January 2009

So.  We have been cleaning.  A lot.  And finally the apartment was clean enough that we started moving our stuff over and made an Ikea run.  There are probably a few more layers of grime we need to remove, but at least it is habitable.  Except that I get overwhelmed by huge projects like “moving to a new country and cleaning every square inch of an apartment top to bottom and unpacking and putting everything away,” so yesterday was not the best.  Plus my knee is really starting to hurt again.  I was all mopey and sorry for myself and overwhelmed and shutting down, so we left and went to McDonald’s around the corner.  We have been to McDonald’s more in the past 2 weeks than in the previous 5 years in the states – but before you are alarmed, let me say that McDonald’s in France is, for some reason, much better than American McDonald’s.  Plus it is affordable.  And, they have free wifi (which is pronounced “weefee” by the locals).

Thanks to the miracle of the internet (thank you, Al Gore) I was able to talk to two friends – one in Texas and one elsewhere abroad – and it was just nice.  Nice to catch up, nice know I am not forgotten, nice to be a regular person instead of a cross between a scullery maid and a pack mule.  I went back, unpacked a suitcase, took a bath because we still have no way to rig a shower curtain, and slept in my new bed in my super dark room and really, I think everything will be just fine.


We woke up at 3:40 yesterday morning, walked an hour in the cold & rain to the prefecture, and waited in line – in the cold & rain – for 3 hours.  People were shoving and pushing and trying to cut in line, my eye was almost poked out by umbrella spokes numerous times, and this one guy – who, by the way, had decided to share my umbrella – smoked cigarettes in my face practically the whole time.  Unfortunately we were still not able to get an appointment when they opened at 8:15.  We were told the people who were able to get in had been waiting since midnight.  Awesome.

And, the apartment we rented was “furnished.”  This basically means that whatever junky furniture the owner didn’t want is being stored there.  Either that or the guy who lived there before, who was apparently a PIG, just left all his crap and the owner was like, “Sweet!  Now I can rent it as furnished.”  Some things we are getting rid of and replacing, like the lumpy and stained mattress (HALLELUJAH) and the couch, and we will just have to leave the new ones when we move out.  That stinks.  It doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever that someone can rent someone junk and expect them to either store it for the duration of their rental, or replace it at their personal expense.  In America that sort of thing would be the landlord’s responsibility.  It would also be the landlord’s responsibility to repair the non-functioning dishwasher, but even though it was broken before we moved in it is our responsibility to repair.  That is just how renting in France works.  The apartment is also very dirty.  There was food left in the microwave, and nothing was cleaned after the guy moved out.  Which is also ridiculous, because considering all the filth and broken things (the bathtub, the toilet, the dishwasher) there, the owner should have kept his deposit and used that money to clean and repair.  Which is, after all, the point of a deposit.  So, we get to spend hours scrubbing every inch of the place – and I literally mean every inch – and improving the furniture in the apartment, and while that will make it much more enjoyable for us for 2 years the end beneficiary is the landlord.  Ugh.

Oh – and besides the broken marble-topped buffet that is blocking the entryway, there is an enormous armoire in the bedroom, for no apparent reason as there is actually a very nice closet.  The armoire takes up all the space (as in, it dwarfs the one from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe) and is completely hideous.  And unless the rental agency is very kind, it has to stay.  It is the new bane of my existence.

Books I have completed in the last 3 months:
Finding Common Ground by Tim Downs
More Ready Than You Realize by Brian McLaren
The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne
Sowing Reaping Keeping by Laurence Singlehurst
Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson
Foreign to Familiar by Sarah Lanier
Family Driven Faith by Voddie Bauchum
Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier
To Own a Dragon by Donald Miller
Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs
Let the Nations Be Glad! by John Piper
Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne
Bad Idea by Todd & Jedd Hafer
The Twilight of Courage by Brock & Bodie Thoene
Persuasion by Jane Austen
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Currently working on The Consequences of Ideas by R.C. Sproul and Creative Counterpart by Linda Dillow.

Our sending team gathered around us Saturday night for a farewell.  We talked about what we will be doing in Marseille and some ways they can support us while we’re gone.  It’s a great group of people, some truly good friends.  And they prayed for us – prayed for our luggage to arrive, prayed for the people we will be meeting, prayed for our brains and tongues to learn French, prayed for our marriage.  I can’t even begin to say how much it means to be surrounded by a group of people who have committed to pray for you, for real.

And Sunday…ahhh, Sunday.  I love my church.  I go to church with phenomenal music but it’s not pretentious.  I go to a church where people truly love you as you are, where you are and let your spiritual journey be yours, acknowledging that God works in different people in different ways.  I go to a church where we learned to do life with other people.  I go to a church that believes that what you do & how you live is more important than what you talk about.  They don’t just talk about missions and throw some money at it – they send out missionaries, full-time as well as short-term, all over the world, all the time.  They don’t just talk about social problems; they partner with an outreach to orphans in Honduras who live & work in a huge dump.  By partnering, I mean “give money to” as well as “send people to help in the actual work.”  Ross was talking about God’s justice on Sunday, and what I love about Ross’ talks (or sermons, or whatever you want to call them) is that while he will talk about weighty things like the justice of God but never leaves it there – there is always some way to live it out, like ways to be a part of bringing justice to those who live in injustice.  I love that.  It’s never just, “Let’s talk about God’s glory;” it’s “Let’s talk about God’s glory, and then we’ll talk about how we can make much of Him in our lives.”  I will really miss being there every Sunday…but I wouldn’t want to be sent out from any other church.

We made it safely to France, along with all our luggage (yay!) (although for what we had to pay for luggage, it certainly ought to have made it here).  I have used my “eat even though you’re not hungry” and “sleep anywhere, any time, in any uncomfortable position” skills, picked up in Virginia, quite a bit so far in this adventure.  Stay tuned.

We saw our friends Paige & Barry on Thursday for one last hurrah.  They have been really good friends to us: they sent us food when we were stranded and starving in Virginia, warm clothes when I was freezing in Virginia…they are the kind of people who do things just because they are the right thing to do, and are good friends regardless of how good of a friend you are in return.  They are also really fun, and Jake & I like them a lot.  Hopefully they will join us in Marseille very soon, but we will miss them in the meantime.

The day before I leave I am:

  • getting really, really nervous about this whole starting over thing
  • wondering if everything will fit in the suitcases
  • a bit outraged at the highway robbery known as baggage fees ($200 per bag!  are you kidding me?!)
  • hoping all the little things I keep thinking of that need to get done, like charging all electronics, will get done and I won’t forget them – which would be a miracle
  • hoping any customs fees are minimal
  • hoping the running store has my shoes in my size, which is unlikely
  • wanting to just sit on the couch and watch movies
  • thinking longingly of Tex-Mex and related items: tortilla chips, queso, peppers, etc.
  • sitting in the doctor’s office waiting to find out if we are healthy enough to actually leave
  • worrying about losing something important, like a passport
  • wishing that drinking hot tea was as cool as drinking coffee
  • hoping the airline’s scales are similar to ours at home, or perhaps weighs things a bit under
  • grateful we have savings which have allowed us to purchase “equipment” and will cover part of our baggage fees
  • trying to figure out the best way to cancel our cell phones

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