Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Tale of Three Cities.

I woke up in Paris, stiff from the sleepless night train but excited to gaze once again on the city I love. Paris is different than the rest of France; it has a rhythm all its own.

Its splendor is found as much in the smoke-filled cafés with whirring espresso machines and buttery croissants as in the primped poodles leashed and parading down the promenade. Walking through Paris is akin to walking into a Renoir or Pissarro painting.

Paris is living art. Paris is art in life. Paris is the art of living.

But my goal in coming was not to see L’Arc de Triomphe or Le Tour d’Effel but to reconnect with my friend and his family.

I first met Steven at my first job in the States when I was still a zit-popping, overly opinionated, punk teenager. Since he had grown up in France as a missionary kid and I had just come back from France... we had lots to talk about. Admittedly, I did most of the talking.

Steven with his children.
He was one of the first Christians I’d ever met that I didn’t hate on the spot. His quiet and gentle witness had a powerful impact on me, and even though I would not confess Christ for several more years, I have never forgotten the ways God used him at that time in my life. Seeing him again after all this time has been a real treat.

Since I arrived on a weekday, he took the day off to show me around. But instead we spent the day eating and catching up. But just as before I did most of the talking. He is a gifted counselor, dropping jewels of wisdom into my chaos and pain. Plus, he worked two years in Africa and could truly understand the intricacies of life there. What a blessing to have such a friend!

Steven and Karine, his wife.
Later that day I got to meet his children and catch up with his wife, Karine. I’m thrilled to see how God has blessed him and to know that he is doing so well.

But the next morning I was on a train again. I slept my way through Belgium, markedly achy from my ever constant journey. Fortunately by the time I landed in Germany I was renewed. A dear friend I met in the Philippines greeted me with such warmth the blistery winter’s day seemed like summer. 

Kirsten and I laughed the night away, catching up on the details of life. Although we intended to go out and get to know her home town a bit, we ended up too engrossed in conversation to bother. Instead we talked until our eyelids drooped. What a joy to see her again!

Kirsten and me in Essen.
Early the next morning I was once again on a train --but this time heading to Berlin. Although it’s the first time I’ve visited this historic city, I wasn’t coming as a tourist. I came to meet a friend for the first time.

A while back a sweet German midwifery student named Ann-Jule contacted me on my blog. Her sweet encouragements have always been timely and Spirit filled; I needed to meet her.

When I told her I’d be coming her way, we arranged to meet in person. And although we are relative strangers, it didn’t feel that way. As we talked over a breakfast of ham, cheese, and creamy meat-salads, I was surprised to learn how similar our lives have been.

Ann-Jule and me in Berlin.
And later that evening she invited another midwifery student in her class for a classic German meal called Rollade and dumplings! We again spent the night chatting about all things birth and missions. What a blessing to make these new friends!

Now I’m on another train. This one takes me North to the city of Hamburg where I will meet up with Stefanie, a sweet friend I’ve known since my life in Spain.

Reconnecting with all these friends has been so... healing and restorative. I thank God for them.

Thank you for praying for me as I travel. My journeys are sometimes long but always worth it. I still have another three cities to visit this week. Please keep praying as God might lead. Thank you.