We arrived in the late afternoon in Sanary-sur-Mer and were
welcomed by our hosts, Dan and Nancy Painter. Having worked in diplomatic
circles in Brussels, Luxembourg City, Paris, and Prague, they saw a need to
help families living abroad in unfamiliar countries with an insufficient church
presence. So in 1998 they founded ICCE, International Christian Community Eurasia, and planted a church in Aix-en-Provence, France, where there were 30,000 English-speaking people and no English-speaking place to worship. Currently they minister to a congregation in Marseille.
After aperitifs and hors d’oeuvres at their home, we had a chance to get to know them a bit over an informal dinner of pizza. Prior to this we’d only been acquainted through—what else?—Facebook. We turned in early because a baby shower for church members Fiona and Olivier was scheduled to take place the following day at their office, really a guest house, where ICCE interm Kyle has been staying since January. It would become our home for the next three days.
At ten o’clock the next morning, the Painters, their daughter,
Christi, and her three children came over to set up for the party, at which we
met about thirty people from the church in Marseille. The warmth and affection
that existed between all of them was immediately apparent.
The following day was Sunday, and Dan and Nancy suggested we visit the medieval village of Le Castellet. Filled with specialty shops offering candles, soaps and handmade quilts, it is a treasure-hunter’s paradise. We opted for a restaurant with steak and pasta on the menu, but local fare was also available. A highlight was a gem tucked away at 2 traverse du Presbytère called Goûts & Saveurs du Monde (04 94 34 63 85) where the owner purveys specialty wines and liqueurs and organic food items. Sample a brightly colored digestif, and if you’d like to purchase, he will put it in a
small glass bottle for you to take on your way.
Keith preached in the late afternoon at the church in Marseille, and the service was followed by a buffet dinner of roast chicken, salads, cheeses, breads and desserts. Among our new acquaintances were Chantale, her daughter, and friends.We departed the next morning, but took time to visit Christi’s children at the beach, a few minutes’ walk from our lodging. Part of the French school system in this area is instruction in water sports such as sailing and snorkeling (and there are no classes on Wednesdays!). A coffee on the waterfront followed, as we admired the boats docked on the shore, and then we were on to Grasse, city of perfume.