Hello from Albertville,
It’s strange to think that just a few weeks ago we were all experiencing “normalcy” in our everyday routine. I’m sure in the weeks since, “normalcy” has become pretty scarce for you and those you hold dear.
Our thoughts and prayers are with each of you as you experience life turned upside down.
We wanted to reach out with a quick update to keep you in the loop as to how the COVID-19 developments are having an impact here in France.
We are currently under government mandated “strict lockdown” which began on March 17th throughout all of France. We are required to remain in our apartment. Any movement outside has to be government approved with an approved document on our person at all times, which is only permitted if we are out alone and are either getting groceries, exercising or receiving medical attention. Christopher and I are not allowed to be out together at any time. We are not authorized to leave our town of Albertville for any reason and the French borders are closed. We are a one hour drive from the worst hit region in Italy
100,000 national police have been deployed for enforcement of these restrictions with up to $150 in fines per offense.
Today, the government has instituted further restrictions. Any movement outside of our apartment cannot last more than one hour and can be no further than 1km (0.6 miles) from our home. In addition, our government documents allowing us to be outside, which were required to be date specific, are now required to be time specific as well.
The strict lockdown, which was originally scheduled to last two weeks, is now expected to last at least 2 months.
Our French language learning continues. Our language school and it’s associated nursery is closed, but the school is doing their best to facilitate pivoting to a remote learning system. Since there was no on-line learning component previously at the school, the transition is hitting some bumps and the speed at which we are expected to learn remains unchanged. Final exams for this trimester are still scheduled to go ahead beginning the week before Easter, so we are studying in earnest to meet the necessary goals prior to Exams. Since we are no longer legally able to study outside of our apartment, we are doing our best to focus, study and take weekly language exams with the delightful, all-be-it loud, noises of a toddler and an infant in the same small study space : )
We are thankful to the Lord for the beauty outside our windows as we study.
Our apartment is at the top of our apartment building and has no balcony or private yard space, but we were very happy to learn that under the strict lockdown regulations, the families in our apartment building are able to sign up for one hour time slots to individually use the outdoor play space belonging to our apartment.
We are very thankful for this unexpected blessing of an hour or so of outdoor play with the kids each day.
The week before the strict lockdown measures were introduced, France was practicing social distancing so all the churches were closed but we still had unrestricted time outdoors as a family. On that Sunday we chose to go on a short hike up the hill behind our house to have church as a family outside with the mountain views.
As we were standing there, the four of us together praying,
the Lord spoke to our spirit and said, “it is in my mercy that I have you here [in the Alps] for this season.”
We do not yet know the full meaning of those words, but we do know that in these constantly changing days away from our extended family, friends and our homeland, we are at peace in the place where the Lord has led us. He is sheltering us under his wings, and He has given us a tangible reminder of this outside our window everyday.
”As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore.” Psalm 125:2
We are aware of His presence as we are closed up in our apartment, and as we venture out, our government passes in hand. It is an odd feeling to be under the authority of a foreign government while the world is in global crisis, but we all know who ultimately is in authority and believe that He knows how each of these days were going to look before any of them came to be.
The Lord is meeting us as a family here in these days.
He is giving and taking away through being on lockdown.
Things that needed to be gone for us as a family are being stripped away.
And things that needed to be given are being given, for our good and for His glory.
The One who gives Life is still breathing Life into the midst of confinement.
Wherever you find yourself in the midst of lockdown, we pray you and your loved ones are healthy and safe, and that the Lord’s presence is tangibly felt as each new day comes.
Thank you for praying alongside us.
With Love, from our apartment,
Christopher, Amanda, Matthias & Cora
p.s. – The Line for Daily Bread –
France is known for it’s daily baguette, it’s daily bread. Strict government lockdown still allows for people to meet this basic cultural necessity.
As I stood in line outside the bakery around the corner waiting to get in, I was struck by the line of people in front of me – masks or scarves covering their faces, government pass in hand, a meter distance between each person, waiting to be allowed to receive their relied upon “daily bread”. It was the first day of the lockdown, and there was a serious-without-panic feel amongst the people, no smiles and a calm-but-desperate sense of their need for bread.
My heart was hit by their need for spiritual “daily bread”. How without Christ, the tumultuous events of these days are helplessly hopeless.
How the Father longs for them to know Him.
And I was hit a second time, recognizing that as believers, we don’t have to wait in line to receive our spiritual “daily bread”.
How the Father is longing for us to draw near to Him, even as each new day hits our souls.
In the intensity of these days, I find it can be easy to respond as one who is helplessly hopeless, instead of as one who has unrestricted access to His “daily bread”.
His still, small voice reminds me “I Am” is here, and pushes me to tell those in line ahead of me, that they need not wait in line for hope.
p.p.s. Below is a statement from the C&MA regarding International Workers, as well as a link if you would like more information.
Across the globe, Alliance international workers remain in over 60 countries, following local government protocols and restricting unnecessary travel. Some workers in high-risk categories for COVID-19 have relocated to where medical access is more readily available. As things are constantly changing, we remain in close contact with our regional leaders. Please pray for discernment, for protection, and for a new openness to the gospel.