Day 1. We arrived in France today around 8am. It was a long flight, and Niki and I were already completely exhausted when we landed. We were able to find our luggage easy enough, but got a surprise when we made it to the car rental counter. Our $200 dollar car rental suddenly became an unplanned $1,000.00 hold on our debit card. Before we left, I had taken out a little over 600 euros, and had just around one thousand U.S. dollars left in the bank account. This means that we literally had to move money from our savings account in order to rent the car. We're literally going to travel France for a week with little more than the money in my pocket. If that wasn't bad enough, then we had the incredible experience of driving. Those few kilometers between Paris Orly and the Kyriad Hotel in Massy were the most intense moments of driving I have ever experienced. Niki helped me with the GPS and signs, and I just tried to keep us alive. With God's protection, we made it safely to our hotel. The next thirty minutes were spent trying to find the invisible parking garage that the lady at the front counter kept pointing at....it was underground. Sigh.
We made it to the language School in Massy an hour early today. Our appointment was for 10am for the purpose of meeting the students on their class break. We were frustrated, exhausted, and a little discouraged about the money issue. For weeks, we had been dreaming of walking through the doors of Les Cedres (the language school). I basically already knew how to get there, because I had traveled there on Google Maps countless times before our trip. I think I was expecting a rainbow to appear, bells to ring, or angels to begin singing when we walked through the door.
None of that happened.
The school was beautiful, the staff was more than friendly, and it was obviously a nice school...for someone. I had already done so much research online, that the information I received from the secretary was redundant. I remember thinking, "I could have done this through an email. What am I doing here??!!" Niki and I took a seat on the bench out in the foyer. It still wasn't break time yet, and neither of us had the energy or encouragement to stay any longer. I waited for what seemed like eternity for the secretary to bring me back a printout of some paperwork. When she returned, she asked when we thought we could get started in school. I answered, "I'm not sure right now." Yet, in my head I was saying, "Lady, I'm not ever coming back." That may not be what you want to hear, but I'm just being transparent. I had only been in France for an hour. This was supposed to be the trip that confirmed everything! I felt nothing.
Then, it happened. The bell rang, and suddenly Niki and I were surrounded by American students (most of whom were missionaries). Niki had three or four women encouraging her, praying for her, and quoting Scriptures to her. I was met by one or two of the husbands and was receiving the same. Those men and women may not have know it, but they were ministering to us right there in that foyer. We exchanged phone numbers and sent Facebook friend requests. Then, as quickly as they came out, they went back to class. We walked out recharged. As I passed through the doors, I realized what had happened to today. The enemy had met us with discouragement the moment we stepped off the plane. Thankfully, our Savior knew just what we needed. I wish that we hadn't been so led by emotions, but we were. We're human. It will happen again, but I know that our God will supply all of our needs.
We spent the rest of the day checking out some of the grocery stores to get a taste for what shopping will be like in Massy. We found three places. The first was a huge shopping center called Cora. It was kind of like a Super Walmart on steroids. We found another small grocery store on the walk between the hotel and the school. It was nice, but pretty small. The third was the Massy Marche, which was a more traditional French shopping center. It is a little further away, but I feel like we'll probably make the trip every once and a while just because it's a cool place where lots of families hang out in the afternoons.
That's it for now. Time to get some much needed rest.