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, May 23, 2016

The possibilities of a French 1790s Farm fortress

11 minutes from our door to the ugly sheet metal entrance gate, by car, is a glorious farm fortress in a canola field down the lane facing the Hotel de Ville. This farm has potential for us if the Mairie (mayor's office) will agree to our project. A 1790s formidable structure is now owned by the town who has done some renovation to the roof and the outside of some of the facade. The guardien (French spelling) of the structure lives in one of the 4 houses literally attached to the barns and stables and it looks very livable and quaint. An almost 5,600 sq. foot house is the anchor for this huge property which could be a hotel/restaurant/gite for guests; our park representative tells us. The fortress is in an angular U shape.

A recent trip showed that nothing has been done to the insides of these buildings. We decided not to consider living there because there is too much work to do and we don't have that kind of time. Two spaces we loved for our work, though, one below and one above in the barn areas which have great potential for what we would like to do in the next phase of our work here. Each space is 100 sq. metres. (1076.39 sq. feet)

We were contacted by the park a couple of months ago, who is partnering and a liaison with this town to see if we would like to consider having un 'atelier de poterie'. We contacted them a year ago to see if there were any spaces available for pottery studios through the Park department and they didn't have anything at that time. They remembered.

This farm has been sitting there a loooonnnggg time not being used. The city would like to boost the economy and tourism with this farm. What does that have to do with us? They would like to see a boutique selling the art. Other artisans and artists are being asked the same questions.The place is not visitor ready at this point and from our perspective it could be months or more.

Our goals are bi-vocational:
1. English and art classes.  The country of France has now made English mandatory in the schools. Parents want their children to become fluent. They continue to lower the age of the student for starting English as they find teachers. Most of the teachers are French. Parents tell us, "We want a native English speaker to teach our kids and help them with pronunciation, too." And the parents and kids, especially, love the art component more. It's fun, and it's still in English and encourages conversation.

Parents are asking for pottery classes since they saw some of our pottery sitting around the classroom. We don't have the space now and it's a dusty, messy business. Many of you know that Russell wants to get back to pottery on the wheel. (the wheel is 'autour or tour' en français). And he loves teaching it it too. We do some simple clay projects with the kids and even the moms wish they could do handbuilding. We would like to have 5 wheels and our own kiln.

2. This farm/town is in an area that has been highly desired area to reach a new community. And if our friends want to join us for Christian events in an appropriate sized building, when things move forward, from our current village, it's not that far.  This is a government owned building, so it remains to be seen where these events will be held. We hope to have a face-to-face meeting with the Mairie as soon as we have answered all their questions satisfactorily.

Things to think/pray about:
1. They want a 3 year economic projection plan from us. In our opinion, the first year will be rebuilding the space and getting it ready for visitors. No one would even come in to visit in its present condition.

2. We are considering proposing some trade in advertising design for the park in exchange for some rent. The rent price they are asking is very reasonable, though.

3. We would love to have concerts, other future English classes in the upstairs space. It would have to be handicapped accessible. The park said they would supply the money for utilities, windows and (probably the handicapped part?). We would have to paint and decor, etc.

4. Our question to them is, "When can we reasonably move in after having the floor, windows, door and electric, water, etc. be done?

5. We will want to move to that town to live. We are still planning on continuing school here in our village now and already have new students who have just started.

6. We are recruiting!! 1 and 2 year assignments. If you or someone you know wants to come teach English and/or art and help with our other church efforts please contact us and we will send you our details.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Où êtes-vous et òu voulez-vous aller?

Has it really been a year since our last post? Our slogan should read - "Where are you and where did you go?" Instead, our school slogan reads: "Where are you and where do you WANT to go?"

A year ago in April we had already completed our France winter retreat/workshop in Normandy. Four Women from one of our team churches in Riverside, CA had come a long way to put on a great program for all our children while our team, at that time, consisted of 35 adults from around Paris who could bond, enjoy the winter beach (with kids) and work through some training.

Elizabeth had arrived by then via North Carolina, and she and I had been tag teaching together. My load had been lightened and we worked really well together. Her stint with us was almost a year and we were sad to see her go in December. Waa!

The UPside to living far away from our children and grandchildren is our thankfulness to the company that invented SKYPE. Our daughter, Emily, and I have enjoyed exercising together once or twice a week while we share a screen on Skype or watching a movie. The rest of the family, while Skyping, may be drinking something or eating while talking. We could be watching the "petite filles" dance around the house, read us a book or whatever while dad or mom are off doing something else. New baby Ruby arrived last May and we get video updates with all her new tricks from daddy James and mommy Rebekah. Today she ate biscuits and gravy for the first time.

Also in May I was stretched and challenged as I prepared to be the guest speaker at a women's retreat in the Netherlands. This was a very exciting weekend, meeting with women from around the world, including a Syrian refugee, and sharing "We are God's Masterpiece". My friend, Jessica, who lives in Maastricht, and I want to bring this retreat to the women in France.

Our 2 year mid-term assignment with Worldteam had finalized January 2015 and we headed back to the states once school was over in June. Worldteam had us do a "home assignment" to meet at headquarters not far from Philadelphia to give them updates on our work here in France. Then we traveled from one coast to the other letting everyone know the "goings on" and future plans. This extended to August where we rushed back to get ready for the new year starting in September 2015.

We added a weekly women's Bible discussion group last September and now 8 women are participating. Pretty exciting. The women have been inviting others and those who would like to attend, but that time/day won't work, have caused me to consider adding another day in the fall. Russell is working with 2 of our men on staff in mentoring and encouragement. I am mentoring a teammate who works in Spain. R has been focusing on French in the mornings as Sylvie is giving him assignments and encouraging him to speak more. We are on the communication team at our church with Baptiste and Sylvie and to be a sounding board for him as we work out the Magny church's programming.

We helped gather shoes and blankets for the men at the refugee camp in Calais. Some of our M team went down to Calais and also gave out Bluetooths so the people with cell phones (many of them) could watch the 'Jesus' film in their own language or read the Bible in their language. The people really appreciated that. 

In between our work we've had multiple trips back to the states from July to February. R's dear stepmother, Pauline, passed away at 98 years old in October. Gail, my cousin, with whom I've been her executor, POA and trustee since 2009, had been really ill for 2 months and at Christmas we were able to be with her in the hospital for 10 days. This gave me an opportunity to get her set up into hospice before travelin back. She  passed away on R's birthday, February 23rd. He was heading to the states to speak at a missions conference at First Baptist Raytown, MO that day when I got the call. 2 days later I flew out. Needless to say, we are 'tripped out' and don't plan on traveling for awhile.

November 8-13th we had to be in Italy for a workshop with others from the European team who had been on the field less than 3 years. "How are we assimilating into the culture?" And got helps on the things we hadn't learned yet but needed to know. At the end of this training and assessment we woke up the next Saturday morning to calls from our kids and being bombarded on Facebook from a 100 people wondering if we were there, are we okay? A couple from our team had been to the soccer game where one of the bombs exploded but had left earlier. Another had just been to the Bataclan the week or so before. One young man died whose family has a house nearby. His girlfriend was shot multiple times but still lived. One of my adult students who is a high school PE teacher told me that one of the girl's at her school was invited by a friend to attend the concert in Paris at the Batalan Theater. She didn't feel well so she didn't go. Her friend died that night. Even though we live over an hour away from these events it still touched our lives in some way. Our friends think this is the beginning of things that will escalate and some have fears. We shared the words of Jesus, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

2016 - a new year and new dreams of where we've been this year so far and where we want to go. Next Post - Joyeux printemp!!