Connection. We all long for it. To know. To be known. To understand. To be understood. In times of transition sometimes it is hard to find connections.
My family moved overseas for the first time at the end of August to France to learn French. While our kids navigate public middle and high school in French, my husband and I spend 20 hours a week in class with other people who speak English but it’s an immersion program and we aren’t technically supposed to speak English on campus. Ever. Needless to say, with my very limited French, conversations there have been shallow at best and finding connections have been hard. My family lives off campus and the only time I don’t feel guilty speaking English is at home with my husband and kids or when we occasionally have people over for dinner.
Being on a new continent surrounded by new people and a new language is overwhelming. I was lonely and scared and I needed connection in my heart language.
I first heard about Velvet Ashes last spring. I was in the middle of the process of getting rid of all of our earthly possessions and reading through the blog made me feel like all the crazy emotions I was experiencing were actually kind of normal. I laughed and cried as I read each post, and I felt my heart being gracefully prepared for things that may be down the road for me. When I saw on the website that there were connection groups I knew I wanted to be a part of one because I know I need the wisdom of others on this journey.
From what I remember, Fall enrollment for Connection Groups started at a normal time for people on the East Coast but at a not so normal time for me and I was so afraid that they would all fill up before I got a chance to sneak into one. Lucky for me, my not quite adjusted to my new time zone body woke me up in the middle of the night (gotta love jet lag!) and I quickly got online to enroll in the only group that met at a time that would work for my new school schedule, 9pm on Mondays.
Well, by 9pm on Mondays I am generally exhausted and longing for bed with homework and housework left to do but, at that time every week, our faithful facilitator would pop onto our secret facebook group and ask us how we were doing and how our week was going. I swear it was the fastest hour of every week as we regaled each other with tales of our week, discussed the most recent posts and topics from the blog like risk and homesickness, chaos and questions, shared about our struggles and pointed each other to the One with all the answers. It was amazing to me how 7 women, doing 7 different things, in 7 different countries could connect so quickly in such a short amount of time. Before I knew it, every week, time was up and she was asking for prayer requests.
That hour on Monday nights gave me much needed permission to stop and contemplate how I was really doing and other important things besides what normally filled my head: verb conjugations, meal preparation and how on earth to order the right number of baguettes at the boulangerie. It was really helpful for me as I was getting my bearings overseas to have a group of ladies to check in on me, to ask advice from, to celebrate and mourn with, and to pray with and for. When my teens, facing public school for the first time in a new language were struggling, they prayed for them and offered advice and to connect them with other TCKs. When I felt stupid in this language learning process they made me laugh with stories of their own language learning fumbles. When my kids had a good day, they celebrated with me. When I felt depression descending, they encouraged me. These ladies helped me process things that had never come up before and encouraged me to take scary steps of obedience always pointing me to the Father.
This fall there was a lot of “me too” going on around the internet as people shared their stories and realized they were not alone. I am so thankful for the little group that I got to be a part of where we experienced a lot of “me too” moments and got to feel less alone. I grew so much from being a part of a connection group and I hope I was able to be an encouragement to the others as well.
What are you most looking forward to about being a part of a Connection Group this spring? Registration will open on Tuesday at 6 p.m. EST. Have questions? 10 FAQs about Connection Groups.