On our recent orchestra tour to France, we had the joy of staying at a cozy lakeside campground for a few a weeks out in the French countryside. Our timing there could not have been more perfect to enjoy the crisp fall air, witness the beauty of the changing leaves and experience the serenity of the nature around us.
During the tour we traveled almost every day to different cities around us to perform, we typically had time each morning in our little bungalows to rest, take walks around the lake, practice, cook and just enjoy the company of our colleagues around us.
While I did go on this tour last year on my own (which you can read about HERE), this time Kevin and I had the blessing of being able to travel together. Often tours can be a wonderful time to grow as musicians, build stronger relationships with colleagues and explore new places, so it was a joy to able to experience these things together this time around. I definitely had some idea of what to expect and was thus able to prepare a bit better for the journey this year.
While I assumed that most of the tour experience would be the same as last year, and indeed many things were similar, I actually found myself learning a few unexpected lessons, that all tied together in the end and have continued to stick with me even after our return to Ruse…
Before I get ahead of myself and share about the tour itself, I feel the need to provide a bit of context from this past year and leading up to our time in France.
First, that living abroad has been almost a daily lesson in Humility
Two, that living on a Bulgarian salary continues to be regular lesson on Gratitude
Three, that living amongst Bulgarians has taught us much about the art of Resourcefulness
At this point you may be saying, “Well Sarah, these seem like important lessons already. What bigger lesson did you learn in France?”
While I admit that these indeed are some big lessons that I am learning while living abroad for me, they all point to a bigger lesson and that is:
“Learning to trust in and be satisfied with God’s provision”
What do I mean by that? How does this tie into our tour to France? Allow me to explain:
As I mentioned our orchestra stayed next to a lake on tour that also happened to be a popular fishing spot amongst the locals. One of our horn players is also an avid fisherman so he brought his fishing pole along to use during our free time. While I have no idea how many fish he caught in total (although I did hear a rumor that he caught 5 kg in one day), he shared much of what he caught with our colleagues each day.
I also have to mention that because we were staying in the countryside, in order to go grocery shopping we had to take our tour bus into town every 4 to 5 days to visit the closest supermarket.
About halfway into the tour we were a few days away from going to the store and I was already wondering (and worried) if we would have enough food to last us until the next trip. There was a small store nearby if we got desperate but I knew they only had a limited selection of supplies. Much to my surprise, our colleague knocked on our door to ask if we wanted some fish that he had caught from the lake. We were very surprised and of course said Yes!! While I have never caught or cleaned a fish in my life, that morning was a wonderful lesson not only on how to clean and gut a fish, but also a perfect reminder of God’s CARE and PROVISION through the gift of our colleague.
Another fun fact about this lake in France, is that it is surrounded by a numerous number of walnut trees (something I did not know last year). On our very first night we saw a colleague picking up walnuts along the path around the lake and decided to make it our mission to learn which trees were walnut trees and how to harvest the nuts. With the help of a few colleagues, who truly know their flora and fauna, we discovered the vast number of walnut trees and enjoyed collecting nuts each day as we walked and ran around the lake.
We certainly did not NEED any of these nuts and each day we found more than we could carry with just our bare hands. For me, however, this experience was yet another reminder to me that God not only provides for our NEEDS but often provides us with more ABUNDANCE than we typically expect or recognize.
As our tour drew to a close and I thought more about my experiences with the fish and walnuts, I began to realize that these moments were in a sense symbolic of the bigger ways God has continued to provide for us in Ruse:
– When our rent increased this year –
God provided a new source of income that exactly matched the amount needed to cover our rent
– When we both needed new coats –
Two different friends offered us extra ones they no longer needed
– As the price of groceries increases –
Friends with personal gardens continue to share abundantly with us from their harvests
– When we have needed places to stay while traveling –
We have rarely had to pay for lodging as friends continue to open up their homes
I could go on and on with more examples of ways in which God has been faithful to us this year in both small and big ways.
Do we still have tendencies to worry?
Do we sometimes forget to acknowledge God’s gifts?
Do we often desire more than we actually need?
Guilty yet again!
While I am not always as quick as I would like to be to recognize God’s gifts, acknowledge the source, and be satisfied in Him, writing this post is one way in which I felt compelled to share about this important lesson I am learning. Namely to:
TRUST and be SATISFIED in God and His PROVISIONS.
I am so thankful for the chance I had in France to pause, reflect and have some time to connect all these little experiences that continue to point me towards a much bigger lesson that I feel has been a big part of this past year. As I am often reminded from the Gospel of Matthew:
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
(Matthew 6:26-34 ESV)