Cheeseburger Chips & Mustard Pickles

Lays Chips, Cheeseburger, Mustard Pickles

A week or so ago I posted a pic on Facebook that got a lot of response… did you see it?  It was the pic of cow tongue … something that is readily available in grocery stores here and is considered a delicacy by many.

Don’t worry… we left it there! However we did discover two flavours of Lays potato chips that have our mouth watering whenever we pick up a bag… Cheeseburger and Mustard Pickles.

It’s almost creepy how much they taste like cheeseburgers!
(or maybe it’s just that we’re in withdrawal!?)


Have you ever found that, amidst change, there is that element of change that you anticipate and the element of change that kind of catches you a bit off guard?  It’s pretty normal in all situations of change and we’ve experienced it.

  • Groceries – you know how, in your local grocery store, you can just “pop in” and get something really quickly?  Doesn’t happen here. We’re still learning the layout of the stores that we go to most often, the brand names and which products are the closest equivalent to home.
  • Car-space – 4 words…. Narrow roads, fast driverscarBack when the French all drove cars like this… no problem, but as cars grew and schedules got tighter… driving became a bit more intimidating… (sometime I’ll post a pic of a parking lot I regularly use)it’s a little like holding your breath every time you pass someone. (Now that I look at it… THIS car could be OUR car’s great grandfather!)
  • Personal space – The house that we’re living in has an open concept so, apart from the bedrooms and washrooms we all pretty much live in the same space – homeschool, meal prep, working, reading & thinking….. er…. uh…. sometimes thinking is a problem.   🙂

(This is only a temporary thing and will change at the end of the month when we move into the Brochus home)

Change… they call it change for a reason….  It can take you off guard and try your patience by times – seriously – but can I tell you the payoff?

Two immediate Payoffs

#AIMKids, AIMKids

  • Seeing the kids involved in ministry… incredible training… serving as a family.
  • Knowing, beyond any shadow of doubt, that we are in the center of God’s will.

There will be other payoffs with time… but we’ve seen these already.

Change in Frequency

Just want to give you a heads-up that going forward I’m only going to publish once per week (each Saturday morning).  We don’t have internet at home which makes it difficult to publish 2 posts per week. We typically have to head over to the public library or to a local coffee shop in order to have access and by then, there’s usually a lot to catch up on!

Installation Service

Tomorrow will be our installation service as interim pastor of the work, during the Brochu’s absence.  We appreciate your prayers. We’ve been involved in church for a very long time and have no shortage of experience, but still, we’ve never been the one to bear the lion’s share of responsibility – spiritually or materially… first time pastors, can I get an amen?  


Here are a couple more pics of our city. Next Saturday I’ll share pics of something a little less beautiful (the kind of creepy yellow hand) as well as some pics of the service tomorrow.

Have a great day all and for those of you back home… Bon Courage! with all the snow you’ve been getting.  I can’t even imagine!

You all are precious and God is GREAT!Châtellerault, Centre-ville, Vienne (86), Place Émile Zola

Roasting Chamallows!

Never heard of Chamallows you say?
Oh yes you have… you just gave them another name…. Marshmallows.

Yard work

Campfire, Feu de camp, Missionary Paul Brochu, yard work

Earlier this week I read an instagram post by AIMer to Brazil, Jonathan DeVall, that pretty much nailed it!  In summing up what AIMers do, he said:

“What do AIMers do exactly? Well, we help career missionaries in any way they need it. Today, for instance, our old fuel truck needed its carburetor rebuilt. so, I got some parts and got ‘er running again. It’s not all preaching. Sometimes you get your hands dirty!”

This week held a bit of dirty hands work for us as well.

Last fall, the electrical utility trimmed a treeline on the back of our church property to protect overhead power lines. They did it at their cost but the church was left with the cleanup responsibility.  They rented a large bin last fall for just over $700, filled it with trimmings and sent it off, but the larger branches & pieces of wood could not be included.

We spent one day last week as well as another 7+ hours this past Thursday, cutting, hauling, picking up and burning much of the remaining wood & trimmings… and we’re not quite done yet. Perhaps one more good day  might do it.

It made for some stiffness and a good night’s sleep after the fact, but in the meantime… we found the silver lining in all that work. Bonfire time!

The kids joined us after their school day was done and we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.  Get this… hot dogs here are called “Saucisses de Strasbourg”  (or Strasbourg Sausages) Man! The French can make even hot dogs sound fancy!

In addition to that, the boys got to learn how to manoeuvre the tractor with help from Andy (one of our local Bible School students) and Sophie had some “tree time”  (who said that skirts can’t climb trees! …girl power!)

AIMer Jonathan DeVall

Jonathan DeVall – whom I quoted above – isn’t just any AIMer: he’s a float plane pilot and works with the DeMerchants in Brazil. You need to check out his incredible Instagram Feed: Using a GoPro camera attached to the fuselage of PT-Lee, he has some truly awesome pics!  You can also check out his website… all AIMers need support and if you are able to help him in any way, you would be advancing the work of the Kingdom in Brazil.

Question of the day…

Do you remember the last time you used a public telephone booth?
Any memorable phone-booth story you’d like to share?

I remember one time arriving in Brussels central train station after a standby flight via London. Liz was already in Belgium with Dominic and I was arriving with Sophie (we had to go through Toronto Pearson in the height of the SARS crisis). I had change, but no chip-enabled phone card… Balancing a tired 4 year-old Sophie on one hand and our luggage on the other, I had to put a $5.00 phone card purchase on my visa before I could use the phone… ahhhh memories!

Thanks for visiting today… and thank you for your prayers. They are essential!

AIMKids MM9 – Big-Little Country

AIMKids Missionary Moments are designed to be a resource for Sunday School Teachers / Youth leaders, to help kids relate to the life of an MK (Missionary Kid). They’re intentionally short because we know you already have a lot of material to cover.


Everything in one “little” country


Most of us in North America would consider France to be a very small country size-wise. In fact, Texas is 1.26 times the size of France. Yes… you heard correctly, this country is smaller than the state of Texas.  For those of us in Canada, it might be better to say that the province of Quebec is roughly 3x the size of France.  So for us then, it’s considered a small country although in Europe, it is one of the largest.

One of the nice things about France though, is that, for such a “small” country, it has a very diverse landscape and climate.

  1. AIMLong.caAlong the southern coast (the Côte d’Azur) it is sunny and warm all the time… like Florida or California.
  2. In the south-eastern part of the country are the French Alps, rugged mountains that are great for skiing… like the Rockies in Colorado or Alberta… where you can get snow and very cool temperatures.
  3. In parts of central France and to the north there is incredibly rich farm land where much corn, wheat and sunflowers are produced, similar to the Canadian plains or the American mid-west.
  4. Along the north-western coast (Normandy), the coastline is similar to what you might find in the State of Maine or Atlantic Canada.
  5. In other parts of central France you can find lower, rolling mountains like those in the Appalachian mountains of the eastern US and up into Quebec.

All of that variety in a “small” country… it’s pretty incredible really.

For us in North America it’s hard to imagine isn’t it?
Yet it’s all there… just the way God created it.
– If you like tropical beaches… they’re there.
– If you like mountains… they’re there.
– If you like empty plains or big cities… they’re there.

Everyone can find something that they like in France.

You know that God wants each one of us to be just like France in a certain way. Listen to what the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:20-22:

20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak…
I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

That is Jesus’ top priority… that we would teach someone to know Him.


Prayer Focus:

Pray that we (you in your church and us in France) become a little bit more like the country of France:

  • That everyone we come in contact with might find something in us that will make them think more about God than they did before they met us.
  • That we might become like Paul… we can be kind to everyone, whether they’re like us or not, so that they will want to know Jesus.


  • If your students have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to email us and we’d be happy to respond specifically.
  • Please let your kids know that by praying for us regularly, THEY TOO are part of taking Jesus’ love to France… they’re part of missions!

Note: The maps graphics are from the site

“Loving France” this Valentine’s Day!


If you are reading this on Saturday morning (depending on your time zone) there’s a good chance that I’m still in the city of Melun teaching at the Bible School. IBF stands for Institut Biblique de France and is the Bible school operating out of senior missionary John Nowacki’s church in the city of Melun. Students attend one Saturday each month, from 7:30am – 5:30pm, for 3 years as well as a block week each summer. This semester, I’ll be teaching Epistles 1 (Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians.

Liz & the kids, however, are about 3.5hrs away… back in Châtellerault, and so, for our first Valentine’s Day in France – the country of romance – we are apart. No fear though… A backup plan is in place!

Our Week

IMG_7783What can I tell you about our week this week???

  • Last Saturday after our post… We explored the city as a family. We spent some time at the local library and got the low-down on library cards, resources, etc. (they also had free internet access… So we took a bit advantage of that).
  • We discovered Le Lac… The lake in town where many locals go to enjoy their Saturday afternoons out in nature. Timo took his basketball & shot some hoops with Liz while Dominic & I went looking for something that he had on his list.
  • Timo spent some of the money that he got from the church as a going away present(photos to follow in another post some time).
  • We found the local version of Value Village or Good Will. Slim on clothes, but wow… The furniture pieces!
  • We got some grocery items…. (not as exciting, but oh so necessary!), including “mustard pickles” chips… Yummmmm!
  • Liz & the kids led worship on Sunday morning & I preached. Then again on Wednesday, the kids helped Sis Brochu lead in worship… So great to see them involved.
  • IMG_7771

  • Thursday was a work day around the church: we cleaned up a lot of wood that was leftover from the power company trimming back a treeline…. big bonfire by the end of the day!! During this time others… Worked on a nasty mole problem in the lawn, cleaned up the flower bed by the main entrance, raked leaves & worked on music for this coming weekend… Working together is a great way to get to know one another!

On Instagram?

Are you on Instagram? Want to connect to a photographic stream of life here in France? It’s where I share part of the artsy side on my personality.

Click here to see my profile: MikeLongSJ

There are a few aspects on our family life, but most of the photos are of the scenery here. If you click on the hashtag #CeMatin_àChatellerault you’ll see photos that I take when I do morning prayer walks around the city… Usually a couple times each week.


First of all, thank you for keeping us in prayer! Please continue to keep our house situation in prayer. The buyer’s finances are in place and tomorrow afternoon there will be a home inspection – the last major step before closing.

Please keep the Brochus in prayer as they are now where we were in December… Staring down an all-too-soon departure with many things still left to do.

Finally, please continue to keep the kids in prayer… This past Sunday there were 9 in Sunday School… The best in a good while. Not only is that good for our kids, but very encouraging for the other kids as well as their teachers.

God bless your day today & thank you for spending part of it with us!

AIMKids MM8 – French Food

AIMKids Missionary Moments are designed to be a resource for Sunday School Teachers / Youth leaders, to help kids relate to the life of an MK (Missionary Kid). They’re intentionally short because we know you already have a lot of material to cover.


5 Crazy things French people eat


  1. Cow Tongue: It’s cooked up and considered a delicacy (I’ve tried it). It tastes good but has a funny texture. The trick is… cut it into thin slices and it’ll “melt in your mouth”!
  2. Pigeon: Oh it’s not like they go to the nearest public park and grab a few while tossing them seeds… These pigeons are cultivated, much like we’d raise chickens or pigs. Originally, only the nobility had the right to own a Pigeon Coop… it gave them free meat all winter.
  3. Foie Gras: (Pronounced “Fwah-grah”) Is really just duck or goose liver. It’s VERY much a delicacy but there are some US states where it’s illegal to produce! It’s a little bit the texture of a can of fancy cat food… but tastes MUCH better!  🙂
  4. Horse Meat: It is common in many parts of Europe to eat horse meat although in North America it’s almost NEVER done… crazy eh!
  5. Steak Tartare: This is basically just raw hamburger mixed up with onions, raw eggs, mustard and worcester sauce, put in a flat round shape and sometimes topped with another raw egg, cuz hey… why not?


Prayer Focus:

Pray that we (you in your church and us in France) take a lesson from French food, or rather… in how God is not like some French food.

He (God) satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. (NIV)
Psalm 107:9 

Bless the Lord… who satisfieth the mouth with good things. (KJV)
Psalm 103.2, 5

In the same way that we can’t imagine eating some things, because they taste bad, smell bad or look bad… people around us will only want to taste or try serving Jesus if we serve Jesus in a way that’s looks & sounds appealing to them.  Jesus will fill our friends with good things, but we have to make them “hungry” for it when they see us!


  • If your students have specific questions, please done hesitate to email us and we’d be happy to respond specifically.
  • Please let your kids know that by praying for us regularly, THEY TOO are part of taking Jesus’ love to France… they’re part of missions!

Wet Feet…

We’re coming to the end of our second week in France so I wanted to give a bit of an update over and above what you’re seeing in the “AIMKids Missionary Moments” posts.

Musically Speaking

with Missionaries Paul & Darla Brochu, Châtellerault, France

If you follow our Facebook page (if not, like it here) you will have seen one of these two photos already… the one of the kids practising before Wednesday night’s Bible Study.

The second one is a composite photo of Bro. & Sis. Brochu helping the kids with their various instruments. It’s not that they’re getting lessons of how to play, they’ve been taking lessons for several years.  Rather, the Brochus have been helping them learn some of the songs that are sung here in the local church which are, for the most part, choruses.  Although they are mostly familiar to Liz & I, they are not the songs that the kids have grown up singing.

It’s good really, because they are fairly easy to pick up… both in terms of the music and the lyrics… making the learning curve somewhat less intimidating.

Timo has not played in a service yet… he’s still working up the courage, but Sophie & Dominic both played for 1/2 of Wednesday’s song service.

Getting Around

du vélo à Antoigné, Châtellerault

In my last picture post you saw a photo of the church in our backyard… We live in the village of Antoigné which is a neighbourhood within the greater Châtellerault area. It’s a wonderful little community and here you can see the kids getting out to explore it by bicycle (on loan from the Brochus).

Two of the three photos will immediately make sense to you… Dominic at rest in front of that little country church and Sophie cruising the roadway near the village. The photo in the upper left corner might, however, be less easy to figure out. Can you take a guess at what it is?

If you guessed ancient community washing machine, you’d be right!

This is called “un lavoir” and would have been found in just about every rural village at one time. Some have disappeared, but our little village has kept theirs very well maintained. The steps lead to 2 small basins at one end of which is a hand-pump (not visible in this picture). Residents would pump enough water to replace any that had run off or evaporated and do their laundry while visiting with neighbours at the same time. Definitely no spin cycle in those days!

Home heating

gaz naturel, cafetièreIt’s pretty common here, and our house is no exception, to heat and cook with natural gas. We’d never done that before so it’s taking a bit of getting used to although I must say that things heat up on the stove very quickly!  Even our hot water is heated using gas.

As I was out walking the other day, I saw a couple of posters protesting the practice of fracking for natural gas.  It reminded me of home… as that’s a real hot button issue in our province.

Daily Details

The last few days have also seen us get more and more settled into daily life:

  • Of course there are some things that you don’t realize you need until you don’t have them within reach… so we’ve made several trips to the grocery store to stock up on some of the staples.
  • I’ve gotten a new French telephone number for my cell phone so my Canadian number will soon be cancelled. For now I switch between the two SIM cards as needed… so if you text on the Canadian number and I don’t respond right away… that’s why.
  • It turns out that you need an appointment to open a bank account… that’ll happen this week. Go figure!
  • Next Saturday will be my first Saturday teaching at Bible School up in Melun…

Thank you for your prayers and for partnering with us!


AIMKids MM7 – French Fashion

AIMKids Missionary Moments are designed to be a resource for Sunday School Teachers / Youth leaders, to help kids relate to the life of an MK (Missionary Kid). They’re intentionally short because we know you already have a lot of material to cover.


5 Fun Facts about French Fashion


  1. Denim Jeans: Originated in the French city of Nîmes. To say “from Nîmes” in French you say… “de Nîmes” … see the ressemblance with denim?  Denim jeans were imported to California (by Levi Strauss) to furnish mine-workers with durable work pants.
  2. LouisXIVHaute-Couture vs. Prêt-à-Porter:  These are two types of French clothing… Haute Couture means tailor-made (and very expenseive)Prêt-a-Porter means ready to wear (and affordable).
  3. Big Hair: King Louis the Fourteenth started the trend of men wearing big wigs of curly hair (ugh!). He did it to cover up his own balding head and then people in his palace had to follow the king’s lead… that’s how style works!
  4. Less is More: They say that if you want to dress in French-style, go for something simple and uncomplicated. Scarves (think “infinity scarf” girls) add a very french-flare
  5. Famous Names: Name brands define the value and popularity of many articles of clothing. The bigger the name brand – the more money you have to pay for them. Do you recognize the names: Chanel, Dior, Yves St. Laurent (YSL), Louis Vuitton? They are all from France.


Prayer Focus:

Pray that we (you in your church and us in France) will be like French Fashion:

  1. Denim: That God will give us the strength to be hard-working for Him!
  2. Prêt-à-Porter: that we not be unreachable but available to help everyone who needs help knowing Jesus.
  3. Big Hair: That we will not just follow the silly trends of the world, but only those styles that please God.
  4. Less is More: That our simple life will be attractive and appealing to those around us… that they notice us because of our love for God.
  5. Famous Names: We have the BEST brand name EVER when we wear the name of Jesus. That gives us the highest value of all!


  • If your students have specific questions, please done hesitate to email us and we’d be happy to respond specifically.
  • Please let your kids know that by praying for us regularly, THEY TOO are part of taking Jesus’ love to France… they’re part of missions!

We’ve arrived!

Just wanted to give a quick heads up as to our safe arrival in France.

We have been without internet access for the past few days as we don’t have it at home and will continue to be without it for a little while yet. The past two posts that you’ve seen are ones that I prepared in advance and scheduled ahead of time in anticipation of the break of connectivity.  I was able to get access for a brief while yesterday which allowed me to prepare this  post.


Église d'Antoigné et Pont Henri IV, Châtellerault

Things couldn’t have gone more smoothly in all aspects of our travel. All of our bags arrived safely as did the bags that we’d shipped via cargo. There were no delays and no extra costs at French customs for the five cases that we’d shipped in separately from our checked bags.

We spent the first night in a hotel in Melun to rest a bit before the long drive to Châtellerault. It would’ve been difficult after a long virtually sleepless night on the trans-Atlantic flight.

It also gave Bro. & Sis. Brochu time to finish preparing our house.

While we will be using their house for the majority of our stay here, we had to have temporary accommodations during the two months where our time overlaps, before their departure. They had the house all ready for us: food in the fridge, some furniture in place, bedrooms set up and even a plant in the corner! All that was left for us was to unpack the luggage which they’d also brought down and had put in the house.

Spending our Time


We’ve already attended their mid-week service on Wednesday, had prayer meeting on Friday and – by the time you read this – our first Sunday service as well (we are 5 hours ahead of those in the Atlantic Time Zone – the easternmost time zone in North America).

 We’ve spent some time getting things unpacked, getting used to the new neighbourhood and getting over jetlag! (Timo has had the most difficult time with this, but is pretty much there now.)

We also had to make a run to a music store downtown to get Dominic’s guitar fixed, get our welcome-kit and garbage bags from City Hall (yes, city hall provides the regular garbage bags here – based on the number of people in the home – as well as the recycling bags… they give you a 1-year supply at a time… cool!)  

I also had a chance to take an early morning stroll through downtown yesterday and most of the pictures you see are from that tour. The only exception is the very first picture which shows sunset over the church that is literally in our backyard… how European is THAT?!

Besides that here are a few shots of Châtellerault… our town. Once we get increased internet availability I’ll share more.
Thank you for your prayers… we covet them.