A (Holi)Day in the Life – Nov 2006

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!

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Only in France…

(A collection of Angela’s favorite food anecdotes)


At the onset of fall in America, stores are suddenly decorated with leaves and pumpkins and apples for the teachers. Here, the theme is the grape harvest. The big chain grocery store sends out a 27-page flyer this time every year to advertise the wines that are mature and ready to sell, and it includes a wine pre-order form with enough lines for 30 different items! Many are under $5 a bottle and apparently, this is when you buy your favorite in bulk to enjoy all year – “Buy a carton of 5 and get the sixth bottle free!” My favorite is the “new wine.” It’s only sold this month and it comes unsealed, with just a foil cap over the mouth of the bottle, so you have to take it home very carefully. Not yet fermented, it tastes just like a fizzy grape juice.

It’s also the time of year when people start handing me bags of wild plums and other local fruit that is falling from the trees. I’m noticing that most women make homemade jam, since it is an everyday breakfast staple, and they expect me to do the same. (Evidently, the grape is too sacred for such mundane use as grape jelly is non-existent.) Well, when I explained to one woman that I’ve never made jam and didn’t want to spend the money on canning jars, she said you could actually use any recycled food jar. (And I’d been wondering why the French never throw away a jar…)

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The Summer Review

Family Blessings

The Leigh’s summer started off with a bang on June 29th with the visit of Chris, their 24 yr. old niece. As an interior design student, seeing European architecture in person was a thrill, and the Leighs were equally thrilled to have a family member participate in the 20th anniv. school fete!Our House A generous gift from her Sunday school class enabled the Leighs to buy paint and flowers to brighten up the facade. Angela admits, “It gives me great joy to own the prettiest house on the street!”

Just a few days after Chris’ departure, Rachel turned 17 with the family at a beautiful abbey/restaurant in the countryside. Rachel claims that it was her best birthday ever, as readers responded to the request in our May issue and all her boarding school needs were met, including a new computer!

August Activities

David and Rachel took off on the day of their departure to walk the last third of a 450-mile prayer walk of the borders of Alsace, a concept based on Joshua 1:3, and loosely organized by our church. The heat wave was replaced by many consecutive days of rain, but David states, “The walk was everything I thought it would be and more – physically challenging, relationally rich, and spiritually stretching.”

Shown here: Five different nationalities stopping at a spiritually strategic place for prayer in the Vosges mountains.Praying during Les Marches d'Alsace

The remainder of August was filled with child care in exchange for free home repair and preparing Rachel for boarding school. Her parents moved her in one week ago, and it was clear when they left her 5 hrs. later that this was the best choice. As anticipated, she is finding her classes relatively easy as compared to her European courses, and she feeling very at home surrounded by caring staff and missionary kids.

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Rachel: Rooted and Grounded

In 3 short months, Rachel will be embarking on yet another life change – moving to Black Forest Academy (BFA): an American college-prep boarding school in Germany for missionary kids. We asked her to lend a hand in producing this month’s newsletter so that you could get a better picture of how well she has bloomed in French soil!

Rachel's 'Kadinsky' self-portraitWhen she was born, I envisioned my little Colorado columbine firmly potted at home under my loving tutelage for the duration of her childhood. Ten years later, she turned into a tumbleweed, gladly rolling with the wind of the Spirit over the Atlantic. She has vivid, sweet memories of Denver, but is even happier to have been transplanted in Europe.

We saw her musical gifting by the time she was 2, and playing her violin and percussion brings her great joy and many accolades. This year she has benefited from a wonderful Christian violin teacher at a music school housed in an ancient abbey – an inspiring place in which to play! She is a member of the youth worship team called Fireproof, and also contributes when David and I lead worship. She is motivated to practice her scales in order to play with confidence during improvised worship ministry moments, and she would love to spend a year in the future at the Forerunner Music Academy (assoc. with the International House of Prayer in K.C.) for more prophetic worship training.

Rachel's Purity RingWe planted her on the straight and narrow path of purity when she turned 13. Though she hadn’t “fallen in love” yet, we gave her a ring to wear as a reminder that Jesus could love her better than anyone, that He knew who she would marry, and that she could trust Him to bring them together without walking through the minefield of dating. A year later, she lost that ring, but has stayed on the path, journaling her sometimes-jumbled emotions and receiving Jesus’ loving perspective. Last year we started looking for a replacement ring to celebrate her baptism and 16th birthday, and the Irish Claddaugh ring design jumped out at her, as it perfectly symbolized her heart in God’s hands. Lucky girl, living in France means she still gets “kissed” daily as a greeting by all her good-looking friends!

Her 9th grade classes in France didn’t translate well to an American transcript, so Rachel has had to use this year to fill some 9th grade holes and fulfill the 10th grade credit minimum using an on-line school. She and David have spent lots of time in front of their computers together discussing her school questions while he grades her work. Her college major will be in the area of graphic design.

Rachel's Radical CompanionsStudying at home this past year has also allowed her to put her spiritual life in first place, and we have been privileged to see that lived out day-to-day. Responding to a God-birthed vision last fall, Rachel and some other teens started a local high school Bible club. She has been an invaluable team member, esp. since her school hours were so much more flexible. She produced the print communication, met daily to pray, and created Bible studies for small group discussions. She was also key in organizing an evening last week for all those involved in Bible clubs in the region to come together for the very first time. She overcame her natural timidity, and spoke in front of the 80 attendees in French on Christian unity. She had a website up and running a few days later to facilitate relational connections after the event. The teens are still basking in the afterglow of a wildly successful night!

Rachel giving 'Unity' talk at Bible club eveningRachel has been the ideal teenager for a family living on a shoestring: she doesn’t talk on the phone, doesn’t eat much, shares our tastes in music, doesn’t want salon haircuts or make-up, is happy with second hand clothes, uses her bike to get around instead of our gas, is (almost) always available to help out with the housework, and as a bonus, is very close to her brother and sister!

So what’s missing in this picture? The bane of most missionary kids: a best friend to share her days with. But after being “the exotic transplant” for the last 4 years, at BFA she’ll be transformed into a pea among other MK “peas in a pod.” And even though she’s in Germany, she’ll only be an hour away, coming home one weekend a month. All of us are eager to see what God has waiting for her there! We’ve up-dated her wish list page, just in case you would like to help provide for some of her boarding school needs or fete her upcoming 17th birthday in July…

A summer full of visitors starts this week!

April Showers Bring…

Easter vacation! The bakeries were selling sugar-dusted lamb cakes and all the shops here were closed Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Monday. With the streets deserted, it was a very quiet weekend for us village-dwellers, and we tried to take advantage of the time for spiritual and physical renewal. We have discovered that French evangelicals do not share America’s enthusiasm for spectacular Easter services. I have been told that not only is it a knee-jerk reaction in trying to distance themselves from Catholic traditions, but also no one expects a big turn-out, as “spring break” always falls around Easter, and people leave town to visit family. Our church has held a Sat. night service 2 yr. in a row, with focus on worship and communion, and our congregation actually prefers it because that gives them Sunday morning to prepare the big meal, which is the most important part of the holiday here. With the kids getting older and no yard, we’ve started new Easter traditions: At least one of the kid’s Easter baskets contains a family DVD that we’ve waited for ages to come out in France. So we sleep in late, find the baskets, have a pancake breakfast, and then stay in our p.j.s and cocoon in front of the movie while nibbling chocolates all afternoon! Then Rachel and I throw together an easy spring meal at about 4pm while we talk about the movie. This year it was “Because of Winn Dixie,” and I consider it a miracle that I found it here locally, as I never saw it come out in the theaters! What a gem… I need to pass it around to all our French friends who have never heard of it. We were loaned Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and “ate” that one up too! ;^) Then since it was a mild evening and the rain had stopped, we finished off the evening with a family walk to a big parking lot where the kids have lots of smooth space for roller-blading and scootering.

This beats the perfect Easters I tried to create when the kids were young with new matching outfits for all the Kodak moments, a fully decorated house, a beautiful meal, a special Sunday school lesson (if I was teaching), Christ-themed Easter baskets, egg-hunting parties. etc., etc…. I’M FREE! “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a perfectionist like me…”

  • The 'Gumdrop Kitten' has some! New kittens! Yes, about the time I was writing about Gumdrop, she had gotten pregnant! She was so petite that we (me…not David) thought she was too young to worry about pregnancy, and then she started getting rounder and rounder. Yesterday she had a sudden change in personality which apparently is a sign of imminent delivery. (Thank God you can “cram” on the internet for the info you need in times like these!) She wanted to be held and petted incessantly and started “talking” to us for the first time. We decided she’d be most comfortable back in the warm laundry room, and she happily took to the box and easily delivered 3 black kittens within the next couple of hours. It was a magical experience that I’d always wanted my kids to have, but we are happy that there are only 3 to find homes for, and we would be blessed to have someone help with the cost of Gumdrop’s sterilization! (This same day we had to spend too much to have Kizzy’s foot sutured!)
  • A Lego exhibit! Noah has started declaring how much he loves our village – and here’s why: We have a very nice toy museum just around the corner, but up till now, the special exhibits that would merit another visit consisted of archaic European brands of toys that he had never heard of, much less appreciate! Now that Legos have finally arrived, with the added bonus of a building contest, this has become Noah’s Mecca! On a more spiritual level, he really enjoys his youth group for pre-teens and is an eager contributer in worship with a hand drum in our percussion corner.
  • The 'Gumdrop Kitten' has some! Courtyard destruction! This view behind our house looks more like the Middle-East than Alsace right now! The owner of the courtyard, whose apt. faces us has decided to do away with an old stable-like structure that stood there. The problem is that the stable loft also sheltered our toilet room, which is an ugly concrete block cell under the blue tarp in the photo. When all the rubble is cleared away, we need to get some manpower in there to build a new structure around it. While we’re at it, we need to paint the back of our house, which we never see and have no free access to, but is an eye-sore that the neighbors have to look at everyday. Happily, a young American studying at a Bible college in England found us on the internet, and he wants to come and do some work for us soon!
  • Angela’s first “message!” I remember when my mother-in-law asked me when I was going to start fulfilling Titus 2:4, as an older woman “training younger women (to be model wives and mothers) so that no one would malign the word of God.” My reply was, “When someone asks me to!” and I wasn’t holding my breath with my French still in process! But it happened this month, and I discovered that this was THE best way to increase spiritual revelation and French vocabulary at the same time! It was also the first time that I didn’t have a French person look it over first, and I was still able to convey my heart and connect with this group of women for a solid hour! Hallelujah!! I took a lot of ideas from the Eldredges’ (best-selling Christian authors) latest book, “Captivating-Unveiling the Mystery of the Feminine Soul.” Any other fans out there? A must read for every woman! (And it is heart-breaking how few good books like these are translated into French!)
  • Leaning on His Resurrection Power,