Filling in the Blanks

Time has started flying here as my to-do lists seem to grow longer and longer. I’m in the middle of figuring out how to organize these classes I’ve been given as well as how to add my own flavoring to lessons. It’s been busy, busy, busy. Student emails seem to pile up, and I often feel already behind on planning when I’ve barely gotten through teaching for the week. The semester has kicked into gear it would seem. All of us in the office where they’ve put most of us international English instructors seem to run in and out grabbing papers, typing up activities, making comments on the ongoing complications of living among the French, and asking each other questions about lesson plans and ideas. Gradually, we’re figuring out our way around the building(s) as well as who to talk to for finding out answers to various questions. However, none of our names have been officially placed on the office door for the main reason that none of us have had time to fill out the piece of paperwork required. Yes, the French even have paperwork for having your name on your office door, go figure. 😉

The Préfecture: one of the seats of bureaucracy around here.

The Préfecture: one of the seats of bureaucracy around here.

I’m feeling much happier and more at home now. Things are beginning to work out as the various administrative and bureaucratic entities seem to be finally receiving all the papers they need to satisfy for the moment their almost insatiable hunger for paperwork, photocopies, and signatures. At this time, they’re chewing and digesting what they’ve been given before deciding what else they want. I’m currently assembling the next round of papers needed for when I am summoned to give yet another offering. It is my hope that by November or so a lot of this will be past, but I will just have to wait and see.

For the moment I’m sitting in the apartment with papers spread out all over the bed. I’ve been working off and on on getting stuff ready for next week as well as assembling items for my appointment with OFII (immigration office). I don’t have an appointment yet but want to have everything ready since they told me that they will be processing my file next. I realize that that could still mean a week or two or three though. I have an empty coffee mug sitting next to me from that mid-afternoon need for a caffeine fix and am enjoying the sound of thunder and rain coming through my window. I’d say it’s been a pretty productive Saturday especially since I cleaned up my desk which had become a pitifully messy stack of papers and books, set up a couple of spreadsheets for my classes, organized a calendar for the academic year on the computer (I’ve given up on handwritten planners), and looked at some plane/train tickets for a possible trip at the end of the month. I may not be able to do London just yet as I’d hoped since funds are short, but I may still at least take a little trip somewhere since I have a week off at the end of this month. We’ll see though. I definitely don’t want to just stay here if I can work it out to go somewhere and do some exploring. 🙂

Life is feeling more normal and thoughts of ever leaving seem sad. French is coming a little easier than it was as I grow more accustomed to the speed with which the French tend to speak. I think my landlady gave up trying to practice English with me because she seemed to have a harder time understanding my American accent in English than when I speak French. Is that weird or what? Being more incomprehensible in one’s native language and in one’s second!? Languages are funny indeed.

Onward we go! Life is so much brighter when I recognize Christ’s love and grace in every aspect of life. I’m thankful to see those evidences each day. Even in the difficult times I’ve faced since my arrival, He has been there to lift me up and encourage me. I read an excerpt from Elisabeth Elliot’s book Keep a Quiet Heart last night where she talked about how sometimes God doesn’t answer exactly the way we want Him to when we want Him to. Sometimes we pray for our way to be simple, but it ends up complicated. As she said: “Let’s never forget that some of His greatest mercies are His refusals. He says no in order that He may, in some way we cannot imagine, say yes. All His ways with us are merciful. His meaning is always love.” As I read that last night, I smiled thinking of how true it was and how it sounded like a description of my life so far in France. I had never been abandoned, just told to wait for Him to move even with as hard and stressful as that has been. Thank you, Father, for saying no but also holding me up until you showed me how you would say yes. 

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