February 29, 2012

Riding Into the Countryside

"As the symphony of cranes flew north in their endless V-formations across the twilight sky, we knew we weren't in Paris anymore. The crescent moon stood motionless in the periwinkle blue when the birds decided to pass through our country walk. It was a beautiful reminder of the natural order of instinct against the backdrop of the perfectly created heavens." - An American Strolling Through the French Countryside (okay, it was me)

Limoges Benedictins Gare
Welcome to Limoges (say "lee-moge"), a large, yet overlooked city in West-Central France. Toulouse, Bordeaux, and Lyon tend to receive more tourist attention than this fresh-aired country, but Marc and I were able to experience its charms this past weekend. We were able to visit because we have been very fortunate to have connections with various American missionaries before crossing the Atlantic. My mom's best friends in Belgium, a student from my college whose family lives in Geneva, and now most recently from working at Simpson.

I had been looking forward to this trip since last July when I first found out we were probably moving to France. I had immediately gone and talked to Ray and Carol to let them know and hoped to make a visit sometime soon. Soon became later, and during this holiday we were finally able to make the 3-hour train ride south.

The main purpose behind our trip was to lay the groundwork for the Amplify missions trip the Simpson guys are taking in May with Marc. You can go back to the Give to the Giving blog to remember and to help finish up their fundraising. A portion of their trip will be spent in Limoges with the team of Christian & Missionary Alliance (CMA) church planters.

We were able to even attend their church, and we both were able to understand most of the service with the help of the Power Point slides in the background for when we couldn't listen quickly enough. Everyone was extremely kind and welcoming to us, and we even had a hysterical conversation in English with another Parisian who insisted we visit all of the beautiful sights around Limoges.

Carol was a splendid hostess, and we felt like we'd won a weekend away at a quaint bed & breakfast with the delicious meals we kept meeting at the table. We even got to have our own crêpe smorgasbord!

But the shining highlight of the trip for me was my first ever motorcycle ride. Granted, this motorcycle was no Harley, but it was still my first time on a bike with any sort of engine. Ray secured the massive helmet on my head, and all I could think about was Stacia's old "Match Stick" stories from NBC Camps. Oh, the legends of camp...

Jeans and flexibility do not mix!
I have been thinking about getting a small Vespa-type scooter for next year (remember that blog?). Now I am SURE I want one because it is so much FUN! I literally could not stop smiling like an idiot the whole 15 minute ride. I even let out a freedom yell when we hit open road. The wind was whipping all around us with the sun beaming down its warmth as the fields and trees just rolled on by. It was perfect.

All three days were filled with great talks, great food, and great fun. We are so blessed to have brothers and sisters in Christ who open their hearts and homes to us here in France. Please keep the church in Limoges in your prayers, for their growth and strength together and in their city. We are also very excited we get to share their ministry with our Simpson guys who will be here in barely two months!

One thing I definitely learned for certain; while I am not yet sure how the actual driving of it will be for me...

I was born to ride a mini-motorcycle.

Watch out, August '12! This is happening.