Joining the Journey

Yesterday was a rough day. We are half way through week three in our new home here in France and the day started with a flat tire on our rental car in the middle of nowhere which triggered an ordeal with our roadside assistance/car insurance that was a handful (but worked out fine.) We had an oven that refused to work triggering a minor panic attack in this woman’s heart, bringing the total count of appliances that don’t work in my kitchen to four. There is still no sign that our internet crisis will ever end and our cellular connection is dodgy at best. This may be our demise, people. But in the end, the issue that made us lament and wail was that we are nearly out of the few precious American snacks we’d smuggled in with us and no quick fast food fix available to cure our homesick hearts.

And there it is…we’re homesick.

I honestly thought it would take us a little longer to reach this point. I think the lack of internet has precipitated this situation because we all expected to be a little more connected with our friends and family back home than we have been. I think a few hours of American tv or even Youtube would also have helped. But in the end, I’m not so sure it has been such a bad thing. Part of why we’re struggling is because we expected to simply transfer our American life to France. That clearly isn’t going to work, and I’m not really sure I’d want it to, either. Life here is different, but in ways that really seem to fit us better than America ever did. Let’s face it, we are a strange bunch. But France, so far, seems to reflect our same ideas on how daily life should flow. For us to fully embrace that, we will eventually have to let go of some of our addictions to American things. I’m sure it is a process that takes time, but yesterday pushed us hard in that direction.

In a moment of frustration over the fact that I couldn’t make it all right and fix these things for my family, I picked up my phone and confessed to Facebook.

Confession: Today is hard.
Flat tire.
Internet issues.
Oven won’t work.
Running out of our favorite American snacks and facing the reality that they won’t be replaced.
Pray for us, friends.

With a heavy sigh, I put my phone away and went back to work. But God has a way of taking our mess and turning it into beauty. This became clear just a few hours later when my phone began to chime on the other side of the room. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding.

I was expecting a family crisis based on the number of messages coming through at once. Instead, I found an outpouring of love and cheerful support on the other side of the world. Friends and family sent messages of prayer, encouraging words, helpful hints on how to find our favorite American treats, and even offers of care packages from home. Tears filled my eyes as I read the notes on Facebook, some of them from friends I’ve never even met “in real life”, and a sudden realization washed over me. We are not alone. We have been surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who are joining us on this incredible journey. Although they are far away, they have made it clear that they are with us in spirit, and they are cheering us on each step of the way. What an incredible blessing!  It’s so much more than I asked for or ever expected. Honestly, I thought our moving to France would be an interesting tidbit of information that lasted a few days and then was quickly forgotten in the hustle and bustle of real life and holiday preparations. Why would anyone care that I’m feeling a little homesick?

“Oh, boo hoo. You’re in France you big baby. Suck it up!”

Nope. Instead, I get showered with love, kindness, compassion, prayers, and offers to send a package of essential survival gear like hot sauce and Dr. Pepper.

“Really? Aren’t you too busy shopping for presents for your family to care about mine? Aren’t you annoyed with my stupid attitude in all this? I am!”

No. They love me. They love us. They are rooting for us to succeed. They want to see us healthy and happy and thriving here. Many of them truly believe in the WHY that brought us here and are certain that our work here will save marriages, save families, strengthen churches, maybe even save lives. Most days I believe in that, too. But sometimes I worry. I worry that my selfishness, my fear, my inadequacy will ruin it all. I am not enough. Luckily it’s not all up to me, not by a long shot.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”       2 Corinthians 12:9

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10 Replies to “Joining the Journey”

  1. I am so glad you got a glimpse into a few of the many lives that you have touched and inspired. We are rooting for you and will send you as many snacks as France will allow 🙂 You are on the uphill side still, but when you see the fruits of all your labor, it will be so phenomenal! We will have to remind you that we are still over here!

  2. Culture shock is hard. It will get easier, I promise. Though there will always be moments where you just want to scream at them for not being just like home. It’s especially hard when the things that are supposed to work don’t.

    I don’t have a lot of advice to get over it except that you have to get out there. I’m not entirely sure where you are in France but get out of the house. Go to town. Take a walk. Try to talk to people. Speak whatever French you know. It might be a good thing your Internet stinks because that can help you not just spend time surfing and make you get out. It’s hard at first but the more you experience the culture the more you’ll get used to it and maybe even love it.

    If you have not found a boulangerie make that priority one. Fresh bread is the greatest.

    You’ll do great.

    1. Thanks for your encouragement! I have been stalking our neighbors, trying to figure out where they are getting their fresh bread since we don’t have a bakery in town. I saw a bakery truck delivering in the village below ours and I am determined to convince them to deliver to us as well. Wish me luck!

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