The Joys of Culture
We've been in Switzerland for almost two weeks now and we're starting to get a good picture of what life will be like!
We move around based on the schedule of the public transit system, which we are getting more comfortable with every day. But it means that we are often either in a rush or trying to kill time to wait for the train or the bus that we need to catch. We've definitely had some successes and some failures in this area, but we're figuring it out!
A few things have been surprising to us and we thought we'd share just a few of our more fun cultural observations in our short time here:
1. We were quickly introduced to a very popular flavor of chips here: Paprika! I can't say I've ever heard of that before, but let's just say there's been a constant open bag of them in our house since our first grocery shop.
2. Speaking of grocery shopping, bags cost money. Plus, we either have to hike or take public transit back home (see above), so taking a large backpack and a few extra reusable shopping bags has become normal. They're always with us now.
3. The nice thing about the walk home is that crossing roads is very easy in Switzerland. Pedestrians have the right of way! Jaywalking is rare here, but the moment you step into a crosswalk, all the traffic just stops for you. The locals say you don't even have to look, but we're not quite to that point yet.
4. We've also found people to be just so friendly here. Of course, the people that we've met through the church have been great and the kids' teachers have been so kind. But, on top of that, if you pass anyone at all, they are sure to give you a friendly "bonjour" as they pass by.
5. Finally, there is no excuse to go thirsty in this country! Unless marked otherwise, the public fountains around us all have potable water...and drinking from them is encouraged. (From the water coming out, not from the pool where it collects!) And they're everywhere. It's saved us once or twice already.
It's been a really fun transition overall, especially to a culture that looks so much like our own, but definitely has some unique differences that have been so interesting to explore.
At the same time, we've been attending a local, French-speaking church here and it has really brought to light the reality of not worshiping God in our heart language. And this is only a taste of that challenge because we still have Scripture and endless other resources in our language. But at church, I find myself focusing so hard on the work of translation and trying to understand what they are saying that it is difficult to internalize the message at the same time and really focus on what the Lord is saying in His word! And this pales in comparison to what it would be like to not have any resources available to me. If the only time that I heard God's Word was in French, it would feel like a very French thing to me. It would feel very 'other.'
But that brings me to the incredibly encouraging part of our time at church. It is a true joy to worship with believers that don't speak the same language I do. Because I am also able to worship in my own language if I want, this time is shedding light on the reality of heaven where people from every tribe and language will be worshiping God together. It honestly makes God's Church feel so much more global and so much bigger than it ever has before.
So it brings tension. It's hard and exciting all at the same time. But that's all of life right now. And we wait eagerly to be able to move to Africa, but thoroughly enjoy our time here. It's a 'both/and' life we live and we're trying to embrace it all!
We are thankful for your prayers and ask for your continued prayer for our family:
-The kids are starting French lessons in their school. Pray that they would learn well and quickly. They're so excited about it already!
-Pray for our language learning as well. I (Jack) start next Monday and Lindsay the following Monday. Pray that we manage our workload well as we continue to parent these kids through this and continue to build relationships here.
-Pray that we will be intentional and wise as we get to know the people that live here. We've already gotten to know a few missionary families and some local Swiss families. It has been so encouraging so far and we look forward to deepening those relationships.
-We praise the Lord that we have been healthy through all the traveling and starting school. Please pray for continued health as we move forward.
We are so thankful for all of you!