I’m nearing the end of my first semester here in Belgium. Life is taking a slower pace now that we have left October and well into November. Exams are around the corner and most people are choosing to study or catch up on sleep rather than go out and party. Consequently, life in the Kot has been much quieter. However, a few weeks before this, we had the réunion with SFC (for those who do not know, this is Students for Christ, a group comprising of young christians who aim to spread the gospel on campus).
I had the task of organising this get together which was rather stressful. I was the MC for the night along with my partner from SFC and I also had the task of leading the songs chosen by SFC as they played the instrumental accompaniments. I remember it being quite daunting as my flatmates, at this point, hadn’t really heard me singing par those who sneakily listen while I am singing in my room haha. I chose one of the songs for SFC which was Since Your Love by United Pursuit but we also sang Abba Père par Colletifs Cieux Ouverts which a lot of people particularly liked because of the simple truth that we surrender ourselves to God because he loves us, which the lyrics explain. In order to go with the ambiance, this cold November day, I made hot chocolate for everyone and we also had snacks provided. The day was an amazing opportunity to meditate on the love of God, to reverence him and to pray to him about our day, our family and our futures. What made the day special was that it was a collaboration with the Protestants and the Catholics. A time when we put aside our differences and pondered on the one thing we had in common – the love of God. We sang songs from Taizé and read the évangile for the day and afterward we just got to know each other with games, hot chocolate, and snacks. We even invited SFC over for fajitas back at the Kot, which i’m still getting teased for because apparently, I said ferhijtas.
Despite this, as my co-MC himself said at the end of the night, the evening was bien géré by the both of us and I am really proud of myself in having worked towards making this night the way it turned out, not forgetting, the help of others!
As a Kot, we often get stuck into a lot of projects which we have to organise, sometimes by ourselves, other times we are partnered with organisations who get into contact with us and need our help. This was such a time!
Tim Guénard is a motivational speaker with a difficult upbringing. He was beaten severely by his father and as a result lost hearing in one of his ears. He was put into a correctional home and got up to mischief with the law. Essentially, you might initially think that this would be the sort of man that would now be in prison (even though he spent some time there himself). However, he has a loving wife and four children, he now travels around the world to speak to people about his own experiences and the projects he organises for young people with difficult and estranged upbringings.
It was incredibly amazing to see him in action, discussing his experiences but not in a way where he is just retelling fact, rather, in a manner which demonstrates where he came from and the lessons he learned from what he experienced. Effectively, he discussed how his past experiences has made him into the man he is today. I had a chance to speak to him before his presentation, and just in the moments we spent together you could tell he was a humble and simple man that wanted to teach one thing – forgiveness. He spoke about the forgiveness of his mother who had abandoned him as a baby, forgiveness for his father who had beaten him as a child as a result of being drunk but also his relationship with ‘Big Boss’ as he likes to call God, and the fact that his upbringing did not cause him to resent God as most people would imagine. In fact, he states that it is because of the love of God for him and the Godly men and women that spoke to him about God that made him realise that in God all things are good.
His story did not make me immediately think of The Shack by William P Young, simply because, I hadn’t read it at the time. However, I am currently reading it and enjoying the theology of the book and I can make links with the main characters own feelings and that of Tim Guérnard. I’m recognising the pain in loss or hurt and the potential for resentment and hatred towards God. But I am also learning the ways of God, the goodness of good through suffering and the ultimate plan. No one really knows why Tim Guénard feels the way he does about his family or even about God, but whatever it is, it is evident that he has found true happiness.
Weekend Away (1)
The first Kot Weekend away was wonderful. We went to Gent or Gand – THIS MAKES IT MY SECOND TIME THERE! This time, my experience was different because we stayed at my flatmates families’ home. It was a lovely countryside house on the outskirts of Gent with lots of land space, facing a maize farm. It was nothing like I’d ever seen before!
We got there on the Friday night and played loup-garrou all night long. The game is basically the equivalent of Mafia but a lot more intriguing in my opinion. On the Saturday we ate a lot (yummy food, that is), and went out to discover Gent city. Upon our return, we ate some more and nous avons fait la guindaille. Finally, on Sunday, there were a lot of picture taking and thids was the day we returned home. I could go on about the details, but it really isn’t necessary in order to end up saying I had a fantastic time. I am grateful to God for taking me safely there and bringing me safely back.
It is nearly the end of November already which means we are heading into the last month of the year and I am so grateful to God for this whole year! It is easy to take things for granted when you’re having so much fun and don’t have much to worry about, but truly I am eternally grateful for a God that watches over me wherever I may be and has my best interests at heart at all times. Without God, this whole year abroad would not have been possible. Even now as I enter the last month of the year with preparations for Christmas and exams looming, I still never want to forget the place of God in my life. What better way to put this than with a short Bible verse from Psalms.
I bless the holy name of God with all my heart. Yes, I will bless the Lord and not forget the glorious things he does for me.
Que tout mon être loue l’Eternel!
Que tout ce que je suis loue le Dieu saint!
Que tout mon être loue l’Eternel sans oublier aucun de ses bienfaits.
Please pray into the month of exams – it is often a stress filled time for students but pray for wisdom in how to go about revision and pray that God be in the centre of everything we do.
I know that whatever grades I do end up receiving at the end of the exam season, they will not change how God looks at me and loves me.
Passez une bonne semaine! 🙂