This week was especially difficult; I haven’t been feeling well, Mike has been busy, Luke has also been busy and I began to feel homesick. Don’t get me wrong, this is an incredible experience and I am so grateful for the opportunity to see this beautiful part of the world and explore the rich history all around me. Although, taking a toddler down 3 flights of stairs and on a bus any time I want to get out can be a little exhausting… not to mention the constant pressure of attentively listening to a language that doesn’t seem anything like the one I’ve been practicing. It is arduous to say the least.
I had a conversation with Mike this week about the challenges we are facing. I have a hard time balancing the gratitude for this adventure and accepting that it is hard. I feel as though saying, “things are tough” or “I’m having a difficult time” detracts from my gratitude for being here. He made the comment that “this adventure is difficult and it will take a lot of strength and courage while we are here. There is a difference between being blessed and life being easy. Blessings can be hard, but wonderful, and
we will be provided the strength if we do our part to meet our goals”.
That conversation with Mike and my experiences today really helped me gain perspective and uncover some of my hidden strength. I felt overwhelmed with love and understanding when we were able to attend our little French ward for the 3rd time. Imagining being anywhere in the world, and knowing that you have a family accessible within some sort of close proximity. The comfort in realizing that despite cultural and linguistic barriers, there are people who love you even if they have never met you. If something terrible were to happen, people would come to you with food and serving hands immediately. This is one of the greatest blessings I have found in being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint (aka Mormon). Our church is relatively the same anywhere in the world. I have had the opportunity to attend church in England, France, and India as well as all throughout the United States, and I love seeing that the church is organized the same anywhere you go. There will be three main meetings, the first Sunday will be Fast and Testimony meeting, and there will be an unpaid Bishop and his counselors presiding over the meeting. There will be classes for the children and adults. Roughly the same lessons are taught on the same Sunday anywhere in the world. The doctrine is the same everywhere. The members may look different and speak differently, but their hearts are the same. They are so filled with love. Feeling this love reminded me that despite being an entire ocean away from my home, I have a family here that is easily accessible.
I may not understand much of what is being taught, but I can feel it. The members are so friendly, coming over and introducing themselves and others. They ask how they can help us, they make connections, and they invite us to activities. We instantly have a link, a foundation, in this recent adventure.
There were also a few women that commented on how brave I am to be here. I haven’t really thought of it as bravery. I always saw bravery as people standing up for their beliefs despite the consequences, or protecting the weak while an enemy is determined to bring them down. My meager journey can’t count as bravery… can it? Perhaps bravery is standing up when it feels as though everything around you wants to keep you down. That certainly explains how I have been feeling lately. (Obviously no one here is visibly trying to push me down; in fact many strangers have offered to literally lift us up stairs and such.) But being somewhere completely unfamiliar, not feeling 100% and adding the challenge of a toddler is enough to keep anyone down. I have made the effort to get out of the flat, to learn French (even though it is measly), to learn the history of the city and surrounding countries, watch and analyze the culture, and truly live while I am here. I guess that can be considered brave.