Guyonne : We wanted to leave for ourselves and discovered it much later. Our decision to leave together was taken quickly and simply. Hubert liked Africa since his father worked there and shared with him his attachment. On my part, I had a brother who had just told us that he would enter the MEP seminary. That is how I wanted to leave for Asia, because I wanted to discover more closely how he would live if that was to be his vocation.
We found our way to the MEP Volunteering service. We were 23 years old, recently engaged and in our last year of school. The recruitment process was quicky arranged. After each having individual interviews, the jury quickly understood that we shared the same vision of the mission.
Hubert : The MEP volunteer does not choose his mission. We left ourselves in the hands of divine Providence. In our minds, we imagined numerous landscapes and faces. It would be Thailand ! But before that, there was a paper to write, and, of course, the path to marriage. The end of the year would be intense. We were married on November 9, 2013, and the day after, we went on the seas of the island of Ouessant. On the 20th, we were in the plane. Our first year of marriage had begun.
We were entrusted with three main missions, then it was up to us to realize our mission. We were responsible for taking care of each MEP volunteer and each Karen that stayed with us. We lived at Maesot, a city located to the West of Thailand, on the edge of Burma.
Our first home was simple and contained such simple materials that we could make people in search of authenticity jealous. We had a mattress on the ground, a wooden partition to separate us from visitors and a rudimentary water closet for toilets, a bathroom, handmade detergent, and a tub of water. We were the happiest people in the world. What a magnificent mission, but also the most complicated !
Guyonne listened to each volunteer while I prepared the aperitif and took care of certain logistical issues. Two to three days at the cabin to recharge our batteries and our morale, sleep, and talk in french, and the « warriors » left for the mountains. Looking back, it was mostly the people we welcomed which guided us on our path, and in a way, modeled our couple.
The kings of hospitality
We participated in the Terres Karens (Karen Lands) project started by a former volunteer and an MEP Father. It was a project management. We were able to discover that we completed each other. It was also the opportunity to discover some isolated Karen villages in the mountains. These villagers were the kings of hospitality. They have nothing, they give everything, forget themselves, doing everything so that the host will be well received.
Guyonne : We left two days per week to teach in a school for burmese refugees. We saw clearly that this was the right mission for us. We are not professionals in teaching, but it was an opportunity for us to build strong ties with the children. Nonetheless, we were able to teach them french geography, gastronomy : cheese, sausages, wine, a bit of English and some mathematics.
Hubert : The radicality of our choice to leave far from our home country, far from anything we knew in France, allowed us to be demanding towards each other. We were there for each other, there was no escape possible. We quickly learned to open our hearts. And just for that, we are thankful.
And tomorrow ? Only God knows !
Guyonne : The return to France was painful, because we had so much to build. No one was waiting for us, and we still had the flame of the mission in us, which made everything here seem insipid. It was normal to react this way. So we let time work inside of us, to soothe us. We found a good project while looking for work : we worked the earth for an association in partnership with the Emmaus foundation, which received prisoners who were almost finished serving their time. Quickly, a small being came to fulfill us and change our lives. We left for Loiret for two years. Hubert was an agricultural employee for biological breeding. Today, we are in the orchards located to the south of Orleans. And tomorrow ? Only God knows !
Once again, we would like to say an immense thank you to the MEP to have allowed us to live such a great year. In a way, that adventure guides our daily lives, our choices, the upbringing of our children, and of course, our couple. Leaving as a couple is not easy, but it is highly recommended !
Guyonne et Hubert de Bertier, volontaires MEP