We hope all our American friends and family enjoyed a happy Independence Day, and many thanks to our British friends for allowing our little experiment in democracy so many years ago :). We have officially been in France for three months now! Thank you so much for praying with us during this landing time! Our first three months have been tough in many ways, most particularly with sickness. But, little by little, we are starting to find our feet.
Last week we were able to purchase a car and that helps us feel more free to explore and makes basic tasks—like getting groceries—a lot easier! The language is coming along nicely for Tom. He’s surprised by how much he can understand already and is able to have simple conversations with French neighbors. This past week we’ve noticed our sons greeting their classmates and teachers in French and beginning to communicate. We were also surprised to see some little French girls running over to “faire les bises” (give a kiss) to Reuben...he took it in stride.
Making New Friends
A highlight of the past month has been seeing the beginnings of relationships with French friends. Joanna has been meeting weekly to practice French with a friend from church. There are three young men that are interested in meeting and speaking with Tom here in Massy. It is a joy to see relationships beginning with our neighbors! We are also so grateful to have met 'M', a fellow Christian who has been incredibly helpful in getting us set up here in France. I (Tom) met M during the long and frustrating process of trying to open a French bank account.
After more than a month of being stonewalled at the bank where new language students typically open accounts, a friend and I decided to walk around to all the banks in town in search of someone who might be more willing to help. This was a long shot as new banking regulation has made it more onerous for French bankers to work with Americans and they are under no obligation to help. We prayed about where to go first and decided to try the BNP Paribas location in the centre ville. With the typical bit of anxiety that comes right before attempting a new conversation in a foreign language, I approached the reception desk and said: “Bonjour Monsieur, Est-ce qu’il ya une personne ici qui parle Anglais?” “Oui”, replied the man behind the counter, “how can I help you?”. Amazing we found an English speaker!
We told him we wanted to open an account and he asked to see our documents (proof of residency, paying taxes, birth certificates for everyone, a detailed list of all the items in your kitchen…there is a lot of paperwork in France). He noticed the letter from our Christian language school and asked “Are you Christian boys?”—Oh great, we thought, on to the next bank—“Yes, we are”. “I am a Christian boy too, let’s make an appointment to set up your accounts”. Since then we’ve learned that M is a member of a New Frontiers church in Paris. After helping us open an account, he took an evening to go car shopping with Tom and even helped with the negotiations in French. Praise God for putting people in our path to come alongside us in this journey!
Out and About in France
A little over a month ago, we went to visit Angers! It was wonderful to be in the city that we feel called to be in someday. We had a real sense of joy and anticipation when we arrived. We visited the center of town and the Saturday market. Pretty quickly though each one of us started to be hit by sickness made more complicated by the severe heat. Joanna and Reuben spent the whole first day in bed ill. The nights were miserable with Reuben throwing up, Elodie crying, and Silas having night terrors. The weekend ended with a trip to the hospital in Angers for Reuben, catching the train back to Massy, and then taking Silas to a hospital near us that same night. With the piling on, we knew that the enemy was at work in attacking our family. We are thankful for all of you who prayed prayers of intercession on our behalf! Even with all the sickness we did a small prayer walk as a family and prayed by the Chateau. Eli and Joanna were able to take a walk and pray in the cathedral.
Last weekend, we made our first little car trip to Normandie to join in some of the activities with the Bless Network Bootcamp. We spent a little time in the city of Caen, visiting the chateau, the cathedral, and Keys & Co, a coffee house cafe started by two christian ladies, mom and daughter, who are a part of the Bless Network. Keys & Co was just a dream on the horizon when we visited for our vision trip a year and a half ago, still waiting to obtaining a lease for the space. Now it has been voted one of the best places in Normandie! The boys have declared it is their favorite restaurant in France, probably because they serve American-style pancakes. We also took the kids to see the beach but it was so cold and windy we did not stay more than five minutes.
On Sunday, We were at Bethanie, an old cider farm turned ministry center and the base for the Bless Network located near the small town of Livarot. Tom and I were privileged to lead worship at the Bless church gathering and the opening service for their two week boot camp. It was the first time we have gotten to lead worship bi-lingually together! We loved it! We enjoyed great fellowship with the church and our kids had so much fun playing outside in the rural setting.
Life has been pretty full on so we have missed our usual prayer letter rhythm, instead sending our requests for prayer mostly via our secret Facebook group (email us to join!) in the midst of all the sicknesses that have hit. We are thankful to have found a doctor whose office is across the street and a pharmacist who is two doors down from her. It is very easy to get the kids seen to when they are sick—what a blessing!
Please Pray for:
- Homelife - the kids have been adjusting to school well, but we are also seeing some influence from the culture on them, plus the adjustment to France is taking its toll. Attitudes have been fragile and difficult. We are hoping to have these next two months while the kids are at home to re-establish some peace and security in the Lord before they start into school again in September.
- Health - obviously, we have been struck with a number of illnesses which is adjustment to a new environment, but also attack from the enemy. Tom and I are very fatigued from all of it so please pray that we can be more healthy going forward and for less illnesses!
- French - we are improving our French, and it has its up and downs. Please pray that we continue to learn and have opportunities to practice with French people.
- August Events - we are traveling to GEM’s annual conference at the beginning of August, visiting Bless in Normandie in mid-august, and participating in a Messenger Fellowship conference for young people (aged 16-35) near Paris in late august. Pray as we prepare!
Thank you all for being with us! We love you and are praying for you! Please let us know if there is anything we can be praying for in YOUR life.