Thursday, December 20, 2012

we fit a december craft in!

December is such a busy month, but I just couldn't let the month go by without our staff kid craft time! I LOVE these times, and it always go by so quickly. They are such beautiful, wonderful girls and it's such a privilege to have these times together!

We made Christmas trees with styrofoam cones and yarn. SUPER easy!

It was so fun that Tara (below) and Halle could join us! I somehow didn't get a picture of Halle...but she was there and helped string the jingle bells!

Hello Caro! Beautiful picture of you and your girl! :)

Finished products! Julie's tree has a falling star going on. When you tell Anna to smile, this is the face you get.

Craft time wouldn't be complete without a "crazy Mallory" picture.

Shorty, did you notice what is on some of the trees? Hehe. JUST for you! Yes yes, I found them in France! Do you approve? :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sunday Christmas service

Yesterday our church had a special Christmas celebration, and it was sooo much fun! 

The junior high kids that Simon and I lead did a skit about a man and some birds (super descriptive, I know) and got lots of laughs from the audience. Anytime junior kids improvise it's pretty hilarious. 

The singing was wonderful! The Kellum family was a big reason why! Lisa was singing, Rick was on drums, Nicolas played the electric guitar and Mallory...

Mallory sang an intro solo to O Holy Night and it was... beautiful. She did such a good job! It was a really really special moment, for many reasons, and I got lots of tears in my eyes. I was trying to keep things under control, then I saw Lisa holding back her tears, and whew, that was it for the dry eyes for me! 

Would you like to hear her and see her? 

You hear me talking at the end of the video... oops...I'm asking my neighbor for a kleenex.

Monday, December 10, 2012

finally christmasy around here!

Sophie and I decorated for Christmas this week-end!! We were bursting at the seams with our Christmas decorating traditions.

I don't have a real tree -- I've never had a real tree, and I love my fake one! Our family always had fake ones growing up. Well, one year when we lived in Kansas we got a real one. It was a lot more prickly than these fake ones! You can imagine that there weren't too many pines or evergreens for sale in sub-Sahara Africa! In fact, most years, we had to hose our tree off with water before or after (or both!) because it was so dusty! Ahhh, those were the days!

Anyway, real trees are readily available here, and most everyone I know gets a real tree. In fact, did you know that if you buy your real tree from IKEA, and then take it back there after Christmas when the tree is dead, they reimburse you everything except 1 euro? Great deal, huh?

But I love my little fake one. And Sophie does too. :)

It has 3 parts. This year, we got a little confused, and put the middle part into the base and were trying to insert the bottom part into the middle part. Are ya following? Hmmm... then we realized some of the middle branches were really long. Oh noooo...

We quickly remedied that problem. 

But problem number 2 came shortly after we had smoothed out the branches... we couldn't find our second strand of Christmas lights. 

Which meant we had to leave the tree and finish it later in the week-end. You can't put ornaments on before the lights. Christmas Decorating 101.

Sophie's favorite part about all of this is setting up the nativity sets. I think this one is from Staci and Shawna!

This year, the angel is perched atop a flowerpot. 

That's about all we managed to get done on Friday night. But then Sunday night rolled around, and we finished everything! 

I told her several years ago that my Mom used to hand us one ornament at a time and tell us the story of each one and where it came from, etc. (Flat, isn't this from your Pier 1 days??) 

It made me smile so big when this year Sophie goes, "a story for each ornament, Dorsch! Don't forget!" :) 

One of my new favorites! 

Saturday I was feeling so unmotivated to decorate. Unmotivated, uninspired, etc. I think I was a bit homesick.This girl definitely cheered me up and helped my apartment become really cozy and Christmasy!

Thank you Sooooooph! :)

And thank you for standing right in front of my tree when I'm trying to take a picture of it. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

some are pretty, some are not

The Christmas lights are up around Rennes, and it's sooooo pretty! The coblestone streets add an additional charm, I think.

When Halle first moved to Rennes (after having lived 2 years in a city south of here) she said that what sealed the deal with her loving Rennes was this "fairyland" at Saint Anne. Pictures really don't do it justice, but with all of the floating lights, it's really cool!

There are lights everywhere downtown, and they are all really beautiful.

And then you come up north, towards where I live, and you see this:

Do you recognize the awful green building that I very much dislike? There are no lights anywhere else, and then there's this apartment. You can't really tell how bad it is in the pictures... but there is one blue strand, one red strand, one hot pink strand, and then a mixture of colors on the bottom left. And they flash on and off at different times, including the star/flower in the middle. Oh man, it's pretty bad. I feel like someone should say something to them. Even just one strand across the balcony would be better than all of these!

Then again, remember the lights I've had on my balcony? The "masterpieces" of Joel, Jeremie and Simon? The first year they tried to make a smiley face, but because I just have one strand of outdoor lights, they covered up part of the smiley with mustard yellow pieces of cloth, in order to make eyes... and last year Simon wrote "noel", but the "l" lights didn't work, so it was just "noe" (Noah in French).

Hmm... I'm sure my neighbors thought the same thing about my lights as I'm thinking about theirs!

Speaking of which, these guys are supposedly doing something with the lights on my balcony again this year. Getting excited!!! I think! :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

because Danae will check

Dear Danae, I know you'll be checking to see if I updated my blog (you and like 5 other people), so I thought to honor your faithfulness, I'd post tonight before I go to sleep, AND include a picture of you, and me and Melanie that makes me laugh a lot. Oh Danae... what are you doing?! Whatever it is, Mel and I don't look too reassured.

I don't have one particularly thing to blog about -- but I'll put up the latest 5 pictures that I took.

Tara, Raphaelle and I on campus!

The Christmas market is open! I need to go back and take more pictures! It's sooo pretty! It makes me miss my family, as we walked all around it together last year.

Halle and creepy, fake, saxophone playing santa.

The opera house in Rennes -- they had JUST turned the lights on (you can barely see them) literally 15 minutes before!

French Santa wandering around talking to children. Cool or creepy? :)

And there you have it!

I would looooooooove to come over for a cup (or 3) of coffee at your adorable house, Danae! I miss our talks. And our sitting next to each other in church! And going to the etcetera shop!

Much love from Rennes!
Love, Melissa :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

boy am I glad he was born!

It's my Dad's birthday tomorrow (december 3rd)!!! I'd love to be eating a piece of German Chocolate Cake with him, oh -- and drinking a good cup of coffee too, but instead I'll just blog about him and include some pictures that make me smile a lot!

I thought about writing all kinds of things that I love and admire about him, but I don't know if I'd be able to make it through the blog post without becoming an emotional wreck -- I miss him so!

So I'll just share 2 things that bring me much joy!

1. He writes and sings songs all the time. Did you know that? Not like, sits down and writes in his journal and then sings them later type songs, but he comes up with these songs on the spot, usually relating to our present circumstances. They are hilarious. He makes songs up about everything, everyone, everything, everyone... When I was younger, and he'd make up songs about my friends and I, I didn't have enough maturity to appreciate his talent. :) Now, I keep hoping I'll inherit this gift! Andrew thinks he has it, but... time will tell. :)

Last night, I was skyping with my sister, and my Dad tried to call me 3 times while I was talking to her. I quickly wrote "talking to Linds, will call after". A few seconds later, I got these messages from him (which apparently was a song he had just composed...)

drinking Casino coffee in the a.m.

it's not as cheap as I would like it to be
but I don't have too many options
and that is why I sing a song to thee

Casino is an off-brand of coffee from French grocery stores, and not as good as the stuff I stock him up on when I see him! :) And it's significantly cheaper here in France than in Niamey.

After he wrote that, he said, "I do wish you could have heard me sing the above lines; oh yeah, the glory of made up songs about things connected to my children!" 

He's SO great!

2. He loves his children so much, that each time he comes back from Africa and he knows he's going to see us, he brings us back an African coke. There are no words to describe what joy it brings our hearts. And not only does he bring them back faithfully EVERY SINGLE TIME, but they are always carefully wrapped in his socks. :)

He's a pretty neat guy and I'm very grateful for knowing him and having him as a leader and example in my life!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

sunrise + hunter + orchestra

I've recently discovered this awesome new spot to watch the sunrise. It involves trekking through a bit of tall grass, trees, and some shrubbery, but there is an obvious path and it's a really pretty little area.

Thursday morning, I decided to walk out there and climb the mini hill to watch the sunrise -- there was no rain, and hardly any clouds (big deal for Rennes!), and it was beautiful.

You have a great view of the whole neighborhood and I loooove watching the sun come up.

At one point while I was at the top, I heard what sounded like a gun shot go off -- but quickly dismissed it thinking it was a tire-blow out, or something related to all of the construction going on around me (there is a LOT of it, and lots of possible "loud-bang" type noises).

AND, I'm not in Kansas, where it seems way more likely that it would be the noise coming from a gun. :)

So I continued to enjoy my sunrise and started walking back down the mini hill. It was like 8:45 and completely light everywhere. Almost at the bottom, right as I arrived to this big clearing area, I heard someone say "bonjour?" And just then, this really tall guy, dressed all in camo and with a gun over his shoulder appeared. OH MAN I about had a heart attack! I have never seen a hunter in France, let alone in my calm little neighborhood! I was so surprised and shocked and non-suspecting of seeing someone on MY hill early in the morning, that I was shaking in my boots as we had a mini-conversation: 

Hunter: Bonjour?! I didn't expect to see anyone out here. Are you the one scaring off all of the birds??
Me: Uhhh... I didn't see any birds, but I uhhhh, wasn't really looking for any. So the noise I heard was a gun!
Hunter: Oh you heard that? Yes. It was me. I'm looking for birds to shoot. 
Me (hoping that this wasn't some kind of indirect communication): Ooook. Have a good day then. 

And with that, I left (walking rather quickly) and I s'pose he continued his hunting expedition.

When I got back to my apartment, I looked back to see if I could see anyone, and all I saw was this little bird flying in the sky. FLY FAST LITTLE GUY!

I had no idea that people could hunt in this area, and it very much surprised me to run into a guy all decked out in his camo gear with his gun over his shoulder! It's not like this is a woodsy area where you can walk for miles and never see any sign of life. It's a residential area!! Hahaha. Oh man... never a dull moment living in Rennes!

I don't know how you transition from a bird hunter to an orchestra concert but.. last night, I went to an orchestra concert, with some friends -- always so fun to listen to classical music. 

There was a special guest pianist, who played on this gorgeous Steinway grand.

It inspired Halle and I and we're going to play Christmas music later this afternoon (she on the flute, and me on her piano)! I'm excited! It'd be cooler if I could play on a grand piano, but... it shall be fun nonetheless. :)

On another super sad and sorry note... my favorite neighbors are moving today. I know very little about them, but they have such beautiful flowers and have so kindly lent me things the past 4 years. We've really bonded. It's not going to be the same living here without them. For those of you who have met them or have heard me talk about understand the loss! :)

Happy Saturday! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

being crafty does my heart good

It's almost the end of November, but we couldn't let a whole month go by without a special craft time with the little staff girls (and Halle!).

We're in the Christmas mood, so we made little snowmen out of terra cotta pots. I spray painted them yesterday, and today we made hats, glued eyes, drew noses, etc.

The girls do such a good job. I love seeing them getting creative and crafty!

This is Julie and Anna's mama. It was a lot of fun having her here today, and we needed her help! She's a really really cool lady, and it's a blessing working with her and her husband here in Rennes.

Halle and I always joke that we enjoy this time more than the girls...
But they were pretty proud of their finished products!

Aren't they SOO cute?? :) I can't wait for December!

Monday, November 26, 2012

2 thanksgivings in Rennes

Some of you have heard about our student Thanksgiving -- it was awesome!!! Over 100 people... enough hot food, it was a lot of fun! I didn't take hardly any pictures (gasp!), and this first one of our team isn't mine. Tara painted this Thanksgiving football scene, and did an amazing job!!

These are the people I work with! :)

Our emcees of the night were a brother/sister duo and they did a great job!

Joel, even had a papoose. Someone said it was a "bring your kid to work day".

Like I said... I took hardly any pictures, but it was a great evening! 

Then Sunday, we had a Thanksgiving celebration with our "Agape family". Lisa did a fantastic job decorating and making our office look all Thanksgiving-y. 

One of the highlights... having all of the staff kids there with us! Speaking of staff kids, Wednesday is craft day at my house! :)

Julie was quite the cute turkey.

Oops. I thought we were making funny faces... this is Mallory's big brother, my "little" brother.

The staff have mastered the art of keeping their different dishes hot -- wrapped in towels and fleece blankets keeps stuff hot for a long time!

Kind of matching.

After the big meal and before dessert, Anne and I organized a few games...

and skits...

Lots and lots of laughter. I am so thankful for these people!

Thank you to all my dear aunts and uncles and Minnesota family for taking such good care of my siblings! It means a lot!