Published: February 12th 2012February 12th 2012
Despite temperatures of -15C and below last weekend, I braved the Arctic weather to cycle down into Guebwiller to meet up with the other English assistants. I hadn't seen Anna in two weeks after other engagements got in the way and it had been before Christmas since I'd seen the other two English girls, Katherine and Karina.
We met up at one of the larger coffee shops in town (not that there are that many to choose from). We huddled round our mugs of hot chocolate and tiny espresso cups and caught up on each other's lives, sharing anecdotes from our teaching experiences - always a great laugh. I don't envy the others too much for having to teach in state schools - their classes sound like not the greatest in the world. I'm not boasting that mine are great but on the whole they're not too bad.
After we'd stayed as long as we could in the nice warm cafe we went back oustide into the freezing temperatures. Despite everyone complaining how cold it is I've found that I've been able to adapt quite well. My ski gloves have proved to be a great investment and so has my Russian styled hat which I've forgone my dignity and pride in order to wear - when it's this cold I don't really care if I look like an idiot or not. Last Friday I joined Lydie and Daniele, the other two English teachers on morning playground duty. There was a bitter wind which clawed at every part of bare flesh that it could find. I found it rather amusing to watch Lydie and Daniele as they hopped and jumped around trying to keep warm. I seemed to bare the cold rather better which is strange seeing as I'm Welsh and have never faced such cold weather before.
Luckily last Saturday the shop sales were still on so we browsed in a few and I managed to find something to wear for when I share my testimony (which I had thought would be yesterday).
After saying goodbye to Karina and Katherine who live in the next town, Issenheim, I walked with Anna back to her flat to have a coffee and a pancake (leftovers from Thursday which was apparently pancake day but with the Fau family, we have at least one pancake day each week). Being in Anna's nice cosy flat which she gets to enjoy all to herself, made me envy her and made me think again of my preference to live independently and have a place all to myself.
That evening I had youth group. Fabrice, one of the guys from church brought Rebecca, the German girl over to our place so we could then go together. Knowing that she would be there comforted me because at least I was guaranteed someone to talk to. But as it turned out, there was only a small group of us that night and I found it easier to talk to the others. We shared a meal as usual and whilst everyone else spoke among themselves, I had the chance to talk to Rebecca. We spoke in depth about each other's spiritual walks and how difficult it has been for us to surrender ourselves to God and accept His will for our lives. It's great because we completely understood each other and what Rebecca is going through now, is something that I experienced when I first came to France, so I'm able to encourage her and validate the feelings she has right now because they were the feelings I had too. The feelings of 'what on earth am I doing here?', 'God why did you bring me here?', 'This isn't my plan for my life!', the feeling of no longer being in control. Talking to Rebecca is also encouraging for me because I know now that what I went through was perfectly normal and the decisions I made weren't wrong but exactly what God wanted.
Seeing as there was hardly anyone at youth group that night we decided to watch a film called 'To Save a Life' back at the school. It was a good film and I ended the evening feeling much better than I have done in a long time and with a renewed sense of excitement of everything God's got for me.