As the weather has gotten warmer, we have been trying to make the most of our time outside of class to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation surrounding us as well as develop deeper relationships with people here in France. So, we have done several hiking trips in the mountains nearby. Here are a few pictures from our excursions:
The gorgeous flowers also cause some people (like Brian) to suffer from seasonal allergy symptoms.
However, the pleasant aroma that they give off is in great contrast to the scent of the pastures that are all around us in this small town.
And since it is a small town, we had to go to Chambery for Thad to visit the orthodontist. It was a day full of delayed trains and changed plans that meant we were able to do a little unexpected sight-seeing! Then, Brian and Josiah had to take a special trip to visit the town, just for fun. Eila, on the other hand, was forced to do sight-seeing and learning on a field trip with her FLE (French as a 2nd language) class to Chambery. It wasn’t as bad as she had feared.
Josiah went on a camping trip in the mountains of Arêches with his class from school a few weeks ago and then had another mountain hike to the Fort de la Batterie today. He has had a lot of opportunities to learn about many different things – including French language – outside of the classroom. These field trips have been pretty amazing.
With his class, Josiah has toured a cheese factory in Beaufort and a lumbermill (not to mention the steel mill and skiing trips that he already enjoyed this winter). After the three straight days speaking and listening to French only, he was really encouraged by his progress with language learning.
He also had the chance this May to go to Lausanne, Switzerland, where his class was able to visit the Hands-On Science Center and the Olympics Museum. His class had won a special contest with their report on the para-olympic athletes. It was pretty cool.
Our time in France is quickly coming to an end. We have been learning and continue to learn so much living in Albertville. We have just two weeks until our next and last set of exams. Actually, Eila took her language exam yesterday, but she still has another month of school!
We have started gathering documents for our visas, sorting out winter clothes, and making reservations for our trip to Africa. We will be taking a break for two weeks before we make the big move. (Some of our beloved family members will come to Paris and Rome with us!) And, we are all still trying to study and learn as much as we can, and also squeeze in as much fun as we can.
We haven’t started saying goodbye yet, but that will be next and it will be tough. We have grown to love this little farm town in the valley of the Alps and the wonderful people we have come to know during our short stay here. There are, of course, a few things we won’t miss, like bureaucracy and school for Eila. However, the list of things we will miss is very long. For example, the food, the views and most of all the friends we’ve made are now etched in our hearts.
Last weekend, the Centre Chrétien d’Enseignement du Français (CCEF) in Albertville celebrated it’s 50th anniversary. It was a full weekend which started on Thursday with skits, poster, tree planting and videos by each of the classes to commemorate this special occasion.
We continued with some songs, skits and snacks again on Friday morning.
Saturday morning, Shannon helped to lead small groups of visitors as they toured the school. Then there was the official ceremony on Saturday afternoon. All of the current students participated in a chorale for the ceremony and Brian’s class performed their song to transition from officials to testimonies of formers students.
The final part of the celebration was on Sunday morning. All of the evangelical churches in Albertville joined together for a special service followed by hors d’oeuvres. Actually, each of the 50th anniversary events were followed up by a little snack. It was very French, complete with champagne (plain or with crème de cassis), pain surprise (a bread bowl filled with a variety of tiny sandwiches), and lots of little quiches and charcuterie. The cake for the Jubilé was especially festive with large fireworks!
It was a full weekend with a wonderful celebration of all the ways that God has used this school to teach and send out over 2600 missionaries from over 30 countries to 36 different francophone countries. God’s work is ongoing and it is so encouraging to be a part of something so much bigger than we can see.
Josiah memorized another poem for school. Here’s the text:
Bonjour, bonjour, dit le soleil
Au bon foin qui sent le pain chaud,
À la faux qui étincelle,
À l’herbe et aux coquelicots.
Bonjour, bonjour, dit le soleil,
Il fait chaud et il fait beau.
Le monde est plein de merveilles.
Il fait bon se lever tôt.
by Claude Roy
This translates to:
The sun says hello
Hello, hello, says the sun
To the hay smells of hot bread,
To the sparkling scythe,
To the grass and the poppies.
Hello, hello, says the sun,
It’s warm and beautiful.
The world is full of wonders.
It’s good to get up early.
Nous avons réussi nos examens!
We passed our exams!
We are almost halfway through our language training here in France and have progressed on to the next level and also class. We will have another set of exams at the end of June that will determine if we have the necessary fluency in the French language.
It was a full week of testing that covered speaking, pronunciation, reading comprehension, listening, writing, vocabulary, grammar and of course, une dictée (a dictation), which is typically french. The boys have two dictées each week in school. The grammar test was grueling, but the production exams in writing and speaking were also extremely fearsome.
Grades in France are usually based out of 20 points. 50% is passing and anything less is failing. It is acceptable to get 10-11,9/20 (passable). Scoring 12-13,9/20 is pretty good or a C (assez bien) while 14-15,9/20 is good (bien), which is the equivalent of a B and 16-19,9/20 is very good (très bien) or an A grade.
“France is not that different.” said Josiah. Then he went on to say, “except the tiny cars, the long lunch break, half-day Wednesdays, food, and that everything is in FRENCH!” We have been in France for about one month. We celebrated the new year with a local traditional meal, tartiflette, brought to welcome us to Albertville, France.
Within a week of our arrival on the other side of the Atlantic, all of us had taken placement exams and started school. (Well, Eila started one week later, which was just fine with her!) The boys are attending a local elementary school: Val des Roses. Brian and Shannon are studying French at the Centre d’Enseignement du Français. Eila is going to the Cité Scolaire Jean Moulin, where she is taking lots of FLE (French as a foreign language) as well as other classes in French.
A typical day so far is full of school for everyone. Eila’s school, which is about a 30-minute walk from our apartment, begins at 7:55am. The boys’ school begins at 8:25am and our classes begin at 8:40am, so we have just enough time to walk to the various schools and make it to class on time. We all have a two-hour break for lunch between 11:30am and 1:30pm, and then we finish our classes at approximately 4:30pm each afternoon. After a small snack, we review the kids’ work from the day and start on homework. The boys spend time playing in the snow, with legos, or reading while we make dinner. Luckily, we live right across the street from a grocery store.
We are so grateful for your prayers as we are truly starting to feel like we are settling in to life in France and are able to do more than just survive. We are eager to make friends and practice the French we are learning.
The kids’ reactions and quick adjustments to life in France has been very encouraging. We see how God has been preparing the way and getting us ready for our next move to Cameroon this summer.
Thank God with us!
- Saying goodbyes and moving was difficult, but we experienced God’s peace throughout the process.
- We have moved into our apartment with beautiful views of the Alps in France.
- All five of us are attending school in Albertville and learning more French every day.
- We are starting to get involved in extra activities outside of school and are excited to make new friends.
Please Continue to Pray
- for friendships for each of us with our French neighbors and classmates
- for wisdom in managing our time and stress levels
- for studying, and language progress, especially for the kids
- for continued peace in Cameroon
We are just starting to go beyond saying “Bonjour” to actually talking with and getting to know those around us. We are feeling homesick and yet we are seeing God’s goodness and power in big and little ways each day – like the healing of Shannon’s shoulder pain, an American friend for Thaddeus in his class, a gymnastics club for Eila to join, Josiah’s free skiing lessons with school, delicious bread (among other treats!) and the sun shining on the mountains outside our window.
I lift my eyes to the mountains… My help comes from the Lord.
Here is a tour of our apartment. This way you can feel like you’ve come to visit us. We’d love for you to stop by if you are in our general corner of the world.