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.
Life in Lyon
Our life in Lyon started out incredibly difficult. The first year was so hard adjusting to the culture shock and a totally different way of life. Will had also spent his first 5 years of adulthood in America and experienced work place culture shock here in France. After the first year, God began opening up so many doors and opportunities for us to adjust to life here. Lyon became our home. We found a church body, we both worked full time jobs, we became a part of an incredible community of people, and we totally fell in love with the beautiful city. I have lived in 3 difference places my whole life and Lyon is definitely my favorite home by a long shot. That's what makes this move so difficult... Saying goodbye to a place and a life that we love so much, but knowing for the long-term, America fits more with the dreams, callings, and life that God has placed on our hearts. France has given us many opportunities and experiences we never would have gotten if we had stayed in America, but it also doesn't provide some of the things that we want and need. It's difficult to have two homes (America and France) and to know that you can't have both... You can't mesh those worlds together and take the pieces from each that you want. So unfortunately it means us having to choose which one is better for us in the long run and leaving the other one behind.
The greatest struggle we have faced here that has been a huge factor in our decision to move has been our professional lives. God put a call on my life at 18 to pursue full-time ministry with children and families. I've been a part of the Kids Ministry at our church in Lyon, but full-time Children's Ministry really doesn't exist in France and I have struggled in my current job, knowing it's not fulfilling this calling. For Will as a Business Management Major, his options are extremely limited in France professionally. I'm so grateful to come from the country of possibilities... America provides every opportunity possible for people to pursue their dreams.
Joey and I leave Lyon on Wednesday (Will will stay a little longer) and I have been in denial for the past few weeks. I never thought this move would be so difficult or that I would feel so much sadness about leaving. I'm grateful for what God has done in this time. The first few months of being in France, all I wanted was to go back to America and to my 'normal'. If you had told me then that I would be sad to leave, I would have never believed you. Our time in France is a testament to the goodness and faithfulness of God. That He can take difficult, dark, frustrating, depressing seasons and turn them into wonderful experiences. Our life here has been 3.5 years of challenges and frustrations, but also so much joy and growth. God has spoken to us in new ways, given us additional callings, taught us so many lessons, and humbled us.
Our life in Lyon will always be a part of us. We'll forever thank God for this time here, for the people we've shared life with & for the amazing ways God has worked in us and those around us. We have no idea what lies ahead but in the same way God blessed us in Lyon, we know He'll do the same in Denver...
Life in Denver
We're moving to Denver! We wanted to move to a large city that has plenty of opportunities for us.... We love the active outdoor lifestyle, the mountains, and that we also have some family there too.
It has been hard to focus on the future when I'm sad and scared to leave the present behind, but I know God will have great things for us in Denver. We are excited for new adventures, fun with family, building our new community of people, continuing to grow the Kingdom of God, pursuing our dreams, and seeing what new ways God will grow us.
New seasons are hard, especially at the beginning. Here are some things you can be praying for:
1. The transition to American life - We'll be totally starting over. New jobs, opening bank accounts, buying cars, finding a new church body, furnishing a home, renewing drivers licenses (And driving again!! I haven't driven a car in 3.5+years), building a new community, finding an apartment, etc.
2. Reverse culture shock - Life will look so different in Denver than it is in Lyon. Please pray for that transition.
3. Will's Green Card finalization and our time apart - We are waiting for a date for his interview, which we estimate will be sometime mid-late July. After that, he'll officially move. Please pray for the time we're separated and for me as I start preparing everything in America on my own.
4. Peace as we say goodbye to loved ones and to Lyon.
5. Logistics - Safety traveling (Joey will leave Wednesday morning, I leave Wednesday afternoon), finishing packing and shipping our belongings, etc
6. God's timing and direction - Please pray for God's timing (and our patience), especially over the next few months, as we make big decisions.
7. The glory of God through our lives.
The rest of this week I’ll be focused on time with Will, packing, & getting things settled in in Denver... I’ll get around to messages & questions next week. Thank you for your prayers and support. I'll continue giving updates about life in Denver and our transition out of Lyon... More to come... The best is yet to come!
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.
Being in the desert was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was our first time in the desert and our first time interacting with camels. We got to ride them through the desert and pet them. I was surprised how calm and sweet they were. Will and I laughed a lot at the way they made chewing movements with their mouth, even though they weren't actually eating anything.
Here was a short stop on the way to the desert.
There were a ton of random animals in the desert and along our drive.... Goats, sheep, donkeys, dogs, horses, etc.
We stopped along the way home when we saw all these camels gathered together... They were super chill and didn't have much of a reaction when we came near them.
The Streets of Tunisia
As we drove through Tunisia, it was very obvious that the way of life there was very different than what we are used to. Most everything was written in both Arabic and French. The way the homes were built were really unique and beautiful, however most homes and buildings looked like they weren't finished. There were pieces of house materials in front of almost all of them and a lot of the buildings had walls missing and were totally empty. Most homes were guarded by their own little wall. The grass along the roads were covered with lots of trash.
The Tunisian people we met were so sweet and kind and loved interacting with foreigners. There were also a zillion coffee shops everywhere. Will and I can't figure out how they make a living when there are so many. Our experience in Tunisia was amazing and we would definitely go back!!
Here a 3 minute video of our trip:
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.
Hugging and Feeding Camels
There were constantly many camels walking along the beach... This nice man let us hang out with this family of camels. I got to feed a milk bottle to the baby and we both gave the dad some snuggles and hugs.
95% of our time was spent on the beach... swimming, sleeping & eating. Exactly what we wanted this trip to be. We called it our "Honeymoon Part 2" but it was super similiar to our time in Mexico.
Jet Ski's & Dolphins
We had so much fun jet skiing! It was my first time and we had a blast. We drove about 20-30 minutes into the sea and ended up so far out that we couldn't see land... Terrifying and amazing all at the same time. We ended up seeing multiple dolphins and even had one swimming under our jet ski for 10-15 seconds. It was incredible! (Check out my video below for clips with the dolphins)
Part 2 of our trip is coming in a few days... For now, here's a 3 minute video of our entire week. Enjoy!
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.
Here's a 2 minute video of our time in Cinque Terre
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!
Last weekend William had a basketball game in Monaco, so we decided to spend the weekend with his parents in the south to make the most of the time being there. We stayed in Menton France, which is right outside of Monaco, and very close to Italy. It's a beautiful little town. We had a great time enjoying the sea (the brightest bluest water i've ever seen!), the sunshine, and relaxing in warmer temperatures. There's just something amazing about being in this type of atmosphere... I wish we could be in the south more!