Our team made their way from their home stays through more cold rain to meet at the nearest metro stop. A couple of us were accompanied by our hosts, a sign of how quickly we’ve bonded with our French brothers and sisters. After a series of subway stops we ended at Lyon’s main train station and boarded our train to Grenoble. An hour and a half later we exchanged a train for a bus and rode another hour through more grey, heavy clouds and rain to Le Bourg-d’Oisans, the closest town to Camp des Cimes, our home for the next few days. Camp staff picked our crew up and drove about 20 minutes up switchbacks carved into the faces of steep hillsides to our destination. 

Being on a fairly steep hillside, the camp is spread out in a series of cottages, chalets, and chateaus all at least a couple hundred years old and with plenty of character, surrounded by aspen trees with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, even despite the clouds. After a quick tour of our accommodations, we met in the main lodge at the bottom of the property for an incredible lunch, followed by an overview of Greater European Mission (GEM), and our plan for the week, which included tutorials on how to run the kitchen and dishwashing areas, and how to clean bathrooms. We will be working hard and the next few 14 hour days may be a good test of our team dynamics. 

After a brief afternoon break to get unpacked, we met again in the main lodge, prepped for dinner (there are about 90 people at this retreat who are missionaries with GEM) then ate our dinner before serving the guests. The head chef here, Bridgett, is phenomenal and is going to keep us both very well fed and very busy. It didn’t take our team long to fall into a groove: place setting, prepping, dishing, serving, bussing, washing, sweeping, mopping, and resetting. It was about 9 o’clock as we wrapped up the last of the cleanup and looked outside to see large snowflakes covering the ground. It was fun to see, but also a little disappointing because it means less of a chance to see the beautiful views everyone has told us about. 

The evening of hard work was a good foretaste for what the next few days will hold. We trudged back to our various chalets through a couple inches of snow, very ready for a good night’s sleep.