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.

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


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

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More prayer needed

Emily came home yesterday and felt better but today she is not doing well so the doctor told her to come back to the hospital. Please keep her in your prayers as this thing plays itself out. Give the doctors wisdom to have the right course of treatment. Give Emily the strength she needs, the right temperature in her body, a clean bill of heath, no nausea, no headaches, no tingling limbs or upset stomach. Please get rid of this bacteria! She didn't stay in the hospital. The Sepsis is gone and she has to keep on the antibiotics but they think she may have a virus now and told her it will take time to get back to herself.

It's hard to talk about us when I'm thinking about Emily but I want share what's been happening.

We met with a lovely family in our apartment building Friday afternoon. They invited us for tea and brownies. He is a film music composer/arranger. She is a child psychologist and full time mom right now with a 4 month old, 20 month old and 4 year old. Russell makes a fun gran pére. Children love him especially when he brought his cowboy hat up to share. The women I've met are trying to come up with a regular time we can meet.

When our host found out we didn't have a car he offered one of their's when we have a need since they don't use both of them all the time. I doubt we will use it, though, because we don't really need it and it will take a while to get all the road rules here figured out. I need to practice driving a stick shift sometime it's been a number of years and I never was really good at it. The traffic can be pretty scary here during certain parts of the day. People love to honk at each other because of their impatience - not because of an emergency- just like when we lived in Chicago. That can be disconcerting. Most of the cars here are diesels and a stick to save on money and they get a higher price for resale.

The weekend included a time way in a protestant center north of Paris called "Responsable Weekend". It was a time for our France Vie team to get together in St. Prix to go over "The Road Map" in church planting. It was good to meet Joy Ehmann, our speaker, who worked with Russell last year so he could help in designing this 26 page program. We only covered a little bit of it but it was very interesting and worthwhile for creative thinking. This "map" can be adapted for missionaries around the world in 59 countries.

Russell was pretty sick on Monday. There must be a 24 hr. virus going around. He's fine now and fortunately I never got it.   I went to the women's shelter again today in the snow and on the bus to teach English again. Arriving early I decided to venture into that cemetery. Even though many of the tombstones were covered in snow I read some of them and enjoyed walking in the quiet. One tombstone read "Ici repose (here lies) Count somebody and Countess someone else , a general or others in the French legion were buried there. A former Monseigner who must have been very important, a young child was recently buried there. It gave me a chance to pray for the families who had recently died. I finally was ready to go inside and meet these women from all over the world. I had my lesson plan and all went well.  But, I barely got on the bus to return as it was packed with high school students as we squeezed in.

It's fun to look around as I walk... like the nun in her long habit and wimple, the friar in his long black frock and down filled black coat with black backpack and his beret on his head, the high school students with their acne, an old Citroen vehicle on its last leg, and a young couple quietly telling their goodbyes to each other as he gets on another bus and she trudges home in the snow.

Tomorrow will be watching little Luka so daddy can go to a special meeting and mommy can go to her French lessons. It's never a dull moment.

Russell is listening and watching Stargate on TV in French with French subtitles. Pretty funny. We do learn this way as every little bit helps.

Emily is back home!

Emily is now home with oral meds for a few more days so she doesn't have to go back to the hospital!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Update on Emily

Emily continues to be in the hospital. I believe she will be in a couple more days at least. This is a tough strain of bacteria that only an IV anti-biotic can work. She seems to be improved. We will call the hospital today to see what the nurse or dr. is saying. It's hard being so far away from she and Joe. If any of you are in close proximity to Emily she would probably enjoy a visit. Thanks for your prayers.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Prayer for Emily

Our daughter is in the hospital in Lawrence as she contracted E-Coli and Stepsis. We would appreciate prayers.

Carol and Russell

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The women's shelter

Today was an adventure. Russell and I made an attempt to meet a bus to find our way to the shelter but this particular bus wasn't going to arrive for an hour and a half. I must have gone to the wrong stop. We head back home to study the schedule better.  It feels bitter cold at 25 degrees and going down to 14 tonight. That's in Farenheit terms. I don't know the Centigrade. Let's just say it's cold. I looked at my Kansas City temps on my Google page and see it will be in the 60s! in February. I thought Paris would be milder than KC. Oh well. It's winter, I'm used to February being cold. What I'm not used to is walking in it. :0) That's okay as there is a wonderful bus system in this city of Versailles.

We finally figure it out and head to our destination. The man wanted to take me there the first time so we knew exactly where I was going. Fortunately Carolyn and I had scouted it out before and that helped a lot. There is a lovely cemetery near the shelter which is attached to a Catholic church. When the weather warms up we'll go back and take pictures. I've never seen anything like the cemeteries they have here with the vaults up above. It's like pieces of furniture in a small garden yard for each person. Everything being above ground. It's a lovely, junky but beautiful area with the tombstones, the large cement tombs, ivy, trees, and various assortment of lawn furniture. It's hard to explain. Pictures later.

One of the volunteers opened the big blue door with the black ornamental iron round pull knob in the center. "Bonjour" we both say. I introduce mon mari to her l'homme in the chapeau noir. (the man in the black hat). She looks way up for she is very petite and welcomes me in. I tell him goodbye and he has his own journey back to the apartment to work. As I walk up the stairs there are many women sitting around on couches and various chairs. In the middle of the room is a table with art projects in various stages of design. Their theme is Latin America this month as is their art work. I thought I might help with these projects but when I heard that many of the women want to learn English the woman looked at me and I said, "sure". So we were shuttled downstairs for me to teach English. Have you heard the term "Winging it?" I'd like to know what the person who coined this term was drinking when thinking it up but that is what I was doing. I had no lesson plan but with a little help from my new friend from Cameroon and my new friend from Turkey we came up with a basic plan of thinking of phrases and words, letters & numbers. There will be interesting possibilities and freedom of speech (as He leads) on occasion that may spark some thinking. I would appreciate your thoughts on the work I'm beginning to do and the relationships I am already forming.

For two hours we practiced our English and French. A good time was had by all. One woman was from Mali, 2 women from Turkey, one from Tunisia, another from one of the Stans, another from France and Cameroon.  I didn't always know the French so we did Frenglish. They thoroughly enjoyed it and so did I.

At 4pm we had a "Gouter" (pronounced gootay- There is a circumflex over the letter u but I can't find that on my computer. A Gouter is like having afternoon tea. At the end of the day the women get out the gateau (cake) they made that morning. Coffee, tea and a grenadine syrup is added to water for those who like a saccharin drink. Much like kool-aid. (no thank you). There were 3 children there today and they liked it. Some of these families will go back to their cold tents in the forest and others have a low budget hostel that the government is paying for until they get them returned to their home country or help them get assimilated.

I will teach English again next Wednesday. Bon Nuit! (Good night -Said before going to bed) --Carol