Miriam-Webster Definition : a period of time that a person spends away from home, school, or business usually in order to relax or travel
Being overseas for the past seven months has not been a long vacation after graduating high school. Even though it does make me sad thinking that it will be all over in 2 and a half months and I will be returning home to start college/university. I have been to many places, but many times I just think about how much I would like to be home and how much easier it was to be at home compared to life overseas.
I have had the opportunity to visit many countries, which of course is absolutely incredible. But being in these countries hasn’t been a walk in the park. There are multiple challenges to visiting/living in different countries. I have had to overcome many challenges living in France and one of them that comes up a lot is that I just have to be okay with not knowing what is going on 95% of the time.
I may not be attending college/university at this moment in time, but I am constantly learning. I have a French lesson every Monday and Wednesday (which I am thinking of changing to just once a week soon). After the lessons, I am left with homework that takes me awhile to complete. Besides the proper French lessons, I am learning more about the French culture and language just by living in a French family and really just being immersed in the french lifestyle. Another way I am learning is that I am constantly reading books (I take a bus back in forth from where I live to where I work everyday and it is a hour 30 min journey each way) and studying Gods word (currently going through “Abide: A Study of 1, 2, 3 John” by Jennifer Wilkin). I can definitely say compared to my peers, I am not in college/university but I am indeed learning a fair share that will stick with me for the rest of my life. These lessons are even motivating me on my next steps in life after this year has ended.
I do not currently have a paid job, which makes life difficult financially. I have had to learn how to budget well. Learning to decide what is important and what I can live without. I have learned what it means to appreciate money, appreciate the generosity of those that give money, and the complete joy of finding a euro on the road.
In Marseille, most of my time is spent working at schools. Sometimes I have selfish thoughts and think that it doesn’t matter the effort that I put into the day, I am not getting paid. I typically nip those thoughts in the butt real quick, and think of how I can be a encouragement and a light of Jesus to those around me, because money shouldn’t affect my attitude or how I work/show love to others. It should be that I am loved by God and can thus show this to others. So with that, I do something that I don’t have to do. It is encouraging to the other teachers that are really tired from a long day of dealing with children.
I am teaching myself how to teach English and in all honesty, I love it. I hadn’t really ever seen myself being a teacher, but now I am thinking that this is the carrier path I want to take. I, also, help some French kids (age 6-7) with mathematics and French grammar. I help them in french which makes me really exhausted at the end of the day.
In the beginning, when I had no idea what was ever happening I learned patience and self-control. Also, in the beginning I tried sleeping in through the family breakfast (which is at 7:30am) because I didn’t want to listen to more things I didn’t understand, but then I made a decision that the way to learn and build relationships with the family I live with is to participate in all that they do (Even if that means waking up and having breakfast with them when I am not obligated to).
When I made the decision to go to Italy to visit the Spotos, it wasn’t because I was looking to have a vacation in Italy, it was because I wanted to see what it meant to be a long-term missionary in a different country and to see a couple that has been sent out and supported by my home church in action.
When I decided to spend Christmas in France it was, because, yes, I wanted to see my best friend and meet her family, but it was, also, because I wanted to see what Christmas meant to the French.
Maybe, definition wise what I am doing looks like a “vacation”, because I am traveling a lot, but it isn’t. It is a mission trip. Sometimes I forget what it means to be on a mission trip in the chaos of living, but when I take a quick stop and breathe, I remember that to be able to devote this year of my life to God is a incredible opportunity that most people my age or any age don’t have. In the beginning, I thought being on a mission trip was what I could do for others, not that I would be learning from and being served by others in return.
Mission trip and Vacation are not the same thing. Some days I wish I could be on vacation and just travel around France just soaking in France as a tourist, but unlike a tourist I get to see things that are not just on the surface, but what is really in the heart of French people. Their struggles, hopes, dreams, etc and be able to share in them. That for me is greater than just going to Paris on my birthday.