We had a fairly intense visit to Birmingham and Rennes. May says she's going to pay closer attention when I plan our travel itinerary. But we were only late for two out of three connections! I'm convinced that God actually delayed our flight home 1 hour so that we could be on it.
In Birmingham we stayed at the home of Andy and Tiffany Atkins, the national director for the UK. We were privileged to spend so much time with them, asking tons of questions, getting a feel for the culture and trying to picture what it might be like to live there. The time was intense, and we're still assimilating all of the information. Birmingham is a large, formerly industrial city that's finding its identity. The downtown is fairly newly built, and is amazing. What was more amazing is the Krispy Kreme donut shop we saw, and that there is a Costco there! Many of our questions were about British culture, since we've never lived there. We learned a lot, especially on the language side. A note to Americans who visit the UK, don't ask mention someone's "khaki pants" or refer to your "fanny pack". They have entirely different meanings there. Proper is a good word to describe the people there. One point to consider is that the cost of living in the UK is incredibly high. There would be a number of challenges and adjustments.
In Rennes we stayed with Francis and Marie-Carmen Didier, the French national director. They also invested a lot of time with us. We had fewer cultural questions in France, having lived there 3 years already, but talked a lot about the ministry. We met with some of the staff there and really enjoyed the time. We've known Francis and others there for years, but this was our first visit. Rennes is much smaller than Birmingham, yet has a large student population. The downtown area is filled with narrow, leaning half-timber buildings. We visited a large market on the square that fielded knight combat during the Middle Ages.
There are plusses and negatives - lots to think through. Thanks for praying for our time. The boys were very well taken care of, and seemed to have had lots of fun. Silas and his brother are extra cuddly with us back, which is nice. Efrem developed a new look that surprised us, a furled eyebrow "what you talkin about?!" kind of look. We'll try to capture it in a photo. A bruise on his forehead is thankfully all Efrem sustained from tumbling down a flight of stairs. Some of us make the angels work overtime!