Life in France

Fear and Faith

the-sutherlin-family-goes-toWell, we did it. We survived an entire week in France! In an old chateau! In the middle of nowhere! I feel like we’ve just finished an episode of some strange new reality show: The Sutherlin Family Goes to France. It’s been one crazy thing after another since day one and I have a feeling we have enough material to keep this show running for a few seasons.

Today was a perfect example. We decided to rest for the day, more than a little worn out from our wild first week and the intense workout we’d had the day before. While I was in the kitchen making dinner, Evie went out to wander around in the backyard. It’s nearly two acres to explore and she’s been begging for a chance to roam free. So, off she went. About an hour later she came slamming in through the back door crying big tears.

“Mom! I put my hand down in the grass for just a second and now it burns! It stings, Mom!”

Sure enough, there were big angry welts on her hand and when I pulled it closer to see, I could feel them on her wrist, too. Turning her arm over, I counted three places where the reaction was spreading up her arm. Relieved at first that it wasn’t a spider bite, worry mixed quickly with fear in my gut. I didn’t have any medication in the house to treat an allergic reaction. What was worse, it was a Sunday and stores in the area are all closed on Sundays. AND I didn’t have a single phone number in the house for medical emergencies, not a doctor or an ambulance at all! I mean, does 911 even work in France?!

We rushed her upstairs and threw her into the shower in case it was a reaction to something on her skin. Then, I pulled out the essential oils I had brought with us. I prayed that they would be enough, mentally searching my brain for any clue to the location of the nearest hospital. As soon as she was out of the shower, I spread lavender and frankincense oil on thick across the welts. Within minutes the swelling had gone down and the redness was entirely gone. I smiled at her reassuringly and sent her off to her room to get dressed. Then, I sat on the bathroom floor and cried.

What have we done?

The words kept playing in my head, tormenting me while tears of fear poured down my cheeks. In all the planning and to do lists, I never once considered what would happen in a medical emergency. Sure, we made sure our insurance would cover us in France, but that was the extent of it. Here we are in the middle of nowhere without a reliable internet and just one cell phone, no idea who to call if one of us is dying, and no medicine or even a doctor available in our village. What if it had been anaphylaxis? What if she had died?!

*Big shuddering breath*

You know, there will always be something we’ve overlooked, something we didn’t consider, but God is good and he protected us once again. I don’t know what that thing was in the grass that made her arm react like that, but she’ll be more careful and next time I’ll be more prepared. In the end, it’s just one more incredible story of how God provides. He took care of her, protected her, and she is fine. The real challenge is to believe God is good even when everything is NOT fine. I hope I’m not reminded of that difficult truth any time soon. For now, I’ll whisper a prayer of thanksgiving to the one who saves, and then on Monday morning…I’ll find out the emergency numbers and plaster them all over the house!


3 thoughts on “Fear and Faith”

  1. What ever is growing right outside the door did the same thing to me!! It has little needles that we can’t see that went in m y finger the omoment I touched it. The plant looks similar to a mint plant!

  2. Hello Heather,
    Have you learned that these are called “orties” or nettles since you posted?
    Apparently there is also a plant that grows right next to it that is the antidote! 🙂
    I’m an American in Alsace who came over in 2002 with 3 children and a courageous husband. A friend sent me info about your IF retreat and after reading your blog, I’m sorely tempted, even if it is in FEVRIER! My last one was 6 years ago in Denver and it did me a world of good!!

    I’m also a big children’s book fan with a goal of reading every Newbery and Caldecott award winner and want to write my own one day, but have no encouragement whatsoever! (And it doesn’t help that I am anti-fb.)

    Anywhooo, so happy to have you and your amazing chateau in France to love on people like me! We will get our citizenship in January and plan to live out our lives here with our youngest, who is now 21. So we really should get together at least once… 🙂

    All blessings, Angela

    1. So…I’m just going to go ahead and call you my new bestie. Okay? haha
      If you’re in Alsace, you can’t be far away. We are so blessed to be here, but it has not been as easy as we thought. What an amazing lesson it has been for us! It really helps us understand a little more of all the stress, and trials missionaries endure to do the work they have committed to do in a foreign country. We are so grateful to be able to serve others with this home, and our ministry. I certainly hope you can join us here in Fevrier for IF, but you don’t have to wait that long. Come over anytime you like. Our open house weekend is the perfect time to visit and see more of what we are doing at the chateau. Here’s where to find out more:

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