For those of you for whom our pair of "negative newsletters" last month was too much, you'll be glad to know that though we've passed into December, I'm still in the Thanksgiving spirit about November!
Here's what I'm thankful for (some of which you prayed about last month...obviously!):
- Carte Vitale - After receiving the right-to-work with our 10-year residence permits in early 2009, my free-lancing IT work permitted us to use the French national health insurance and dump our uber-expensive private care (which didn't cover us well anyway!). Those who are "in the system" are supposed to have a "health card" (Carte Vitale) that is presented to doctors and at the pharmacy to directly bill the national health insurance, leaving you only your percentage to pay. We got the coverage quickly but it's taken us 2 years to get the card. So every time we paid something we paid full price and then had to send in forms for a percentage reimbursement...which was annoying both to us and to the health care providers who have to fill them out. Consequently we were thrilled to get our cards this month...especially Angela who did all the paperwork these years!
- Employment - Before I had the right-to-work, the school where we volunteer had looked at how they might be able to offer me a "job" in order that I could actually get the right to work - an administrative nightmare that would have been expensive for them as they would have had to have paid the employer's social security charges for me. That was dropped a while back and never revisited. Just this month, the school offered to let me charge them the 150 euros that we pay a month for Olivia's schooling as an IT consulting fee. The net effect is that instead of paying 150/month, I list that 150 as income. This is a blessing in that, though I pay taxes on it, the amount that I had been receiving from the occasional computer repair had dropped to about...well...nothing. This allows me to have an income to declare and benefit from what those taxes pay for.
- Electric Bill - Our electric bill is a fixed-amount direct withdrawal from our account each month with an annual adjustment to reflect any over/under payment. Imagine my surprise this month receiving a letter stating that our fixed bill was reduced by 25 euros a month!
- Health - I think it simply took about 2 months to feel normal after my operation and now I can say that, yes, I feel normal again!
- Church renovation - Elevator work has finally begun!!!!! Visible progress!!!
- House of Prayer - Angela and I have finally got a 2-hour slot settled in our schedule each week to worship and pray at church. That's good, but then our friends the Richards are there for 4, 2-hour slots a week and finally our pastor's wife and son are doing two more 1-hour slots a week. Again...visible progress!!! 24/7, here we come!
- Marriage Ministry - Our report to the elders of our church of the LAM marriage workshop we attended last spring has sat on the back burner while we all worked on other things and waited to see if other French interest would develop elsewhere for translation, etc. Nothing visible has happened that we're aware of. So this month our pastor spoke with me and asked me to set a goal, even if it's a year out, and begin working on making something happen for marriage ministry in our church. He feels (and I agree) that it's important to get a date set and that we drive towards a specific goal. So I've started the ball rolling with a goal of hopefully doing something next fall. We're not far yet, but it's the official "go!" that we needed.
- Tech discipleship - At church I had asked a man in his 30's if he would be willing to work with me on the sound/technology ministry at church with the idea of him taking more of the responsibility. Initially he had said "yes" and much time had passed before I could get back to concrete steps to move forward. In the meantime he's had to pull out. That was very discouraging to me. Among our sound techs, we have one young man who is quite mature for his age and serious about his commitment. I decided to ask him if he would be willing to take on this extra responsibility, but I wasn't sure if he really wanted to or not...but he very enthusiastically said "yes!" Of course the ball is in my court now, but I'm excited again to move forward with that.
- Friend in a coma - On a serious note - last Friday night, a young man (23?) in our congregation, Tim, had a car accident and broke his leg...significant but not life-threatening. Then, however, some fatty cells from the marrow in his leg bone got into his blood stream (which apparently is not unheard of in this type of injury) and made its way to his lungs - a pulmonary embolism. He started having trouble breathing and began to have a fever. The end result is that to stabilize him they had to put him into an artificial coma where they could control the amount of oxygen he gets and let his body heal. There were some dangerous moments. He is still in the artificial coma on a respirator and could be for another week or so.
I went to visit him today with his father and we prayed together over him and spoke life to him. This is a precious family to us and Tim is a young man with a tremendous destiny in the Lord before him. Please pray for his complete and rapid recovery and for the peace of God to flood his family.
- Christmas visitors - During Christmas break we will welcome a friend of Noah's, Seth, from Indianapolis for a visit. This will be the first trip for him out of the country and he's excited as are we. This will certainly give our Christmas break a different feeling than just the immediate family. We're looking forward to showing him our world. Please pray for Seth's safe, uncomplicated travel and everyone's health to facilitate a good connection with him and good Alsatian Christmas sight-seeing!
- College application - Christmas break will also be the time when we need to get Noah's college application completed to be submitted in time for scholarship consideration. Please pray wisdom for us to get it all done well and favor for Noah for scholarship consideration.
- Continuation - Well, with all these blessings of November, the ball is pretty much in our court to keep on keepin' on! So we appreciate your prayers for: worship ministry, Sozo ministry, technology ministry, marriage ministry, etc.
You are permitted to drink eggnog and eat Christmas cookies while praying!