Greetings from Albertville!
School officially started here in France on Labor Day!
We have all hit the ground running in our respective class levels and are covering about one chapter of material every two days.
We are enjoying being in a structured class environment with fellow classmates and the variety of teaching styles that it brings.
We are figuring out a new family/work flow with all three of us in class full time. Matthias attends the onsite, French nursery at the school 8 hours a day while Mommy and Daddy are in class.
He has 5 other little friends in the nursery, all of whom are 12-24 months. The first two weeks the transition was pretty tough for all the littles (and the mamas!), but this week things seem to be settling into a new routine.
We are thankful to the Lord for the experienced, Christian staff who run the nursery and the way they live out their calling to serve the Lord by loving on our kiddos (and teaching them French!) while we are in class.
It is fascinating to see your child discover new sounds and words in a different language, however I don’t think I was prepared for my 18 month old to enter the “No” phase with a flawless French accent.
Say hello to our “minivan” : )
Our family bike set up is an integral part of our daily routine here since we do not have a car. We were able to purchase all of the pieces second hand from outgoing students and this set up has made errands quicker and easier, from getting groceries, to afternoons out exploring as a family, to prenatal appointments and everything in between. We’ve had to get creative from time to time when something pops up that we need to take with us that you really wouldn’t normally take on a bike, like that moment when you’ll really need a stroller at an event, but you’re going by bike, or that large piece of baby equipment you just happened to find at a consignment store and have to figure out how to transport home, or when you’re maxed out with groceries for the 3 families you’ve invited over to dinner – but there also happens to be a surprise BOGO deal on diapers that day.
Nothing a few large silicone twist ties (and being ok with looking a little funny as you bike down the road) can’t handle.
In August, Christopher joined the local soccer (football) club, Les Tamalous who -yes, you are seeing the pictures right- still happen to wear their traditional football kilts (!!)
First time for everything!
The team hangs out together over a 5 course meal after each game and it is a great way for Christopher to build relationships with the guys and to use his French. He has enjoyed being invited over to watch football games with the guys as well.
We recently ran into several of the guys at a local, public event, and it was pretty cool to see how excited they were to see Christopher and how they were able to envelope him into their humorous banter despite the language differences.
We are slowly building friendships at church. Culturally, relationships take longer to build here than they do in the U.S., but as we learn more about the culture, we are starting to see how relationships are in fact being built, once we view them through the lens of the French culture.
Recently, Christopher was able to help a family we’ve been getting to know better, move house. They have two little ones very close in age as well, and we’ve really appreciated their approach to parenting. We are hoping to learn from them!
(Top) Fellowship after church, (Bottom left) Shrimp & Zucchini pizza while helping friends move, (Bottom right) Corn fields on the way to a friends’ house.
We continue to be refreshed and renewed by the beauty surrounding us in our everyday context – a reminder of God’s nearness as we press in to what He has for us during this season – both in terms of learning the French language, and in growing on our journey with Him.
As we began our first week of classes, the Lord continually brought me to the same verse each morning before school,
“I HEAR A LANGUAGE I HAD NOT KNOWN;”
and in that short and single phrase, the Lord ministered to my soul in new ways each morning. It references progress – progress in that at one point you did not know this language, but that now you do have some knowledge of it. It acknowledges that this language, although you now have some knowledge of it, is not yet “your” language, or the language of your heart.
And in the following couple verses of Psalm 81, a reminder referencing back to the Lord’s faithfulness to the Israelites as the Lord brought them up out of Egypt, that we do not need to be encumbered by the yoke of self-effort as we follow Him in this calling, but that it is the Lord Himself who will accomplish this task of language learning, through us.
That we would trust Him to help us learn French and not try to do it in our own strength
That He would guide us in specific ways as we seek a new family/work flow
For Matthias as he continues to transition
That the Lord would provide opportunities for us to have deeper relationships with those around us
Thank you for praying for us, supporting us and encouraging us. We are so thankful you are on this journey with us!
With Love from Albertville,
Christopher, Amanda & Matthias
“L’Abbey de Tamie” – an active monastery in the mountains a few minutes drive from where we live, the monks there are well known for the cheese that they make.
P.S. From Christopher – At the end of our last newsletter Amanda shared her experience attempting to buy kiwis at the grocery store, but I’m afraid this time it is me who has a slightly awkward cross-language / cross-cultural experience to share. It turns out my hair still grows at the same rate here in France, even an ocean away from my favorite Great Clips, so I’ve been visiting a barber shop here in Albertville that was recommended by some of the “anciens” students who have been here longer. At the end of my haircut I paid, thanked the man, and left the shop to head home. As I was walking down the sidewalk, however, I couldn’t shake this feeling that something about our brief interaction wasn’t quite right. With half horror, half amusement at myself, I realized that I had just said “Merci Señor” and walked out. For those of you paying attention, what this means is that, out of my 2-word conclusion to our transaction, I had used one word from French and another word from Spanish! I briefly considered returning to the shop to poke my head in and say “Monsieur! Merci Monsieur!” but as I considered this I knew I would only seem stranger than I already was, and I didn’t have enough French to more fully explain my mistake, so I just walked the rest of the way home smiling and shaking my head. I have since come to the conclusion that while my Spanish background is very helpful for French comprehension due to the many close cognates, it is an equally significant obstacle to production as I never feel quite sure whether what comes to mind in the moment is from the French I’ve learned or the Spanish!