Fall Thankfulness

Thanksgiving blessings

David and I will be traveling on Thanksgiving weekend, so the closest thing to a celebration this year will have to be a thankful newsletter. (David will be accompanying the Sozo team as an intercessor to Belgium for our first training weekend there and I’m excited to have him along for the first time. Olivia will have a tiny feast for 2 with Alana, now her youth pastor and the only other American friend here.)

So instead of just recounting the events of the last several weeks, I will write them as if we were sharing around the Thanksgiving table, "This month I am thankful for…"

  • A gorgeous Indian summer that lasted through the first week of Nov.
  • The chance to enjoy it (and avoid a 2nd car) by being able to bike to church, to the dentist, to the grocery and to friends.
  • The low cost of social medicine with 4 dr. visits and 2 dental visits this month.
  • A text message testifying of physical healing after a Sozo with me!
  • A better outlook on life by fasting the news and feasting with the Spirit.
  • The chance to share my love of the French language with an American teen every week.
  • New and faithful support from old friends and continued love and support from family in so many ways.
  • 4 hours of pure joy with an 18 month old every Monday morning (before his brother comes home for the afternoon!)
  • France continuing to resist the celebration of Halloween, (even tho’ we got egged this year!)
  • A Sunday school class with just 6 kids who are more compatible age-wise than last year.
  • Being able to bless several lonely Christian French women in different ways.
  • A large, thick 100% wool rug given to us that will warm up our salon for Christmas, covering the old, cold linoleum.
  • Learning that the value of our ancient French house has dropped by 1/3 in the last 10 years. This knowledge answers the nagging question of whether to sell or stay and make it more livable while avoiding the major renovation needed. Now, David and I are in agreement to purposefully bless this house that He provided until we have the means to buy something better suited for our future needs.

French with BrookeStimulating TobiasSunday School

Love, Angela

Father Knows Best

Father Knows Best: 1954-60

As I was looking for an image for the newsletter title, I just realized that the Anderson children’s genders and birth order matches ours perfectly. And doesn’t Robert Young make a great image of Father God surrounded by his adoring children?

That is the Father I’m referring to here, and I am happy to report that He is already hard at work to bring light into the darkness we described last month on many levels!

It all happened on a recent Monday morning:

At 6 am we heard yelling in the courtyard behind our house and police forcing their way into the apt. of some discreet Muslims that we have never met. I hear a woman inside complaining of domestic violence and a few minutes later, a pious-looking man in a long robe with flowing beard was led out in handcuffs.

At 10 am the mayor’s office rang to tell us that our work permit was ready to be picked up.

Our view of our 2 neighbors' apts.

At 11:30 am, on my way home with permit in hand, I crossed the mother of 4 that lives in the apt. next door to the Muslims. The incident gave us a reason to have our first real conversation and it was miraculously warm. Let me remind you that most of the time she looks oppressed and I hear too much daily family dysfunction to be able to approach her without an agenda to "fix" her! So for the last 6 years I have smiled at, cried over and prayed for the sad kids playing in this courtyard, offered some random acts of kindness, and silently forgiven the parents weekly for the angry outbursts, stinky trashcans, exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke that invade our home through the open kitchen/bedroom windows 7 months out of the year. We have never complained, assuming that they won’t or they can’t change without the Father’s intervention, but ever since our conversation, this family has been much less invasive!

That very evening, David sent a separate e-mail to two overly busy friends of ours in the construction business, asking them to come by at the same time to talk about combining the glass block work with insulating the toilet room and plastering/painting the back of the house. The miracle was that they responded immediately and were at the house within a couple of days! We are now waiting on an estimate from them, believing our Father will provide the finances needed as well. Continue to declare with us that there will be light and that the landlord of these two apts. will give us no more trouble, or else agree to buy the house for a good price!

We were trying to please our Father by organizing a second Love After Marriage seminar, but it has fallen flat with only 4 registrations one month out. Cancelling was difficult, especially since we hear about struggling marriages in our sphere of influence every week, our neighbors not included. What was more disheartening was that 3 of the 4 registered couples were not even French! But I suspect that our Father knows our limits and allowed this "defeat" to protect the health and sanity of us and the other couple we were organizing with! Frankly, this gives us some breathing room to get our own houses in order, literally and figuratively! Here is what is currently keeping David plenty occupied, (besides still boiling water in a kettle to wash dishes while waiting for the new water heater!):

  • He is craving more time beyond his 8 hrs/week to develop musical creativityOur French HOP logo (with Rachel's help) with the Lord in the House of Prayer (HOP) setting. He also enjoys meeting and connecting with others called to this ministry to establish strong foundations relationally for healthy growth.
  • David is streamlining and updating our outdated leighweb site, as well as working on new websites for the church and the HOP. He still diagnoses sick laptops for friends and helps out with worship most Sunday mornings.
  • He has a motivated IT intern (the pastor’s nephew) working full-time with him until the end of Nov., so he is currently doubling his normal working hours at school. This intern is also a guitarist and is happily being discipled musically by David during his HOP sets as well!
  • Olivia’s scholarship money did not come in due to mixed-up income figures and re-doing her dossier was another time-eating task that fell under "energy-sapping money management between 2 countries and currencies with multiple bank accounts." 
  • People are starting to ask us for help with different relationship conflicts. I guess this shouldn’t surprise us since the Father has healed and equipped us with a ton of relational tools in the last 20 years! Our initial efforts to help a few people as a couple were encouraging, but in truth, David is a teacher, not a pastor, and jumping into people’s messes is not life-giving for him. So I am getting curious to see what the Lord has in mind for us together in future ministry for families, if LAM does not take off here in France.

Our Father also knew that the LAM seminar would happen during Olivia’s fall break, which we didn’t know when we scheduled it 8 months ago. Now she will go back to school with her "love tank" filled up, just like the Anderson kids, instead of coming home to a week of pitching in for her parents’ ministry. And Noah comes home for his dose this Christmas!

Now hit "reply" and tell us how the Father is showing how "He knows best" in your life!

Love, Angela

Impact!

Gilberte and Olivia hang out In my last mailing, I mentioned that Olivia and Anna would be attending "Camp Impact" and Olivia experienced just that spiritually and emotionally. A week later, on fire, she joined another group of 200 French teens organized by Youth for Christ to impact their local cities in the streets with free BBQs, concerts, spontaneous prayer, random acts of kindness and nursing home visits. Olivia was on that team and adored her 4 days loving on the forgotten generation.

In the end, we were all impacted this summer:

We started impacting our bodies when David visited a nutritionist who analyzes the blood to see if we could age more gracefully. The diet is simple, well-balanced and good for me too, falling at a good time when we don’t have to feed any more finicky teenagers! We also want to join a fitness club that finally opened up close enough to make it convenient. Join us in declaring that we are getting stronger and stronger!

Tobias!I traded my volunteer work at the school for two new paying gigs, impacting kids in fresh, new ways:

-Babysitting nine hrs every Monday in ENGLISH for two adorable boys, Joseph (3) and Tobias (1). What a joy when all I have to think about is keeping them safe, happy and stimulated – even lunch is prepped for us!

-An old friend from Denver got back in touch and has asked me to teach her 2 homeschooled teens 2nd yr FRENCH via Skype!

 

Our house was seriously impacted when our kitchen water heater died. It was attached to the wall at the end of our dark hallway where we keep a light on 24/7 in order to to find the stairs! To remove the appliance, the handyman had to destroy the paneling, exposing a small window that had been covered over. Hyperventilating at the thought of more sunshine in my life, I encouraged him to knock out more of the wall in anticipation of glass bricks. Well, the owner of the property behind our house came by and started yelling. "Need a work permit… historic building codes… No glass blocks… I’ll take you to court, etc." followed by a registered letter forbidding the work.

The intimidation was a first and it was scary. This was the the only home improvement project we could afford that would have a huge impact on daily life. I started looking at real estate listings while David marched off to the mayor’s office to apply for a permit and get the legal scoop. Apparently, there is no reason why we can’t install glass blocks once the permit goes through and because this man is an immigrant from Turkey, we learned that we are probably coming against the spirits behind Islam. This man serves us kebabs in his local restaurant and has no reason to hate us, but as Christians, the spirit of Islam certainly does. Join us in declaring, "Let there be light!" in all aspects of this situation!

Old window exposedLet there be light!Not yet!

The Sozo ministry will also have a greater impact this year as our team is fully booked for the next 10 months with training weekends all over France, Switzerland and Belgium (starting this Thursday)! One of my current clients is a young psychologist who travels to me during long weekends so that the Holy Spirit can impact her own issues! 🙂

Olivia's residence hallOlivia moved to Strasbourg this week and we definitely felt the impact of attending the 2nd largest university in France in the center of a large international city! No information is handed to you on a platter and yet most students confront the confusing maze of websites, registration and orientation without parental hand-holding. We dutifully walked 10 paces behind as the only parents on campus and after moving in her stuff, we mainly interceded in prayer and kept her hydrated during each failed attempt to run the bureaucratic gauntlet. No less than 2 days later, after more long-distance coaching from David, she texted us with news that she was officially enrolled. David and I reserved a lovely bottle of Merlot to celebrate getting the last baby bird out of the nest!

In closing, I’d like to let you know that you have a new way to stay more in touch with our daily life through personal photos via the social network Instagram. Noah (noahleigh), David (mrdleigh) and I (wannaworship) are all posting pics weekly if you’d like to follow us! David also tweets on occasion!

Enjoying a gorgeous Sept. after a cold, wet August!

Angela

Rejoicing in July

God has brought us through so much since last month’s newsletter. I am so grateful for the responsibility of communicating His goodness to all of you because I’ve never been a fan of personal journaling. I’m much more motivated to write knowing someone else will read it and public memoires are therapeutic in that they help me adjust my critical outlook as the Holy Spirit shows me the Father’s grace in all that this missionary life throws at us.

 

So July brings major closure for us – a reason for much rejoicing:007

  • Olivia continued to be the center of attention when the German teacher decided to honor our first graduating class with a German senior tradition (since the French don’t have one.) She organized and invited teachers, friends and parents to a formal dinner/dance. What a blessing that I didn’t have to do a thing, and it finally gave us a reason to buy Olivia her first fancy dress – her dream come true.
  • The exam results weren’t announced until a few days later, and Olivia’s overall final score was an impressive 17.78/20, which is well-rewarded by France, if not through ceremony, at least financially. Based also on our income, she will automatically receive scholarship money that covers her living expenses for the next 3 years and since college is practically free in France, her education is covered! Can you see our American heads spinning with disbelief??
  • In stark contrast to my satisfaction as a parent, the year ended with a fizzle for me as a teacher, summed up by the sheets of rain that plagued the school fete this year. Instead of a much needed exit interview with the director to verbalize my frustrations and talk about solutions, I got a good-by bouquet that did not speak my love language at that moment! The French word for “failed” is “raté,” which describes how I looked and felt when I left the fete early, soaked through.
  • All the happy closure I didn’t get at school seemed to come in twos:
    We post grades a full 2 weeks before the last day of school, which is definitely a form of middle-school teacher torture.
    2 of my students didn’t bother to even show up for those last 2 weeks, and only 2 out of the original 13 will return next year.
    The only parents that showed any appreciation were just the 2 to whom I had offered extra free tutoring.
    Just 2 students searched me out to say their final good-byes at the fete. Did they fall on their knees and beg my forgiveness for making learning impossible this year? Only in my dreams…
  • Thank God, closure happened 2 weeks later while attending a seminar for the staff. We studied DISC personality types in the context of staffing a school. This topic was life-changing for me when it was covered during our YWAM schools in the past. It was no less so this week, as all the reasons behind my frustrations became crystal clear. During an exercise on understanding each other’s communication styles, the director and I were finally able to talk honestly. He not only asked forgiveness for being unable to work with my communication style, but also asked for a sozo! I’m not the only teacher leaving this year and Christians who are willing to teach without pay are hard to come by here, so he sees that he has to confront families who are not a good match for our school.
  • Astrid and AnnaOur year with Anna is also coming to a close accompanied by lots of exciting events: We got our first live glimpse of the Tour de France, as they just rode through our region for the first time in 8 yrs. She’s also enjoyed watching Germany progress through the World Cup on a jumbo screen in the village square with her German teacher buddy. She got prayer and prophecy at church Sunday and we blessed her publicly as well. It’s not our last good-by though because she’s coming back in 2 weeks to do a French/German youth camp with Olivia to continue building Christian unity between these nations and redeem history!

Can’t wait to report all our new beginnings in September!

Love, Angela

Olivia Joy Leigh ~ Class of 2014

I’m calling this newsletter Olivia’s graduation announcement, since the ceremony doesn’t exist here (and the French kids are darn jealous!) So I’m honoring her with my words that will have to replace the cap and gown. Here she is in a recent snap as the only senior girl with her junior girlfriends during Dress-up Day in the chateau, looking towards their bright futures:

Chicé 2014

Some of you may remember that our first supporter card, sent in 2000, compared our call to France to the Normandy invasion. Is it mere coincidence that June 6th was her very last day at school and the 70th anniversary of D-Day? I was able to catch parts of the day-long celebration on a friend’s TV after my teaching hours, and I was very proud, which is just how we feel about Olivia:

  • She has shared her room and lived graciously with kids from all walks of life that we have hosted over the last 10 yrs. 
  • She volunteered to teach introductory English to the third graders each week and together we created a Duplo curriculum, where each student got their own bag to manipulate, while they learned all the vocab around it. She’s got my gift and got the bug, thanks to her angelic class, lucky girl!
  • She led worship at church or school every month this year, while taking voice lessons. She’s going from glory to glory!
  • She grew spiritually, thanks to her mentor Alana, and stayed true to her convictions, including guarding her heart, so as "not to awaken love before its time." as she promised during her blessing/purity ceremony when she turned 13.
  • She has started taking her 2nd round of baccalaureate tests and all is well after getting familiar with the process last year. A big thanks to Anna for making sure she passed her sports Bac. Unlike us, Anna is much more of an athlete, so she became Olivia’s personal coach for running and badminton!
  • She is enjoying her driving lessons with a good teacher and will have her license by July (and we managed to get it all paid for!)
  • She was afraid she had waited too late to find good housing in Strasbourg, (where she’ll study multiple languages,) but 3 choices opened up at the last minute. Jesus made it clear that her place was a beautiful residence for Christian students run by Mennonites not far from campus, and where she already knows 3 other students!
  • She faithfully kept up her household chores this year without needing reminders, making her well-prepared for life in a dorm. Now who’s going to clean the litter box when she’s gone???
  • It seems that this year in particular, she’s ready to embrace adulthood, taking steps that she would never have dared to do a yr. ago!
  • One of those was the conviction to get publicly baptized. We have no baptistery, so we roll out a bathtub as needed, and perform a "bathtism," as I like to call it, which is NOT cool amongst the 16-20 somethings. So since we were into June (1st!), the 6 candidates insisted on going to a mountain lake instead.

Olivia's Baptism 007

I’m not thrilled with the bathtub option either, but this lake has zero convenient facilities. My memories of Rachel’s baptism there in 2005 were abysmal, as we weren’t warned or prepared. Anna was also disheartened when she found out we didn’t do godmothers or give gifts, and a more intimate gathering afterwards sounded meaningless without family. There was also the pressure of providing picnic food that was festive enough to suit the occasion AND Olivia-friendly. (She tolerates my vegan salads.) The weather forecast was also iffy. Would there be a good turn-out? Would it be too cold? The pastor wanted fathers to participate in the dunking and David was still trying to get his head clear of infection. On top of all that, Olivia also had her English oral Bac test early the next morning, distracting her from the sweet anticipation of sharing the moment with her best friend (the 2 of them on the far R.)

Well, after all this wrestling over an event that I couldn’t really plan or control, I woke up Sunday morning in a bad mood and I kept quiet during the hour long drive to the lake, still trying to decide if I wanted to get in the water. Rest assured that we brought everything necessary to insure our comfort: portable chairs, a large sheet to hold up as a changing room and bathroom, towels, changes of clothes, picnic food and a blanket. We dragged it all from the parking lot to halfway around the lake and found the crowd of people who had come early to reserve our spot.

And you know the rest – God came through. All her friends made the drive from different churches to make up for lack of family. The weather was cloudy and cool, but the sun came out later. My girl was the only one who thanked her parents in her testimony, (sorry, it was in French) and I pulled myself out of my slump by doing the honors. Here’s the film! The women marveled at my courage, but it wasn’t as cold as they imagined, and how exhilarating to give birth to your offspring twice!! When all the candidates were dry and dressed, they got lots of prophetic words to walk out, and then the 4 of us hunkered down to an American meal of fried chicken, broccoli salad, and cherry pie. (Alsace got a bumper crop this year!)

The next day when the test examiner saw that Olivia was bilingual, she quickly suspended the formalities and they just had a long chat about Olivia’s life. An easy A.

Happy Pentecost!

Angela