Albertville has that small town feel so it’s sometimes hard to believe it was the host for the 1992 Winter Olympics. While Albertville was officially the host for those Olympic games, only the opening and closing ceremonies, speed skating, and figure skating were actually held in Albertville. More than nine other local resort towns hosted the remaining events. It was here in Albertville that Kristi Yamaguchi won gold in figure skating, with Nancy Kerrigan winning bronze and Tonya Harding coming in forth. However it would be two years later at the 1994 Winter Olympics when the drama between Tonya and Nancy would boost the ratings of figure skating to a whole new level.
The ice rink where the figure skating took place was in operation last winter but is now closed for a big renovation scheduled to take more than a year. You can still see the cauldron for the torch out front.
While we currently live in an incredibly beautiful corner of France, it is impossible to ignore the impact of World War 2 on even the most picturesque and tranquil villages in our area. While most towns have a monument to the young people lost in this war, there are also reminders of the important role the brave men and women of this part of France played in the resistance. Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day but rather than post the photos of the large monuments in town with their flowers, here are a couple of simple plaques not far from our apartment that remind me of the reality of this horror each time I walk past them.
I don’t know anything about Pierre Excoffier except what this obscure plaque on the wall of an old apartment building just down the street says… “To the memory of Pierre Excoffier born on October 6th 1894, Arrested by the French fascists on March 31st 1941, Tortured by the Nazis and died at Dachau on February 8th 1945.” The Dachau prison camp was liberated in April of 1945.
On the south side of a nearby school building that is now used as a kindergarten there is another plaque that I noticed today had been decorated with flowers.
This plaque explains that on the 7th of March 1944, two brothers, 11 year old Claude and 6 year old Alain Franck, were arrested from this school by the Gestapo and both died as they were being deported to Auschwitz (another concentration camp).
Last night enjoyed having Anna and her parents join us for dinner. Before long the boys had her playing checkers and reading them books. We are blessed to be a part of a team with so many wonderful people. I am certain this team will be a very special part of our lives and the lives of our boys.
Today on the way home from church we saw a sign for the 11th annual “American Festival” at one of the small towns between Annecy and Albertville. Ezra was sleeping so Melissa stayed in the car with him and listened to the Beach Boys and Johnny Cash being blared over the outdoor speakers while Aaron, Eli, Aden, and I walked among the largest collection of US cars we’ve seen since moving to France.
There we also a few pieces of old US military equipment on display from World War 2. As I talked with a gentleman at the display he said this version of a motorcycle was actually parachuted into France by the US Navy.
Tonight we decided to get as many of the Togo team together for a barbeque as possible. Anna Doenier is a nurse who will also be working in Mango with us at the hospital. She’s been studying at a French school closer to Paris and came for a visit with her parents for a few days so we decided to greet them with a meal together. The evening started off nice and clear but by the end the rain moved in and we had to finish up standing under the eaves.
How can one baby look so different…
Today Melissa and Ezra got to come home. I picked the boys up for lunch from school and scooted over to the hospital were we paid their bill and made our getaway. There are a lot of strikes in France (we notice it most with the teachers at the boy’s schools). However the midwives who do most of the deliveries here in France are not allowed to go on strike at the hospital so instead of actually striking they put up a sign at the entry of the birthing wing announcing they are on strike but in reality everything seems to flow normally.
Today you get the before and after photos. The photo from the emergency entry of the hospital here in Albertville looks a bit industrial. For those that want more details… Melissa’s water broke at home around 4am and contractions began around 5am. We got to the hospital a little after 6:30am and Ezra made his appearance at 7:25am. Mom and baby are doing wonderfully. I took the boys to see them after they got out of school this evening. We are thankful for the amazing community of fellow missionaries and students here in Albertville. Fellow Togo teammates took care of getting Aden, Eli, and Aaron off to their schools and nursery and took care of the pick-ups, drop-0ffs, and lunch today. A number of the ladies from school dropped by to greet Melissa and see little Ezra. Melissa is anxious to get home. There are currently a bunch of babies at the hospital so Melissa is sharing a room with a French mom and her baby. There is a possibility that Melissa will be allowed to come home Thursday but if not we are hoping to have her home at least by Friday. Thanks for your many prayers and greetings.
Mmmm, brownies and ice cream for my birthday, does it get any better than this? Well yes it does…
This is our version of fast food here in Albertville. The local bakery has these small pizzas on a deal where you buy 3 and they give you an extra one. Once in a while when the evening is packed full of activities and the refrigerator is cleaned out of leftovers, this becomes my solution to dinner. Since I usually walk to the bakery to grab these and Aden goes along in the stroller it’s normal to come home with a corner missing from one of them. The most popular dish in this region of France is the Tartiflette. This dish is very rich and consists of potatoes, onions, and bacon bits which are mixed together in a casserole dish and baked with a round of reblochon cheese on top which melts down through the dish making a very rich version of something like au gratin potatoes. The two pizzas on the right are tartiflette flavor with the cheese, potatoes and bacon of this dish and they are delicious.
On a more serious note… Hearing of a tragic bus accident in Togo today reminded me that we need to remember to give thanks to God for the safety He’s granted the many construction teams and missionary trips from the airport in Lome to the hospital construction project many hours north.
Today I made an unplanned trip to Geneva as I drove a classmate who needed to fly home to help address an emergency in the life of his adult daughter to the airport. Since Eli’s teacher wasn’t at school today and there was no replacement teacher, he got to go along. A friend of ours rode along and was an encouragement in this situation. One of Melissa’s classmates recently wrote a good post on the importance of remembering to pray that missionaries would be able to stay on the field. It can be found here. This latest situation is on the heels of the last 2 months of challenges where we have had 3 student’s parents pass away, 1 student have a a semi-large surgery while being pregnant, 1 older student break 2 arms, 3 kids be hospitalized for odd viruses, and another 2-week-old child who remains hospitalized as the family awaits the results from a biopsy meant to verify the presence of a disease that could prevent the family from going to the mission field. In fact, I would ask for your prayer for baby Samuel, his family lives just one floor below us and while he has been hospitalized since his birth two weeks ago, we know that God can heal him and we’re praying for exactly that.