1. Dealt with culture shock (still sort of working on it). Yes, it happens. Even in a beautiful place like Switzerland. Yes, it is a developed country, but it's still not home. I still have to speak a foreign language when I go out to the store, use public transportation, etc. I still don't understand everything people say, and can't fully express myself. It's getting better as I my language skills expand, but still challenging. I still don't have my family near-by, nor my friends (though I have made new ones here).
2. Took a trip to Athens, Rome, London, and Paris with my parents. This came at a wonderful time. I was getting a little burned out on my french language study, and really needed a break. In addition, it was wonderful to spend time with my parents for about three weeks (including the time they were here in Neuchatel before and after traveling). We really enjoyed getting to see so many historical sites. It was the first time my mom had been in Europe, and the first time my dad had been in Europe since the fall of the Iron Curtain. I served as their "tour guide" despite it being the first time for me to go to two of the cities. Having traveled much more than they, it was a little easier for me to use the Metro lines, find tours, etc. In return for me "services", they financed the trip. (Couldn't have gone had they not)
3. Celebrated Thanksgiving, my brother's 33rd birthday, and my parents 38th wedding anniversary all on the same day. We were able to Skype with my siblings and niece and nephews this day, after a full day of traveling from Rome to London (in which it took 4 hours to get from Gatwick to our hotel in Islington...long story). It was wonderful to see and talk with family. Joel (my brother) was a little sad that he missed out on a birthday party his sons and in-laws had without him-complete with food and games, but then again thankful because they let him sleep. (It was a 3:30 am party-apparently Logan got up to use the bathroom, which was next to Eli's crib, so of course Grammy had to get up to help Logan, and then they all needed a snack, and if you have a snack, you need to play games, and well...it lasted until Kristi came and told them to all go back to bed.)
4. Returned this week on Tuesday from our travels, arriving here in Neuchatel with a sore throat. Went to school on wednesday, feeling like I was hit by a brick. Spent some time with my parents wednesday afternoon (but mostly slept the afternoon away in their hotel room). Thursday I took them to the train station for their return trip to Zurich. I made it to school the three days I was here this last week-trying to catch up with the lessons I missed while on vacation. Today, Sunday, I have stayed at home rather than attending church. Both for additional rest, as well as limiting spreading germs to all those at church. (Though the most infectious part of the cold is passed.) I read some of a book of a collection of writings of St. Augustine I bought while on vacation. I recommend you pick up some of his writings at your local bookstore.
Above all, I should write of God's faithfulness to me through all of this-providing for me exactly what I needed when I needed it.
-For a close friend here to help me through frustrations as they come, who can relate to the cultural differences and frustrations with the French language. (They don't pronounce half the letters, and then pronounce every single one in ophthalmologist. Go figure)
-For wisdom to speak when needed and remain silent when appropriate. Holding your tongue is harder than one might think.
-For a supportive family, who loves me more than I can comprehend.
-For supportive friends around the world-some home in the US, and some in Cameroon and Ukraine. Though it's been hard not being able to talk with friends in the US as much as I would like, I know they are still there for me and praying for me regularly. Skype has been a wonderful tool to stay connected with friends and family.
-For an answer to prayer regarding the trunks I had left at my parents-a container will be going from Boone, NC to Pioneer Christian Hospital. Rather than my parents dragging the trunks here, and me having to take 6 trunks to Congo, we were able to send the trunks via USPS to Boone (for a very reasonable price), to be put on the container. Also, I was able to purchase a bike to put on the container so I would have a faster form of transportation once I arrive. Such a blessing!!!!
-For the ability to have this time to spend learning French. I know being able to speak French more fluently will help me greatly when I get to Congo. I will still have to learn Lingala, the local tribal language, but for most of the rest of life, I will need to know french. I believe having a better mastery of French will lesson a little of the culture shock once I arrive in Congo-at least I can speak one language.
-Last, but not least-for receiving a student visa to stay here in Switzerland for 3 more months for further language study!! I am also thankful both Samaritan's Purse and Joe Harvey at Pioneer Christian Hospital are so supportive of me staying longer to continue my language studies. As I have been reading of other friends who have left for their posts, with 2 weeks to 2 months of language study, my gratitude increases tremendously. At our orientation, one thing most of the previous post-residents mentioned was best for cultural integration, to lesson culture shock, and better ministry with the people we were serving was to be able to speak the language. It is so wonderful to have the opportunity to immerse myself deeper in this complex language.
A few prayer requests:
-patience-in many areas
-the opportunity to work with a physician here to better my medical french (possible opportunity, but I must ask yet)
-heal from my cold-it's really affected my breathing-making it more challenging to climb the hill to get home
-for a friend at home who lost her baby at 27 weeks of pregnancy due to a rare complication of pregnancy, along with her husband and two children
-for the financial support to continue paying the minimum payments on student loans, without having to go into forbearance.