(I wrote this before leaving Belgium, so some of it's come true already:)
I'll miss... (regarding things rather than people)
- greeting people (friends, acquaintances, everyone in church, friends of friends, whoever turns up at GBU, etc, etc) with a kiss on the right cheek;
- flash storms where the heavens open with a week's rain in 15min and the thunder rumbles right across the city, cracking overhead so loud that the house shakes;
- a network of buses, trams and metro where if you so wished, you'd never have to walk for more than 5min, and where journeying on any transport in Brussels within an hour costs just 1eur (70p) and between any 2 Belgian towns by train is just 4.50eur; and the experiences involved - the wild dash from jumping off the bus and across the 3 lanes of traffic stopped just before the lights change against you to catch the tram before it pulls away from the stop;
- hot waffle (& coffee) stands in train & metro stations and in the street;
- walking straight across zebra crossings (which are everywhere) with priority - if you hesitate, the cars won't stop;
- REAL hot chocolate. That 'drinking chocolate' stuff in the UK just isn't in the same league;
- taking friends on tours of the gorgeous buildings of Brussels - only done this a few times but it really is fascinating with the bizarre tales and history behind them. Only in Belgium would a King's palace have a room whose ceiling is lined with the green wings of millions of moths;
- being in a country which refuses to contemplate instant coffee. In fact, it's the real stuff which is the cheapest. And the coffee machine was only 8eur (5.50GBP). I don't drink coffee regularly, but when I do, I'm now a coffee snob;
- having a regular source of amusement in the funny uses of English words in shop signs and publicity;
- speaking French;
- the café culture - ok, people sadly don't 'do' hospitality outside of their own family, but the café culture does rock! There are cafés everywhere;
- the friendliness of Belgians, which, while not Irish, is certainly better than English. I shall miss chatting with people at bus stops!
- the wonderful mixture of languages. How shameful to only speak 2! Flemish is a very cool language, however mean the grammar is - it's a pity I still have to say, 'Sorry, ik spreek geen Vlaams.' Still, I understand quite a bit.
- the market in my street every Thursday afternoon;
- the amusement of the cheeky Belgian spirit, albeit wrong - traffic police on the junctions at rush hour lest people all try to jump the lights;
- having 'sausage' as a culnary art form;
- being in a country where comic design is the '5th art' and people seriously read brilliantly designed adult comics on the public transport;
- Elderly Romanian men busking on the metro on the accordion;
- that most housing is terraced (and houses usually at least 4 storeys high), but every house in the terrace is different: different heights, different styles, each balcony is at a different level to that of the neighbouring houses, different façades...;
- people confusedly calling me Marie-Rose by mistake since it's the nearest thing to Rosemary in French, or Rose, since when they do get the order right they imagine it as Rose-Marie - and drop the Marie!
- being in a literary culture. People read. People read the greats of French literature. People read the greats of French literature in the tram, on the metro. For that matter, French literature just is great. Forming a sentence is an art form. Va t'en, ipod: books ain't dead yet!
- When speaking English, lazily using French words where they work better or where there isn't a direct English equivalent.
I look forward to...
- church having an evening service as well as a morning one;
- expository Bible teaching (not that my supplements of Piper on Hebrews haven't been good - but not the same as sitting under it as a whole church);
- doing hospitality (with more than a bedroom-with-kitchenette to use!);
- having the wholey amazingly huge and comprehensive world of Christian books and resources in English to use in ministry
- keeping on serving students with the glorious gospel of our blessed God, supplied by his grace!
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