Hello from Albertville, France!
We arrived one week ago today and have been busy meeting new people, unpacking, setting up our on-campus apartment and launching our French immersion experience as we explore Albertville.
As much as we try to blend in, we stick out as foreigners everywhere we go. So we introduce ourselves at every opportunity and explain that we have just arrived and are here to learn French and ask them for help with whatever it is we clearly aren’t doing quite right. It’s as if that opens a door – because immediately people warm up to us and are very happy to help us out and teach us. It’s a good way to make friends. Like this little girl below. Her Family was waiting behind us in line, and I was alone with Matthias with a very heavy basket of laundry detergent, soap and groceries, in a check out line that was going no where fast. Her family offered to let Matthias stand in the cart with her while we waited in line together. The two of them had a great time together while we waited and enjoyed dancing together in the cart and exchanging little hugs as we said goodbye.
We have been so warmly welcomed at the school by the other students. They have been living here for the past 5-9 months and have been so incredibly helpful and knowledgeable as we have settled in. The day we arrived they hosted a cook-out to welcome us and so we could meet everyone. They also stocked our kitchen with the essentials- which was so helpful, since all the stores were closed for a national holiday on the day we arrived.
Our little 2 bedroom furnished apartment on the school’s campus is spacious and pleasant, we are enjoying getting it set up to feel like home. We were surprised to be provided with a crib and toys for Matthias! We were preparing to transition him to a mattress on the floor upon arrival, but having a crib is making the transition here much easier for him.
On Sunday we attended the local church that Amanda had attended when she studied here previously. It was really special to reconnect with old friends together as a family and make new friends together.
It was great to worship all together in French. Our last Sunday in the U.S., we had worshiped at our home church, singing “No Longer Slaves.” It felt like a gift from the Lord that our first Sunday here in France, we would also be worshiping in singing “No Longer Slaves” – but this time in French.
Click on the link below to hear a clip of “No Longer Slaves” in French.
Whether in English or in French, somehow repeating the phrase in worship, “I am a child of God,” is exactly the truth and reminder we need as we follow Him in taking these first steps on this new journey.
Thank you for holding us up as we take these first steps. We can sense that you are praying as we sleep, as we rise, as our mouths get used to French sounds and as we stumble through fun, but awkward cross-cultural interchanges. Thank you for praying!
Christopher, Amanda & Matthias
A huge thank you for praying for our journey here! Despite ending up with only 9 minutes(!) to make our international connection out of Dulles, the trip was otherwise smooth and uneventful!
Well…almost. When we landed in Geneva, we were to be met by a taxi that the school had arranged to take us across the border to France. The school had confirmed the size of vehicle we would need before hand, we knew with the three of us, a stroller and our 5 checked bags we would not fit into a sedan. Apparently the day we landed was a national holiday, so the taxi company had limited vehicles available. So the driver met us and led us to our taxi…
Yup – you guessed it – an entire coach bus for the three of us. Apparently they had no more minivans/SUV’s available with the holiday, so this was our ride. Our jet-lagged selves couldn’t help but laugh at the irony.
If you know Amanda well, you know that she absolutely cringes at the thought of making a scene while traveling or making a fuss when meeting new people. So starting this new chapter in life by showing up at the French school to meet all these new people in a huge coach bus for the three of us – was just the thing to kickstart the first in a long line of growth inducing/uncomfortable experiences ahead of us in the months to come : )