What a whirlwind the last few weeks have been! While friends and family around the world were preparing for a summer break, we were gearing up for our first guests here at the chateau. We started the summer with my brother’s family who visited the chateau for the first time. It was fun to show them around our new home, and see their eyes light up with all the possibilities this place holds. They got right to work with us, helping us order supplies we needed for our guests, setting up fans in the bedrooms so that it was more comfortable to sleep on hot summer nights, cleaning out the garage, and stripping wallpaper in the new reception room and the old office. We made sure to have a little fun, too, while they were here. We visited the ancient Roman settlement of Grand where we saw a fully preserved mosaic tile floor, and got to walk through the center of a Roman gladiatorial amphitheater. There were also many climbs up into the 11th century fortress here in town, and then a lot of cousin time with video games and movie snuggles. We were so happy they got to stay for an entire month with us, meet all of our new friends here in France, and even witness our first ministry guests. I know they went home with a better understanding of both the challenges and blessings we have here with this precious ministry.
Next, we welcomed a few guests in for a little R&R. We had visitors from Belgium, and China, both here for a short visit, and we sent them away as though we were saying goodbye to our own family. It was good for our souls to finally be able to minister to others the way we had intended from the beginning, and though they came to find a little rest and restoration, we all felt like we were the ones who were renewed in the end. It was hard to let them go, to be honest. The house was quiet without them, but not for long.
The last two weeks of our summer we were blessed to play host to two different teams from Arkansas who arrived with the desire to help us tackle a few of our remodeling projects here at the chateau. The first team, three friends from Little Rock, poured themselves into a few cleaning projects, and then helped us purchase, and build our new kitchen cabinets. The results were astounding. The entire kitchen feels more useful now as we doubled our cabinet space, and doubled the size of the sink. I was shocked we were able to find counter tops that look beautiful beside the antique pieces we have in the kitchen. We went ahead and ripped up the old, tattered linoleum on the floor, and found solid stone blocks beneath it, the original flooring. We have just a few more steps to go, but the kitchen is already much improved, and we are all very proud of it. No only does it look good, but it helps us feed a lot of people…like the group that came next.
Our last set of visitors arrived right after we finished the kitchen, and they dove into our list of projects immediately. A group of twelve from Levy church of Christ in North Little Rock, they were on their way to Lithuania for a week of camp. I was surprised at how much they accomplished in just a few days. We were able to redecorate the new reception, plaster the walls in the new counseling room, strip the vines and other plant material away from the side of the house where it was creeping into the kitchen vents, repair a broken bedroom floor, remove the old facade in the breakfast pantry, and clean the house again all before running back to Paris to catch a flight to Lithuania. It was amazing to see the progress we’ve made with all of the help our guests have given us this summer.
- Added a new parking area in the lot across the street
- Repaired plumbing leaks in bathroom and toilettes.
- Replaced the old tub with a new shower, and added a new drain line for the washing machine.
- Purchased a weed eater and riding lawn mower for more extensive yard work.
- Mowed the lawns, and arranged to have the field across the street mowed by our neighbor with his tractor.
- Purchased a full-sized standalone refrigerator and freezer for the kitchen
- Purchased a multi-use accessory for the kitchen that works as a food processor, blender, stand mixer, and several other uses
- Purchased power tools, and a generator for a workshop that will allow Graham and our work teams to do much more ambitious building projects in the future
- Removed old flooring in bathroom, and upstairs toilet
- Stripped wallpaper in new reception room, and old office
- Removed mold in new reception room, replastered the walls, and painted
- Redecorated the reception room using items found within the house (Thank you, Lisa Gibson Interiors)
- Stripped wallpaper, and replastered walls in the old office
- Purchased, assembled, and installed a new set of kitchen cabinets, dishwasher, and sink
- Removed the pantry façade and moved the enormous cabinet from the grand salon into the pantry
- Cleaned, scrubbed, and “defunkified” the giant pantry cabinet before stocking it full of goods
- Removed ivy from the western wall of the house, trimmed ivy along the upper fence line
- Replaced broken floor boards in bedroom 4, making it safe for use
- Battled the bees, and (hopefully) won
- Planted a small kitchen garden, established composting, and made plans to extend the garden
- Oiled and restored the floor in the entry
- Cleaned, polished, and scrubbed floors and furniture
- Met with our new French tutor for lessons every week.
- Finalized our new official bank account (Finally!)
- Began the long process of getting kids enrolled in local school.
- Paint the old office/new counseling room
- Oil and restore the floors in the reception room
- Purchase new furniture for the counseling room
- Move desk into reception
- Upgrade the electrical system, and add new sockets to every room
- Reconnected with our neighbors across the street and were invited to join them for a party in June. At the party, we were introduced to our neighbor up the hill, and the neighbors who own the property beside the lake with the water wheel. (This made the newspaper!)
- Met the secretary at the high school, and visited the school.
- Invited our friends, neighbors and the mayor to join us for an American 4th of July party. (This made the paper, too. Twice!)
- We were invited to attend the Bastille Day celebration, and were introduced to many new people, including the owner of the chateau at Lavaux. She invited us to visit her home the following week.
- We visited the chateau Lavaux, and were given a private tour by the owner!
- The saw old friends at the Bastille Day event, and made new friends, too. They’ve stayed connected, visiting every week together, and texting often.
- Grayson was invited by a friend to go to summer camp (in France!) and has spent the last three weeks attending teen events with him here in the area, a fun way to practice French.
- Befriended the local baker who delivers bread from her shop two villages away. She came every morning and delivered fresh baked bread to our home, a fabulous treat. We share a mutual affection, and I guarantee she will make the next dinner party guest list along with our French tutor.
- We have now met TWO Americans here who are very social, and friendly. We hope to be good friends to them, and encourage them however we can.
As always, we would appreciate prayers of thanks for the projects completed, petitions for the pending projects, and encouragement for our family.
- Please pray for our children as they prepare to go to school, a daunting task in a foreign country.
- Pray for the missionary families who visited us, and for those we have yet to meet. May they find rest here, and restoration.