Greetings from sunny Normandie! Yes, this part of the world is known for an abundance of wet and gray, but we’ve been enjoying some extraordinary early Spring weather which has called the earth to bloom. While we are feeling hopeful and encouraged at the beginning of this new season, there is no sugar-coating the fact that we are still coming out of a long and very difficult winter.
Update on Eli
After four weeks in the hospital in traction and eight weeks in a cast, Eli is cast-free but still using a wheelchair to get around while awaiting the green light to put his feet on the ground and learn to walk again. He is in pretty good spirits, but from time to time he gets frustrated that he can’t move like his brothers. He misses his friends at school too. We are praying he can return to school sometime this month, but it depends on his progress with standing up. We are so thankful for the encouragement and care we’ve received during Eli’s extended time of healing. Thank you for continuing to pray for our family as we are sensing the need for some healing for all of us as we come out of this experience.
Trip to the USA!
That’s right - in April we are taking our first family trip back to the states since we moved to France two years ago! We will be spending a couple weeks in Nashville seeing Tom’s family, and catching up with friends. We are excited to visit our home church The Gate Community Church in Franklin and will be participating in the services on Sunday April 7 and 14. We will also be sharing some of the stories of God at work here in France at special event host by the Gate on Friday evening, April 12th. In addition, our friends the Hayners are kindly hosting an open house gathering on Sunday afternoon April 14th from 3-6; we will share some stories from France around 4pm. We are so excited to see our friends in Nashville! If you are in the area, please do come and see us at one of these events and do let us know you are coming. Also please be in touch if those times don’t work for you and we can try to find a different way to connect. After Nashville, we will be spending a week in Arkansas with Joanna’s family then we return to France after Easter. A small itinerary for our trip is listed here.
Sunday April 7 - Appels at the Gate Sunday morning (10:30am)
Friday April 12th - Coffee and Dessert reception at the Gate at 7pm
Sunday April 14 - Appels at the Gate Sunday morning (10:30am)
Sunday April 14 - Open House at the Hayners (Brentwood, TN)
3-6 pm with an informal presentation at 4pm
Church Planting with the Bless Network
God is certainly on the move here in France! Our team is praying about the best ways to disciple the four new believers and other young leaders in our group - amazing! There is a lot of trial and error in our efforts at church, and what is emerging looks unconventional:
We are small gatherings spread across a relatively large area.
We are a fairly chaotic house church in our home that worships with a bunch of kids in multiple languages.
We are early morning prayers at a cafe before they open as this is about the only time the busy staff team has.
We are a food truck that serves hot meals to refugees twice a week - the meals are often cooked by an amazing team of not yet believing French women.
Church Planting in Caen - Please pray for clarity about where to put our energy and for wisdom to follow God’s leading.
The Seven Stories School - This next week, we will be helping lead at the Seven Stories School for the Bless Network. Please pray for the ministry times and for the family at home. Joanna recently helped build a website that speaks about this aspect of our the work at Bless - check it out! www.sevenstories.org
Nanny – We are coming into a busy season of ministry and we are praying and looking for someone to come and help us with the kids this summer. Please pray that we find the right person to accompany our family.
Messenger Fellowship Conference – Tom is taking his first trip to the USA at the end of March to participate in the Messenger Fellowship’s annual conference in Nashville. Please pray for safety on his travels and for Joanna and the kids at home while he is away.
Visa Application - It is that time of year again - we’ll be applying for à renewal of our visa this month, please pray for a smooth process.
Thank you for praying for us, supporting us and sticking with us during this trying season for our family. We are hopeful for the next season that there is healing, rest and restoration. We are praying for our neighborhood and the greater community in Caen, that God’s light would shine and that new life would come!
We are grateful for each of you and we are sending our love from France!