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

David’s Dossier Declassified

DAVID’S DOSSIER DECLASSIFIED


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


Feb. 15-24, 2005 Soultz

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


Feb. 24-26, 2005 Berlin

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


Feb. 29-Mar. 4, 2005 Guebwiller

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


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

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


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

Till then,
David and Angela

Happy V-Day from The Kids!

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

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

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

Olivia With Her Neighborhood Friend

What do you miss most about America?

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

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

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

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

Class of 2008!

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

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

Kizzy and Chester "At Ease"

Noah With Youcef

What’s the best thing about your school?

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

What do you like to do with your free time?

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

Noah And His Favorite Toys

Until next time!

Angela

Bonne Année 2005!

January 5, 2005

The bags read, "See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us"The bags read, "Jesus I trust in your lovingkindness"

Bonne Année 2005!

A month-long bout with pneumonia put a big damper on our holiday season and kept me from sending out news and greetings to all of you before now. Fortunately, I already had our windows decorated, and we enjoyed listening to passersby stop and read the verses written on the bags out loud! (Roll your mouse over the photos to see what they said!) I also thank God for a compassionate and understanding doctor. (No appt. needed! A flat rate of $25 per visit! And he makes house calls! Are the Americans salivating?) Funny, after almost 4 weeks, my recovery was an overnight thing, rather than a gradual one, and it was just in time to celebrate the New Year! I felt as if I had been resurrected from the dead, and David and I walked downtown to a nice Chinese restaurant and had a lovely meal out for the first time in almost a year. And that was possible due to the overwhelming response to our wish list in the last newsletter – our cup overfloweth!! It was such a welcome relief from an autumn of belt-tightening. The real cost of living here became obvious when we bought a house and started getting the bills! But in light of the tragedy in Asia, we quickly acknowledge how blessed we are, (and are so pleased with our children’s generous responses when we asked them if they would like to donate to the aid efforts!)

Since this year marks 5 years on the field, we thought this newsletter would be a good time to look back… And though we’ve only really just arrived at our long-term destination, it’s encouraging to see what God’s been quietly doing all along the way…

We recently learned that our outreach time in Slovakia / 1999 is bearing fruit! We had helped to staff family camps that gave some Slovakian couples the boost and vision they needed to become ministry leaders, and they have formed strong teams with YWAM Family Ministries for their nation.

And then what ever happened to the student families in the Scotland Family DTSs? Among the several American families, one has been evangelizing in Edinburgh until recently and now has an eye towards North Africa to work with Muslims. 3 others have been leading various DTSs in Scotland and England. Two of the British families returned to their hometowns with a clearer understanding of their roles and giftings, and they are using them to impact their communities more effectively. The third is helping addicts with a 12-Step recovery program in the Red Light district of Amsterdam. Our Canadian family of 8 has a huge burden for the salvation of Scotland, and offers inner healing, counseling and deliverance in Glasgow. We are proud to call all of them friends and fellow soldiers!

In 2002, during language school in Albertville, I had the chance to give our testimony to 2 of the children’s teachers. They shared that years of war in the name of religion caused them to dismiss a living, loving God. But they listened with interest and heard differently, probably for the first time…

Last year, while David worked on staff with the Reconciliation School, I was “on sabbatical” at the Christian center where we lived. During that time I befriended a young Albanian wife and mother whose family was living there temporarily. It was an easy relationship that turned naturally into discipleship as we shared our hearts, and eventually she gave her life to the Lord after seeing “The Passion.” Through another missionary connection, I was able to get her some Bible study materials in Albanian before moving. God was so gracious to orchestrate that friendship for an introvert like me…

And that brings us to the present: One of David’s focuses has been the hidden work of intercession, alone and with others, not only for the needs around us, but also for direction from God where to put our limited energies in such a spiritually needy place. He also desires to plant seeds of reconciliation in Alsace. Through last year’s school, he saw two Alsatian students experience much healing and be launched into this ministry with a heart to multiply it. Here in Alsace, David has already had the chance to teach and lead worship during a recent introductory weekend seminar on these issues. A month later, one of the participants ran into David and shared that God restored his relationship with his daughter during that weekend! David and I were also recently asked to help pray with a struggling couple in our church and they saw some breakthroughs for the first time. We give God the all the glory!

And last month we even witnessed the need for reconciliation at the national level on our school grounds: a group of students from Germany had come to have an afternoon of language exchange with our middle school students. We saw not only resistance and resentment among the French kids, and some aggression by the Germans, but this spirit of hatred and division affected the primary students as well while we were on lunch/recess duty. It was the longest 2 hrs of our life among 40 kids who could not and would not get along. It is surprising that this level of intolerance still exists among children who are more alike than different in the “new European Union.” But if we believe Eph. 6:12, (“we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places,) the key is more targeted prayer, not more tolerance-based curricula. Next month marks the 60th anniversary of the last time that this war-torn region changed nationalities…some 4 times in the last 150 years! The kids are studying it in school of course and we hope this historical marker will open hearts throughout Alsace to all the possibilities of reconciliation that God has provided through His Son Jesus.

On the other hand, you Americans will be happy to hear that based on my students’ wildly enthusiastic reception to Corn-Nuts, Kool-Aid, oatmeal choc.chip cookies, and Rice Krispy Treats, I can almost guarantee that these children will grow up with very positive feelings towards America! This is another example of the other half of our ministry focus this year – working with this tiny percentage of kids born into believing families, (including our own!) and fertilizing that holy seed with our love and encouragement so that they can fulfill their destinies as Godly leaders in their nation’s future.

So we say all this to thank you for 5 years of trust, encouragement, prayers, and financial support. We know we’re not your typical missionaries, with well-defined missions projects in a third world country, (and God bless all of them!!) and that makes your commitment to us even more precious. Know that we are humbled and grateful to be able to live in a place where most only dream of visiting, and by His grace, be lights in this other “dark continent” for as long as He would have us here.

And as the French say to each other this time of year (while kissing both cheeks, of course):
Bonne Année! Meilleurs Voeux! Bonne Santé! (Happy New Year! Best Wishes! Good Health!)

Love, Angela & Famille

A Slice of Soultz Culture

St. Maurice Church in SoultzHi everyone,
This month’s highlight was a visit from our friends and teammates from England who brought physical and emotional sunlight to a cold, rainy October! While researching and prayer walking they fell in love with Soultz. While leading a worship dance workshop, they fell in love with our school. And while measuring our crazy walls and scraping our crazy wallpaper, they fell in love with our house! And they arrived already in love with French food, and took back as much as they could! We look forward to many more visits – we’re actually only 12 hrs apart by car, including the ferry crossing!

This month I wanted to give you a taste of our village and church life in this unique part of France:

We live on a side street just off of the cobblestone main street that goes through the old town center. This means that I am within a few min. walking distance from a bakery, a pharmacy (important when you can’t buy anything over-the-counter,) and all other essential shops! This is a blessing because parking is a big deal. Every time we need to drive somewhere, we play, “Where’s the Car?” trying to remember where we last parked, as the parking lot facing our house is often full and we have to hunt for a spot “further afield,” as the Brits put it. As winter weather gets more severe, this will become a real character-builder, no doubt!!

Our town is part of a group of 44 towns that lie along a winding north-south road called “La Route des Vins” that is the home of French Rieslings, Pinots, Muscats, Gewurztraminers, and Sylvaners. It is well traveled by tourists, so even small towns, like ours of 7,000, work hard to make themselves attractive for tourism euros. In the summer, bicycle enthusiasts crowd the back roads, and during the Christmas season all of France comes to us to experience the magical (non-commercialized) events staged in these picturesque towns. Right now, our tourism office is offering classes and ideas for decorating our windows with this year’s Alsatian theme, (i.e. pretzels, storks, and heart motifs) and then in Dec. they will offer carriage rides through town for tourists to view them. We’ve got 4 windows right on the street to subtly evangelize with our decor, (i.e. Bread of life? Behold the birds of the air? God is love??) (And I’m not even going to think about parking issues then ;^)…)

Speaking of Christmas, our family has some unique needs and deficits this year with the acquisition of a new home, and so have taken the liberty of adding a wish list to our website for those of you who would like to bless us with a one-time gift for something more specific now or anytime! Options run the gamut from CDs to buckets of paint! Here’s the link – leighweb.com/wishlist.htm

But back to Soultz… We have 3 churches that include a lovely Gothic cathedral that has dominated the town square for 7 centuries and houses a special organ that attracts the best organists for regular concerts. The antithesis of this is the Assemblies of God church squeezed into one room on a side street, practically invisible to passersby. They actually have to drive the children to a private home for Sunday school, and not a single eyebrow is raised! (At least it’s more comfortable than a church in Albertville where the 3-6s had to work on the cold floor of an unheated dressing room in a dance school down the street!)

Unfortunately, this is pretty typical for non-traditional churches, and we were told that politics are part of the reason for struggles like this, just like in overtly atheistic countries: Because these churches are small, they have to rent space. But if the mayor is antagonistic to the gospel, as in Albertville, he can refuse to give a permit to rent something with space and visibility, hence, limiting their growth and ability to attract families with children – France’s future. Here are some other interesting church culture differences:

  • Unless told otherwise, you can assume the service at any church starts at 10am.
  • Church directories are rare; often considered an invasion of privacy!
  • Almost all communions are taken by passing a communal cup of wine, no matter how large the church! Recently we visited the largest one in France, 20 min. from our home – it seats 1,000 and has just one Pentecostal-style service where several cups where slowly passed around.
  • Europe is notorious for… shall we say, “minimalist” toilet facilities, churches included! So when our European friends visited the States last spring, they were so awestruck by the church bathrooms that they took pictures of them!

Our new home church is called “The Joshua Church,” and is closely linked with the kids’ school. Here, God has placed us among French Christians who understand and battle the spiritual oppression over this country with much faith and energy. It is so encouraging to walk with fellow soldiers! At 15, Rachel loves this church as much as we do, and who could blame her- the youth group leads worship most mornings, and she is starting to build some local Christian friendships for the first time! They are also fortunate to have a roomy facility, but lack the funds to furnish the Sunday school rooms or even provide basic supplies! Now that I’m part of the Sunday school team, I can see that my personal stash of creative materials will be quickly decimated, and my first thought was that I should put out a call to all of you who are members of a thriving American church:

Is there a Sunday school dept. out there that would like to partner with us (about 30 kids, ages 5-12)? I have a heart to make this more than an annual donation for supplies and furniture, especially if there is already an awareness of the 40/70 Window of prayer for Europe. (I could facilitate sending/translating group letters back and forth as a cultural/spiritual exchange with my class of 3-4th graders!) If this strikes a chord with you and your church, please send us a reply and we’ll talk details!

Until next month, we look forward to hearing from you!
Love,
Angela

A Slice of Soultz Life

Since you haven’t heard from me since May, I’m backing up to July to testify of His goodness since then! As a result, this one is a little longer than usual and contains a few photos. To read just what you want to read, use these links to the different topics:

our move, our ministry, our home, and school.

Mid-summer Moving Miracles

Moving our belongings and ourselves across the country on the cheap was a logistical nightmare, but it couldn’t have gone smoother, thanks to our “moving angels,” as I like to call them! Let me describe a few that God sent our way!

We were confronted with a week of homelessness when the owner delayed our planned move-in date. So we what we have concluded is that God caused a spike in the exchange rate on the day we wired our money over to pay for the house, leaving us with enough left over to fly over to England to touch base with our wonderful friends and teammates there! It was also a perfect place to celebrate Rachel’s 15th birthday: her best and oldest MK friend bought her a little black dress at a Goodwill store and all of us girls attended a classical concert starring an award-winning 14 yr. old violinist!

Back in France, two servant-hearted men from the church we were attending at Oasis came and spent 5 hrs in 95-degree heat loading our small rental truck as efficiently as possible. (That meant unpacking many cardboard boxes and stuffing the drawers of all the furniture!) Then when they finished near midnight, (without even stopping to eat,) one of them handed us an envelope full of cash that paid our travel expenses for the 5 hr. trip the next day!! Honestly, if he hadn’t come, we would have had to make two trips with the truck, because it’s illegal here to drive something bigger than a 19 ft truck with a normal driver’s license. (As it was, David only had to go down once with our van a couple of days later.) Exactly what our truck looked like...

Some precious Albertville classmates housed us many nights while homeless and in transit, and some others drove and returned the moving truck for us.

Once we were parked in front of our house, virtual strangers arrived to help unload. This included the principal and a handyman from the children’s school! Another was a woman we met while in Strasbourg in May. She brought a meal and offered her friendship, giving all sorts of help and information in the following weeks. The next day the postman pulled up on his bicycle to deliver my French driver’s license!! I’d been waiting since April – Couldn’t ask for a better house-warming gift!

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Limping Along in Ministry! Enjoying dinner with the Fresz's at the YWAM base

2 weeks after moving in, I tripped down our attic stairs and sprained my ankle. A week later, we had a date with a YWAM base to lead daily family worship for a week-long seminar for couples! It was a great time to escape from the physically exhausting demands of the house and the precarious stairwells, and live out our family vision, in spite of my gimpy foot! The kids really got a hold of it as well, and overcame all former inhibitions! The participants called our style of creative, interactive worship a highlight of the week, and we were blessed even more as seminar participants, having quality time as a couple to work on active listening skills and dealing with conflict- much needed during another move and transition! It was taught by our former German FDTS base leaders, the Fresz’s, who are now heading up YWAM Family Ministries in Europe. Because they taught in German, with translation to French, David’s brain synapses started making reconnections! Some of the French YWAM base staff also participated in the seminar, so we enjoyed getting to know them a lot better as couples, and we are now officially connected with this group in YWAM France.

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Home Sweet Home!

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

  • A beautifully renovated kitchen with a top of the line oven – God’s recompense for 2 years of cooking in propane tank-powered tin cans! This baby has 12 different settings and one of them makes a perfect quiche / tart! Ooh la la… The good...
  • A corner of my own in the attic where I can be creative, another room where the kids can play, and another room where I can dry my clothes on lines to save on our electricity usage!
  • Having space in our bathroom for a vanity table for me, and the best shower pressure we’ve ever had for David!.
  • Having rooms for each child that all connect to one another like a suite.
  • Liking the wallpaper enough in the living/dining room to keep it, thus being able to entertain guests within the second week!
  • The luxury of an office with just enough room for a couch to watch DVDs from the computer.

What are we putting up with? Let me grit my teeth…

  • All of our flooring is old linoleum, and in the attic it is dirty scrap linoleum! ...the bad and the UGLY!
  • All the other rooms in the house are covered with ugly brown wallpaper, underneath which is old chipping plaster – Oh boy! I sure miss good ole American drywall now!
  • Our house is running on 15 amps and we’re not grounded! That means if the washer is on, making a cup of coffee or turning on the iron trips the main breaker and all the clocks start blinking at us! (Fortunately an electrician with the school has got us on his to-do list!)
  • The downstairs front windows are single pane, letting in a lot of noise, and probably a lot of cold in the winter. The same goes for our bedroom window that faces a courtyard full of dogs and cats and their owner (a lady) that talks or yells at them day and night! (They’ve been trying to move for 2 months now – a serious matter of prayer with each day that goes by!)
  • Our WC or toilet room has walls black with mold and lousy ventilation. I can’t tolerate this much longer, and am hoping to get someone who can climb the roof and get to the source of the problem soon!! Oh, and did I mention that there isn’t a real door? Because of it’s tight location there’s a plastic accordion door that doesn’t offer one iota of sound-proofing!

David and I are enjoying some honeymoon time during these first few weeks of school because for the first time our children are gone all day and neither of us is occupied full-time…yet. He starts his day prayer-walking Soultz, then mornings tackling a million and one administrative tasks. Moving to a new town in France is like moving to a new state in America – and it’s great to have the time to get things in order, esp. since we have to figure it all out on our own, and it’s all done in a French with a bloated bureaucracy. I’m spending a lot more time in the kitchen and going from store to store as we try to pare down the grocery bills. And for the first time I need to be making sure there is always something for the kids to pack for lunch. (French elementary schools never have cafeterias, but happily, our school does have a room with tables and microwaves.) David and I are putting our seminar tips to use and enjoy some quality time together without the interruption of children during our lunch hour now! Afternoons are spent trying to tackle another problem with the house or adding another French worship song to our repertoire or learning the rules of the road with our driving school software or writing e-mails. But this peaceful routine will be changing soon as we become more involved in the ministry of the kid’s school and the relational network behind it, that join many like-minded believers all over France and beyond.

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College (Middle School) Daniel and staff residence School is CoolElementary building and grounds

Last night we were invited to attend a meeting with the middle school teachers concerning their frustration about the chapel service for the students. They accepted our offer to lead the worship each week, and the excitement, vision, and flood of ideas that followed kept me up most of the night! Lemme at ’em, Lord! Their cool facade is a lot thinner than it looks! And more importantly we see this as just a seed of a much bigger vision of a house of worship and prayer for the nations!

The school also needed a volunteer to introduce English once a week to Noah’s fifth grade class, so he and I will teach together, modeling conversation and allowing him the chance to be the expert! Because his teacher lives in our village and his wife teaches the music, and his daughter is a playmate of Olivia, we were invited to their home for coffee one evening! What an incredible blessing to have a friendship with my children’s teachers! I never thought that could happen in this country after the cool, intimidating receptions we have received up till now!

Among the students, there are several who live too far away to drive the commute every morning, so local families volunteer to host them 2-3 nights a week. We are privileged to welcome 3 nights-a-week a lively and adorable 13 yr. old pianist and whipped cream lover named Priscilla, who lives on a farm and shares her family produce with us every week! (And she highly recommends whipped cream on your applesauce!) She’s getting some good English immersion and we hope she can start to contribute to our dinner hour banter in a couple of months! We also hope to adopt a couple of her available kittens soon!

As for our own girls, Rachel had a very overwhelming first week – and who could blame her – her third middle school in 3 years! To add to her pressure, ninth grade in this system is the year before high school when all your studies are aimed at passing a big national test called the Brevet at the end of the year. The results are no longer used to decide which high school track a student should take, but the test is still given, perhaps for national school evaluation. In addition, Rachel cannot enter a French high school here without 4 yrs of study in 2 foreign languages. Obviously, English is covered, but she’s only had one year of Italian, which isn’t offered here. So she’s being asked catch up with her 4 classmates, who are in their 4th yr. of German, by studying independently during English classes. As lovers of the language, she and David are enjoying this challenge together!! I can see that she is already flourishing in this positive spiritual climate where the Christian world-view is compared to humanistic French life and thought. We are sorry that she can only enjoy one year here before moving on to high school, whether it be here, in Britain, in Germany, or in the States! Musically, she’s starting her 3rd year of violin today at the beautiful music school nearby, and it turns out that her teacher is a believer! She is also very excited about playing in a student orchestra that is included in her tuition.

Olivia continues to be Miss Popularity “because I’m a peacemaker,” she says! The neighborhood girls came swarming to the house daily during summer break and classmates are crestfallen when Olivia stays home sick. David and I never enjoyed this kind of favor in third grade! Is this our child? She wants to continue with piano, but we’ve got to find one for her to practice on first. This will be a good prayer focus for her to see how God provides! She had to sign a contract at the beginning of the year promising to be the best student she could be with God’s help, but what she really loved was that her teacher also gave her a signed promise that he would be the best teacher that he could be with God’s help! She also loves wearing house slippers in class all day, as all the kids do, to cut down on the janitorial load that is carried by the parents and teachers! And you’ll never guess where she went on her first field trip… to learn about and pick mushrooms! Only in France…

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Next month I’ll share more about the town and region we living in!

Until then…Grace and Peace!
Angela and Co.

A Pause For Reflection

Greetings from our New Home!!!

David here; giving Angela a brief break from newsletter duties…

Before anything else, here is our new address(we’re now situated about 1 hour south of Strasbourg, France in the Alsace region) and telephone number:

16 rue des Vosges
68360 Soultz
FRANCE

03.89.76.64.83

(if dialed from North America: 011-33-389-766-483)
(if dialed from other foreign countries: 00 33 3 89 76 64 83)

Our mobile phone remains the same: 06 73 75 68 05

Remember, if you forget our contact information, you can always find it on our web site on the Contacts page (https://leighweb.com/contact.htm).

Speaking of our web site, other than the newsletters, it’s not been updated in a long while since we’ve not had a consistent internet connection with which to do it. Now that we do have such a connection, I’ve just created another picture gallery. This time of our 10 months in Montéléger. You can check it out at: https://leighweb.com/gallery.htm! (more updates to come in the not-so-distant future…I hope).

We moved in the 22nd of July and have been busy adjusting the house to us and us to the house. It’s 104 years old and most recently belonged to a widow who had lived here for 28 years. Needless to say, there is much to be done to accommodate our family, our tastes and our needs. We’ve made a ton of progress but there is SO MUCH more to do!

I won’t bore you with all the house details now (write us and ask and we’d be glad to bore you individually, one-at-a-time!).

Much has happened since our last general newsletter in May. It feels like our time in Montéléger/Valence was a different lifetime and our focus is very much here and now. But, I believe it’s very important for us (and for you) to pause and try to grasp at least a glimpse of what God was doing during those 10 months. Throughout the Bible, God instructs us not to live in the past; but at the same time to purposefully remember the past! With that in mind, a final curtain call on the 2003/2004 YWAM School of Reconciliation!

  • Reconciliation School Overview – The Reconciliation School finished officially the 25th of June. For the staff it was 10 intense months and for the students 9 intense months. We studied in depth what the verses in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 mean for us practically and literally in our lives. We studied and practiced reconciliation:
  • Between us and God
  • Within us, with respect to the identity that God has given us
  • In our family relationships and our “roots”
  • Between us and others as individuals
  • Between races
  • Between nations
  • Between regions
  • Between cultures
  • Between languages (a language is not a “neutral” thing)
  • Between denominations and within the Body of Christ

We learned about how to stand as a representative of a group of people/cross-section of society with whom we can truthfully identify and ask forgiveness for the wrongs of the past that still haunt the present and keep people from knowing Jesus.

All this came in the context of 6 months of speakers and study and 3 months of practical outreach. During this time the seeds of this ministry to which Jesus called all Christians (2 Cor 5:18-20) were well planted in all of us…students and staff.

  • Reconciliation School Outreach – During the last 3 months of the school, students and staff divided up into various teams to put into deeper practice some of the things that we had all been learning. Here’s a brief overview of the teams (which overlapped in time and between which people changed sometimes):
  • USA Team: Even for those who were not a part of this team, it was a highlight of the school. The team spent time in Louisiana, where an American team of intercessors had been praying for 3 years that an intercessory team would come from France, and then onto South Carolina and Florida. Our team had a chance to repent and ask forgiveness for the sins of the French government with respect to the Indians (massacres), African-Americans (slavery), and Cajuns (abandonment) whom they could embrace as “French brothers”. They also were able to release forgiveness to Spanish descendants for a Spanish massacre of an early French Huguenot settlement in Florida.

    What strikes me is that in going to the States to specifically deal with the injustices of long ago, God used this team to bring a measure of reconciliation today between two nations divided. Prejudices fell to the ground on both sides. Hearts were knit together. The Body of Christ was strengthened and cleansed. Impediments to the Gospel were removed. Futures on both sides of the Atlantic were indelibly changed. When God reconciles,He reconciles!

  • Swiss Team: This team that I was a part of, visited a valley in western Switzerland to teach a one-week seminar on intercession. Christians in this valley have begun to come together to pray but they wanted more specific training on how to be more effective in their prayer. It was our challenge and our joy to share with them the principles we had learned during our school about how to pray with specific guidance by God and specific actions of repentance and reconciliation for sins of the near and far past that still affect the region today. Directly (same day) after a specific time of reconciliation we led between two villages in the valley for repeated rivalries between them (within the Church to boot!), a Christian “hostel” in one of the villages that had been in such financial straights that they were considering closing down, received (literally) a bus-load of lodgers for several weeks and a large grant by the local government. Reconciliation changes things!
  • Vaudois Team: This team re-traced the steps of a revival movement that happened just before the Reformation in France, Italy and Switzerland. This group of people saw incredible response to the Gospel but were persecuted violently by the Church. This team prayed and repented for the past injustices and asked God to re-revive these still existing Vaudois churches and towns so that they would find again the gift that God originally gave them but which has been buried and dormant for so long. The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable – Romans 11:29
  • Cevenne Team: Like the Vaudois team, the Cevenne team was looking to the heritage that God had given to the Huguenot believers in this particular region long ago. They repented for where the Huguenots had got it wrong and asked God for mercy to revive His gifts there and show the world where they had got it right instead.
  • Valence Team: I was a part of this team as well. We had an intercessory focus on what God wants to do in the two regions surrounding the city of Valence. We traveled around the Drôme and Ardeche regions and worshiped and prayed in strategic spots. In doing this we wanted to build “altars of worship” to connect heaven and earth as the patriarchs in the Old Testament did as they were taking territory for the Lord. We also organized and ran two seminars in Valence around the theme of restoring the creative and prophetic voice in the Church, especially in that region where there had been such a move of the prophetic in the days of the Huguenots long ago. God was powerfully with us, particularly in worship, during this time.

The Future – This particular ministry of Reconciliation will continue with a planned school in Geneva in 2005, one currently on-going in Normandy and one starting at the YWAM base near Paris in January. There is a vision to see this ministry in Strasbourg (in our region, Alsace) and in Brussels. There is a team that is staying in Valence as well as those from both the students and staff looking towards the next school in Geneva. There is already some activity also in Martinique. God is raising this sort of Reconciliation ministry up in many parts of the world.

For our part, our new region, Alsace, has a desperate need for the ministry of reconciliation at all levels (individuals all the way to nations). The wounds and bitterness that people take for granted as “normal” in their lives causes them to reject the love that God has for them. That means that either they don’t seek God in their lives at all or once they’ve made a small connection with God, they are stunted in their growth of relationship with God because they can’t receive His love for them. Therefore, no healing happens and they continue in their life with a hard crust of religion on their hearts instead of entering into the fullness of the love of God and His destiny for their life. We pray that God can use us in the ministry of reconciliation here in Alsace and that we can see people healed and released into their destiny in God!

Next Time – Angela will return to the keyboard in the next few weeks to fill you in on the move, our new house, “what we did on our summer vacation” and the kids’ new school, and…who knows what!? Stay tuned!

Much love from our family to yours!
David

Call Confirmed

We write today to proclaim Psalm 37:3-4!

“Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart!”

Our "Maison de Rue" (row house) right on the street in the village of Soultz, France

Last week during our visit to the cities of Strasbourg and Guebwiller, we received every confirmation that we needed for our plans to move!We are walking on air as we look to the future with confidence! Here is a testimony of what the Lord did for us:

We participated in Strasbourg’s March for Jesus on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, praising God as loudly as possible for 2 hours with 500 other local Christians. There were hundreds of onlookers as our parade passed thru town, and we never saw any negative reactions. This felt like a positive sign of an open heaven for us for the coming week.

On Sunday, David led worship and taught on reconciliation for a church that is led by the dear Canadian family we were staying with. We’ve known them for 5 years since we met them in Denver. (They left for France at about the same time that we got our call back then.) We closed with a beautiful time of repentance and reconciliation around the Lord’s Supper.

On Monday morning we drove to the Christian school in Guebwiller and fell in love not only with the school, but with the whole area. Noah joined a class for a day, and immediately joined in a soccer game at recess. Because it took him 6 months to engage with kids in Albertville and Montéléger, this brought tears to my eyes. I know he will blossom in this “safe place,” where bullying is not tolerated, and character is developed. And Rachel can’t wait to experience ninth grade with her class of 6 !!

And about the house-we were very specific with the Lord: we really needed to buy, not rent, and it had to be within our means without a loan, be within 10 minutes of Guebwiller, be big enough to allow us to invite people to visit, and… we had only 3 days to find it!

After 2 1/2 days, it wasn’t looking good, but on the third day, our joy was resurrected when the perfect match was found, and we signed the contract with peace and relief. There is something very satisfying and prophetic about actually owning a piece of history on the land that God has called you to, for it comes with an authority to take back the land for His Kingdom!

It is a 100 yr. old “row house,” in American terminology, that sits right on a side street in a beautiful village that is one of the oldest in France. Though it has no driveway, garage, or yard, it makes up for that on the inside, with features and character that we found nowhere else!

And did I mention that it has not 2, not 3, but 4 stories of living space?! This was more than we dreamed of, esp. at that price range. Though very habitable, it still needs some work, so we’re currently recruiting any handyman/woman (“DIYer”, “bricoleur”) who wants to do a short term missions trip to make this house the ministry tool it has the potential to be!

Thursday morning we drove back up to Strasbourg for the Target Europe conference. Around 300? believers from all over Europe gathered for 3 days to worship, connect with others, receive impartation, and hear God’s voice concerning Europe. It was an exciting and important time for us. Mixed with all of that was a clear message that the time for the European Church to wake up and get in line with what God wants to do here is NOW! There is a window of opportunity that is important for us to seize and it’s one of the reasons this move is so important for us.

We’ll write again after the move in early July!

Love, Angela & Co.

Leigh Family Newsletter – May 2, 2004

Top Ten

Reasons Why

The Leighs

Are Moving

Again!

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

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

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

Love, Angela

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

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

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