Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Le Gros Pierre

Today was our first school field trip in literally 14 years. We visited a local apple orchard with the language school students from Parole de Vie Bethel!
What does that have to do with French language school? Parole de Vie Bethel asked all the families to get together to practice their French knowledge! We were not allowed to speak in English (exceptions were made for the more than occasional beginner slip-up and minor-crises). It was fun just being together as a huge group of missionary families! We come from all sorts of groups (Pioneers, SIMAIR-similar to MAF, Church of the Nazarene, MAF, etc.), but we are all here for one common goal - to learn French so we can spread God's word!         
These are just 3 of the families. Side note, the kids outnumbered the adults almost 3-to-1
There is a baby in there somewhere
After a brief buggy ride through the fields, Clement taught all of us how to pick the apples. He only spoke French to us and the children. Mariette (left) translated for the children. He told the kids they had to ask for permission from the apples to pick them. So they asked for permission and then greeted the apples! We found out these apples are named "McIntosh". The kids were giggling! He was so good with them (kids and apples alike).
Then, we all gathered enough apples to fill a 3 lbs bag. We were also instructed to pick one extra to eat. 
Baby even had her first lick of an apple! 
After the outing was "fin", we went home to enjoy the spoils! We made applesauce, apple chips, apple muffins, and just ate regular apples by themselves! Also, we found a "forbidden" treasure - raw milk cheese! It is "illegal" to purchase in the states, per FDA or USDA regulation (can't remember which).  The same goes with regular raw milk, but we have not found that for sale here. Kevin says the saltiness of the cheese goes really well with the crisp tartness of the apple.YUM!
What's your favorite apple recipe?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Guest Post: How to Play with Your Infant

Motherhood is so much more than I expected! It is rewarding beyond words and my heart grows every day, but there is one aspect that is not what I planned – interaction! I never realized how alert a two week old baby could be! Adah started sleeping less and less and became more awake and alert, craving interaction! What does a new mother do with a baby that is too young for toys and is easily overstimulated?

Please head on over to Intentional by Grace to check out the rest of the story!

Monday, September 17, 2012

AXE 21 and Canadian Christianity

The historical theater was crowded. The room was dark but you could still make out the shapes of the stone wall figures. The stage was dimly lit with colored lights and the fog machine jetted a steady stream of smoke.  The people in the crowd all stood up when the band walked out. The drummer began his steady beat and the bass and electric guitar picked up. The acoustic guitar player began to sing as the two back-up singers held harmony. A trumpet player in the background kept time with the pianist. Everyone was swaying in time to the music and sang harmoniously as the words were displayed with a projector on the background behind the band. Some hands were lifted with enthusiasm as more people filed into the theater to enjoy the music. English or French, the words are the same: allĂ©luia (Hallelujah)!
AXE 21 is a local "Urban Church" in an area known for being uninterested in anything Christian. This church stands out with their ability to introduce Christ to people of all ages. When I look around, I can see elderly people lining up for communion as well as teens. Their children's program is so popular, some have to wait in line or can't even get a spot because there are not enough teachers (for insurance purposes, the children's ministry must follow the same guidelines as a daycare allowing only a certain number of children per adult). The Children's program is a few buildings down the street housed in an old bank that has been remolded for the cause (the vault is still there, and no they don't use it to keep the unruly children... Kevin asked).
In the services, we can make out words here and there, and with a little help from the other MAF family, we can understand the general idea of the sermon. At the same time though, we feel very comfortable here. We have spent time with believers in several different countries but typically in a multi-cultural context. This was the first time that we were in a service not performed bilingually. For some reason Philippians 2:10-11 really hit home:

"At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

There are very few churches in this area, and even fewer that are not Catholic. We heard one story from several years back of a minister being imprisoned for preaching the Word! Really?!? In North America?!?!? Some have even said the area was over-saturated with certain religious traditions and that some words used in those traditions have become derogatory. Evangelical Christians are only 0.5% of the population - half of one percentage point!!! There does seem to be some movement though with church plants like AXE 21, with most of the believers being brand new converts. 

Our school Parole de Vie Bethel is working to strengthen and encourage a new generation of Christians. Many of these students (typically 17 and 18 years old) came here against there parents wishes. They postponed their academic studies for a year to instead spend time in the Word. The language school students (the majority of whom are missionaries) are paired with bible school students. We get together and just read the bible, allowing the bible students an opportunity to help us with our French. Ministry does not start once we African soil - ministry began when we first became followers of Christ. 

With this in mind, what is your ministry?

Monday, September 10, 2012


I know I have written so many posts before about similar topics - control, trust, God's plans, being tested, etc.What is the theme? Sitting back and allowing God to work His will in our lives! So often we find ourselves trying to thwart our goals ahead of God's intentions. Well, let's add one more to this pile of lessons!

Thus begins our story.

We are at language school, in Canada. We are here to learn French via total immersion as well as attending classes/school.

Class Schedule:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday - 8:45-11:50
Wednesday - Chapel 8:30-10:30/Groups 10:30-12:30/Lunch 12:30-1:30/Bible 1:30-3:30

"WHAT?!? How could you say such a thing!?!," exclaims everyone reading!

Looking at our wonderfully easy schedule (insert sarcasm here), you can see there is no room for baby girl, when there are two adults needing to take the same class. After our orientation on Wednesday, I found out the not-so-good news: there is no one to watch the baby. Ensue PANIC!

Here is where I did my typical control thing. I made calls, I asked questions, I bombarded total strangers, I tried to make new friends with potential babysitters, I made people feel awkward, I attempted French without knowing correct pronunciations, etc. All because I could not accept the fact that I was here to learn French and I HAD to do it just like everyone else!!! Here was the list of options I came up with...and with a heavy heart, crossed one after another off my list.

Option 1 - Daycare. Quebec options for daycare do not allow children under the age of 6 months (something about incredible maternity leave for their locals).
Option 2 - Sitter used by everyone on campus/prior MAF-ers.  She went back to school and is not longer offering services.
Option 3 - Nanny/Sitter. There is a whole language barrier thing but even if that were not an issue, it is not in our budget (our home has not sold yet and we are still responsible for payments).
Option 4 - One of the other students on campus who is in a more advanced class (in the afternoons). All others are moms with plural amounts of children (we are behind on our number!) and it would be hard for them to learn/study with a baby. Not to mention, the baby still won't take a bottle or pacifier. If she doesn't want to sleep, she would make for an uncomfortable situation.
Option 5 - Tutoring. There is only one tutor available and her baby is 4 months old. Her schedule is very limited and includes evenings. Kevin's classes are 15 hours a week which will put me behind at only 8 hours weekly.

What is our solution you ask? After much prayer, I ran across this Bible verse:
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Sounds simple doesn't it, yet it is a mistake I make often.  Lean not on your own understanding. It made me feel better at heart after taking the time to lean on God and vent. A lot. And here is where I realized I needed to let go and trust in the Lord with all your (my) heart.

My (Tasha) only option is tutoring. After I resigned myself to this being my only option, I sat back and prayed. God knew my complaints and issues with the tutoring. After that, he opened another door for me! Originally, the tutor was only available Monday & Wednesday 3 - 5 and Tuesday & Thursday 6 - 8. This would have required me to finagle baby's feeding around the times I leave, since she won't take a bottle. Kevin would have to put her to bed twice a week without me...sigh. Fortunately, God took care of all.

Friday night, I met the tutor at a school event and immediately felt at ease. Her baby is four months old and won't take a bottle either (I could already feel God smiling down on me). After opening up to her, one of the other mothers in the class spoke to her as well.  "Our" (really it was God!) new solution is fantastic! I, along with two other moms, will go to class Monday and Tuesday from 1:30 - 4:30 and Wednesday from 4:30 - 7:15!!! Plus, I will have one-on-one time Thursday 4:30 - 7:15!!! I can't begin to tell you my relief! First, I am home before baby's bedtime. Second, I will have 9 hours of classroom time. Third, I will have 3 hours one-on-one time. Fourth, I was guaranteed that a class our size will be able to keep up with Kevin's class (as long as I hold myself to their class's standards). Fifth, she is an experienced teacher who has a baby and knows what I am going through! Wow! Just WOW!!!

P.S. Kevin had a great first day of class! (Insert cheesy photo of Kevin with a sign saying "First day of school)!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Food in Sherbrooke, Quebec

For those of you who know Kevin and me, you know we love good food (making it almost as much as eating it)! When we had cable television, it was always on the Food Network. Kevin and I own more cooking books than plates! We adore trying new foods! Not that the culinary culture is incredibly different from anything in the states, but we had to do a post on the food in Quebec and our experiences with grocery shopping as well as dining out. Also note, we have been here a week and a half and I am certain many of our observations and lack of ability to communicate beyond pointing and grunting could easily have led to cultural misunderstandings! (Please forgive us Canadian friends!)

Grocery Shopping
When moving, you tend to need the basics when you go shopping for the first time. Kevin and I decided to make a quick stop for some fresh produce, meat, dairy, and bread. Here is what we noticed:
1. Fresh produce. I mean fresh produce. Fresher than Fresh Market Fresh. Fruit stand fresh! Not only is there a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but in many cases the prices were the same or cheaper than the states! Plus, there was no tax on fresh produce! From what we observed, they have stricter requirements on their produce than the states does (bananas are not chemically forced to ripen and yellow, tuna steaks are not treated with carbon monoxide, no color added to salmon, etc.)
2. Meat is a better quality and again, fresh! Pictured is a turkey leg...we never saw those in our local markets in the states (although I am sure it is available somewhere)! To the right is veal sausage! We bought some salmon today that was about 11$. It smelled  like it came fresh out of the water (or rather didn't smell like anything = GOOD) just minutes before I (Kevin) was breaking down the whole side of the fish (about 2 KG). For you sushi eaters, we could easily turned it into sashimi - it was that good!
Salmon is a local product but some things are much more expensive here. For example, chicken and eggs. In the US, a whole chicken is typically very cheap and the cuts that require more butchering increase the price. Here, there is no difference except the whole chicken is EXPENSIVE! Like a small 1.5 pound bird was around 15$. The chicken breast (already butchered) was 14.51$ kg! Yikes! The only thing more expensive was the dozen eggs for 3.99$ or 18 eggs for 5.35$!!!
"Unique" were also available readily - including bison, horse, goat and many other game-y foods not commonly seen in the states.   
3. Milk can come in a bag! We couldn't find whole milk but we did find 3.25%, which tasted 325% better! Yum! It was about 6.35$ for three bags (4L). We did find that the yogurt was a big more pricey.

4. Cheese is a cultural favorite! There were two isles of it! (Sorry no picture, I got enough stares for the camera!) You can even get "illegal" cheese here! They have a soft, raw milk cheese that is unpasteurized that is a delicacy. It is made locally and you eat it before it hardens within 60 days. Totally illegal in the states! Can't wait to try it! Quebec has gotten many awards for their local cheeses and they even host cheese tours! Wisconsin, eat your heart out!
5. Fondue is popular! I wish we had brought a pot! I have never seen so many different things available for fondue in a store! There were fondue chocolates, fondue cheeses, fondue bouillon (pictured), fondue sauces (pictured to the right), fondue matches and sticks (pictured, but above), special fondue gas, fondue toppings, fondue EVERYTHING! 
6. For Canadians and many Europeans, wine is tradition for most every meal. Each grocery store we visited has had its own massive wine section (that is something you won't see at Food City!) Don't worry, you won't see me there...I will not forget that baby eats what I eat/drinks what I drink! We even saw a couple of guys bring their own wine to a restaurant.
Soda can recycle machine. 
7. Recycling is HUGE! When you go grocery shopping, you have to take your own bags, otherwise, expect to carry your food out in your hands. No bags! They even have machines like a CoinStar where you deposit your empty aluminum soda cans and you get money back immediately! We need those in the states! That would clean the streets up pretty quickly!

Dining Out (sorry, no pictures)
1. Because Quebec is proud of their French history, many dishes have French influence (Shepard's pie, meat pies and stews, and baked goods).

2. Dining out is a more formal experience. Etiquette and formalities are very important to the Quebecois! You never have to wait on an available table, so few people go out. Also, it is rare to see children in a restaurant. We were obvious Anglo-tourists with baby!
Okay, I lied. I had to sneak in a picture of this adorable baby!
3. Expect to wait. And wait. And wait some more. When you go into a restaurant, you will see a wide selection of periodicals (newspapers and magazines). They are for your benefit. You order your food and drink at the same time and then read. You get your tea or coffee and keep reading. Your wait is usually a minimum of 10 minutes! But expect excellent food!

4. Sip, don't chug your drink. Remember the whole French origin? Think etiquette-pinkie up! The Quebecois people will sip their single glass of what ever they are drinking for their entire meal. If you order a wine, you also get a glass of water, but I have yet to see anyone finish both.

5. Since dining out is a more formal experience, people will sit and eat for long periods. Also, you won't see anyone standing or walking with their food. It is bad form! So, no street car vendors here - slightly disappointing after our last street car vendor experience in Washington, D.C....or the delicious taco truck in Idaho!

6. Taxes and tipping. Dining out does not count towards the no tax rule, so you will see about a 15% tax. GST (Goods and Service Tax) and QST (Provincial Sales Tax) which combine for a grand total of 14.975%. But that doesn't allow you to skimp on your tipping here! Tipping is still customary when dining out:10% minimum, 15% average, 20% exceptional.

What do you think of the differences?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Our Apartment

Our apartment is a 3 1/2, located 5 minutes from school. That means two bedrooms, one bath, and a living/dining room. Here are some pictures!
Our kitchen area. Lots of cabinets-not so much counter space.
Our cute little bathroom - don't flush the toilet when someone is showering!
Looking into our bedroom. See our air conditioner/fan! 
Looking out of our room into the kitchen
Looking into the living/dining area from the kitchen. 
Looking into our apartment from the balcony. Kevin and baby are practicing French with Rosetta Stone.
Looking into baby's/laundry room
Looking out of baby's/laundry room
View from balcony at the "fields". You can't tell very well but there are four fields plus a playground and a hockey rink.
10 things we have learned about living in this area: 

1. In Sherbrooke, Canada, it is very rare to have air conditioning or carpet.
2. You have to park in your correct parking spot. There is an electrical outlet there to plug in your car heater for the wintertime and it is billed to you. We were told that people will "steal" your electricity that way.
3. The playing fields behind our apartment host a slew of all hours! The lights stay on until past midnight and you can hear the whistles going off! Last night I could watch baseball, soccer, field hockey, inline hockey, rugby, volleyball, and children playing on the playground! 
4. Trash at the apartment goes down a small chute, so only small bags (under 8 gallon) will fit. Otherwise, you have to go to the basement and out the back to the trash area.
5. This area is popular for all immigrants. So far, we have run into Persians speaking Farsi, Muslims speaking  Arabic, Dutch speaking English, and Germans! Plus, we met someone from the Dominican Republic! Yeah for Spanish! 
6. Anything with wheels is for transportation - yes, we have seen roller blades on the main road!
7. Driving is similar, but different (that will be a later post)!
8. Dining out is an event (that will also be a later post)! And the food is fresher and better tasting (another post!)
9. It is acceptable (and common) to hang your laundry out to dry with wire/twine on your balcony! Now I don't feel like such a red-neck hanging up the baby's cloth diapers!
10. Sherbrooke has all the regular stores that America has, but smaller versions. Imagine a gas station sized Home Depot (Canac)! I have never seen so many tubs and toilets mounted to a wall before!