Update: Summer 2016 in France

It has been a very hectic few months for us: moving out of our flat with two months to spare before leaving the UK, staying with parents, meeting with Gateway Church Poole for the final time, working our last days at our jobs, Lydia and the boys going ahead of me to France before finally being reunited in late June in Normandy, before the last leg of our extended journey to Madrid. Goodbye UK.

There has been some undeniably huge moments for our family during recent times. Saying goodbye to family and friends as the clock seemed to frantically wind down our remaining time in Poole and Bournemouth has been emotional – with overriding sadness to be leaving people we love dearly but also a joyful hope at what lies ahead. We’ve said goodbye to our home, the places we’ve grown up, our comfort zone.

So now we are here in a small village called Saint-Jores in La Manche, Northern France. We will spend the summer here with Lydia’s grandparents, working a few hours each week hosting holiday guests in the gîte connected to their beautiful manor house. There are plenty of jobs to do around the place for me too, my summer job experience during my teens cutting grass for Bournemouth Council has already proved useful – there’s a few acres worth here to keep trim. Our two boys have settled in well, our eldest Yohan is learning table etiquette from his ‘Big Jrandad’, an ex-Commodore in the British Navy, who has dined numerous times with royalty. Yoyo’s reactions are fun to watch as he is playfully corrected when out of line. Throw in some great weather, plenty to explore and a new puppy running around the house and you have an ideal place for the boys to spend a summer in transit to an even bigger adventure.

Curbing our wine and cheese intake may seem like the main challenge for us currently but really the greater challenge is more of a spiritual nature than physical. Keeping our faith levels up is essential – practicalities and details for moving to Spain dominate our thoughts and conversations. It will take wisdom and great planning to set up successfully in Madrid, which means handling finances well, making good decisions and timing things right. None of this happens automatically and it is up to us not only to work hard on the details but also to understand that we don’t do this alone. In our strength, with our capabilities we could get so far, but it is God who directs our steps, it is His strength and grace that will see us through. As a family, we have to keep our eyes on Jesus – ultimately, we are doing this for Him and we are going to put Him first in everything. Hearing from Him, praying together and knowing truth has never been more important.

On the practical side, we are working on a couple of things in readiness for Madrid at the moment. I am preparing for my new job, on a University program teaching English in a secondary school in Getafe (just south of the city centre), which starts in September with two orientation days September 5th-6th, and school starting September 16th. I will travel to Madrid by car with all our earthly possessions (!), leaving on August 20th.Then begins a quick (and instantly successful, we hope!) property hunt before Lydia and the boys arrive by plane from Paris on September 1st. Thanks to our amazing new church in Madrid, Cristo Salvador, we will have somewhere to stay and a team of potential flat search helpers (and translators!) during this time. We are also looking into other possibilities for work in Madrid with our eyes and ears open to opportunities as they come up, for things like teaching English, that would help give us the best chance of surviving and thriving in Spain. Please pray that these things go well for us!

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