overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
~Romans 15:13

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

The Voyage Begins, and so does the Second Breakdown...

As far as culture shock in a European country goes, I think the best advice I can give someone is that IT WILL HAPPEN. It doesn't matter who you are, where you are from, or how long you've been there- eventually, at some point, it will happen to you. Bad news? Not necessarily. Academically speaking, it is a learning experience first off. Second, it gives you an opportunity to seek God in that place. The lie that I was able to destroy was this: "God doesn't exist in (such a such place or) France!". As the French say (although not necessarily on this subject) Pas de tout! (Not at all!) --Sidenote: That is actually what my French History teacher screams at us when we make any sort of mistake, of course after laughing at and mocking the error for at least a minute and a half...
Anyhow, the truth of the matter is, God is in fact EVERYWHERE. And it isn't a matter of looking for Him. (A good friend of mine said once that one of his favourite stereotypical statements from Christians is "I found Jesus!" to which he said, "Was He lost?") We seek God. We don't look for Him. Looking for something is what you do when it doesn't know where it is. God is pretty darn sure of where He is, let me tell you that. The French see the difference in this: When I walk into a vegetable store here looking for, say, some tomatoes, I would say, "Je cherche des tomates" Which literally means, "I seek the tomatoes" What is the difference, then? To seek something is to go in search of something that we believe to already be there. I know when I walk into that marchet that they are going to have tomatoes. All of them do! Webster's Dictionary® defines the verb to seek as "to go to". So let's go to God.
My point in this little linguistic lesson (which may or may not have made sense because not only is it 2h, but also very difficult to explain in English=a very tricky language) is that we shouldn't go looking for God. That requires so much more effort than He has intended for there to be. Why? Because He is right here! We don't need to go looking for Him- HE ISN'T LOST! Just call to Him, and He will answer. Jeramiah 33:3-- 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.' We know He's there!!!! Matthew 7:7-- '...seek and ye shall find...' If you [Webster's®] GO TO God, you will find Him.

Alors, je veux vous dire ça à sujet de "culture shock": There are a lot of times when I feel like God doesn't exist in this city. I had the most spiritually fulfilling day: the weather was beautiful, I ate well, I had good times in class and with friends, I got some wonderful news from someone back home. Well, I was absolutely praising Him. I was so sure He was walking right by my side and pulling me up and up and up to have the best day. Donc, I pulled out my guitar and worshipped for a while, until someone knocked on my door to quiet me down. Curfew. That was my first let down. I felt a little crushed inside, honnêtement... so I moved on to do some homework and decided to move down to the kitchen for some tea. I ran across the group of guys (they aren't even French) who seem to get a kick out of making fun of my accent. I then got a rather odd response from one of my new French friends about something I had done that, in America, would be seen as friendly, but apparently here, its seen otherwise. I was pretty fried by that point (at which I was crying right there in the kitchen) and went upstairs and attempted to call any of my friends that could possibly console me.
My advice? The best way to deal with culture shock is this: expect it. Know that it will come, and be okay with it. Be okay that you're different. And when you find out that you are, go seek God and have Him remind you a million times over that you were made that way, and that He is only putting you in these situations to grow you. After all, flowers always bloom after a storm...

Saturday, 3 March 2007

A week gone by...

Well, I've been here for a week, but it honestly feels like I've been here for a really long time. That doesn't mean, however, that it feels like home... Paris is wonderful, of course, but things get lonely and hard sometimes. remember how frustrated i was about where I was living? Well God definitely has me here for a reason.... not only am I very comfortable in my room (I have more space than I need) but the French people are really nice. I am kind of getting a feel for how they live their lives, etc.... its good. i spend most nights in the student kitchen meeting other french students, as i said above. that is a lot of fun becaus generally they are very nice.

God definitely walks wityh me everywhere I go though. I can really see him in the homeless people here. there are a LOT of homeless people... a lot more than I ever knew, actually. It is impossible to give money to all of them, just like it is in richmond or new york or anywhere else, but I just let the Lord lead me to do whatever. The other day I was walking into the subway and I saw and oold woman begging for money... I had a half a sandwich with mem that I was definitely not going to eat... as I passed her, I handed her the sandwichand ran down the stairs because my train was coming. Right as I was about to get on the train I could feel God saying... that wasn't enough Kimberly.... that filled her stomach, but her soul? So I turned back and went to go talk to her. It turned out she didn't speak French, but I think just the fact that I went back showed her something. When I left her the second time, I crossed myself and held up my hand so she could see that I was Christian and I was trying to say "God bless you" she crossed herself too. I think she got it. Another time I stopped and gave a woman a few centimes, and I asked her if she knew God... we talked for a litle bit although she was hard to understand.
For right now, I am allowing myself to settle into the city and my life here before I attempt to give myself to others. I am trying to develop a better grasp of the language (my French is SO much better than it was when I arrived here a week ago- already.) When you share the Gospel with people in a foreign place, you need to share it in their language. So I am working on that- studying the language so I can bring the Good News in their language.
I have met some wonderful people from the Hillsong Paris church. I went there for the first time Friday night, and as soon as I walked in (I got lost first, of course) I began weeping-- I felt more at home than I had in a week. It was wonderful. I've begun to spend time with people from the church, and they are absolutely amazing and so much fun. God has truly blessed me with them, and I praise Him for that.
I think what I will ask you to pray for right now is for the homeless of the city. they are the ones who have been sticking out to me the most as the spiritually needy and dry. Please pray that those who already have faith may continue despite their conditions, and that the Lord will bless them in ways that may not be what we consider comfortable, but to be what they need . And for those who do not know Him, please pray that they may be sought out by people who are believers so they can bring the Good News to them. Pray that I have the discernment to speak and the gift of fluent language to communicate.
Thank you so much, and as always, I praise God for you, miss you, and love you all.