Hospitality

It’s good to be back. It’s good to come back to a place I’ve lived before, where I’m known and welcomed. Never before have I been met at the airport upon arriving in Paris, or been driven into town. Traffic was as thick as could be, but it didn’t matter; I was with friends. I’m all for seeing new places, but there’s something special about going back to old places and being welcomed like family.

I got settled in to my apartment (that is, I set my bags down; getting fully unpacked would have to wait) and soon headed over to dinner with some dear friends, and the most hospitable people I know. Some other Americans were staying with them, so I got to meet some new people. (I’ve had had dinner there a number of times, and I think they’ve always had some visitors staying with them.) So much good food and conversation—ribs and potatoes, and then six kinds of cheese along with salad, and then dessert with the world cup… it’s a good thing I’ll get a whole lot of walking in while I’m here! I managed to stay up till eleven in my effort to kick the jet lag, but then slept for eleven hours. Can’t remember the last time I did that.

Today was spent getting unpacked, walking my new neighborhood, exploring a new park, visiting old friends, getting confused and missing my first train (probably won’t be the last time), and meeting a bunch of people at an American style BBQ at some friends’ place. Burgers, pork belly, two kinds of sausages—it was a ridiculous spread. But we all got through most of it! (Hmm, they might be the most hospitable people I know as well…)

Hospitality is one of those quiet, underrated and overlooked virtues. And yet it means so much and can make such a difference. The last two days I’ve experienced the tremendous hospitality of people who make so many other people feel welcomed and valued and loved. On both occasions, people were gathered who come from or have lived all kinds of different places–Iran, Indonesia, Vietnam, Guadalupe, France (of course), and all over the U.S. It’s true: come to Paris so you can meet the world.

Tomorrow: another dinner invitation. Once again it’s with the first family; this time they’re hosting another soirée for twenty!

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Ready? Break!

And so it begins: this morning at breakfast was the last time all four of us will be together until December.

Our older daughter graduated last night and in a few days she’ll be off to spend the summer working at a camp she loves near Mt. Rainier. And that’s only the beginning for her. She’ll be attending Hawaii Pacific University—but not until January. Before that, she’ll spend the fall semester at sea, sailing from Nice, France, across the Atlantic Ocean, and finally to the British Virgin Islands. Her ship will be the Argo, a 112-ft two-masted staystail schooner. She and about twenty other students will learn to sail and scuba dive and participate in various aspects of running the ship as well as take courses in marine biology. What an adventure!

Our younger daughter will also be departing on her own adventure this coming year when she goes to spend her sophomore year at the Black Forest Academy in Germany.

And I’ll be leaving in a week to spend the next six months in Paris—the city that changed everything for us. This time I’ll be preaching week in and week out at Trinity International Church as their interim pastor. Be sure to visit if you’re passing through Paris! (And no, I don’t speak well enough to preach in French. It’s all English all the way for me. I’m happy when I manage to order lunch correctly in French!)

Merideth will have her hands full getting the girls to where they need to be as well spending some of her time with me in Paris. And she has some adventures of her own planned… like an upcoming Spartan race in Iceland!

 

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It’s only a 400-pound tire.

 

How did this happen? I can honestly say I never imagined our family would end up being spread across France, Germany, the Atlantic, and the U.S. I blame it on that year in Paris! No doubt about it, travel changes you, and it changes what you imagine to be possible. Undoubtedly, spending a year in France has made all of us want to spend more time overseas.

So, here we go, ready for new things in new places. It’ll be exciting. It’ll be a stretch. But before we know it, we’ll all be back together for Christmas… until the adventures continue.