France: A Lesson in Faith, part deux

st. raphael

st. raphael

The airplane climbed through the clouds, ushering me to Saint Raphael, where I would meet up with my two teammates, Katy and Cheryl to prayerwalk and prepare for a concert in the Cote d’Azur. The week started with some bumps, namely, rain. It rained the first morning and then was chased away that afternoon as we explored and prayerwalked specific areas of town. The next few days commenced our preparation for the concert to be held if all went well on the boardwalk of the town at the Espace Delayen. Day one I prayed that the rain would cease. This morphed into speaking back to God that just as He held the lion’s mouths when Daniel was in the den, He could close up the clouds from spilling their rain onto the earth.

The mayor had okayed the concert and included it in the calendar posted on the town’s website, posted on billboards in town and even mentioned in an article in Thursday’s newspaper. We had three days to become gospel singers.

Thursday afternoon, we hopped on a bus, heading for the rehearsal, located in a recording studio. As things would go, the rain was not abating and we got lost, thus wandering around for an hour, wet and chilly- not great conditions for staying well. Once we arrived at the site, we rehearsed for 5 and a half hours with some worship leaders of the surrounding area. This was probably the most fun part of the trip- jamming with local musicians, whose musical skills were tight! The band consisted of: Julien on piano, Philippe on drums and leading sound, Stephane on acoustic, Jean-Michel on bass, Freddi on electric. We grooved “More Love, More Power” to a disco rhythm and sank into it. Once practice was over, we headed outside as the musicians put their instruments away. Under a tent of umbrellas, slices of quiche and cups of juice were passed around in the dark. This was a fun time of team building with the band.

st raphael windows

Friday morning, when I awoke, the sky was a bleak San Francisco grey, dripping down upon the earth. How easily I gave up on my quest to prayerblock the rain… We ventured out and labeled French Gospels of John to be passed out at the concert. I finessed the powerpoint that G. had worked so diligently on putting together (that in the end we couldn’t use because her computer refused to turn on at the concert site). A few hours before the concert, Cheryl and I were sent out to promote it. I usually hate passing things out with a spiritual bent, but since this was a concert, put on my best concert-promoting smile and whipped out my phrases in French. The key is to purse your lips- your French sounds infinitely better when spoken through a pouting mouth. But I digress, passing out fliers was fun and allowed me a few lively conversations. The French love gospel music. We made sure to include one of their all-time favorites, “Oh Happy Day” as part of the selection. I meandered back to the hotel and got ready for the concert.

Katy announced that we would be meeting at the outdoor concert site and not the backup church site. The skies roiled with ominous grey clouds, but in spite of this I loved the gutsy move and continued praying for them to clear. The dichotomy of sky: the West revealed bright blue sky and sunshine, the East brooded with gloomy grey clouds. The apex of the rainclouds was perched straight above our concert site. As the musicians set up, I walked around praying that God would give St. Tropez a vacation from the sunshine… Christopher Cross’s “Sailing” began the background music during set-up. I had found a karaoke buddy in France.

st raphael aqueduct

By the time of the concert, all the rain clouds had moved toward St. Tropez. Praise God! Katy and I sang a smattering of spiritual songs- worship choruses and gospel ditties. The concert went well and it was exciting during Katy’s solo of “Amazing Grace” when her voice swelled in the seaside evening air. There were moments when this felt so surreal. Instead of people not wanting to receive the gospels, Cheryl and G. were each followed by people wanting to get their own copy.

After the concert, we hung out with several of G’s friends from her jazz choir that we meshed with quickly. L. is wanting to make her dent as a makeup artist and if I had been there longer, I told her she could play with makeup on my face. M. later invited us to hear her sing jazz at a local restaurant. If there was only more time… tant pis. We headed over to the brasserie for warming chocolat chaud and the band members joined us after they finished loading their cars. Once the last instrument was stowed away in the car, rain started falling from the sky. Wild stuff, this faith.

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