Sunday, August 3, 2014

Questions about France: Part 1---- Why?

It's a quiet Sunday morning for me.
I'm quarantined at home for ten days with one of the boys who has a common childhood viral illness.

I thought I'd share a little bit about why we're moving to France in, God willing, a year or so.  There are a lot of reasons, so I'm choosing to use a list format for easier organization.  This is, after all, about ideals and passions, so you'll have to forgive me if I come across a *little* strong.

In future "episodes", should they occur, I'll address "Why France, specifically?" and "Leaving family behind" issues.

1. Struggling With A "Call" 
Last October, our church had a missions conference, and in that conference, our pastor defined a "call" to missions in a different way we had heard than ever before.

In my past, I had sat under teaching that said that there was no such thing as a "call" to missions, only to pastoring.  So naturally, I was skeptical and openly sarcastic when I went to a missions-based college, and nearly ever girl on the floor felt a "call" to a missions field (and then ended up forgetting about it when they found a cute guy and got married.)

Our pastor said the standard "We are all called to missions."  bit during the conference.  A week later, he preached a sermon on how to know the will of God.  I'm going to paraphrase what he said, because I'm not one of those listeners who will remember exact quotes from years before in lightening-truth moments.  "If you are wondering whether or not you should be doing something or making some decision, examine scriptures first.  Is it something that God approves of?  Yes.  Then examine your personality and heart, and ask close friends for advice.  After you examine scripture and see that God approves of or blesses a matter, and after you examine your heart and see if it is just an issue of lack of contentment, why not try it out, and see if it's a good fit?  God will tell you through circumstances if it's absolutely not in His plan for you."

That "Why not try it out?" hit both Michael and I.  I'll be honest here.  He earns a nice, comfortable salary.  But it eats at him to be working all day just for money. Neither he nor I have felt that more money, more house, more stuff, more more more was what was right for us (or Biblical).  We can't sit comfortably with the knowledge that our life might be lived bowing before the idol of more.  His heart has always been drawn towards missions, and my heart is a giving heart.

So in October we decided to re-think about missions.  Both of us felt completely inadequate for missions or nonprofit work.  After all, what can a computer programmer/genetics specialty person and a stay-at-home mom do in the missions field?  It turns out, that there is a great need for computer programmers in missions and non-profit work.  So we turned our hearts to God and said, "We will, if you want us to."

2. Do Not Fear
Aside from the gospel and basic character, we want the boys to learn two things from the way we live our everyday lives:  not to fear and that cultural difference is beautiful.  We are do-ers, by nature.  And we do our best not to fear new things...even insignificant things like reupholstering armchairs or trying to figure out home-ground flour.  (Still learning to appreciate the struggle on the latter point.)  We don't want our boys (and girl, I guess!) to be paralyzed in the present because of fear of the unknown.  We've seen so many people live just "blah" or "okay" lives because they never change.  We want our kids to see us as adventurous and full of vivacity and energy, because, guess what?  God is an adventurous God too.  He's full of energy and vitality and creativity.  And the christian life, lived well, is an adventure too.  So we want to give our kids that framework.  Moving to France is an adventure--one that, to be honest, I'm scared of.  But in order to be a good example to our kids, we're stepping through our boundaries of fear and preparing for a BIG adventure.

3. Beauty can be found in the unknown
Another important lesson we want our kids to know is that God is not bound by American rules or customs.  We want our kids to be comfortable meeting and interacting with people from different walks of life and different cultures.  This is from the depths of our hearts, here.    France is a place with one of the highest (if not the highest) tourist populations in the world.  We want our kids to experience not only France, but Russia, Germany, Morocco,  Spain, China, India, Kenya, etc. during their impressionable years, so that they learn how vast God's creativity is.  We want them to revel in the foods, sights, sounds, languages, scenery of many different countries.  So often in American experience, intentional cross-cultural experiences are limited to trips for language classes in high school or missions trips in junior high and onward.  But what about those 12 or 14 years beforehand? We don't want our kids to grow up whining if the hot dish is changed at the Thanksgiving table, because "that's the way it's always been."  We want them to appreciate new things and revel in learning and experience.

4. Life as school
We haven't exactly made it a secret that we're homeschooling our kids.  What better way to teach than to actually live close to things we want to teach about?  Shall we go see the Bastille today kids?  Then let's read a good book about it.  Want to go on a small trip through Austria before learning about The Von Trapp family singers?  Okay.  We can do that.  This kind of school will require me to absolutely be more intentional as the Teacher.  But I'm working through that and the insecurities that come along with that.

So there is just a tiny taste of some of our reasons.  I couldn't bear to put you through more.  Because...I could start to feel the tiny soapbox lady in my head raising her hands and shouting "Hallelujah!" at the top of her lungs.

At this point, we are in the depths of language learning.  Michael is going to try to take some certifications and courses this year that would make him more employable in France (where there is a dearth of programmers, apparently.)  We are working as hard as humanly possible to be debt-free from college loans by the time we move to France.   He'll start applying for jobs with US companies in France around fall of 2015.  We want to pursue living in the country and becoming acclimated culturally before we start working as missionaries/non-profit workers part-time.  It seemed more natural that way to us.  After we get acclimated as a family, the idea is that he will eventually transfer to a French company, and at that point, we will buy a house in France and open ourselves to a missions or non-profit agency that works best with our skills and location.  We're not certain how long we'll be in France.  Our current idea is 5 to 10 years.  But we're always open to change.

So....any questions about this post in particular?  Or about our process of moving to France?

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