It’s official! We are in France! How amazing? Don’t think it was without challenge! After many attempts at locating our Visas we took an adventure. Bart had been in touch with the Visa office several times attempting to fix any problems that would slow the arrival of our needed visas, but then cometh the snow. Man did it come!!! Here’s a quick summary of the past few weeks:
- We left the Stephens family in Richmond on Saturday the 25thafter a good time of visiting and drove to Converse, after the first section of big snow had hit.
- On Sunday we attended church and were given an amazing send off from Converse Church of Christ and then we were able to attend the Memorial Service for Bart’s grandfather, Rod Cameron. It was a very powerful service and we were so blessed to see how many people have had their lives changed by the ministry of Rod and Bev. I began feeling the beginning of an awful virus. The snow continued.
- On Monday we began the semi-frantic attempt at getting a hold of the Visa office to locate our visas and were told that Bart could make the drive to Chicago to pick them up. I was in bed, in a lot of pain with a fever and the kids were at Nana and Papaws with a good friend. Bart purchased our tickets (we had been holding the website open waiting for the official confirmation for our visas before buying). Monday night we stayed up til’ 2 AM at Bart’s sister’s house packing our stuff into 9-50lb suitcases and 4 carry-ons. We also learned that all government offices in Chicago (our visa location) were closed. It was no use calling, we knew the office was run by an automated answering service.
- Tuesday morning, I awoke feeling worse than I can ever remember. My mom began the drive from Richmond in preparation for our departure. Bart called the Visa office who told us they were remaining open and that we could pick our visas up. Bart and his good friend Marcus loaded up the van. My mom arrived and we piled in. There was barely room for everyone to sit, but we pulled it off. Then we began to see signs from Lucas that he was sick too.
Now for our travels:
In our travels to France we had a 21 hour layover in Turkey. Our first flight from Chicago was a tearful goodbye with our mom’s. We went to our luggage check and were so pleased by our hostess. She checked everything immediately and after spending several minutes smiling with our kids gave us 4 free seats! When we arrived past security it was very obvious that Lucas was getting worse so we quickly bought some meds. He slept on the benches at the airport while we waited to load.
Once loaded, we had 2 whole rows to ourselves!! This was such a blessing as Bart and I were able to rest at least somewhat! The plane was gorgeous!! Each seat had a pillow and blankes meaning that we had ample amounts. The people were incredibly hospitable and kind. We were served 2 meals, and snacks on the 11 hour flight. We were given headphones and were able to watch movies, or even able to watch via cameras the actual flight outside!! Our kids were both so exhausted that they tried very hard to sleep. We kept Lucas dosed. I felt awful because everyone on the plane heard us hacking all night. I ran out of tissues within the first hour from a constant sneeze and nose run. At one point, I was sleeping sitting up and had Hosanna lying across 3 seats. The girl was determined to sleep with her head OFF the seat and the rest of her body on. I must have really drifted off when I hear “KLUNK!” and immediately grab Hosanna off the floor. Ah, well…you win some, ya lose some. She went right back to sleep.
We were a little surprised to arrive in Turkey into immediate hustle and bustle lifestyle. I was a little overwhelmed, first because they only checked our car seats to Turkey…so I managed the kids, the stroller, Lucas’ carry on backpack, and Hosanna’s pink diaper bag that Mai made for her. Bart hauled both huge car seats, and the 2 carry on suitcases plus his backpack, all throughout the airport. Needless to say, Lucas and I both being sick, and a fussy 21 month old, after an 11 hour through the night flight….was not always pretty. Yet God’s grace was evident in the way we survived. Bart scheduled our hotel stay for the wrong night but somehow got us a free overnight through the airline but this required even more back and forth. We also had to go through airline security again, with everything because we weren’t just staying in the airport. Once we finally were shuttled through Istanbul to the hotel we were given connecting rooms, but Hosanna, who has had the hardest time sleeping of us all (maybe because she hasn’t been as sick), was up all night. The time change has really rocked her world. We must have spent 3 or more hours in that airport and I was so glad when we woke up the next morning in the hotel…until Lucas vomited. No joke, this sickness has been the spawn of Hell. We have had every symptom from congestion, coughing, sneezing, puking, fever, earaches, diarrhea, aching skin, drowning coughs….yeah…not pretty. Thank God for French black out curtains (more on that later).
The next morning Lucas wouldn’t eat, and in the entirety of this sickness had gone nearly 3 days without eating. We had been managing to get him to drink though. We loaded the 11 am shuttle right after Lucas vomited again. We went through the airport and had some Turkish ice cream from a funny man who made us all have a much needed laugh. Lucas liked that, and ate a few bites. We quickly got to our gate and then…waited.
We arrived around 5ish in Lyon which is a 6 hour difference from Indiana, so what would have been 11 AM, not that our very confused bodies cared. As we waited in the passport line Lucas began exclaiming “Mama! I have to Pee!” People immediately became very helpful and shuffled us to the front of the line. Bart ran Lucas to the wash closet!
I pulled all of our suitcases off the rack and the man who worked at the airport helped us get a luggage cart…or 2. We had both carts and the stroller loaded with stuff. We loved the stares we were getting. We eagerly passed through the doors and Eric was on the other side. I nearly looked passed him because I was so eager to find them! He, Bart and the taxi driver helped load our stuff into the huge taxi waiting. They drove us the 25 minutes or so to our apartment where we unloaded things into the hall so that we could relieve the taxi driver. Our landlord’s mother in law was there to help us up, and Melissa translated as we were given a tour of our apartment. I love the colors we have, and the blackout curtains. I especially love that it is ours. Every home we have lived in we have made ours, with only one exception. I am so glad to be here and though I know culture shock will come I am so glad for this adventure right now. I truly believe that the determination we have will help us tremendously.
Though Lucas didn’t starve himself, his body was radically depleted by the time we arrived in France. He barely ate while we travelled. He slept for nearly the entire first day in his new room, and he slept nearly 12 hours a night for the first 3 nights because of this sickness and the time change. Katie and Zephan Hazell, as well as Eric and Melissa have been such a huge blessing to us. We don’t know what we would have done had they not met us with such willing hearts. They have taught us our whereabouts, spent hours at the store with us, or on the phone with the bank, or making doctor’s appointments. Bart now has what we think is Shingles! YAY! Not. I am so very proud of his hard work and dedication in French class, and that he is devoting himself to learning his whereabouts and getting our bank stuff in order. We officially have Wi-Fi at our house, and this means we have French TV! We have been watching the Olympics in French!! What a great way to learn!!
Bart has now finished his first week of class and tomorrow I start my class at Lyo Lingua! We have used the underground metro system quite a bit and are getting used to lots of walking (Just like CABO!!!). Lucas and Hosanna have been eating a ton of food because their bodies have not gotten used to the different foods here and they don’t feel as full. We don’t have snacks everywhere or fast food to grab. They are way more expensive when you do buy them. There aren’t kids’ snacks in mass amounts (no jell-o, fruit snacks, snack crackers, cookies, kids’ drinks, soda from a fountain-anything from a fountain etc.). There are a lot of little café’s and bread shops. One very popular grocery store is Carre Four. Lucas is way tired from walking, but his body is beginning to adapt, and he is very excited about the prospect of going to preschool here. Katie helped us find a doctor and his sickness is nearly gone from the help of the meds he gave to Lucas.
So far we love the food, and there is a market about 3 or 4 blocks away that happens on Saturdays and Wednesdays, so we will be buying a lot more locally grown food there…Zephan says you just have to learn how to “buy in bulk in season”. He said you will eat a ton of the same things for each season but it is way cheaper than going to Carre Four all the time. We will have to eat a ton of eggs and PB for protein. Besides that, I have loved the food here and can already tell I feel way better. There is real sugar in most of the food here, so no corn syrup, and a lot less processing. Lots…and lots and lots of bread.
So excited….I truly feel like I am going to really love this culture, and these people.
My one word of advice for going to a different culture: “Listen to the words of those who have gone before you but ALWAYS come with an open mind, willing to learn and accept something different”.
Thanks again for reading!!
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