This week we had a special treat…. a visit from long-time friends. The timing was perfect as the boys were on school vacation so there was no need to rush, do the school pick-ups, work through homework, etc. There was just a lot of fun & games as well as some great conversations.
It’s happened again. Another attack in Paris, this time directed at police officers and along the famous Champs Élysées. Such events, along with the political rhetoric that’s being whipped up at a frenetic pace in the closing hours of a national election (the first vote of which happens tomorrow), make for a bit of a toxic cocktail. But interestingly enough, I’ve been reading about the life of France’s King Henry IV (16th century) and we see that there really is nothing new under the sun. Continue reading
“But the honest truth was that sometimes, more often than I wanted to admit, when I was on the ground in the Horn of Africa, horrified by the overwhelming needs that I saw all around me, I couldn’t help wondering if my efforts… were actually making any difference at all.”
For the first time since coming here… we’ve had someone pay us a visit as a result of finding our church’s web page.
* Feeling Elated * Continue reading
General Charles deGaulle had a real dilemma about leading France in the 1950’s. He mused about how it be possible to govern a country with 246 varieties of cheese. If that’s the extent of his challenges… his was a good time in which to lead! Challenges are to be expected in the pursuit of any great and worthy goal… and what a goal is ours!
It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas, minus the snow… mixed feelings about that:
- Glad for no shoveling or plowing yet.
- There’s still lettuce in the garden.
- Pansies add winter colour in the garden.
- BUT… it’s weird to see Christmas decorations alongside green grass & bare pavement.
Jury’s still out!
Latest Bi-Monthly Newsletter
We’ve just published our latest partner newsletter. If you are a regular reader of the blog then you will be pretty much up to date.
If you know someone who is interested in or has a burden for France… feel free to print it for them or forward them the link. It will give a good snapshot of the past couple of months.
Click here to read the newsletters:
For those who haven’t seen it yet, we launched this 2:48-min video on Monday. The 3-fold goal:
In the next 2-3 weeks we’ll distribute 2,500 cards in an attempt to cast the net wide. Please join us in prayer for this undertaking… souls are in the balance.
(Note video is in French)
(*unapologetic commercial alert*)
Soph and Dominic each have a blog and are “occasional bloggers” – they don’t blog often, but when they do, it’ll give you a window on the missions world from a kid’s perspective.
Click the images to check ’em out & SUBSCRIBE
(You’ll get an email each time they publish)
Aside from all that good stuff… it’s been a productive week, albeit fairly heavy on administrative tasks:
- December’s Pentecostal Messenger is off to print.
- Partner newsletter & monthly reports to our sending organization are done.
- Year-end church reports for the French Federation are mostly done
- Lawn mowed (hopefully for the last time), cleaned out the church garden & planted pansies for the winter (neat to have winter colour in the garden).
- We spent Monday evening as guests at our landlord’s home… what a treat, the fire was roaring in the fireplace when we arrived!
- Got to visit with a dear shut-in saint from our church.
…looks busy when you sit down & list it, but it’s just a mix of “life” and “ministry”… not unlike you. You balance work, family and involvement in between… God bless & strengthen you as you do! The only difference is, you allow us to do it in France and help grow the church while we’re here. Thank you.
As many of you read this, I’ll be at Bible School in Melun. I head home tonight for service tomorrow and then we’ll hit the highway for a few days of rest & relaxation.
Kids in French schools had a 2-week break in late October and will get another at Christmas. Our AIMkids haven’t had that luxury; along with Liz, they are really looking forward to a week off before return & hit the road running in the lead-up to Christmas.
Note: We’ll be hosting a special guest this Christmas… details to follow)
One more glimpse at Christmas preparations here…
Last week I promised to tell you about the canoe in the wind… and I’ll get to that, but first let me tell you about our “Care package on steroids” kind of week!
18 boxes of Kraft Dinner*
Yep…. eighteen! They arrived with about 40lbs of other things. Let me explain:
One of Liz’s friends and former colleague at Air Canada was wanting to come for a visit. Because she travels light, she brought with her two extra suitcases: One filled with things that we’d left with her in Montreal back in January and the second filled with treats from folks back home, including the aforesaid KD, Craisins, Starbuck’s instant coffee (nearest starbucks is 265km away), chocolate bars, chocolate chips and chocolate chunks, baking powder, etc.
*KD is the Canadian equivalent of Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Time with Friends
We weren’t only glad to get the goodies that she brought, it was also nice to spend time with a familiar face from home. Milena was one of the first folks that Liz got to know when she began at Air Canada 18 years ago.
We spent a day together visiting perhaps the smallest castle in the Loire Valley: Azay-le-Rideau. I’d visited it back in 1995 but hadn’t been back inside since.
If it wasn’t the kind of place that requires some 200 million€ in renovations (price tag of renovations currently going on), I think I could live there.
We recently got a couple of other things from North America as well:
Travel Buddies: Thanks to missionary Colleen Carter (Ghana, Africa) the kids got travel buddies: fuzzy critters who love to travel, who live in an Altoids box and who remind missionary kids (MKs) that someone is praying for them on a regular basis.
This is their second set of travel buddies… the first having come from the Sunday School department at Mission Point… our home church. Thank you for praying for our kids!
A few years ago, Liz & I translated Bro. Timothy C. Mitchell’s (Montgomery, Alabama) discipleship study entitled The Way More Perfectly. It then went to Les Traducteurs du Roi for final editing & printing. We received 7 printed copies that we will be able to use with some of the new believers here in Châtellerault.
Thank you, Bro. Mitchell for letting us be part of this project. Thank you to Scott & Liane Grant, Career Church Planters in Quebec, for sending us copies of the finished project!
An Oldie but a Goodie!
A number of years ago I picked up Rev. Jack Cunningham’s book If I Can Do It, Anybody Can!. It’s the story of how he and his wife planted and grew the church of Newport News, Virginia; currently a thriving church pastored by Rev. Jared Arango. It is my current “Good Read.”
Ahh… at last. The kids have been getting to know two kids who’ve been spending lots of summer-vacation time with their grandparents, who live across the street from us. Last night they went for an evening swim at the same lake where Sébastien was baptized.
They’ve also played some soccer, basketball and dominoes games together… (ever heard of “Chicken Foot“?) Lots of fun and finally… seeds of friendship!
Canoe in the Wind
OK… I’ll tell you about it since I promised it last week.
After his day-job was done, my dad’s was also as an Old Town Canoe distributor. He did a lot of paddling himself and guided trips as well. Though my brother has followed dad’s lead more than I, I do still know a bit about flat water paddling.
If you find yourself in open water and the wind kicks up you can easily get in trouble given the canoe’s shape and the way they ride low in the water. The canoe will rock & roll with the crests & troughs if you remain parallel with the waves and, if they are rough enough, you can easily capsize. Still, it’s not impossible to safely navigate such water… the secret is to drive the canoe into the waves… crossing them perpendicularly. In this way they slice the waves, rather than being victim to them. We would do well to face trial & difficulty head-on as well: Tackling and mastering it rather than hesitating and falling victim to the agitation that it can bring.
Just a thought!
…for all the love that we’ve felt in recent weeks and for your prayers, we know it makes a difference. God bless your day today.
I used to think that “Big people must never be scared of ANY-thing!” … Now I know that to be hogwash, because I are one!
The propensity to experience fear is not, as I have learned, restricted to a certain age… (say “10 & under”, “11-19” or “20-24”), it’s just that our reason for fear changes depending on where we’re at in life… what we’re doing: fear is not as much age-related as it is stage-related.
One of the ways I’m tempted to fear, in this new stage, is in the area of “success” versus “failure”.
In North America, busyness is equated to success. If we are busy, we must be accomplishing something and conversely if we want to accomplish something… we must stay busy. So at those times where I find myself not particularly busy… I can fear that I will not accomplish; not meet the expectations of fellow missionaries or you… our supporters.
Ours is a small, home-missions type church where we’re more likely to be 12-15 than we are 25-30, especially during the summer holidays (when two families are missing… we lose 10 people). Since our desire is to not just maintain, but to see growth, if that growth doesn’t happen in the short term… are we succeeding? Can mere maintenance be considered success or does it represent failure?
I’m glad that success can be defined in several ways:
- 1 Corinthians 4.2 says “Moreover it is required of stewards (those that have been entrusted with something) that they be found faithful.” Therefore… if I’m a faithful steward of the things and the people that God has entrusted to our care… that is a measure of success.
- Balance: I can easily forget that we’re still in the “adjustment stage”, getting familiar with people, customs, and the practical details of living in France. On top of that, June was an intensely busy time as you’ve read. The idea that only two weeks later, I should feel negative pressure for uneventful time is itself a bit insane (yet the struggle is real). Balance can often be missing in the midst of busy-driven success. To strive for and achieve balance is a measure of success.
- Kids: We’re working hard to ensure that our time here is a positive experience for Sophie, Dominic & Timo. Right now that means helping them finalize the last details of their school year, alleviating their frustration. The quality of our kids’ overall experience is a measure of success.
- Being vs. Doing: In some economies, the steady accomplishment of tasks is the measure of success: doing. In a “spiritual economy” however, there is a need to pull back and take in before it’s possible to give out. I need to “Be still and know that HE is God” before I can effectively model the peace that comes from that and lead someone else to that realization. “Being” a Christian before I consume myself with “doing” Christian things is a measure of success.
Of course we strive for growth, but until that happens, these are also measures of success. Lord… let me be successful in the most balanced of ways! These thoughts, along with the knowledge that we are exactly in the center of God’s will for our family, allow us to combat fear. I’m glad that fear is subject to the peace of God.
In other news…
- French National Holiday: This past Tuesday was the French National Holiday… July 14th. Oddly enough, it’s often referred to as “Bastille Day” in North America but not so here. It’s either “le 14 juillet” or “la fête nationale”. Pictured are some of the fireworks with the Henri IV bridge as backdrop. (Henri IV was King of France from 1589-1610 and promulgated the Edict of Nantes in 1598 – guaranteeing religious freedom to protestants)
- Jayc: many of you saw our Facebook post last Monday about Jayc (pronounced Jake)… our beagle puppy. Well it’s been an eventful week! By Tuesday morning, his hind quarters (including legs) had inexplicably become paralyzed. The breeder retrieved him almost immediately and took him to the vet who felt it was an extremely rare adverse reaction to standard vaccinations. With no improvement after 4 days and an increasingly traumatized little pup, the vet suggested that the most compassionate route was to put him down. So… today we are going to pick up another puppy. It was a rough start to “Dog-dom” and there may have been a few tears shed.
Please pray for Pierre, one of our members. He’s had a lot of health challenges of late and is in a 3-week treatment session to try to get under some of the issues.
Next Saturday I may tell you about Canoes in the Wind… stay tuned and see you then. Same time, same place.
Thank you for your prayers and support!
As I sit to share our week with you… I’m pretty much bubbling with excitement. I’ll get to the reason why somewhere between now and the end of the post, but let’s start at the beginning of the week…
After my three hours of teaching at Bible School last Saturday, I was able to get away and share some high-French cuisine (McDonald’s) with an old friend. Sylvain was my student marker when I taught French at UNBSJ some 14 years ago. He lives close to Melun so we’ve been able to see each other a few times already. Honestly… McD’s tastes better with old friends! We will also get to attend Sylvain & Camille’s wedding later this summer. Very excited to be able to be in France to share this special day with a good friend.
Few people like Mondays in general and many pastors say that it’s even perhaps a bit worse in the ministry. As much as Sunday services involve both a spiritual and an emotional high, the physically drained Christian is sometimes more prone to spiritual attack or simply just negative feelings on Monday. I’ve experienced it a few times myself so this week I decided to meet Monday on my terms.
I spent a couple of hours out in the community. I prayer-walked through a neighbourhood that we didn’t get to finish on our church prayer walk two weeks ago. After that, I also drove out to the village of Targé (about 10min from Châtellerault). This is the town hall (also known as “La Mairie”). This is fairly typical of village municipal offices here… small & quaint. Lord, let your Spirit move in Targé!
Fear is quite a thing! What I’ll call positive fear can push us to be cautious in unfamiliar situations but negative fear can almost paralyze us (taken to the extreme, irrational fear often does)… even in relatively normal circumstances. This week I have faced both. Not only is there fear associated with not being in the will of God, there is also fear associated with being in His will. It can be the simple fact of being placed outside of your comfort zone and dealing with the unfamiliar on a regular basis and it can also be a case of wondering “what next?”. We are currently, for all intents and purposes, homeless; having sold our home in Canada and living in a “borrowed home” in France… What happens when the Brochus return and what are the implications on our future, our kids, etc.? (This might have something to do with “Dreaded Monday”)
If I think too much about it, it becomes un-nerving but it’s always there in the background. In those times I am thankful that I can put both my present and my future in God’s hands and know that if we’re in His will, then He is working for our good. Matthew 6.34 says not to “worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has worries of its own.” The previous verse, 6.33, says to “seek first the Kingdom of God (His priorities) and all these other things (my own worries & concerns) will be added unto me.”
Thank you Lord that your word and your presence calms my fear!
We tried something new this week. Several of the major grocery chains have a “Drive-thru” version of themselves where you place and pay for your order online, then specify a time for pick up. At the appointed time, you drive to the depot, where a friendly staff member loads it into your open trunk. Time on the road: 15 min.
I could get used to this kind of grocery shopping. One fringe benefit is that there are fewer “impulse purchases” as you walk down the chocolate or chips & dip aisles. (…mixed blessing?)
For our “birder” friends
As I write this post, the patio doors are open on a shady side-yard and many sounds are flooding in from around the neighbourhood… the distant barking dog or revving chain-saw, but closer still… the sound of many birds. The sound of mourning doves is very common and takes me back to living in Acamac, on the edge of the woods; a sound I missed when living right in Saint John. There are a number of smaller songbirds as well. Yesterday, however, I heard something I’d never heard before, although it was immediately recognizable… I heard a cuckoo (you know… as in the “cuckoo clock”?). How cool is that?!
Fire & Fellowship
Last night was an awesome, unplanned blessing!
Our “Church Prayer Meeting” can vary in location and format. Up until late fall it was mainly prayer walks through Châtellerault, but with the onset of winter it moved inside, generally on Fridays. Two weeks ago we took it back out into the city and this week I was unsure about what to do… prayer walk on Saturday morning or meet at the church Friday night. I was waiting to see what weather would do. The deciding factor, however, was that the nephew and niece of one of our church members expressed an interest in attending on Friday night. Decision made.
I was aware of a situation that was happening in their life and so in addition to spending time in prayer, we also sang a couple of songs and I shared a passage of scripture. They were quite engaged during the prayer meeting.
In an attempt to prolong our time together and get to know them more, I suggested that we have a bonfire since the evening was fine. (Remember the trimming I’d being doing on the property? The trimmings made for great firewood). We made a call to another family that wasn’t in prayer and by the end of it, there were 21 of us.
Do you see the size of that flame?!
(no gasoline added)
We had an incredible time together and stayed at church until about 10:30pm. Our guests tasted toasted marshmallow for the very first time and quite loved it. (There may also have been some roasting of “Ferrero Rochers” involved… it may or may not have been delectable!) They thoroughly enjoyed the evening and a great connection was made. Lord, add to your Kingdom.
I quite enjoy preparing these posts… not only do I get to share with you what life is like in our world, but it’s also a time when I think of many of you… (those we’ve “birdwatched” with, those we’ve “bonfired” with, those we’ve “feared” and “overcome fear” with), and that makes me feel good. The knowledge of friendship, despite the miles, is both a comfort and a joy.
Thanks for your time…
Let what you read inform your prayers for us and for the church in western France.
A weekend in “The Word” is what we had in the city of Montreal! For that was the theme of the 2014 French Evangelism Conference (FEC) at the Église Pentecôtiste Unie de Saint-Laurent, pastored by Rev. Dieudonné Kahozi, under the oversight of Bishop Rev. Paul Graham.
Services began Thursday and ran until end-of-day Sunday. We were privileged to rub shoulders with fellow guest-speakers:
- Rev. Justin MacKenzie
(Lead Pastor of One Church in Halifax, NS)
- Rev. Valérie Agba
(Pastor of UPC Arras, France)
- Rev. David Sagil
(Pastor of New Hope Temple, Chicago, IL and North American Director for the UPC’s Ministry of Jewish Relations) and
- Rev. Dieudonné Kahozi
This was the first time I’d heard Bro. Agba and Bro. MacKenzie minister (although I’ve known of both for quite some time). Bro. MacKenzie was the youngest of the group, but I can tell you my esteem for him increased yet more: What a profound young minister!
It was the second time that I’d heard Bro. Sagil minister and as I said to a couple… it was like trying to eat a steak with no bone, fat or gristle…. 100% pure meat! Incredible. So appreciative to spend time with such high calibre men.
As for Bro. Kahozi… there’s no question. Friends for a long time, he is doing an incredible job there in Montreal. There were 534 in service on the Saturday night service. A record for any French meeting in North America. God is raising up a French church in that city! All in all… 28 people were filled with the Holy Ghost and 18 were baptized in Jesus’ name. AWESOME!!
Our kids are homeschooled using the DVD curriculum from Abeka Academy requires that they use a laptop computer. The ones that they’ve been using are roughly 8-10 years old and just before we left for conference, one gave up the ghost completely. Hoping to buy a new one before leaving for France, the kids were selling scarves that they’d knitted a while back (they probably sold $200 worth this weekend alone).
Bro. Kahozi indicated that Friday night he’d do a promo of the scarf table to let people know what it was for. In addition to doing that however, he took up an offering solely for the kids’ computer need. Over $1,700 was collected and we will easily be able to replace both of the old laptops. Thank you Pastor Kahozi… what a blessing!
Church Growth: a daughter work
Sunday morning we attended one of Saint-Laurent’s daughter works… Église Pentecôtiste Unie de Montréal Est. I’d been there several times but it was a first for Liz and the kids.
They meet in the old Meubles Hochelaga building: nicely done inside, but they have yet to change the signage. It’s a young church with young teenagers playing music and twenty-somethings doing just about everything else. That morning 2 young people were filled with the Holy Ghost for the first time – after having attended for only about 3 weeks.
New European Citizens
Our main task for Monday was to visit Montreal’s Italian Consulate to get the kids’ passports.
Oh they do have Canadian passports already, but because Liz is an Italian citizen by birth and since, upon their births, the kids were registered at the consulate; obtaining Italian passports is simply a question of paperwork, which Liz had done in advance. We only had to show up with photos, sign some “autographs” and wait. In fact we were in and out in less than an hour… passports in hand.
Then, we celebrated with chocolate covered waffles at Suite 88 Chocolatier on de Maisonneuve. o. my. goodness.
Back to work
As I write this… my head is still somewhat in the cloud given that we spent just over 10hrs on the road, driving back. Just under two months to go and there’s still a lot to prepare. We appreciate your prayers for the sale of the house – and other preparations.
We’re excited about what God is going to do!