Friday, November 11, 2011

Collonges

Last weekend, I visited our school in Collonges-sous-Salève, France. This is the place were pastors are trained for our French speaking countries in Europe (e. g. France, Belgium and French Switzerland), but there is also a primary and secondary school, and they always have a bunch of American students there learning French (normally easily distinguishable by their Flip Flop shoes - yes, some of them even at this time of the year!). The school is situated in the region of the Alps, very close to Geneva. The year-end meetings of the European Division took place there from 4-8 November. This is the new name for the EUD, as it didn't make sense anymore to keep "Euro-Africa-Divsion". Due to some recent changes, there is no more African country part of the territory after all. Amongst other decisions they took, a new Secretary for Public Affairs and Religious Liberty was appointed, a Romanian named Dr. Liviu Romel Olteanu. This became necessary after the tragic death of Karel Novak this past summer. More can be found under the news on their website.

Anyway, my purpose to come there during this time was not primarily to attend these meetings, but initially to meet Dr. Ella Simmons, one of the vice presidents of the GC, who was facilitating some of the administrative meetings. It's a long story how I got in touch with her and why she offered me to talk to her, but I thought this would also be an excellent opportunity to meet some other people, like Dr. Viriato Ferreira, whom we invited to come to Brussels next spring to give some health presentations at our church. He is the director for health ministries at the EUD, together with Valérie Dufour as an associate, who was also there. We had a fruitful discussion on how we should go about with our planning. It will take place mid-April, and there is a lot to organize, especially for the health expo, which will be the main event during this weekend.

All in all, I had very positive encounters in Collonges. I mainly followed the meetings on Friday afternoon and Sabbath. From the GC, there were also Gary Krause and John Thomas who gave some interesting talks on Global Mission and the history of our church. No doubt, we are facing numerous challenges in Europe and beyond, however there are some very dedicated leaders. I especially appreciated the "prayer room" run by two young ladies, Raluca from Romania and Melissa from Canada. They are part of a group originally formed in the US within the "Revival and Reformation" program launched by the GC. A prayer room is something were people come together for united prayer in a structured, yet informal way. I found this very powerful. On Sunday, while they had their lengthy administrative meetings, I enjoyed the outdoors. It was actually the only sunny day during that weekend. The only problem was that it takes you about two hours to hike on top of this huge mountain behind campus - there is no alternative. I didn't feel like going for such a marathon (all the more I had nobody to join me), so I didn't really get into hiking, but it was ok. The fresh air and the quiet surroundings were already a treat for me.

I arrived back in Brussels Monday night and I had a busy week at work. So many things to do, catching up with pending tasks and trying to deal with new ones - plus I still have to explain quite a bit to Dana, our temporary help in the office. But she is getting there, and hopefully she will soon be able to take on some more tasks. Now I'm so thankful it is Sabbath!

Beautiful mountain scenery

You can see part of Geneva in the valley if it's not hazy
Ella Simmons giving a devotional talk
One of the school buildings on campus

1 comment:

Raluca said...

Hi Daniela,
I am glad that I found your blog. God's richest blessings on you as you continue serving Him wherever you are!