December 2010


We wish all who visit here a very Merry Christmas!

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Romping in the snow at Les Saises

Two weeks ago we cross country skied at Les Saisies, where they held the Olympics in that event in 1992. As expected, the several feet of fresh snow were amazing, even if Zoe didn’t get to see much of it through her fogged-up stroller windows.

Now Zoe and Mom are finishing up with a good solid dose of pink-eye that’s kept us home for the week. We’ve enjoyed reading all her books (several times over), listening to French radio and watching the sunsets at 4pm! God has definitely been gracious to give us a little break from school, filled with opportunity to continue learning at home.

Slick’s been seizing the chance to help the rest of the men welcome new folks who will start school in January, helping carry bags to fourth floor apartments and passing on to them the hard-earned knowledge we wish someone has told us when we arrived. It’s been neat to watch the body of Christ working together in this way, despite the hard work and late hours sometimes required.

Character building...

Filling Daddy's shoes

At the finish of the Athens Classic Marathon in the Olympic Stadium

Yes, Donna did finish the marathon (see the October update). You can read some thoughts about it on her blog. Since then (since the end of October) we have been continuing to appreciate the little things that color our short time here on earth. For example, we tried to find the “old chateau” on the hill above our house four times before we actually found it. Along the way, we discovered some really cool abandoned bunkers – perfect for a picnic in rainy weather – and a great trail through the woods. When we finally found the chateau (muscling up the hill through shin-deep snow, carrying Zoe), it had only two small piles of stone standing vertical beside what was once a fireplace.

Chateau Chantemerle, perfect set of medieval ruins for exploring on a sunny afternoon

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But as Michael Card wrote, there is a joy in the journey. Around here, the journey comes complete with cowbells. I can still here people at the triathlons in SC shouting, “more cowbell!” and dreading having to pass such a cacophony. But here in the Alps, it’s a very peaceful sound – whether the bells hang from cow necks or goat necks – and it always reminds me of racing.

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We’ve had several opportunities to visit with people and/or hike with them, guilt-free. Not only are we furthering our acquaintance with others in the body of Christ, but we are furthering our language skills as well. It’s one of our favorite ways to do that!

Subject: mountain sunrise. Artist: God.

Finally, the folks who rent our house in SC (we couldn’t sell it when we left) have been having a bear of a time with it. For us it was a great house, but they had the roof leak, a tree fall on it, and now a decent-sized house fire. While it’s a little extra work for us, it’s occurred to me that God has been really bugging them! So our small group of women here at the school prayer yesterday morning that somehow God would draw our renters to Himself through this latest challenge, coming at this special time of year. Then yesterday evening, Slick responded to some of the husband’s comments, and for over an hour he spoke about how God sometimes uses challenge like this one to call people to Himself. God is definitely on the move in Mike’s life!

Even after seeing God answer pray so many times, it still struck me deeply that in this case He chose to answer our prayers on the same day as we prayed. God is good. Abundantly good.

Zoe studies her text wearing her favorite zebra hat. Her aunt Wendy would be proud.

Lined with vibrant colors, the narrow canyon we drove up slowly gave way to open alpine valleys fringed with snow-covered ridges. All the while, Slick and I talked. We talked from Albertville through Chamonix, passed several glaciers and down many switchbacks to the Lake Geneva valley. For all three hours of the journey, we conversed in French almost exclusively! Reflecting on our discussions, we realized we were experiencing God’s answers to your prayers. Thank you so much for joining us in prayer for our studies. Merci beaucoup!

Now, with the first trimester and associated tests complete we will begin building on the foundation laid in the last three months. Consequently, over the next few weeks we plan to apply a principle we’ve learned during our seminary years: that knowledge moves from our head to our heart when we experience it. Repeatedly, God’s written stories in our lives that have taken facts that we cognitively know about Him and lodged them deeply into our hearts.

Putting this concept into practice, we ask that you pray that we would be able to move our head-knowledge of French to a heart-level fluency through regular, disciplined! “experience” of speaking, listening, writing and reading – even over the Christmas break as we pause to thank Him for the incomparable gift He’s given.

Getting the family out for a walk

Just up the road, this is one of those things that we passed many times before actually seeing it: a bear sculpted into a tree.

On the other side of the house with the tree sculpture is a train...

See more pictures of life in language school and around the countryside.