Thank You And Merry Christmas!


Hello Friends,

Happy Christmas Eve! We hope that your stockings are hung, your cookies and/or mince pies prepared, and that you are near friends and family this Christmas. Tomorrow we celebrate the birth of Jesus; God loves us so much that He would draw near and dwell with us. Tomorrow we also end this year’s Advent season, our intentional time of waiting, of longing, of resting in the hope of our God who keeps His promises. Advent has been poignant for us this year as we’ve spent the month waiting for our son Eli to be ready to come home from a hospital bed. It has been a difficult month for our family, but in the waiting we have known miraculous provision and peace. Now that waiting is over - our son is home! It is still a tough road ahead, but we are so incredibly thankful to have Eli home for Christmas.

Eli Update

Eli fell from high in a tree on November 21 and broke his femur badly up near his hip. He was in traction, laying flat on his back with his leg held up by weights at a 90 degree angle for 28 days. Early on in the hospital, he contracted an infection and near the end of his stay he had the flu. Thanks to Jesus and to our mighty prayer warriors all over the world, he miraculously recovered in time to get his cast on December 18, and came home the next day by ambulance. PRAISE THE LORD!

He has to be on his back for the next 6-8 weeks in the cast (which we have made into a zebra leg!), we can’t transport him in the car and he can’t walk or sit up. We have a wheel chair, but we aren’t sure if he will be able to use it because of the positioning of his cast. Over the past few days, we have developed a routine of bringing him down to the sofa in the morning where he spends the day, and then carrying him upstairs to sleep in his bed at night. We did move him outside on his bed for a few minutes yesterday just so he could get some fresh air. He is strong and has had an incredible attitude for a 6-year-old boy going through all of this! Please pray for his complete recovery, his bone to be miraculously healed and straight, and for his spirit to be encouraged over these next few months.


I really don’t think there are words to express how very blessed we were by you during this very difficult time for our family. We have had such amazing support from our local and worldwide community, it is astounding. People traveled from all over France, England, and the USA to offer us support at home with the kids, help keeping up with chores, and relief for Tom and I from our constant time in the hospital. We had multiple care packages arrive every day for a month(!) full of things that really helped Eli escape the four walls of his hospital room and travel the world. We received cards, notes, pictures, maps, from so many people. One of the nurses in the hospital said she had never seen a room so colorful and well decorated with cards and pictures! Your prayers have been appreciated and tangibly felt. We shouldn’t be doing as well as we are right now after this past month. Two nights before Eli was scheduled to get his cast and head home he was running a 104 degree fever and the doctors said, “he has the flu he is going to need to stay longer”. So many of you were praying and Eli’s fever broke the next morning and he was able to come home on schedule. If you ever doubted that your prayers are effective, DON’T! The proof is in Eli being home right now, and that he is not more badly hurt. So we want to express to you our deep gratitude from the bottom of our hearts. THANK YOU. TRULY.

God is on the move

Despite this difficult season, God is doing amazing things here in Caen. Even though Eli broke his leg the day before Thanksgiving, we decided to continue with our plan of hosting Thanksgiving dinner at our home on the following Sunday. It was truly amazing how our Bless community came together and made this Thanksgiving a wonderful celebration. We hosted 30 people at our home, from France, England, Scotland, Latvia, Italy, and Romania, many of whom are not yet Christians or new Christians. Tom and Eli were at the hospital, and Joanna was the only American there (the others were Reuben, Silas and Elodie) who could actually remember a Thanksgiving in the USA! There was a real feeling of love, warmth, community, and family. Our relationships grew deeper and stronger, and a few people have started to come along to church as a result! We couldn’t have asked for a better event given the circumstances. Praise Jesus!

One of our core beliefs about our work here is that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. We don’t have to have it all together to bear witness to the transformative power of God’s love. In fact, as we’ve seen this month, in vulnerability we can connect more deeply with our neighbors and God’s love is so clearly evident. As we celebrate our God who made Himself small to be with us, please know our gratitude for you. Thank you for being with us even from a distance.

Sending you love, joy, peace, hope, and blessing!

Merry Christmas!

Love the Appels