We are HERE!
We are here!! Thank you SO much for praying for us and sending sweet notes of encouragement over the past week! We truly felt like we were riding a tidal wave of prayer all the way from Neuchâtel to Abidjan.
Our trip went so smoothly - checking in our 12 bags, travel to Geneva, three take-offs and landings, and a quick layover in Belgium. We landed in Abidjan and were able to secure our visas, collect every single piece of luggage, and look like crazy people getting everything through the scanning machines at customs and out into the Abidjan airport. We are so thankful for the Goodlin family who traveled with us! Together, we had 6 kids, 23 checked bags, 10 carry-ons, and a bunch of backpacks. The almost-to-retirement missionaries who picked us up told us later that as they watched us come out of arrivals they thought to themselves, “I’m so glad we’re done with that season.”
We were greeted by six incredible missionaries to take us home from the airport. Between two vehicles and four taxis, we made it to our new home home without a hitch! As we were driving, (hot, tired, and hungry) away from the airport, Lucy said to the boys, “Don’t worry, we’re almost home… well, the home that we’ve never seen before.” So true, Lucy! What a strange life we live! We’re so thankful for the Body of Christ around the world - we’re getting to experience it over and over and over!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for praying us through the past week!
Now, we are beginning the first of two weeks of orientation. We’re learning about the office, about the language projects, and also how to do life here. There are still a few missionaries living here, but by July they will have all left or retired. We are so thankful for these weeks to learn as much as we can from them before they leave.
Overall, we’re doing so well settling in. For part of the orientation for our families, we were each given a journal to document our first impressions, questions, cultural observations, and other things like that. Each morning, we’re going to spend time talking through what we wrote and it’s really awesome for the kids to have a chance to really think through those things and ask their questions to missionaries who have been on the field for years.
This Sunday, we attended an English-speaking church of expats from Anglophone Africa (Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda, etc.) It was our first time worshiping in our heart language in nine months and it was so special! We are looking forward to visiting a number of other churches in the area before deciding where we’ll plug in.
The after-church refreshments consisted of a box of coconuts and a machete. Quite an experience!
Jack and I were able to visit this office in 2019 before we had an official assignment. While we were here, we were able to meet the staff and stay in an apartment in this building. But at that time, we didn’t speak any French. (It was during that trip that we realized how vital it would be to speak French.) I remember being in this very building and having such a huge language barrier between me and everyone. I remember needing a translator and not being able to interact with anyone because of a lack of language.
BUT NOW. It’s INCREDIBLE to be able to be here and to communicate! We’ve been able to use our French from the moment we arrived. We were able to follow the prayer meeting this morning and the parts of orientation that are in French. The exact people that I used to smile awkwardly at while we waited for a translator can now tell me about their families and have a conversation with me. I have said this so many times - I can’t believe we get to do this. It’s SO FUN!!
While we were here in 2019, Jack and I went out to a village with one of the Ivorian staff members. We traveled by public transport and plans changed mid-route and it was complicated and humorous and confusing… but we weren’t able to communicate with our guide at all. Fast forward to last Friday, we had lunch with the same guy who had safely guided us to the village and back. And now that we speak the same language, we’re able to laugh about that day! It was hilarious to hear his perspective of all that happened that day! For the first time we were able to process that day and share the crazy of it together. Language is INCREDIBLE! Because of language, we can build relationships.
We are so thankful for our time in Switzerland and feel that we have such a solid base of French from which to improve. The accent is a bit different here and some words and greetings are different - but we have the language skills to notice those things and to ask those questions!
We are buckling up for a long road of learning. What a joy to be a part of Bible translation in Côte d’Ivoire!