Hello all- We are happy to send an update with our progress from France. While we have been in France for 5 months, we are two and a half months into our language learning. We are making progress, making connections and seeing how culturally different things are. We are trying to make friends and speak in french as much as possible. We have enjoyed celebrating the 30th anniversary of the olympics in Albertville, found our preferred bakery, made snowmen, shopped at markets and enjoyed the Savoyard area. We ride our bikes more than we drive our car and have learned how to send mail back to the US and throughout France. These seem like little things, but we want to do this well. We navigated Covid (having it and living with the regulations) and are now learning French with out masks. This is really helpful.
The kids have adjusted to so much. They have learned to use different school supplies (no pencils here). They have learned the importance of good cursive handwriting and are practicing diligently their verb conjugations and vocabulary.
We have begun to experience French culture. We have learned the importance of the “repas” or meal in France. We spent many hours planning and preparing our first french meal for guests, and now we have a better (although still incomplete) understanding of how a french meal operates. Even a snack time or goûter has specific guidelines. This emphasis on the repas is where Jesse’s work at camp is rooted. We knew these things before arriving, but we now see more clearly why and how a French meal is presented. Meals are always a social activity and are a time for connection and conversation in a family and among friends. There is thought in each course of the meal served, every day. Jesse was able to use his connections from his former job to get the camp a brand new, upgraded and larger oven. This change will allow the camp to prepare food for more campers and at a higher quality of cuisine. With so much emphasis on the time at the meal, being able to offer great food is going to be really helpful to foster deeper relationship and discipleship moments with campers.
We are also learning how different France views and serves people with disabilities. There is a school for children with disabilities directly across the street from the school the girls attend. The children I observe at this school are no different than the children I taught in an inclusive school setting, no different than the kids I served at church. A few weeks ago I had a conversation with the girl’s language tutor about people with disabilities and she just plainly stated that there is a special ward in the hospital for people with disabilities. This was completely normal for her. God keeps offering me glimpses of this community He has called me here to serve. He offers them to me in small pieces because my heart is too delicate to grasp the vastness of this. At this point I can say from my observations, it is very different. And while God has called me here to serve people with disabilities, he has not called me to change the way this system functions. I praise God for the preparation He has done at the camp and the preparation of hearts for something new. I pray for God to continue to reveal to me in bite size pieces what He wants me to
We have grown in our appreciation for quiet time with God and are in awe of God’s church. All 5 of us have been absorbed into the small French church here in Albertville. Although the church service is 100% in French we feel God’s spirit with us. This church is our little family, our friends and the source of great help and assistance.
So you may ask what ministry looks like these days: Although we are not at the camp yet, we are busy and God does not waste time. We spend 6 hours a day in French language study (see a snap shot of a page of Naomi's notes) Our classmates are mostly heading to Africa. Naomi has been able to come alongside an American family here with a recent diagnosis of their son with autism/ADD. Being with the mom and dad in this process as a source of encouragement has been helpful. Being here is very isolating and to receive a diagnosis and begin to navigate support and intervention as a foreigner can feel impossible if done alone. In addition to helping the camp acquire the new oven, Jesse continues to build relationships with French men in the neighborhood. God is using this time to plant seeds.
There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14