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.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Joyeux Noël! We are Blessed!

What is a blessing according to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary-
The act or words of one that blesses, or a thing conducive to happiness or welfare.

The Hebrew meanings for blessing which can mean to praise, congratulate or salute or it can also be used as a curse - barak. Another word is esher meaning happiness. Genesis 1:22 - it was used when God blessed the sea creatures and birds to be fruitful and multiply. He also blessed Adam and Eve to exercise dominion over creation. Genesis 12 says God promised to bless Abram and make his name great giving all the families through him blessings. Blessings also come from our obedience to God's holy laws. Psalm 21:3 You came to greet him with rich blessings and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.

We have blessings of skies above, blessings of the deep springs below - Gen. 49:25, blessings for our obedience in Deuteronomy 28:2, Proverbs 10:6 - blessings crown the head of the righteous.

2 Greek words for blessing are makarios - happiness and eulogeo - good words or the good report that other gives of someone or the prayer we say over food before we eat is a good example for using these words.

Mark 11:9 Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Ephesians 1:3 - God is blessing us right now in the heavenly realms through Christ. 1 Peter 3:9 We are to bless those who mistreat us, because we were called to receive a blessing from God when we do this.

God meant for us to experience all the goodness He offers and fulfillment in life (Romans 4:16 - promises kept through our faith in Him, and His peace (John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives...)

We are an extremely blessed people and God is bringing people into our lives for us to accomplish his work. Here's A Christmas story that happened a couple of weeks ago for which I feel truly blessed.

My first conversational English meeting in the shopfront with the grandmother is a perfect example of how God's blessing can flow. We talked about my French lessons first. She wanted to know where I was taking classes. I told her about 30 minutes away where there is a Christian language school for people who are working in French speaking countries around the world. I pointed to my French Bible nearby telling her I am also taking a Bible class there to learn the French Christian culture. She asked if I was able to understand the Bible when I read it. I told her that I was getting better at it and that my English Bible, which was sitting below, also helps me. She asked to look at them. She wanted to know what all the little information along my verses meant and the paragraphs below the scripture. I told her I had a study Bible with helps and cross-referencing. She asked to read some scripture in French and English.  I opened my Bible and out popped Isaiah 53 about Jesus, the Sufferering Servant, and the prophesies about his upcoming life and death and what that means for you and I! I said thank you to the Lord in my spirit!  

She understood both versions of Bibles and loved that the versions were so easy to understand. She has a good grasp of English and since she came for that, she was surprised at what she learned the first day we met and exclaimed "there is no one to talk to about these things!" Her granddaughter of 14 told her God does not exist. "Dieu, ne exist pas." I asked her if they come to her house for Christmas. She said yes. "Why don't you have one of your 9 grandchildren read the Christmas story out of the Bible?" She said she didn't feel comfortable doing that and said, "I will let the Saint Esprit do his work." I told her the Holy Spirit is doing his work but that the Word of God is powerful. I also told her that my grandmother had one of the grandchildren read the Christmas story every year for over 30 years. It was always a special time.  It gave my new friend something to think about and I pray for her with this Holy week upon us and look forward to our time together next month. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Being thankful and Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Yesterday we had a lovely time north of Paris near Meru for Thanksgiving dinner. There were 24 of us. I took Ramen noodle salad and an apple pie. Tons of food was laid out, of course the obligatory pumpkin and pecan pies were there, grean bean casserole - French style (there's no mushroom soup in the can here) It was fresh green beans and home made mushroom sauce - yum yum. Someone must have brought gelled cranberry sauce in the can and sliced it. I always laugh when I see that since it's such a throwback to old times. I do love the flavor even still. But, there was fresh cranberry sauce as well. I mashed the potatoes with Kathryn's kitchen aid mixer, Russell sliced the turkeys. A family on an army base from Germany came to visit one of our family's from Gisor. They brought 2 turkeys. Yay! It's very hard to find a whole turkey without ordering one special, way in advance, and paying through the nose. Really you can't this time of year. We might have been able to find turkey legs or turkey breasts. We are grateful for their gifts. At Christmas time in Paris le charcuterie will sell whole turkeys. We sang old Thanksgiving hymns that I remember singing at school as a child. Each of us had a Bible verse on our place card that talked of blessings and thankfulness which we read and then shared how we were thankful.

It's Armistice Day today in France along with Veteran's Day in the states. We have a holiday and no French language school today for which we are grateful. There is a big test tomorrow which will give us more time to study. In the meantime, a little before 9 am bagpipes were playing outside our windows this morning on the top balcony of the Mairie's office. We listened and watched them from the kitchen sink playing a few songs including Amazing Grace. Then we bundled up as people gathered and proceeded with our camera to go see the festivities down below. Some from the highschool band played a couple of songs. The military and mairie were there. The pompiers (firemen) and gendarmes (national army) and police municipale in their uniforms and little children gathered around and under a canopy. At the appropriate time the children waved their small flags as the band played. Yves, the father of Hermine, one of my students, told us that this is the only holiday where children are involved and it's patriotic. "You Americans are way more patriotic than we are.", he said. He and his wife were both wearing nicely designed paper poppies on their lapels. He talked about the dead soldiers who laid in the poppie fields. It's a sober day.

The soldiers put flowers on the town memorial. Other people came up to lay flowers on the grave as well. They called out every soldier from Chevreuse who died in World War 1 and 2 as people remembered them. There is a mass held in the town next door. I imagine it's to pray for their dead. Yves said the children of today only know that weed comes from poppies and do not realize the significance of the flower. Sad, really.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The color of trees and Halloween....in France

Some sources say that Celts in northern France celebrated Halloween, but this is unconfirmed. In any case, Halloween is not a traditional French holiday, There is an article at the bottom of my post sharing more about how the French are "sort of" celebrating Halloween. Keep reading! (it's long - get a cup of tea or coffee and relax)
     We've had a marvy day. Autumn is here in the Paris area and the trees are changing their colors. 5 young singles came over to our house so we could experience a little Americana autumn with some French thrown in. We always miss Mexican food here. So, I decided to make homemade Tortilla soup, French style. I used the French Legume (vegetables) soup as the base, plus grilled onions, chili and garlic spiced chicken. I didn't have as much chicken as I thought so I threw in some lardon (bacon) and a jar of salsa. Toss in crumbled tortilla chips right before eating and it pretty much tasted like tortilla soup. We added a salad with apple chunks, roquefort, pecans and framboise dressing. (which is raspberry and added sugar because French dressings are all vinegary). I made a pumpkin pie with our fresh potiron (pumpkin). Don't pronounce it like pot iron. It's poh tee roa. I used the Libby's pumpkin pie recipe that my mom made for many years and many other women in America. I love it! We added some Halloween candy later and a great walk up to the Chateau de Madeleine. Add some sunshine after 2 weeks of clouds and rain and Voila! It was a great day. Magnifique!
     One cannot buy canned pumpkin in France. So, I went on a search for real pumpkins. I could only find these small ones that were extremely orange. Or one can buy slices of real pumpkin. I'm convinced most French have very small refrigerators, like we do and thus couldn't have a whole pumpkin in their fridge after cutting it up anyway. Everything is in smaller packages. Everything. Unless you have a large family like many immigrant families here and then they have to get bigger fridges. Very cute pumpkins but not really great for carving and maybe not for cooking. Ryan and Erin did pick up a lovely tangerine colored one from a pumpkin and apple orchard in Normandy and brought them back for us. Yummy!
     I found out that I could buy some potiron which is partially cooked, cubed and frozen at the neighborhood Picard store. (Pee cahr) Russell is my chauffeur since I haven't begun to drive yet in France. Maybe this week I will practice since the country is on vacation. Off we went to buy 4 bags at 2.45 euros a bag. 2 pies could be made with one bag. I didn't think the cost was too bad. I bought 3 boxes of 2 frozen pates brisées in each box. (pie crusts nicely rolled with parchment), 6 lait evaporés - canned milk. I had sucre, canelle, clous de giroufle, gingembre and sel. Can you guess the spices? I wanted each guest to take the fixins for a pie home with them. I had eggs but figured my guests would already have some at their homes. They were taking the train back and we didn't want egg goo going down their backpacks.
     Thanksgiving, for obvious reasons, is not usually celebrated in France and so many of France's pumpkin growers normally wouldn't be getting a big boon. But some have in recent years because of Halloween. Of course, expats will try to bring a little of America into their kitchens this week with some Halloween decor and making or buying treats. We might actually get some trick or treaters. I'm skeptical, but we did buy some candy just in case. My English/Art students will definitely get some candy. There were orange and black balloons floating from above as we entered the supermarché. A few larger bags of candy were there in the candy section with individually wrapped pieces inside. They were laid on the shelves right in the middle of the Christmas candy, Santa and a few unusual boxes that I thought were valentine boxes. They're really Christmas Advent calendars from Barbie and superheroes. Really? When you think Advent calendars, don't you think of church or home with the family counting the days til Christmas with a traditional holiday theme, usually Jesus.
     I like to digress, and we are really talking about Halloween and how the French do it. I ran across this great article about it and the author said I could share so thank you Laura K. Lawless. - About.com Enjoy!

Kate Kunath /Getty Images

How did Halloween get to France? … Halloween is not a traditional French holiday, yet it becomes more popular every year. How and why this is so is a combination of cultural influence and corporate marketing.
     The French had been hearing about Halloween from foreign residents and tourists and in their English classes for years before the holiday ever showed its (masked) face in France. In 1982, the American Dream bar/restaurant in Paris began celebrating Halloween. At first it had to explain the holiday to each customer, but since about 1995, French customers have tended to be more and more familiar with Halloween.
     The Mask Museum in Saint-Hilaire-Saint-Florent was opened by Cesar group in 1992, and the owners started working to expand Halloween in France the following year.
     Philippe Cahen, president of Optos Opus, claims that he single-handedly "imported" Halloween to France in 1995, despite admitting that Halloween already existed there (nope, doesn't seem like a logical claim to me either). Cahen created Le Samain cake in 1997 and registered the word "Halloween" as a world trademark. He also challenged 25 artists to come up with works with a Halloween theme, and the results were exhibited at the Victor Hugo Clinic.
     In 1996, the village of St. Germain-en-Laye held a Halloween party on 24 October in the middle of the day, to give locals an idea of what it was all about.
     Meanwhile, companies like France Télécom, McDonald's, Disney, and Coca Cola began using pumpkins and other Halloween images and ideas in publicity campaigns. This simultaneously increased French people's knowledge about Halloween.

How is Halloween celebrated in France? Halloween in France is usually celebrated by costumed people of all ages going to parties at friends' homes, restaurants, bars, or clubs. The costumes themselves tend to be traditionally "scary" - mummies, ghosts, goblins, witches, and vampires - rather than the cute costumes like princesses, superheroes, and the cartoon character of the day which are popular in the US. Some recreation centers encourage kids to make their own costumes.
     Trick-or-treating is getting to be more common. It started out store-to-store, rather than house-to-house, but the latter is picking up. However, Halloween occurs during the mid-season school break, which slows it down a bit.
     Stores, malls, restaurants, offices, and homes decorate their windows; pastry and candy shops make up special desserts and candies; and many different kinds of companies use Halloween in their ads. Supermarkets sell pumpkins for jack-o'-lanterns and candy companies are now marketing candy in the traditional Halloween format: one big bag filled with lots of little packages, which may encourage trick-or-treating.
     The growing demand for jack-o'-lanterns during Halloween has been a boon for pumpkin growers. There is even a pumpkin patch at a farm outside of Paris where people can pick their own.
     Halloween in France is rather controversial, due to the perception of corporate and cultural influence, as well as the fact that it is not a typical French holiday and some people still don't understand what is being celebrated. Because Halloween is seen as an American celebration, some French people refuse to enjoy it. It's too early to tell whether Halloween will develop into a long-term tradition; once the novelty wears off, it may turn out to be just a fad. And yet, interestingly, the French have been celebrating the ideas at the very heart of Halloween (respect for the dead) for centuries. 31 October to 2 November, collectively referred to as Toussaint, have traditionally been spent, especially by older generations, visiting cemeteries, honoring saints, and attending religious services.
     So, there you go......Carol

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cours d'Anglais et d'art

Russell is shifting into second, swerving around the velos, watching for the motorcycles who come up from behind and pass, looking at the huge brilliant morning sun and the contrails from jets in the blue sky are a few of our sights as we travel up hills and through the woods to French classes 4 days a week. Home again, home again jiggety jig to prepare for the English/Art classes that started this week. Currently, we have 16 students. Not bad for only being here since mid-July. More will be starting in January when our French is complete and we can add another class for younger children.

Most furniture is in place now. 2 days ago we purchased a closet for our hang-up clothes. Maybe by Saturday it will be put together. Little French children came to our house this Tues, Wed. and Thur. to see who the strange people are that are speaking in a foreign tongue. They are so cute and tried very hard to do their lessons. Some of them had a gouter (pronounced gootay) while we started the afternoon classes . This is a snack the children have after school or even at home between 4 and 5. A long cherished tradition.

"What can you do?" "I can run." What can you do? I can jump. What can you do? I can dance. I can sit down and I can sing." We danced, sang, jumped in place, ran, in place and sang with a drum beat in our chairs. "Very good" is English for "trés bon." "Today" is English for "aujourd 'hui"." We reviewed the basics to see where the children were in their language learning. The last 20 - 30 min. we had an art lesson coordinated with their language learning. One of the little girls yesterday told her mother that she didn't want to go home. The mother looked at me and smiled.

The parents want to know why we moved to France? We gave them a brief overview of our job of working alongside young French Christians to start new protestant churches because there are so few. We shared how they want to worship together and have community. Of course we shared our love for art and our skills in this area. Then, we invited them to adult events that are also in English. Some of them want us to let them know when our Gospel Cafe will be and also when we plan to have our historical art tours. At least 5 adults have come to me to ask if we would teach them English. It's amazing the demand.

For now we are glad it is Friday since we are like children and back in school. There is a need for a break but the weekly test comes quickly so of course there is still study even on the weekends.

What can you do?

Bon Weekend!

Friday, September 6, 2013

C'est dans la poche (It's in the Bag) and A French dinner

We now are official residents of France! The immigration office was requesting our presence and after it was said and done we got our medical checkups completed and walked out with our residence permits. Wow - what a process but everyone was nice. 

After saying that my blood sugar was fine she said, "Madame you should lose weight or your blood sugar may go up." I know that and told her that I've lost 7 lbs in the last month." Madame, did you know that I think you have a hernia in your chest." What?! 

She said, "Not to worry." You may have had it for a long time and there is really nothing you can do. I will give you the CD and you can take the x-ray to your family doctor if you wish; the next time you go in. "Have you had a chest x-ray?", she asks. 

I said no. I've had a mammogram but not a chest x-ray. 

She said, "that's not the same. This shows your lungs and liver, etc." She was very nice and said she was doing me a favor by giving me the CD. Madame Doctor said, "The government did not need me to keep it and was not concerned". 

Russell was 'practically perfect in every way' (that's usually me) and he was wondering what was taking me so long. I found him sleeping in the chair when I came out. The nurse in the waiting room said, "Madame is that your husband?" "Yes, I replied, "Il est fatiqué." She looked worried. I just smiled. (Madame, you have no clue how much physical and mental work that man has been doing recently, you'd be fatigué too.) We are on the downhill slope now to a little more rest.

Our shipping container arrived last Monday 3 hrs. late so we lost 3 Frenchmen who had to go to work. But, 3 Englishmen and 1 Australian stayed to help. Praise God! We are continuing to go through boxes and rearrange furniture. whew! It's fun to see the house unfolding.

Our registration day for associations has finally arrived and it will be tomorrow. We got the affirmative from the mayor that our association can provide subsidies. That is incredible because usually if it has "chretienne" in it's bi-laws they will turn the group down for subsidies. If it wasn't for our new precious friend C we would not have moved forward like we have. She gets things done and has connections. 

Last Saturday she invited us to her house for dinner. We met her husband and their 3 beautiful children. All 3 are originally from Vietnam. Some nuns that C knows are working over there and encouraged them to adopt. It is quite a hard ordeal to adopt from France because one has to stay over there 2 months at a time. They had to live 1 year in Vietnam before all adoptions were final. All the children are not related and this went on for a period of years. The nuns themselves are persecuted and they cannot tell people where they sleep at night. God is going to give them a great reward.

We enjoyed our visit with them and before dinner we were asked if we played ping pong. G, their 8 year old, wanted to play someone, so Russell did his best to slaughter him. G would not be undone. He was slamming the ball just as fast. It was quite fun.  

C had said during her invitation that this would be a typical family meal. "Please do not come dressed up. We are casual."  Her husband who is from Burgundy wanted to share the wine from his region. He told us that we had to have one large open stemmed glass for sharing. This is so we can let the oxygen breathe to bring out the flavor. Little G put the appetizers or entree (that is what it is called in France) together for us - Pringles, peanut butter puffs and peanuts. Pretty funny. 

C made fish with legumes (vegetables) which was tasty for the main plat. They offered cheese and bread with dinner which is usually not done in that way. C cited it was her American influence and then served the salade following an apricot tarte. The tarte had the inside of the apricot seeds which were extracted from it's shell. Quite good. Her mother-in-law gave her this recipe long ago. Who would have thought?

C grew up in Canada part of her life but was actually born in Louisiana before her family headed north. Her parents are French and eventually they moved over here. Her husband gets disgusted when she serves the meal this way because, "You do not have salade with the wine. You have cheese with the wine", he said. "It doesn't taste right". She was laughing and he was sitting there rather proper. I think they've had this conversation many times.

C is going to sit with us for a couple of hours tomorrow at the Fete des Associations to introduce us to families who are curious about taking Anglaise with Art. And Papa will be at the tennis table to sign up tennis lovers.

Bon Vendredi! (happy Friday!)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Let's Go!

Deep Breaths....relax.....it will all come together...
We got word from our French moving company that our container could be here today!! what?! no warning? Oh, but wait, after we tried calling her, faxing her, emailing her - since we couldn't leave her a message on her phone, sweet Nathalie and Russell finally connected and she realized she had her days mixed up. "Oh no, it could be Friday or Monday", she said. "We are still doing paperwork but the container has been released," she said.

Russell is rushing to the Mairie's office to give them a letter on the dates so we can get cars off our front door step (literally). The Mairie's ofc wanted at least 48 hrs. notice. Jack hammers, trucks and beeping are all around us. Sidewalks are biting the dust, houses reverberating and now they are at the corners of our building. yikes! This 500 year old beauty can take anything. How many wars and revolutions have there been? I hope they don't come in front and tear down our sidewalk at this inconvenient time. If they do, then the truck will not be able to park near our house and we were told they will charge extra for being farther away. One would think it wouldn't matter now since WE are doing the unloading. For 2 hrs. of unloading there is no extra charge. 80 euros per hour will be charged for anything over 2 hrs. just to hang around. Hopefully that won't be an issue since we are unloading and unpacking everything.

Yesterday was a whirlwind day finishing up working on our association logo, writing bad French for the flyer (which will get corrected) and setting up a new gmail email for the association. My Teacher book for younger students from Oxford University Press English curriculum just arrived today. It's called "Let's Go" for elementary students. I am offering classes to older students too if they need more help to practice English/Art. The advanced teacher/pupil books and audio CD may come in a few days. I will design my art projects around the English lessons.   It's all coming together and getting responses from 3 of our landlords friends, to help us get connected with the families. Yay! Pauline and Simon are on the board with us in this association even though they live in New Zealand now. They are well known in the community so this will help us get going. 

Most people don't get back from holiday until Aug. 27th & then everything is in high gear to get the kids ready for school and clubs. School starts September 3rd. Sign-up day for the associations (aka clubs) is on the 7th. Pray that we will be able to get a table for this sign-up day. That will be a huge help for getting registrations. We were told by some on our team that this may not be possible for a new start-up. They usually make new assoc. wait a year to be asked to join in. Pauline wrote a personal letter to the Mairie's office giving us an introduction and telling them we are all involved in this association. The mayor was happy to see them restore the building. We are hopeful. Our success in this helps them to pay for the building costs from the fees we generate on the classes.  

Russell is ordering a banner today or tomorrow with the logo and saying we are offering classes in English and Art. This will hang outside the building over the sidewalk so all can see this flying in the wind as they drive by. People will see we are up to something. I have curtains in the windows now. Monsieur across the street, probably in his 60s or 70, with a red face and a little dog, will be standing outside watching all this and as our container is unloaded. He and the neighborhood will see all this "stuff and furniture being brought in. We are going to leave the front door open during the days now if someone wants to stop by. They are curious and may want to ask questions. We are hoping so. Monsieur across the way has not yet responded to our "bonjour!" He knows we are driving Simon's car and I know he is very curious. I am hoping soon that we can actually speak to him or that he will speak to us. Simon knew him well and we need to communicate to him that Simon is our friend and sends his greetings. Russell is going to try to be more assertive with him to catch his attention. The older the person in France the harder it is to get them to talk with you if you are a stranger. The younger ones are not that way at all.

We have a "Fete d' Inaugaration" in our storefront set for September 15th in the afternoon offering refreshments and getting acquainted with families regarding the classes, answering questions, etc. There is one official student so far who used to be a student of Pauline's. Getting exciting! Our 5 classes per week will start the 17, 18 and 19th of September. 

As I was writing this, Russell returned from the Mairie's. The ladies in the office realized they needed to address our issue right away and took him upstairs to meet a "man" working there in charge of this. (He had never met a man at the Mairie's yet after going over there 10 times.) Russell didn't know if it was the Mairie. He could have been the deputy or who knows, Russell described him and it did not sound like the description I saw on the website. Maybe we will meet him before long. The man spoke in French, understood Russell's letter and said they will put up barricades tomorrow in front of our house to keep the cars away. That's for Friday. Let's hope they come Friday. Our English curriculum says it all, "Let's Go!"

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Working on a logo

This logo is a work in progress. Still considering options but wanted to share what I'm working on. Our association is named after the building we live in. There are remnants of the 19th century signage on the facade. Above the shop windows it reads, "Cordonnerie du Progrès", or THE PROGRESSIVE SHOEMAKER. We start offering Art classes in English in September. Along with songs and poetry, we hope to bring a little learning and fun to the children of Chevreuse. 

When the logo is finalized I'll post pics of the signage. I patterned the bridge after the "petit ponts" or little bridges that cross over the Yvette river that runs through the middle of town. Everyone here will get the reference.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Are they Roadblocks or Opportunities?

  • Association Crée!  Our association is Created.

    Pauline, one of our partners, looked on the government website for starting an organization to offer classes or events to the public in our community. She wrote the statutes and objectives, we discussed and tweaked them to reflect what we are trying to accomplish and Pauline wrote them out in French. Our board meeting was held last week with Jerry, our director, by telephone in the states on Eastern time, and Web Ex with Simon and Pauline on New Zealand time - 10 hrs. ahead of us and we on French time - 6 hrs. ahead of Jerry. Officially Simon is now President, Russell - VP, Pauline is Secretary and I am the Treasurer. Thank goodness for computers and the web. Within 3 weeks of landing on French soil the paperwork was done and delivered to the Sous-Prefecture in the town of Rambouillet (Rahmbooyay) 30 min. south of us. 2 days after that we received a formal letter saying our association was created!

    Some who read this may not believe that God orchestrates our steps or is in the details but we do believe he is. We believe that that as Christ drew us to Him and we accepted his gift of life that we believed his promises that he is alive, cares for us and has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us. We believe there is a spiritual realm in this world. We don't just deal with the physical or mental.  Who puts thoughts into our heads and our hearts? Obviously that is a simplistic rational and I could deal with that topic for pages and pages but won't.

    Parisians answered some basic questions last year in the "Le Parisien" newspaper about God. 62% said they wanted to know more about him, they didn't know who to talk to and they were afraid to bring it up in front of their friends because they would be ridiculed. This is a secular society. Why are millions being spent in France on superstitious/dark arts and other types of new age philosophies if people aren't searching for something beyond themselves to help them get through life? 

    My universe is a Biblical one or a Biblical worldview and we are so thankful for the guidance we are given from the Holy Spirit. Some may think this is mumbo jumbo but it's been a guiding force in our lives for over 47 years. Jesus himself said I have come that you might have life and have it to the full. I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me yet shall he live. This is not a dead god but a living one who literally died for me. Here's a great example of why I have peace from knowing I have a living God who does care about the details of my life. 

    Jesus said these words to his followers: "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life - whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet  (King) Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown in to the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don't worry about these things, saying "What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, he will give you everything you need.  Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today. This is taken from The Living Translation: Matthew 6:25 - 34 

    I say all that because everything we've done since arriving in France has been amazing, out of our control, from the people we've met, to the partnerships we've formed and how God went before us and picked Pauline and Simon to partner with and live in this incredible 500 year old house that has a history. Every time we've had a roadblock or haven't known what to do, new people have stepped up to help us. From being ready to help us with paperwork, to a brand new friend that we met one time at the Anglican church went with us to the prefecture to speak French on our behalf. The lady at the Prefecture loving Americans and very excited for us. We had to write on our paperwork what country we are from. She lit up when she saw the word "Americaine". I was surprised she got so happy. We found out that she had just housed Americans for a big anniversary of D-Day and hopes to go to the states sometime. She gave us her phone no. so we can be in contact with her but also she would like to know where to visit in the states.

    Yes, we have other roadblocks or opportunities and that is why we have wonderful people who have come alongside us to pray for those things that can become a hindrance. He hears our prayers and satisfies our needs.

    We are waiting on our furniture, clothing, basic goods, art supplies, etc. to arrive. The date for arrival to port was August 9th but so far it is not here. It's only been a little more than 4 weeks since they left the east coast. I was told it could take 5 to 6 weeks. Our new friends from the Anglican church in Versailles offered to help unload the container when we get the date.  Our D-Day is in 21 days to start at the French language school in Massy (Mahsee). There is a lot to be accomplished in that time period from lesson plans for our art/english classes, and advertising.  New students to attain. Russell is working on the logo, poster, and flyer design. We hope to get the opportunity to be a part of the town's Association Day September 7th where everyone who wants to be a part of a club comes out to sign up. There may be roadblocks to that. We are hoping with Pauline and Simon's connections to the town and the mayor that the Mairie's office will allow us to join in now. In some towns there is a waiting period of a year before one can get a table for sign-ups. It doesn't mean that we can't have our classes but we will have to work harder to get known on our own.

    We are renting a vehicle for a while and will purchase something within a month. Right now we have a lovely car and it's a "stick shift" which I haven't driven since 1979. I never drove one very well and there are lots of hills here and bicyclists.  Just learning that is more nerve wracking with all the other stuff I have to do. I could use prayer that we get the priorities done and figure out the rest later. Once French language classes start - September 3rd,  R was going to stay behind at Les Cedres to study while I drive back  on Tues. and Thurs. to teach art class which will start maybe the week of September 17th at 4:45 pm. I will offer 3 classes on Wednesday. There is no school on Wednesdays in France. At this point, R will have to drive me if I'm not comfortable driving yet. It's an hour and 15 min. train ride or a 30 min. car drive. He can take the train later if I have the car thing figured out.

    We love being part of the family of God that goes beyond anything I've ever understood but we are thankful to Him who set up HIS FAMILY.  You know what to do. Thank you!

Monday, July 29, 2013

This Old House

Stairs going upward
Carefully treading,
Ancient days of walking 
The grain is so lovely 
But footsteps are heavy

Roof tiles are grimy
And thousand year chimneys
Views from our windows
Green forests rise simple
Mairie's from the kitchen 
Flags stand at attention
I look.

Church bells are tolling
Cars whooshing and
Humming, motorcycles whizzing
People need bread,
Talking and moving,
Shutters flapping,
Flies buzzing
At laundry in windows.
Silent angels on guard.
It's France.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Back Home in France!

Amazement and overflowing with love is what we have for all that has been accomplished through God's work in the lives of his people as He orchestrated our trip back to France. "They're here!" we heard, once the visas arrived at our permanent address where our daughter Emily and son-in-law Joe live in Manhattan, Kansas.  Our move managers were immediately put to work trying to get a container for port to arrive so we could load the furniture and household goods in Atlanta, MO and try to leave the following day for Paris. We now are trying to get a month in summer to French language school starting July 15th!

Dad Barr's pole barn in Atlanta, MO and his house in Macon have been the places where all our "stuff" has been stored since late 2009 when we sold our house in Olathe. Carefully taken care of all this time, our furniture was sitting padded and wrapped to leave for it's final destination. We waited and waited on the assigned day for the container to show up - it didn't, and the trucking company couldn't find an available 8 ft x 20 ft container.

Next day, a new crew arrived ready to load in very hot and humid weather and finally at 3:30pm it arrived. Hubby Russell, had everything carefully staged in the warehouse and it all happened in less than 2 hrs. That may have been a record. Our move manager said it usually happens in about 3. We didn't want to have to pay any extra after the 2 hrs. given.

As I share this, the container is traveling by rail to New York harbor where it will sit for a week to get picked up by a ship, travel 2 weeks over sea to head to the port in La Havre, France. It may take a week or 2 to get to our house in beautiful Chevreuse an outer suburb of Paris.

Friends from Macon First Baptist, the Bear's, said they had just returned from a trip to Scotland and a cruise in Copenhagen. One day while sitting at a table having a drink they watched as the ship take huge containers out of its belly with large cranes and sit them on the harbor. As they worked with us that day in the hot warehouse and cool apartment out back loading our container they realized back on the ship that those crates held families belongings from probably many years that they got to see the process from beginning to end with our goods.

Thirty-three years of marriage have given us memories that we wanted to bring with us to France so we could hold on to them while our family was away from us. Some people said, "why don't you just buy garage sale finds or from IKEA instead of hauling all that? That's a great question and each family has to decide what is important to them. At a cost of $5,000.00 for shipping and $42,000. worth of insurance to replace the items we brought we felt it was worth it to us. The value of the dollar is worth 30% less than the euro and it is nice to have some items that are made of good quality or have sentimental value that you don't have to replace. We also have lots of artwork and art supplies/books for our business that are expensive to replace or "one-of-a-kind" It takes time to show the world who you are by your things. Being artists we love to express ourselves and make the house cozy. It will be fun to show that to our new French neighbors.  It also saves a lot of time to replace what is needed and we can get to work faster.

The very next day after the first attempt to get a container, another one arrived and our goods were loaded. We contacted our dear friends who allowed us to take a Buddy Pass to fly on "standby" to Paris from Kansas City! That was 2 days ago. We didn't make the 1:50 pm flight. One of us could have gone on to Chicago but we didn't want to separate our luggage. The 3:15 pm flight was successful and off we went. The flight itself arrived in Chicago fine but we had to stand in line with a bunch of other airplanes to find a gate. By the time we could de-plane we had only 30 minutes to catch our Paris flight! First we had to take a shuttle (did I say stairs with heavy carry-ons?) Then we rushed to the gate from Gate 1 to Gate 19 at O'Hare airport. Out of breath we gave the attendant our passports. Another one said, "Are you the Barrs?" YES! we screamed. She said, "Great!" 3 minutes to spare. Oh...my...word.

6:30pm the plane took off. Russell was down about 13 rows from me. That was very fine! He wanted to have some quiet. I sat next to an adorable 3 year old named Emily and her cute mommy Emma. She reminded me of our little Harmony, big smiles and the normal squirmy toddler taking in all that was around her. It was an enjoyable flight and we all tried to sleep with an arrival French time of 9:25am.

We passed through customs just fine with a stamp and a nod. All 4 large 50 - 70 lb. bags arrived just fine and very quickly. Manu was waiting for us to take us home. He is so sweet and asked if we were huggers. "Yes!" I said and I got a great big one. Thank you Manu!

Our next entry will be about Chevreuse and getting settled in. Staying up a while to sleep.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Plans set in motion

French Visas arrived this morning in Manhattan, KS where our daughter and son-in-law live and our permanent address is. Emily will carry them to the airport on Tuesday and deliver them to us. Nothing like personal airport service.

Pieces of styrofoam, cut cardboard and stretch wrap are being placed around more precious furniture to keep them from getting damaged. A forklift was delivered today and our father, Sherman, is gearing up to be the forklift driver. Pray for his energy level and clear mind. 3 pallets are lying around and will be filled with items for him to pick up. The scaffoldings will also be a staging area. Our shipping manager informed us that the delivery truck does not have a ramp. After much searching, calling and talking availed NO ramp that can go 4.5 ft up in the air or to be found anywhere in our neck of the woods (within 50 miles). But, hey, we found someone with a Bobcat and forklift attachment!

Pray for helpers. 11 am on Monday the 8 x 20 x 8 container will be arriving on a Steamship Port truck. That's not the best time for working men. Did I say, another prayer request? I like that it's in the morning while we are not dragging to the ground like we are most afternoons.

The port truck is smaller than a semi, our shipping manager said, whatever that means. Hopefully the driver will find our out-of-the-way place where the pole barn is with our furniture. Let's hope the truck isn't too big that it can't get down into the garage.

Yes, we are crazy and to prove it once again we will attempt to fly standby to Paris from Kansas City. A friend and supporter of our work is employed by United and giving us Buddy Passes. It is our wish to arrive in Paris on the 10th leaving Kansas City to O'Hare on the 9th. There is one flight from Chicago to Paris that leaves at 6 pm. We want to be on it. There are 13 seats available from KC and 30 available in Chicago on the Paris flight. You know what to do.

We aim to get there, Lord willing, and the creek don't rise. (I'm starting to sound more country since living in these here parts.)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Visas Issued!

Our Visas were mailed this morning! We now have the green light to ship our goods July 8th. Then off to Chicago for flight to Paris. More later when the shock wears off. Praise to God for His faithful guidance.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gospel Cafe near Versailles

Who would have thought that our French friends would enjoy American gospel music in restaurants and bars. Our team is having a great time sharing music and getting to know folks in small venues around Versailles. This will be one of the things we will be doing after we're settled.

Families are being contacted by our landlords in Chevreuse about our desire to teach children Art, songs and poetry in English during the lunch hour once school starts up again. Our art supplies have been packed, our myriads of art books, artwork and furniture to fill our 3 floor building and the cellar are in a staging area of the pole barn where all our goods are located. Even though we are physically and mentally tired our excitement can hardly be contained.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Waiting on the French Consulate

All the boxes are packed, things given away, thrown away, and burned. Duct tape on the concrete pole barn floor is outlining the  area we need to fill our 20 ft. container. (8 x 20 x 8). The furniture and goods are in the staging area. Whew! it's mentally and physically exhausting to go through 33 years of married life - again (3 1/2 years ago we sold our home and moved out, crisscrossing the country looking for partners in this mission work while staying in other people's home or in our own vacation rental in California when our guests are not staying there).

The Consulate in Chicago said they thought we needed a different kind of visa. What?! Our team in France said everyone comes in on the long term visa. Our director realized later we needed another letter from our French association stating the type of work we do to satisfy them. The French embassy has the letter now. So, we wait on them to mail our visas (if there are no other probs) to our permanent address which is our daughter and son-in-law's house in Manhattan, KS. Next thing we do is wrap all furniture edges with styrofoam or other soft material and stretch wrap. Trying to find a 12 ft. ramp to rent so we can load into the mover's semi. By doing all this ourselves we save thousands. We may be building a ramp at this point.

The container will take approximately 5 weeks from our place in rural upstate NE Missouri, by truck, then train to NY harbor, sit and wait for a week, get on a ship to Le Havre, France and to our little town in Chevreuse. Very exciting!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Headed to the French Embassy!

Carol and I have an appointment at the French embassy next Friday, May 24th, 2013 to apply for our visas! Paris or bust!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

BARRPottery From the Past

Carol and I have shared how we wish to offer art & pottery lessons in Chevreuse when we return to France. While this will not be a full time job, we want to start an association and this will be a way to meet our neighbors and hopefully become an accepted part of the community. When we closed down the BARRPottery site we left very little evidence of our pottery on line, so to rectify that, here are a few images from our days back in Olathe, KS.…

Manning our award winning booth at a local art fair.
Custom glazes, "Yellow Green Matte" and "Nutmeg"
became our signature look.

Bottles are a difficult shape to throw on the wheel.

More bottles.

Functional ware, like bowls sold well.

Original card holder… and vintage BARRPottery cards.
I'm sure there a few hiding in a drawer somewhere.

This large pot was designed to be difficult to glaze.
It was a test pot for the Yellow Green Matte glaze.
When this pot came out of the kiln, we knew
the glaze formula was a success.

During our family art show in Olathe held in the
lobby of the Comfort Inn.

Some of the pots thrown for the crowd actually survived. 

Our entry in the "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?" show at the
artist's guild of Kansas City.

Table top grouping at the Family show in Olathe. 
Moonshine Jug
Fluted Jug 
It gives us great pleasure to know several churches in the Kansas CIty
area serve communion with our pieces.

Carol's hand built pitcher and mugs.

This bottle measures 18 inches tall
Another of Carol's hand built vases.

Russell's first teapot.

"Nightscape"  You see something different
every time you look at it

The beginnings of the dragonfly as a constant
 motif in our pottery.

Wheel thrown and then altered. This large planter
was a special order.

Another classic glaze combination.

These were made using slabs of clay and real leaves
rolled into the surface.

Another classic BARRPottery vase.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"These Shoes are Made for Walking"

A letter arrived from our friends of New Zealand who will rent their building to us in France. 
One of our teammates will rent the place for a while until we get there. We will be working alongside him once we are settled. 

Here's an excerpt of what our future landlord said:
"We have a strong sense that the "Cordonnerie du Progrès" as the house is called, is supposed to be used for God's work. This old shop sign on the front of the building says in French: The Progressive Shoemaker. Pauline started looking for passages in the Bible that she could pray over regarding the whole theme of "shoes" since this is an old shoe and leather store. In their village in the old times they had tanning works along the river, so this was a shop for making leather goods. 

Ephesians 6:15 says,  "Your desire to tell the good news about peace should be like shoes on your feet" (Contemporary English Version) The Good News version says,  So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace."

Russell also mentioned in Romans 10:15 says, "And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written (Isaiah 52:7) - "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" 

One more reason Russell got his boots shod in France the last time we were there. He wore the soles off. :0) I had to get bigger soled shoes with more cushions. Thank you Pauline for the "shoe" analogy which is perfect on so many levels. 

We are excited about the time when we will leave for France. Those of you who are on our HEART team, our children, and the many others who have come alongside are wholeheartedly cheering us along with your words, and your sacrificial giving plus your deep felt prayers and sharing of verses have been felt from the bottom of our hearts. We are indebted to you. You encourage us so much! Thank you Pauline.