the census lady

“Be happy in your hope. Do not give up when trouble comes. Do not let anything stop you from praying.” –Romans 12:12

Moving to France, I have been faced time and time again with the same predicament—how do you make friends? Wouldn’t it be nice if one day, someone just knocked on your door and started talking to you?

Recently, this happen. 

A random woman stood at my door, knocking. And knocking. And knocking.

Eventually, I got to the door.

It was not the most ideal moment for an unannounced visitor, I was in the middle of baking cookies for WyldLife, and was covered in cookie dough and flour. 

She looked from my sticky fingers to my flour stained shirt and with a slightly judgmental look, started her speech. She was from the census, and completing ones census is a required civic duty for anyone living in France. She only needed thirty minutes of my time.

I informed her, mentioning towards the cookies currently being prepped, now was not the ideal moment. She assured me that this was no issue, I could complete the census online! Oh the wonders of technology! She gave me my personalized login and went on her way.

Completing a detailed census in your second language is not as easy as one might think. I wanted France to know that I was a dedicated wannabe citizen.

How many square meters was my bathroom? 

When was the last time the walls in the living room were painting? 

I filled out each question with pride and detail.

I clicked submit.

“Thank you, Nicole!” The computer screen read.

I had submitted the census on behalf of my roommate. 

The next week there was another knock on my door. The census lady.

“Madame Swindler, you have not filled out the census.”

I insisted truthfully, that I had. My argument must have been convincing enough, because eventually she left. My relief was short lived. She returned the next evening, and the next, and the next until finally I conceded.

If I had thought it was difficult to fill out online, when I had the help of an online translator, it was almost impossible for me to answer her questions unprepared and in person. Things were going okay, until she asked me about my work. Young Life Grenoble has no office. I forgot the word for “work at home”. I panicked.

“I work at Station Praz de Lys” Which is where the Young Life France camp is located, three hours away from my house. 

“You worked at Station Praz de Lys?” Her words filled with doubt.

“Oui,” I was too ashamed to figure out how to correct her.

“Okay so how do you commute?”

“I take the tram?”

“The train?”

“The tram.”

“You take our local tram each day to Praz de Lys?”

“Plus ou moins” More or less.

“I am going to just write public transport.”

I am currently going through a study on the Fruit of the Spirit. The deeper I have gone into this study, the more I am realizing, I lack in patience. This woman patiently and persistently pursued me until she had my attention. As a Christian, this is a picture of who I want to be. I want to be patient as I wait on the Lord. But in my patience, I want to be persistent and hold my stance, confident in what the Lord is doing. Until it comes to fruition, I hope to still be standing, patiently knocking.


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