Bonne Année !
From the Schaller Family
First, some funny quotes...
Happy New Year!
We hope this letter finds you healthy and hopeful in 2020. We are on the mend after a month of battling the flu, which made for a memorable Christmas.
is still enjoying work in IT with Agapé France. His favorite trip was a conference in South Africa for all Cru tech geeks. In addition to serving French staff, he’s working on global partnerships that get the Gospel to new places. Personally, Trent enjoys spending time with his girls, cooking new things, and learning the basics of home repair. He also learned how to cut Tara’s hair. It went so well, we might just do it again. Trent also has a great group of guys who study the Bible together. What he’s learning spills over and blesses everyone around him, especially our family.
felt like Jonah was following her the last two years. Daily, he showed up in sermons, emails, conversations, and podcasts. Rachel asked for “the big fish story” nightly. To top it off, one of our sending churches chose a new representative for our family. His name is Jonah! Since high school, Tara has said France is her Nineveh. It’s never been easy, and her attitude was getting progressively worse. It also doesn’t help that Tessa hates sleep. Tara presumed that God was pointing out her Jonah-like attitude. She cried to God in jealousy that Jonah’s trip was short, meanwhile her mission seems endless. Friends prayed and reminded her that following God is worth it. Then in August, Tara mentioned this story to her brother-in-law. He kindly uttered four insightful words: “Better Jonah than Jeremiah.” Jeremiah spent his life trying to reach a hard-hearted audience who never turned to God. Finally, they killed him. In contrast, Jonah’s audience repented! Maybe God did want to give Tara an attitude-check, but mostly he wanted to encourage us that there’s still hope for revival in France!
Lydia turned 6 in August and started first grade at a new school. The first few weeks were rough but character-building for her. She loves reading, and somehow she’s at a 5th grade level in English. Her favorite series are “Three Cousins Detective Club” and “La Cabane Magique.” Lydia also loves numbers. Since she’s in a mixed class of 1st and 2nd graders, she can join the older kids for math. It’s been neat to see her curiosity about God grow this year, too. She’s decided to read the real Bible, and she’s now in Numbers. “I didn’t like all the laws and slaughtering in Leviticus,” she says while we try not to laugh. We noticed that she struggles to believe that God loves her personally. So, we started praying with her that God will show her his love, especially at school. The first day she prayed, she saw God answer in a big way. The next day: “Mama, God answered my prayer again!”
turned 4 in October. She’s in a mixed class of 4K and kindergarteners and is the youngest, by far. She’s an extrovert with a gift for gab. She speaks French like a native but doesn't necessarily know what she’s saying. In June, her cousin (who was also 3) asked Jesus to come into his heart. Rachel was utterly inspired by this, and she wanted to pray, too! So after some chatting (and diffusing her sister who felt that the two were much too young), Rachel thanked Jesus for paying for her sins and asked him into her heart. Since then, the things that come out of her mouth are either profoundly encouraging or hilariously sassy. It’s eye-opening to see God meet her right where she is.
turned 1 in August and is happily fulfilling her “third child” duties. Rather than playing with toys, she prefers to root through cupboards, climb, or scavenge markers off the table. She adores dancing and shoving books at anyone who can read aloud. Her laugh is sweet and raspy. “Daytime Tessa” is delightful! Interpret what you will based on that. All three girls sleep in one bedroom (we can’t wait to move!) Plus, Milo and Mauricette’s room was directly below, which made nights tricky with a crying baby. Though we’re groggy, Tessa’s sweetness causes us to stop in our tracks and enjoy the wonderful gifts God gives.
brought about a fourth “baby” for us. We finally bought a house after 8 years here. It’s nicely situated near a school and two parks. We have not yet moved because of renovations. The house was built in 1981, and not much had changed since then! Hopefully in March she’ll be ready. It’s been surprise after surprise as we discover what’s inside those walls! We are patient and savoring time in our current neighborhood. Since September, we drive to the new neighborhood usually five times a day (drop-off at school, pick-up for lunch, drop-off after lunch, pick-up after school, and going to work on the house at night.) It is exhausting, but hopefully worth it.
The process to buy a home took from April to August. In faith, we signed our kids up for the neighborhood school. Tara spent July and August trying to connect with a friend-of-a-friend, Pauline, whose kids go to the school. The day before school started, Pauline called Tara for the first time. We were stunned that they remembered us and invited us over. Upon arrival at their home, Pauline, Olivier, Eleanor (8), and Julianne (3) welcomed us like old friends. We chatted and they gave us a tour of the neighborhood. The following morning was the first day at the new school, and our girls were nervous. Who was waiting for us on the sidewalk, smiling ear to ear? Our new friends! What a gift! Eleanor spoke to our girls whenever she saw them. Weeks later, after Lydia and Rachel had made many friends their own age, Tara asked them who they are thankful for. Lydia chirped, “Eleanor!” Tara teared up. God always takes care of us. Tara texted Pauline with Lydia’s quote and a huge thank-you. We did trick-or-treating with them and still see them often. We’d love to bless others as they blessed us.
On a sad note, 2019 was also full of loss. Four families that are dear friends have moved away. Also, our neighbor and “French grandpa” Milo passed away in October. As we grieve these losses, we are reminded of God’s heart for his children. Please keep praying for Milo’s wife Mauricette. We are trusting God to bring her hope and use us as he sees fit. She says she still feels lost, but she reads the Word daily and has made some great Christian friends. Thank you for praying!
In the Schaller clan, four babies had been born in 9 months, including Tessa. So we spent a couple weeks visiting family this summer. It was so fun meet the three babies! Seeing the “old” nieces and nephews is surreal. They’re huge. We’re blessed by how they love their “French” cousins and make the most of the time.
Thank you for your partnership! Your prayers for all five of us (and our French friends) are powerful and effective! This year we are trusting God with our transition to the new neighborhood, Trent’s team projects, and that each of us grows in our love for Jesus Christ. He is the source of our joy and hope. Please let us know how we can pray for you, too!
May you know the peace of Christ in 2020!
Love, Trent, Tara, Lydia, Rachel and Tessa