The two month mark came and went quickly and we are stunned at how time has flown. God has been present in every challenge and victory. It does often feel like we hit the ground running and haven’t slowed much. We have been intentional about taking the time our family needs to cope and adjust.
We have been in over 6 weeks of class at Leo Lingua, and are learning things such as: French Verb Conjugation, pronunciation and vowels and consonants with their many different places and purposes.
We are learning the culture, and though all of us have felt the strain of being immersed in a different world, our eldest has shown the signs of culture shock the most. We are learning how to embrace his frustrations with grace, and stay constant while we ourselves are feeling the tensions. L has been in school since our 3rd week here. His teacher is incredibly kind and patient. In France there is no school for youth on Wednesdays, or on weekends. They have school for 6 week increments and then have 2 weeks off. On the last Friday of the last week of class there is a book faire. They have a small party with the themed books from the last 6 weeks all on display. A local bookstore often will sell some of the books and sometimes some of the authors or illustrators will be present. We have been able to attend one of these already. It is super cool! We also were able to celebrate Lucas’ first school carnival. All of the kids dress up in their favorite costumes and parade around the school area, including the older kids. They then play games and have special treats. Bart has been rapidly progressing in French, and because of this he can communicate well with Lucas’ teacher. I attend morning classes so Bart takes Lucas to school. I am in class level A-1 (The beginning level). My class has consisted of people from Germany, South Africa, China, New Zealand and Russia. It is an ever changing environment because people come for a variety of reasons and for very differing lengths of time. Because of this, my teacher is always on her toes! I have been very blessed by the different methods of teaching, including several field trips to areas around town. I have seen the Aquarium, Planetarium, Fourviere (the beautiful Cathedral on the hill) and Saint-Jean (another incredible Cathedral). Each of these trips were full of vocabulary and gave us a background on the city we live. My classes end in early afternoon, giving Bart and I about an hour together before he leaves for class. He is beginning B-1 soon, and can converse quite well with the people around us. He encourages me often in my studies. BOTH of us have had to overcome a serious Spanish accent while speaking French.
We celebrate the little things, including a day without accidentally speaking in Spanish. We are thrilled to be way closer to our teammates! We are about 25 minutes away via Metro and are able to spend time with them a couple of times a week. We are very excited about the way we have begun to adapt to the culture. We love the fresh food opportunities here, but there is still plenty of bread and chocolate. Though culture shock hits, we hold on to grace and prayer. We celebrate, even though we have days with tearful kids, and worn down parents, we know that we are in this together and that God has never left our side. We have found been attending church with Eric and Melissa at a local church here and have been tremendously blessed by the people there. We have also begun developing relationships with the people in our building. We live in an area of town with many different age groups and many different ages and dynamics live in our building. Also, there are playgrounds all over Lyon! We have found over a dozen since we have arrived and we love exploring them with the kids.
We continue to tweak our budget every month, trying to decide what can stay and what has to go. We are so thrilled to be so close to 100% of our budget, but we are also still trying to measure out accordingly. The dollar, on a good day is half the value of the Euro currently and Bart has begun mastering the most effective way of getting the money from the US, to us here.
Though we are finally healthy, after nearly 4 weeks of sickness, the physical demands of walking everywhere all the time still wear us down. Sometimes getting out the door requires the double stroller. We are very blessed to be able to store the stroller downstairs so that we don’t have to load it into the 2×2 elevator. Yet we then stroll 3 blocks to the metro, take the elevator down and pack the double stroller into the metro, or perhaps the kids walk if we aren’t travelling too extensively, but usually that involves some snuggles on the way home. Another challenge is just allowing ourselves time to process. Everywhere we go we hear French. This is a huge blessing! Yet our physical bodies HAVE to cope with that stress, sometimes this involves headaches, or just pure exhaustion, other times our kids have said they have tummy aches in situations where we are entirely surrounded by French speakers (most times) because it can get overwhelming. Please don’t think I am complaining. I only write that because I personally have fallen in love with the people and culture here, and am simply offering up the needs for prayer that many people have requested I share. Truly, we are so thankful to finally be here learning this language, no matter the challenges we face.
In comparison, the days we had in the states seem vastly different than our days here. Yet there are so many similarities as well. People here are much quieter; they are very private and immensely kind. There is an exception to every cultural rule, and so, though most of the time when I leave my house I pass many people whom are dressed very nicely for work or studies, there are times when I sigh a breath of relief at the mom in yoga pants chasing her toddler as he scoots along on his scooter. Many people have little kick scooters, both kids and adults, and even more people ride bicycles up and down the roads. It doesn’t always rain, and (he he) we have had quite a few days over 60 F. The trees are in full blossom and so is the hope in our hearts as we continue eagerly learning this language. We can’t wait to see where God leads us, as already we have had opportunities to share His love.
With deepest appreciation for your prayers and support,