28 November 2010

From Foreign to Familiar

After the Bible, the book that has (and continues to) impacted my spiritual walk the most is M.J. Stanford's The Green Letters: Principles of Spiritual Growth. In it he has a chapter on the concept of REST. While discussing Hebrews 4:9-11a he says: " 'Let us labor therefore to enter into the rest.' As for labor, it is true that there is a great deal of struggling and searching, pleading and agonizing, in the process of discovering and understanding truths fitted to our needs." A few paragraphs later and he quotes Norman Grubb saying:
Take as example the learning of a foreign language. You are faced with a series of hieroglyphics in a book, you hear a medley of sounds around, which mean absolutely nothing. Yet you know that it is a language that can be learned. More than that you have gone there to learn it. Now that is the first rung in the ladder of faith. However weak or waveringly, in your heart you do believe that you can and will get it. Otherwise, obviously you wouldn't try to learn it. So you plod on. Many a time faith and courage fail, the mind is weary and the heart is heavy, and you almost give up. But not quite. To give up is faith's unforgivable sin. On you go at it. Months pass. It seems largely to go in one ear and out the other. Then--the length of time depends on the difficulty of the language and the ability and industry of the pupil of course--a miracle seems to happen. The day or period comes when, without your hardly realizing it, what you are seeking has found you; what you are trying to grasp has grasped you! You just begin automatically to speak the language, to think it, to hear it. What was an incomprehensible jumble of sounds without, ha become an ordered language within the mind.

24 November 2010

Where's the Wonder

Over the weekend my fellow RA friend, KEG-hoe, from my Cedarville days came with her new husband to visit me.  We went up to the Sacre Coeur on Friday night, and spent Saturday taking a whirlwind tour of the Parisian highlights.  Our wanders ended at the Eiffel Tower.  K & M went up to the top and I searched out someplace warm to sit and read. 

I thought about coming back the way we came, but I had been there . . . and there were no cafés in the other 3 directions.  And since it was a cold November night the crowds at the Tower were thin, I grabbed a cheap-o cappuchino from the offical Tower vendeur and sat down to people watch.

18 November 2010

Stress and Other Foreign Concepts

Living in France has really opened my eyes to the reality of how wonderful a low stress lifestyle is.  I know, you're thinking to yourself:  'Really Deb., REALLY?!?!  Moving to a new country, learning a new language, adapting to a new culture . . . ALONE!  You call that a low stress lifestyle?!?!  ARE YOU NUTS?!?!'  But, yeah, compared to the pace of life I had before moving to France, my lifestyle has been much slower.  Sure there's been stress . . . but it's been very different!

Maybe it's because I'm on the other side of culture shock . . . or because my only responsiblity here was to learn the language, but I really enjoy my pace of life here.  I don't have a car, so transportation takes longer but is out of my control.  I'm not working, so I don't feel those stresses.  I walk ten steps to get to class everyday, so there's no commute or traffic to deal with.  Because of my time frame and language level I haven't been involved in ministry like I was at home.  So my lifestyle has been stripped of so many of the things that used to fill up my calendar.  I've had time to read and visit museums and go to see documentaries . . . all of course in French and therefore language learning, but in the past 6 months all of those things simply augmented the grammatical structures and vocabulary I was learning . . . they were no longer intimidating or overwhelming or frustrating.

10 November 2010

Benda Bilili

So I just got back from the ciné . . . haven't been in a while . . . but nothing had really caught my eye, until the other day when I was at the boulangerie picking up some fresh baguettes and saw a flyer for a film called Benda Bilili.  Havíng never heard of this film, I wouldn't have picked it up, except on the front were pictures of African men sitting in hand crank wheelchairs holding guitars.  Turns out our little cinéMassy was having a special one-time showing followed by a question-answer session with filmmaker. 

Turns out, I actually mentioned this group in a blog post back in 2009!  And tonight, I went to see the documentary.  It was great!  The music was great . . . story was pretty incredible.  4 of the 5 members of the band use wheeled mobility as a result of polio.  They used to get together to sing, until one day two filmmakers bumped into them (while filming something else) and took an interest.  These two French réalisateurs introduced them to a kid they met playing a homemade insturment on the streets trying to survive.  Six years later, Staff Benda Bilili not only had recorded a CD, but they began their world tour.

09 November 2010


Now there's quite a bit of logic behind the postal code system . . . it's starts with the département in which you live (it's almost like the concept of 'counties' in the States) and "the last three digits identify a more precise location, 000 being in general reserved for the préfecture. However, in Paris, Lyon, and Marseille the last two digits indicate the arrondissement" (thank you, wikipedia). 

And, like so many things, there is a particular way of saying the postal code . . . phone numbers for example aren't given in single-digits . . . they are always said in tens-digits (in the States, for the number 555-329-8538 we would say: five-five-five, three-two-nine, eight-five-three-eight with a few people ending it with eighty-five, thirty-eight) . . .but in France they'd say: cinquante-cinq.cinquante-trois.vingt-neuf.quatre-vingt-cinq.trente-huit).  But the postal code is different.  It's tens-digits, hundreds.

07 November 2010


Not going to lie, one of my most favorite things about living in France is the cheese.  Moving (end of January 2011) to a place where someone drives across the border to Nigeria in order to supply the hospital compound with toilet paper also means learning to live without other luxuries such as peppercorn-crusted-brie and cumin-infused-gouda.  But the truth is, in Galmi, it's difficult (and therefore expensive) to get even something as simple as Kiri Squares (little creamcheese-like squares that seem to be popular everywhere outside of the US).

03 November 2010

La Mode . . . C'est Moi!

One of my favorite things about French culture is their open-mindedness with the term 'fashion.'  Paris is the world capital of all things de la mode . . . but I have to admit, sometimes I look at the passersby and think to myself 'REALLY??  You're wearing that??' Okay, I would NEVER claim to be a fashionista, and have never really ever made an effort to be some much as 'trendy'.  Yet, despite how wacky and crazy some of the outfits may seem to me, here in France the attitude seems to be 'if you're wearing it, it's fashionable' (even if it's a fanny pack . . . that would be an American 'fanny pack' not the British version, for you, my loyal readers from the UK).

01 November 2010

Diagnositc Testing

I've been living in France for over a year now. Unfortunately that means my days of avoiding le médecin are long gone. That's right. I've managed to avoid going to the doctor (in France) for 15 months. But I was having sharp ear pain that would wake me up in the middle of the night . . . I've had the same thing happen a few times over the past several years and the doc has always told me that I have an inflammed tube and a few weeks on steroids will do the trick. And it always does.

But apparently in France, sharp pain in the ear that wakes one up throughout the night is caused by heartburn and intestinal irregularities . . . even if the patient denies experiencing heartburn . . . or if that same patient denies smelling an unpleasant odor or having an unusual taste in the mouth while feeling said ear pain . . . or denies any intestinal irregularities.