Archive for July, 2009

Small victories = steps towards manhood

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009


One boy in my tent, Jeremie, is what I’d call the runt of the litter.  He just turned 9 a couple of days ago, but he looks and in some ways acts much like he’s about 6.  He keeps mostly to himself, loves to chase insects, and speaks very quietly.  I’ve engaged him a few times in some games, and I think the attention has won me a special place in his estimation.  He now will walk along with me and talk non-stop in a voice too quiet for me to understand, even if I could comprehend the language.  I don’t think he even cares so much if I can understand.  He just likes having someone to talk to, rattling off long stories about his dog or the way fish breathe underwater.

Yesterday we went to (more…)

Joyeux Anniversaire!

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009
Jeremie loves catching bugs, frogs, etc.

Happy birthday to me!  Somehow the word got out, and everyone has been giving me birthday wishes.  For the first time in my life, I heard Joyeux Anniversaire sung to me this morning by all the boys in my tent.  In fact, I’m sharing birthday honors today with two others at the camp: one of the counselors for the ado boys and one of the ado girls.

Today is blisteringly hot.  Sunny with a touch of excessive humidity makes our plans for a swimming pool day with the juniors sound just about perfect.  All the kids are occupied right now in the morning reunion (basically chapel, but a bit more informal), and I have about half an hour before the afternoon activities commence.  I’ve found that on most days, I have an hour or two in the morning when I can work on things relatively unmolested.  Otherwise, I have to wait until after everyone goes to bed.  Pretty much the rest of the day is quite busy.  But I’m a bit ahead of myself. (more…)

Returning to Toulouse; Trains on Strike

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009
Arnold and Marvin are here from last year.

Arnold and Marvin are here from last year.

About half of the campers had already arrived on Sunday, a full day early.  I met a few of them the next morning as we got settled in.  My first task, however, was to return my car to the Hertz office in Toulouse.  It was a beautiful day and I thoroughly enjoyed the drive along narrow country roads, bordered by bluffs and deep ditches.  I sped by rolling hills dotted with giant marshmallow rolls of hey and sloping fields afire with a million brilliant sunflowers.  Every now and then I’d pass through a quintessential  French country town with wonderfully cramped streets and a cluster of crowded, stone buildings, rich with the patina that comes only with genuine antiquity.  Eventually the country gave way to some larger towns and then the auto route that allowed a rapid approach to Toulouse. (more…)

Church in Limoges and Arrival at Camp

Sunday, July 12th, 2009
Christophe preparing the barbecue

I had intended to wake up by 9, but my sleep deficit combined with a dark, quiet camper caused me to sleep until nearly 10.  I joined Christophe, Isabelle, and Babette just in time for breakfast, and then enjoyed a leisurely morning preparing for our trip, visiting with the family, and playing with Samuel, the youngest, and perhaps most extroverted of the Chenier brothers.  Matthieu and Timothee arrived right at noon with their grandparents.  Both had grown several inches since I saw them a year ago.

The Cheniers had originally planned to drive to camp on Monday and had even offered to give Babette and I a ride, though I told them I had my car anyway so that wouldn’t be necessary.  As it turned out, their car broke down just the day we arrived, so we ended up giving Matthieu and his older brother Nathaniel a ride in my car.  Timothee and his younger brother, Johan, would ride with another family from Limoges the next day.  It ended up working out quite well, and the parents were very thankful. (more…)

20 Hour Trip to Meet New Friends

Saturday, July 11th, 2009
Samuel is proud of his sunglasses

The night train from Salzburg to Zurich was only my third experience in a sleeper car, my first two being in Russia.  I found the facilities a bit inferior to what I encountered in Russia, contrary to my expectations.  I had a top bunk, and found it a bit disconcerting that there was no guard rail to keep me in the narrow bed.  If the train had a sudden lurch, I could have had a nasty fall onto the floor and ladder below.  Also, there were no convenient compartments or shelves to store your night time sundries, such as my cell phone or toothbrush.  The bed itself was rather firm, a bit too conducive to cutting off the circulation to my limbs.  I was tired enough, however, to sleep quite well for the 4 hours before the lady came by to wake us up for breakfast and return our passports.  I had just enough time (more…)