Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December 2014

Well December has come and almost gone.  November ended well. Lauren had us over to her house on Thanksgiving day.  The following day, we enjoyed the event for recognizing all the sports accomplishments in the city.  (pictured right) Lilia's school swim team got recognition for placing in the regional meets.  The last weekend of November the boys had basketball games on Saturday and Sunday.  But, everything was canceled dur to heavy rain.

The second and third, I had meetings with the AVF.  And the 5th we had another training and meal with all the ones who teach a workshop.  I enjoyed the meal, getting to know several members who I knew little about before, even though I was on crutches...   The fourth, I sprained my ankle at practice.  It was a more serious one, Angie has not allowed me to post the pictures.  Even now, almost four weeks laters their is still blueness and swelling in places.  The evening of the 5th, Lilia and Angie left for the regional swimming competition that lasted all weekend.  Lilia was not very pleased with her results, but they had a good time and enjoyed staying with the other swimmers and parents in this huge house.  That next week Lilia had a required apprenticeship.  All those in her grade are required to find a "job" for one week to discover new things.  Lilia found one for our real estate agency.  She had a good time and learned about filing, making copies, even showing houses...  We had a couple of meetings, AVF, Micah's parent/teacher,  youth meeting, friends birthday parties.  Lauren is preparing a christmas skit with the kids that everyone is excited about.  Saturday the 13th, we had the Christmas meal with the AVF.  There were about 60 present.  I sat next to a man who used to be protestant but was now an atheist.  We had a good conversation, pray for him.  Sunday afternoon between services, we managed to squeeze in a basketball tournament.  Andrew is the only one that plays in our age group now.  I invited all the new players and surprisingly we still won all the games!   Monday, the 15th, Angie, Lauren, and I had a evaluation meeting just to see what has been happening, what is going on, and what we need to be focusing on in the future.  The 16th, I woke up and remembered that someone was borrowing our van that afternoon, I spent all morning cleaning both the cars inside and out.  They needed it.  I'm sure the weight on trash and dirt that has been removed will result in a lot better gas mileage.  The 17th, was Caleb's birthday.  He is now 12 years old and received a tablet as a gift.  He opted for a "bouche de Noel", Christmas log, instead of a typical birthday cake.  Having a birthday near Christmas does have its advantages.  The 20th, I had a game to referee.  It was probably the worst I had done.  I was the only referee for the game, I had forgot my pants and had to wear my jeans instead, and I had a cold, and was still limping.  I made it through without getting attacked by angry parents.   The kids did a great job on their skit Sunday morning.  There were four visitors who came.  Right after services we left to head to Strasbourg for a few days of vacation.  We dropped off Dominique on the way, and the 9 hour drive went well.  The weather was good while we were there.  No snow, and the temperatures stayed a little above zero the whole time.  I will refer you to Facebook to see the photos. We stayed at a bed and breakfast just across the border in Germany.  Monday we toured the market at Strasbourg, and enjoyed the food, the ice skating, the shopping, and the general christmas atmosphere.  Tuesday we went to Colmar and did the same thing.  Their market we enjoyed more, because it was not so much commercial and touristy as the previous days.  Their ice skating was cheaper and larger.  That evening Lauren watched the kids for us and Angie and I visiting the market in Frieburg, Germany.  They were closing but we had a great time, and even had someone we met on the elevator who spoke french, give us a tour for a couple of hours.  The market was closing, but we were still able to pick up a few souvenirs and enjoy the sites.  We drove back on Christmas eve, stopping to get some groceries for Christmas day.  We have a tradition of eating a huge brunch.. pancakes, biscuits, gravy, eggs, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes.  Good stuff.  Once again the kids got spoiled (and so did Angie and I).
 We are receiving some friends currently.  Ashley arrived and is staying with Lauren.  Ashley is serving in Kenya with the Taylors.  Soon Holly will join them, she is serving in St. Petersburg.  Tomorrow, I am going to the airport to meet a family moving here from Australia that we met at church back in May.  We are excited and we might be busting at the seams for Sunday services !  We are invited to a New Years Eve party this evening, and I need to go make a cake.  Happy New Year and God Bless, JASON

Monday, November 24, 2014

Halloween to Thanksgiving

Let me catch you up on the highlights of this past month.  We had a halloween party with the kids, Lauren and Angie did a great job planning everything out.  We had a great time with games and activities and even a trick-or-treat in our hallway.   The kids really enjoyed the evening, complete with scary stories, snacks, and a movie. November 3rd, Lilia celebrated her 15th birthday.  We have started researching options for high school.   She has really been enjoying her swimming and she performed very well in the competition that she did on the 15th.  She qualified for region tryouts which will take place in December.
This has been a busy month with the AVF.  This is officially the month dedicated to the new arrivals to Limoux.  The 4th we had a committee meeting.  The 5th, I had an all day training in Toulouse for dealing with the media; newspapers, radio, TV,  which was very interesting.  The 6th, we took all the new arrivals out for a stroll in Limoux, showing them the sites and useful places, followed by lunch.  The 11th, had another meeting to prepare the newsletter.  The 13, we took the new arrivals for a bus tour of Limoux, and a guided tour of the mayors office, followed by a meal open to all the members of the AVF, we had around 60 present.  The 18th, I had a regional commission meeting with the AVF that lasted all day as well.  All these activities take up a lot of time, but I enjoy the chance to get to know people, especially all the new arrivals.  And as president of the association it is good to make an appearance.
The kids have had a good month at school.  I had parent/teacher meetings with Lilia and Caleb.  This includes a lot of waiting in line, but they both had really good comments from their teachers.  Caleb will have a field trip to Toulouse tomorrow to tour the Space museum.  Micah is going out tomorrow as well to visit a local art museum.  Andrew and Micah had the benefit of being chosen for a computer class at school that had limited places.
Basketball has been full of a little drama.  I have continued the referring which I enjoy and have been able to get to know more players and coaches as a result. The team I play on has been shaking up recently by our coach saying he was not happy with the results of the games that we had played and is withdrawing us from the championship, and that he will only be attending one practice during the week instead of two.  Mix of feelings from my teammates.
Other one time things that have occupied our month...I helped a handicapped lady move her son's things to Toulouse.  I have had to do several things on our vehicles since we have gotten back.  I replaced the tires on the Dacia.  I changed the front brake pads and the oil.  I noticed a shake and misalignment in our van.  I took it to get it looked at and it ended up being the rods that needed replacing.  I decided for the sake of time, not to do that one myself.  It also needed to be aligned and have the two front tires replaced.  Another time consuming activity was applying for our visa.  We have had a one year visitor visa, but this year we were able to apply for a ten year residents visa.  It took quite a bit of paperwork and we each had to be interviewed.  Now we must just wait to see if we are approved, which could take a couple of months.  Also this month, we found a kitten and adopted it for a week until the owners were found.  We found out that they are a handful and appreciate our cat, Flurry, that much more.  The owner was really happy to have the kitten back.
The Bible studies have continued thought attendance has been limited to just us at times because of people traveling or sicknesses. The grand event of this month was Thanksgiving, which we celebrated this past Saturday.  We invited 54 this year, and about 45 were present.  We had a great time.  We started cooking well in advance and things went smoother than last year.  Had great comments on the food and the event in general.  I was also able to have some good spiritual conversations.  We pray that God will continue to grow and bless this opportunities.  God bless, JASON

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall weather and apples

It seems strange but the month of October has crawled by.  I don't know why but several times during the month I was shocked by the amount of time we still had left in the month.  I have had some good ministry moments.  Some people that we had been praying for, came to the Bible Study, and others said that they would come.  I have had good contacts at the market as the good fall weather continues to last.
On my day off, I learned to use GarangeBand, a music software.  
 The kids are now out of school for two weeks.  Andrew had a sports camp the first week, and Lilia has swimming camp this the second week,  So activities are still going on strong.
Andrew had a handball tournament the last day before the vacation.
 We have started planning for Thanksgiving, but are having trouble finding a room once again this year.  I guess I need to reserve the room several months in advance next year. We are going to be flexible with the date so that we can hopefully find someplace to hold it.  We hope to have around 60 people this year.
 The month of November is the month dedicated to the new arrivals at the AVF.  I have quite a few more responsibilities as a result.  We must prepare for several activities, I need to arrange meals at local restaurants and still need to get together with some local business who we would like to sponsor the AVF.  The 18th, I had two games of basketball to referee but Angie and Lauren took the kids to Mirepoire for the apple festival.  They had apple sculptures and all kinds of apples to buy.  The kids opted for the caramel covered apples called "Pomme d'amour".  God bless, JASON

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Referee and meetings

Micah was setting up Arianna in poses.

AVF room all set up.
October is well underway.  I refereed my first game the 4th.  It went well, it was hot, and I was worried about the score being close and tempers flaring, but the final score was 108 - 16.  So no worries from that aspect.  I had several meetings... Monday morning -meeting with Lauren about Thanksgiving.  Monday afternoon - stayed at the AVF for office hours, got to meet some new arrivals.  Tuesday afternoon - committee meeting with AVF, getting ready for the AVF welcome dinner Friday night.  Wednesday afternoon - took Lilia to meet some businesses, she is required to do a week long apprenticeship in December as part of her schooling.  Thursday afternoon - meet to do the shopping for the AVF dinner.  Friday afternoon - meeting at the bank to change over signature for AVF, and followed by preparing for the AVF dinner at 6:30.  Had a great time getting things set up and visiting with everyone waiting for the start.  The actual meeting went real well.  I welcome the mayor and we both gave a speech, followed by finger foods and visiting.  Yesterday I officiated two more basketball games.  I got to ride with my teammate from Limoux and so we had good visiting time.  The gym was still warm and I am starting to actually want cooler temperatures.  We did two games back to back,  the first was 11 - 13 year olds, and the second 15 - 17.  Both games went good without any major complaints. Services went good this morning, we had only two visitors, still waiting for several who said they would come to come.  Trust that God will continue to work in each situation.  God bless, JASON

Friday, October 3, 2014

Summer 2014 - September

I almost caught up on blogging.  September is always a crazy month.  We made it back in time to get settled for a few days before school, associations, and Bible studies all got started.  We celebrated Arianna's fourth birthday.

Then things started really rolling.  September 2nd, I had my first AVF meeting as president, we prepared for the upcoming year.  It was also the kids first day of school.  

I still had time to get things straightened up at the house...I replaced the brake pads on the car and got new tires put on.  The weather was so nice, we took the kids to the beach on Saturday, and had some fun in the sand, the water was a little to chilly for Angie and me, but the boys seemed not to mind.  

The following week was full of meetings.  Monday evening, prep meeting for the Forum of Associations, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons were the main inscription days at the AVF.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to meet all the new people who came to sign up.  Friday I got back to doing the market.  Saturday was our last training for being a Referee, I am refereeing my first game tomorrow.  After visiting with the church in Carcassonne the previous Sunday, and knowing that we would be soon busy on Sunday mornings, we visited some other churches in the area during the month of September, in Toulouse and Montpellier.  Monday the 15th I had all day training for the AVF in Montpellier.  Angie had meetings with the kids teachers during this time as well. The kids are doing well in school, there were no sad faces about having to go back.  Even Arianna was looking forward to seeing her friends again and has been speaking quite a bit of french.  Saturday the 20th, we celebrated Micah's 10th birthday, a big deal for him since he does not have to use a booster seat in the car anymore.  
Basketball practice is in full swing.  Wednesday afternoon the kids practices are doing well.  There are a lot of kids so far this year, about 15 in the 6-8 year old group.  Angie is going to practice with Limoux and with the team in Carcassonne this year.  She sprained her ankle slightly this past week, so she hadn't gone this week.  The mens team is doing well.  We had 17 last night.  I was able to play in a scrimmage the 18th, and the team honestly didn't look to good.  We lost by a few but missed several good scoring occasions.  I was the second highest scorer on the team, but with only 7 points.  
The 24th, Lauren started the kids Bible studies back up and the 28th, we started our Sunday morning study.  There were three new kids this last time for he kids bible study, and there were three guests on Sunday morning and should be at least one more this coming Sunday.  
The 25th, I signed a partnership between the AVF and a local insurance company that will provide lower cost insurance to AVF members. The 26th was Angie's birthday.  The 27th was the Forum of Associations in Limoux, where all the clubs have stands to present their association.  I was able to hang out with the AVF stand and also the basketball stand all day.  Meanwhile, Angie took Lilia and Caleb to the youth group meeting in Carcassonne.  That's the summer in a nutshell.  It was interesting because the 23rd, the first day of fall, the weather changed here and things cooled off and we had a little rain.  Coming in the next post, we have the possibility for a new house to rent.  Check back soon. God bless, JASON
The first Sunday Morning Bible study.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Summer 2014 - August

The first of August we visited Canton's Trade Days.  It is the largest market in Texas, it was the first time that we had been. My parents go frequently and I was glad to have them as our tour guides because the place was huge.

The following day we left of a trip to Arkansas, were we spoke a two churches and then headed to Washington DC.  For a few days of family vacation.  We are thankful that friends hosted us in their house during this part of our travels...a true blessing, I would think it hard to invite a family of 7 into your house, but many did.  In Arkansas we took some family pictures at an old mill.

We had a great time in Washington DC.  I had visited the Smithsonian as a child and it was great seeing some of the stuff that I remembered.  I would take a week to see it all and we only have three days.  But we did get to visit the Air and Space Museum, the American History Museum, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, Abraham Lincoln Memorial, White House and Capital Building (from a distance) and the best part is that it is free entry for the museums to all public.  One of the highlights for me was seeing the flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner, it was larger than I had imagined, but sorry, no pictures allowed.

Gettysburg Valley
Following the trip to DC, we headed back to Texas, stopping in West Virginia, and Pennsylvania to visit churches.  We drove through some hard rain at times and saw several serious accidents.  We are thankful to God for his protection while we traveled during the summer.  We arrived back in Texas and had a couple of weeks for some brief revisits of family and friends, and as always sharing with churches.  

We had a great time in the States, and even though goodbye's are hard we were ready to get back to France and find our own bed, our friends, and the people that we care about across the sea. next picture was taken at the airport, August 26, by my parents as we left out of Dallas. Last picture is the kids waiting for our connection flight from London to Toulouse.  God bless, JASON

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Summer 2014 - July

July started with Angie and I on our little trip (I say little, realize that it was about 3000 miles) to the Northwest.  We were going to visit some churches and see some sites.  We also read a couple of books together while on the road. We drove 29 hours roughly, across Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Minnesota, Idaho, and arrived at Spokane, Washington.  We visited in the services of a church there and made some good friends, and reconnected with others. The following day we drove to Walla Walla, WA, were we stayed in the home of the Emry's for the week.  We shared Wednesday in Hermington, OR, and then Thursday in Walla Walla.  We were able to help them hand out flyers for their church and also enjoyed spending July 4th with them and their family.

We really enjoyed our week with them.  We headed out Saturday to drive over to Olympia and share with a church there Sunday morning, followed by Aloha, OR that evening. Monday the 7th, we started the trip back home driving through the Columbia River Gorge, which is a beautiful drive.  We stopped just before arriving at Yellowstone National Park and spent the night.  We are thankful for the generosity of people, the whole two weeks, we only had to pay for three hotel rooms. Tuesday morning we made a rushed trip through Yellowstone, after the Grand Canyon, one of the most beautiful places in the world, at least from my point-of-view.  We stopped at a few sites and grabbed some souvenirs for the kids.  (Clothes - which is always a souvenir that I like getting for the kids because...hey, they always need clothes anyways right).  

Arianna meets a cousin for the
first time.
We left Yellowstone, headed for Denver, CO, where we stayed and had a good visit with my aunt.  The headed for the long drive back to TX.  Along the way we stopped for Wednesday night services in Abilene, where were had a God arranged visit.  We picked a church at random and ended up that one of the members attended the church that my grandfather planted in Ayer, Massachusetts.  Amazing!  We made it safely back to TX and to the kids, who were waiting with stories of how they had been spoiled by the grandparents.  The following Saturday, 12th, we had a reunion of Angie's family.  There were over fifty present.  That following Sunday we visited two churches in Austin.  Then rushed to meet my sister to pick up two of her kids and get them and Lilia back in time to head off to Teen Camp with our church.  While Lilia was gone, we spoke at at Ladies meeting in Tatum, TX and a church in Jasper, TX.  The following Sunday we visited with two churches in Shelbyville and then drove straight back to Hillsboro, where we would be leaving for church camp as a family.  Along with 30 other kids.  Angie and I drove the two church vans which was a fun experience.  
Our group.

Playing night basketball.

Caleb won third place in Chess.
After camp, things slowed down for a little bit.  We still visited in three more churches before finished out July.  We tried to give a hand and stay cool.  God bless, JASON
Over 100 degrees at 11 am.

Helping my Dad build a bunk bed.