Leigh Family Newsletter – May 2, 2004

Top Ten

Reasons Why

The Leighs

Are Moving

Again!

Here’s the list I promised last month, and if we’re hearing God correctly, June’s newsletter should report more confirmations from our upcoming week in Alsace for ministry and house-hunting!

  1. Two speakers who came through the school earlier ignited in us several visions for the future, and they all revolve around being located near the German border, between Colmar and Mulhouse. (#2-4 describe these visions.)
  2. A handful of Christian schools in France are located here, but only one encompasses ninth grade for Rachel, and we want all 3 to attend there together next year. Christian schools are very fragile in France, but they are so important to forming strong Christians in a “post-Christian” Europe. Angela is excited about supporting the school with active involvement on many levels.
  3. David’s heart for France has always included a larger “European” perspective as well. Here we are more centrally located in Western Europe and near the EU Parliament in Strasbourg.
  4. There is no specific ministry call on our hearts for the Valence region in the future – lack of housing and a dissatisfaction with the public schools here have also been confirmation.
  5. We would also be closer to the Paris and Swiss YWAM bases that are currently ministering to families and have contacted us for help in upcoming seminars.
  6. This region was German territory for 30 yr. during the world wars, thus all the streets have German names and the food/architecture is more German than French. Now we know that David studied German in school for a divine purpose, and he looks forward to resurrecting it for the kingdom, working alongside our German-speaking friends!
  7. We both would love to help start a 24 hr.house of prayer and worship in France. We have spoken with others who want to see them all along the Rhine River where so much blood has been shed, as a tool to break spiritual strongholds in the area.
  8. We have already visited the area several times, formed local connections, and have said we would love to live there. We’ve also noticed that homes are bigger and cheaper there! Our house hunting will be limited to a reasonable distance from the school, which makes the task less overwhelming.
  9. Rachel’s high school options are a serious concern for us. We believe she needs an American education because she has started the language too late to succeed in the intense French system, and she wants to attend an American university. One option is an American boarding school for missionary kids that is near the border on the German side. If we should decide to send her there, at least she would be close by.
  10. The summers are not quite as long and hot as they are here in Valence. This means a lot to a family who wilts in hot humid weather, and where an air conditioning unit costs $800 and window screens are rare! (God knew we’d never make it in Africa!!)

It will be so exciting to see how and when God brings this all to pass – we are all anxious to get planted and take root in a place where we can begin to invest in the lives of others on a more long-term basis!

Love, Angela

P.S. For those that care, here are highlights of my trip back to the States:

  • the smoothest easiest flights ever, with personal video screens to make the hours fly by
  • 3 weeks without cooking a meal!
  • a comfortable double bed all to myself!
  • seeing “The Passion” on Good Friday – most beautiful film I’ve ever seen…
  • Spending Easter with my sister’s husband’s family, whom I’d never met, and a French friend who had just re-located to Phoenix
  • non-stop warm, sunny weather in Phoenix and Indianapolis
  • Noah’s discovery of baseball and a sentimental high school home game complete with Cracker Jacks and hot dogs
  • Olivia’s thrill to re-discover seedless grapes and soft toilet paper!
  • Rachel shadowing a sophomore at a Christian high school for a day, and being the only one who could define the Enlightenment!
  • playing in my sister’s pool almost everyday (after 9 months without swimming!)
  • the Grand Canyon!
  • Walmart, Target, Family Bookstore, and Costco!

Leigh Family Update – Spring Specials

February 27, 2004

Dear Friends,

Spring has always been my favorite season, and it looks like 2004 will not disappoint! Here s what is shaping up for us in the coming months:

  • The lecture phase of the Reconciliation School is coming to a close and teams are preparing to go on their outreaches. One team is even going to the U.S.! David will be doing seminars with a local team here in Valence and in Switzerland, and will also be traveling to Strasbourg to attend the “March for Jesus” and “Target Europe” conference in May.
  • I try to go on a personal retreat around this time of year whenever I can, and this year it will be to a weekend seminar in March on getting a new vision for the children in our churches. I consider this a retreat because I m going alone quite a distance, and I won t know anyone there. That gives me lots of time to lean on and be alone with Jesus. And though I have always had a heart for children, I have had very little spiritual training. I want more tools to reach French children before their hearts and minds become closed to the gospel in this Godless society.
  • My birthday and the birthday of my French pen friend of 28 years are 2 weeks apart. We have so enjoyed celebrating it together since I we moved to Europe. I pray this year will be a special one, as we have seen very little of each other, even though she is only an hour away. She has had a very difficult year that I hope God will use to draw her to Him.
  • After 2 years, the kids and I will be returning to the States to spend Easter with my family in Phoenix from April 7-22. (David will still be too engaged with the school to join us.) We are very excited about escaping dorm life, seeing the desert, and the Grand Canyon for the first time, and enjoying a warm Easter egg hunt amidst the cacti! I am also excited about THE MOVIE that you are all seeing, or should I say, experiencing, while we have to wait another month for it to come out here. I can’t think of a better way to start the Lenten season &
  • Speaking of which, the 40 days of prayer and fasting for France is on for another year, and we feel so privileged to be here during this intercession movement where we can see the spiritual climate slowly changing, giving hope to a country previously called the missionary graveyard. This week as David and I were praying and weeping for wisdom concerning Noah s continued struggle with the language, David really sensed that we were to dedicate our 40 days to intercede specifically for him. I was in complete agreement. God has called our whole family to this country. That means that Noah has something to offer France too, which the enemy is trying to block. Please join us, as God puts him on your heart!
  • This is also a special spring because all of our residence paperwork is now in order so that I can finally get a driver’s license and we can see if there really are government benefits that we’re entitled to!
  • Finally, concerning our housing & God has graciously shown us 5 months before the end of the school that this is not the region where we are to settle. Perhaps that is why we struggled to find a house! God used a couple of speakers here at the school and other new acquaintances we met at the same time, to make our next step seem clear, and everything kept pointing to the Alsace region (in northeastern France, on the boarder with Germany.) We hope to get more confirmation during David’s time in Strasbourg, and are hoping we can move there this summer! Stay tuned for more details in a future newsletter entitled, “Top Ten Reasons Why the Leighs are Moving Again!”

Love,
Angela and the family

Leigh Family Update – Joyeux Noël

“Joyeux Noël!”

We have put off writing our regular newsletter in hopes of including some good news about a home. Yes, I am writing this from a real living room… but it is not my own. We are house sitting for a Christian family just across the street for a week, and we are trying to enjoy every minute of it!! Oh, the luxury of being out from under a bunk bed, using a dishwasher, taking a bath, making homemade waffles for the kids on a frosty morning, having all day internet access and a coffee table where you can put a puzzle together… Being here is refreshing and frustrating because it renews our restlessness for a place of our own. So far, homes that have come up for rent are too small, too expensive, or too far away for a one-car family. Any real possibilities have been snapped up before we can even view them, and it is easy to get discouraged on a bad day. But we must choose to say, “That was not the house God had for us. But He has called us here and knows our needs before we ask.” So many of you have walked or are walking through this same situation right now all over the world – so you know how to pray!

And although we are still under all the stress that comes with adjusting to a new culture, we can look back on our first 4 months here, and be amazed at how God has already been able to use us!

Living at a camp that has been ministering in various ways over the last 30 years by the same people makes it easy to integrate into the Christian network here! The camp birthed a church several years ago, which was in the process of splitting up when we arrived. Half wanted to stay connected to the camp, and half didn’t. The half that did, are holding services at the camp, so church is now at our doorstep! Our kids don’t hesitate to go to Sunday school, and this has spared us from the painful search for a church home. We have lead worship as substitutes, and I will probably start helping with the Sunday school in January.

But the best news is that we’ve already gotten a chance to speak to couples! And they actually paid money to hear us!! (Well, actually they were paying for the meal that was included!) This was a holy day for our family, when we began doing in a small way what God originally called us to do – and we did it in French! It was so scary, but so rewarding. Before the meal we shared how lousy our marriage was and why. During the meal, we had discussion questions for them talk about. After the meal we shared how God intervened to help us operate in healthier ways and got us on the mission field. They laughed when we tried to be funny, and applauded heartily at the end. Wow…communication happened! To top it off, we were given a generous offering the next day – a complete surprise!

With that under our belts, I went into organizing Thanksgiving for 30 guests. This was a request by some of the staff that had the privilege of sharing Thanksgiving in the past w/other Americans, and didn’t want to miss the opportunity this year. Most Europeans have heard of the holiday, but have no idea what it is about. So we told the story and performed 3 Thanksgiving hymns as a family, and had lots of help with the cooking. We received lots of hugs and compliments the next day, making it all worth the effort! I also got asked to share the holiday with Noah and Olivia’s class earlier in the week, and boldly included the worship of Jesus in the history lesson. After that, we made hand-tracing turkeys, tasted cornbread, and did a dot-to-dot of the Mayflower. The kids were great, and the teacher has invited me to come back to read to them for English class!

I’ve also discovered that we are not the only Americans around! There are several American women in the region who have married French men. I have had lunch with a few, and will meet some more to sing carols with this weekend! (For you Lord of the Rings fans, one went to high school with Viggo Mortenson!) They are great connections to have, as many have lived in the area for many years.

David has been as much a student as a staff member, as he sits in on the teachings each week. Speakers are brought in from all over the globe with various takes on the subject of reconciliation. He has been challenged and changed by what he has heard: This week he has confessed his prejudices as an American and also received blessings from the Europeans for what Americans have contributed to the world. A young man has just recently joined the school midway, so David and another staff member have been assigned to him – a new responsibility as mentor. I got to sit in on one week of the lectures, helping to lead worship each morning as well, and we experienced deeper healing in our marriage because of it!

We are all so excited about the holidays this year with the arrival of David’s parents next week! Despite the winter weather, we are going to make sure they get a taste of Western Europe with a couple of sightseeing trips. If we’re still on your Christmas card list, we’d love to hear from you! Here’s our snail mail address:

Centre L’Oasis
Quartier Rodet
26760 Montéléger
FRANCE

Love,
Angela and the family

P.S. For those of you who usually get something from us in the mail at Christmas time, we are going to follow the French tradition of sending New Year’s greetings from now on. We’ll be sending them home with David’s parents to mail more cheaply, so they should arrive mid-January.

Sunny and Cher

Sunny and Cher!

This phrase popped out of my mouth one day when we were describing life here in the southern half of France, and we decided this would make a great newsletter title! But to get the pun, you must know that “cher” means expensive or dear. And according to the locals, it’s the “sunny” that makes it “cher.” In the 3 weeks we’ve been here, we’ve had clear blue skies for all but 4 days! We’re not in Scotland anymore!

We hope that Sonny and Cher won’t mind if we borrow their theme song, “I Got You, Babe”for our newsletter!

  • We got a quick sale and good profit for our home in Paisley, and friends willing to load a moving truck full of our furniture for us next month, keeping moving costs low.
  • We got a great team to staff the YWAM Reconciliation School with David. “Staff training” time has been full of deep teaching and strong prayer times and relationship building. This has been all in French, 8 hr./ day, 5 days a week. David works to try and absorb it all, struggles to express himself deeply in French, reluctantly accepts being less available than the others who are single, and deals with the myriad of little tasks that come with relocation. Normal frustrations in a new culture, but still hard to accept!
  • We got great public school and music school situations for the kids!
  • We got news that France has the most generous welfare system in the world (no wonder all the immigration lines we stand in are so long!), and we may be able to participate in it! This may enable us to rent until we have the time to house-hunt, and offset the high cost of living with 3 kids.
  • We got temporary housing at a peaceful retreat center called the Oasis. It is out in the country away from the frenzy of the world, where Christians come for conferences, or just an overnight stay while driving through the region, and from now until next June, it will be housing the YWAM school. In making this move alone, God has graciously provided this landing place for us until we get our bearings, surrounded by loving, patient people.
  • We “don’t got” a double bed, a normal oven or kitchen, a couch, a private bathroom or a phone line. Pray that we will have the grace to “camp” another month or 2 until our house money is available to buy something.
  • And finally, we got each other! What does that mean for us? Well, at the end of each day, we can choose to take out our French frustrations on each other, or we can choose to love to each other by listening, holding, and praying for each other. The second choice is mandatory for us in order to walk in the fruit of the Spirit here and be witnesses – and as the only foreigners living around here, we are definitely being observed!

Until next time,
Angela

Itinerary and Contact Info

Well, we’re up to our necks in plans and packing right now! Because much is to happen quickly in the next week, I thought it wise to get a bit of information out before we take the moving plunge…

Itinerary:

Monday September 1st – We pack up our mini-van and David and Olivia take the ferry from Edinburgh over to the continent. They arrive in Montéléger, France Tuesday night.

Tuesday – Angela, Rachel and Noah fly from Glasgow to Lyon and also arrive in Montéléger, France Tuesday night.

Wednesday – Unpack and prepare for getting kids in school

Thursday – Kids in school!

Monday – September 8th – David’s staff training time for the YWAM School of Reconciliation starts

All above hours not specifically listed – Pack, clean, say goodbye, unpack, get our bearings, untold administrative processes, speak French, sell a house, find a house, etc. The activities of selling our house and moving our furniture will continue here after we leave. Nice to leave it behind and just get there…but of course I’d like to be a bit more “in control” than God is allowing me to be.

Contact Info:

Our emails will stay the same but we don’t know when we’ll be able to access them next.

Our mobile phone number once we get to France will be +33 6 73 75 68 05

Our mailing address (regular mail will be forwarded from Scotland – packages will not) and where we’re staying for awhile will be:

Centre d’accueil L’Oasis
Quartier Rodet
26760 Montéléger
FRANCE

Tél 04 75 59 56 62 Fax 04 75 59 53 67


Life is good and a bit hectic right now!
David