Kiri and


Bertha in Binche

August 8th, 2014 (by Steve)

As we arrived into the province of Luxembourg (in Belgium) from Luxembourg (the country) having missed seeing Luxembourg (the city)… all very confusing… we realised that our view of Belgium as a flat country was incorrect. You see, as we passed through Belgium on the outbound leg of our second loop we experienced a very level country of Flemish-speakers. Coming in from the south, it was a different picture with rolling hills and a French-speaking population… as well as amusingly-named towns… I wonder if they’re M+S?


After spending a night next to a babbling brook in the south east of the country, we ventured to Binche to help at a church there for a few days. Charles + Frances are friends of our parents and they lead the Eglise Protestante Evangelique de Binche. We’ve tried to visit a church most Sundays of this trip and at times it’s been a bit daunting to go to a new place where we don’t know quite what to expect and how we will communicate. Church should be a place where we join with others who have a similar outlook and focus in their lives, but actually, sometimes our fear of potential awkwardness and the unknown become a barrier. Some Sundays it’s been much easier to just spend quiet time together in Bertha.

But in Binche we were in safe hands with Charles + Frances. After getting Bertha plugged in and being given a very warm welcome, a hot dinner and a refreshingly cool bed (sometimes it gets a bit hot in Bertha), we joined them on Sunday morning at their church. Kiri was set to work on the djembe during the songs as well as painting a picture of a doorway to illustrate the passover story. Charles had provided me with a rough outline of his talk in French, which I was just about able to follow, but it was good to tune my ear in to Frances’ translation into English too! After the service we had some lovely conversations with other church-goers, although due to our poor language skills some of them had to be quite simple. And then our first Sunday roast in a very long time!

At every project that we visited in the first loop, our focus was on how we could serve. This might have been our sole project of the second loop, but we still had the same focus; offering to help in any way that we could. Although we jet-washed some peeling paint on lintels, washed and vacuumed a car and helped to lay part of a new floor in an art + prayer room, we came away afterwards feeling like we’d received far more than we’d given.

On Monday evening, we joined Frances + Charles at their English conversation group; a great bunch of local people who meet together to practise speaking English. We’d timed our visit pretty well as it coincided with a barbecue they were having, where we had great fun as well as great food. Occasionally the conversation would lapse into French (or even Dutch!) and we’d be straining to catch the gist of what was going on, but most of the time everyone was really keen on practising their language skills. Which worked well for us! One particular moment of joy for us was the amazement that the local Belgians had at seeing chocolate cornflake cakes that Frances had made.

On Tuesday, Kiri was invited along to a ladies’ group meeting where she shared about our trip with the ladies of the church. She talked about the people we’ve met on the road and the qualities that we’ve learned from all of them. There was then a discussion about the variety of churches that we’ve been to (when we’ve been brave enough to actually go to church!) and how all of us are part of one body.

Throughout our few days with Charles + Frances, mealtimes were probably the times we valued most, and not just because we ate some incredible food. As we ate, it was great to talk deeply with them about our faith, our lives and our aspirations for the future. We’re not particularly good at small talk, so it was refreshing to get into deep conversations with them, as well as joke around at times too. It was then a great privilege to all pray together before we departed in Bertha.


On a different note, it appears that the media have been going crazy over Bertha’s return to the UK. So, as the BBC asks “What will Bertha bring to the UK?“, we’ll break our silence. You’ll be pleased to know that before we left Belgium, we stocked up on beer.

All posts about Belgium

Bertha in Binche

A Ghent Gent and an Antwerp… Twerp?

In Bruges

Oil’s well that ends well

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