Just to catch everyone up: The husband and I flew to France two weeks ago to pick up our oldest daughter, Jordan, who was serving an 18 month mission for our church. For the duration of her mission, our communication was limited to e-mails and real-life, written letters -- oh, and those two sacrosanct, one-hour, Skype calls on Mother's Day and Christmas. All of this to say, it had been a long time since I'd seen or even really talked to my baby. I intended to march over to France, collect my child, and eat as many patisseries as humanly possible.
A few months before the completion of her mission, we received instruction that we should pick Jordan up at the mission president's home at 9 pm on Monday, November 10th. And since I didn't want to be stalker-mom in Lyon, France, I scheduled our flight to arrive that same day at 4 pm. And folks, we made it work! Both of our flights were on time (Houston to London, and London to Lyon). We made it through immigration in under five minutes, and our luggage came flying down the shoot. We rented a car (through some lovely ladies who spoke very little English), and jumped into the car with French-only instructions on how to operate the GPS. [Also, a public service announcement: If you rent a car in France, it's going to have standard transmission. In order to put the car in reverse, you have to pull the gear-shift-thingy UP.] So, yes, we were the clueless Americans in the Enterprise parking lot who couldn't reverse their car. But I was going to collect my first born, so I didn't care one bit! I'm clueless. I'm fine with that!
And then, after months of waiting and more months planning, and many a night of anticipating, we were there -- just Sterling and I driving through French toll roads and roundabouts and then on the tiny cobbled streets leading into the heart of Lyon. We found the apartment we had rented on AirBnB quickly but got ourselves completely lost and befuddled trying to find parking. We may or may not have driven onto a square where cars are not allowed. Also, we may have driven the wrong way down a one way street (or two). But we found parking in the nick of time, and set off at a run with our luggage across a long bridge spanning the Saone River. We stashed our belongings, tidied our hair and clothes, and then ran back across the bridge to the car and set off for the mission president's home. We found it easily. Two missionaries met us outside and led us into a downstairs rec room. Two other sets of parents were already waiting. So we all stood around and made nervous chit chat, knowing good and well that our kids were just upstairs. After about 20 minutes Sterling and I were led up the up the stairs, and before I found my bearings on the next level . . . she was there. Walking towards me. Tears in her eyes. I just grabbed her up and held on.
And then we were laughing, and the other parents started coming up behind us. We met the mission president and his wife and many of the other missionaries who were leaving with Jordan's transfer. And here's the strange part -- as she stood there next to me, my arm around her shoulders -- it was like I'd just seen her yesterday. Intellectually, I knew she'd been gone for a year and half, living an entirely different life in an entirely different country. But my heart didn't recognize those differences even one tiny bit. Maybe this is cheesy, but it was sort of like the bond between us, once stretched from Texas to France, immediately resumed it's original shape. And there we were -- the same but different. And honestly? Even though she has been forced to transition from missionary to mere mortal, I'd think she'd agree that with the people she loves . . . there is no gap in the relationship. We just take back up with our girl -- even though now she eats cheese and yogurt, which is a COMPLETE and BEFUDDLING surprise.
Up next: Part Deux: Eating our way from Lyon to Bordeux