An American (Hoping To Be) In Paris

If Babbel, the airlines, and other factors cooperate, I plan a triumphantly selfish return to the City of Lights — eventually

John I. Carney
9 min readAug 23, 2022


The author in front of the Eiffel Tower.
I didn’t go up in the tower in 2016, but had to get a photo.

Much of my adult life has involved mission trips.

In 1993, I first attended a week-long Mountain T.O.P. Adults In Ministry (AIM) camp. I joined the Mountain T.O.P. board the next year, and there was a period when I was doing two separate AIM weeks every summer, so that I could spend a week in the Summer Plus program, working with teenagers, and a week in the Kaleidoscope program, working with younger kids.

Mountain T.O.P., faced with shifting markets, stopped doing that particular week-long AIM program a few years ago; they still do a number of AIM weekends, but all but one of those are focused on home repair, which is not my strong suit. I still do it, occasionally.

In 2003, I first did a foreign mission trip, to Nicaragua, with LEAMIS International Ministries. For several years, I took a two-week (or nearly two-week) trip every summer. I went to Kenya five times, as well as to Costa Rica, Bolivia and Sierra Leone.

By 2010, the year of my last Kenya trip, I could sense that there was a little “donor fatigue” with the friends and family who had so generously supported this run of yearly mission trips. That was also the year my mother passed away, and so I decided to take a break.

By 2013/2014, I started thinking about a new LEAMIS project (which ended up being the Sierra Leone trip), but it got postponed and didn’t happen until 2016. By that time, LEAMIS had basically stopped doing the kind of team trip in which I’d originally gotten involved. The 2016 team consisted of me and one other person. We worked in Sierra Leone, but we changed planes in Paris, and so, on the way back from the trip, we arranged to spend two nights in Paris.

It wasn’t enough time. We saw part of the Louvre (by the time you’ve seen, like, maybe a third of the Louvre, you’re exhausted). I had some friends recommend the Musee d’Orsay, but my traveling companion really wanted to see the Louvre, and I couldn’t resist seeing the Mona Lisa, so we went to the Louvre.



John I. Carney

Author of “Dislike: Faith and Dialogue in the Age of Social Media,” available at