Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Little successes!

We were at our French home group one night & it was very crowded (a good thing). It was hot and Claire wanted a drink. I sent her into the dining room where the apertifs (fancy finger foods and drinks) were set out. I instructed her to ask the ladies in there for some l'eau (water) & I told her to say s'il vous plait (please). She came back with a full cup... and she told me, "I said merci, mom!" (Meaning she said "thank-you" in French too!) YAY!! Thank the Lord for awesome little successes! Made my day!
Our sweet Claire!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Photos of the area

Entrance to weekly open air Market
Market Wine Vendor

Market Live Chicken Vendor

Market - Can buy anything from flowers to eggs

Market Apple Vendor - Check out the French beret

Market - Look at these awesome veggies!

Market Cheese Vendor 

Can buy ready made Paella (rice dish with seafood) - KM you'd love it!

Florist - Look at these lovely old people talking

Special Market set-up for Carnival
View of Mountains across the street from our apt. - Springtime

Had to get an awesome lightpost pic for Carrie

Local town monument for the Savoie region

Trees in bloom and mountains in the background

The Elephants Fountain in Centre Ville (center of the city)
Carnival time with awesome drummers and flags

Carnival time

Ethan seems to like school here

Ethan has been home-schooled for a while now. We have been reading to him regularly since he was a baby. We've worked with him a lot at home & he also had a great boost in education when he went part of the day to child care while we were in Texas attending linguistics classes. We're very proud of him. He's great a math for his age. He's very curious and that often serves him well. He once, after understanding simple addition and subtraction, asked me a question that revealed he had figured out basic multiplication on his own. He learned how to read in English before he turned four. So he's super fast! He now reads at a third grade level even though he's only five.
What he's reading now: Tree House Mystery (Lions at Lunchtime), The Littles, and Stewart Little.

Practicing writing in English

So he does really well for his age in a lot of areas. I'm trying not to brag on him, but I need paint this picture for you to be able to explain what happens when people enter a new language and culture. When we first arrived in France, our normally out-going and talkative boy would sit quietly in French Sunday school class. He came out at the end of class and told me, "Mom, I didn't say a thing because I didn't want them to know that I don't speak French." My heart just sank. Poor kid feels just like I do in certain settings here, only he's had very little input to prepare him for it. Of course, we told him ahead of time that no one would understand him because they don't speak English here. Maybe we didn't think to mention how it would feel to not be able to say anything back even though we've been practicing French at home with him and Claire for months. We have videos, songs, books, and even Rosetta Stone on the computer to help them learn. These are all a huge bonus, but nothing will prepare you for speaking another language like being thrust into a place where that's all you can do!
Rosetta Stone - Level One French

We were a bit concerned that he might not like going to French public school here either. He didn't cry like I thought he might when we dropped him off the first time. When we picked him back up he told us he had learned Sumo Wrestling and even won three times! I thought that meant that he got into a fight on his first day of school in another country, but as the days went on we figured out that it was an adult supervised sport in the gymnasium. Funny. After a few days, Ethan was actually able to tell me a few kids names. This is an amazing feat for my kid, because he rarely knows kids' names even in the US - he just knows that the kid is his friend. So when he came home talking about another kid, I was overjoyed.

Turns out that when people (even kids) are thrust into a strange & unfamiliar situation, they learn to survive or thrive.

I think that these first few days of school in France forecast a bright future for our boy. He loves going to school because there are other kids to play football (soccer) with, and his class gets to go ice skating twice a week for a while. Not only does he love school now, but he also is picking up a great French accent on the words he does know - it blows me away!
In front of  what they call Pre-K (Ecole Maternelle)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Settling In - Chambéry, France (Written by: Brent)

We’ve finally arrived in Chambéry and started “officially” learning French at the beginning of March. Although Laura began at the beginner level, Brent’s previous experience with French in high school allowed him to be placed in the intermediate level right away (where he sometimes feels over his head, especially in listening comprehension!). With our school over two miles away, we’ve rented a bicycle to ride back-and-forth to school. 

Our apartment building
Fortunately, most everything else—church, Ethan’s school, grocery stores—are all within walking distance. There is a wonderful missionary community here with about a dozen adults, which has been a great source of encouragement. In addition, it’s gorgeous here. The city is virtually ringed by real mountains, which are a sight to behold on clear days! Though it’s not home and there are many new things and others we miss, we feel really blessed here. 
Mountains in Chambéry, France

The Elephants Fountain - in the center of the town

Friday, March 18, 2011

Things I miss about home...Laura's struggles with cultural adjustment

I miss some things about home in varying degrees (in no particular order):

There are people to miss, of course.
Our family, friends, Bible-study group, church, & neighbors who speak English - people who speak English in general - singing in English at church (and hearing an English sermon).

I also miss...

Good coffee to make at home. (Thankfully this has been remedied by some good friends at our church back in the States - YAY! for care-packages.)

Peanut-butter. (I know, it's odd that they don't have it here but once a year during "American week" at one of the local grocers).

Regular yellow mustard (same deal as the peanut-butter).

Not having to pay to use a public toilet (at a train station or on the street).

Books! (In English) - like at a library!

Being able to understand what I am buying. (I used fabric softener as detergent for a week until I learned the difference in the words on the labels! I also once thought that a floor cleaner was some sort of dish soap, but because it said "without rinsing" thought it best not to use it!)

People smiling at strangers as you pass them on the street.

Watching a baseball game (even if just on TV & watching Brent play on the church softball league).

Church sermons in English (thankfully, we have some CD's now to listen to from our church).

These are just a few things off the top of my head. On days that cultural stress is building up as we try to learn language and survive here, these things come to mind more. On our good days, we really only miss people mostly.

There are some things we get to enjoy in France that we don't have at home:

Over 365 kinds of cheese! (No joke!)
Not to mention two whole rows (we're talking long aisles) of different kinds of yogurt at the super market.

Really good fresh-baked bread goods within walking distance. Love the boulangerie!

The ALPS! Mountains are everywhere you look here.

Seeing kids play football (soccer) anywhere they can.

Seeing how amazed strangers are here if you lend them a helping-hand (guess it happens less frequently here or they really don't feel entitled to help - who knows).

Walking to the grocery store twice a week because our fridge only holds that much at a time. It makes me plan meals and use more of our food better. Not much goes to waste.

Constant French language input - on the bus, at the store, at the bank, at the post, at school, at church, on the street, & when we turn on the TV or a radio.

Realizing I need to enjoy the good while dealing with cultural stress is tremendous lesson that I am reviewing daily. Thank you, Lord, for my daily blessings here and anywhere I lay my head.

"Over The Hedge"

One thing our family has noticed about France is that people really like their privacy here. (I know you're thinking, "I thought she was going to write about that movie Over The Hedge. I'm not - sorry.)

French people in general are very private.

If you visit a French person's house, you should not expect to hang out or even help out in the kitchen. You can ask, but if you're told, "no," well, then they really mean it. I once read an article about a French man who grew up and for 25 years had never seen the inside of his grandmother's kitchen. (Usually the kitchen is a separate closed off room.) Only when the grandmother became too frail to carry dishes was he allowed entry into her kitchen.

Another example of French privacy is displayed by their houses. They have these cute little French houses or apartments with quaint little shutters on every window. At dark (around 6 or 6:30 at night) people shut out the world. The shutters are open all day, but at night people barricade themselves inside (they do keep the front door shutters open until they go to bed though - guess that's because of the late dinner hours they keep - maybe expecting a dinner guest? Who knows why. Still the rest of the house is closed up at sundown.)

Mind you, you can't really see into most people's houses anyway even with the shutters open. We're talking major hedges everywhere. They even have people they hire to keep the hedges trimmed. Some are very stunning, but they all serve the purpose of privacy.  Most people here seem to have hedges around their houses. If it's not a six foot plus tall hedge, they will have an even taller fence or wall surrounding the whole yard.

We thought this was all very odd at first. Now we kinda understand a bit more. It seems they do not want to interact with strangers much or have people see into their private lives. This kinda explains why no one will smile or say hello on the street. (People will look at us but keep a straight, almost grim face.) I've been told that the French, in general, think it is fake and impersonal to greet someone if you don't already know them. (There is of course the exception of greetings between a shop keeper and a customer.)

It's a different world if you know someone though. It's very friendly and polite. French people have beautiful smiles - you'll never see one unless you personally know them though. I am starting to like this extra privilege we get when we know someone. They will greet us with a bis (the French cheek kisses) and begin a personal conversation. Not having a daily dose of smiles and greetings on the street causes me to appreciate my acquaintances and friendships more. It's almost like I'm being allowed entry over their hedge.

I do have to say that one place we feel very welcome is at our French church here. We've found that a gathering of believers is a cherished thing, and people are very friendly and welcoming. There are fewer initial hedges for brothers and sisters in Christ. Talking about hedges so much makes me wonder about myself, "Are there any areas of my heart that I have boarded up or surrounded with a hedge. A small part that I am not willing for even God to see?" (If that were possible. Ecclesiates 12:14 says, "For God will bring every deed into judgment, including ever hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.") I need to take inventory again and make sure my favorite Guest feels welcome in my heart. I have allow Him to go "Over the Hedge" of my heart.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Language Learning... what it's like so far for Laura

Language learning has always been fun for me! Brent & I are linguists - so of course, we love languages! I've studied a bit of Russian, eight weeks of Thai, four years of Spanish, and I know a few phrases of German (from my dad and grandparents), Dutch (from my mom and grandparents), and Japanese (for some reason...oh yeah, pen-pal from my teen years). I love to learn how to talk to other people! I have a conversational level of Spanish & didn't care in the least bit if I made mistakes while talking with my grandmotherly, Cuban neighbor during the year we lived next door to her. Why? Simply put: it was more important for me to talk with my friend than for me to worry about speaking the language perfectly.

Now that I live in France, language learning is a bit of a different ball park (which, by the way, they don't really have here - baseball, I mean). Language learning has become a whole new game that I must play in order to live here. (Brent had quite a bit of French in school so he has a leg up, and that does help, but it's a bit harder for me to survive when it's my turn to talk.) We have to speak French to buy our daily bread. We have to speak French at the bank, the post, the store, church, the doctor, at parent-teacher conferences (which thankfully I have not had any yet, but will have an appointment for one soon).
At the Post Office

At the Bakery
We have to speak some French to be understood and to succeed. Sometimes it is fun, but mostly it's just a way of life. It's difficult. It's scary. It's sad sometimes. It's life for now. We're told it will get easier.

It's a wonderful thing when I find someone kind enough to try to understand me. This is not always the case. It's also a bit harder to be missionaries in this in-between-the-field and home-assignment phase of life.
Church in Romans, France (Services in French)

At church I have to use French. I have to explain how long we are here, and why. I have to tell people that my kids don't speak French yet. This much I can handle. Then the fun begins. People start talking to me about all sorts of things, which miraculously I can understand a lot of, but I have no way to respond. I can say," I don't know. I don't understand," but I can't say," I understand, but I can't answer your questions yet". People look at me so sadly when I can't answer and then I give a sheepish look.

In my French class, our vocabulary is limited so far to basic things: who we are, what we do, and what we have. This is a tough situation for me. I am in a class of international students - one Mexican guy, two Arab guys, a girl from India, & me. So you can imagine what it's like when I explain myself as a linguist - they look at me with that look that says they are seeing me as having three heads. Then I explain what a linguist is and that my husband is one too, and that we don't have the typical kind of jobs that most people do. When they still don't understand, I then have to reveal that I am learning French to use for when we move to West Africa. Then they ask even more questions when they realize we've brought our kids along on this adventure. So eventually for my classmates to accept me as a somewhat normal woman, I must reveal more information that I can't exactly explain well to people of other religions:
Yes, I am a missionary.
Yes, I work with churches.
Ah-ha! The light bulb goes on for some, but the Arabs then ask more questions. They want to know what a church is. I tell them it's a place to read the Bible and learn more about God. Then they ask what is a Bible. (How many other people have to answer delicate questions like these when learning another language I wonder? I also think about what it would be like if I had another job - something simple to explain in French, like "I am a business woman." But I am not.) I thought about bringing in a Bible to show them, but then I remember my Bible is all marked up and worn from regular use and study. It is not kept pristine like a holy book should be (in the minds of those who follow Islam). So I have to explain that the Bible is our holy book, since they know what that means. Whew!  What a first week of classes!

Explaining my profession was a bit tricky, but then there were other questions later on that made me feel strange - almost less-human. (I wonder if I have ever made a foreigner feel that way in my homeland!)

To practice the verb avoir (to have, in English) we must tell things about ourselves and our lives back home. The dialogue goes like this:

Do you have a car back home?
My answer: No.

Do you have a garage?
My answer: No.

Do you have a garden?
My answer: No.

Do you have a house back home or an apartment?
My answer: No house. No apartment.

They really looked at me weird when I answered that one. I had no way other than in English to explain that I really have no possessions in the States other than what I will send to Africa.

When we reviewed animals' names, my classmates would ask if the French eat certain animals, and then they always asked me if I eat those too (since they are very curious about American ways). Answering those questions was tough, not because of my lack of French this time, but because of the setting. I might offend a Hindu and two Muslims - people I would like to befriend. What do I do? I must speak the truth, but I most certainly will offend. Ahh! Who knew such things would come up here!  I thought I had some more time to prepare my responses if I were only to encounter these questions in Africa, but this is good practice.

(I am realizing that outside of the class, where most of my classmates know a few words of English, I will have no way to answer most normal questions and be understood because my life situation is not really normal - kind of a sobering thought).

We have a lot of fun in French class together, and my classmates are very bright individuals each with different reasons for learning French. I think of all the reasons, mine must be the most unique. =0)

So this are some situations I've come across during weeks one and two of French classes. Oh, yeah, and then after class I get to go home and practice more French.

It's really fun even though it's hard. I'm glad I chose this route even though I had NO idea of what I would be getting myself into. Ha.

Language learning becomes fun for me now in another way: What weird situations can I come across in life and in class next week?

PS: Update Weeks Later... It's great that the more you spend time with people, the smaller your differences become. As you get to know people (like I am getting to know my classmates) even the largest differences are eventually shadowed by the commonality of being human. It's great getting to know my classmates better. I appreciate that they see me as more of a human and a friend each day too. My initial outlook for when I meet people for the first time, shall be changed forever. Always give the benefit of the doubt. Thank you, Lord, for this lesson.

Laura likes...

I thought it might be good to share with you what I really enjoy (in no particular order) so that people to have a better understanding of who I am. So here's my best effort to keep this to a small list -another window into my soul:

I like to...

1.  Watch steam rise from my coffee cup - smelling it is so good too!
2.  See little birds sitting outside my window.
3.  Watch old black and white movies snuggled up with my hubby or a good gal pal.
4.  Watch my kids while they are sleeping.
5.  Listen to good praise and worship music -ones with lyrics that makes me cry as I understand more about the goodness of the Lord.
6.  Think about what heaven will be like.
7.  Cry when I hear a sad song & Dance when I hear a happy song.
8.  Read a good book - the kind that takes me to another time or place and teaches me something.
9.  Self-help books - I think I have a bit of a counselor's heart and so who better to help, right? Ha!
10.  A good laugh - a belly laugh where you laugh so hard you cry!
11.  To Salsa dance (and just any kind of dancing really - though I don't often get to dance outside of my home!)
12.  To have my hands in wet clay (Once took a pottery class with a friend - loved it!)
13.  Try to be nice to everyone I meet - I take it to heart that I never know if I may be entertaining angels.
14.  Talk late at night in the dark - like I did at slumber parties when I was a kid (and like me and my college girls did!)
15.  Know that some people have figured out that I can have strong emotions and that they are totally OK with it. =0)
16.  Looking at mountains & seeing the sun rise or set anywhere (but especially on the beach).
17.  Talking to people about what the Lord has done in my life.
18.  Eat good chocolate. [And also to eat Slim-Jims (I know-gross!) but only on long road trips.]
19.  Take pictures of new and pretty sights.
20.  Snuggle up and read aloud to my kiddos.

Hope you enjoyed this list!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why did I start this blog? WHY?!?

I'm sitting with my laptop by the window in my third floor apartment in France (which I learned is actually the 4th floor for Americans- there's 0, 1,2,3...). I'm still in my pajamas watching the sunbeams burst through my space. I feel compelled to write on this blog even before eating breakfast this morning. I think this is strange because I personally detest technology that interrupts regular life. I also do not like extra time-commitments that I feel obligated to fulfill when I am already very involved with other things. Hence, it's odd that this is my desire for early morning. I like to consider early morning my quiet time. Since I consider most networking/communication tools as barrage of busyness against my brain and its natural rhythm of peaceful thoughts, blogging should not be what I want to do during my quiet time.

So WHY would I, of all people feel so compelled to Blog?

Why would someone like me want to Blog? There are many reasons, but I figure I must be excited about my blog since I regularly eat breakfast before doing anything else. My hubby calls me to the table to eat with the family & I am hesitant, but then I realize I am writing this blog mainly because I long to connect with people. So I relent and go to the table to eat because after all my family is here waiting, and you really aren't here until later when you choose to log on and read this blog.

I started out thinking this would be a good way to keep in touch with news about our family ministry (it will be) but I feel this blog is morphing into something more.

I miss connecting with people on a deeper level. It's hard here in a foreign land for someone like me who loves to chit-chat and to have heart-to-heart conversations with a good friend. I've been journaling on my computer to help ease the transition from the States to a foreign land. Although it is a first world country, France is foreign to me and comes with some culture shock and stress. Journaling is very therapeutic, so I thought why not journal on a blog?! Then people would be connecting with what I write. I realize this about myself now, I have a strong need for people to understand me - even just a handful of people in the world who understand my heart and the words flowing from it.

My attempts to make deep friendships here have been limited to my ability to speak well in French. Well, I went to a home group here last night with my family & for once realized that my husband was talking more than I was. This never happens - except for now it always happens here. I lack the language skills to connect with people in the way that I want. I can understand some and still, of course, not all of what people are saying. I lack the ability to verbalize in French what it is that's on my heart or to even tell people what my life is really like. How do I explain myself and our family goals, when all I can tell them in French is: what my name is, and how many kids I have, and that I am American? (That's progress for me - so bravo to language learning!) So therein lies the extent of any conversation I can have at this point. I think my teacher understands me a bit more than any other French person - God bless her! She tries very, very hard to understand my broken French and my misplaced English words in the middle of a sentence.

I struggle often with the question of why must I learn French, God? I was at a decent level of Spanish (that's what I studied in high school), and I was able to connect with people so well in Spanish - why couldn't I be called to Latin America? Ahh, but I know the answer to that and will not write about it here. None-the-less, French is beautiful, but it has so many rules and patterns of speech that I have not yet mastered and so I feel muted whenever I am around French speakers who don't also speak English. It's like someone has put duct tape across my mouth. I thought it would be easier for me to connect with this particular home group last night since the leaders were originally from Latin America and so their first language is Spanish - YAY, a way for me to connect! Alas, it is extremely trying to think of Spanish words in a room and world full of French - they say that this is a good thing that my Spanish is be drowned out by French. (Who is this elusive they? Who sets up the goals required for learning languages, I wonder.) I suppose it is a good thing that French is taking over in my mind, but it is extremely frustrating at this point. (I did have a dream all in French last night - I've been in France about a month, so I wondered when that would start happening.) This merge from English/Spanish to French will benefit me in the end though. Learning French is my goal for bigger and better reasons (*soft pensive smile*). Ahh, so I will need to still find ways to connect while doing so, and perhaps it will mainly be with you for a while. Thanks for lending an ear to a heart that hopes to be near other hearts wherever I am.

I like to think of this blog as the kitchen table of my life, where for a while I sit and share stories of laughter and tears with a dear friend. Welcome to my table.
Welcome to my table.

Monday, March 7, 2011

You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep - by: Laura

Who Am I Really???

I have many titles: Some classmates in France think of me as "the American woman", some people call me "Sister", some call me "daughter", so far 2 call me "Mom", some call me "Auntie", one dear one calls me "ROOMMATE!!", and one graciously, loving man calls me his wife.
Friends through thick N thin - my awesome family!

Sister-in-law (a bestie!)
Roxanne - fellow missionary, homeschooling mom, friend (a bestie!)

Love of my life - a very special bestie, of course!
Fun with our two kids - awesome lil friends!
College Roommate (Heather) - still best-ies after 10 years!

Of all these titles I am honored most by the people who choose to call me "friend," and if I am not fooling myself too much, then all of the other titles (including the family ones) I bear, fall into the category of friend as well.

For who are we really without our friends?

I am thankful that my heavenly Father considers me a friend (John 15:10-17 scroll to bottom to read this passage). I hope to live my life in a way that reflects Love, but I know that I am human and am bound to fail quite often. I am not perfect nor will ever claim to be. I am a linguist by profession (oh, lah-tee-dah...just a fancy word for someone who works with/likes languages - not one who is perfect at speaking languages *smile*).
God called me to "Be a missionary & Take care of His children" when I was 14 years old. I had no real idea what that meant at the time, but I knew that I loved God and desperately wanted to show Him love. It's been a long road since 1993, but it's coming along now, and God has directed my every step along the way (perhaps that is another story to save for later). So, what do I want to do with my life? Well, I plan to use my love for people and my talents/training to do full-time missions work in West Africa.
Started out ministering to kids in Latin America (Summer 1995,'96,'97)
BA degree in Missions and Bible from CBC 2001
Yes, that's me in chapel on the CBC brochure -
had no idea they were taking my pic

Grad Institute of Applied Linguistics 2008-2009
Bush Mechanics and Electronics Class - Summer 2009

Primary Health Care Course - Summer 2009
This is the plan if that continues to be what's in the Big Man's Will, since I've learned early on that His Will is what's best for my life. So my hubby, Brent, and our 2 kids, Ethan & Claire, will make our home in West Africa in some small little village where life is simpler but still quite complicated I'm sure. We will serve as Bible Translators for a people group who do not even have a written language yet, much less a Bible.
West African women walking

Pics from the village

I'm dedicated to loving & serving God, and I am also big into family. Family can be the backbone of your life (though I know not all would agree.) My family is like that mostly. We're all human, right? Really, I consider my parents and siblings as really AWESOME family - a gift from God. I'm telling you how special family is to me just to let you know how important it is for me to follow the will of God in my life. My dad has stage 4 cancer and was told by doctors that he had a certain length of time to live. I knew this in advance and love my dad so SO much, yet I still chose to move my family to another continent even at this time just to follow the call of God on my life. My dad is so great that he wouldn't have it any other way. My dad knows that this life is fleeting and we all like flowers will fade away one day, but he also knows the importance of living for God, the Giver of Eternal life.
My dad & our kids (Jan. 2011 before leaving for France)
So here I am a whole continent away from my dad, my friend. (He's doing pretty well, by they way.) I'm currently living in France with my family & we're attempting to learn French so that we can communicate well in West Africa.We have a year of French ahead of us and then we return to the States for a short interlude between France and West Africa.

Why did you move so far away when you could be spending last moments with your dad, you ask me?

I really hope to see my dad on this side of eternity again, but I know that if I don't he will be waiting healthily and happily in Heaven with my dearest friend in the world, Jesus. I've seen it with the eyes of my heart (my spiritual eyes - yes, God shows me things.) I can survive on that image for now - my dad living it up for all eternity with Jesus, I mean. (I also am surviving at the moment on a great internet/phone package plan that allows me free calls to my folks in the States! What a great technological age we live in!) In reality when the phone and internet no longer continue to connect me with my dad, what will? Or I should say, "Who will?" The One Who made us all - Are you connected with Him? God really does love you.
Can I introduce you to my Friend?

Sharing my best Friend with other friends around the world - this is what I am really all about! (Yes, even as a linguist I still ended that sentence with a preposition!) *smile*

As promised:
In John 15:10-17 Jesus says:

If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
(Compliments of NIV 2011 from

Our Move to France (Previously posted on Facebook) 21 Jan 2011

WOW! We made it safely and only lost one bag (did not get picked up in Geneva - working on getting it delivered). After flying from FL to NJ to Geneva, Switzerland, we then rode on 3 trains and got picked up in Valence, France by our landlord, Harry. The kids did great considering we traveled for 2 days. We didn't get to sleep much on the plane so by the time we got to the trains we were exhausted. The first mini-transit train from the airport to the Gare (train station) was delayed because of a tree falling on the track. We only had an 80 min free transit ticket. We prayed for the track to be cleared or for the Lord to send an angel to help. He did both! 75 mins into our ticket, the track was cleared and a transit helper assisted us with our baggage and came on the train to help us at the next stop. Then another helper stored our baggage and helped us to the train and phoned ahead to send another helper! Wow! Thank you Lord for angels! I was sick for most of the train trips - stomach troubles - still have some - new diet and all, but nothing terrible now. Was feeling weak and dizzy and hot and cold as we ran from train to train, but I just would sit down and pray and feel better in just a few moments. =) At least it was me who was sick and not the kids or Brent. Brent did great with figuring out where we were and what to do. I had no clue. I am learning I can understand some French because of my Spanish training, but all in all it is quite overwhelming. Thank the Lord for polite people and for Rosetta Stone and French kid's shows. We got to go to church on Sunday, what an incredible experience. =) Even though I did not understand much of the French, I could feel God's presence. We visited a pentecostal church and I asked Brent if someone was speaking in tongues and he said yes. Even though I couldn't understand the language, I could feel it in my Spirit when that happened. So COOL! God moves in all languages among His people. Well, there is a lot more I could say, but for now this will do. We're safe here in France and are soaking in as much language as we can. We do self-study at home in the mornings and then go to the bread store, etc. to buy bread and talk with people, and then in the evenings we watch a French game show or something on TV. We're constantly discussing, what did that mean? or did you hear what they said? It's fun but also exhausting. We are learning to pace ourselves. God is so good to us! Thanks for all who are praying us through this language learning process! It really makes a difference.
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