Wednesday, August 10, 2011
The Region where I live is called "Nord-Pas-de-Calais". It has a population of 4,024,490 and a surface area of 12,414 km² for a density of 323.7/km2 (838.4/sq mi).
But more important is the next smaller governing area, the 'department'. There are 101 departments and mine is 'le Nord'. Literally translated means 'the North'. The departments are given a number in alphabetical order. Nord is given the number 59 because it falls at 59th in the long list. This is also what determines our postal code. All postal codes in the Nord start with 59 like mine 59600 for Maubeuge or 59164 for where BLF Europe is located.
It gets even more exciting and closer to home when departments are divided into arrondissements. This is what I want to talk to you about. I live in the section (arrondissement) of the Nord called Avesnois (Ah ven wah) who gets its name from its "county seat" Avesnes-sur-Helpe.
Avesnois is 1,408 km² of green beauty. There are 151 towns ranging from 34,000 to 71 inhabitants to total 234,131 people.
So far I have visited 41 towns out of the 151.
Be back soon
Thursday, August 4, 2011
I live in a very green area. Most of the towns where I live are in the regional park "Parc naturel regional de l'Avesnois". I also add that my area is unknown to most if not all tourist maps that look at France as a whole. There are many wonderful things to see here. I like finding things that aren't well known. Especially in the outdoors.
The first time I went exploring was on July 23rd an overcast / rainy Saturday. I went to Locquignol, Hecq, Preux au Bois, Robersart, Bousies, Fontaine au Bois, Landrecies, Maroilles, Noyelles sur Sambre, Leval, and Monceau Saint Waast. I will post photos of each town but for now here is my route.
Friday, October 29, 2010
A visit to the NW
I learned that I will need to see the doctor in Seattle in order to renew my Multiple Sclerosis(MS) treatment [or Sclérose en plaques(SEP) in French]. I plan to take advantage of this appointment by seeing my family during the holidays, including my niece Haley of whom I have only seen pictures because she was born not too long after I left. I hope to arrive just before Thanksgiving and stay until just after Christmas. I have already scheduled my doctor’s appointment for the 16th of December.
My prayer request is that my check-up goes well (I am feeling well). But I also need to ask for your prayers as I don’t yet have my plane ticket because of my resident card. I started to renew my resident card in May to have the process completed before it expired in July. However, it wasn’t done in July so I got a slip to go along with my old card. Just after my trip to Mont Blanc and the Normandy sites, my friend David and I went to the city of Dunkerque where I lost my wallet for the second time this year. I was able to replace all the important papers and cards, but I am still without my French identity. Without this I cannot leave the French border (my declaration of loss won’t do) without losing my reentry rights. I called the local office recently, and they said that the card is still in process. Please pray that my card is processed and delivered soon so that I can get my plane ticket and be at my appointment. The other times I have had it renewed, it did not take more than two months. It has almost been six months. I know this too is in God’s hands.
I am scheduled to speak in churches Sunday morning on November 28th, December 5th, and December 12th. I would love to see as many other people as possible. This will be my first time to be on North American soil in two and a half years. I look forward to seeing you in person and sharing what God has been up to. I also look forward to seeing the Cascade Mountains and the Space Needle.
This reminds me how Hebrews 11:13 says, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.” We Christians do not have our citizenship here on earth but just a temporary card that reminds us that we are just passing through. Wouldn’t it be funny if we had to renew our earthly resident card every year.
This year was one of the biggest vacations that I’ve had for a while. A friend of mine, David, came from Seattle and we did the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB). It is a 10-day hike around the tallest peak in Europe. The day after I picked him up from the airport, we drove more than 8hrs to Les Houches, France, where we stayed the night and left the car before beginning our adventure the next morning. This was my first multi-day hike and my first time on such difficult terrain. We stayed in large refuges — only accessible by foot, helicopter, or mule — to avoid carrying tents and more gear.
My favorite part of the hike was two-fold. I loved the views; but what was more amazing was standing on one of God’s beautiful mountain passes, looking way off in the distance to another tiny spot, and being able to say, “I was there”. Wow! It was also extraordinary to cross the border from France to Italy and from Italy to Switzerland just by mountain passes.
Secondly, for those who know me even a little bit know that I am a people person, I had a great time talking to different people along the trail, which I describe as a moving international community. They were from all over France, Europe, and the world, but I didn’t see more than one or two Americans. I enjoyed speaking French and getting to know other hikers. I remember laughing and playing UNO with a nice French family at a mountain refuge until late.
The parts I had trouble with were not the steep climbs but the areas where the path was flat and only a foot (30cm) or less wide with one side that plummeted down several hundred feet. In the worst of these areas, I had to walk slowly behind Dave only looking and stepping were his feet stepped. I thank God the neither of us died on the trip. We didn’t even get hurt.
Then we drove eight hours to Caen, the big city near the D-Day landing beaches.
Print shop - BLF Europe
Here at the print shop we have been pretty busy. We have just finished 5,000 comic book Bibles (New and Old Testaments). That’s 768 full color pages printed, folded, collated, sewn, cover glued, shrink-wrapped and boxed. We are in the process of doing 5,000 of the New Testament and the Gospels.
I’ve been taking on more responsibilities. I have taken more page layout work to let our other designer focus on additional work. This is something I really enjoy. I think that French punctuation rules are a blast. I have also taken on the responsibility of leading the teams that come from the States while they work in the shop.
We have recently put out some great books:
In September we received the first shipment of the third volume of the Bible in manga form, Manga - Mutinerie (English title: Manga - Mutiny). They are drawn and printed in Japan, and we do the translating and editing of the French text. The first two volumes cover the Gospels and Acts. The newest one goes through Genesis and Exodus. They are all selling well, and there is even a plan in the works to use the Manga Messiah books as a way to teach Christianity in French private schools.
La guérison du guérisseur by Walter Vappiani (Healing of the Healer). Part of a new biographical series. This story is about Walter who met Jesus when he was a spiritual healer.
Décidé à tuer by Stephen Lungu (English title: Out of the Black Shadows). A great story about a leader of a rebellion in Africa who planned to kill Christians but God miraculously saved to reconcile those around him.
Praise God for these new books. Pray they would reach those seeking God and challenge Christians to grow in their faith. Also pray for Crazy Love by Francis Chan and Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas, two great books that we are currently working on.
You may be wondering about the French going on strike. Well as your on-the-ground reporter, here is what I know of the French strikes without watching any news.
- The post office has gone on strike randomly.
- Buses and trains don’t seem to be reliable from day to day (I have a car).
- Gas deliveries were cut off for a little while until the government told them to deliver again. (We are close to Belgium so we can get gas there, but it was bad for those more inside of France).
- All the middle school and high school students walked around my town of 35,000 protesting the retirement thing. They blocked roads and blocked entrances to the schools and had police escorts. What was interesting was the adults who would look on the students and say, “Way to go, they are so right.”
I am not sure when it will stop, but it definitely keeps us on our toes. It made me think that we too often hope in our country. I was thinking that, when the intersection was blocked by cars honking for no apparent reason, my hope is in Christ and not in France or America.
Prayer & Praise
Please pray that my resident card would be renewed quickly.
Pray for safe travels.
Praise God that I didn’t fall to my death during my walk in the mountains.
Pray for our health and safety at the BLF Europe print shop.
Pray for the Christians in France that grow in faith and wisdom.
Pray for opportunities to share the reason for the joy that I have.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
We arrived early in the afternoon after traveling through the gorgeous pine covered Vosges mountain range which is really close to the Cascade range near Seattle. The houses and buildings in Alsace are much more like German houses than the houses here in the north of France. That evening we set all of the cameras in place at the church and stayed for tarte flambée (Flammekueche in Alsatian) for dinner. Tarte flambée is like a thin crust pizza with a light white sauce, bacon, cheese and onions. Mmm I could eat it all day, but we were too busy setting up to get our fill so when we got back to Ruben's parents house where we were staying, I had a snack.
The next day, Saturday, the wedding. After breakfast we went to a store called E.LECLERC (pronounced Leh clair when I see it I think electric) to get a shirt for David and a sleeping bag for me (which comes in handy later). Then after lunch we headed to the church. My job was to stand behind the main camera, pan to focus on musicians and change the cassette. Not hard but important. It went well, more than two hours of standing on a table behind the camera for a lovely wedding for two people that love each other and Jesus. After the ceremony I packed up the equipment and David went around the crowd doing video interviews with family and friends. Then more tarte flambée! They also had large pretzels like you might find at your local American sports stadium.
Then we were off the the 'dinner'. In France there is a general order to wedding ceremonies. First the couple and close family and friends will go to the town hall to sign official papers and become 'married' because here the state does not recognize a pastor to marry a couple. Then there is the ceremony similar in many ways to the States. Last is the dinner, which is a long event which can start around 6pm and goes until 2am or later. There is food and there can be dancing and time for sharing. Guests are either invited to the ceremony or to the ceremony and the 'dinner'. David and I didn't know the bride and groom but because we look good behind a video camera we were invited to the dinner. The food was great. Not too many courses. I think just the normal appetizer, main course, and dessert. That evening there were slide show presentations, skits, singing, dancing, and live music from family members. From working during the wedding and not sitting I got tired that night so we left at 2am when the party was still alive.
The next day we got up in time to eat and go to church with Ruben's parents at the same church. David and I found that we were the only ones to show up to church from those at the dinner everyone else must have been pooped or it could be a cultural thing. Sunday afternoon we had lunch and took a well deserved nap. In the morning we headed back to the north directly to a two week outreach mission in Douai, a city Forty-five minutes west of my place. Believe it or not we had McDonald's on the way which keeps my average to one time a year for fast food. David dropped me off at André et Esther Schwab's place in Rouvroy twenty minutes from Douai. André is the pastor heading up the two week outreach. He also started a bar, Équitable (meaning fair trade), downtown Douai, alcohol and tobacco free that serves fair trade products.
I wasn't totally sure what I was getting into. I found out there were old fashioned games and we were playing music, circus acts (juggling, unicycles, face painting, balloon animals) along the street of the bar Équitable. As well as a car wash at a nearby parking lot. All donations from the street activities and the car wash went to two organizations. One, SALAM, formed after the Red Cross center moved out takes care of refugees in the north of France. The other, SEL, gives food and vocational training for kids who are taken advantage of in Africa We stayed at the Schwab's house, most stayed the whole two weeks, some left early and others came late but we tended to stay above thirty mouths to feed. There was a group from a town called Bitch in the east of France several Germans amongst those from the north of France. It was a great time of fellowship with old friends and new ones.
I volunteered for the car was which I enjoyed. We had all the supplies but no signs so I made six signs two make our work known. The first day I think it was 5 cars. Then 6 and the on the hottest day 30°C (86°F) we only had 3 cars. Then the next day there were 9! It was great providing a service for others and the money donated didn't go to ourselves for a trip or nice hats but to those who really needed it.
With thirty youth and adults at André's place we had the rooms full and some guys in tents. I started out in a tent but my allergies acted up. I moved into the house on the third floor. Then I had a fever and hard of breathing. I went to the doctor and got some prescriptions. Sunday I was feeling better for church. During the free time I went and played soccer with our group. One person from our group even had the chance to share the good news of Jesus with some local youth and invited them to play soccer with us. That's when it happened. CRACK !!! The X-ray showed that my ankle wasn't broken but sprained. I could no longer was cars :( . The next few days I stayed at the house and hopped about on crutches. I would read, occasionally help cut veggies at the house and I made certificates for those that scored the highest during the week for the games along the street.
There were articles in two papers about our project "Tendons leur la main" (roughly translated Reaching out to lend a hand"). One was the regional paper and the other was the paper for the city of Douai. The final day after two weeks of games, music and cleaner cars we had a big show with live music, skits, more unicycles and juggling for the people from Douai to enjoy. We served drinks and snacks to those who came and there was a gospel message at towards the end. Saturday we all went to the beach and everyone else in the region had the same idea so the freeway was packed. It was fun but I don't recommend crutches with sandy beaches. Sunday we had a good church service, then lunch. A friend was able to drop me off in Maubeuge as I didn't have my car and I couldn't drive anyway.
Coming back home was weird and too quiet after two weeks of being around people and lots of activities. I am very thankful to have an elevator in my building to go to my apartment on the 4th floor. Even doing the simplest of things are difficult with one foot. I am also thankful for the help from others the other day my neighbor saw me struggling to take the garbage down to its receptacle and she took all my bags for me and my friends from the shop did some shopping for me. God is good and he still provides for all of my needs. Thank you all for your prayers as I recover.
Sunday the 23rd two weeks after the crack I had friends come over after church. One of them brought the meal. We had a great time eating fondue. To accommodate four adults and three kids we moved the table into the living room. It was fun to have people over after a whole week that was way to calm. Now I am back to work after three weeks off. Its nice to be back at the print shop but annoying that I can't do much.
I will post some pictures soon. I hope you enjoyed reading about my vacation as I did living it.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Every step I take I take in You
You are my way Jesus
Every breath I take I breathe in You
After asthma problems and a sprained ankle during the same two week stay I am realizing that all I do is through Christ my Lord.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
At the shop, Manga Messiah is still selling well; and the second volume, Manga Métamorphose, covering the book of Acts, will be coming out in September along with our third shipment of Manga Messiah. We have just finished the illustrated Bible. It’s 254 pages of full color illustrations that we produce for the Bible League. I made more than sixteen plates for the press. We also just released the French version of The Dangerous Duty of Delight by John Piper. I recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t yet read it. Art expo
I’ve always loved to draw. In college I developed a style where I just draw with lines. For several years I have taken my sketch book with me everywhere. I have taken a few of my drawing and made paintings from them. I was inspired to do even more this spring when I was invited to display some art at the third annual Found Object Art Festival in a nearby town, Louvroil. I produced fifteen pieces to put on display using various materials on which to paint. I used a cupboard door, a piece of a desk, and scraps of wood from around the print shop. I have enjoyed doing more art, and it’s great to meet other local artists.
In March I started French classes at a center within walking distance from my apartment. I could communicate before, but now with my classes, I am more confident with my pronunciation, reading, and writing. Most of the other students are women from Morocco, Algeria, and Senegal so I have tried to pick up a few Arabic words on the side. I will begin classes again in the fall, but this time on a more challenging level, working more on my pronunciation and writing.
Visitors from my home church
I love to have visitors. In May, Dan and Joan, from my home church in Seattle, took the time to see me after a cruise around the United Kingdom. They were able to see the sights here where I live. Taking a walk in town, we stumbled across the annual International Horse Jumping competition, which we enjoyed. We took the evening to visit Val Joly, which literally means “Jolly Valley”. Sunday was my first time translating a church service for anyone. I found it challenging. That afternoon we visited Fort de Leveau near my church. There were people dressed up as WWI soldiers, and there is a memorial to Captain Patton who crashed and sank into a marshy area in a nearby town during WWII. In 2001 he and his plane were found well preserved. Monday and Tuesday, Dan and Joan relaxed while I was at school. Then they helped out at the shop. After their stay at my apartment, they took a bus to see my sister in Germany. It was fun to show friends how I live here in France. If you too would like to see how I live and minister in France, come on over!
The Logos Hope Trip
A friend Jeremie joined the crew of the Operation Mobilisation (OM) ship Logos Hope on two-year commitment, working in the engine room. The Logos Hope is staffed with volunteers from fifty different countries to provide literature, humanitarian aide, and evangelization. For more information, go to logoshope.com. They have sailed around Northern Europe and the U.K., and later they will sail to the Caribbean. I also know a couple from France, Ruben and Elizabeth (he is French, she is American), who are also on the ship. Elizabeth works in at the welcome center, and Ruben does video production for the ship. When they came to a port in January only four hours away, David, a French friend, and I took a trip to the Netherlands to see our friends. We stayed on board two nights as guests. We got to see all around the ship including the engine room as well as the town of Harlingen, Netherlands. It was great to see friends and how OM operates and serves the world around them. One of the coolest parts for me was seeing all the different cultures together in one spot.
No big rigs on Sunday
On our drive to the Netherlands, I didn’t see a single semi-truck on the freeway, which I found odd for a four-hour drive. David told me that in most European countries, semi-trucks are to be parked from 10 p.m. Saturday to 10 p.m. Sunday. I find that to be funny and strange.
au cas où (oh ka oo): just in case. This phrase can be very useful.
bagnole (banyol): car. This word for car is only used in the north of France.
chapelure (shaplur): bread crumbs for recipes. I made the mistake of asking for the ‘miettes de pain’ (the literal translation) for the cordon bleu I was making, but the clerk didn’t understand. I ended up smashing some dried bread. Next time I have a recipe that calls for bread crumbs, which isn’t often, I will know the word.
Prayer & Praise
* Praise God for how much I have learned in my classes.
* Praise God, my support level is at 96%.
* Praise God for all the people I’ve been able to meet from French class and art expositions. Pray that I would be a light to everyone I meet.
* Pray that my resident card renewal goes well. It should be ready in the middle of September.
* Please pray for the people who receive our books and tracts, and that God would be glorified in all we do. Thank you all for your prayers, cards, emails, notes on Facebook, and financial support.