Greetings from France and a Happy Thanksgiving to you all (just a bit late)! We love this time of year as it is a time to pause and reflect on the goodness of God in our lives and all that He has provided for us.
Last week we were so thankful to have the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving with our friends here in France. It took three huge turkeys (we were finally able to find turkeys here!), a ham, a whole host of side dishes and several tables of pies to feed the crowd of 90 that gathered at the school to celebrate this American holiday with us. It was truly an international affair with American, French, Brazilian, Australian, Dutch, Polish, Fijian, Jamaican, Swiss, Irish, British and Chinese gathered to share a delicious meal, play games, have crafts for the kids and generally just enjoy the fellowship of friends. So many contributed and made it a really special time for everyone. For many, this was the first holiday they celebrated away from family and loved ones, so we were thankful that it could be a special memory for all of us to cherish.
We are so thankful for each other and for the friends we have made during our time here! We have such a good God that He would design us to live in relationship within community rather than try to go it alone! We are thankful to have made friends with whom we can encourage one another on the difficult days, pray with when there are no words (and when learning a language, this happens surprisingly often! 😉), navigate a foreign culture together, bear one another’s burdens, celebrate one another’s successes, and rejoice together in one another’s joys. We are still in our first year of wedded bliss and can also see what a blessing it is to have each other to lean on, to share life and experiences, and to share responsibilities. And we have once again seen through challenges, shared experience and shared vision, how friends become family in only a few months. God knits together the hearts of believers in truly amazing ways.
We are thankful for progress in language learning! We are well into our second session of language school already, which is hard to believe! And although we continue to discover new things in our community daily, we do feel fairly well acclimated to our life here in France now after three months in-country. Mike is learning more and more every day and progressing well in his understanding and ability to speak French. Anna is enjoying going deeper in her language ability and improving as well. We are that nerdy couple that falls asleep at night discussing direct and indirect objects and their effect on verb conjugation and pronoun usage. Hahaha! We are so thankful we can navigate this, at-times, confusing language together.
We are thankful for a sovereign God who has the future in His hands. It is so natural to want to rush through this phase of ministry life to get to the ‘real work’. But this is the ‘real work’ God has before us right now and it is an essential component of being fully equipped for ministry in Togo. We have learned from experience how vital the ability to communicate is in building redeeming relationships. We don’t want to be shortsighted in our focus by cutting our time here short in seeking to get to the field a few months earlier. Ultimately, this will only serve to handicap ourselves later by limiting future ministry involvement. So, we remind ourselves that this is not wasted time in His eternal economy. Every day, no matter how seemingly insignificant the task at hand, matters to Him and He has a plan for each day of our entire lives. We still don’t know how long we will be here in France, but we are seeking to be content each day where God has us now and to not try and rush this time but rather, to enjoy the beauty in this phase of ministry life—the opportunities to shine a light in a spiritually dark culture, to experience the beauty of God’s creation in four distinct seasons, to build new friendships and learn and grow together. We are trying not to squander our time here and miss the blessings in it because we are always looking to the next phase.
We are thankful that God has guided us to a new church where we feel at home and are being fed in the Word despite language barriers. We can’t quite express how much of a blessing this is to us! It was one of our biggest prayer requests in coming and we are so thankful to see how God has answered this prayer. We are getting more and more involved in this church and are thankful for a body of believers that we can learn with, build into and be built up by, worship and serve alongside.
We are so thankful for your faithful prayers on our behalf and for your partnership in the Gospel!
-Please pray for the school and our progress in language learning. There have been a lot of changes to the administrative staff since our arrival only three months ago. Pray that these changes would not inhibit our progress. Pray for the current staff to have much wisdom and that God would be directing their decisions in the coming days.
-Please pray that we would continue to have content and patient hearts that see the beauty in the here-and-now and the tasks at hand.
Please pray that we would be actively seeking opportunities to be involved in the community and that God would open doors to minister to those around us.
-Please continue praying for the Hospital of Hope and our teammates there. There is still a great need for additional staff. Pray that the hospital staff and our teammates will have the necessary strength, stamina and wisdom to provide physical and spiritual care to needy people.
-Please pray that each day we would be clay in the Potter’s hands and allow Him to transform our hearts and lives. Pray that each day we would be “conformed more and more to the image of His Son.”
-This is one of the hardest seasons in the life of a missionary…the holidays. Please pray that God would give us special and memorable moments with friends here despite being far from family and loved ones.
We would love to hear from you!! What’s the latest news? What is God doing in your life? How can we pray for you?
If you would like to send us something in the mail please send us a message and we can give you our mailing address here in France.
May Christ remain central in our lives during this season and throughout the coming year,
Mike and Anna