It was a delight to host our sixth Heartistry Experience in France. Our participants came from South Africa, Madagascar and the USA. We had couples, singles and a father-daughter combo attend the week long course.
On Friday June 15, we welcomed the group to our "home" for the week, a very old chateau in the village of St Hippolyte-du-fort, in the Cevennes region of France. For some it was their first visit to Europe, so excitement was high!
Our week was filled with teaching sessions and hands-on activities. We loved being tourists as we explored the historic sights of the region and visited the local markets. We savored many delicious meals in local restaurants and had time to enjoy the village of St Hippolyte-du-fort while we got to know each other better.
Having a beautifully table is just one aspect of hospitality, but one that brings so much joy. Each day a different group had the opportunity to set the table. I (Lyn) began by setting the welcome table with a Paris theme. The weather looked a bit risky, so I decided to use the tent in the garden at the back of the property.
I loved seeing how enthusiastically everyone participated and used their creativity to take the supplies I had provided, plus other items they found, to make our tables look so welcoming.
During the Heartistry Experience have the opportunity to serve our local hosts by preparing two meals to which they are invited. On Monday night we hosted the Taste of Provence. Our group had just two hours to prepare and display the dozens of different local specialities. We all enjoyed tasting so many different delicious items and we had lots over for the picnic we had the following day.
Planning, preparing for and producing a banquet for 30 people in a foreign country is not an easy task! But it is an excellent opportunity to learn good teamwork, project management skills and also proves what can be done in just one day! The group did an excellent job and everyone had an amazing evening as we enjoyed everything from the welcome drink to the dessert.
The first step after deciding on the menu and who was to cook which course, was to shop in the local grocery store. The other customers couldn't believe how much we had in the shopping carts!
I had brought some supplies with me and had a broad sense of what the decor would be. We asked everyone to come dressed in black, white or pink, so we mainly used those colors. Gloria and Danielle used their creativity and set such an exquisite table as they worked all afternoon in the hot sun.
Our special Bless not Impress aprons are only given to those who attend a Heartistry Experience. We were excited to put on our aprons and serve our guests from Youth with a Mission. It was a pleasure for us to have our hosts Dudley and Janet Weiner and their staff at the banquet.
A lot of thought went into the menu for our special meal. Lydia was the event coordinator and kept everyone on time. Stevie prepared the drinks which were delicious and looked so fancy and Wilme made tiny appetizers. She and Jodene worked on the vegetables and made a delicious potato dish plus other vegetables. Christine's tuna salad was served in endive leaves and was both tasty and so attractively served. Johan didn't have much kitchen experience, but made a stunning summer melon soup. Stephan prepared a delicious beef roast that was tender and so flavorful and the finale of the meal was a South African inspired caramel dessert made by Kerri.
You may be wondering if all we did was eat! We did enjoy many amazing meals, but we also spent time in the classroom and had hands-on practice.
We explored some of the local tourist spots such as the Pont du Gard built by the Romans, the Huguenot Museum where many of the South Africans were able to trace their ancestry and Uzes Market (one of my favorite places in the world.)