Hello family and friends! It is hard to believe I have already been in France for 3 months! Time has moved very quickly, and before you know it, I will be moving to Cameroon. This is not to say I don't greatly treasure my time in France. The past three months have been some of the most rewarding and revealing of my life.
During the week I leave the house by 7:15am and arrive at school by 8:30. Class begins at 9:00am and continutes until noon. Alliance Francaise, my language school has a very good program and I have been impressed by the experience and creativity of my professors. My classes are truly multinational, so far I have meet other students from a total of 15 different countries! At certain times, French is the only language we have in common. Through this language, we are able to communicate, and this is very exciting. Each month starts a new level at school. March and April I completed levels 1 and 2. My French progressed quickly, so after speaking with my professor, she allowed me to skip level 3. This month, I am currenly studying level 4 and things are going well.
Egg vs Eyeball
For the past month, I have been making an effort to speak only French, both at home and at class. This of course has been a combination of difficult, rewarding and humorous. Some of my best mistakes have been at mealtime, when I try to thank my hostess and say that I am “full”. So far I have succeeded in pronouncing myself dead and calling myself a pregnant animal!☺ I have called an egg an eyeball and a blanket a jar of jam. Needless to say I am grateful for my family's sense of humor! I have taken some daring steps during my time here. In May, I had the opportunity to introduce myself publicly at a missionary conference, in French of course. I wrote everything down beforehand and spoke for all of two minutes, but I was proud of my accomplishement! In addition, I have joined the choir at church. We sing all of the hymns in French, so I am in the process of learning pronunciation and alto. We will be performing next month in Lyon, the nearby city, during “la fete de la musique” or the nationwide festival of music. In addition, I have volunteered to help in nursery. The kids are very merciful and allow me to make many mistakes!
She sings like a casserole
During my time here I have been asked to explain the names “hot dogs” and “pig tails” (the hair style) I was at a loss, these are simply things we say, without realizing they are a little strange to those hearing them for the first time. French is no exception, and there are many sayings that are humurous to the learner. For example, they have a saying, “Elle chant comme une casserole” or, she sings like a casserole. For those of you who are wondering, this is not a compliment.☺ In addition, if someone speaks French poorly, the following saying applies; “Elle parle francais comme une vache espagnole” or, she speaks French like a Spanish cow. Fortunately, this phrase has not been used to describe my attempts! A term of endearment which is used quite commonly is “ma puce” which literally means, my flea! These and many more have brought humor to my language learning.
It is my joy to share with you my successes in the French language. Many things are going well, and for that I am very grateful. However, I would be remiss if I didn't ask for your continued prayers. The truth is, some days are great and some are very difficult. At times, learning the French language is overwhelming and adapting to another culture is physically and emotionally challenging. I have spent quite a bit of time with God, asking Him how I am going to get through the the next 2 years. His answer is clear, I can't do this on my own. This requires full trust and reliance on God and not on self. I understand this is not a new revelation, but it takes on new meaning when it is the only option.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7
Please continue to pray that my family would have God's comfort and peace during my time away from home, that God would comfort me during the difficult times, and that I would display the fruits of the Spirit in every circumstance. Please pray for my fast and efficient acquisition of French and that God would use this time to prepare me for the work in Cameroon.
Saying a simple “thank you” never seems to be enough. It is difficult to express what all of you mean to me. God has used your generosity and love to sustain me during my time here, and I thank you.
God bless, Sarah