I have been surprised to find how very large our family is; so far I have 3 ‘mothers/aunts’ besides Marianne! And then there are their families and friends! It is very warm and welcoming to have so many friendly faces to kiss! (although sometimes the who-when-where part of kissing is a little confusing).
We have visited Cecilia’s (and the pony club) twice now. We had dinner there once with a Belgian from Flanders. It was amusing because I (from across the world) could speak just as much French as he could (from the same country!). He didn’t speak English, but several times I thought he was because some of the Dutch sounded a lot like English with an accent. After dinner Thomas, Celine,(the brother and sister working for Marianne) Claire (Marianne’s goddaughter), Julia, and I went over to the pony club hang-out area and taught Julia Uno and ate ice cream. I was actually able to understand most of what went on at dinner and during Uno and was able to participate some in the conversation. Which is a marvelous sensation! We also met Willong, who is a very handsome fellow, and all the other ponies. We will ride after the 15th, when Cecilia goes back to work. We also met a lot of other friends, including Alice, a girl who will have some of the same classes with Julia. She is going to walk us to school the first day so we don’t get lost! (I’m relieved!)
Last night we went to Cecilia’s brother’s home for his birthday. Denis speaks very good English and was eager to use it with us. He has a baby grand piano and can REALLY play! He and his older brother, Robert, had a rip-roarin’ time belting out everything from Rachmaninoff to Frank Sinatra to the Beatles. He insisted Julia and I play something, so I played Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho, and Julia played a bit of Edelweiss, much to his delight. Denis travels a lot and works in Brussels at some kind of international institution, so he was very interested in learning how to say the name of the Icelandic volcano (I can now say that name, Christmas Eve, Hiccup, and River in Icelandic. But I cannot spell them!!!) and also asked about Palin. We also met Robert’s three young sons. The oldest, Roman(spelling?) has studied English for two years, so he wanted to practice some with us. He speaks very well, and so that was fun for all. They served couscous and other foods from Morocco, which of course was delicious. We all had a good time and sang happy birthday very loudly.
We also visited Fezzy(sp? Pronunciation?), an artist from Iran. She and Marianne have coffee every Friday. She is also very sweet, speaks English well, and has lived all over the world. Her pottery and ceramics are exceptionally beautiul. We also met her niece from Iran, who is studying there to be a mining engineer.
Bernadette is another mother/aunt. She also works with AFS and is hosting an Australian in the volunteer program right now. She helped us through the rigmarole of choosing what courses to enroll in and the actual enrolment process. She is very energetic and friendly, and also speaks English(which was extremely helpful for enrollment!!!).
I believe we are doing something today, but I don’t know what. That is usually how things work around here; we often don’t know what or if we’re doing something until just before. It is different, but surprises can be nice.I am so grateful for this family and place; all the people are so good to us. The animals are also good; barn humor doesn’t need to be explained and animals don’t have to speak anything to be good friends. Thank you, God! Merci, Dieu!