Learning Outside the Classroom (for Josiah)

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.

At the Beaufort Cheese Factory, it did not smell pleasant.

They learned about ways to experience nature through their five senses – one at a time.

Nice classroom for learning about plants in the mountains.

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.


The Beginning of the End

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.

Vive Le Jubilé!

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.

One of the class projects to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our language school.

We continued with some songs, skits and snacks again on Friday morning.

An intellectual discussion on French orthography and 50 years of learning French at CCEF in Albertville. This is Shannon’s class.

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.

This is the current language students singing “Entrez Dans Ses Portes” (Enter In His Gates)

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!

The kids got all dressed up for the parties too! It was a long couple of days for them, but they had a lot of fun playing with all the other kids.

This photo was captured by another student, who found this to be a very typical American (in a very French space). This was taken while we were cleaning up.

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.

Bonjour, Bonjour Dit Le Soleil

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.

Test Results

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.


February Newsletter

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

Bonjour (Update)

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.
Psalm 121:1-2

Our Apartment

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.

After entering into our apartment building, you’ll need to climb up to the 4th floor. This is the view out of our front door, looking into the stairwell.


Looking in the front door to the entry/ hallway

Living room & dining room, as seen from the hall way, just to the right after walking through the front door

Living room, looking from the corner behind the dining room table

The view out of the living room

Kitchen & laundry room

Josiah’s side of the boys’ bedroom, which is across the hall from the kitchen, living room & dining room

Thad’s bed and his side of the bedroom

View from Josiah & Thaddeus’ bedroom

Eila’s bedroom, next door to the boys’ bedroom

The desk in Eila’s bedroom

View from Eila’s bed

At the end of the hallway, between Eila’s bedroom and the parent’s bedroom is where you’ll find the toilet (in a special tiny room all by itself.)

Bathroom, complete with bath/shower and sink as well as a cabinet and mirrors

And to the right at the end of the hall is our bedroom, which also has an amazing view!






Kids’ Take

The kids have been doing pretty well with such a huge life change.  After just a few days of school, Eila is feeling a lot better about the whole thing.  She has made a few friends and also connected with some friends back in the US, which has helped her to feel more at home.  She still doesn’t understand much, but now knows that lots of people have some English and they are all willing and eager to help.  The boys have found the same thing to be true.  The boys have also been enjoying playing in the snow whenever they can.


Kids entertaining themselves with the spin cycle of our washing machine…

Here are two stories from our first fews weeks:

It’s a good thing that Thaddeus studied so hard on DuoLingo.com to learn French before we arrived.  He was 24% fluent upon arrival and that has made all the difference. 😉

Our first day in France (New Year’s Eve!), we mentioned that it might take a few days to get adjusted to the time change (6 hours) and Thad responded without hesitation: “I’m adjusted”

We proceeded to explain that he might be tired before it is time to go to bed and that being adjusted after an international move usually takes a few days or even weeks. He didn’t seem convinced.

The next day, we were talking about adjusting again and how it is okay that we are not all completely comfortable in our new place yet.  Thad didn’t miss a beat and said “I’m comfortable.”  And what do you say to that?!

Boys playing soccer with Brian before the snow fell.

Josiah is a homebody.  He loves his family and friends.  He is a loyal and sensitive friend.  Josiah likes to succeed and really doesn’t like to appear incompetent in any way.  So, moving to a new country during the Christmas vacation to attend school where he does not understand or speak the language is a bit daunting.

There were a lot of changes at the end of 2016 too, one of which was moving out of our first (and only) home and staying with grandparents for several weeks.  During the first of these stays, while Mom and Dad were away at a training, Josiah read a book that he and his brother both enjoyed quite a bit.  It seems to fit this period of our life well…

Fortunately, Josiah was able to watch movies during the flight to France.  Unfortunately, he didn’t sleep at all.

Fortunately, Josiah found a creek right next to our apartment to play in.  Unfortunately, that creek is a sewer drain and not fit for playing in.

Fortunately, the food in France is not bad; they even have fast food restaurants.  Unfortunately, Josiah also got the stomach flu just after arriving (day 2) and he had to start school 2 days later on Jan 3.

Fortunately, the first day went better than expected, as his teacher speaks a little English and helped him to understand what she was teaching.  He also mastered “Je m’appelle Josiah.” (My name is Josiah.)  Unfortunately, that is pretty much the only thing he can say in French at this point.

Unfortunately, It was a rough start to 2017, but it will surely get better fortunately.

cross-posted on thaddeusyee.com and josiahyee.com

First Grocery Shopping Trip

No more matter where you are, you need to eat.  And, for us right now that means we go to the Carrefour, which is super close to our apartment.  For the most part, it is very much like an American supermarket.  They have a few extra cheese aisles and an entire aisle devoted to little cookies.  Plus, there are about a hundred yogurt choices.  There is even a little foreign food section, with Asian and American foods.

Our first day here, still a little jetlagged, but needing some nourishment, we picked out a few items and went to check out.  All was going very smoothly until the cashier asked us something about our celery.  We didn’t really understand, but thought that maybe it was related to the fact that we had not put it in a bag. But, then she had a problem with the carrots and cucumbers too. Then, seeing that we didn’t understand, she went and showed us  what needed to be done, which is to weigh the produce and get a sticker for the bag before you go checkout.  The cashier was super helpful and patient and it ended up being a successful shopping trip, plus we learned what to do for next time.

We’ve also noticed scanners at the Géant (the really big grocery store), but haven’t figured out what those are for yet.  Maybe we’ll meet some more helpful cashiers on our next grocery shopping trip.