February 27, 2004
Spring has always been my favorite season, and it looks like 2004 will not disappoint! Here s what is shaping up for us in the coming months:
We have put off writing our regular newsletter in hopes of including some good news about a home. Yes, I am writing this from a real living room… but it is not my own. We are house sitting for a Christian family just across the street for a week, and we are trying to enjoy every minute of it!! Oh, the luxury of being out from under a bunk bed, using a dishwasher, taking a bath, making homemade waffles for the kids on a frosty morning, having all day internet access and a coffee table where you can put a puzzle together… Being here is refreshing and frustrating because it renews our restlessness for a place of our own. So far, homes that have come up for rent are too small, too expensive, or too far away for a one-car family. Any real possibilities have been snapped up before we can even view them, and it is easy to get discouraged on a bad day. But we must choose to say, “That was not the house God had for us. But He has called us here and knows our needs before we ask.” So many of you have walked or are walking through this same situation right now all over the world – so you know how to pray!
And although we are still under all the stress that comes with adjusting to a new culture, we can look back on our first 4 months here, and be amazed at how God has already been able to use us!
Living at a camp that has been ministering in various ways over the last 30 years by the same people makes it easy to integrate into the Christian network here! The camp birthed a church several years ago, which was in the process of splitting up when we arrived. Half wanted to stay connected to the camp, and half didn’t. The half that did, are holding services at the camp, so church is now at our doorstep! Our kids don’t hesitate to go to Sunday school, and this has spared us from the painful search for a church home. We have lead worship as substitutes, and I will probably start helping with the Sunday school in January.
But the best news is that we’ve already gotten a chance to speak to couples! And they actually paid money to hear us!! (Well, actually they were paying for the meal that was included!) This was a holy day for our family, when we began doing in a small way what God originally called us to do – and we did it in French! It was so scary, but so rewarding. Before the meal we shared how lousy our marriage was and why. During the meal, we had discussion questions for them talk about. After the meal we shared how God intervened to help us operate in healthier ways and got us on the mission field. They laughed when we tried to be funny, and applauded heartily at the end. Wow…communication happened! To top it off, we were given a generous offering the next day – a complete surprise!
With that under our belts, I went into organizing Thanksgiving for 30 guests. This was a request by some of the staff that had the privilege of sharing Thanksgiving in the past w/other Americans, and didn’t want to miss the opportunity this year. Most Europeans have heard of the holiday, but have no idea what it is about. So we told the story and performed 3 Thanksgiving hymns as a family, and had lots of help with the cooking. We received lots of hugs and compliments the next day, making it all worth the effort! I also got asked to share the holiday with Noah and Olivia’s class earlier in the week, and boldly included the worship of Jesus in the history lesson. After that, we made hand-tracing turkeys, tasted cornbread, and did a dot-to-dot of the Mayflower. The kids were great, and the teacher has invited me to come back to read to them for English class!
I’ve also discovered that we are not the only Americans around! There are several American women in the region who have married French men. I have had lunch with a few, and will meet some more to sing carols with this weekend! (For you Lord of the Rings fans, one went to high school with Viggo Mortenson!) They are great connections to have, as many have lived in the area for many years.
David has been as much a student as a staff member, as he sits in on the teachings each week. Speakers are brought in from all over the globe with various takes on the subject of reconciliation. He has been challenged and changed by what he has heard: This week he has confessed his prejudices as an American and also received blessings from the Europeans for what Americans have contributed to the world. A young man has just recently joined the school midway, so David and another staff member have been assigned to him – a new responsibility as mentor. I got to sit in on one week of the lectures, helping to lead worship each morning as well, and we experienced deeper healing in our marriage because of it!
We are all so excited about the holidays this year with the arrival of David’s parents next week! Despite the winter weather, we are going to make sure they get a taste of Western Europe with a couple of sightseeing trips. If we’re still on your Christmas card list, we’d love to hear from you! Here’s our snail mail address:
P.S. For those of you who usually get something from us in the mail at Christmas time, we are going to follow the French tradition of sending New Year’s greetings from now on. We’ll be sending them home with David’s parents to mail more cheaply, so they should arrive mid-January.
Sunny and Cher!
This phrase popped out of my mouth one day when we were describing life here in the southern half of France, and we decided this would make a great newsletter title! But to get the pun, you must know that “cher” means expensive or dear. And according to the locals, it’s the “sunny” that makes it “cher.” In the 3 weeks we’ve been here, we’ve had clear blue skies for all but 4 days! We’re not in Scotland anymore!
We hope that Sonny and Cher won’t mind if we borrow their theme song, “I Got You, Babe”for our newsletter!
Until next time,
Well, we’re up to our necks in plans and packing right now! Because much is to happen quickly in the next week, I thought it wise to get a bit of information out before we take the moving plunge…
Monday September 1st – We pack up our mini-van and David and Olivia take the ferry from Edinburgh over to the continent. They arrive in Montéléger, France Tuesday night.
Tuesday – Angela, Rachel and Noah fly from Glasgow to Lyon and also arrive in Montéléger, France Tuesday night.
Wednesday – Unpack and prepare for getting kids in school
Thursday – Kids in school!
Monday – September 8th – David’s staff training time for the YWAM School of Reconciliation starts
All above hours not specifically listed – Pack, clean, say goodbye, unpack, get our bearings, untold administrative processes, speak French, sell a house, find a house, etc. The activities of selling our house and moving our furniture will continue here after we leave. Nice to leave it behind and just get there…but of course I’d like to be a bit more “in control” than God is allowing me to be.
Our emails will stay the same but we don’t know when we’ll be able to access them next.
Our mobile phone number once we get to France will be +33 6 73 75 68 05
Our mailing address (regular mail will be forwarded from Scotland – packages will not) and where we’re staying for awhile will be:
Centre d’accueil L’Oasis
Tél 04 75 59 56 62 Fax 04 75 59 53 67
Life is good and a bit hectic right now!
With all due respect to our friends the Kendall’s in Albertville who have just had their first (real) child (yea!), please rejoice with us because…
We Just Got Our Visas For France!!!!!!
Well…we just got the call that they are in and ready for us at the French Consulate to pick up. Now the question is, are we ready for them!?
It has been kind of like a baby for us. One of the differences though being when Angela expected it and when I expected it. She had faith they would arrive soon and I…well…had less. But, we have been praying and God deserves all the credit for a miracle like this. We essentially received our long term visas for France in one month!That’s really unheard of. We have been preparing though…especially this week with some packing, but now we’ve really got a ton to do!
No, I don’t know exactly when we’re going but we’ll let you know that as soon as we do. We’ve still got quite a bit of logistical planning to do.
So, I’ll sign off now with an appeal for your support. Primarily that refers to prayers as we’ll all need them for the transition that is in front of us. Additionally, however, the actual cost of the move is likely to total in the $5,000 range. So, we thank in advance any who would like to give (see the “finances” link below) specifically towards this one-time expense of finally moving that Leigh family across The Channel for good! ;c)
More to come soon!
Just 5 weeks ago… we were sitting around a little rotating fan, moaning about the 95-degree heat, blocking every ray of sunshine from entering our apt., and sucking ice cubes for supper. Today, at the end of July, I am huddled up to a warm radiator, begging God for a ray of sunshine, and trying to ignore the desire to bake something warm and fattening everyday! (Won’t you be glad when we’ve left Scotland for good and weather is no longer our favorite newsletter intro??)
Now in honor of our favorite radio show, we present: “Adventures in Paisley.”
“Welcome to this month’s saga as we continue to try to answer the question: “Will the Leighs ever get settled in France?” Let’s listen in….”
Well, housing-wise… the good news is that we all arrived back in Scotland safe and sound, and pleased to find our house in the same condition. (And we discovered that our appreciation of carpeting, bathtubs, and separate living rooms had grown deeply!) The bad news is that upon our return to France, we’ll be living in a couple of dorm rooms at the retreat center where the YWAM school will be held.
Visa-wise…the good news is that the process got rolling with an appointment at the consulate on the 4th of July, and David and the girls had a great day out in Edinburgh afterwards with another family who graduated from our FDTS school, and have ministering there.
The bad news is that the enemy seemed to have jotted that important date in his calendar. Half way home, the car died of internal injuries, and a tow truck delivered David and the girls home late that night. That same afternoon, Noah put a rake through his lip while helping me in the garden, and this was the first time I’d taken a child to the ER. But the good news is that a car has been loaned to us for free by a complete stranger until David gets the one we bought in France. The other good news is that Noah’s injury wasn’t as serious as I’d thought, and emergency visits are free here!
Health wise… the bad news is that the enemy hasn’t let up yet. Noah and I both got sore throats a few days later that wouldn’t ease up. The doc and I swore it was mononucleosis. Three long weeks later, I’ve got a raspy voice and am only active for about 4 hrs/day, but the blood test declared it a nameless, faceless virus. The good news is that David gets to escape the heavy load of mothering and fathering by going to France for a week to get our van and participate in worship leading at an annual conference that he’s always wanted to attend. I will happily stay at home with a single YWAM friend to help me get through the day.
“Well, that’s it for this month! And it looks like the Leighs are still on hold! So join us again next time for… Adventures in Paisley!“
Thanks for listening!
Greetings to all from our soon-to-be-former home in Albertville!
I wanted to let you all know our plans for the immediate future…and I do mean immediate!
Last night we had our graduation ceremony (yes, we did graduate!) I was a wonderful affair and made a good milestone to close this time here in Albertville.
We’re in the throes of packing up our apartment right now in cloud-free, non-air-conditioned heat (a cloudy day in Scotland is sounding really nice right about now!). Many things are being stored with some friends in France for us to get when we return at the end of summer.
Tomorrow we go through the process of buying a car for France (with the steering wheel on the LEFT) and continue packing. Tuesday we move the stuff we’re keeping here in France to our friends’ house and continue packing. Wednesday, the 25th, Angela and the kids are taken to Geneva for a two-hop flight to Glasgow. I pack up the car (our British one) and drive to the YWAM base near Paris to spend the night. The 26th I drive to Zeebrugge, Belgium to catch the overnight ferry to Edinburgh. I drive from Edinburgh to Glasgow on the 27th.
On July 4th, just like a year ago, we commence our process for obtaining long-stay visas with the French Consulate in Edinburgh.
There we go! That’s the future that we know for now. The timing of getting the visas is in God’s hands and we’d appreciate your prayers for that. We’d love to be back in France at the end of August to start the kids schooling and the YWAM school that I’m going to be with, but the timing is not ours to determine. Last year we learned about waiting when we had to start our language school a month late…and everything worked out fine. Who knows what we’ll learn this summer! ;c)
Once we get our visas we can sell our house and move our stuff to France and commence our life there. While we wait we’ll be working on getting our house ready to sell; trying to keep some of our French in our brains; studying the topic of Reconciliation for me; and probably visiting friends in the UK…and whatever else God has for us.
More info as we know it…
Our Love to you all,
Again He has made our next step clear, and so we continue our journey…
So how did He speak to us this time? Well, as we considered our next move, David was invited to attend a week-long YWAM conference on reconciliation. He decided to go in order to meet the leaders and decide if he would be interested in staffing a
So you ask, “What the heck is a ‘School of Reconciliation’?” Let’s start by quoting from the website of the International Reconciliation Coalition, (www.reconcile.org) which defines reconciliation better than we can:
“If we have broken our covenants with God and violated our relationships with one another; the path to reconciliation must begin with individual acts of confession. Paradoxically, the greatest wounds in human history, the greatest injustices, have not happened through the acts of some individual perpetrator; rather through the institutions, systems, philosophies, cultures, religions and governments of humankind. Because of this, we, as individuals, are tempted to absolve ourselves of all individual responsibility. However, unless somebody chooses to identify themselves with corporate entities, such as the nation of our citizenship, or the subculture of our ancestors, the act of honest confession will never take place. This leaves us in a world of injury and offense in which no corporate sin is ever acknowledged, reconciliation never begins and old hatreds deepen.”
This school is for practical training in some of the ways we can live out the scripture of II Corinthians 5:18 where Paul says that all Christians have been given the ministry of reconciliation. There is a great need for this in France as there are deep wounds in this culture, and these wounds keep the French from being able to receive the love of Christ and keep the French church from being able to demonstrate the love of Christ. Personally, this school will also help us to understand the issues involved in reaching the French and be foundational for other ministry we do in France.
Unlike most YWAM schools, this school will also be open to non-YWAMers, and will be taught in French and English. So if you know anyone, anywhere, who might have an interest in this school, please let us know. For French speakers, you can directly reference more information about this school at: https://www.jem-france.com/fasr.htm.
So the burden of an unknown future has been replaced by the burden of another international move! The details seem overwhelming at times but God is faithful to us and has shown it many times through all of you. We will fill you all in more in subsequent newsletters. Please continue to pray for us as we move into this next season of transition…by far our biggest yet.
Ok, I’m searching long and hard for a title for this particular newsletter, but I think I’ve come up short! I don’t have a wiz-bang theme either. But, I really want to communicate with you all, and I think that’s a point worth making.
We’re here at language school in France for exactly the same reason. We really want to communicate some things…with the people of France specifically. Guess what…it’s hard work! Yep, we can see the end of language school in sight (end of June), but frequently, it takes a deep breath and a deep prayer to get motivated for each day right now. We’ve been at it since the beginning of October and we can see both the enormous progress in our language study and the large chasm that still stands between us and the ability to really express ourselves and understand a native French speaker in everyday life.
But, we do get up each day (respiration + inspiration = levitation) and we do work at our French because…of the value of what we want to communicate and the value of the people receiving that communication.
Many of you are familiar with Jesus’ parable of The Sower. At the end of the parable, Jesus talks about being fruitful in our lives and He says that good seed in good soil will yield fruit. We know that the good seed is the good news that God wants a personal and intimate relationship with us and that He sent His Son Jesus to die on a cross for us 2000 years ago to pave a way for that relationship to happen.
That’s all well and good…no…it’s great! But how do I make sure that I am “good soil?” After all, in that parable, there’s a whole lot more bad soil than good soil. I read recently in a book entitled Compassion by Henri Nouwen an interesting and simple ingredient to being good soil…perseverance.
Ok, sorry, too simple, I know…
But hold on… What happens when you plant a seed in the ground, and you plant it well and you water it? Well, the first thing that happens is that you wait! Not very exciting stuff, of course. You’ve all done that bean experiment in a glass cup and have seen the bean just sit there for a few days. It’s a pretty impatient time for a kid. But, if you resist the urge to toss the thing in the trash or to over-water the bean, eventually you’ll see a small sprout start to come out. Growth! Excitement! It worked!
You’re still quite a ways off before anything can be seen above ground, let alone “bearing fruit.” What else is required? Well, first of all more waiting! A key ingredient to seeing fruit in a bean plant or an apple tree or a mighty oak tree is patient waiting and tending of the plant while the process that God designed takes its course. If I don’t do that, I will not see that plant bear fruit. I might see it grow, maybe even a great deal, but if I don’t see it to the “end”, I won’t get to see the fruit.
That’s the way it works in my life and in yours as well. For many things there simply is no shortcut.
Right now in language school here in Albertville, we’re in a time where re-doubled effort towards perseverance is the name of the game for us. We won’t reach our goal to be able to communicate with French people in French without it. We also know that we’re going to need more perseverance after the school as well in taking our next steps in the process of living in France long-term.
We don’t have any more real information to share about that yet. There are some possibilities that we hope to explore at the end of April but the current stance is….wait…and persevere
Ok, that’s enough for now.
I also wanted to get this newsletter out and test our new processes for sending and maintaining our newsletters, so I’d be grateful for any feedback you might have or notification of any problems you encounter in receiving or reading this newsletter. We will be happy to tweak things as necessary and as possible.
May God richly bless you!
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