This time, to France.
In the fall, Sam and I will take a 2-3 month scouting trip to Southern France, where we have several contacts. We'll spend time serving with and getting to know different ministries there, in hopes of eventually joining the community long term.
But our too-good-to-be-true God was persistent in his call.
Last summer, Sam and I met with some friends who had recently been ministering in Southern France and had wonderful stories from their time there. Though we were praying for future direction, they were connected with an organization I never thought we'd work with. I smiled at their stories, but didn't remotely consider it.
Despite my stubbornness, France began to haunt me. God often uses symbols to get my attention, and this particular time it was lavender. Lavender showed up everywhere I turned: growing wild, clipped in vases, bottled in the spice aisle of the grocery store. Every time I saw it, I heard the Lord's voice whispering to me: What if I send you somewhere beautiful, Liz?
I've never been particularly good at receiving gifts, particularly ones I know I don't deserve. This question dug deep into my heart, where I wanted so badly to put in my dues with hard ministry in hard places. But, for about the millionth time, God's grace overwhelmed my inner workhorse. I will go wherever you send me, Lord.
From there, things only got clearer. With very little effort on my part, I soon had an abundance of contacts all over France. I emailed with a few people, and every one of them seemed just perfect for us. Doors opened everywhere I turned.
Yet, I had one last request for God: that Sam would receive a call to France independent of mine. I hadn't told him about any of this. I didn't want to sway him with my excitement, and if he felt called to France on his own, I would know for sure that that was our next home. Sure enough, after a few months of prayer, Sam told me he felt drawn to France, and we began excitedly discussing our options there.
That night, I had a crazy dream. In it, my friend handed me a pair of earrings that said "Moveable" and "Feast." When I woke up, I knew the phrase was a reference to Hemingway, but I didn't know what it meant. I looked it up, and sure enough: "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." On top of this, A Moveable Feast is the title of Hemingway's memoir of being an expat writer in France. How fitting, seeing as I'm working on my own expat memoir! This encouraged me a great deal, because I've struggled to write in Kosovo more than in any other place. I'm very much looking forward to a new season—and a new location—for my work.
During our Christmas break, Sam and I took a train to Paris, hoping for more clarity on where exactly we should go. Though we'd both been thinking about Paris and other northern cities, we were surprised by the gorgeous train ride through the South. We both agreed that it was our favorite part of the whole trip. Soon after, we received the name and contact information of a British woman working alone in Grasse (where they just so happen to grow a lot of lavender) and felt strongly that we needed to connect with her. At the same time, she was praying for people to come, so it was a perfect match! She will be one of our top priorities during our scouting trip.
And finally, since God loves bringing things full circle, he has drawn us back to the first organization—the one I thought I'd never work with. Sam and I both had a huge change of heart about it and suddenly felt compelled to contact them. They have offered us a place to stay, for as long as we need. This is huge blessing and answer to prayer, and we're very excited to join their community.
Now, we are focusing on finishing our time in Kosovo well, learning French, and being open to God's continual guidance for the future. We will continue to update you on our plans, particularly this summer as we fundraise and solidify our travel itinerary.
We appreciate your prayers for this time of transition, and I hope that this will serve as encouragement to all of you who are seeking God's guidance for your future. He speaks to us in so many ways—people, symbols, voices, dreams, signs, feelings—and I believe that he will show you where he wants you to be. Whether it's the French Riviera or where you're already standing.
Liz (and Sam)