Day 13, Sunday- Part 1
The Return to Paris
This brings us to Starbucks in the area near Notre Dame, a charming area obviously very trendy and popular with shoppers. It was very crowded and picturesque. We walked down cobble stone streets with our friends after meeting them outside the appointed meeting place looking for some place maybe a little less crowded. Eventually we landed at a Starbucks and found a seat. I thought I’d have some time to write and get caught up on a few things but Philip’s wife Cynthia showed up and though she is French they all switched to English and I was able to participate in the conversation. We heard about the various families and other recent histories. Wanting to be sure I got to the yarn store that wasn’t too far from where we were I decided to leave them to go shopping but was concerned about the language so Cynthia kindly offered to go with me. Having time just the two of us to walk to the shop was great, I learned about her heart and current project starting a non-profit organization to help support parents. Unlike the States where there are parenting support groups, loads of books on parenting, information readily available on child development, France seems to have a parenting support and information void. Cynthia explained some of the common parenting problems and the effect it is having on the schools and society in general. She talked about the huge need for parenting education and her burden to help do something about that. It was amazing to hear her heart and passion in loving French families and we talked about how when our family is here we would love to be a part of something similar. Though Cynthia and I have very different backgrounds I felt like I was talking to my sister (well, I was!) and it was so thrilling to hear from her what God has laid on her heart. I am praying we get to work together.
The yarn shop... may have to be another post altogether. Oh my word. It isn’t just a yarn shop but they have some beautiful yarn along with buttons, beads, trims, ribbons, fabrics, etc. I picked out some beautiful baby alpaca blue yarn for a scarflet for Jeremy’s mom, several buttons for various projects most of which are for the baby, some trim to match some buttons for a dress for V, and the most brave purchase: a book of knitting patterns in French. I spent some time with one of the shop ladies figuring out the different French terms and what they could be in English, together we got most of it figured out and she thought I could find a lot of them online. After reading through the directions and being pretty sure I understood them well enough to make it a worth while purchase I decided that knitting may be just the thing to push me in my French. So I took the plunge and now own a $25 book chuck full of French patterns. So help me.
The guys met us at the shop at which point I declared I was hungry and needed real food so Philip and Cynthia led the way to an Italian place where we joined by Cynthia’s sister Delphine. The food was delicious and I was grateful for a meal without meat finally. The conversation flowed in French and English with lots of laughter and passionate discussions of various topics. As wine, pasta and pizza were enjoyed I was overwhelmed by how beautiful this was. No subject was off the table, we enthusiastically discussed marriage, dating, children, faith, science, medicine, and food. When an intense conversation broke out between Delphine and Sylvain first about marriage and then the Gospel and was flowing too fast for me to follow in French Cynthia started translating for me. It was beautiful. Again, time just flew by and we had to go if we were going to be able to catch the last direct train out of the city. All six of us walked to the train station to go our different ways but couldn’t part so easily, instead talking in the station for another 30 minutes. The three former high school friends were saying their goodbyes in French and Cynthia, Delphine (a doctor, by the way) and I talked in English. They told me how the time is right, the time is now, things are changing in France and the need for God is huge. They asked me to share with Americans that France needs God desperately and that for the first time they can see an openness and movement towards God. As they spoke, the passion and ache they hold for their country was clear, they said that Jeremy and I couldn’t get there with our family soon enough again pressing that the time is now and the need is overwhelming. They recounted stories of the hunger they have seen and the movement they have sensed. We finally parted ways and headed out of the city. No, we never got around to shopping, the souvenirs for family and friends weren’t in hand and we didn’t have a final date in Paris but we knew this day unfolded exactly as it was meant to be. Meeting with missionaries was wonderful and encouraging but somehow, spending the day with French friends, both those following Christ and those not spoke loudly and fanned the flames under our rears about coming to serve in France. We can not delay, we can’t be idol any longer, the time is now and we can’t sit on God’s call any longer. Our dear friends, our brothers and sisters in France are overwhelmed and tired and there is still much work to do, we will go and share the burden and encourage them. While we feel ready to go home, to see our children, we also feel sad to leave.