Thursday, April 26, 2007

25 Avril 2007

Another installment I thought you might want to read...


Today was my last day in France. We had success at work, with positive feedback on our work from the customers. I have an action item, from discussion, to follow up within a few weeks of getting home.

I am a little sad to leave France behind. Every morning it is customary to say a bright “Bonjour” to everyone you see. I’m coming to understand, though, that “Bonjour” is more than just the French version of our word “hello.” It’s a respect of people thing. It’s an acknowledgement of the presence of the individual, and the wishing of them to have a good day (Bon = good, jour = day). If you look them in the eye when you say it (most people do), it really packs a punch. It is so warm and welcoming, to me. I feel like it may even heal the common cold. Best way: deliver it from the gut, with French gusto….Tres bien!

What a contrast! In the states many people don’t bother to look up or even grunt when another person enters their presence.

One more thing about “Bonjour:” once you’ve said it, DON’T say it again to that person the rest of the day. To do so seems to imply you might not have cared much in the first place. If all this seems like a big responsibility, it is. But—what’s more important than taking a moment to acknowledge people? Think of the richness of relationship of your best friend, or the laughs you’re shared with a really funny person….how about the time a deeply kind word brought warmth and comfort to your soul, perhaps during a time you ached from one of life’s hurts? Did that matter to you? If people matter to you, today (and every day) is a good time to express it.

One reason this is all being put into writing is to remind myself that I must come back. Though it’s a lot of effort, time and $$ to get here, there is NOTHING LIKE it, being in a country where they speak French, and have all their interesting French ways.

I think I was meant to be born French, but got dropped off by the Stork in the wrong country?? Actually, Grandpa Glen’s great-grandfather was born near the border of France and Germany, in the 1800’s. They emigrated to Canada and later generations to the US. So we have French blood in us?

A couple more things about French sites before I forget: Walking through the city of Metz is like opening a big storybook, with ornate gold leaf on the cover, and as your eyes fall on the inside, colors that brighten, the moment you look at them. We used a French Curve in drafting class (engineering school) and now I know why the French get credit for the graceful curves: the streets, the inset paver stone patterns inset in the streets, and the disposable plastic lunch trays. And of course the cars but you’ve already had to read about that.

Somehow, I’ve got to come back to Metz (pronounced “mess” J ), and when I do, I’ve got to see the inside of the cathedral. My room, #333, had a nice view of it, but now my appetite is whetted.


After I left Florange (France), it was 40 minutes to a new country: Luxembourg. Luxembourg is a big name but a very small country; a principality, I understand. About the size of Chicago? I was hoping they’d stop us at the border and I’d get the thrill of “crossing the border,” complete with passport stamp, but no, it’s part of the European Union, so apparently whoever is OK with France is OK to be in Luxembourg.

Luxembourg has a King and Queen; I saw their pictures in the lobby of the hotel. I asked the girl at the counter whether or not he did a good job. I wonder what exactly he does? In the picture, he was holding a sword, but it didn’t look like it had gotten much use--No disrespect intended.

There have been many questions from Delphi comrades as to how I’m going to get from my hotel (next to the airport) to Bascharage (city 17 miles away where Delphi Tech Center is located). Their concern is appreciated. The two most common offered ideas offered have been:

renting a car
calling a taxi.

Either one costs about €100 (100 Euros, or about $135.00), and neither seems like an interesting way to get there. It’s the inefficiency of those ideas I don’t like. What a ridiculously large sum of money, simply to get a short bit of transportation. I mean, how incredibly helpless are we here, people?

My idea: I spotted a BUS STOP outside my hotel, which apparently I can ride for about €3 each way, with a bus change in the city center. I think I’ll try it. I’ll be able to tell you when I get home whether this was such a smart idea. J There is no certain time I have to be at the Delphi building tomorrow so if I get a little turned around, hey, I’ll get to see more of the area??

“Things we deeply feel” is what I’d like to write more about, but with the long hours I’ve been working all week, the lack of sleep, overeating, lack of exercise, missing my family, and uncertainly of staying in a strange land, it has me feeling a little out of place and wiped out.

I’m thankful for some focus that recently came from my bible, informing me that we are “strangers and aliens” anyhow, in this life, passing through, and to live now with God, closely, letting him tenderly lead us, while looking for that next, better land. So maybe this travel is good training for that. Truly, that reference about being a “stranger” is helping me find my place in this world anyhow. It helps a person rest from the work of trying to “fit in” or be “acceptable.” The point is that achieving business success, looking a certain way, or expressing yourself a certain way is an irrelevant distraction from the life we are meant to lead: with a deep acceptance of ourselves and then other people.

Thanks for listening,
Goodnight, or as we say in France, Bon nuit,
Love always,

PS I am sending you this note from the Delphi building, after riding the bus successfully this morning. :)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Parlez-vous Francais?

Not sure what the subject line says, but the content of this entry may be of interest. It is actually an email that David sent to me and the kids (I took out MOST of the mushy stuff!) Call it a guest entry. As much as I keep suggesting, he doesn't create his own blog - and he should. I'll let him borrow mine for now...


I absolutely can't believe what I am experiencing. I left Paris behind this afternoon and now am in the small town of Metz. Look it up! Find it on a map, or on Mapquest. The hotel's address is Cetre Saint Jacques, Metz FR 5700.

The night sky is beautiful, clear with stars and moon.

France is all about beauty and creativity: the architecture (buildings), the flowers, the people, the styles, the food. And the language is like poetry, the beautiful way it rolls out of the mouths of the people.

I want to show you Paris and also a smaller French town, like this Metz that I'm in. The streets are all cobblestone, winding, with TALL 3-story storefronts all along. And most stores only sell 1 type of thing: knives. Or CDs. Or sandwiches. Or jewelry.

NO STRAIGHT LINES, the streets are curvy, the paver stones are curvy the bridges are curvy…'s like a big cartoon.

And the cars-----------HA! You wouldn't believe all the funny (goofy!) French cars. Renault Twingo, Citroen (my favorite is the C6), Smart car (2 seater, very upright, shorter than a mini Cooper). Very quirky and interesting (creative) styling, like cartoons. And most of the cars are small over here, because the streets are narrow and parking is difficult (congested). But they drive FAST, like shot out of a cannon.

I am on the 3rd (top) floor of the Nootel Metz Centre hotel, looking out over a mall/courtyard that is vacant and almost silent. Except for the bells that chime every 15 minutes, from the HUGE GORGEOUS HISTORIC cathedral, lit up with beautiful lights, and I am looking STRAIGHT OUT MY WINDOW at it. Picture Tim & Diane's beautiful church, x2. It is a cathedral, that almost seems to compare to Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur (which I went in yesterday and today; the 2 most famous and beautiful Catholic cathedrals in Paris). I paid the extra today and took the EXTREMLY NARROW, spiral staircase up to the top of Sacre Coeur. AMAZING.

And I've done something I rarely do: took LOTS of pictures. So I can't wait to get home and show you the whole show. Susie: you've got to help me find the right French background music for the slideshow.

I even saw Moulin Rouge today, during the day, from the outside. Wow, quite a bit goes on over there.

The saw the famous Mona Lisa wow(!) at the Louvre. They would not let me borrow it. The Arc de Triumphe, of course the Eiffel Tower (at day AND at night), flooded with glorious golden light and flashing (for 5 minutes every half hour) with hundreds of strobe lights, from top to bottom.

We've been "on the go" so much that I fall into bed exhausted every night. It is about 9:15 pm here (I'm writing this to save, then send tomorrow when I can hook up to internet), and I'm lucky to have lasted till 10. Oh here goes the cathedral bells again. Now bonging 10:00

The only thing that's missing you 3. We must come here one day, when you kids have had some time to take some French in school. To be able to communicate (I am getting the very basic hello, thank you, and a few other things, but not much else. Bummer!) It takes time to study and master, but it's worth it.

I am SO blessed to get to experience this.

Tomorrow I must "hunker down" and get to work for Delphi, at our Florange plant. This is, of course, the reason they paid to send me over here.

With all my love and fondness,
David (Daddy)