When Tom and I were engaged in college, I spent my junior year in Angers, France while he was back in Nashville. We used to have a phone call every night at midnight. This was before the time of internet ease and international texting, mind you. I used to wait in the lobby of my french dormitory by the pay phone and Tom would call using a calling card. I remember waiting with anticipation in the dark hallway for him to call, and then the phone would ring! The payphone receiver would read "APPEL ARRIVE..." (call arriving) and I always thought it was fitting, seeing as how it was a "Mr. Appel" who was calling me. And now, the significance is not lost on me, that the fullness of this call to France that we have been pursuing with so many for years is now becoming reality. We are getting established in our new community and starting the ministry that we set out to do! It really feels like the Appels have arrived!
So yes, we have moved into our rental home (finally!) and we LOVE it! Things have been a bit crazy for sure as we have been unpacking and finding, purchasing, and assembling furniture, but things are slowly and surely coming together! We had an excellent first night celebration with a family from our church, who brought us dinner and champagne (and plastic cups!). We even had our first visitor, the amazing Doug Irwin, who came up from Paris for a day to help us move heavy objects and assemble flat-packed puzzles. We celebrated Silas' 5th birthday and are looking forward to Elodie's 2nd birthday this Sunday. We have met our neighbors on the street (and their big dogs!). We were able to make some good ol' American chocolate chip cookies and introduce ourselves. The house is lovely and is a great space for our family, and for visitors (start planning your trips!). We feel so blessed by this space and we are delighting in making it a home and a place of peace and worship.
Our New Address
7ter Rue du Bac du Port
Our first 6 months in Normandie have been full of activity in the midst of transition. We love seeing all that God is doing here already, and the huge need for the good news of Jesus's love. There are hundreds of homeless refugees in our city who have mostly come from Sudan. All over Caen we encounter people searching for God and others who are living on the verge of despair. We were excited to engage with the local Catholic church just a stones throw from our home, only to find it is another beautiful empty building - there is no congregation, there are no prayers.
With all this opportunity it is hard to know exactly what the year ahead will look like; what needs will rise to surface as we seek to join in what God is doing. To begin we will be hosting house church meetings at our home once a month, while we continue meeting for church at Keys and Co. It is such a blessing to be part of the amazing Bless team and we believe God will grow this team in the coming year. We are also helping to steer the sung worship for this missional network. SOS Chai does fantastic work with the refugees, serving meals and offering weekly places of friendship and community where these boys can encounter the love of God. Yet, even in our first week in Caen we have been struck by how many more refugees we encounter who we don't know. Please join us in this work by praying with us.
Monday, September 3rd, school starts! I must admit that all of us couldn't be more excited! The boys have been on summer break since March and even they are feeling that it is time to go to school! Reuben and Eli will be starting CP, which is equivalent to First Grade or Year 1 and Silas will be in the Grande Séction of maternelle, which is like Kindergarten. They go four days a week, 8:45am to 4:30pm, so the days are long for these guys and totally in French! Please pray for them as we navigate new schools, new schedules and meeting new people in our village.
Donations for SOS Chai
In the midst of our summer craziness, we managed to organize sending our belongings from the US on a trip across the ocean in a small shipping container. It turned out that we were only going to fill about a third of it with our stuff, so we contacted the Gate Community Church in Nashville to see if they would like to collect donations of items for the refugees that we work with here in Caen through SOS Chai. They responded with an amazing 11 boxes worth of clothing and supplies, plus 9 bikes that we can give to the guys! We had an amazing team who collected, itemized, packed and delivered these items to the loading site. I have to mention, Kim who stored our belongings for free in her basement for the past year and a half, Tom's parents, who managed the packing of the container, and Aaron and Kelsey from the Gate, who helped organize and load everything up! We want to say thank you to everyone who donated and was a part of this process! What a huge blessing you are!
Earlier this month we traveled to Slovenia for Greater Europe Mission's Annual Conference, where all GEM missionaries across Europe within our organization came together for equipping, collaboration, and community. This was our second annual conference as a family and it was nice to feel like we are getting to know more missionaries and families. The kids had a great program for them as well learning how to grow up, rooted in Jesus.
As we wrap up this update and this season of crazy transition and limbo for our family, we are so aware of all our partners who continue to faithfully support us financially and through prayer. We would not be here without you, we appreciate your ongoing love and support through what has been such a bumpy road to get us to this point. THANK YOU! We are praying for you and are sending you love and bisous!