Monday, July 18, 2005

The thing is, we're home.

It's July 17, and I have no business having waited so long to tell you that the thing is, we're home. We returned safe and sound on June 29 to our house in Abilene, to our comfy beds, pillows, and cats, delighted to be back but sad, sad, sad to have left France. We were so glad to be home that we immediately left again for close to a week -- this time to the LeCroy 4th of July festivities in Dallas! By the next Wednesday, when we had once again returned to our house, I was so deluged in mail, work, phone calls, and stuff-I-hadn't-taken-care-of-because-I-was-playing-hooky-in-Europe, I never posted any more blog entries. So, I will attempt to post our last few days there, a wonderful week of serving at a soup kitchen in Lille, and then you won't hear from me except monthly or so -- and thus this blog will die, having served its purpose.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Language Difficulties


So, Ken and I were driving (OK, he was driving, but at least I was awake!) from Avignon to Lille (a really long haul), and we saw this sign on the superhighway that said (in all caps)
(translation: next exit, 3 castles, closed to crocodiles).
Hmmm, we wondered… why are these chateaux closed to crocodiles? And is this really a big problem in France? And what’s up with this anti-croc species-ism? Are hippos allowed in castles? We thought and thought about this sign for close to a hundred kilometers, when, all of a sudden, Ken had a revelation and solved the mysterious sign: its correct translation was “CROCODILE FARM (FERME)” (which happened to be located near three gorgeous castles!

So, this translation error demonstrates the problems with language that one can experience overseas. Here’s another one for you: Amy, one of the students with Yann and Rita, is a bright girl who also speaks decent French; yet, when she arrived to her host family’s house and discovered that they had a cute rabbit (LAPIN), which she wanted to see and pet right away, freaked out her family who thought she really wanted to inspect the bread (LE PAIN) she would be eating while there!

And these are problems we had in French, a language we know. (BTW, there were some successes as well; Ken even preached a great sermon in French in Lille the last Sunday we were in Europe!)
You should have heard the amazing conversation I-who-don’t-know-any-Italian had booking our hotel room over the phone with an “I-don’t-know-any-English” woman. Ken and I drove (OK, he drove, but I was awake yet again) to Orvieto by faith and not by sight or confirmed reservation. When we arrived, both she and I were delighted