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!
Angela

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,
    Angela

    Entertaining (Snow) Angels

    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.

      Entering the Struthof concentration camp (the only one in France) Rachel translates the youth pastor for chapel

    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!

    Angela

    THREE CAT NIGHT

    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!)

    Gumdrop!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!

    Angela

    COME YE THANKFUL PEOPLE COME…

    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! (
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    * 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

    October 2005 – On Target

    This fall, our family has settled into some rhythms that are giving us lots of peace and purpose.

    On Target!

    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…”

    • A ride in a newer model mini-van feels like a limousine.
    • Your youngest child will pour room temperature UHT milk on her cereal without even a grimace. (Not true for the older ones!)
    • You never consider running a dryer in the summer time.
    • Carpeting feels strange, and all members of the family have a sturdy pair of house slippers in sizes ranging from 34 – 42!
    • American junk food doesn’t taste good anymore.
    • Your sixth grader needs not only a ruler for math, but also a compass, a right triangle, a protractor, a scientific calculator, cm graph paper, mm graph paper and tracing paper.
    • You panic when you realize that you forget to bring your own bags to sack your groceries.
    • You enjoy watching DVDs in more than one language.
    • You are euphoric when finding an “American” item that you thought didn’t exist here. (Today it was those curly shoelaces that you don’t have to tie.)
    • You get so used to chiming church bells that you don’t notice them anymore.
    • Your 16 yr. old is not eager to get her driving license and none of her (16-20 year old) friends drive either.

    How’s your aim these days?

    Drop us a line!

    Angela and family

    Refuge

    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.

    Off to school!
    In the meantime, we’re providing refuge again this year for our long distance student, Priscille. Here she is heading to the car, (our house is behind Noah’s head,) and we are all happy to have her back, (though Noah’s face does not register the same enthusiasm for school!)
    Rachel is loving internet schooling, and having her home really lightens the daily morning rush. I have been volunteered to take on additional teaching this year, and I feel like I am in over my head providing music classes for the 4-7s in French. Along with the English classes, that makes 4 different lessons that I have to come up with from scratch with each week! We are also still leading worship for the middle schoolers each week and will join the worship team rotation at our church as well. For more about what David and Rachel are up to, click below to read their newly-created blogs:

    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

    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

    LIBRARIES, and DENTISTS, and LICENSES, OH MY!

    LIBRARIES, and DENTISTS, and LICENSES, OH MY!


    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 amazon.com!

    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…

    Angela

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