Bonsoir from Montpellier!
According to my mom, I’ve been a bit remiss in my blogging duties, so here we go…
Before I begin, you will notice my site’s name change. I couldn’t really call myself just a world traveler, because I’ve finally settled in a place for a bit. And I didn’t want to say that I’m just an American in Montpellier, because I feel that my identity is so much more than my nationality. So I’ll just be a strawberry in Montpellier…
Anyway, onto my adventures so far. I arrived in Paris early on Thursday morning. I immediately went to the hotel and tried to sleep, but really, who can sleep when they only have 24 hours in Paris?!? So I was quickly on my way into the center of the city to explore. I did a bit of shopping and a bit of eating, and a bit of sightseeing. Perfect for my first foray into France.
After this bit of sightseeing, I returned back from Paris to meet my parents, who had just arrived. We were still not able to rest yet, as we were immediately whisked away to the home of a very hospitable Romanian/French family, the Tatars, who made us a lovely dinner.
The next day, we woke up early and took the 4 hour train ride to Montpellier. Each of us had 2-3 very heavy luggages (our most valuable life possessions), and by this time we were feeling very tired and weighed down. Imagine our wonderful surprise and great relief as we pulled into the station on the train, and right there, outside our door, was 4 brothers and sisters from our new congregation waving at us. The minute we stepped off the train, the brothers and sisters each took a bag and helped us make our way to our apartment. Not only did they do that, but they also made us a care package to last us through the next day, with a homemade pizza, a homemade cake, coffee, tea, cookies, apple sauce and more. We immediately knew that we were going to like it here.
On Sunday, we woke up very early to be driven to the Marignane Assembly Hall, outside of Marseilles. There, we attended the Special Assembly Day for the English congregations in the south of France. We not only met some of the 30 brothers and sisters in our new congregation, but we also met brothers and sisters from Marseille, Nimes, and Aix-en-Provence. After this, about half of our new congregation went to a Belgian restaurant. I really think I’m going to love my new congregation – it’s full of a bunch of single brothers and sisters who truly get along, feeling like one big family. I’m really looking forward to getting to know everyone.
Today, we experienced our first day in the ministry. We met at Place de la Comedie, the city center, which is pretty much like Powell and Market in SF, but with a few less crazies. There was an English language mobile witnessing cart and from there, the brother had us split up in two’s and sent us in different directions. Our goal was to listen for English speaking people and to witness to them. For most of our journey, we only saw and heard French speaking people. But on our way back, I heard a street performer and a British man talking to each other in English. I went up to them and offered a tract. A very interesting conversation ensued between us, though I must say it was one of those conversations where we had to agree to disagree. However, the street performer, a gruff-looking guy from Amsterdam, said to us, “I really like going to your meetings. You actually use the Bible. Can I have a Bible? You have the best one – the language is simple and accurate.” I promised him that I would bring him one once we got them in stock (which will hopefully be soon).
The coolest thing happened on the way home. We weren’t exactly sure how to get home and my dad’s cell phone (the only one to have cell phone service [and a working map]), died. So, being a bit lost, we took the very long way home. We were still quite a bit away, when we heard a voice behind us saying, “Vous etes temoins de Jehovah?” We said, “Oui”. It ends up that he and his wife were, too, in one of the French congregations. They had seen us at Place de la Comedie, witnessing, and they felt a bit embarrassed that they didn’t stop to say hi. However, they were so sweet, and offered to give us a ride home, which was very much appreciated, as we were still about 1km away.
So, as the expression goes, “so far so good”. We miss everyone back home, but it looks like things are going very well here. I will keep you informed as to our progress…