We cannot believe that we have completed five months of living in France! August has been a very. full. month. for us, which is kind of the opposite of the French way of taking off for four weeks and shutting down to relax! But, c’est la vie! We want to recap briefly the adventures God has had our family on since we last sent out a newsletter, with a load of photos to give you a sense of where we have been! Ready?!? Here we go!
Eli in the Hospital
I hate to start with this one, but it was a big happening that I think we are still processing. Eli had been sick for a few days, but started to show some strange symptoms. We had a home visit from a doctor who encouraged us to take him to the hospital. There, they did a blood test that came back abnormal and then a spinal tap. It turned out that he did not have meningitis but he did have a bad virus. He stayed for about 36 hours and it took him a week to recover after he came home. Thank you all for praying for us during that difficult time!
GEM's Annual Conference
In early August, we traveled to Slovenia to attend Greater Europe Mission’s Annual Conference. It was a time of connection with other missionaries, training and worship as an organization. Our little ones had their own classes and were able to be with other missionary kids (MKs) who spoke English and are going through similar experiences living abroad. We also managed a little time to swim in the Adriatic Sea and watch the sunset over Croatia. It was beautiful!
Bless Network and Caen
Not long after we returned home from Annual Conference, we headed up to Bethanie, near Livarot in Normandie, to be with our friends from the Bless Network for a worship weekend. We went into the city of Caen and spent time with some of the Sudanese refugees there that Bless serves on a weekly basis. We played some music for them and the kids played games with the lads. It was really meaningful to experience family ministry in this context (see photos). We also led worship for the church that meets at Bethanie alongside the Halls, a family from the Gate Community Church in Nashville who came to visit us and minister with us during the month of August!
Messenger Fellowship and Potential
After we returned from Normandie, Tom went to be a part of Potential, a youth camp (15-35 year olds are considered youth in France!). This conference is through our connection with Jonathan Manou, a French pastor who is with Messenger Fellowship. Tom taught, with a translator ;), helped lead worship, and prayed for young people there. It was a full time for him, a lot of French, and the Lord was moving powerfully in these young French people!
Small Holiday and Birthdays
We were able to squeeze in a 3 day break in Brittany at a campsite near St. Malo. We took the kids to the sea, swam in the pool (even though we had many chattering teeth since it was pretty wet and chilly!), and we visited the medieval walled city of St. Malo. We took a small day trip and saw the abbey at the top of Mont Saint Michel. We celebrated Silas’ 4th birthday when we were at Bethanie and Elodie’s 1st birthday when we were in St. Malo. Somehow, the kids’ first birthdays abroad feel very significant and important to make special, which we did with cake pops, balloons, signs, and singing! We got back the four days ago, the day before school started!
This is the name for “back to school” in France, literally meaning “re-entry”. Monday marked the beginning of a new season for us where everyone in our family will be in school! Everyday, Reuben, Eli and Silas will be attending pre-school, called maternelle, much like last spring, only this year they will stay through lunchtime. They will have long days, 8:30am to 4pm, four days a week, with Wednesday being a half day. It was great to bring them back to a familiar place and have mostly the same teachers and students at the school. We had a great first day with them!
Tom and Joanna are BOTH going to language school now which is a big shift. Elodie will be in the nursery at Les Cèdres everyday while we attend classes. We are excited to focus on learning French as a family this Fall!
Prayers and Thanksgiving
Thank you all for your prayers and your continued support of us as we pursue this calling to minister in France. There is so much more we could say about all the things we have touched on in this email, but we wanted you to be able to read it and not sit down to a novel! Please contact us if you would like to know more specific details about anything we are up to - we’d love to Skype, Whatsapp, Facetime, email, call, or send letters...to communicate with you all that God is doing here in France. We would also love to know how to better pray with you!
Protection against spiritual attack - we had a good first day at school, but the following days have been difficult with lots of crying, nosebleeds, and Silas threw up today and is running a fever. We have had so much, we are hoping and believing for a season of health for our family, but the enemy knows illness is the way to get us down!
School and new rhythms - we are doing something entirely new all being out of the house at school and it is a big shift with lots of growing pains. Pray for us to have grace and adjust quickly to this new season.
Rest and refreshing - we are coming into the year quite tired from the last five months, and our not-super-restful summer holiday. Also, five months is about when you hit the bottom point in the culture shock wave. Pray that we can set good boundaries for ourselves and the kids, not overwork ourselves and breathe a little!
Merci mille fois! (thank you a thousand times over!) We love and miss you, our family, friends and partners. Be blessed!
Love, The Appels