The July Journal

Rachel baptized by Pastor Luc and an elder of our church hereRachel Leigh, accompanied by 15 other daring youth, proclaimed publicly that they would follow hard after Jesus at Raven Lake in the Vosges Mountains on Sunday, July 3. The sun broke through the cool, cloudy morning at the moment the baptisms started taking place, taken as a sign that God was amongst the many picnicking witnesses that day.

The following Sunday, Rachel celebrated her 16th birthday in the company of her paternal grandparents, who came laden with gifts from the family. Three days later, Rachel attended a youth camp that is run by visiting Americans in France every year.

“It was a phenomenal four days packed with special experiences. I received so much!” she exclaimed.

Angela and Olivia were home alone together celebrating their first 14th of July in France together, while remaining family members enjoyed a tour of Normandy.

“For a small town, Soultz put on a great Bastille Day celebration,” Angela shared. “There was food, drinks, and paper lanterns for the children to carry on a long stick, as well as a dance floor and band. The fireworks started at 11 pm and were lit from the steeple of the cathedral and accompanied by a moving soundtrack, smoke and lighting that made me feel like I was re-living 1789.”

“Normandy was a very emotional experience for me,” said Florence Leigh after viewing several WWII sites that included her cousin’s grave.

Reunited a week later, bags were re-packed for a week in Switzerland staffing a camp for YWAM alumni and friends. The Leighs were invited to help with worship responsibilities, and assigned participants verses to present in a creative way throughout the week.

Florence and Jim and Mathias act out their verse about hope while Olivia looks onDavid shares, “I saw the fingerprint of God in each group’s unique presentation. Their creativity was astounding!”

Rachel enjoyed teaching the 5-9s and made new friends with the Swiss youth with whom she worked. Noah Leigh, 11, struggled with the menu, but enjoyed starring in a movie with the other 11-13s and a visit to a local cave. Olivia Leigh, her sister, her mother, and her grandmother performed “Chopsticks” with boomwhackers for a talent night to an enthusiastic audience.

Jeff Fountain, director of YWAM Europe from New Zealand, spoke from his book, “Living as People of Hope,” offering compelling scenarios for the future of Europe. His Dutch wife Romkje shared lessons learned from working alongside Corrie Ten Boom, among other topics.

Florence and Jim Leigh got a taste of the best of YWAM in a multi-cultural setting surrounded by the clanging of cowbells:

“There wasn’t a thing we didn’t agree with or enjoy – a delightful week,” they exclaimed.

Back in Soultz the following day, Angela bumped into a woman who is the president of an organization for French adult children of American G.I.s. She expressed great interest about taking some English lessons from Angela, but of course the Leighs see a group of candidates for the ministry of reconciliation!

Vive Les Vacances!

We are ready for summer after a gray, rainy, depressing April-May! Life has been lighter for all of us this past month and that explains why you’re getting this newsletter now and not a month ago! Here were the joys of June:

  • The finale of the year was the big school fête!This is an amazing combination of fund-raiser, cookout, carnival, and talent show. (And it beat the public school fêtes that we’ve attended hands down!) I ran a used children’s book stand and David helped out with sound and musical accompaniment. In a musical tribute to Europe, Noah represented France and Olivia was Greece, and Rachel joyfully contributed her musical talents throughout. 12 hours of fun in the sun!
  • The children finished a wonderful academic year last week. Olivia has already made her own calendar so that she can count the days until school starts up again. Noah is excited about starting middle school because that means he will start learning more complex science topics! (He is so done with categorizing plants and animals!) Rachel just finished her two 8hr. days of those daunting Brevet tests and they were a breeze! She is now looking forward to 10th grade by correspondence (to catch up on her academic English) and her junior and senior years at Black Forest Academy- an American MK school in Germany. David and I had a great time getting the middle-schoolers to worship creatively each week for their chapel time. The teachers shared yesterday that the students really benefited from this time and they appreciate our commitment and enthusiasm. We look forward to doing even more next year.
  • We hosted 2 British prophets last week who intercede for cities. They came to help us better pray for our region and were such a wonderful encouragement to us as a family. 
  • For $700/month you too can get a kitchen of this size in Paris (5th floor - no elevator)I got to escape to Paris to see my French friend (Corinne) and an old American friend (both of 20 yrs.) on the same trip. What a gift it was on so many levels: financially, the 3 days and nights were covered by friends; spiritually, I had more time to talk with Corinne about her spiritual questions; emotionally, I was able to shake off the roles of wife, mother, and teacher for a few days and just be “me” again. Hallelujah!
  • God continues to take care of us with weekly financial miracles. We are still living with our “visitor” status, which means we still don’t have the right to work, nor receive the government benefits that everyone else does to counter the high cost of living. So we remain very dependent on the Lord for now, esp. this month (July) when our bills come in demanding $2000 more than usual. Hallelujah!
  • We have our new website on-line! Same address, new look, and updated! I even have my own page now!
  • Happy 4th to all our American friends! We’re very excited that we’ll get to see some summer fireworks for the first time in 5 years in a couple of weeks (Britain does theirs in the winter!) July will be chock-full of other good things as well (see our web calendar.) Can’t wait to tell you all about them!

Angela and family



Wanted to share a little culture shock esp. with you Americans this month, as we are enjoying our spring break in high spirits …

And as introduction to my first topic, I need to reveal my love affair with books. My first real job at 16 was cleaning and re-shelving books at the local library, and some of my fondest memories of pre-missionary motherhood were the mornings when I took the children to our big, beautiful neighborhood library for armloads of free books to enhance our home schooling. Here in France, the thrill is gone, but the language barrier is not the only reason! Below are some “unfriendly” details from a friendly-looking brochure of one of our local libraries:

Shock #1: An adult library card will set you back $10! (Half-price for kids’ cards, and you must have parental authorization if under 18.) And if you aren’t a local resident, your card will cost you almost double.

Shock #2: Adults have a limit of 5 reg. books, but a limit of 7 comic books (comic novels for adults are big here in France)! (Children also have a 5-book limit, with a limit of 3 comic books.)

Shock #3: Our library is actually a tall, narrow converted house: the basement houses 3 computers, the comic books for adults, the CDs, the CD-ROMs, and the DVDs. There is always music playing in the background and it is usually something atonal, making it difficult to relax and look things over. The collection for adults is in the living/dining room/kitchen, and the children’s section is upstairs, of course!

Shock #4: The hours – every single day is different!

  • Sun.& Mon.: Closed
  • Tues: 2-7
  • Wed.: 9-12 & 2-6
  • Thurs.: 2-6
  • Fri.: 9-12 & 2-7
  • Sat.: 9-12 only!

Could it possibly be more complicated? Thank God for!

Awhile back, I described the joys of French doctors. Since then, we’ve visited the ophthalmologist and the dentist, and I’ve got to share some details, as their culture shock rating is almost as high as the library’s. Doctors and dentists are easy to find in France because they all have engraved golden plaques attached to the entrance their office. The eye doctor was in an unfamiliar town, and we found ourselves driving in circles in a residential neighborhood, peering through the rain hunting for that gold plaque. This one was attached below eye level on the front gate of an average-looking home. After making sure it wasn’t a library, we entered and found 2 more doors. The one on the left opened into a waiting room, complete with a bathroom. The dr. welcomed us in shortly and she was very short, very round and very friendly (i.e. tries to speak English.) We walked past her kitchen and into the “den,” which was where her desk and equipment was. After our exams we handed her a $60 check and left through the 2nd door in the entry with our prescriptions, but I felt like I had just visited my favorite auntie, and wouldn’t have been surprised if she had offered us a piece of pie on the way out!

Fortunately, our dentist is just down the street, making a potentially dreaded visit rather pleasant without the worries of finding the place or a parking spot. His name is Guy LeDieu (The God Guy), seriously. Again there is no receptionist or even a hygienist. You go directly into the waiting room and wait your turn until he beckons you into his office. He keeps the lights low, which is good, because it doesn’t have that comforting, new, sterile feel that you get in the US. His desk is on one end and one worn out patient chair on the other. He cleans up after the last patient, using regular dinner napkins instead of those sturdy blue sheets, and you don’t get your protective napkin-bib either. And when it’s time rinse with the paper cup and spit into the porcelain bowl, he hands you a napkin to mop up then. He likes to try to communicate in English when I’m having a hard time following him, but his accent is so strong and his vocabulary so limited that I keep speaking in French and hope he’ll revert back! But I bless his little heart because it is a rare and beautiful gift to hear a French person humble himself to speak your language. Afterwards I sit down in front of his desk, which is littered with a frightening assembly of plaster mouth castings, and write him a small check while we schedule another appt. (We are slowly replacing all my old fillings.) On the short walk home I “stop and smell the roses” outside the florist shop, pick up some fresh bread at the bakery for dinner, and the spring in my step has returned by the time I reach the house.

And finally, a surprising update on my driver’s license. It turns out that the one issued to me last July from Valence had mistakes on it, not to mention that my address had changed. The government office sent me a letter saying they made a mistake, and I needed to bring it in to have the points adjusted. (You start with 6 points that can be lost for infractions, but foreigners are graced with 12, and I had only been given 6.) That was in Sept. So this month I finally found the time and inclination to drive to Colmar to get it taken care of and I was well rewarded for my efforts because my old license also had an expiration of 2007, and I was already dreading the renewal process. But the bureaucrats here told me that a French license never expires, so that date was eliminated from my new one! And whereas I had waited 4 months to get my first one processed, this one arrived at my door in a week! We are SO called to this region…

Speaking of which, one day I was driving all over it, following a couple of teachers to collect free cardboard from paper factories. It was a beautiful morning and we were taking quiet curving country roads. Suddenly I started feeling guilty about this license that was so freely given with so much faith, as I noticed that the paint lines on the road were changing constantly from short and thick and close together, to long and thin and far apart, and then solid, and then short and far apart, and so on. I remember that there are half a dozen different dashes to denote different road hazards and warnings, but I haven’t quite learned them yet, and it feels like the road is trying frantically to send me a message in Morse code while I’m cruising along oblivious to any danger. Though we never passed another vehicle, I returned feeling somewhat lucky to be alive, and when I talked to the teachers about it, they didn’t even know that the dashes needed to be decoded…Oh my!

No we’re not in Kansas anymore, and wouldn’t life be dull if we were…


David’s Dossier Declassified


Since our last newsletter, David bravely took on several challenging assignments back-to-back, while Angela kept the home fires burning. Let’s review his files, shall we?

Feb. 15-24, 2005 Soultz

OBJECTIVE:Rescue a group of 16 Midwestern Christian high school Americans with 6 chaperons, whose plans fell through for their first week of a 3-week missions trip to France in March.
REPORT:Vacation plans were set aside, and a week in the Alsace region was organized for them for Mar. 5-12.
RESULTS:David rediscovered (from Scotland outreach days) the frustrating and challenging world of group travel planning in Europe on a budget and in three languages! Experience to build on?

Feb. 24-26, 2005 Berlin

OBJECTIVE:Represent the U.S. at a gathering that is part of a process to deal with the injustices caused by the Berlin-Congo Conference in 1884 where European nations (and the U.S.) gathered to divide Africa into colonies with no African representation.
REPORT:Whirlwind trip via “Planes, Trains, Automobiles, & Subways” and again, in 3 languages with profound times of repentance and connection.
RESULTS:David made valuable contacts in Germany and continued to further attune his heart towards the issues in Europe and Africa caused by this travesty 120 years ago. He was impacted by the imposing weight of history in this city that he’s never felt anywhere else. This trip prepares him for the final meeting in November in Berlin, when he wants to take Rachel with him as well as several of the same interests are stirring in her heart. (Note: The kids now own their own pieces of the Berlin Wall, though the younger 2 need some more history to appreciate them!)

Feb. 29-Mar. 4, 2005 Guebwiller

OBJECTIVE:Lead the worship times for 40 attendees of a conference with French prophet Pierre-Daniel Martin.
REPORT:Led 7 hours of worship in 4.3 days along with Swiss pianist Micaël Chevalley.
RESULTS:Apart from the 2 broken strings, a hoarse voice and deep fatigue, this was an intense week for David. David and Micaël were both blessed to be used by God as instruments as HE led already hungry worshipers in some intense times of worship. We also received much confirmation and direction about future ministry.

Mar. 5-12, 2005 Guebwiller, Strasbourg, & Kandern, Germany

OBJECTIVE:Supervise the American group: meet at arrival and departure, provide housing and meals, coordinate to various locations, arrange activities, and help solve problems as they arise.
REPORT:The group gave their testimonies and performed mimes at Collège Daniel, spent time at a public high school, spent time at a boarding school for missionary kids, did clean-up in a the home of a missionary couple with a flooded basement, prayed in the courtyard of the European parliament, and delivered flyers in a Muslim neighborhood to advertise a debate between an Imam and a Christian theology professor.
RESULTS:Every event went smoothly, and it was a very fulfilling experience to make sure that Americans were welcomed in France for the sake of the building the kingdom and continuing the work of reconciliation. The public high school even wants to organize future exchanges. We were blessed by their great attitudes and appreciation, and they brought much material blessing to us as well!

In April, we’ll share some more culture shock in order to help you celebrate (American) National Library Month, among other things, with greater appreciation!

Till then,
David and Angela

Happy V-Day from The Kids!

The kids are saying that it’s high time they had some space in our newsletter, so we took advantage of our Feb. vacation time and did some “formal” interviews! We thought their responses would make a nice light-hearted Valentine newsletter while giving you some current mental (and digital) snapshots!

Of all the places you’ve lived, which have you enjoyed the most?

  • Rachel (age 15):
    I would have to say Hainichen, Germany. It was the summer I turned 10. I had my best friend with me and we had such a blast discovering European culture together! I have so many good memories of that time it would be hard to list them all…
  • Noah (age 11):
    Scotland – because we had lots of American friends there. We also visited lots of cool places: cycling around an island, hiking a mountain, and exploring the braes. I also liked our local libraries that had so many cool books in English!
  • Olivia (age 9):
    I liked them all for different reasons. I love America because it is my home country.
    I loved Scotland because I had lots of fun discovering nature in my back yard and visiting the old man and his dog who lived down the street. I also liked the swimming pool in town. I liked Albertville because there were lots of kids to play with. I liked living at Oasis last year because it was beautiful. I like Soultz because I love my teacher, my kitties, my brook and my one best friend that lives on my street. And one is all I need!
  • Kitties(via Olivia):
    We liked both-at the Leigh house there is no yard, but on the farm we were cold. If we lived in America, we wouldn’t like NY because we don’t like rap music. But we’d like
    Kansas where the kangaroos live. Jumping kangaroos sound better than jumping cars.

Olivia With Her Neighborhood Friend

What do you miss most about America?

  • Rachel:
    Unfortunately, not the things that can be sent in boxes! Mostly I miss places – some nights when I can’t go to sleep, I try to picture the neighborhood park, the library, my classrooms, the mall, all the rooms in our old house. That’s the hardest because it’s the only place I can’t ever visit again. It’s where I spent ten years of my life but it’s starting to feel unreal…which is kind of freaky.

    Otherwise, I would say different aspects of the culture that don’t exist in France, especially relating to school. In general, school just sounds more fun in the States!

    I don’t know, I guess I just miss being in a place where I understand everything. Though I am in love with Europe, I would really like to go back some day and bask in my own culture for a little while… but I know even that can’t completely happen because I am now a third-culture-kid with a mix of American AND European culture!

  • Noah:
    I miss the sunny weather, our big backyard, climbing trees and neighborhood friends.
  • Olivia:
    I miss the food: ice cream sandwiches, Rocky Road ice cream, and Kraft Macaroni n’ cheese. I also miss the sunshine and our big yard.

Class of 2008!

If you could change the world, what would you do?

  • Rachel:
    Um, I kind of feel like I’ve outgrown that question – the world’s a little to complicated these days! But I’m really interested in the power of music to change lives – for better or for worse. Of course it’s really God and Satan using the music…I think it would be hard to find a piece of music that is neutral. So it would make a huge difference if there existed only music that glorified God, be it Vivaldi or cutting edge of praise and worship. If there wasn’t any demonic music, I think there would be a lot more minds and places open to God’s spirit.
  • Noah:
    I would change to all the reusable energy sources: solar, wind, hydraulic power, etc.
  • Olivia:
    I would help all the poor people.
  • Kitties (via Olivia):
    New “mew” music and local kitty-tummy-rubbing stations, and that all the lonely old people would have a kitty or 2.

Kizzy and Chester "At Ease"

Noah With Youcef

What’s the best thing about your school?

  • Rachel:
    That’s easy: It’s Christian. And not just dress-modestly-and-be-nice-Christian, but seek-God’s-heart-and-discover-your-destiny-Christian! Since I’m in the last class before high school (where in France one has to choose a “track” and start working towards a career), we’re getting this message a lot. I find it really exciting! Another cool thing is that I get to know the teachers very well. All the students, their families, and the teachers have close relationships and it’s not at all uncommon the have teachers over to your house for dinner, or hear their life stories in class. Last year in public school, teacher/student relationships were for the most part extremely sterile and I found that depressing.
  • Noah:
    My new friend Youcef. He’s Algerian, loves American basketball, loves to draw, and sits next to me in class. On recess we play war and defeat armies with imaginary weapons.
  • Olivia:
    My teacher Cyril. He smells good, he looks good, he’s funny, he’s an artist, he’s a singer, he’s very loving, and he’s not married! So I’m looking forward to marrying him!

What do you like to do with your free time?

  • Rachel:
    If I truly have free time to relax then you would probably find me on the computer downloading and listening to media we get off the internet (stuff from Focus on the Family and From the Top). But if I’ve got energy, I’ll practice violin, do some composing, or work on music theory.
  • Noah:
    I’m on-line at
    BZPower: the biggest Lego Bionicle forum and news site on the web.
  • Olivia:
    I like to go over to my friend’s house. Her dad plays tricks on us. We go to the brook together, visit an old lady on our street, and eat bakery treats because she’s the baker’s daughter.
  • Kitties:
    We like to fight with each other, eat everything we can get our claws on, chase our toys up and down the long corridor, take long naps in Olivia’s hanging toy bag, and lick the water out of the sink and bathtub!

Noah And His Favorite Toys

Until next time!