The question of work hours has often crossed my mind. How to define a working week for a missionary who doesn't have office hours, who is a pastor's wife and mother of three (albeit quite independent) children ?
I asked myself the question again as I headed out to our local Tuesday morning market. Ostensibly to do my weekly fruit and vegie shopping, to support the locals who work on the market and to buy local produce. This time I also had a coffee date with a friend I hadn't seen for a couple of months. We chose a newly opened local café which serves excellent coffee that they grind themselves and which they buy in a kind of Fair Trade and organically grown context. (BTW, these were the people who told me Aussies make the best coffee in the world !!)
So I answered my own question with "I'm combining work with pleasure" - housewife duties, support for my local country community and my version of friendship evangelism.
I left the house at 9:15 am and got home at midday ! It's not a big village and it's not a big market because it's Winter and only the locals buy at this market in Winter. No tourists, no steam train to bring them here, no weekend visitors (it's Tuesday, remember ...)
So why so long ?
Because you have to take the time to greet people. I found myself stopping every 10 metres to do the 'bises', the 3 pecks on the cheeks we give in this region as we meet people we know. And I asked about their health, their family, the latest news. We shared our sorrow at the recent tragic death of a couple killed in a car accident, commented on how many deaths there had been recently, talked about the morose economic climate, the death of the bee population, how warm this Winter has been and the prospects for the fruit season later on in the year ..... And here and there I put in a word about God - He knows why that couple died leaving 2 young children; He is in charge of the weather; man has forgotten he can't control everything and needs to remember God gave us the responsibility of caring for His creation. I was able to mention that there are a few activities linked to the World Day of Prayer (prepared by the Cuban women this year) and give dates to invite certain people...
I was a visible presence in the community, representing our local Evangelical Church, known as the local pastor's wife, affirming my place in this corner of France inspite of the fact that I don't come from here. Affirming also my concerns for the local community, expressing what I hope is an intelligent faith, showing compassion as a Christian and the legitimacy of our faith in the God of Jesus Christ.
So yes, I did work Tuesday morning .... and I enjoyed that coffee with my friend and shopping for my family.