Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Day Sunday in Lille

Riding the Métro this morning was, of course, without consequence. It seems as though as soon as you say the words “subway” (not referring to the fine establishment that creates sandwiches of merit before your eyes, but to the transportation) or “metro” there are sure to be tales to tell. Anyway, it was 8:45 in the morning when I walked to the station near Le Palais des Beaux Arts. This station takes me directly to the stop (Pont de Bois) near the church building without my having to make any connections. At one point during the ride, a group of sloshed men came on right by where I was sitting. They swung their half-drunk bottles beer about in a precarious fashion as they said incoherent things at the top of their voice ranges before bumbling off at the next station. Beer has the most nauseating smell of any beverage I know, and its smell is so permeating and pervasive. Why would one willingly choose not only to consume beer and other alcohols but choose to ingest anything that causes a fully functioning, choice accountable person to forfeit any to all of ones' personal capacity to make well-formed decisions? It seems senseless to me.

Anyway, during the first meeting at church, little Ines Hussein sat next to me and sang both soprano and alto with me during the songs. In another meeting, I was able to translate for a girl that was visiting with her husband who had served a few transfers of his mission here. .

After church, I was taken aside into the Bishop’s office and given a calling (more like a task, actually) - they were quick to the draw there. I am in charge of creating a monthly newsletter in conjunction with the Young Women for the Lille ward. Kind of exciting. I love it when creativity is demanded of me, because then the wheels really start to crank. The Young Women’s leader found me afterward and said that this Friday evening they were having an activity and that I could have all the time I needed to talk about ideas and get the girls involved.

Little 7 year old Ines, during the first meeting, asked what I was going to do after church and invited me over for lunch at her house. After inviting me she said, “Oh, I’m just going to go tell my dad.” Being with the Hussein family is such a treat and they made our family feel so welcome last weekend when we were all here. This time I colored with the girls and set the table while Frère andSoeur Hussein made kebabs, a huge salade composée, and a stack of warm pitas. There home is always so full of life and good food. The elders came over and used the Hussein’s phone to call their mothers (for Mother’s Day) and then a returned sister missionary came by because she was visiting with her mother, her sister and her friend.

Well, coincidence of all coincidences (though I don’t really believe in coincidences – they are more divinely controlled than that, in my book) was that the returned sister missionary's friend that came with her was actually a sister missionary (Soeur Fillerup) that served in New Caledonia right before I came. I had heard all about her from two of the sisters I was companions with, had seen many pictures of her, and heard all sorts of stories, and there she was. Here I am in this little unknown French city and yet I come across someone whom I know (of) very well and with whom I have shared a very special, similar experience. This was/is one of those moments which allows me to understand that I am doing what has been planned for my life; one of many little trail markers that show me that I am following the right path.

After lunch I actually needed to get home because the director of the school of economics and business here at the university had invited me to have dinner with him and his family and was soon to come pick me up. The Husseins live about a 30-45 minute walk from my residence so the path made a nice Sunday stroll, and Mr. Van Peteghem’s (the director) picked me up as I arrived home. We drove through the French countryside on the southwestern outskirts of Lille where he lives with his sweet wife Marie and two children, Agathe and Charles. Marie ended up speaking English with me all night. She told me that she just loves to speak it, and I told her that I would speak only in English with her and her children in order to help their comprehension.

We had a wonderful dinner outside in their sunny yard and where able to laugh a lot. Marie is one of those wonderful human beings that wishes everyone to feel happy and at ease around here, and she became a fast friend. The French have a way of appreciating little gestures of kindness that are made towards them; for them, a little sweetness goes a long way. Marie, for example, has kept and cherished a post-it note that one of the interns had written to her last year expressing a simple thank you to her in English. Another BYU intern has sent Christmas pictures of her and her husband to the Van Peteghem family and they have been placed on the refrigerator next to pictures of the family. I was touched by the simple acts and the response they have received. By small and simple things...

After dinner and a rousing game of cards (I brought the cards in order to play a game in English), Marie loaded me down with a handful of French music CDs (a topic of conversation at dinner) and Mr. Van Peteghem drove me home. When he dropped me off at my residence I tried to shake his hand, but he, like a true French person, went in for the classic “bise.” Certain habits formed on my mission have been hard to break and I must admit that I still think it’s a bit strange to do the cheek to cheek kiss with a man. Especially so when that man is your superior. But, bof, when in France do what the French do (unless it breaks the commandments).

No comments:

Post a Comment