"Consider it pure joy, my brethren, when you face (terrible, horrible, no good, very bad) trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
If your kids were born after 1970, you are probably familiar with an award-winning children’s book resembling my title. Being a children’s literature fan, I couldn’t resist borrowing it to describe where my last newsletter left off (as if that wasn’t bad enough.)
But let’s start on a happy note: (In late Sept.) Olivia and her 4 classmates had a ball in Budapest. Let me remind you that there was only ONE Christian high school in all of France until we opened up a 10th grade class a couple of years ago. Can you imagine how ostracized these kids feel here? So it was a breath of fresh air to hang out with kids from 30 other mainly eastern European Christian schools for 4 days. The English-only leadership conference didn’t bother them at all – just warmed them up for my class that started when they got back.
This is the teaching job I’ve been waiting for my whole life: no discipline problems, only 2 teaching hours/week, and free to create my own curriculum based on a children’s book! How I’ve missed transmitting my passion for books to children here. So I chose The Tale of Despereaux as our text for the first semester, reading most of it aloud, and they are eating it up! I supplement with worksheets I’ve created to help them see the Biblical truths hidden throughout, while mastering vocabulary related to the world of mice and rats living in a castle. This setting makes remarkable parallels to the Protestant church in France! Read it and weep. As you will see, this class has been one of the few bright spots since I wrote last.
The grand total for Sept.’s gall bladder nightmare (5 consultations, endoscopy, blood work, ultrasound, 2 ambulance rides, laparoscopic surgery, 6 nights, and meds) was under $800! However, David started going downhill again last month and this time the culprit was a UTI. Not wanting to feel left out, I got a yeast infection, my sozo team leader started fighting appendicitis symptoms, and our head intercessor was battling terrible side effects after hip replacement surgery. Hopelessness hit David in a rare attack, and I’m sorry to say that with a well-timed string of migraines, I went down with him! Thank God the Richards were arriving mid-month as reinforcements, providing daily worship/prayer coverage that has helped strengthen all of us, despite Janet’s own physical struggle with a broken wrist.
Towards the end of this trial, (which we were not considering "pure joy," my brethren,) my pastor’s wife called to ask if I would keep a visiting Australian director in Christian education for a week. I was her last hope, so what could I say? God gave me the grace to accommodate him and his easy presence lifted our morale. But towards the end of his stay, a tragedy hit that brought us down again. I was happily decorating the church to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for our next 4 hr. worship tabernacle. Then my cell phone rang and we learned that a father of 3, whose extended family I’ve mentioned here before, had died of a sudden heart attack at work. So much for celebrating. The mother of this man and his daughter and nieces all came to worship that night anyway – what a beautiful sacrifice of worship that was for all of us.
Our guest wanted to take the school leadership team out to dinner the following evening before he left, but David and I weren’t feeling well enough to attend. Disappointed in missing the chance to enjoy a restaurant meal, we were taken by surprise when handed a monetary gift from him after his departure, in US dollars! It is tucked away for our trip back next summer to move Noah over.
Then our terrible, horrible October finally ended… with an alarmingly small support deposit. Enough to eat on, but the bills would have to wait. We had also planned to visit Noah on the 1st, after 2 1/2 months apart. I wanted to celebrate his 18th birthday a month early, while the fall leaves were peaking and the sun was shining. A visit to the Basel Zoo was at the top of his wish list. (And fortunately, I had bought his birthday gift (red t-shirt below) far in advance!) With one glance at the bank acct., David was nixing all expenditures except the gas to get there. A head v. heart argument ensued that the enemy wanted to snowball, but then we got the victory: The HS convicted me of my wrong attitudes in the argument and I apologized. Then I blessed his head while he blessed my heart. Then I laid our plans on the altar. When we arrived at BFA, Noah admitted he had a lot of homework and the zoo sounded like too much to bite off. We smiled at each other and drove to a beautiful park with a pedestrian bridge that spans the Rhine River where Switzerland, France and Germany meet. We fed a bevy of swans, enjoyed an ice cream cone and watched the kids run and jump and climb on every available surface. We got him back early to start homework before dinner and stayed for a free meal at the dorm.
The rest of the week, money trickled in daily: a computer repair job, a small property tax refund, web site work for an old client, anonymous cash in our mailbox, a paypal donation. And the icing on the cake today was receiving our national identity cards for the French health system with a chip that streamlines the processing of any medical treatment!
Here’s hoping that we have passed all the perseverance testing scheduled for 2011!!