I want to dedicate this month’s newsletter to Larry McKim and Laurie Spicer who passed away on the same day earlier this month. Larry and his wife Penny have been our faithful financial supporters from the day of our departure for Europe and hosted the church missions support group for a season. Laurie was a faithful reader who never failed to reply to every newsletter with an encouraging comment, even while battling cancer. We will miss them both.
September is the month when we ask God to help us lay out a new schedule for the school year. Keeping our focus sharp and narrow for the long haul is always a challenge. This year our roles could best be described as the title above, in that we’re cleaning up dirty spaces of all kinds. There isn’t a good translation for "janitor" in French. The dictionary offers "gardien" and "concierge," but those sound like positions with some semblance of authority over the building. (The French words are probably closer to what I’m writing about this month, but "Concierges for Christ" sounds a bit stuffy.)
This summer I saw a real jump in my joy, energy, and intimacy with God, so I was ready to give more at school this year, but I didn’t know where. Then two hours before Back-To-School night, I learned that the woman who had organized all the school cleaning for the last couple of years had quit. Keeping in mind that we have no school janitor, I quickly came up with a simpler way to organize the parent volunteers, because it looked like this task would fall on me. (The director had called me the day before asking for help without knowing the ball had been dropped completely.) Knowing that this meeting is the only time we have most of the parents all in one room, I knew that an enthusiastic American pep talk was key to getting parents on board and jump-starting a cleaning schedule. So David blessed my Martha anointing from his sick bed, and I dashed off to the meeting, unable to get ahold of the director to warn him of my rash decision. Based on the applause following my 3-minute speech, I think I made an impact and at least everyone knows who I am now! With the blessing of the directors and Jesus making the yoke light, I’m having fun creating attractive correspondence and posters (+ making sure that each area is well-stocked with supplies) to make it feel more like teamwork than indentured servanthood. The humbling part is that everything I write has to be proofread by a French person! Out of 75 families, 22 serve the school in alternate ways and 17 are unavailable (so they opt to pay a $200 fee instead.) This leaves me with 36 moms to organize, 16 of whom have still made no commitment 2 weeks later. I don’t know if that’s an improvement or not, but Jesus has it under control!
By continuing in our role as worship leaders, we are still cleaning up the spiritual atmosphere of the country. Most of time we’re breaking out in a sweat while we do it on Sunday mornings, which means our job must not be done, and I sweat just as much while I continue to do the monthly cleaning of our physical sanctuary! Our church body also seems to be in a season of bringing the dirt into the light. It is considered taboo to interfere in private family life here and attending courses for help is an admission of failure, so they suffer in silence until it is too late. Because several quiet families have suddenly imploded in dramatic ways in the last few months, the elders are eager to start the inner healing ministry next month. We’re seeing the spirit of death trying to invade our school families too, and hope to use our tools to clean out that domain as well!
David is continuing in his IT role at school. His current conundrum is that when he turns on an internet content filter for the student computers, it disrupts the wireless connection in the chateau that is vital for the profs and residents, who all use laptops. The enemy is obviously involved in that mess and David is still trying to find the most efficient product to deal with it. On that note, I volunteered to keep the computer room floor swept so that I could intercede at the same time, joining David in taking spiritual authority over this corner of the chateau. We also continue to enjoy well-timed extra pocket money earned by cleaning out dirty PCs for reasonable rates.
Olivia has also jumped in on the cleaning frenzy at many levels: from new levels of personal hygiene habits to replacing facebook time with God time. We’ve also removed the stress of music school this year and bathe in listening to her play and sing worship songs in the evenings instead. We are hosting her classmate Pauline 2 nights/week again this year and hope to have a greater impact on her life. After a year, she’s suddenly gotten a breakthrough in understanding us during casual conversation and we hope this is a prophetic sign for more in other areas of her life!
With new teammates arriving this year, our cleaning power will be even more effective – so stay tuned for the results!
Love, Angela Joy