We hope you all, our Americans readers, had a blessed Thanksgiving holiday surrounded by those you love the most. (Because Thanksgiving fell on a migraine-prone time of the month for me, I decided it would be wise to avoid the stress of inviting guests over this year, and I’m glad I did.) Our week was typical, and yet interesting enough that we thought this would be a good time to send out “A Day in the Life of a Missionary” newsletter.
- Wednesday: Because we don’t have school that day, I did my baking, and we had the “pumpkin / pecan pie” part of the meal that evening. I made some extra for a family to thank them for doing some printing for us while our printer was in for repairs, which usually means that I will have to translate the recipes into metric because they will want the recipe – such an educational, yet excruciating French exercise! Pumpkin can be found at a high quality “frozen foods only” store as puree frozen in cubes, and one pie ends up costing me about $6 homemade. Mental note: Buy extra cans when we go back to America for next year.
David went into school, like he does every Wed. morning, because he can get lots of computer work done on the school network without everyone around interrupting him. Olivia spent the morning doing homework and practicing piano, and then she has her music theory class in the afternoon, followed by giving free piano lessons to her neighbor friends! Noah took advantage of the mild weather we’ve been having, and took a spin on his new (used) bike that we got him last month as an early birthday present. He’s thrilled to have wheels again after 2 years without, and he’s getting a lot more exercise!
- Thursday (Thanksgiving Day): In the morning, David helped me get my Thanksgiving booklet to come out of the printer correctly for English class distribution that afternoon. When I arrived at school, I was greeted by various teachers and announced it was Thanksgiving Day. The next question invariably is, “You know, I’ve heard of that, but what are you celebrating exactly?” And so I take a deep breath, and my mission to enlighten and educate begins before I even get into the classroom. My students’ taste of Thanksgiving was broadened this year with the recent availability of Ocean Spray products. Cranberries and cranberry juice are the new taste sensations this year, and for the fun of it, I let them taste a real cranberry and then some cranberry Knox Blox (robust gelatin that can be eaten with fingers.) They also got a generic version of CornNuts while we talked about Squanto, and a piece of pumpkin “tart” for the finale. It’s all very affirming when they gobble down these American novelties, but it also inevitably means more recipe conversions!
In the meantime, David was preparing for his computer maintenance workshop for his group of 7 boys. They are harvesting parts from older donated computers, configuring newer ones, and just generally learning about what’s inside! After my class, the director talked to me about creating a big poster to inform parents about our year-long school projects based on the theme of water. Our biggest projects are raising money to build a well in the Sahara desert with a Swiss organization, going one full day without running water, and creating a huge mural about water conservation on the exterior wall of our multi-purpose room.
Noah had archery that evening and we both had lots to prepare for Friday, so we didn’t celebrate as a family that night.
- Friday: Every Friday afternoon, we go to one of the middle school classrooms to involve them in preparing for our chapel worship time on Monday morning. This week it was the 12-13 yr. olds. I’d found some wide fabric streamers boxed up in the attic of the chateau, and decided to have the kids move with them for one of our songs, and then we worked on percussion skills for the other 2.
My bi-weekly decor workshop followed on the heels of that, meaning I kept 8 girls busy for the last 2 hours of the day, working on 4 different Christmas craft projects for decorating the school next week. David was doing his computer workshop with the 7 boys, and we both came home too tired to think about celebrating then. We’re both relieved those were our last workshop sessions until the spring trimester, when we volunteered to do an English club!
- Saturday: David spent the morning building some bunk beds and wardrobes for our Algerian family friends that were moving to the next village. And since the only food left in the house by Saturday were the frozen turkey cutlets, bacon-bundled green beans, and finger potatoes, I overcame my headache and managed a small Thanksgiving meal with candles and china that afternoon, greatly missing an encore dessert and Rachel, of course.
Afterwards, David and I got some fresh air and walked into town to pick up some eggs and get my migraine drug prescription refilled. On the way home, I stopped by the house of an Italian family from school to pick up an Italian DVD I’d lent them. She invited me in, and the 2 of us have to communicate with each other in our second language, instead of our first, but it works! She is eager to join me in some of my future cleaning and organizing work at the school – she’s cleaning houses right now, and like me, those kinds of tasks give her lots of satisfaction. I have her 5 yr. old for English and enjoy asking him the Italian word for things when I’m teaching to validate his own language.
At 5 p.m. we had our weekly prayer meeting with the other worship leaders for church the next day. Because my drugs hadn’t kicked in yet, I bowed out, and we both went to bed early in order to be fresh for leading worship.
- Sunday: We got to church an hour early for set-up and warm-up. Most French churches cannot pay someone to clean their small churches, so families do it in turns. Our church is no different, but a lot of weeks it doesn’t get done, mainly because people just forget to do it. Today it was especially bad, so while David got the sound up and running, I start sweeping and FORGIVING the kids that trashed the Sunday school room and whomever didn’t clean up after them!
Keeping a check on my attitude was rewarded in full, as after the service, a family handed David an envelope while discussing sound system issues. I waited and opened it up in the car and 600 euros fell into my lap!! All 4 of us sang the Doxology on the drive home to express our thanks to God for more miraculous provision: Added to another recent large gift, it was just what we needed to be able to bless another family in need and also order the bifocals that David has put off getting for almost 2 years!
After lunch, we left the kids at home and went back to church for a special meeting. There are those in our church here who have become established in roles of responsibility in areas such as worship, youth ministry, and cell groups. At the same time the leadership council in the church has desired more input and feedback in the direction of the church. On Sunday afternoon, those two realities united and several of us were prayed into a second circle of leadership. We are so blessed to be able to serve and lead with people who challenge us with their level of faith, hope, and love amidst all the challenges of running a church and Christian school in “hostile territory.” Below are their beautiful faces.
It was a wonderful ending to a holiday weekend, and Rachel’s was equally exciting, but that’s another newsletter. In a nutshell, she’s living life to the fullest!
Wishing all of you His Peace during this frantic season,
P.S. Our trip back to the States in 4 months is starting to take shape. So far, our supporters have covered 2 plane tickets and some inter-continental air miles. Free transportation & housing while in Kansas City is also looking positive!