Donate your Starbucks – France needs it…

AlpsI want to start by thanking so many of you who have supported me this last year emotionally, in prayer, with manual labor, and financially. I would not have been able to do what I did this last year without your support. France is a country near to my heart in so many ways. I studied French in school for 11 years, the language, the country, and the culture. In my time living there, I have grown to love the people.


“Having Kate with us for the six months of DEFI was a HUGE blessing! Personally, my time there would have been a very different experience had it not been for her support, listening ear, jokes, love and care. It was also wonderful to see the work that God did in her life and through her during her stay in France!”

– Rebecca, Argentina


For those who don’t know, I have been serving as a missionary at a Bible School in France (DEFI at Champfleuri). I am available to all of the students, but I’m there specifically as an R.A. (or Resident Assistant) for the female students. This basically means I get to be like the “big sister”. Here is a letter (click here!) from my boss that further explains my role with the students and the school.

The question you are probably asking is why support me? Good question. Ultimately, it has to be something you feel led to do for whatever reason. But here are a couple of reasons I can give.

  • Spiritually, France is a nation closed off to belief in God. I have the opportunity there to encourage and disciple young French people (as well as students from other countries including Germany, England, Australia, Argentina, and Canada) to grow in their confidence of who God is and the plans He has for each one of them in their sphere of influence.
  • Practically speaking, I don’t make a salary there, and, in fact, because of government regulations, without a work visa, I am required to pay room and board, in addition to all other expenses. A work visa is not only incredibly costly, the requirement to be issued one is that no one else in the country or the European Union is qualified or available to do the job I am doing.
  • And….you’ll have a place to stay in France whenever you want to visit!! 🙂

“Kate was an amazing and a very vital part of DEFI for me, for everyone. I have anxiety, and on more than several occasions being in a foreign country, not being able to understand the language very well was too much for me, Kate was there to talk to and to support me. She was always ready with a shoulder to cry on or ears to listen or cookies to cheer me up, but I could always depend on her being there and this made things so much easier for me. Kate cared greatly for us, she was a bit like our mum and big sister at the same time. Making sure we take care of ourselves, get enough sleep, not be too stressed or overwhelmed, and she’d have fun with us as well. Vote for Kate!”

-Lauren, Australia


To be honest, I hate this part. I hate asking anyone to give of their money to support something that I feel a personal call to do. Please don’t feel any pressure to give financially. I feel God has called me to this work, and I trust that He will be the One to place a call on your heart to support me if that’s what He desires. I know God will provide exactly what He knows I need, exactly when I need it.

For those who would like the details, my expenses for the next 12 months are budgeted to be $12,000 (in my boss’ letter you will see $16,000, but I was thankfully able to reduce my budget significantly since the writing of that letter). Would you consider a recurring monthly donation of $5 or even $10 a month? The cost of one or two Starbucks? 🙂If 100 people were able to donate $10/month for the next 12 months, I would be fully funded!


“Having Kate at DEFI was an enormous blessing. It was wonderful having someone who was outside the program to be there for you as you go through it. Having Kate as a role model was hugely beneficial to my spiritual growth. She was able to tell exactly when something was wrong and offer the best support possible. She was honest, caring and open. She would even be vulnerable at times about her own life to be able to share with others. I can honestly say that having Kate at DEFI made a huge impact on all the girls at DEFI and helped bring us closer together. After DEFI, I’m happy to have her as a friend and continued support!”

– Zoë, Canada

“Here’s why Kate had an indispensable role at DEFI: Kate was available to me every time I needed it! She listened, advised and even helped me find the answers to my questions by myself! She was present in a period of my life that was not easy and she made ​​it more enjoyable. She helped me many times when I needed a chauffeur or even someone to take my place doing the dishes. Kate’s good humor and smile filled us with much happiness in the months that I spent with her. Very versatile, Kate was also occupied with administrative work which I’m sure the students, and everyone, enjoyed! Without Kate, many things would have been missing at DEFI!” (translated)

– Mathilde, France


What I would ask of any who are willing is to please consider joining my prayer team (send an email to skatelynn10@gmail.com with “Prayer Support” in the subject line) or maybe even just stop and pray for me right now. There is a true battle for souls going on in the world around us, and in France the darkness is almost palpable. But we serve a God who is faithful and wants to see His people come to Him. 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Thank you for being a part of my life!

Kate 🙂

Donate your Starbucks now! 🙂


“Kate’s presence at DEFI was such a grace. It was so encouraging to live with a woman of God such as Kate. Her availability, deep discussion, true and honest sharing were precious, and are still in my heart, helping me today to go deeper with God. God spreads his Joy through her.”

-Juliette, France


 

 

 

 

 

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Breaking Up is Hard to Do

heart_break_005Relationships are a challenge and, at times, quite complicated. We are drawn to relationships for a variety of reasons…compatibility, complementary personalities, laughter, ability to really share and connect with the other, chemistry. Sometimes it’s loneliness, convenience, to fill a void. Oftentimes there’s a combination of factors. I’ve found myself in relationships for all of these reasons at one time or another.

In March of last year, I found myself feeling lonely, broken, hurting, and sad. I had been in a 2 and a half year unhealthy relationship with someone who was leading me down roads I had never been before. Paths that were bringing me more hurt, more pain and more sadness, and more importantly away from the God I love. I felt lower than I can ever remember. I was losing all sense of who I really was and who I wanted to be. Even when I would voice my concerns about where we were headed, dynamics that were troubling….my heart was ignored. I was clinging to anything and everything that would bring me even a momentary glimpse of happiness, or at least the absence of pain. Distraction was one of my greatest tools. DIY projects around my house, social events, tv, sleep. Anything to avoid facing the problems head on, to avoid reaching out to God, to avoid truly confronting the person who was causing me so much pain. The person I was in a relationship with, the person I didn’t want to confront…. was me.

About four years ago, I made a career change. I went from 10 years as an Office Manager in a variety of Christian ministries, to being a therapist at an Acute Treatment Unit for mental illness. Try spending an hour in a hot tub then jump into some ice cold water, and you might be able to imagine my culture shock. Not only was I adjusting to life outside of my Christian bubble, but I was also working with the severely persistently mentally ill population who were in crisis! When I got home each day after work, I was exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally. As a general rule, I’m an introvert who needs quite a bit of alone time/down time to process and re-energize for my next social encounter. But when I started that job, my need to be alone skyrocketed. I would get home, eat dinner and sit in front of the television to numb my brain from the events of the day. I would generally only get together with people if it was planned in advance. Otherwise, I had a hard time mustering up the energy. Not surprisingly, all of this time alone, with little motivation to connect with people outside of work resulted in loneliness.

I dated a guy for a little while who was very nice, but I felt we just weren’t compatible in a lot of ways, so I ended the relationship. I was 33 at the time, and at the beginning I had had such hope that this would be the relationship that would culminate in marriage. Even though I am the one who broke it off, and still feel good about my decision, I felt so angry at God that yet another relationship had failed, and I was still not married.

So, there I was, angry with God and lonely. Not the best combination. I was primed for getting myself onto a self-destructive path. My aforementioned tools of distraction kept me from thinking too much about the decisions I was making or my addiction. The addiction I chose was relationships. Men that I wouldn’t have normally sought out, but they gave me the kind of time and attention that distracted me from my hurt and pain. If God wasn’t going to give me a husband, fine, but I wasn’t going to be alone anymore. From the beginning, it was never my intention to get my heart involved; just to be distracted…fill a void. In the end, though, I let my heart succumb, and it ended up broken and bleeding.

I know a lot of people struggle with suffering, especially where God is concerned…myself included. While I can’t claim to fully understand why suffering exists, I do know that it has been primarily through suffering that I have experienced the comfort, mercy, gentleness, and profound tenderness of God. At a time when I was so angry and hurt, and had turned my back on God….He called to me in a still, small voice to reach for Him. He truly rescued me out of the pit I had gotten myself into. I was in a place deserving of an “I told you so” and discipline. But He knew that my broken heart and desperation would suffice to create in me a desire to seek Him. That’s all He wants. For us to fall before Him, confess we have messed up, be remorseful, acknowledge He has made restitution for our wrongs through Jesus’ death on the cross, and because He came back to life, in gratitude allow His Spirit to guide our lives. Not because He is an ego-maniacal God, but because He created us and knows that we need Him to fulfill our purpose here on this earth.

In His grace and mercy, for reasons I will never understand…for I surely didn’t deserve it, He gave me the fulfillment of my lifelong dream as an escape route. Ever since I was a little girl learning French from my great-grandmother, I have wanted to have the experience of living in France. To make an enormously long story short, in March of last year, in the depths of my despair, God began the process of opening the door for me to move to France and do a job that I could not have loved more. It was also the beginning of the hardest but best breakup of my life.

In France, when I wasn’t doing my job, I was stuck with myself. I couldn’t seem to escape me. No amount of distractions worked. I started having to face my pain and my hurt and reconcile myself to God. It was a painful process. But slowly, I opened up the dark recesses of my heart and exposed them not only to God, but also to myself. I found myself again. I rediscovered intimacy with God. Not only that, I was able to do a job that I absolutely loved in a place that became a home away from home. My time spent with the students of Champfleuri forever changed me. They ignited in me a greater passion to live in community and relationship with people. That seems to me to be where true life change happens.

Then in February of this year, as I was preparing to come home for the summer, God and I went on a long walk. I was trying to discern His will as to whether or not I should return to Champfleuri in the fall. (See my blog post from March for all the details of that conversation). In sum, the message was clear; I needed to break up with my life and follow Him. My plan based on that conversation and a variety of other circumstances was to go home and prepare myself to return to France in August. I had no idea what was awaiting me in Colorado.

Surprisingly, I found the home I had been so desperate to escape last year was now like a soft, warm blanket on a cold day. I was reunited with my family, friends, culture, food, and English! However comforted I felt being home, though, I still felt convinced that I would be returning to France at the end of July. So, I continued to follow through in breaking up with my life. The most painful reality of this breakup was that my parents were not going to be able to keep my precious dog Stella again – I would have to find a new home for her. I have had my 10 ½ year old baby for 9 ½ years. She has been with me through the ups and downs, joys and sorrows, of the last decade of my life. The thought of giving her away left me devastated. But so it goes with breakups.

Next, I decided to put my house up for sale – one less thing to be concerned with while I was overseas. The day after it went on the market, it was sold. What followed was incredibly painful. Everyone who helped me pack everything that I owned into my crawl space last summer can tell you – I have a lot of stuff! I began the process of going through boxes filled with dishes, books, pictures, letters, sewing patterns, craft projects, baby clothes, decorations….memories. Maybe it’s because we didn’t have much growing up, or maybe because sometimes it’s easier to love things than people, but these things, I realized, had come to define and represent my life; I was emotionally attached. Each “thing” contained a thought, a feeling, a memory….they were each a part of me. Doesn’t it say in the Bible something about “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy…” ? (Mt 6:19) But there I was with all of my earthly treasures. I literally spent weeks poring over every greeting card, cookbook, necklace and photograph. After drying my eyes, by the carload, I said good-bye to roughly two-thirds of my things. And did I mention that at the same time I was moving out of my house, my parents were doing the same thing at their house that sold a week before mine? Chaos.

Emotionally, I came back to Colorado to find that the skeletons in my closet I had tried to escape were still here. They weren’t as scary as before, but they had to be addressed. I have spent this summer taking them out of the closet, into the light. Instead of being scary issues I had previously needed to run away from, they are now just ashes of a life left behind.

By the beginning of July my house had closed, my things were gone, my parents moved into their new house, and I was starting to be able to breathe again. The last thing to let go of before boarding a plane on July 31 was Stella. I had placed numerous ads, asked friends and family to spread the word, and waited. A few possibilities emerged and quickly fell apart. Knowing that I could not and would not take her to a shelter, I left Stella in God’s hands. If He wanted me to go to France, I prayed He would find a home for her. I asked about 10 people to be praying for me specifically during this time that I would clearly hear God’s direction. As the days went by with no home materializing, and my heart feeling more and more at peace with staying in Colorado, I felt like I knew the answer. By the end of July, I made my bittersweet decision to stay in Colorado. I will forever love Champfleuri and the family I came to have there….until we meet again!

August brought with it the realization that if I wasn’t going to go back to France, I needed to decide what I was going to do. Hmm. So many options….too many options. As I have pored through job listings in Colorado Springs and Denver, refined my resume and searched my heart, the only conclusion I kept coming back to is that I’m passionate about relationships and investing in the lives of women of all ages. So, I guess that means I should find a job where I can therapize women? Every job I researched seemed so sterile. Where is the heart, where is the relationship? Though it wavered at times, I tried to remain confident that God had a plan for me here.

In September, my friend Thibault I had met in France at Champfleuri came to Colorado to attend Ravencrest, a Torchbearers Bible School located in Estes Park. He stayed with me and my parents for his first few days in town until school started. I was excited to take him up to Estes Park for the opportunity to visit Ravencrest. I had known of its existence since I attended Bodenseehof ten years ago, a Torchbearers Bible School in Germany, but I had never seen it. I also wanted to meet some Torchbearers staff who had helped me with documents for my visa. In that visit, I met a phenomenal woman, Lou, who told me there was a position available at the school and asked me if I would be interested. That was Wednesday, September 10th. Fast forward three weeks, and I have accepted the job as Bible School Secretary/Registrar and start Monday, October 6. This will be another ministry position, similar to my position at Champfleuri. I will however have my housing provided and receive a small salary. I will be raising support again to supplement my income for anyone who feels led.

It has been a wild ride these last few years and I am excited to see what God has in store for this next chapter of my life. Thank you to all of you who have put up with me, supported me and encouraged on this journey of life!

This entry was posted on October 1, 2014. 3 Comments

I Don’t Have a Husband, but…

pic for blogI can’t believe I’m writing this. Fear is creeping in all around me. What will people think? “She’s so worthless”, “No man wants to be with her…and I can see why”, “How pathetic”, “She must be really screwed up”…just some of the thoughts that slither in and claw at my heart. During the confident, self-assured and content times in my life….I don’t believe any of those things. But when I, like Peter walking on the water, look away from the Lord and around at my circumstances, I succumb to these lies. I’m struggling with them this minute as I’m venturing out of my comfort zone to the Land of Vulnerability…the internet! I generally have no problem sharing about my “singleness” sitting across the table or sofa from someone…but indiscriminately telling the world about the shame, fear, and sorrow I’ve experienced…well, that just feels crazy. But here goes….

My relationship history can most easily be summed up by stating…”I have daddy issues”. I grew up with an emotionally and physically absent father who, when he did make an appearance, was convincing me that I didn’t love him enough, and that I until I did, he wouldn’t love me. I struggled through childhood feeling like there was something wrong with me because my father didn’t want me. My adolescence and young adulthood were spent longing for validation that I was worth getting to know… spending time with…worth loving. Anything and everything that came was never enough. There was a void in me that was all-consuming. I worked so hard to figure out all the things that were wrong with me so that I could stop doing them, and finally be loveable. “Don’t be annoying. Don’t be a burden. You’re too shy. You’re not pretty enough. You don’t smile enough. Just be perfect….and a guy might love you.”

The depth of gratitude, love, appreciation, admiration and respect I have for my mother is beyond words. She sacrificed everything for me and loves me with a love that might actually be able to move mountains. In my somewhat biased opinion, there are few women that love being a mom as much as my mom. The greatest gift that my mother ever gave me was introducing me to Jesus. My mom not only taught me that God was my father and Jesus was my friend, but she lived it out in her own life. I caught my mom praying and reading her Bible countless times in my childhood. When we ran out of money, she prayed. When I came home from school sad, she prayed. When my father said cruel things to me, she prayed. She would pray so often, “Thank you, God that you are Kate’s father and my husband”. For anyone wondering how my mom raised me by herself…well, that was how. She depended on God to be her everything, and taught me to do the same.

So, on I went through my teen years and early twenties with a firm intellectual grasp of God as my father and Jesus as my friend. And in many areas of my life, it was more than intellectual, it was experiential heart knowledge. But when it came to the part of my heart that was still longing for an earthly father to say, “I love you… I will take care of you… You are precious to me” …there was hole, a void. I would tell myself repeatedly that God was my father, and that’s all I needed, but it didn’t help. I subconsciously started seeking out validation of my worth and love through relationships. If I could find a guy who would love me, then I could calm my unspoken fear that my father didn’t love me because there was something wrong with me. In the meantime I was subconsciously attributing all of the characteristics of my earthly father to God. God loved me, but only because He had to. He was always disappointed in me; I never got anything right and never would. And maybe God was withholding love from me. Maybe I could never have love from a father, or any man, until I learned my “lesson”. Maybe He was punishing me until I got it right. Because I wasn’t sure what all I was doing wrong, I just aimed to be perfect. That way I would cover all my bases. I pursued perfection at work. I pursued perfection in college and again when I got my Master’s degree. And I held off pursuing any great endeavor that might prevent me from meeting the man who would make everything right.

Each time I met a guy, and there was mutual interest, the hope I had was indescribable. “If this relationship works: I will be loved, my father will be wrong, I will have worth and value, I won’t have to be perfect.” You can only imagine the pressure I put on myself and the other person to make the relationship work. My life depended on it. I needed constant affirmation. Any lapse any communication signified I was losing the love I so desperately needed to quiet my fears. The end of the relationship was always a devastating conclusion for me. There is indeed something wrong with me.

About eight or nine years ago, with the help of a mentor and lots of books, I started learning the truth of God’s love. I learned to replace my subconscious ideas of God’s love with the love described in 1 Corinthians 13. I learned that God really loves me…like really, really. And He doesn’t just love me because He has to, He actually likes me. He enjoys me. (Zephaniah 3:17, Isaiah 49:15b-16, Isaiah 43:1b) I know that I will be on a lifelong quest to really grasp His love for me. But thus far, His love has changed me.

A few years after my love journey with God began, I realized I no longer needed the love of my earthly father. I was receiving all I needed from God. I no longer needed to be perfect. And shortly after I made that realization, He gave me the impossible gift.  There are still days when I can’t believe what’s happened.  My mom met Ron a little over six years ago. I was skeptical at first. My mom had been deeply hurt in the past, and I saw fit to make myself her protector from it ever happening again. Through the course of their whirlwind romance, while I doubted that he and I would ever be close, I became convinced that their relationship was in God’s will. A few weeks before their wedding, God began to do a gigantic work in my heart, giving me a strange desire to have Ron become my dad. What?!? I had just recently made the realization that I no longer needed an earthly father! But here he was. The night before their wedding I presented Ron with a Father/Daughter covenant. In tears, the three of us sat on the couch as I read the covenant to him, pointing my finger in his face, telling him he could never leave me. The next day, my mom and dad were married. About two years later, my dad asked how I would feel about him adopting me. Wow. It wasn’t necessary. I was already his daughter, it was already official. And not to mention the fact that I was 32 years old. But he was showing me that he was choosing to be my father in every way.

God has blessed me so much, in unfathomable ways. Those of you who know me well, know I’d be lying if I said my relationship issues have now been resolved. In that area, I’m still a work in progress. I am, at least, very aware of what my tendencies are, and I work very hard to remember to ask God to help me look to Him for my worth and value. I still fight the old voices that tell me I’ll never be good enough or that I need a relationship to know I’m loved. It’s a battle, but I feel confident that God is continuing the work of healing He has begun in me.

That brings me to the present. When I made the decision to come to France, it was for 7 months out of my life. God opened every door and used many of you to make it financially possible. After being here as a “big sister” for the students, I can officially say I love it! It seems that it is a position and place that was created just for me. I am able to walk alongside the students as they grapple with issues of faith, family, and future. Recently, I was asked to come back and serve in this same role again. My heart soared at the thought…to be able to back here in this place I have grown to love so much, and do ministry with these students who are learning and gaining tools to do ministry in their cities, towns and countries. How could I say no? And yet, somewhere deep inside was a hesitation…a fear.

After countless days of confusion, one afternoon I went on a long walk with God to hash through my feelings. And here was our conversation (and, no, I did not hear God audibly, but just in my spirit, I had a strong sense this is what He was saying):

Me: God, I’m just so confused about what to do.

God: Hmm…are you really? I think you already know.

Me: Umm…maybe I do. But I feel scared. I feel like I’ll be letting go of everything…letting go of my whole identity. (sob, sob, sob)

God: Yes, and that’s what I want. Your identity is in Me.

Me: But that’s so scary. (sob, sob, sob)

God: I want you to know that you can go back home and stay there, if you would like. I will bless your life there. But I would prefer for you to stay in France.

What was I letting go of? All those years that I was searching for love, I had not only defined myself as a child of God, but also as a woman lacking a husband. As so many of my friends found their husbands and started their lives together, I felt even more a sense of not being really loved. Little did I know I was comforting myself with consolation prizes since I was not married. A dog, a job, a Master’s degree, a home, my friends, my family. “I may not have a husband, but at least I have….” Now, here I am in France, facing the prospect of leaving all that behind…letting go of the things that have brought me so much comfort. But I sense that God is asking me again as He has many times before, “Do you trust me?” I had this realization almost a month ago, and the same fear has kept me from making my decision Internet official. And again God has asked, “Do you trust me?”

I do. I trust God. I trust Him with my life, my future, and my desire to be married one day. I trust Him that He is God of my life in spite of time and location and circumstances. I need to be reminded of his trustworthiness daily. I do not have a husband, but I have a God who loves me more than I could ever imagine, who has incredibly fantastic plans for me and all of us, and in whom I can entrust my all my hopes, fears, and dreams.

——

I will be sending out more detailed information in the coming weeks and months about how you can partner with me and support me as I continue to serve as a missionary in France. In the meantime, if you would like to join with me in prayer for the ministry that awaits me here, please send me an email at skatelynn10@gmail.com with Prayer Support in the subject line and I will add you to my list. If you feel led to support me financially, you can do so at http://www.torchbearers.org/donate/individual . I will be in Colorado for the summer, and returning back to France, God willing, the beginning of August.

Waiting

ChampfleuriMuch has happened since my last blog post. I had certainly been curious when I left France in December, what plans God had in store for me. I was pleasantly surprised to love every minute of being back home. I was able to spend so much time with friends and family, and was even able to travel down to Louisiana to see my family there. That was such a huge gift! After I left Louisiana, I literally left the same day for California to see my friend Lindsay and to reapply for my visa. I was fairly certain after my appointment that I would receive my visa. I met with the same woman as I did the first time and she told me I had much better documentation this time. I returned home on the 17th of December to gather a few documents for the consulate and to wait for an answer.

In the meantime I continued to catch up with friends, hang out at the Golden Bee and Charlie Brown’s (two of my fave places) had a wonderful Christmas with my parents and grandmother, celebrated New Year’s Eve in Denver with my friends from my small group, and ….waited. I asked God numerous times what He wanted me to do. Did He want me to stay in CO or go back to France. I was starting to feel very torn. I was so enjoying my time at home, that my desire to return to France was diminishing. So confusing. But one morning I woke up praying that God would make it clear what I was supposed to do. And I knew that if I received the visa, it meant I was supposed to return to Champfleuri.  As only God does, about an hour later, FedEx knocked on the door, and I received my visa. One week later I was on a plane flying back to Champfleuri.

During that week, God made it clear to me why I had needed to go home. There were many actually, but first and foremost was for a friend. While in France in the fall, my heart was breaking for one of my best friends who is in the midst of an extremely challenging and painful set of circumstances. While I was at home, I was able to spend good, quality time with my friend…something I think we both needed.

I was also able to return to Champfleuri with a renewed sense of readiness. While somewhat unfounded, I have greater confidence in my French speaking and comprehension, and my wide-eyed timidity in a new country and home has been replaced by a comfortable, easy feeling.

The last few months I have been able to experience for the one of the first times in my life the joy of living in the moment and not stressing about the future. I don’t mean to say that I don’t ever feel anxious, because I do. But it doesn’t stick around for days on end. A lot of people have asked me what I’ll do when I leave Champfleuri in April. The answer…I have no clue. I’ve always been a “planner” my whole life. I’ve always wanted and even “needed” to know the plan for tomorrow, next week and next year. But right now, I feel content to let the future be a mystery. It’s freeing me up to be able to look at what God has for me today, in my relationships and circumstances right now. I can actually live my life instead of worrying it away. (Matt 6:34, Phil 4:6-7) I trust that God will show me the next step when it’s time…and it’s just not time yet! 🙂

Life at Champfleuri is wonderful. We have two new students this semester, so it’s been fun to spend time getting to know each of them. Sadly, for me, three of the students from last semester had only signed up for a three month term, so they had already left by the time I came back. So, I’m missing them. 😦 And one of the girls who came back this semester was accepted to nursing school, so she left on Friday to move to Paris to start that…so I’m really missing her as well.

The students are doing fewer outreaches this semester, so we’ll be sticking around Champfleuri a little more. I think the students are appreciating that as preparing for the outreaches as well as traveling around while keeping up with the regular schedule can get exhausting at times. I’m continuing to do administrative tasks in the morning, and in the afternoons/evening I’m living life with the students. I am officially meeting with three of the girls for mentoring (each student has an assigned staff mentor), but I really try to spend time with all of the girls…they are all wonderful, and I love getting to know each of them.

I think that’s all for now. Thank you all again for supporting me in this incredible journey!!

Time to be Transparent

IMG_20131104_035800_034I want to give you all an update…a real update on what’s been happening here.  I feel so humbled by the financial support and prayers of so many of you, and so I’ve been wanting to find a way to “prove” to you that your prayers and money have been invested well.  I’ve struggled with knowing how to do that. Most of my work here occurs in the sharing of hearts – something that can’t, and shouldn’t, be conveyed through the medium of a blog. What I can say is that in my two months here I have come to love each one of the girls. They are each unique in the way they interact with each other, life, God, their families… and me. To some I’m a friend, others like a big sister, to some I’m an authority figure, and to others I’m a “Maman” (mom). They are each in different stages of life and therefore each needing/wanting something different from their time in Bible School and their relationship with me. I feel that my biggest responsibility here is to be available. For processing through lectures, family issues, relationships, God thoughts and questions, and laughs…lots of laughing. I have felt so blessed by my time here and can only hope and pray that the girls have benefited in some way from my presence here. My time here is also spent working on administrative tasks, and my boss has said he has felt less stressed this year because of my assistance, than he has felt in many years. So, I thank you all again for your financial support and your prayers.

This has been an interesting week. I got back from an amazing trip to Paris on Tuesday and began to think more seriously about my visa situation. As most of you know, my visa request was denied in August. I appealed the denial, but I have still not heard anything. Two weeks ago, my Congressman’s office graciously wrote a letter on by behalf to the French Ambassador to request that they grant my visa. Still no response. I am here right now on a standard 90 day tourist visa, and my 90th day is December 7th. I had started to think that maybe I could just stay here without a visa (despite a still small voice that was telling me to obey the authorities over me). This week after discussions with several of the European students about all the potential consequences for staying here without a visa, I knew God was showing me I needed to be obedient to the government. You know how when you’re mad at someone, and they ask how you’re doing, you might say “I’m fine.”? And you know how this is not the best word to describe your true feelings…that what you’re really saying is “I’m mad…it’s your fault, and you should know that, and you should apologize. But if you don’t realize that, I’m not going to be the one to tell you.” That was my initial response to God. Fine. What I was really saying was “I’m the happiest here than I’ve been in years. I am at peace here…I feel at home here. I feel like I am being used by You here….and You’re not doing anything to keep me here? You want me to just leave after 3 months before I’m ready to go? Do You remember all the impossible doors You opened for me to come here? And now You’re taking it all away? If You really loved me You’d let me stay here. So you know what?…Fine. I’ll obey, but I won’t be happy about it.”  God let me throw my temper tantrum for a day or so, and then He began to nudge my heart…”It’s not enough to obey. I need to know that you trust Me…that you believe I am good and that you are willing to bow your will to Mine and find joy and contentment in obedience”. The attitude of the heart is not so easy to change. And I’d be lying if I said I’d come to that place of contentment. I can say that I am truly trying to find the joy in this situation and I am truly trying to trust God has a plan for me right now.

And God wants me to know He has a plan…listen to the sweet thing He did for me. There is another church group here this weekend (we usually have a different church here every weekend…they come to do church retreats). Yesterday, after lunch one of the girls from the church came into the kitchen and started asking me for something…I could tell she wasn’t a native French speaker and she started to try to find her words in English. I asked if she spoke English and she laughed and said how wonderful it was to find an English speaker in France. Her name is Wing and she is from Hong Kong, but is now married to a French man whom she met through OM, a missionary ship. We talked for a few minutes, and then she went back to her group and I went to do my laundry. This afternoon after I finished lunch I saw her again as she was sitting down to eat. She came over to me and told me that she had prayed for me this morning. Tears welled up in my eyes as she told me that their group was meditating on the Lord’s Prayer this morning, and that in that time I came to her mind. She told me that it’s rare for her to experience that kind of nudging from the Lord, but she felt like He was talking to her about me when He said “I have a place for her in my Kingdom”. Through tears I thanked my new friend for her words. We exchanged contact information and prayed for each other. (She is trying to get a job in Lyon…I know she would appreciate your prayers as well).

I can’t begin to tell you how comforting those words were on the heels of an emotional week of preparing to potentially leave this place I have come to love with my whole heart. Would you pray with me? Pray that God would still perform a miracle and grant my visa in the next two weeks (after which, I need to get serious about changing my travel plans). This is where I would like to be, and I am doing what I love most. However, if God has other plans for me, pray that He would lead me and guide me specifically to go where He wants me to go. Pray that He would continue to work in my heart to be joyful and content regardless of my circumstances. Pray that I would live each day here to the fullest and not dwell on the sadness of potentially leaving.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your love and support during this amazing time in my life.me esther tabea tanya tksvngIMG_2593 IMG_2650 me zoe rebeccaIMG_20131107_081121_543

Blessings,

Kate 🙂

This entry was posted on November 10, 2013. 1 Comment

Coupe Icare, Crêpes, Italian Fly-by, Bow Thursday, Fabulous Foreheads

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I can’t believe I’ve taken such a long time to write…well, that’s not true…I can believe it. I’m not so great at updates. We all know it’s true. It’s been a great few weeks here. I feel like God has blessed me beyond measure to allow me to be here right now. I love everything about being here (except for not always being able to communicate…but you can’t have it all)!! I love the girls I get to hang out with. They all come from different kinds of families and experiences and with various personalities and characteristics that make them each delightful to spend time with.

There have been many blunders that, thankfully, all of us non-native French speakers have made since being here. The first night that some of the students were here, everyone was talking about their siblings, how many they had, etc. It was quite late, and after 10p, my French brain usually just shuts off. There had been a few moments of silence, and then Rebecca asked me a question…which I assumed was about siblings. I was trying to say I was an only child (Je suis fille unique)…but, I simply said “Je suis unique”…”I am special”…however…that wasn’t even the question she asked. She asked where I came from. But as I am indeed special…I thought it could have been worse. 🙂 This has now become a running joke…whenever I introduce myself to people…the students are quick to let people know how “unique” I am. 🙂 For a full week, if not more, I told everyone and their mom how “aroused” I was by various things, like the mountains, food, lectures, music, etc., as saying “I am excited” in French doesn’t translate quite the same. Color me embarrassed. 🙂

The first week that the students were here, we went to a camp where we did lots of team building exercises, made pottery, went on hikes in the Alps, and did rock climbing. It was a bonding weekend…I think it was a great way to start off the semester.

Since then we have been living life together…eating together, laughing together, going to church (there are usually about 13 of us who show up when we go to events…we stand out a bit), going to the store, on walks, doing chores, processing life and lectures, doing zumba!!

Next week we go to Firminy for a few days where the students will lead a camp for a group of children who have had rough lives and need some lovin’. The following week we’ll be in the Paris area. That will be the end of October. Time is flying by too fast!!

Now, I’ll explain the pictures. I’m not sure where they’re all ending up on the page, but the ones with the big white and red striped bird and with the four planes with all the colors are from the Coupe Icare. This is a yearly festival in this region where paragliders dress up in costume and fly down from Chartreuse into the valley. Icare is French for Icharus…who in Greek/Roman mythology had waxen wings that melted in the sun…or something like that. 🙂 The planes are the Italian Air Force who did an air show while we there…very cool. It was fun to experience a French festival…much like the states actually…cotton candy, carnival games, etc.

Every Sunday night for dinner we eat leftovers from the last few days and make crêpes. Pretty fabulous. We’re not all that experienced at crêpe making, so often they’re more like thin pancakes, but I think we’re getting better. They’re delicious!

One Thursday morning, we discovered a box of various breath-taking bows that we decided to wear all day long, and make a tradition of bow Thursdays. It didn’t really continue, but I’m hoping one of these Thursdays we can bring it back.

You’ll notice one pic of just two foreheads. That’s me and Lindsay, of course. She came through Switzerland last Wednesday on a layover from Kenya. We met in Bern for less than 24 hours, but if you know the two of us at all…you know we were laughing the whole time and changing Bern forever! We have a little tradition of taking pictures of just our eyes…it morphed this time into just our foreheads. We’re weird…and we know it…and we love it!

I’ll try to get better at the updates…but that’s all for now!

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Coupe Ichar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What am I doing in France?

Right now, I’m working on administrative tasks. I’ve been working on a student handbook, creating a master calendar with all of the school goings on, schedule of lecturers, weekly things, etc. It’s really helped me to get a better understanding of the school and how it works. So, it’s a very missions focused school, much like Bodenseehof. Students have numerous opportunities to serve. There are several weekends and one week throughout the year where they will go to different parts of the country…mostly in this region…and do retreat weekends for kids. They will also have the opportunity to do small service projects around our area (like lead worship at the international church, serve meals at a food pantry, etc.). When they’re not doing that, they are attending lectures, doing duties around the house (cleaning mostly), memorizing Bible verses, reading for upcoming lectures, working on homework, attending Bible studies, helping serve groups that are staying here,…and hopefully hanging out with me a lot!

The students get here Sunday and Monday and that’s when shift my focus more to relationship building with still some emphasis on administrative tasks.

I really think I will enjoy this season of my life. I already feel so much more comfortable here, and feel like I can really get behind the vision for the students while they’re here. My greatest challenge will be communicating in French. We will have 4 French students, 4 Canadian (English-speakers), 1 German and 1 Hollander (who was raised in Argentina).

*For those of you willing to pray for me…here are my requests:
*That God’s Spirit would supersede the language barrier, especially for the non-English speakers
*That I would grow by leaps and bounds in my French speaking and understanding abilities
*For God to show me how to best pursue relationships with the students and be a help to them
*For God to change me while I’m here. I want to become a woman who wants nothing more than to seek God and His desires instead of always thinking about what “I” want.
*And please pray for the students, that they would know God during their time here, and that they, too, would learn how to want and search for what He wants more than what they want for their lives.

Many of you have asked for my address:

Champfleuri
Les Eymins
38190 Le Champ Près Froges
France