“Même pas peur”(Not Afraid)

I’ve been sitting here trying to finish up my plans for my seven classes tomorrow and have been struggling to focus. What an unbelievable few days it’s been. There are two reasons I’m struggling to focus, but I’m only going to focus on one of them for now.

France is in mourning. I am in mourning. I’m not French by nationality, but the French part of me has been in pain ever since I first heard the news of the horrible attacks. Despite the common stereotypes that I hear from Americans in regards to the French, I’ve always found the French to be warm, welcoming, and kind. Oh, sure, their administrative process is maddening, but that’s just government for you.

If you ever go to France, get to know her people.

Sure, you can always find someone who is rude anywhere you go. However, don’t make the mistake of judging an entire people based solely on having a few bad experiences or just because that’s what everyone’s always told you about the French. If you take the time to get to know them, they love to tell you about their culture, language, traditions, and encourage you to try their many, many types of cheeses. {Be careful about some of those cheeses though. I’m of a strong opinion that some types are definitely an acquired taste.} The point I want to make is that out of all the French people I’ve met, it has been the minority who I’ve found to be rude. The French themselves find it strange to hear that they’re often described by Americans as being rude. In true French form, this usually launches into an explanation of the various “rude” people they have run into in their society, and how it was probably due to the person being “mal élevé” or lazy and so on. This will probably also lead to a critique on the history of their society, where their school system is going, and that people don’t read enough literature, and so on and so forth. Oh, I love the French. I really do!

France has been hurt but they’re not broken. I get the feeling that they’re 100_1843not afraid but are ready to pull themselves up again in defiance to these ISIS cowards. They want to stand united. They are mourning, but they’re proud to be French. The night after the attacks, you could see candles in the windows of various apartments. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any candles on hand, so I just left some lights on. Not sure if you can see it clearly in the picture, but there were a few candles in the windows of this apartment building close to mine. Anywhere you looked, you could see candles in windows. I wish I’d had a better camera to capture this silent unity in the midst of tragedy.

Yesterday, we had an assembly of all the teachers, staff, students, and administration on campus for a moment of silence at noon to remember the victims. I’m not sure exactly how many there were in the crowd, but it was quite a multitude. Everyone was chatting when suddenly everyone became silent right at noon. We all stood in silence for that moment. Some were looking at the sky, others at the ground, some had their eyes closed. As we all stood there contemplating what had happened and praying silently for this hurting nation, someone in the crowd yelled out “Même pas peur!” (not afraid). Everyone smiled and began clapping. A few moments later, we began walking back to class.

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No one knows what the coming days hold. Who ever does? There are warnings for everyone to be vigilant and careful in these days following the attacks. For now, we’re trying to continue with everyday life. I’m getting up and going to teach my classes just like I normally do. My students are coming to class thankfully ready to dive right in and work hard trying to wrap their mouths around English pronunciation (not an easy feat for a Frenchman, let me tell you), and although I’m sad for several reasons, I feel strongly that there is hope here. Today, part of me longed for home and the embrace of my mom and dad especially, but it’s not time to go home yet. There’s work to do.

Pray for my students and colleagues. Pray for Paris. Pray for France. Pray for our hurting world. If you are still at the throne of grace after praying for all of that, say a little prayer for me that I’ll know how to show God’s love to those around me to bring glory to His name.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Rev. 22:20

 

 

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