Our Language Insécurité

(from Eric)

We have settled in a bit.  We have unpacked and know our way to various markets around.  The kids are registered for school.  Jetlag seems to be behind us.  So, now this is the breath before the dive.  Our first task is a half-day of placement tests on Tuesday.  We're all fairly beginners, but we'll find out for sure, and then the classes start.

How do you think we would approach this?  I'm guessing a lot of people would think "Six doctors, near a century of post-secondary education between you, what's French to you?  I mean, kids learn this, right?"  Well, that's not exactly the sentiments I've been hearing from our team.

Carlan and Rachel are concerned that they have to simultaneously study for their oral medical boards this coming fall.  How can they keep up?  Rachel has the added fear that her general language aptitude isn't as great as the rest of the team's.  John think the same, but he grew up in Togo, so he has a headstart, right?  Maybe, but John is hoping it will start to come back quickly, because he's quite out of practice, and maybe it won't and he'll disappoint everyone and himself.  Jason thinks he'll be slipping behind.  But Jason, your Swahili was probably the best in our whole team!  Well, sure, but I grew up in Kenya and had years of it as a kid.  This is different.

And on it goes.  Is this just our uber-achiever natures?  Probably to some extent, but not "just".  There is a big unknown here.  We really need a high level of French functioning for our work in Burundi.  And learning a language is a different type of learning from learning how to do a C-section, or memorizing various antimicrobial spectra, or learning the Kreb's Cycle for the fifth time (though I don't remember that either).

What about me?  I'm not allowed to just air everyone else's insecurities, right?  I don't have oral boards to study for, and I think my language abilities are fine, though they are largely untried.  But I fear my great pride and it's effect on my language learning.  It seems that learning a language means being viewed as a little kid again in society, and being OK with it.  Going up to strangers and butchering a simple statement and all that.  That's where your learning takes place at its best.  And it scares me and I'm afraid I'll resist it to my detriment.  I don't know if that sounds like a big deal, but I think that it should, because it's not just my insecurity, but it's the sin of my heart, and quite deep at that.

So pray for us.  And encourage us as you unfailingly do.  But I don't think what we really need is the "oh, you'll be fine" encouragement.  For one, it doesn't seem to help that much, as you probably know from your own experiences.  But more importantly, I believe that Christ wants to bring his good news, his Gospel, to bear on our insecurities.  If it's really true that God's strength is made perfect in our weakness, then these insecurities are turned-up soil for the Kingdom of our gracious King to grow.

It means Rachel and Carlan knowing the strength and provision of God when there is stretched and disparate demands on their attention.  It means the death of our worth lying in the fulfillment of other's expectations for us or our own expectations for ourselves.  It means learning to trust in God's goodness and faithfulness when staring into the unknown.  And that is glory to God now, and the application of that lesson later in Burundi will surely be the same.  

And for me, it is sanctification.  It could even be the life-generating power that comes as mortal wounds chip slowly away at my pride and the Spirit of Christ is glorified through my weakness.

May it be.


C'est Vrai! Les McCropders Vivent en France

By Jean-Valjean Cropsey,

The title is my best stab at "It's True!  The McCropders Live in France."  Note, our classes haven't begun yet, college French was a decade ago, and I may be suffering from PTAD, Post Trans-Atlantic Dementia complicated by children x 3; therefore, I take no responsibility for the conjugation of "vivre".

I have been commissioned to retell the tale of our nomadic clan's harrowing migration across the great seas with our innumerable children, nearly overwhelming sums of infant paraphernalia and of course our valiant women to the Alpine oasis of Albertville, France.  

On Thursday, the twenty third day of August, 2012 Anno Domini, 15 out of 16 McCropders instinctively coalesced like bees to the hive in the great city of Detroit (note the French connection already) from their various points of sojourning in the USA.  The 16th McCropder caught our scent and finally joined us in Frankfurt.  

McCropder surveillance was kept tight.  As our vessel was made ready, our security detail kept watch over every move.

   No piece of baggage was left unattended.  The same cannot be said for every child.

Once aboard, the merriment of the clan could not be contained.

It was then that the real test of the will began.  During the overnight voyage to Frankfurt, Germany, some children slept more than others and a few adults got some.  Then the Germans really turned up the heat.  The "family friendly" security line was VERY thorough with the pat downs and they must have fired up the Schnitzel roasters downstairs in order to sap us of any remaining strength via the sweltering ambient temperature in the airport.  Despite the overwhelming odds against them, all the offspring maintained an impressive level of decency and order (thank you for all of your prayers!).  We persevered and arrived in Lyon, France, along with all of our innumerable children, the paraphernalia and our valiant women.   

After carting our cargo to a distant bus, we then enjoyed a two hour nap as we were carried away into the Alps.  We arrived victoriously at our new home in Albertville on Friday afternoon.

All the families are in adequately spacious apartments.  The singles are a bit cozier we might say.

The surrounding beauty is truly breath-taking.

The kids are adjusting to the new time zone quickly and the women are busy nesting.  Stay tuned for more about life so far in France.

Au revoir mes amis.



Good news!  All 16 McCropders and 25+ pieces of luggage arrived safely in Albertville yesterday afternoon.  We were picked up by a bona fide coach bus from the Lyon airport, all to ourselves, and slept most of the drive here.  Everyone is doing great, somewhat jet lagged, and figuring out our new lives.  The scenery is beautiful, the French pastries so far are delicious, and the other language students staying here have been extremely helpful and gracious.  More to come as internet improves, we get more sleep, and settle in.


Sent Forth in Blessing

Tomorrow is the big day!  The McCropders depart from LA, Chicago, Nashville, and Detroit, mostly converging in Detroit, to leave for Albertville.  We will all be on the first flight to Frankfurt except for Carlan, who meets us in Frankfurt for the final leg of the journey.  I think I speak for everyone (mostly) when I say that we are excited to take this big step and get settled in, finally, for a year at least.  The goodbyes are difficult as always, but we have been fortunate to be so loved in the sending.

First, we were all (minus Sarah, who is still in the World Harvest application process) commissioned and prayed for at the WHM sending center in Philly last week.  It was a really sweet two hour prayer service and time of remembering God's faithfulness in the big and small details over these past few years.

Then, Knox Church commissioned the McLaughlins, Cropseys, and Faders on Sunday.  It was a wonderful time of encouragement to us as we saw an amazing body of believers show their support for us AGAIN, in love and prayers and hugs and tears.  We are so glad to be connected to these people.  Carlan, Sarah, and Alyssa were all sent out by their own churches as well.  Between the nine adults, there are at least 8-10 churches behind us.

Thank you for all your prayers as we go.  Specifically, we would appreciate prayer for:
*team unity and good integration of new team members
*our children as they adjust to another new culture and French schools.  Pray that each of them will have a wonderful, understanding teacher and that each child will have at least one close friend in their class
*continued planning for work in Burundi (engineering teams, a well project, and guesthouse)
*language aptitude (in both French and Kirundi)
*good relationships with French nationals and God's direction to a local body of believers
*political stability in Burundi


A Layered Dessert worth Writing and Reading about

(by Sarah)

While in the midst of goodbyes, I began to reflect upon what I have grown to treasure during my year in the States.  Though many things top the list, people and food are my most favorite.  Combine the people and the food = utopia!  I thought I would share one such treasure from this Spring.  

Each Tuesday evening I studied the Bible with a dear group of folks from my home church, Lakeland Church.  This group has evolved over the year and one of our qualities that I have treasured is the inclusive nature.  I made some great friends because we didn’t put out the no vacancy sign.  We are a multi-generational group and by that I mean age 13-80+.  One of our other qualities that I have treasured is that we often gather around food.  People + Food = 1 happy Sarah

Fred and Lois are in the 80+ category.  One night Fred and Lois brought this…

The display of layered yumminess (not a real word) brought forth much admiration from the gathered faithful.  As we partook of food and fellowship, I sang the praises of Fred’s dessert.  I must confess I ate at least 4, but to my credit I probably had missed dinner that night and the pieces were small.  Watch for me in one of Eric’s future posts about weight control furlough-40.  

The best part of the story is the next time Fred and Lois brought the layered dessert to Bible study.  Fred handed me my very own box of sweet goodness to take home.  I was the only one to receive a special take home package.  I was thrilled!  Fast forward a few months...Fred and Lois joined my family for dinner a week ago.  They brought the layered dessert AND they let me keep the leftovers. 

In case you wanted another view…

I’ve adopted new motivation in my running: “Marathon….what?  Run so that you can eat whatever you want.”  I promise this makes running slightly more challenging.  

I apologize because the recipe is tightly packed in a shipping container in Ann Arbor, MI which is humorous to me at this point now that I realize I have no idea how many of the ingredients will be available to us in Burundi.  In Kenya I could have pulled this dessert off smashingly (not as smashingly as Fred) with just a few substitutions!  

Melted butter, crushed graham crackers, chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, coconut, sweetened condensed milk

From memory I think everything is 1 cup except a lot less butter, the chocolate chips is 1 heaping cup, and an 8 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk should do just fine.  Layer a 9x9 pan with the ingredients in the order I listed and bake at 350 F for approx. 10 minutes or until the sweetened condensed milk bubbles.  Chill, cut, and keep chilled.  Eat one every time you open the fridge or better yet - share with your neighbors.  :-)


The Finals of the State Race

(by Rachel McLaughlin)

As our year in the States winds to a close, there are many things that we will all miss.  The constant travelling is probably not one of those things.  You might recall a post on the great State Race of the McCropders.  By December, most of us had traveled to at least 10 different states.  Well, thought you might be interested to get the final count.  Drum roll please....

(the blue line is the State total by December, pink is the current total; Cropseys have since revised their total to 24, but we weren't able to redo the graph)

So technically, the McLaughlins are the winners, but one might also argue we are the losers since we are all bleary eyed from all those miles. :)  What we really need to do is add up everyone's odometers and frequent flier miles.  Here is the impressive picture.  Below is a map of all the states covered by at least one McCropder.  Note that all that is missing are South Dakota, Wyoming, Arkansas, RI, and Hawaii.

Also, not to minimize the Cropseys' time.  They might have only hit up 20 states (only), but did squeeze in nine countries and Puerto Rico.  Combined with the Faders' Canada and Alyssa's Peru, and I think everyone would agree that we are well  traveled this year.  Next up is a map of our European travels in 2012-2013...


Little Moses's Birthday Today

(by Heather) 
I have not yet written about baby Moses, but if you have seen me this year, you have likely heard about him.  Our family still thinks about and talks about Baby Moses often.  One year ago today, baby Moses was born via emergency C-section at Tenwek Hospital.  A visiting doctor delivered this healthy, beautiful baby boy.

Moses went to the nursery where all the newborn babies stay.  Moses’s mother came to feed her baby every 3 hours for three days.  And then she disappeared.

Moses remained in the nursery for several days while an unsuccessful search was conducted for the young woman who surely faced a world of hurting.  I can hardly imagine the brokenness that could lead her to leave her new baby at the hospital.

At one week of age, Moses came to live with us for a while.  He completely wiggled himself into our hearts.

We loved loving Moses, along with our friend Carly (pictured at right at Moses’s one- month- old birthday party).   

At 6 weeks old, Moses entered an orphanage.  It seems like a relatively well-run orphanage, but no orphanage can match God’s design for children to be raised in families.    

Please pray today for Moses and for all the children in the world who are in need of families to love them.


The Next Generation

Last weekend, Eric and I had the privilege to travel to Boone, NC, to the Samaritan's Purse headquarters, to take part in the new Post Residency orientation.  As most of you readers know, we McCropders are Post Residency Program "graduates."  One of our first posts on the McCropder blog was about getting accepted, all the way back in 2008.  Let me just take this brief opportunity once again to thank and praise the PRP/Samaritan's Purse for their role in our lives thus far.  When the McCropders got together, we didn't know exactly where we wanted to go, what we wanted to do, what agency we wanted to work with...or even if we were really certain about spending the rest of our lives together.  The two years of the PRP allowed us to figure all those questions out, in the proper course of time, and also provided essential funding. We hope to maintain a long relationship with Samaritan's Purse through medical donations, staffing, and even someday to take on more Post Residents!

It was exciting to be able to speak to 15 new families in Boone, who are soon heading out to four continents to spread the love of Jesus through their medical gifts and abilities.  Exciting on several levels: one, to see that more people continue to be called to serve in medical missions.  Two, to see that a program that deeply impacted us is thriving.  And three, to be able to share not only our experiences and amassed knowledge of medical difficulties and life struggles in the developing world, but also to share tidbits like the best kind of canned cream available in Nairobi, and the dangers of washing white clothing, etc...to people who care! :)  Something about other post residents...we feel like we are all kindred spirits in a lot of ways.  So it was just really great to get to know these special individuals, and hope that they are all eventually called to long term medical work so we can be colleagues!  Please be praying for these families as they pack up, move out, and spend the next two years of their lives in a crazy, challenging, heartbreaking, wonderful adventure.