Monday, November 16, 2009

France, days 3, 4, and 5.

We miss the girls. Even with being super busy and on the go everything seems strangely quiet. I miss their perspective on things, their fascination with the little pieces of life I often don’t have time to notice. Don’t miss the whining so much though. I’m so grateful they are some place safe and sound and enjoying their time with Jeremy’s mom. They are certainly having more fun with Grandma than they would be with us going to meetings and loads of walking around.

Internet access has been touch and go and when we have had the chance to get on the e-mail load alone is enough to absorb our time and I haven’t sent e-mails I need to send, catch up FaceBook or blog. So sorry. Recap time. The sad thing is I’m writing this at Starbucks. Granted, it is Starbucks across the street from the Moulin Rouge but Starbucks all the same. Unlike the McDonald’s we have been to, Starbucks has done next to nothing to French-a-fy. It looks and acts exactly the same as the chain in America. With one exception, the internet isn’t free here like back home. Oh, and the drinks are more expensive. We won’t be back at Starbucks this side of the Atlantic.

So the recap...

Day 3, Wednesday.
Met with Charles Cross, our GEM Field Director in France for an update on things currently on the field here and to explore various options for us. He provided some direction for our time here and put us in touch with more people and organizations we could potentially partner with. It was a great meeting and concluded with Crepes in Chantilly. It was neat to find ourselves eating in the creperie Jeremy grew up going to, he told stories about eating banana splits the size of his head there and other fond memories of the area. Following our fantastic and very filling lunch we returned to our host home and got ready to head back into Paris to meet with a couple that had been with GEM but recently left to go independent. This other missionary couple live in the 20th and gave us a warm welcome. We could tell instantly that we loved their neighborhood. Removed from the tourist aspects of Paris and full of a variety of ages and stages of life we delighted in seeing many families out and about. Learning about the work they have been doing, their perspective on missions in France and their encouragement that we get there as soon as possible was both challenging and uplifting. I have a feeling we have made some very good friends in this couple. Our day ended late with us taking the train back out of the city around 11pm.

Day 4, Thursday.
After a busy few days we needed to just lay low. We were exhausted, our feet and legs hurt from all the walking and my head was swimming from trying to communicate in French. So Thursday we slept in, visited with our hosts more and took it easy. We headed into Lamorlaye, where Jeremy grew up and I saw the castle grounds he grew up on in person, walking through the park and viewing the backyard and play area from his childhood. He took me along the route to his elementary school and shared stories of bike rides, friends and adventures from that time. It was enchanting, he grew up in a fairy tale town. Even the streets are pretty, the shutters unique and the latches on the doors and windows full of character. A far cry from the homogenized neighborhood I was accustomed to. Backed up to the castle grounds was the village Catholic Church. As most Sacred structures here, this building was beautiful and you could tell it was a pretty active congregation unlike many of the ones we’d seen in Paris. We slipped in for a bit and quieted our hearts in the worship space. The art work was beautiful, I love how the Catholic Church displays The Stations of The Cross all year long through beautiful windows or other artistic expression in the worship space. We paused before a memorial to all the children of Lamorlaye that did not survive WWI. This country, like so many other European countries, is very aware of it’s painful past. After some time in the church and going by his school he took me to the tiny Protestant church his family was a part of. Tiny might be too big to describe it. It is a charming little chapel building but we couldn’t go inside. After hearing more stories from his childhood and the church, we made our way into the town center and hit the Post Office, a supermarket, a bookstore and looked around with more stories from Jeremy’s childhood including where he had his first beer with a friend. We walked to the outskirts of the town to find the McDonald’s and spend a bit of time on the internet before dinner with our hosts. That evening I finally finished my red cloche as we enjoyed the delightful company of Inge and Meinhart before bed.

Day 5, Friday.
The quiet pace of the day before gave way to another hectic day spread out between Paris and Chantilly. Our first appointment of the day was coffee with our dear friend Steve Innes and meeting his partner Pete Smith for the first time. We had dreamed 14 years ago of hanging out together in Paris and here we were finally doing it! Steve introduced Jeremy and I 14 years ago at Moody Bible Institute where we were all students. It just so happened that we would be here in Paris over Steve’s birthday and as he and Pete live just outside of London now they decided to join us fulfilling our college dream, celebrating Steve’s birthday and introducing us to Pete all in one fell swoop. We met them at the Alexander Dumas stop and had croissant and coffee and catching up. This had been a long time in the making and was perfectly wonderful.

We didn’t have too much time with Steve and Pete though (no worries, we had lots of time coming up in the next few days) and took off to a meeting with Steve and Mikkie Thrall, missionaries with International Teams and the director of La Fonderie an arts ministry center in the heart of Paris. After lunch with the couple they took us back to the La Fonderie space which hosts a gallery, music concerts, poetry and theatrical events, and shares the space with a small church. Hearing about the amazing things they are doing and feeling like we met old and dear friends we were greatly inspired. I hope God has it for us to work together in the future, our hearts share so much in common. They were encouraging regarding Jeremy pursuing his French citizenship (Steve said it was a “no brainer, get it.”) as two of their children have as adults and found it to be beneficial. They also had some valuable insight on our moving here with a family. As we shared some of what we feel called to do they responded with even more encouragement. Every aspect of our time with them, which flew by far too quickly, was exciting.

Following our meeting with the Thralls we worked our way back to the metro along the Seine River and stopped at a few market stands along the way. It was a charming stroll (we gave ourselves a little time to get back so we weren’t so rushed) and we picked out a few French Philosophy books for Steve’s birthday and a couple of French books for the girls. We enjoyed talking with the vendors and artists set up along the way and they told us delightful tales of various artists, authors, and dignitaries that have passed before. Returning to the metro and eventually the train station we ended up with the after work crowds headed to Chantilly for dinner with Charles and Amy Cross and their children. Amy made a traditional French dinner for us with a large salad (YAY! I was missing veggies in a big way!) and we loved spending time with their children. Yes, it did make us miss ours but their 4 sweet kids were so much fun it helped ease the ache of being away from our girls for so long. That and they were just so entertaining we couldn’t spend time feeling sorry for ourselves. After the kids were in bed and settled we had a very special time in conversation with Charles and Amy and were able to ask more questions, consider various aspects of living in France and discuss the possible adjustments and options for our girls. This was a little more overwhelming for me than Jeremy seeing as he has lived it there was a lot he already knew. I think over all it was good for all of us, for them to here from Jeremy, a grown MK and for me to process some of the differences facing us with rearing children in France. We left exhausted, challenged and excited all over again.

Days 6 and 7 are coming! I'm way behind, finding it hard to find time to keep up with writing. Pictures too will eventually make it onto the blog. For now you can find some on my Facebook for sure.

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