I distinctly remember struggling with understanding how to purchase the vegetables.
I also remember buying cheese, which I thought looked good, but ended up tasting incredibly strong. It was a mild version of raclette, and in the last few years we've eaten much much stronger things.
We had unpacked our 9 suitcases, or maybe were unpacking them.
We lived in the attic (it was finished and really nice) of Maria and Alain's house, while George and his wife (both from Norway) lived down below.
I felt lost, overwhelmed, tired, confused.
I remember wondering what things meant, why the toilet flushed the way it did, why the fridge was small, why everyone had a wall around their house.
I woke up in the alps. The French Alps. In front of our family was language school. We met so many good people during those first 7 months in Albertville. Missionaries like us, going to places on 2 continents. I was worried I'd be the only one who felt behind and confused, instead I was surrounded by a bunch of people in the same position as us.
It's been, well, wonderful and difficult, these last five years. We've learned a new language, found new friends, as I write this Ophelia is playing with her friend in French. The two of them are quite different but really enjoying being around each other. They have the keen ability to look past differences and focus on what unites them (mainly princesses and playmobil).
Five years later we have seen some great strides in our ministry, our personal lives, our family, our relationship.
Pardon the meandering post but I think what it comes down to is that missionary life in our context has not been 'easy'. True, I don't wake up and go to the pump for water. I don't depend on solar panels for my electricity. When Ophelia gets a fever I don't wonder if it is malaria.
It's not easy.
It's not supposed to be easy. It's suppose to be a challenge, and a very rewarding one at that. A colleague suggested I write about things I've learned about the French culture in the last five years. I'll leave you with a single one.
French people seem to downplay things.
'Oh it's normal,' they say after they make a great meal for you.
Hospitality is not normal.
'Come over for a little coffee,' they say.
It's not little to invite someone into your life.
'I got your daughter a little gift for Christmas, nothing big,' after a neighbor buys a gift.
It's big when you have no family nearby and someone steps into that role.
God has been good these five years. God will be good in 2020. God will be good beyond.