Finally Home!

(Written Oct 7)

K and I woke up really early, before the sun came up at all. The streets of Beauvais were deserted and still slick from rain that had fell during the night. We left our friend’s building and walked into what felt like a wall of cold, the sharp kind that cuts through your clothing and jars any sleepiness from your body. We decided to walk to the train station to see if there were any trains that we could take, just in case things returned back to normal. Unfortunately, there weren’t any trains going in our direction (east) until nightfall. So K and I decided to try our luck with the bus station.

We managed to catch a bus to Compiègne, a city about 40-50km west of Chauny. From there, we knew that we could probably catch a train, bus, or taxi to Chauny without any huge fuss. At least we were headed in the right direction! And to be honest, the ride was really nice. Even though I was exhausted and frustrated, I managed to enjoy the sunrise over the beautiful French countryside. Our bus arrived in Compiègne around 8h30, where we discovered that there was no real prospect of catching a train home. There were still massive delays and only one or two trains were actually running. K and I decided to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee, hoping for some sort of change. At this point, we just needed to regroup and get some caffeine in our bloodstream.

When we returned to the station, it was still looking bleak. There was only one train running to Paris, definitely the wrong direction. We checked the bus schedule and found a bus to Noyon, about 25km east of Compiègne, a leg in the right direction. From there, we knew that we could get a cab or another local bus to Chauny. We would have preferred to just take the train straight into Chauny (about a 20 minute ride) but there wasn’t anything available. The bus to Noyon was scheduled to arrive around 11h30, a good amount of time to wait. Now, it was about 9 degrees Celsius outside, which was really really cold to both of us. We decided to sit in the train station and get out of the weather.

As soon as we walked into the building, they announced a train that was stopping through Chauny! K and I bought our tickets and waited for about an hour. Finally, the train came and picked us up at 9h30. After about 20 mins, we were finally home! We walked through town, still lugging my overnight bag. I totally forgot that it was Friday and that there was a local farmer’s market in the town square! I didn’t have much cash on me and didn’t want to schlep anything else back to our little rooms. I did manage to walk through the stalls a little bit, checking the prices for the various fruits and vegetables. It is very much like the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, composed mostly of produce, plots of flowers, and homemade cheeses. For someone like me who loves their food straight from the source, this marché en plein air is a very welcome sight. In an odd way, it’s kind of way to connect back to my adopted hometown of Los Angeles. Hopefully, I won’t have classes on Friday mornings and can make this part of my weekly routine. I didn’t have my camera on me either, so no pictures of the market.

This whole lack of wi-fi is really getting frustrating because I can’t really upload pictures to Facebook or my blog. So, you’re just going to have to use your imagination for a little bit longer. It’s also making me uncomfortable to not have any internet because of my grad apps that I’m trying to open and fill out. Fortunately, most of my application is in my writing samples and test scores, but I still need to send emails to some of my professors at UCLA for letters of recommendation and things of that nature. I also need to order official transcripts in the next week or so, which shouldn’t take me more than an hour or two at most. It’s just hard to not skype with family or friends, or to be able to respond to emails in my inbox.

But I can’t complain too much. It’s so obvious that the Lord has been putting his hands over my time here in France. From providing for my every need to orchestrating my way back to Chauny after the train fiasco, God has been so kind and gracious to practically demonstrate his love for me. In my head, I keep referring to my time in France as an Ebenezer, a “stone” of memory. It’s something to keep in the recesses of my heart, something for my future. When I am tempted to doubt the Lord’s sovereign plan for my life or see nothing but darkness, I want to remember these days as examples that God is always active, whether I am cognizant of it or not. As I sit on my bed tonight, all wrapped up in a blanket, I want to remember how gracious God is and how many blessings have been lavished upon me.

Sometimes, an act of God isn’t thunder or lightening, a neon sign in the sky or a voice from above. From where I’m standing, it seems like God’s voice can be heard the loudest in the silence of my own heart, in the quiet of the freezing morning, or in the hours spent waiting in a train station. I know that’s where I’ve met him, where I’ve felt his presence. I guess at the end of the day, no matter what the circumstances, it’s about being able to worship and praise the Lord despite whatever situation you’re in.

Prayer Requests:

– continued language acquisition, especially as I start teaching very soon!

– to find wifi that actually works at a low cost. This has been a huge issue for K and myself! It’s definitely necessary to stay in contact with people and to apply to graduate school.

– for a quiet heart that continuously seeks the Lord, even in the chaos of life abroad.

– effective ministry in my church in Chauny, that I’ll be able to get to know my fellow Christians in my town.

– wisdom with graduate program applications, writing samples, and GRE Lit testing. It’s all coming up so soon!

– smooth transition into teaching, that the kids would understand and that I’d be an effective teacher.

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