Our Schedule:

Teaching English and Art together, putting on the GospelCafé concerts, prayer, meeting with our new French friends. It's a good life!


A complete listing of very specific requests for prayer can be found under "Prayer Requests."


For those just getting to know us, please visit the special sections to the right.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Celebrating Thanksgiving in France

Thanksgiving has come and gone here and we like many others are very thankful for our many blessings. Our team in France didn't celebrate the American holiday on last Thursday but still came together in gratefulness on Saturday with a few French friends to share with them why this holiday is so important to Americans. 
     Finding a turkey in Paris, like a Butterball in the frozen meat section, is non-existent  but if one asks the butcher at the local Charcuterie one can be ordered for a "pretty price." There will be mashed potatoes, maybe green bean casserole but one won't find Campbell's mushroom soup, maybe it can be made from scratch. Pumpkin pie and probably even French desserts will be found at the table, and maybe cranberry dressing if the supermarché has fresh cranberries. It's highly unlikely that the jelled cranberries in the can will be found. One might be surprised what can be found in the "gourmet" section which is more or less for expats who are lonely for a food item.
     Doing missions work far away from home can be tough on missionaries during major holidays. Especially those who may be just starting out and also those who have been working in another country for many years and have older children who are in the states going to school or working while they remain on the field. We are just beginning our work in France. While in the states now we wait for our return knowing that we will be going back next time for much longer periods missing time with our immediate families during holidays. I know that being thankful for God's word will be very helpful during these times and having a great team as ours in France who will come together as a family for holidays will help.
     The Puritans surely didn't have the 21st century dining room table setting but they had some wonderful prayers of thankfulness to God and those nearby Indians to keep them from starving. The Puritans also had determination to remain faithful to him during very tough times. There is a wonderful book called "The Valley of Vision" that has many Puritan prayers. They were thankful for God's greatness and deliverance through trials. Here is a prayer from a Puritan. It may not have been on that day but it will give you a glimpse of how they viewed life.

Help me to stand with wary eye on the watchtower of faith,
And to cling with determined grasp to my humble Lord,
And if I fall let me hide myself in my redeemer's righteousness,
And when I escape, may I ascribe all my deliverance to Thy grace.

Those of us who love God with all our hearts have so much to be thankful for  - 
  If we dwell in the shelter of the Most High and rest even in the shadow of the Almighty then we will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." He will cover us with his feathers and we will find refuge under his wings. His faithfulness will be our shield.  
     I am thankful I do not have to fear from terrors that may fall or arrows that may fly in my direction. They will not come near me. Even the Lord's angels will guard me in all my ways. They will lift up their hands to protect me.  The Lord will rescue me and protect me. He knows me by name.
     When I call, you will answer Lord. When I am in trouble you are with me. Thank you for delivering and honoring me. Thank you for giving me peace and satisfaction in my life. For this even words cannot say how truly grateful I am. (Carol's version of Psalm 91)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Election


This is from one of our teammates in France. 

"While some of you very likely gave up watching for the sake of a good night’s sleep, I had the opportunity to roll out of bed this morning, turn on the TV, surprised to find right at that moment Obama giving his victory speech. I found that to be more convenient than staying up past 1AM. We chose to follow the events on the English-speaking international news channel, though it’s interesting to follow it all in French from time to time as well.
I avoided going out yesterday, in part out of fear that Frenchmen would grill me about the election, Frenchmen who very often know more about American politics than I do. It was indeed a subject of conversation over the meal at last night’s Alpha Course, questions about electoral votes, Mormonism, time zones, campaign trails…
I was overseas the day Bush was elected for a second term, but this was the first time I was overseas for the entire campaign, or la folie, as I’ve referred to it. Apart from feeling generally out of the loop and ignorant to all that was happening, I can’t say I really minded.
As our team started the day in prayer yesterday, we prayed for the United States, but most of all for the Christians there, that above politics, they would be more concerned with improving and protecting their own unity as the body of Christ and in advancing the kingdom of God rather than the kingdom of America, of Democrats, or of Republicans.
Because what would happen if we put an equal amount of energy and (the) $6 (ad) billion dollars towards making disciples of all nations? What if we proclaimed just as loudly our message of true change and real hope? What if we kept our eyes fixed on our story that lasts longer than four years, on the One who always delivers on the many promises he makes?"

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

2 in one Day!

It's completely non-existent that we would post 2 times in one day. But 2 wonderful news items were sent to us by our team in France that we had to share it with you, our partners. You know what to do and we are counting on you and thanking you at the same time.


Oh my gosh! Such exciting news. Russell just told me that one of our France Vie partners is getting his desire fulfilled by starting a coffeehouse and our field director and his wife just passed off their church plant (the one we were assigned to - Magny-les-Hameaux)  to Baptiste to be their pastor and will be helping the other French guy with his Gospel House. But what is so incredible and shows God's goodness is they found a space across the street from the palace of Versailles. At first they thought it was to small when they went inside; but, it had a large room in the back too. The owner wasn't going to rent it to them and they became discouraged until later when he came back to them and said they could use it for FREE!!!! This will be in the area where we will be working too when we return. We have not met this Frenchman yet and look forward to that day. He had been in the states for a while trying to see how to do a Christian or Gospel coffeehouse while we were in Versailles working. I am so happy for them. Lord, get us back there! soon.

Here's the second story we want to share. Some of you may remember that we helped the church planting team in Gisor with the beginnings of the Alpha Course this spring. An Alpha Course which is available in many areas of the world including the United States is like a Christianity 101. Who is God, who is Jesus & what does He have to do with me. It's a 15 week course with a new topic each week. There is always a meal each week, a video then a chance to talk about what was on the video.  

The Catholic church in this town is active and the priest invited our group to use a room in their church since we didn't have any place yet. This is still the beginning stages of starting our own church. Don't forget many French have never met a Protestant and some have never met a Christian.

Our team accepted their offer. It's been a great collaboration because THEY also show the Video Alpha Course series. This video series is not about a church denomination.  Soooo... Guess what just happened recently? Read this update from Nate and Erica who just got moved there and are part of this team.

"Imagine you are at ..mass at the Catholic church on Sunday morning and the priest announces: 

"The Evangelical Protestants in town are starting a new Alpha Course next week, and you're invited to attend."

That's not really normal, but our team was surprised to hear it happened last Sunday. We hadn't received the package of posters, brochures, or invitations in the mail yet, and we'd been praying about publicity efforts. God's answer is to have the priest help us!

"God called me five years ago to be a part of organizing an Alpha Course, so this has been a long time in the making. I'm ready to help." 

That's what one woman shared at our first leadership team meeting for the upcoming Alpha Course. There were eleven people present, all gathered in the new living room of our teammates that had moved just a few weeks before.

Some in the group are Catholics, some are Charismatics, some are charismatic Catholics, all helping out a group of traditional Evangelicals. Each one from different areas, different backgrounds, different walks of life. I found myself smiling, wondering, "How in the world did God unite these people in this town for this project?" There is one important thing we have in common: a desire to announce the good news of the Gospel in this town. 

So here we go, the kickoff night is tomorrow, October 2nd. There are still a lot of unknowns, but God is once again opening doors in surprising ways. We'll keep stepping out in faith and see what he'd like to do with it all...

ACTION POINT: For those of you have told us you would like to be actively participating in what we are doing we ask you to pray for these fellow leaders and believers who want to share the "Good News" to a lost and lonely people.



Latest Adventure through the people we meet.

No one can say we don't have an interesting life. We'd like to be working in France right now but there are things to accomplish before going back. We are enjoying meeting new people, seeing our family  once in a while and we are thankful for the many opportunities we've had to impact our world, no matter which world we're in. While in the United States we do not have a salary from our organization so we have to find money making projects until we can get back to France.

Since our home base has been in the northeast part of Missouri in recent times with Russell's folks, we ventured up to a Chamber of Commerce in Kirksville. There upon, we met some nice folks who own a vineyard and named it after their adopted son Jacob who has down's syndrome. Their idea is to have their 501c3 help children and adults with disabilities by teaching them about agriculture, preserving, canning and running a business.

Our relationship has deepened and I'm painting a mural on their 29 ft. x 9.5 ft wall. College students had painted on this wall before a few years ago and they wanted it to look more professional. We struck a deal and now I'm taking a few of their elements and re-designed the whole look. Here's a photo.

The far left side will be grapevines on top of the earth. I'm working on the background right now.

The left side is a view to the outside. The right side of the mural is from within.  Just remember it's a fantasy. :0)

There will be a stone floor with more grapevines in the background.
The wall will have a clock and there will be a table and chairs in the background on the right side floor.


close-up view of Lucy stomping the Grapes 


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Knee Deep in work - Kneed to get back to Blogging

One month ago we posted. That's terrible. It's easy to get distracted by the urgent of the day and forget about our friends and family who like to keep up on where we're going from here.

We've been back in the US since the middle of May to Emily's KU graduation, moving Jason and Elyse in Lawrence, flying to California to see James and Rebekah the month of July and to work on raising more support with our churches out there while taking care of our home in Santa Cruz, California. A return to Lawrence, KS was made to help move Emily and Joe to Manhattan while Joe begins his Master's program with his study in Evolutionary Biology, Genetics and Entymology combined. This is not the Big Apple Manhattan but the Little Apple in Kansas. Joe will be focused on the mating changes of a certain cricket. You'll have to ask him all about it. Emily is glad they don't have to keep them in their house but will use the research lab at K-State for testing. Emily is focused on getting her art studio up and running and enjoying their new little church a block away.

Jason and Elyse are having fun with their new life a couple of blocks from their old house. Elyse has a new job in an Aveda Beauty Salon where she gets additional training and heading to New York soon for some of that. Big, 5 year Charlotte, started all day kindergarten and was writing her complete name the first week. Harmony, 2 years old, decided to potty train again and having "Jabber Cool". Translated that means Jasper School. Jasper, Jason and Elyse's friend, is helping watch Harmony in the mornings until Jason gets home. Jason is setting up his new art studio at their new house as he continues his work at the Lawrence Art Center.

James and Rebekah are working on various movie projects and TV shows. James latest is with a new Food Network show called "Sugar Dome". It's about incredible edible art that will be on this fall. He was an assistant to the Assistant Director and Rebekah got her first crack at Art Coordinator to a recent movie of which the name escapes me.

I think we have to add BARRmoving to our latest jobs. Please don't ask us to move you though. After moving two of our children we are tired. It's been incredible what we've been able to accomplish while back here as we keep moving forward in our mission to get back to France for a much longer period.

Our new art friends we met in Magny-les-Hameaux, France are encouraging us to teach art classes in English when we return. We are trying to work out those details right now and would appreciate your thoughts for this kind of thing to happen. Thank you for your concerted involvement in our lives. Russell has been in contact with our new French friends since being stateside. Who would have thought we would be continuing the dialog with people we only recently met at a community gallery event before leaving France?

Our main focus this week is updating our prayer and financial supporters network of information (over 350 families and 8 churches). We plan on calling each of you who have financially given to this work to personally thank you and "catch up" on your lives.

Our taxes finally got completed the month of August. That was a huge chore!!! What a relief to finally get all of our banking updated for the last year and a half. We continually find other reports and things that are missing (from the stolen computers) that we need to be able to get our work done. We have a HUGE thank you to Olathe Bible for giving us funds to replace Russell's computer and also to Cheryl Blum (a friend/graphic designer buddy, from the Chicago area for my computer replacement.)

We don't know the exact date of our leaving over the pond. We may have to raise an additional $1400. per month.  That is still being decided by World Team. We also have lump sums to raise and we are waiting on totals from World Team. We want to get art equipment which could run about $4400. for a used kiln and 3 potter's wheels, etc. We are personally going to raise the art equipment fee with the help of Facebook and anyone else who would like to contribute.

We will be buying a vehicle in France this time. We are going to set aside 10,000. American dollars for that which is around 8,000.00 euros.  Currently, we have 10,000.00 or so in our World Team account. There will be more language study and I haven't heard yet how much more we will be allotted for that since we had 4 months of language study while there last time. We are planning on shipping our goods this next time and I don't know how much that will cost.  If we can leave no later than March our tickets to return will be around $1400. total.

Many of you have been a part of our team for a few years now and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. There is excitement about what God is going to do for the future and our hope is that you will want to continue on this exciting journey with us. We couldn't have done what we have without you.

Many Blessings!
Carol (along with Russell)





Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Maybe I'll use a plastic bag as a scarf.


We are back in Santa Cruz taking care of details about our house, taxes, France fellowships, and working on getting back to France. I forgot how chilly it is here in the mornings and how foggy it gets. Why didn't I bring my nice scarves from France? They would have come in handy. Surely, there is a store around here who sells scarves. Russell asked, "don't I have enough scarves already?" A woman can never have enough scarves as they go with many different outfits. come on!

Speaking of stores...I went to Safeway to get some groceries yesterday and the sign at the "self-checkout" said, PAPER BAGS 10 cents. I asked the cashier down the way, do you have plastic bags. There were none in sight. She said, "we banned plastic bags back on May 20th, as if I should have known about this." Well, I never. Really?

I know you of the environmentally conscious group are trying to get us to bring in our re-usable bags. I'm trying to do a better job at that and have them at home in the closet never to remember to put them in the car. Then I have to remember to get them out of the trunk. France encourages re-usable bags and most people use them. BUT, they didn't ban plastic bags. They have nice people as their cashiers who will give you FREE plastic bags if you forget.

Don't get me started on people's agendas. What happened to being nice and freedom of choice. Well, I have a choice and I'm going to go to Sav-On today (I forgot to buy butter). We'll see if THEY'VE banned plastic bags.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I want to share something really personal today.

Do you know what a flannel graph is? It's a piece of flannel (think of some of those thicker sheets you can buy that keep you warm.) They used to put flannel on a board and use it in a class. This was before technology became what it is. When I was a kid in church they'd put cutout characters from the Bible on the flannel. The paper dolls, so to speak, would stick on the flannel. You could move them around and tell a different story every week. I loved them. 


Is Jesus just a flannel graph figure on a board from stories you may have heard before? Maybe you feel separated from him through time, space and culture? Maybe you know of him intellectually but not personally. Maybe you believe in his truths and creed and even in the text but you are not tapped into Him any more. 

His compassion displays the heart of God for the hurting. (for mothers who lost their sons - bringing them back to life), Feeding people, Loving them, guilding them, teaching them. But he's alive people! It's a holy mystery. 

He goes with me! He can go with you but he's not pushy. He won't go if he's not wanted. I call and he answers. I have been amazed at how he has answered my prayers over and over - especially in the last 4 years. While in France - I saw the wonder of God more than ever. I was stripped bare in so many ways and called him, asking him to place me where he wanted me. He guided me everywhere and gave myself and Russell (my beloved husband) many divine appointments with people!!! 

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit. Ps 34:18

We sang this song today which once again reminded me of our journey.  "I called and He answered." - Hillsong

Falling on my knees in worship 
Giving all I am to seek your face 
Lord all I am is yours 
My whole life 
I place in your hands 
God of Mercy 
Humbled I bow down 
In your presence at your throne 
I called, you answered 
And you came to my rescue and 
I wanna be where you are, 
In my life be lifted high 
In our world be lifted high 
In our love be lifted high 
Higher and Higher! ...


Thank you dear God for this journey you've put us on.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Let's talk France Fellowships

There are those diehard fans of Facebook and those who prefer reading Blogs. We try to cater to both but I know I'm more lacking for blog entries.  Let's talk "France Fellowships". One of my jobs with France Vie is to raise awareness and help motivate others into concerted caring. Our French team would love to have people in the states gather in groups every so often to pray and talk about France and her people as well as think up ideas and projects to encourage our young church planters. Sometimes we have specific projects that come up we need help on. A big project for the future would be starting a coffee house near a university to meet students or others who happen by - besides offering drinks/snacks we can offer art and music classes, band night or opening nights for the gallery, being able to relate with them on a personal level and share about unconditional love and getting them connected with a community.


I am going to set the month of July to see if any of you would call up some  friends to meet somewhere to eat, talk and pray about what God would have you do. He's already working. Let's tap into what he's doing.

Our young French/American/German couples who work for France Vie do struggle sometimes and need encouragement. France Fellowship groups can find ways to encourage them. Eventually we are going to design a website where groups can post their ideas and projects.

We have one church who has been involved with us quite a while now and have a big book sale once a year. People donate their old books. Every year it keeps getting bigger and bigger. Maybe you are already part of a Book club and this would be another type of thing your group could do. You are already meeting - why make up another date on the calendar? 



Would your men or women's groups through your church/work/school, like to focus on France? Some of you learned French in High School or college. Find other like-minded Francophiles and think up something Frenchified. Some have "Raising Awareness for France events", during the day or evening, show a video of our team, hear their personal stories and pray. Serve French tarts or quiche, chocolate or whatever and play French music.

Many of you have been involved with us already and have been praying and financially giving. We SOOO appreciate you! France Fellowships are a more concerted effort within a group setting and targeted toward France Vie as a whole not one couple.

It only takes one who is excited to invite a few friends to get together. 

If you like the sound of this let us know.


Carol and Russell

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Invitation to Return to the Field

Jerry, our French field director, let us know that he was pleased with what we had accomplished during our four month midterm assignment and wants us to return as soon as we can. He is going to issue an official invitation soon and is also going to have the board of FRANCE VIE issue a letter of recommendation for us. This is what we wanted to hear!

Back in the USA

We arrived back in Kansas May 9th. It still seems odd to wake up in Lawrence instead of Versailles.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Soggy Week but Sunshine in our hearts

This is a week of mixed feelings as we prepare to leave for the U.S. to attend our daughter's graduation. We'll work from the states for France awhile and begin planning how we are to return for the next phase of work here. It's given our team time for all of us to work together and to see each other's vision for ministry.

The weather has not made the typical turn to sunshiny days. Paris spring has a soggy feel to it this year and the flowers are just now beginning to be in full bloom. For that I'm grateful.  Last year March and April sprung forth. These months have been cold, wet and windy. Our days now have climbed to high 50s and sometimes edging over 60 with a little sun ending in wet. The colors are beautiful though. We had a great day in Gisors on Friday with some friends of ours that started out sunny and ended with a downpour leaving me soaked as we said our goodbyes and headed to the train. I had to wear a scarf (originally wrapped around my neck) to cover my sopping head. There was no comb or mirror in my purse and no toilette in site. That didn't dampened my spirits and I tried to make the scarf look like Sophia Loren's in one of her old 1960s movie in an open convertible flying in the wind.

Friends of ours came for a couple of nights from the Netherlands. Our friendship goes back the last 12 years starting in Olathe, Kansas. They've lived in the Netherlands for 4 years now and have been waiting for us to get here to France. We waited 4 1/2 months to take 3 days off and toured the Chateau of Versailles with them. That was a wonderful day and then we took them to Gisors, the village of 35,000 people but no Protestant church. Some of you may remember about this town. There is an 11th century castle with beautiful tulips displayed and a very old incredible Catholic church that the Nazi's tried to bomb to smithereens. Fortunately, they didn't, but it has some stories to tell. I'll put some pictures up soon. Kevin (pronounced Keveen)- our French church planter teammate - joined us to share some insights to this old church and about the work they are doing in this town. We spent some time in prayer for the team and for the people in this wonderful old village in Normandy.

Before we leave we'll have a going away party for our friends in the apartment and for any on our team who can come. Our last big project was to finish painting the France Vie Office. That got completed yesterday. Russell has more graphics projects to complete and some of those will continue in the states. I will be working on "France Fellowships" where we gather groups of people in the states to pray more earnestly for the French and see how they might become more involved to raise awareness of the Christian plight in France. Should be interesting.

Many of you know of our journey to get to the work here. It's been a journey of faith, trust and perserverance. One of our pastors said we might just be stubborn. When you have a call on your life you can't throw it away. This is just the beginning of our work and we look forward to seeing how God is going to shape it for the next time.  For those on our prayer and financial support: Thanks for going on the ride with us. We couldn't be here without you.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Boot Repair

Another customer was happy to take our picture
A month after moving to Versailles, I had worn out the leather soles on my boots and needed a repair shop. One rule of getting along in another culture is, "Ask the natives." So I asked. The advise was to go to the Vietnamese guy on Rue du Chantiers. Turns out I pass his shop almost every day. It's just a few doors down from the boulangerie (bread store) and on the way to the Chantiers gare (train station).
     I wrote down questions to ask and practiced my French, starting with, "Je sais seulement un peu de Français." (I only know a little French.) When I stepped up into his shop, boots in hand, he was sitting at his workbench going to town on an electric guitar. I didn't have enough French to ask if he was repairing it or just jamming away the afternoon. It sounded great to me. Certainly not what I expected to hear. I liked him already. He didn't speak a word of english, so he wrote down the answers to my questions in French and then called his daughter to help translate. I told her the boots were made in Olathe, KS, where the first cowboy boot was made. 
     Two days later the boots were ready. The picture above was taken by another customer the day I picked them up. He did a great job and I have  new friend in Versailles.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Red hair and freckles

While standing a long time in the cashier line at Carrefour (a large chain of supermarkets in Europe), a young woman kept looking at me and finally began to speak to me in French. She said something rapidly which I did not catch so I said, "pardon" pronounced "pahrdoh". British English flowed from her at that point and she said, "where are you from". "I knew you weren't from here because of your red hair and freckles. My mom who is Scotch, Irish and Welsh has your coloring and freckles like many people of this descent. This young lady was a brunette, no freckles. She later added, "of course I got my dad's coloring."

I've come to find out that one can have a long conversation in the cashier line at most supermarchés. (When you see the accent mark over the é going to the right you pronounce it like a long a.)

We exchanged our names and what we were doing in this interesting country. She has worked here 4 years in the steel and glass industry and is fluent in French. I shared about my journey. She was fascinated. I sensed in her a frustration though in making French friends and suggested we meet for coffee sometime. I gave her my email and said she promised me that she would contact me. We've heard those words before but she did contact me and last Saturday we had lunch together near our office. She doesn't live far from there. She's even interested in visiting our church.

Who would think that red hair and freckles would bring such attention?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Les Contes de Deux Témoignages / The Tales of Two Testimonies

These are not fairy tales but real ones. One sounds normal to us and the other is not. We'll call one of the men R and the other K. R is French and from the southern suburbs of Paris. He was actually raised with Christian Protestant parents. Protestants are few and far between. He's now 29 years old. He became a Believer at the age of 7 but as he grew up like most young adults he questioned whether Jesus Christ was really Lord, and his Savior; God. For him, He was. After university he began working in a science lab as a scientist testing nuclear materials for power plants. He began wondering what was his goal in life. He began to consider how he could use his life as a better steward for the Lord. After 8 years in the lab he decided to take advantage of a year long sabbatical that companies allow their employees to take if they wish. He wanted to explore what his goals are and go to a Bible institute. The employee has to give all his/her co-workers a dinner before he leaves. They get to ask him questions or have the employee share their purpose in this.

We are starting to hear more of young couples or singles even with atheist parents who have asked Jesus to be a part of their lives and to think about becoming leaders. They love to share him with their young children. This will help with the advancement of the work here. That would be a prayer for more and more young French to step up. We heard earlier last week that in the next 10 years, 50% of the full-time Christian workers in France will be at retirement age.

Our next story is about K from Algeria who moved to Paris with his family when he was young. Many leave their homeland for a better life. K had gotten into drugs and alcohol as he was growing up. His father would beat his mother and there was a lot of violence in their area. His sister got married and her husband was a Jesus follower.  He gave K a Bible which made him disgusted. But his mother was depressed and he was a mess so he began to read it. He realized it wasn't about a religion but about God and how he thought. It was about how God wanted to have a relationship with the people he created.  He said, "We didn't know anything about a God who relates."

K decided to become a believer after reading and realized it was the truth. His mother was worried about K's drug addiction. She was upset at him for becoming a believer. Their relationship became strained. His dad just ignored him. But she noticed a huge change in her son. She had been suicidal as well and seeing her son in a new light drew her to Christ and she also became a Christian.  His father took more notice when she changed her heart. Even though he investigated into it he went back to his "magic". Many in their circle are into the occult even though some are very devout and pray 5 times a day and practice their religion. One night K went to a prayer meeting at his new church where the people in the church prayed for him and his drug and alcohol addiction. He was fully delivered from it!

K wanted more and is serving in a Christian ministry internship in downtown Paris now. There are over 200 neighborhoods in the Ill-de-France (Paris region that have troubled areas with large populations of K's people and other multi-cultural groups. This ministry he works for is an arm of CRU in Europe. They visit these neighborhoods and have BBQ's, free children's events, dance, street theatre, rap, you name it.  They offer training in growing in God and help these people in many ways to try and find them new places to worship. It's an amazing ministry. Our own France Vie is going to begin working more with this group, getting leadership training and begin church planting. We already have a couple who is beginning to raise their funds to work with this people group. This is ground breaking work for us in France. We have this type of work in London and our Italian and Spain work as well will begin this too. Those of you prayer warriors: Please pray for our European and regional Directors to have the wisdom to implement and ask the Lord to bring workers to do this.

Pray for us to know which team we will be on and the exact town he wants us to be in when we return.

This week and last we have begun painting and sprucing up our France Vie office. There was a fire and flood from the Indien restaurant below which affected our office. We have plenty of work and language study between now and the time we leave to get home for our daughter's graduation May 11th weekend. Until later....




Friday, April 20, 2012

Since the French Revolution...

Mainline Protestants and even the evangelical Protestants  could live openly in France. They were a small bunch and even up to World War II they were still small. Their growth went from 50,000 to 460,000. Today they are growing and more like 600,000 but still less than 1% - probably more like .08. In a country of over 61 million French, the Protestants as a whole are 1.2 million (many non-practicing) Evangelicals are included in that number. The Cnef - Council for the National Evangelicals of France - www.lecnef.org - said 40 years ago there were only 1200 churches in all of France. The goal is to have 1 church for 10,000 people. Right now on average there is 1 church for 30,000. (1 church of 25 - 100 people) But in Paris in 16th arrondissement - there is no evangelical church for 150,000 people! Currently, evangelicals have a little over 2000 churches in France but 4200 more churches are needed! In many mainline Protestant churches the gospel is not preached.

We had a speaker this past week at the prayer conference, Paul, (we'll refrain from mentioning last names) who just moved to that section of downtown Paris with his wife and child to begin a work there. It is very expensive to live in this section of town. There are 2 other couples who live further south in France who want to move there to help them. Trying to sell their house and being able to afford this area is another challenge. We would appreciate prayer for them.

How are evangelicals viewed in France? For most of the people in France it's "how you are born". If you were born Catholic, then you are a Catholic, whether you practice or not, if you were born Muslim, Buddhist, etc. then that's what you are whether you are practicing or not. If you say you are a Believer in Christ, they will say, that's good for you in times of death because it will give you comfort.

Many believe that evangelicals come from outside France. Even though they were here during the Reformation and called Huguenots or Protestants for protesting the Catholic policies. It used to be called a sect here and in some areas it still is because of ignorance. Since the times of President Bush it was called a sect - meaning a cult. The word, culte, in France means church. In the United States the word cult is a term whereby a group may say they are Christian but do not really follow what Christianity means (Who is Jesus to them is a tell-tale sign if it's really a Christian group. Is he God?) If Christ is not considered God then they get labeled a "cult". In France, churches are signified by the term culte or eglise. Catholic or Protestant. Either could mean church. France's use of our term "cult" would be "sect".

To graduate from high school in France the first day of tests revolve around Philosophy. The study of philosophy is very important in France.  French may be suspicious of absolute messages. They believe in meta stories, relativism, who can say what is true or not true. We have seen the tide turn this direction from our universities in the states. Masters of suspicion were Marx, Freud and Nitsche. The exciting news though, is that Christianity is now starting to be introduced in the universities in their philosophy curriculum. That is a huge move forward. It was taken out of students' learning quite a while ago.

Doors are opening.
Some of the verses we were asked to read came from Jer. 33:3,  Eph. 6:19, Col. 4:2-3, Ps. 5:3

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ruminations from a Thrown Away Desk

It's been awhile since we posted. The last 2 weeks have been in preparations for our conference and working la conference. The first day we talked about Obstacles to faith in France. Here are some answers from people about faith. Take these obstacles and talk to the Father about them. We'll share the positive stories tomorrow.

1. I believe, I just don't practice. (would you say I'm a nudist, I just don't practice my belief?")
2. Hypocrisy
3. Hearts of stone.
4. Sorry, I keep this personal/private and they won't talk.

5. Property for the churches are almost non-existent to come by - 1905 law of separation of church and state. Mosques are getting preferential treatment with the mayors. Some EV protestant churches that are outside (not part of) of the newly formed Evangelical federation rent buildings that are not safe. You may have heard of the Haitian church in Stains, France where the floor caved in killing some people. They are not part of our EV federation but it's a very sad situation. They had 100 people praising God and dancing when it collapsed. It was supposed to be a ballroom. This has raised some very good discussion on TV and in the newspapers raising awareness. We end up getting small retail spaces, hotels, meet in homes, etc. This can be a deterrent to a French person who thinks it might be a sect and not a bona-fide Protestant church. They see a beautiful Catholic church building in their minds.

6. Many French are very tolerant for everything but Christianity - think it's not intellectual but they really don't know. (they worship reason, humanism, relativism). This has been taught to them in school from philosophers like Voltaire, Sartre, etc.

7. Materialism - Technology hasn't met their needs. They are seeking spirituality but turning to occult, orientals, new age, fortune tellers, magic, astrology.

8. Who is our fight with really? I think you know.

9. France was consecrated to Mary long ago. You can see at the crossroads a cross.

10. Betrayal - live behind shutters, walls to protect themselves. They think if they become Christians they will become dangerous. (think of all the wars).

11. Ignorance - 85% never opened a Bible. In the last 2 years the Bible is being found in bookstores. One of the largest stores in the world - Carrefour - used to sell them but decided to stop. But sometimes we can't put up a table and give them out or sell them cheap.

12. Children taught how to do sorcery, fantasy roles in school. When the children would come to one of our teammate's classes she said they would throw tantrums and act very strange.  They couldn't even be in her presence. She began to pray and they calmed down.

13. Learning curve about what Evangelical Protestants are. Extreme Christians put on Media.  (sound familiar?) More and more good journalism is starting to come out and the Evangelical Federation (CNEF) is getting good marketing out about who we are. The Minister of the Interior just recognized our Federation in 2011! They are happy we have one office they can go to and now journalists are showing up at their door to get good information.

14. Suicide is still high. Many people think about it and usually have a family member who have done it.

15. Promiscuity high - You must sleep around unless you are a priest.  You can't relate to me if you are not like me. It's accepted in French society for the men to have a mistress or vice versa for the women to affairs if they want in marriage. This is the cause of major divorce here even in our churches.

16. 60% of North African Muslims live in Paris. Government officials (mayors) seem to support Muslims over others. Jesus is the obstacle.

17. Of people polled - 62% want to know more about God but embarrassed - afraid of ridicule. And don't know who to talk to. That's because there are not enough believers to talk to them.

18.  Complete computer crashes from one of our teammates, our stolen computers. Lots of technology weirdness. You know who is at work here.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Joyeuse Pâques!

By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify many, 
as He will bear their iniquities.  Isaiah 53:11
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, 
and give His life a ransom for many.  Mark 10:45


Monday, April 2, 2012

The girl in the gray SNCF suit with her matching conductor hat blew the whistle loud and clear then hit the buzzer for the final call to board the train.

Off to Gisors we went. Russell had the rolling black bag and I had the bulging black purse filled with our snacks of gouda cumin (as the French reads on the bag) and our last piece of my coconut custard pie. I was sure the pie was getting squashed inside.

The French love "coco" and so do we. I add it to our granola if it isn't already in it. The French love their chocolate too. It seems most of their cereal has some form of shaved cacao in its contents. Did I mention heaven?

Since I haven't figured out what the different milks are available as there are a multitude; I'm sure we are not drinking skim and most certainly not 1%. Demi écreme may be 2%. Russell is in heaven and so am I. It's sweeter and has a lucious flavor. Those cows must be eating wonderful grass.

Of course, I digress from the main point of this story. It's easy to do because we are going to be on this train for 1 1/2 hrs. to Gisors - in Normandy and my mind is wandering. Gisors is one of our new locations to start a church.

The nearby Catholic priest is allowing our group to use one of their rooms in their church building to start the Alpha Course. It's a series of at least 10 sessions on various topics. If you ever hear of an Alpha Course near you I highly suggest you attend one if you have questions about God and what is he up to with all of us human beings and the universe. They are free and usually have a meal at each evening. There's a topical video and you can ask questions in a small discussion group after. Very wonderful and safe.

Tonight we will be helping Gisors with their first Alpha event. Gisors is a beautiful old village with an 11th century castle.

I've never seen so much grafitti along the way. I wonder if there are coffee table books of Paris' grafitti. This is the side that most people don't see and it's everywhere by train. Some of it is very creative.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Waiting

A friend who is far away on the other side of the planet shared this in an email today.

Waiting is not irresponsible

Waiting is not passive

Waiting means not taking charge to shape things the way we think they should be…

It seems that waiting allows emergence of startling new graces and produces an anticipation that keeps us alert to His promptings. 

Meanwhile everything that comes our way we do as with all our hearts and for His glory. Our hearts may “quiver” but the promise still holds…tarry until the Spirit comes…

Monday, March 26, 2012

First Confrontation!

Late last week I was cussed out by a bus driver for pushing the "Arrêt Demandé" (Stop, Please) button one stop too early. I had confused the stops and for some inexplicable reason it so angered the bus driver he refused to pull away from the curb and began shouting at me, waving his arms and making it quite clear what he thought of me. I tried to apologize but he would have none of it. I thought for a moment he was going to go so far as to make me get off the bus. 
     Another passenger, disheveled, unshaven and bleary eyed, lent his own muttered abuse to the situation. Most of the passengers either tried to remain invisible or smiled sheepishly at me as if to say, "Oh, well." He finally pulled away and rolled to the next stop, still yelling, gesticulating and making rude hand gestures. Someone else got off at my stop so I made haste to depart as meekly as possible for fear the door would shut before I could leap to safety. I walked to about thirty feet ahead of the bus and glanced over my shoulder only to discover the driver still going at it. The bus just sat there as he continued to scold me. 
     I finally turned around, held my hands out to my side, palms up in supplication—bowed, and for the final time said, "What can I do? I'm sorry." I then turned and walked away. I'm sure he couldn't here the, "So sue me!" that slipped out as the bus roared past.
     The whole scene embarrassed me more than angered me, and as I walked to my destination the ridiculousness of the situation got the better of me. I'm still laughing about it.
     It does make one wonder what really caused that whole scene. What was at the core of such a public display? I will probably never know. You can be sure I'll watch my stops a little more carefully in the future.   —Russell

Monday, March 19, 2012

The following are excerpts from an article: frenchfriends.info. I found it very helpful for me as a resource to teach English this coming Wednesday. The French call Easter - Pâques. Even though the Catholic church may only have 1 priest for 27 parishes in some areas in northern France, their churches are still in the center of the villages and may be run by the laity even though they don't have a Mass or the sacraments which only the priests can do. There will probably be be some kind of service on Easter. The protestants will have a Pâques service and we will be involved with the Magny church. Already church folks, including ourselves, prepared a song in two parts, women and men singing without a book in front of us. Baptiste is very confident in his little choir. I wish I was. I did enjoy our practice. There might be about 16 of us. - Carol

French Easter (Pâques) Traditions

French Easter TraditionsEaster is celebrated in France much as it is in America, with various religious ceremonies commemorating the rebirth of Jesus, and cultural customs having to do with rabbits, chocolates and eggs.
No city, village or town is without a Catholic church. (Once in a while there are some protestant churches too. - Carol) Many of them date back to the twelfth century or before. Most churches have a bell, which is rung joyfully throughout the year marking various events and the passage of time.  On the Thursday before Good Friday, all church bells in France are silenced in acknowledgement of Jesus' death.  In fun, children are told that the bell's chimes have flown to Rome to see the Pope. Easter morning, the bells ring out once again in celebration of the Resurrection, declaring that Jesus is alive again.  In some villages, people kiss and embrace one another when they hear the bells ring.
French Easter TraditionsEaster morning is a happy time for children who wake to look for colorfully decorated Easter eggs (les oeufs de Pâques) hidden in their gardens, homes and playgrounds.  Parents tell their children the eggs were brought from Rome (where the chimes had gone), and that when the chimes returned they brought the eggs with them.  In some parts of France children look for small chariots full of eggs pulled by white horses.
Unlike Americans, the French allot an extra vacation day for the Easter holiday.  Everyone gets an automatic three-day weekend which they usually use to spend time with family. Schools and universities tend to center the second spring vacation (two weeks for each of them) around Pâques as well.  Easter also marks the start of the"high" season for tourists, and hotel prices rise accordingly. A series of holidays (starting with the three-day Easter weekend) continues into May, with a trio of three-day weekends that month. Oui!
French Confiseries and Chocolatiers
As always, the French take great pride and joy in their food, and no village is without at least one or more confiseries (candy shops).  Easter is the perfect time of year for master chocolatiers to display and celebrate their delectable wares.  Great attention to detail and years of practice result in chocolate eggs that look more like works of artthan anything edible!  They are truly beautiful, and many people enjoy strolling the avenues peering into the shop windows as if they are at a museum or art show.
French Easter Fish TraditionPoisson D'Avril (French Easter Fish)
Everyone knows of chocolate rabbits in America, but did you know the French delight in chocolate fish?  Although not directly related to Easter, poisson d'Avril are enjoyed throughout the entire Easter season. These fishy little friends start appearing in shops on April 1st, when children use paper versions to play anApril Fools type trick. The 'trick' is to stick a paper fish onto the back of as many adults as possible, then run away yelling,"Poisson d'Avril!" (April fish!).  The tradition is several centuries old.  Some say it evolved from a silly 'fish trick' where one would send an unknowing person to market to buy freshwater fish when it was not in season.  In French culture, food follows season, and even children know when (and when not!) to buy oysters!
Cloche Volant (Chocolate Flying Bells)
As mentioned above, bells play an important role in the French Easter tradition.  Candy shops sell chocolate flying bells alongside Easter eggs and bunnies, in the same way many candy shops in America sell chocolate crucifixes.  These edible bells are another nod the the resurrection of Jesus, a time for celebration, and the end of Lent.
Easter Games
Raw eggs are rolled down a gentle slope.  The surviving egg is declared a victory egg, and symbolizes the stone being rolled away from Jesus' tomb.
Children might play a game of tossing raw eggs in the air.  The first child to drop and break his egg is the loser, and in some versions, must pay a penalty (e.g. give up a piece of his Easter candy to his brothers or sisters).  This is similar to the 'egg and spoon' game we play in America, only in our version the last one to have an egg left is declared the winner, and gets an extra prize!

Joyeuses Paques

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Getting Back on Track After Theft

We will be discovering things missing for a while yet, but I am now officially back on track with the design projects on the docket! The final step of getting my software reinstalled on our borrowed computer is done. I had to pay for the upgrade to accomplish this but the price tag was less than having to buy the software outright. Tomorrow I install fonts and should be able design and illustrate to my hearts content. We do need your prayers for the recovery of our financial software and patience and wisdom for Carol as she attempts to get our finances under control.  -Russell

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

We've Been Robbed!

It' been a while since our last update, partially because last Friday on the way back to Versailles from a retreat with our team, our computers and all my backup materials were stolen. There is much that is gone for good. We are in the process of gathering what remains and continuing on with our assignments.
     One bright spot in all this loss is the ever deepening relationships with people around us. We've been told that the French are very private and that it's impossible to meet our neighbors. The laptop I'm typing on was loaned to us by a sweet French couple who live below us. We are indeed blessed!
     After the dust settles we will fill you in on what else is happening-just too preoccupied at the moment.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Museum Visit for Children

Carol and I were making our way out the door in stages (you know what I mean) when the phone rang. It was our teammate, Chad, inviting us to go along on a scouting trip to a museum in downtown Paris. One of the local artists, his family, and Chad were planning an evangelistic event for the spring and wanted to know if we'd like to accompany them. One of us was trapped at the apartment because the repairman was coming to try and fix the dishwasher again. Carol stayed back and I headed out to catch the train to Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines where I was to meet the rest of the party heading into the city.
      The idea for the event was to take children on an art outing to a local museum. They choose eight to ten pieces of art that have a Christian theme and talk about the subject of the piece. This is a great way to explain the Gospel to children.
      This trip was to the Musée du Moyen Âge (Cluny). It is near the Notre Dame cathedral and some of the structure of the building predates Christ. Nothing actually predates Christ, but you know what I mean. In the recent past it had been a monastery. It's the museum that houses the unicorn tapestries, for those who want to check it out. http://www.musee-moyenage.fr/
      In the remnants of a past age God is giving us a way to reach future generations! When I worked for Scripture press in Wheaton, Carol and I hosted a young woman from Russia who had come to Christ in just this way. She had studied paintings in museums and the Gospel message had, through the Holy Spirit, been revealed to her.

Exterior from the coutyard

Pentecost

Small remnant of stained glass - a collection of these
is displayed in one of the rooms

Christ on the donkey

Monday, February 20, 2012

French worship, Art Museum, & Potato Carrot Soup

Léa, our language teacher, thought she was coming down with the flu from her husband so we switched days, and are able to do other things today. I'm working on our France Vie retreat which will be next week. I sooo enjoy working with our team here. Wonderful women and men who know their work well and show great respect for each other. Plus, they know how to laugh. Perfect medicine for whatever may be happening in our lives, don't you think?

Our adventure yesterday, Lord's Day, began around 7:15am as we walked to the train station, caught the train to Paris, switched trains, and tried to buy a bus pass for the last leg of the trip. (This proved unfruitful at Gare du Nord because they kept wanting to sell us a train ticket.) We knew the train ticket was useless because they were working on the rails in Meru over the weekend and the train service was suspended. So we finally bought the our tickets at the last bus station to get to Meru for church service.

I had my sentence prepared in French to purchase my bus pass but it always becomes more involved than telling these nice folks one sentence in French when you want something. The nice thing is I was able to communicate to them that she gave me the wrong pass. After a little while we got our money returned and went to the next place they told us to go. The SNCF people wanted us to ride their train and we told them in French that they were working on the trains on the weekend. So, I think she said, go to the bus station when you arrive and get your bus ticket there. Ça sa? I understood enough. That is a victory you guys! I was not stressed and I understood. Yay!

We arrived at 10:30am with Kathryn picking us up. It was a great day in worship—singing the wonderful French worship songs (some from America so I knew those tunes) and understanding the main points of Andre's sermon and reading the scripture in French and in English to help me. Mark 2 about the paralyzed man and lowering him down from the ceiling so Jesus could heal him. Jesus knows where we are, deep in our hearts, and wants to teach us more about himself and about each other as well as give us healing. This was about our need 
for community, helping each other and gaining confidence in Christ through each other's help. Good stuff!

The lunch was Raclette - ooh la la - with an apple tarte. Yummy. Raclette is a French dish where you each have your own little pan to melt your cheese and veges in this electric Raclette maker and put it on your plate with ham and a hot potato.

Today, we both had a chance to go down to a museum. We were to meet Chad and another fellow brother to look at art work and decide which pieces to use when we take children down to talk about Biblical Historical art. Then our landlord called and said the dishwasher repairman could come between 1 and 6. Russell went with Chad and I stayed here. Sigh... Oh well. I need to be able to latch my dishwasher/lave-vasseille door closed on this dishwasher. He came and fixed it the other day but now it won't close. He thought he'd fixed that too.

I also need to bake my Texas sheet cake for the art workshop with the children tomorrow with Emilie and Baptiste. Emilie especially ordered that "because the children would like the chocolate brownie like cake." (I know Ms. Emilie liked it too. :0) And I have these huge sweet potatoes so I'm going to make a new recipe for dinner of Carrot and Sweet Potato soup with curry, cumin and onion. Off to baking!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Matches & Q-Tips

Bâtonnetts et Allumettes
There are times when one has to choose. 
      I'd been several places throughout the preceding weeks and been unable to find a couple of items on the grocery list—matches, and Q-Tips. Keep in mind that there are a couple of different kinds of grocery stores here. The small corner grocery/convenience stores are making room for bigger super stores (think Walmart, Home Depot & J.C. Penny combined).
      I'm sure the matches had just been alluding me even in the big stores like CORA but the Q-Tips were genuinely not to be found. One afternoon I bundled up and made a vow not to return to the apartment without both items and set out in high spirits on my quest. To the people in the neighborhood I'm known as, "l'homme au chapeau" (the man in the hat). I'm sure "qui gesticule" is also added after any such outing.
      Following a lead from the cashier at another store, I found the bâtonnetts coton at the local Pharmacie. I was on my way to another of the local grocery stores for the allumettes when I passed the local Tabac. The Tabac is the surest place to find phone cards to recharge the minutes on your cell phone, as well as tobacco, hence the name. It occurred to me that I had passed the one place most likely to carry matches hundreds of times, in dozens of locations, without connecting the dots. Sure enough, they not only had matches, but several kinds and sizes. Since I wanted to light scented candles with them I decided on les grands (the big ones), and returned home a conquering hero. 
      Here is where the choice comes in. When living in another culture there is a tendency to compare things to the way they were done "back home," usually in a negative way. The other choice is to genuinely decide to live the new normal. I recommend the latter. It will fill your days with minor victories to celebrate, and lighten your steps on the way home with your Q-tips. —Russell