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!
(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…)
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!
When 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.
We 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.
Studying 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 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!
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…”
Leaning on His Resurrection Power,
We haven’t seen much snow since we left the Alps in 2003, so last weekend’s snowstorm was a thrill for all of us (and pretty much swayed Gumdrop to move in permanently!) Miraculously, we still had an old snow saucer from Denver and the younger 2 got their first delicious taste of having school canceled due to weather!
The bad news is that the American high school group was scheduled to fly in that weekend with big plans to take over the Sunday school and school chapels. I’m sure it was almost as bad as flying into a third world country – 5 separate flight cancellations, (finally coming in by train 2 days later,) and 5 days without their luggage (primarily 17-18 yr. old girls!) We felt like the most popular people on the planet that week, as the phone never stopped ringing. (David was constantly tweaking their itineraries with all the delays, trying to fit in as much as they could!) In the end, we were all blessed:
Rachel joined them in all their activities, translating where necessary and bonding with them even more this year – a great change from internet schooling! They visited a WWII Nazi concentration camp and museum with the French 8th and 9th graders, stuffed envelopes for an evangelistic campaign, visited the European parliament, hung out with Rachel’s youth group and at the local high school, cleaned and waxed the classroom floors, and led (re-scheduled) chapel services at the school where the gospel was presented via magic tricks!
David loved seeing how deeply our colleagues wanted to connect with the team again, despite all the logistical difficulties, and witnessing mutual feelings coming from the Americans. (The seniors want to come back next year on their own during their summer break!)
The youth pastor who came along saw the state of our Sunday school rooms (that I described a year ago) and is eager to adopt us and help with supply needs! He also went out and bought a vacuum cleaner for the school, which was promptly passed on to us, as ours died a few weeks ago and we were borrowing an old one from the church! Christel, the French teacher/organizer also asks what she can bring me each year, and then brings double! I am blessed.
Noah was glad they came because he had accidentally driven a friend’s expensive remote-control car into a stream and we didn’t have the money to replace it, that is until the team blessed us with fistfuls of euros to help with gas, lunches, and David’s time.
The other 3 weeks have been equally full of highs and lows:
On Valentine’s Day we were trying to drive an hour and a half up to Strasbourg to lead worship for an outdoor reconciliation meeting. The bad news was that a demonstration had just happened before our meeting that made getting into the city difficult, and then we parked far away, adding a long walk with equipment to the delay. The good news was that the leader knew how to fill time and we didn’t miss it completely! The icing on the cake was that we had our first Tex-Mex meal in ages at a great restaurant that we stumbled on afterwards!
The Christian teachers’ conference that was hosted by our school was apparently a success, but I personally didn’t get much out of it. However my banners turned out really well, and everyone has really shown their appreciation of my efforts: (Down below are 5 “forefathers” of Christian education in Europe marking each of the Jr. high classrooms hanging around the landing of the second floor.)
We have spent the last year waiting to hear from the government, and we finally did – with a declaration that our monthly income isn’t stable enough to warrant receiving the child and medical benefits that all residents of France receive, and which is a substantial help against the high cost of living here. But the good news is that our involvement in the school has increased to such a level that they responded by cutting our tuition costs in half and made them retroactive from Sept., essentially lifting the 300 euro burden we paid each month for the rest of the school year! And they also found a Christian organization that defends the cases of asylum seekers, and they are now looking at our case in order to appeal the decision. (And getting into the national health system would save us the thousands that we have paid for private international insurance over the years that covers only serious illness.)
Looking forward to spring!
This title will ring a bell for those who were tuned into rock n’ roll in the 70’s! I refer to the band called 3 Dog Night, taken from an aboriginal term for very cold temperatures, ’cause that’s what we are livin’ this winter in Europe. Apparently the Russians are toughing out averages of -50F, so I’m not complaining, mind you, but I thought it would be a good time to skip over the usual Christmas and New Years sentiments and discuss something more profound – like the weather.
And that brings us back to the cats. We thought the darlings would stay happily indoors all their life, but our boys tunneled out of the house at the first sign of spring and spent last summer hanging out across the street as the parking lot mascots. Then one day a waif of a kitten showed up who didn’t look neglected, but was terrified of human contact, and Chester and Kizzy did the right thing, coming from a good Christian home, and befriended it. In the meantime, Olivia, worried about the coming cold weather, worked patiently all during the fall to slowly gain her trust. Then on the first really cold night near Christmas, that cat actually crept through our front door and spent the next 2 days in kitty rehab.- sprawled out in a box, fluffing up nicely by the warmth of the water heater. Olivia was delirious with joy and a devoted caregiver, but “Gumdrop” soon felt the lure of street life again and dashed out as suddenly as she had come in. Then we were off to England and left wondering what would happen next, (which was a wonderful escapade!)
Well, a month later, during a 3 Cat Weekend while David was out of town, Gumdrop decided to make herself at home. She’s esp. wary of David, and hadn’t dared to explore the upstairs until now. (It was very strange to see her taking the liberty of lounging on your bed and then running and hiding when you walk in!) The other two were busy stalking my make-up brush and proudly carrying freshly killed elastic hair bands around the house. We were relieved when it warmed up a bit this week and all 3 found more exciting outdoor activities – hopefully they are earning their keep protecting us from some pigeon carrying the bird flu that seems to be heading our way.
Seriously, I think God has sent us this cat as a picture of the French, who have an equally hard time believing that God is love and can be trusted. The horror stories I hear about cruel authority figures in the lives of so many French give me a good clue as to why they reject God – the ultimate authority figure! I asked my young neighbor across the street where she was spiritually, and her reply was that she was always a good Catholic… until her best friend committed suicide. Guess who got the blame? Clever how the evil one never gets blamed for evil in the real world. My neighbor seems to be a fearful person, and now she has even less to trust in… I hope we can talk more as warmer weather approaches.
Despite the cold, (we’ve nicknamed our attic “the Arctic Circle”) it’s been an encouraging winter so far! I’ve conquered my usual winter blues with the help of some hormones, and a church acquaintance just handed me money to join her Pilates class down the street for my back. My first session was divine!
I’ve also had a lot of fun with some creative projects lately – and that’s why you haven’t heard from me in awhile -this newsletter usually fulfills that need! Anyway, last month the school needed someone to re-design their big display booth and this month my living room is over-run with banners in different stages of completion. The directors are pleased with the timing, as they will brighten up the chateau in time for a Christian educator’s conference next weekend and the yearlong 20th anniversary celebration. I’ll post photos next month!
David has spent the winter juggling several tasks and has managed to do most of it via the computer – the warmest room in the house! His current projects include:
- programming a registration database for the above-mentioned conference
- coordinating a second visit by the American high school group that came last year
- preparing for a 3rd trimester Jr. high worship workshop
- putting finishing touches on the web site that he’s created for a YWAM ministry
- compiling worship songs in French and German for the regional intercession team
- coordinating a weekend intercession seminar in May
- getting the computer to do what Rachel and I see in our heads for our various creative projects.
All our love!
COME YE THANKFUL PEOPLE COME…
We are still basking in Thanksgiving afterglow… It is priceless to be in a French Christian community where you are affirmed and blessed not only for what you do, but who you ARE as Americans, especially at this time of year. /span>
The highlight was today when I was complaining to the principal about the rule that you have to have a doctor’s excuse to return to school if you are absent more than 3 days. I didn’t think Olivia’s cough warranted a doctor visit, and didn’t want to spend the money to take her, but I wasn’t ready to send her back to school to cough on all her classmates, esp. with the cold temperatures. So I was asking if she could be exempt from this rule when he handed me an envelope and said, “Maybe this will help.” It was full of 20 euro bills given by all the teachers with a card of appreciation. We were bowled over, as none of our teachers are well paid, and I felt very appreciated!
Here are some more examples:
Having French church friends wanting to wish us a happy Thanksgiving by bringing us wine, chocolates, a plant, and an advent wreath!
Receiving a Thanksgiving e-card from a French YWAM family!
Inviting a family from the school over for our Thanksgiving meal who think America must be a Christian’s paradise (compared to France,) and who felt very honored to share this meal with us as the only Americans they know!
Seeing my English students look forward to their first taste of pumpkin pie, and helping them to make their first hand tracing of a turkey!
Here are some other November blessings:
Being untouched by the riots that plagued the big cities this month.
Learning that a major French TV station aired a completely unbiased French documentary on Christian evangelicals in America during prime time! (It included the testimony of a former motorcycle gang member on his bike, Christian lawyers graduating from Regents U, a successful bank run by Christian principles, a local police chief being prayed for before the work day, and the chastity movement among teens.) Our prayers are changing things!
Receiving a notice stating that I had an overdue unpaid parking ticket that I knew nothing about and having the school secretary help me write a letter of defense. I included a check for original 11 euros fine, instead of the 33 euros they were demanding as penalty, and prayed as I stuck it in the mailbox. And I am happy to report that I got a letter back stating that they had accepted my payment! We take this as a sign of favor by officials that will lead to an improved visa status soon!
Having American friends willing to run to the store or the post office to mail us items that we need in a short time frame, and pay for the postage!
Hearing Noah’s teachers rave about what a great student he is in class, and him reading “The Black Stallion” in French without my help and even enjoying it, for the first time! (And it’s a good thing because he’s got 4 more book reports to go this year!) He turns 12 on Friday, if anyone would like to send wishes with an e-card! (
Teaching my kindergarten music class their first English song (Rain, Rain, Go Away) and hearing them sing without the strong accent that my 9-11 year olds already have! (If you want to see their adorable faces and even cuter names, I’ve put their photo up on my web page.)
Finding out that I have enough middle-schoolers signed up for my 5-week banner workshop that starts in a couple of weeks. (I was a bit deflated when no one signed up for the first trimester and it was affecting my confidence in front of them during our worship-leading times!)
Having our friends in England pay for our plane fare to come for a visit on New Year’s Eve. We can’t wait to see them and the Narnia film on the big screen in English! (A friend gave the kids the stories on audio CDs, and they are still listening to them a year later. Olivia reports that thanks to “The Last Battle” CD she is no longer afraid of death. Wow! – Thanks Lil!)
David and Rachel experiencing a smooth and satisfying trip to Berlin – see David’s blog for details and photos of this and other intercession activities this month! leighweb.com/david/blog.htm.
|October 2005 – On Target
This fall, our family has settled into some rhythms that are giving us lots of peace and purpose.
I’ll share about Noah’s experience first since it provides the theme for this month’s newsletter. He gets a two-hour block of P.E. once a week, and because that’s the only time his heart is challenged to beat faster than resting rate, he usually feels like he’s going to fall over dead in class. He hates competition and team sports, and doesn’t even ride a bike because we have nowhere to store one. So it was all looking pretty grim until we decided to ask his gym teacher for advice. Knowing Noah’s aversions, he suggested archery, and we knew immediately that this was the answer; we just hadn’t known it was an option! The icing on the cake is that it is being offered just down the street from our house, enabling him to walk there eagerly every week! Bulls eye!
Rachel is getting on her bike every morning at 6:45 to pray for an hour with some of her youth group as they try to get a Bible study club going at one of the local high schools. They are full of faith as they hear from God, pray His will, and see Him act. (This activity also easily fulfills her PE requirement at home this year!)
She definitely knows where her target is.
Olivia has a Muslim girlfriend in the neighborhood now, and since she comes over weekly, Olivia has lots of opportunities to plant little seeds. Olivia tells us that this girl believes that she is going to hell because she cannot be forgiven for her sins, and is awe-struck when Olivia tells her otherwise! We are surrounded by Turkish- speaking Muslims and our aim is to offer friendly smiles while praying against conflict and prejudice in our village.
David is starting to work with the organization that makes official French translations of English worship songs. Because there are so many good songs worth translating and the work is slow, his help is appreciated, esp. as David can work with the music software that they use. He is also working to become more efficient in web design and hopes to earn some money with it in the future. We are also thrilled to report that the middle-school kids are beginning to sing with gusto during our Monday morning worship times, sending arrows against the enemy with every note!
I am thrilled to see God help me improve my aim with relationships this year, and I think I am finding solutions to my physical ailments as well. (I’ll verify that next month!) This summer I met an American that lives in a nearby village and works at my favorite grocery store. We finally got together recently, and it did my heart good to unload in English to a fellow mother my age. It was also refreshing to get out of the Christian bubble I live in, and talk about God to someone who doesn’t, but isn’t closed either. I am alsoso much more involved at school that I’ve asked to be part of the weekly teacher meetings in order to feel more at ease, more supported, and more in-the-know. And then there is a new English-speaking family at school who is drawn to us, and the “mum” is eager for some relational time as well. I’m also making headway with some French friends at church – a couple of them take me to Germany with them when they go to shop, and in exchange I offer female help and empathy for their computer struggles!
I end with another enlightening list in our never-ending effort to give you a better picture of our life here!
“You know you’re becoming a European when…”
How’s your aim these days?
Drop us a line!
Angela and family
Our summer break ended so well – the bills are all paid, and we received enough extra giving to make a dent in the house, hallelujah! Our thankfulness is magnified in the shadow of the current catastrophe in New Orleans. It is easy to let fear creep in when I think how easily our long-distance banking transfers could be cut off if our support network experienced a disaster of that magnitude. Just another opportunity to check my faith and intimacy level with Jesus. Who/what am I really trusting in? Am I worrying about tomorrow? Am I able to worship God amidst suffering? If anyone is like me, there’s a lot of repentin’ goin’ on! In the end, I believe that we will all be touched by the suffering Jesus prophesied before the end of the world comes, and I am praying that our home would be a place of supernatural provision and salvation for French souls and bodies.
The French take their summers vacations so seriously that September is really considered the start of a new year for them. Even pocket planners start entries in August (and that’s when everyone is buying a new one!) So in honor of “La Rentrée” meaning “Back to school or Back to work,” we’d like to offer you an amusing little French lesson. Below is a list of recognizable English words that are used by the French, but are translated and pronounced very differently. So for the first example, if you say “baskets” to a French person (and accent the wrong syllable,) they will think you are talking about tennis shoes or trainers (UK).
baskets = tennis shoes or trainers
brushing = salon blow dry
cake = quick bread
car = tour bus
chair = flesh
chariot = grocery cart or trolley
chiffon = rag
Cora, Norma = names of grocery stores
coupon = fabric remnant
crayon = pencil
entrée = hors d’oeuvres
jogging = warm-up suit
Kellogg’s = cornflakes
lecture = reading
nickel = perfect
pull = sweater
robot = food processor
rot = burp
slip = boy’s underwear
store = awning or roman blinds
sweat = sweatshirt
vest = coat
Now send us some of your back-to-school news!
Love, Angela and the family
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