A Slice of Soultz Life

Since you haven’t heard from me since May, I’m backing up to July to testify of His goodness since then! As a result, this one is a little longer than usual and contains a few photos. To read just what you want to read, use these links to the different topics:

our move, our ministry, our home, and school.

Mid-summer Moving Miracles

Moving our belongings and ourselves across the country on the cheap was a logistical nightmare, but it couldn’t have gone smoother, thanks to our “moving angels,” as I like to call them! Let me describe a few that God sent our way!

We were confronted with a week of homelessness when the owner delayed our planned move-in date. So we what we have concluded is that God caused a spike in the exchange rate on the day we wired our money over to pay for the house, leaving us with enough left over to fly over to England to touch base with our wonderful friends and teammates there! It was also a perfect place to celebrate Rachel’s 15th birthday: her best and oldest MK friend bought her a little black dress at a Goodwill store and all of us girls attended a classical concert starring an award-winning 14 yr. old violinist!

Back in France, two servant-hearted men from the church we were attending at Oasis came and spent 5 hrs in 95-degree heat loading our small rental truck as efficiently as possible. (That meant unpacking many cardboard boxes and stuffing the drawers of all the furniture!) Then when they finished near midnight, (without even stopping to eat,) one of them handed us an envelope full of cash that paid our travel expenses for the 5 hr. trip the next day!! Honestly, if he hadn’t come, we would have had to make two trips with the truck, because it’s illegal here to drive something bigger than a 19 ft truck with a normal driver’s license. (As it was, David only had to go down once with our van a couple of days later.) Exactly what our truck looked like...

Some precious Albertville classmates housed us many nights while homeless and in transit, and some others drove and returned the moving truck for us.

Once we were parked in front of our house, virtual strangers arrived to help unload. This included the principal and a handyman from the children’s school! Another was a woman we met while in Strasbourg in May. She brought a meal and offered her friendship, giving all sorts of help and information in the following weeks. The next day the postman pulled up on his bicycle to deliver my French driver’s license!! I’d been waiting since April – Couldn’t ask for a better house-warming gift!

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Limping Along in Ministry! Enjoying dinner with the Fresz's at the YWAM base

2 weeks after moving in, I tripped down our attic stairs and sprained my ankle. A week later, we had a date with a YWAM base to lead daily family worship for a week-long seminar for couples! It was a great time to escape from the physically exhausting demands of the house and the precarious stairwells, and live out our family vision, in spite of my gimpy foot! The kids really got a hold of it as well, and overcame all former inhibitions! The participants called our style of creative, interactive worship a highlight of the week, and we were blessed even more as seminar participants, having quality time as a couple to work on active listening skills and dealing with conflict- much needed during another move and transition! It was taught by our former German FDTS base leaders, the Fresz’s, who are now heading up YWAM Family Ministries in Europe. Because they taught in German, with translation to French, David’s brain synapses started making reconnections! Some of the French YWAM base staff also participated in the seminar, so we enjoyed getting to know them a lot better as couples, and we are now officially connected with this group in YWAM France.

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Home Sweet Home!

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

  • A beautifully renovated kitchen with a top of the line oven – God’s recompense for 2 years of cooking in propane tank-powered tin cans! This baby has 12 different settings and one of them makes a perfect quiche / tart! Ooh la la… The good...
  • A corner of my own in the attic where I can be creative, another room where the kids can play, and another room where I can dry my clothes on lines to save on our electricity usage!
  • Having space in our bathroom for a vanity table for me, and the best shower pressure we’ve ever had for David!.
  • Having rooms for each child that all connect to one another like a suite.
  • Liking the wallpaper enough in the living/dining room to keep it, thus being able to entertain guests within the second week!
  • The luxury of an office with just enough room for a couch to watch DVDs from the computer.

What are we putting up with? Let me grit my teeth…

  • All of our flooring is old linoleum, and in the attic it is dirty scrap linoleum! ...the bad and the UGLY!
  • All the other rooms in the house are covered with ugly brown wallpaper, underneath which is old chipping plaster – Oh boy! I sure miss good ole American drywall now!
  • Our house is running on 15 amps and we’re not grounded! That means if the washer is on, making a cup of coffee or turning on the iron trips the main breaker and all the clocks start blinking at us! (Fortunately an electrician with the school has got us on his to-do list!)
  • The downstairs front windows are single pane, letting in a lot of noise, and probably a lot of cold in the winter. The same goes for our bedroom window that faces a courtyard full of dogs and cats and their owner (a lady) that talks or yells at them day and night! (They’ve been trying to move for 2 months now – a serious matter of prayer with each day that goes by!)
  • Our WC or toilet room has walls black with mold and lousy ventilation. I can’t tolerate this much longer, and am hoping to get someone who can climb the roof and get to the source of the problem soon!! Oh, and did I mention that there isn’t a real door? Because of it’s tight location there’s a plastic accordion door that doesn’t offer one iota of sound-proofing!

David and I are enjoying some honeymoon time during these first few weeks of school because for the first time our children are gone all day and neither of us is occupied full-time…yet. He starts his day prayer-walking Soultz, then mornings tackling a million and one administrative tasks. Moving to a new town in France is like moving to a new state in America – and it’s great to have the time to get things in order, esp. since we have to figure it all out on our own, and it’s all done in a French with a bloated bureaucracy. I’m spending a lot more time in the kitchen and going from store to store as we try to pare down the grocery bills. And for the first time I need to be making sure there is always something for the kids to pack for lunch. (French elementary schools never have cafeterias, but happily, our school does have a room with tables and microwaves.) David and I are putting our seminar tips to use and enjoy some quality time together without the interruption of children during our lunch hour now! Afternoons are spent trying to tackle another problem with the house or adding another French worship song to our repertoire or learning the rules of the road with our driving school software or writing e-mails. But this peaceful routine will be changing soon as we become more involved in the ministry of the kid’s school and the relational network behind it, that join many like-minded believers all over France and beyond.

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College (Middle School) Daniel and staff residence School is CoolElementary building and grounds

Last night we were invited to attend a meeting with the middle school teachers concerning their frustration about the chapel service for the students. They accepted our offer to lead the worship each week, and the excitement, vision, and flood of ideas that followed kept me up most of the night! Lemme at ’em, Lord! Their cool facade is a lot thinner than it looks! And more importantly we see this as just a seed of a much bigger vision of a house of worship and prayer for the nations!

The school also needed a volunteer to introduce English once a week to Noah’s fifth grade class, so he and I will teach together, modeling conversation and allowing him the chance to be the expert! Because his teacher lives in our village and his wife teaches the music, and his daughter is a playmate of Olivia, we were invited to their home for coffee one evening! What an incredible blessing to have a friendship with my children’s teachers! I never thought that could happen in this country after the cool, intimidating receptions we have received up till now!

Among the students, there are several who live too far away to drive the commute every morning, so local families volunteer to host them 2-3 nights a week. We are privileged to welcome 3 nights-a-week a lively and adorable 13 yr. old pianist and whipped cream lover named Priscilla, who lives on a farm and shares her family produce with us every week! (And she highly recommends whipped cream on your applesauce!) She’s getting some good English immersion and we hope she can start to contribute to our dinner hour banter in a couple of months! We also hope to adopt a couple of her available kittens soon!

As for our own girls, Rachel had a very overwhelming first week – and who could blame her – her third middle school in 3 years! To add to her pressure, ninth grade in this system is the year before high school when all your studies are aimed at passing a big national test called the Brevet at the end of the year. The results are no longer used to decide which high school track a student should take, but the test is still given, perhaps for national school evaluation. In addition, Rachel cannot enter a French high school here without 4 yrs of study in 2 foreign languages. Obviously, English is covered, but she’s only had one year of Italian, which isn’t offered here. So she’s being asked catch up with her 4 classmates, who are in their 4th yr. of German, by studying independently during English classes. As lovers of the language, she and David are enjoying this challenge together!! I can see that she is already flourishing in this positive spiritual climate where the Christian world-view is compared to humanistic French life and thought. We are sorry that she can only enjoy one year here before moving on to high school, whether it be here, in Britain, in Germany, or in the States! Musically, she’s starting her 3rd year of violin today at the beautiful music school nearby, and it turns out that her teacher is a believer! She is also very excited about playing in a student orchestra that is included in her tuition.

Olivia continues to be Miss Popularity “because I’m a peacemaker,” she says! The neighborhood girls came swarming to the house daily during summer break and classmates are crestfallen when Olivia stays home sick. David and I never enjoyed this kind of favor in third grade! Is this our child? She wants to continue with piano, but we’ve got to find one for her to practice on first. This will be a good prayer focus for her to see how God provides! She had to sign a contract at the beginning of the year promising to be the best student she could be with God’s help, but what she really loved was that her teacher also gave her a signed promise that he would be the best teacher that he could be with God’s help! She also loves wearing house slippers in class all day, as all the kids do, to cut down on the janitorial load that is carried by the parents and teachers! And you’ll never guess where she went on her first field trip… to learn about and pick mushrooms! Only in France…

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Next month I’ll share more about the town and region we living in!

Until then…Grace and Peace!
Angela and Co.

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