Paris is magnificent. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our vacation here and I wish we could stay longer. Alas, today is our last full day and we’re spending it doing nothing, just enjoying being in the city. It’s my dad’s birthday today and he’s off on his own exploring museums (something nobody else in my family has the patience or appreciation for) and we’ll come back together as a family to eat a nice, fancy (and incredibly pricey) french dinner. He’s over the moon being in France; it’s always been a dream of his to come here ever since his dad studied in the country and told him about it. He’s devouring everything with gusto.
Many things to take note of; the Lord is teaching me lessons even while I’m on vacation.
First, just to provide readers with some background information: I am generally not a happy person when I am on vacation. I am a complete monster. I am grumpy about every single thing, impossibly impatient, rude, snarky, and childish. I throw temper tantrums left and right. As a general rule of thumb, I’m like this whenever I’m around my family. It gets about ten times worse when I’m on vacation, jet lagged, and stuck with my family members every. single. day. The only time I’m bearable is when I’m sleeping…and maybe when I’m eating. My behavior every day goes something along the lines of; “It’s cold. This is your fault. Clothe me/It’s hot. This is your fault. Carry my bag for me/There’s a line for this thing. I hate waiting. I will make you as miserable as I am for as long as we are in line/Stop breathing, you’re annoying me.”
THIS IS BASICALLY WHAT I DO. I AM A COMPLETE DEMON ON VACATION. I KID YOU NOT.
[un] We drank some glasses of wine as a family. I went into dinner being a total grump, complaining about the place we had chosen to eat (a popular bar scene, full of young college students), my hunger, and a number of other things. But my parents filled my glass with wine and then wanted to toast. My brother downed three glasses, easily, and teased me for being unable to finish one. (In my defense, I just don’t like the taste of wine and I have no intention of drinking things I don’t enjoy) My ma downed four and turned into a completely different person. She started joking around, laughing, yelling…she was lively and full of joy and I had hardly ever seen her like that. I don’t know if it was the effect of the wine on me (I doubt because I only had about five or six sips), or just the fact that my whole family was drinking and laughing merrily, but their happy mood infected me and I found myself truly enjoying myself. I stopped nagging my brother, even when I found him mildly annoying. I joked around with my ma, even though she didn’t get half the jokes I was making. I didn’t get angry even when my dad teased me.
And as I marveled over how drastically my mood had improved, I wondered if I’d ever be able to do this by just calling on the Holy Spirit instead.
[deux] The next day, I tried harder to call upon the Lord whenever something started to make me angry or frustrated. It poured that day in the morning and it really started to dampen my mood. Oh ho, was that a pun now? Anyway, it started to get windy and cold, too and I was starting to freeze, even with pants on and a small sweater. (Paris has very nice weather btw. It’s wondrous, as the highest is about mid 70s and lowest is around 60) Normally, I would have started throwing around blame (“Hey ma, why didn’t you tell me I’d freeze my butt off??” She actually did, so I had no right) but I decided to say a quick mental prayer instead. Lord, please keep me warm and dry.
15 minutes later, the clouds cleared and the sun came out, right as my family ducked into a cafe to get some coffee to warm up. My mood lifted until thirty minutes later, I realized I was getting very hot in my long pants and the sun was too bright for my eyes to withstand. I wanted to start complaining again so I threw out another quick prayer. Lord, keep me cool. 10 minutes later, it started drizzling again. And I was suddenly joyous.
Ah yes, it could have just been fickle Paris weather. But I had also prayed fervently for joy that morning and the Lord granted it to me through the shifting of clouds.
[trois] Even though I’ve taken four years of french in high school, it was all for naught because I remember squat and most people here can speak english. MOST. So it does become quite problematic when we’re trying to use public transportation and no one can explain to us which train (metro or RER) and line (1-10 or A-D) we should take.
We started out the following day trying to find our way to Versailles which is outside the city of Paris. The hotel concierge tells us to take the metro to Cluny La Sorbonne before taking the RER to Versailles. Inside the underground tunnels of the metro, my pa tries to find the station in the ticket kiosk to no avail. We find help from a metro worker (who knows no word of english) who informs us that the RER does not go to La Sorbonne on Thursdays. He directs us to go to another stop instead.
At the RER station, the woman who we buy tickets from does not speak English either. She waits patiently for my pa’s credit card to work, re-swiping it many times. She fills out a form that tells us how we can get back from Versailles.
We eventually end up in Versailles, spend the day there, eat a nice dinner, and head back, having no idea if the train is even running. (We ate dinner around 9pm). There are two trains at the station and we take a wild guess and board one, having no idea if it is running in the right direction. Just after we have picked our seats, a man runs up to the car we’re in, taps on the window, and gestures for us to come out. He speaks in french, “Paris,” he says, and points at the other train. “Vas-y!” GO! he says. We hop into the other train, thank him, and three minutes later, we are off to the right station. When we get off, I observe that the next train would have come thirty minutes later. The Eiffel Tower lights up in the distance.
We make our way to the metro, buy the tickets, wait for Daniel to use the bathroom, and catch the metro just as it is leaving, the doors almost cutting my mother in half. We’re home by 10:30 pm.
It’s all very mundane, but I felt Jesus walking alongside us, making sure we got to wherever we were supposed to go.
[quatre] The first day in Paris, I am running on 15 minutes of sleep. It’s the first all nighter I have ever pulled and I’m already regretting going on vacation. We climb 387 steps in a spiral staircase to reach the top of Notre Dame after waiting in line for two hours. The view is worth it.
We go into the ground level of the church next. The first thing I see is Jesus on the cross and I tear up immediately.
And then the Lord answers a longtime prayer of mine, in a way that I never thought He would. Service starts 10 minutes after I have explored the church, and I sit down in the pews where many others sit. Then everyone stands to worship, and I spot my brother and mother farther up, standing also. We find my father later, in the back, and regroup with him. And suddenly I realize, I am at church with my whole family.
Of course when I prayed that I could go to church with my family, I meant that I wanted my family to know Christ and to go together with me to worship Him. But, Notre Dame was a preview of things to come, and a way for the Lord to let me know that He was listening to my prayers, and that He would answer them.
God is good to me, everywhere I go.