Friday, June 18, 2010

The South of France with a Milan side-trip

I don't remember first meeting Tasha when she and my sister Kate became friends in Jr. High. I only remember that from that point until I left for college she was as much a part of the family as I was. She had sleepovers in our room many weekends and sometimes what seemed like the whole summer. She teased and joked with the family as if she'd been around her whole life...we laughed a lot-and she and Kate laughed at me a lot. :) We also talked late into the night sometimes about serious things. I don't remember specific conversations, but I know she and Kate do. They bonded in a way few girls of their age ever did. And Tasha began attending church with us, then Young Life which is how she was led into a relationship with Christ. Although most of my memories of Tasha and Kate together have to do with their boy-craziness, I was honored to be invited to her wedding to Adam 5 years ago this summer. It was a little funny to be at her wedding with my own still a few months off since she was more like a little sister to me than anything else, but I was very happy for her and proud of her-the little I knew of the woman God was teaching her to be.
A year later, Kate was telling me that Tasha and Adam were moving to France to be missionaries...I was impressed, a little astonished but very distracted by the events of my own life.
So when we moved to Germany I had a desire to find out where exactly they were living in France and how we could arrange to meet up with them. I wanted to know what they had been doing, what their experiences had been coming as missionaries rather than US government employees and just to see some familiar faces when everything in Germany was so foreign and new.
Then Kate told me that Tasha and Adam were moving home to the States in I better get moving if I wanted to see them before they left France.
Memorial Day weekend, Ben and I packed the car, left our house and pets in the capable hands of our friend Renee, and drove south toward Aix-en-Provence.
We left Friday morning and drove into Italy where we made a pit-stop in Vicenza at a larger US post where we could get some things we can't get in Garmisch...and then drove on to Milan to stay for the night.
I had found a great deal on a hotel right in downtown Milan for less than 60 euro for the night. God was gracious and provided us with a free parking spot on the street in front of the hotel-this truly was miraculous! And we enjoyed walking through their city park, window shopping and seeing the outside of Il Duomo before finding a wonderful restaurant where I had the best pumpkin ravioli I could ever have imagined. I firmly believe that if we lived in Italy, I would be in immediate danger of gross obesity and spending all of our money eating out. Truly amazing food. We could have spent much more time (and $) in Milan, so we hope to go back at some point.

(Milan city park)

(Kittens living in the dry castle moat)

(Castle front)

(Il Duomo)

(Night time view from our hotel balcony)

The next morning we had breakfast and got back in the car to finish the drive to Aix-en-Provence. We really didn't realize that we would be driving along the Italian and French Rivieras, even though we knew we would be close. The views were astonishing and have inspired us to plan a trip to stay on the coast there sometime.
After about 5 hours of beautiful countryside and seaside views, we found ourselves exiting the highway and pulling up to Adam and Tasha's apartment. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking through the gorgeous town with them, talking and catching up. They are experts after 4 years, at showing guests all of the important sites in town.

(Their cute French apartment)

Saturday evening we met many of their friends at a cookout in the apartment building courtyard. It was a little overwhelming to hear so much French being spoken since neither Ben nor I had ever been in France before...but also beautiful. We enjoyed speaking with people from all over the world-many university students-and learning about why they were in Aix. We met a young man from Afghanistan who is a translator for the French government. It was fascinating to talk to him about his job and his life and family in his home country. Sad, but hopeful.

Sunday evening we attended church with Adam and Tasha. They are on staff at an international church which is English speaking. They help run many ministries including youth groups and occasionally teaching at Sunday service. We very much enjoyed meeting more people here, worshiping with them, and hearing God's Word taught. We were struck by the international community, by Tasha's reading of the Bible with a Frenchman who is developmentally delayed...and by the plaque on the wall that referenced a letter that John Calvin had written to the congregation that was being persecuted while worshiping in that very building.

After church we had a fabulous dinner with Adam & Tasha where we each ordered something different and tried each other's dishes. It was good to talk and laugh and discuss spiritual things sitting together on the street in the South of France.

The next morning, before we drove the 9.5 hours back to Garmisch, we had breakfast together at a bakery-French pastries. YUM!!!

And then we bid farewell and bon voyage to our dear friends...they will be leaving for the States next month, where they have bought a home and will be busy with that as well as schooling and work. I know they will miss their French lifestyle but I also know that God has important and wonderful things for these two...and He will bless them in all things because they love Him and follow His Word.

Perhaps the highlight of the trip for me was getting to know Tasha all over again, this time as adults. She is still the fun-loving spunky girl I grew up with, but now she is also a Woman of God, holy and reaching out to others with His love. What a blessing!

Tasha and Adam, we look forward to visiting you next time, in PA, in your new house! We love you and thank you again and again for the wonderful visit you shared with us. xoxo


Crystal B said...

what a fantastic opportunity! God is really blessing your time in Germany in an abundance of ways!

but we still miss you here in PA! <3

delia said...

What a lovely story...and of course your excellent photographs add to the beauty of your story.
I wish you had mentioned the name of the place you stayed in Milan...I'm trying to gather information like that for my next trip.

Besther said...

Delia, we stayed at the Hotel Ritter. Thanks for reminding me to include the details. :)

Jenna said...

Wow, that was so interesting. The kittens were adorable and the pastries looked yummy. The church service sounded great!