[by Julia Diederich, VIANOVA Gembloux]
“Hello, how are you?” Evelyne bounded in each Friday morning using her best English to greet our French-speaking crew at the Red Cross kitchen. We were gathering to prepare soup for our Friday Soup Bar. I worked on a team with the same three ladies also volunteering each week. We always remarked at how well we got along. We laughed together, shared about our families and our everyday life. I particularly enjoyed my friendship with Evelyne. She always wanted to work on the English she had just learned in a class she was taking on Fridays right before the soup bar.
Over time, we got to know each other on a more personal level. Evelyne practiced her English with me, and she helped me with my French. As we grew closer, Evelyne found it interesting that I was a Christian and that I worked with l’Autre Rive in Gembloux. I explained our innovative and welcoming service, and our desire to integrate ourselves into the community. I asked about her religious background, and she explained that she was raised Catholic, but that she left the church in her early twenties because it didn’t have any meaning for her. She went through the motions but it made no connection in her mind.
I showed her a photo of our service which we hold in a school cafeteria. People were enjoying coffee and pastries and talking leisurely at tables set up around the room. I told her she would feel very welcome and at ease if she came. I invited her to our Easter service and she came with no hesitation. She even brought a dish for our potluck afterwards. During the service, Evelyne was very much at home. She followed the teaching, ate lunch and enjoyed herself.
Evelyne has come to a couple more services along with our end-of-year BBQ. She is getting to know others and enjoys this new spiritual input into her life.
When I think of errands I need to do, or if I want to go for a walk, I think how I can organise myself to do it with Evelyne. Some other activities we have enjoyed together include attending Red Cross training on “Burnout”, shopping and having tea. I always look forward to my time with Evelyne. I appreciate the genuine nature of our friendship and the mutual desire to seek the Lord together.