With no distractions, no work at hand, and no worries, we dance, sing, laugh and giggle. Our hosts continually compliment Sawyer's French pronunciation, "he has no foreign accent at all, that's amazing!" They don't realize what we hear: "your accents are so thick it really is unthinkable that someone from your bloodline and family could speak with any clarity at all." But the compliments flow to us as well, so we accept them and know that in this home we are welcomed and loved. Our friend, one of the first that we considered as family in France, is ecstatic to show us her childhood home. The next day, we go for a cold walk through a park and peer into the city. We're all happy here. We feel a part of a family, and we're far from the urban noise of our home (although the homeowners complain of the noisy highway recently built near their house... I slept in the room closest to it and do not remember hearing a sound). Following our walk and playtime through the park, we return for another home-cooked delight by the wood fire. Guinea fowl and gratin dauphinoise served en famille warms us up and the stories continue.
Following the meal, we part ways, thanking this precious family profusely for their welcoming. We return to Marseille: to the traffic, the noise, the crowds, and the littered sidewalks. We prepare for the Capital of Culture party which saw 400,000 in the streets in one night. We call up our local friends, enjoy a weekend full of birthday parties, and make plans for more gatherings and excursions.
Not a day goes by here that I don't thank God for my French friends. Without these copains (and their families) that welcome us in as their own, we would not survive this life away from all we've ever known. And yet, we say au revoir far too often. People move. Internships come calling. Opportunity knocks. Life paths cross and then uncross and separate. Only our Salvation and Sustainer remains constant. But with the hurt of goodbye comes the absolute joy, the richness of having family that spans the globe.
God sustains, but in so doing He gives us persons of peace, families of faith, and friends with whom we can journey, even if only for a time. And we do cherish the moments, every one.