Memoirs of Praying for Rain
When I was about four, my family left Northern Ireland and temporarily moved to the south of France for 6 months to learn French. We needed to speak French so that when we made the final move to Burkina Faso, we would be able to communicate a little with people when we got there.
We needed to be immersed in the language to learn it quickly, so we were placed in a home with a French woman who had some spare rooms for families learning French. It was not a normal home, it was an old people’s nursing home. From my hazy memory there must have been about five old people and they are still the most bizarre and scary flatmates that I have had to date. They did scare me a lot, they smelt funny, they couldn’t really talk properly and instead made ghostly grumbles at me, when they ate they were horrifying. Sometimes I would turn a corner and find one sitting on a commode in the hallway, just waiting, staring at me. It was not a great place for a child.
The house was big, dark and old. It made strange noises and it didn’t help that at night the old residents would also howl, especially when they were sick or fell.
It was a strange and unsettling start down the path that God had chosen for us. Surely God would have challenged the adults and not the innocent little children?
God will not give you more than you can handle
I couldn’t handle the move. My parents got private French tuition but my sister and I had to go to school. It was awful. I hated French school, everyone stared at me and treated me like I was stupid. I felt constantly like I was being watched and under scrutiny. Things were different around me, the rooms, the playground, the floor was cement, we sat in regimented rows instead of round tables and the teacher was firm and horrible. One thing I remember clearly was that I was too afraid to use the toilets when I was at school because they were just a hole in the ground, with nothing to sit on. I didn’t want to fall into the abyss.
There is a video somewhere from that time, of my sister and her class performing songs. They made me take part in the video for my parents but I didn’t want to. Even if I had no memory of that event, it is evident from my body language and facial expressions in the video that I didn’t want to be there. It just wasn’t me and I am clearly unhappy.
Now, looking back, I can see that at that very young age, I already felt uneasy about the life that I had. Something just didn’t feel quite right and it didn’t sit with me, but I couldn’t express that, I just didn’t understand. It wasn’t the life that I had chosen but I had to live it, at least until I could make my own life.
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