So many amazing people have been a part of our lives in the past 3.5 years in Lyon. God gifted us incredible relationships that we will be forever grateful for. Moving to a foreign country is extremely lonely, but it doesn't have to stay that way for long. There are so many incredible people around the world and many of them were in our lives in Lyon.
The Masse Family
When we had officially decided to move to Lyon, one of the most exciting parts for me was getting to know Will's family and learning even more about why he was the way he was and who this family was that he spoke so highly of. I didn't have the opportunity to interact much with them before we were married, so we did everything backwards instead. It was fun to be in an atmosphere where I could learn in depth about the French culture by seeing how a French family lives, what they eat, how they spend their weekends, etc. My favorite thing about the Masse family is their strong bond with one another.... Dinners were hours long because the conversations never ended. They know how to have fun and connect on a deep level with one another. Will and I talk often about our future family and the beautiful pieces of French culture and family that we want to implement.
We are extremely grateful for the support they gave us in Lyon. They opened up their home to us the first 3 months we were there, they helped us transition into both apartments we lived in, they supported Will at every home basketball game, they were a huge financial help for us, they had us over for countless delicious homemade French meals, they loved our sweet baby Joey, and they were always willing to help wherever and whenever it was needed. We had lots of fun traveling together, taking walks in the park, playing games, enjoying restaurants and coffee shops, celebrating birthdays and holidays, and cheering side by side at basketball games.
I'm also so very thankful that Will's mom opened up the opportunity for me to begin working with her at her company and that I was able to have a job in France for 2.5 years. It's always a blessing to have family living close by, something we were really fortunate to have in Lyon.
We look forward to them traveling to stay with us in Denver, and many more trips to Lyon in the future!
Another really cool part about my time in Lyon was being able to work in a French company. Will's mom offered me a job as an Administrative Assistant and I ended up working there 2.5 years. It was fun to experience the French work place and meet tons of new people. My colleagues showed so much kindness to me and tons of grace with my French. Haha We shared lots of croissants regularly and one of my favorite memories is introducing them to some of my favorite American music. Below is the sweet gift they gave me... An Asvel (Lyon's professional basketball club) jersey that they all signed.
Our Church Community
As Will and I were packing up our apartment, I came across the journal I used the year leading up to the move. On February 1st, 2015 (10 months before we moved) I wrote all about my fears of not having friends and not having a church family when we moved to Lyon... Little did I know that God would blow us both away with the incredible people he put in our lives and the body of Christ that exists in Lyon. We found our church family in April of 2016, 4 months after we moved. The months leading up to that were extremely difficult without having this community. Through our church we found deep connection and community with people coming from all over the world. We were blessed to have an English speaking small group, a women's Sisterhood group, a church we loved, and so many friendships. Through our time in Lyon, these wonderful people prayed with/for us, encouraged us, helped challenge and grow us, and brought so much joy to our lives. We shared many movie nights, game nights, meals, sports events, picnics, birthdays and holidays, and conversations with these people. Moving is hard when you're leaving behind so many great people, but it also means growing your community around the world and meeting new people in the future. Many of these people are lifelong friends that we'll remain close to and continue to stay connected with. We are so thankful for the body of Christ that exists around the world... I had no idea that when we moved 4000 miles away to France, that we'd find such an amazing community. We're thankful for Hillsong church, the leaders, the community, and the growth and love we experienced there.
Here are pictures of some of the special friends in our lives the past 3.5 years.
Joey is going to miss his sweet friends Ellie, Kody, and Nalia!!!
It is with extremely mixed emotions that Will and I (and Joey) share that we are in the process of moving back to America. We've known this for a while, but haven't shared any details because of the importance of the Green Card process. We made the decision to move back in the fall of 2017 and began the Green Card process for Will in November of 2017. Earlier this week, he was officially approved (It was a very long process) and now we wait for the final step - his interview in Paris. Will having his green card will mean that he will become a legal permanent resident in America and allow him to work and live there.
Here is part 2 of our trip to Tunisia. We enjoyed camel rides in the desert, driving through Tunisia, seeing old villages and also seeing the lives of the Tunisian people.
Djerba Tunisia, Africa
Will and I spent an incredible week at Djerba Tunisia. We wanted to spend some time on the beach and Africa is just a 2 hour flight away from Lyon. It was both our first time in Africa and in an Arabic speaking country. Djerba is the small island we stayed in, but we also spent some time in other parts of Tunisia as well. (More details coming in my blog post - part 2) French is the second language in Tunisia, so that definitely made it easier for us to read signs and communicate. Also, multiple Star Wars scenes were shot in Djerba and other parts of Tunisia, which is super cool!
We spent time with camels, seeing dolphins swimming in the sea, reading and relaxing on the beach, and enjoying time in the sun.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Our final road trip stop was Cinque Terre Italy. It wasn't on our original plan and I'm so glad we changed it up because it was incredible! It is located in the north west of Italy and is made up of 5 beautiful multi-colored villages. (Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.) We got to visit 3 of them and saw them all from the sea on our boat ride. This personally wouldn't be somewhere Will and I would want to spend a lot of time in, but for a short trip, it's a great stop, especially in the summer time. We wish it would have been warm enough to swim in the sea with the beautiful view of the villages behind us.
Salzburg Austria, The Sound of Music Tour
One of my top bucket list items was finally marked off and it was everything I had hoped AND MORE! I grew up watching the Sound of Music, singing all the songs, and reenacting scenes with my sister. It's my all time favorite movie so seeing all the places where the movie was filmed was so incredible. I also couldn't miss out on the opportunity to re-enact some of my favorite scenes. I owe William a special shout-out, not just for willingly coming along, but for following me around to find scenes from the movie and filming my singing and dancing when I looked like a crazy person on the streets of Salzburg. I made him watch the movie a few years ago and he fell asleep. Old musicals are not his thing, but he cheerfully came along. (Although he did start falling asleep on the bus ride home. LOL)
I was originally very worried because the weather leading up the the tour was terrible. Lots of rain, gray clouds, and storms. Although the day ended up being dark and dreary, the rain came before and after the tour... A blessing!
Venice Italy was the second stop on our road trip. Everyone isn't lying when they talk about how incredible the canals are running through this old city. It was smaller than I had imagined, but probably seemed this way because I felt like I was in a maze because there are so many different streets and bridges to take that lead you somewhere totally new. We walked 10 miles each day we were there, so it's definitely not a place to go if you're looking for a relaxing trip. However it's an awesome place to visit if you're looking for something totally different than you are used to. The buildings are so old and worn down, in the best way possible. Each street leads you to so many different paths and streets, with new bridges and new buildings to admire and there are no cars, which is super awesome. Will and I really enjoyed seeing all the transportation boats... We saw a police boat, an ambulence boat, a tractor/construction boat, a UPS boat, etc. Of course the Gondola's are the most romantic of all boats in Venice. Will and I were both pretty amazed at the blueish-green color of the water in Italy.
Will and I have spent the last week and a half on a wonderful European roadtrip. There were places we wanted to knock off our bucket list and this was the perfect time! (A huge perk in France is the wonderful vacation time... I had over 20 paid days I still needed to use before June!! Thanks France!!)
Our original Roadtrip plan was visiting:
1. Lake Como, Italy
2. Venise, Italy
3. Salzburg, Austria
4. Munich, Germany (Later Changed to Cinque Terre, Italy)
5. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany (Later Changed to Cinque Terre, Italy)
6. Interlaken, Switzerland (Later Changed to Cinque Terre, Italy)
A few days before we left the weather said that it would be raining and snowing in Germany and Switzerland. (IN MAY!!! CRAZY!!) We ended up not booking any hotels/Air BNBs until we got a better idea of what the weather would be. The day before we were to leave for Germany, the weather still said snow the next few days and since we knew we would be more north and in the mountains, we decided to head back to Italy for warmer sunnier weather. We're so glad we did! After leaving Salzburg, we headed to Cinque Terre Italy for a few days and really loved it!
I am so grateful for the flexibility we have of living in Europe and having a car to go where we want and change plans when needed. The full Roadtrip itself was about 30 hours of driving. Our first stop was Lake Como Italy.
We spend a lot of our free time continuing to explore Lyon. It's fun living in a place that you never get tired of. We've walked most every street in the city but enjoy it as much as the first time we were there... And of course Joey is always along with us for our Lyon adventures.
William and I are always looking for a new adventure... This past weekend it was a 4 mile hike up a mountain with a beautiful view of the Alps at the top. We enjoyed the exercise, being in nature with God's amazing creation, and the wonderful sunshine and warm temperatures! I love the city life, but very much enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside every once in a while too. Joey had a blast as well!