Monday June 29th,
Yesterday I spent most of my day either in a train station or on a train travelling to my host home. Another girl in the program was on the train with me, Mingyu, who also goes to Purdue with me. I had never really talked to her until this train ride and it was fun getting to know her better and learning about her life in China. Towards the end of the ride she was getting really nervous about meeting her host family for the first time and for the internship in the winery. I surprisingly wasn’t nervous at all. I had met my host sister, Elise, twice and other then that I didn’t really know much about my family. Elise was very nice and spoke amazing english so I figured no matter what it can’t be that bad, I will have least have one person to talk to. But as the train neared I started worrying about my stay in another family’s home and interning at a winery when I don’t really know anything beyond 3 weeks of French lessons and 2 weeks on viticulture. And with that in mind I did the only thing I knew would ease my burden and I bowed my head, and spoke to the big man upstairs.
I haven’t really talked about my faith much in my blog yet, but I think now is the perfect timing. Before I left for Europe I went over to my good friend, Kristin’s, house and had dinner with her family. At the end we were talking about both of our internships; her’s in Haiti, and mine in France. And her step-dad Moo said something that has stuck with me this entire trip. In remark to me also applying for the internship in Haiti he said, “You may not be going to a third-world country to serve God’s people, but I know His plan for you in Europe will show you more about God’s love and will strengthen your faith just as much, if not more so than if you were in Haiti.” Now I was still longing to return to Haiti and didn’t really believe what Moo was saying to me at the time. But now, six weeks into my life in Europe, I can say he was right. As I prayed on that train nearing Leparsse, France I didn’t know what I would be walking into but I knew I had Him on my side and because of that I would be just fine for the next month.
Internship Day 1:
Let me just start off by saying that anyone who takes in a stranger for a month and treats them life family right off the bat deserves a gold medal. My host family, the Uijttewaal’s, are one of those families. I walked into the house greeted by huge smiles, a gorgeous room, and comforting conversation. My family gave me my own room and bathroom to get ready in, showed me where everything was and told me to help myself to whatever I needed. I don’t remember the last time an American family was ever this nice to me right when meeting me. They held no skepticism or doubt; just positivtely and joy that I was there with them. Adrien and Fabienne remind me so much of my parents that it makes me feel right at home, even if I can’t quite speak to Adrien yet due to my lack of French language skills. Fabienne and I had a great talk today at lunch about her life before now and about some things that I am used to doing differently in the states. Elise, my host sister, is the nicest girl I’ve met here in France. She has already taken me under her wing at the house helping me figure these out and answering my many questions. Today even, she took me with her and her friends to a lavish winery to show me another Château wine. It was so much fun and a great chance to see everything. We even got a tasting of a 200 euro bottle of wine… for free! I really do love France.
But to get back to my actual internship, I started working in the vines this morning at 7:30 am. My body has already become accustomed to getting up at the crack of dawn so that wasn’t a problem for me. I had my usual breakfast of a pomme (apple) and d’eau (water). Then got ready and was out the door to go to the fields with Adrien. We didn’t talk much on the way since he knows very little English and I know even less French but we passed the time and got to the field in no time. Then the fun began, back home in Indiana I’m used to hoeing pumpkins, pulling weeds, and picking sweet corn; but raising vine wires was completely out of my element. I caught on pretty quickly from watching Adrien pull the wires up and attach the two wires with a white clip to keep them close together so you could put the vines inbetween the wires. The idea behind it is to make the vines grow up vertically to make mechanical harvest easier, but vines naturally want to bush out.. see the problem here. You also then keep the wire tight by attaching it to elevated posts every 4-5 vines.
A good way to decribe it this morning was like picking sweet corn in the terms of I was soaked from the dew, then once it warmed up it wasn’t so bad. My hands are a little raw from the wires, but I figure after a couple days they’ll toughen up. I’m also feeling muscles in my arms that I have never felt sore before so that’s kind of neat. The motion you could proably best visualize is shoulder shrugs combines with lifting a bar from your waist up to your chest while struggling with the vines attached to the wires. Yes it was probably as comical as your envisioning it. Hopefully tomorrow won’t be such a struggle. I start tomorrow moring at 7 am and go till noon when I have a lunch break, then back to work for the afternoon with highs of up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. I am severely praying it doesn’t get that hot, but I guess we can just wait and see and hope for a breeze.
I’m gettting used to French life and starting to really enjoy different parts of it. I can’t wait to see what all comes of my internship this next month. This post was a little short, but I promise to be back with more details soon. You all willl certainly be kept in the loop here on my blog so stay tuned for more about my life in Queyrac, France!