Last week was my first time in a Protestant Baptist church and it was similar and yet so different to my church in my hometown. It should be borne in mind that I am actually not Baptist but the city I’m currently in does not have too much to offer in terms of Protestant churches – in fact, Catholics rule the roost, quite literally (you’ll see why further down). Nevertheless, everyone at the Baptist Church was incredibly welcoming right from the start. We started with intercession which was completely in French and I just prayed in English (I’m getting used to the structure of praying in French and I know some of the keywords), however, I do try and pray and give God thanks in French when I can. It often takes more effort but it’s beautiful to know that despite what language you speak we all have one God who we can praise and extol in different ways.
Praise and worship were really enjoyable, there were a lot of songs I recognised because there were English equivalents. The lyrics were put up in French, however, I wasn’t sitting in the best seat to see them very clearly so I just ended up singing in English and murmuring other parts in French (I’ll get there eventually ;)).
The sermon was encouraging, the gist of it was not to worry about anything because God will never abandon us. For the most part, I was able to follow the sermon, but I do get lost in translation. Hearing sermons in French, making notes in French and singing in French is definitely helping me to improve my French especially in this context so I am very grateful for this, however, I don’t have a French Bible which would make following Bible reading a lot easier, so if anyone has recommendations let me know! Overall, the service was nice and there were snacks after service – can’t go wrong with food!
As mentioned above, there are not many Protestant churches around, I spoke to someone from church today who told me there were only four in the city I am in, so it might mean travelling outside the city to go to church!
My lectures are in full swing now, I’ve had a taste of quite a few different subject areas, class sizes and lecturers and know the ones I’m going to take forward and the ones I’ll drop – it’s like an add-drop system here, something I’m acquainted with! Over here you have to buy the syllabus for every module you take as well as the recommended textbook for the course (and just like you’re thinking, they’re not cheap!). I guess I don’t mind too much because I’ve chosen these modules so I should enjoy them. What I don’t however enjoy is waking up early for a lecture that starts at 08h30 for the class to be cancelled upon arrival (I’m hoping this was a one-off because it’s actually so much effort to wake up early). What has helped with waking up early, however, is going for a run around the lake with my flatmates. I ran 2km, which is more than I’ve ever run, I think!
Last Wednesday was my first ever experience of mass! I’m not sure I’ve mentioned this but all my flatmates are Catholic so mass is pretty common here as well as gathering during the week to sing and pray. Mass is a very structured event both in the songs, the prayers and the communion. I must say I definitely felt awkward because I didn’t know what to do with myself, to be honest. It was very different to anything I’ve ever known but I did enjoy singing some of the songs and seeing my flatmates there who all asked me how I found it afterwards (knowing I’m the only protestant!). After mass, all the students gathered in le bois (my flatmate told me it’s a bois because it’s smaller than a forest!) for a barbecue in the dark and some games which for our Kap included an obstacle course with a lit bougie. It was quite dangerous actually but nobody was harmed, so all is well.
The Belgians, and the French alike, always introduce, say hi/bye with la bise. For those of you who do not know what la bise is, it’s a kiss on the cheek. IN REALITY, however, it’s not even that. It’s just brushing your cheek against someone else’s and kissing your lips. I am still not accustomed to it and always put out my hand to introduce myself because that is what I am used to. Physical contact with someone is incredibly strange and as much as the phrase ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’ comes to mind, I’m still getting used to this part of Belgian life. For this reason, I’ve had some awkward encounters with males and females, but mainly males! I hope it gets easier!
French language classes start tomorrow, I’m really looking forward to it.
P.S, the cottage pie turned out well but I put too much pile pile in it and some Belgians are very sensitive to heat!
‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your spiritual strength comes as a gift from God, not from ceremonial rules about eating certain foods – a method which, by the way, hasn’t helped those who have tried it.’
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
- Please pray that I am able to balance Kap life with my studies.
- Please pray I can continue understanding what is said both in Church and out and I find a CU like group/ church group.