The first is my parents coming to visit! I am so thankful and feel so blessed that their work schedules (and mine) could be arranged so that the three of us could spend a week together! It was really exciting (and also a bit strange) to have them here with me and to feel my "two lives" colliding. We spent a lot of our week together hanging out and visiting the city. I was able to take them to my favorite places and restaurants, and also spend some time being a tourist in my own city which I very much enjoyed. We also spent a good amount of time just relaxing and being together, which after this much time away is what I miss the most. There's just no way to get caught up on the daily life stuff over skype! They were also able to meet a lot of "my people." They came to our weekly English Club with me and got to meet some of my Christian and non-Christian friends. We also had a team raclette dinner (if you haven't had it, it's melted raclette cheese over baked potatoes with veggies and deli meats on the side - delish!) where they got to hang out with my stint teammates as well as our French interns, staff members, and their family. We also took two day trips together - one to Nimes, and one to Carcassonne.
Nimes is a very old nearby city that was founded by the Romans. There is a whole lot of history there, including an old Roman guard tower, arena (like the Colosseum in Rome), and temple. We had a ton of fun exploring the city and finding the different traces left behind on the architecture. We were also surprised with snow while we were there - real snow! It was the first time all winter that I had seen any. My favorite thing we saw was probably the arena - unlike the Colosseum, there were almost no other people there, and we had a lot more freedom to explore. We climbed all the way to the top and looked out over the city, then all the way to the bottom and walked out onto the arena floor. We even did some bullfight playacting!
Carcassonne is another nearby city that is also very historic, just from a different era. The original walled city (complete with medieval fortress!) is situated up on a hill with a beautiful view of the newer low city. We all really enjoyed the castle, but Dad was definitely the most excited! We climbed up on the ramparts, explored the curving streets of the walled city, and looked out from high guard towers with arrow slits. Dad got more and more excited and kept shouting lines from the Lord of the Rings like "Fall back to the keep!" and "Orcs on the stairs!" We really enjoyed ourselves despite the cold weather. Here's a picture of us "guarding" the gate - we take our job very seriously (clearly).
The week really flew by, and before I knew it I was dropping them off at the airport I had picked them up from only 8 days previously! While I was sad to see them go, I was (and am!) so grateful to have had them here. I feel like they understand life and ministry here in such a deeper way because they have seen it in action. I am so thankful that I got to share it with them!
Only a short week later, it was time for us, the stint team, to pack up and head to Nerja, Spain for our Mid-Year Conference. We spent a week in the south of Spain, a short hop away from the Mediterranean, in a beautiful resort. We had great teaching, lots of time to relax, lots of time with the Lord, and opportunities to reconnect with other stinters from Europe, Russia, Africa, the Middle East, and South America. It was amazingly encouraging to hear stories of ministry from all over the world. I also felt extremely loved, cared for, and supported by the Cru staff who were there and who helped organize and lead the conference. As a result of their hard work and encouraging words, I was able to come back to Montpellier refreshed, excited for a new semester of ministry, and really feeling like I had heard clearly from the Lord. I'll only include one picture of the view - I don't want you to be too jealous!
So, to sum up, January flew past in a shower of blessings from the Lord. I am so grateful to be here, to have this opportunity to be in the front row and see how God is moving, and to have another semester of life and ministry in France. Thank you all for your prayers, for your words of encouragement, and for your unwavering support of our ministry. Please keep praying that God would use us here in His campaign to make His name known and to bring people to Himself! A la prochaine - until next time!