UK and Zambia go to France - 2011
This summer groups consisting of ten Zambians, eleven French, and ten English, stayed in France for three weeks. The exchange as a whole was to experience one another’s cultures including how we worship differently. Last year in 2010 we all travelled to Zambia and the previous year in 2009 the French and Zambians came to England for three weeks.
We started our trip in Paris where we all stayed in a hostel together for three days. Whilst here we saw many things including the Eiffel Tower, The Notre Dame Cathedral and Versailles.
For the rest of the week we camped in Taizé and were fortunate to have lots of sunshine. Taizé is a Christian community situated in the south of France run by about a hundred monastic brothers. Many youths travel to Taizé throughout the year from all over the world. The people coming to Taizé contribute to the everyday chores and make up the working community. The timetable in Taizé meant we had worship three times a day signalled by the ringing of the bells. The style of worship was very reflective including chant like singing. During the day we would visit workshop sessions with people of a similar age; this was led by one of the brothers and would be followed by small group discussions. It was lovely to be able to talk openly about the gospel with people from all over the world. What I found interesting was that there were still so many similarities with ways to approach spreading the gospel and the challenges we face in living out our Christian faith.
We then spent a night in Reims where we witnessed a son et lumiere against the Reims Cathedral. From here we departed to two different consistories of Le Englise Reformee de France, half in Lille and the other half in Le Havre. We all stayed with host families, many being families of the French team. The last week we reunited again for camping in Normandy at Emmanuel’s (from the French team) family’s farm. Unfortunately the weather on the final week was not so good but the ‘big storm’ really brought us together as a group (quite literally).
Overall the three weeks concluded our three year experience very well. We have learnt so much about each other over the course of the project. We came from different cultures but still all share a faith in Christ. This has provided constant encouragement in our own faith as we continue to support one another in our daily lives.
Note: The 2009-2011 youth exchange was a UK Joint project between the Wessex Synod of the United Reformed Church and the Southampton District of the Methodist Church with the Normandy and Northern regions of the Eglise Reformee de France and the Lusaka Presbytery of the United Church of Zambia.
Candles in worship
The queue for lunch Gathering together under a marquee
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