What’s Good For You

Why would a language school require all students to give their testimony in French in front of the entire student body?
Because it’s good for us.
How many times did you hear that phrase or a similar phrase growing up? Eat your vegetables. Play outside. Do your chores. There is something about doing what you would rather not in order to get to a result that you would like. Perhaps nowhere is that more tangibly, palpably demonstrated than public speaking in a foreign language.
Michelle just completed her first address to the student body in French. It was fantastic! She presented herself, her spouse (me), and the work in Burundi. She then told the story of how she bought her mahogany Kawai baby grand piano after graduating CSUN. Like so many stories of God’s grace, it falls into three parts, the prayer, the pause and the piano. OK, maybe not all stories of God’s grace end with a piano, but so this one does. Here’s an abridged transcript of what Michelle said in French.
“After graduating from CSUN, my dad gave me a gift of $5000 to buy a new piano. I searched through ads and in musical instruments stores. The shop owners would just laugh when I told them I was looking for a baby grand (my old piano had jagged keys that sometimes cut my fingers when I played it) and quickly ushered me to the back of the store where the upright pianos were. The best I could figure, I needed at least $7000 to buy a baby grand.
Then, one day, I came across what seemed like a good possibility. One shop had a black baby grand piano for sale within my price range. The salesman said that I needed to buy it on the spot, as there was another woman interested in the piano. Feeling rushed, I called my dad who advised me to pray about it before buying it. I told the clerk I needed the night to pray about it and when I called the next morning, the other customer had already purchased it. Months went by without anything better.
Had I passed up God’s provision? Sure it didn’t have the best sound, the action was heavy and it was boring black. I prefer natural wood colors. But it was the only baby grand I had seen in my price range. Until one fateful day when I saw an ad in the paper. “Baby grand piano. Good condition. $6000.” It was extremely brief but something in me told me to call on this piano. The seller invited me to come check it out. When I arrived, we went inside his deceased mother’s house and pulled a heap of blankets off a beautiful mahogany baby grand. Opening the cover I found the felt still on the keys. The tone was remarkable. The action was crisp and light. I was delighted. This was an excellent piano.
He showed me the paperwork that accompanied the piano. His mother had been the original owner. What’s more, it had been constructed in the year of my birth. And even more, he said that during the Northridge earthquake a speaker had fallen off a shelf and scratched the back of the lid. He wanted to reduce the price so that we could fix it. (Later I visited a piano store just to check on what this piano would sell for in their store. The vendor’s estimate: $25,000!)
This is how God works. He is good and He is in control. He knew all the pianos in the area and He directed me to that one in His time. He doesn’t always say ‘yes’ but He is always the same.

Concert de Noël

In the midst of language school here in Albertville France, we had the opportunity to participate in a Christmas concert put on by the local church and in partnership with the local town Mayor and held Albertville’s concert hall.

Maison de Maistre
View of the 17th C. concert hall complete with scaling ceiling fresco.

It was a first for the church so we weren’t sure how many people would even come.  After months of planning, rehearsing and practicing the concert day came. The concert hall was almost filled (300-400) with an eager crowd, many of whom had heard about the concert by the many flyers put up around town:


Michelle played an original piano arrangement of Carol of the Bells and also accompanied the other singers.  Michelle and our teammate Greg Sund accompanied a beautiful arrangement of Angels From The Realms Of Glory written by Dan Forest for 4 hand piano, cello and vocals.



It was a 2 hour concert of both classical and contemporary Evangelical Christmas music. The concert had a warm reception and we were called back for two encores!


The program…note the opening act after intermission (entracte)

Here is the group of musicians: 4 pianists, a cellist, percussionist, 3 vocalists,  a bass player, and a guitarist.

The musicians before the performance

But the unsung heroes of the concert were the behind the scenes people, one of which was Carlan. He was assigned the job of doing all the lighting. This involved him climbing scaffolding and making his own filters for all the lights. Here he is working hard during one of the rehearsals.

hard at work
Carlan taking notes on lighting settings for songs

On the day of the concert, during the last rehearsal God answered prayer by providing a dress for Michelle to wear, lent by a kind member of the church, perfectly her size!

happy couple
Michelle in her purple dress & Carlan in his purple tie.

Thank you all for your prayers! It is so fun being a part of what God is doing here in this corner of the world! (Enjoy a 14 sec clip from backstage. We will link to more when it becomes available.)

Life in France (Vie en France)

Nous sommes arrivés en août et ont été occupés immediatement. Ok…now back to English:-)   We arrived in late August and hit the ground running. Our goals for this year are for Carlan to continue his French language acquisition and for me (Michelle) to learn as much French as possible for life in Burundi. The day after arriving we took our placement tests and then started classes the following day, and it hasn’t slowed down since. Carlan is in the most advanced class and I am in the debutante class.


Our weekly routine usually looks like this:

Monday: class all day / homework in the evening

Tuesday: class all day. In the evenings I attend a local art class where I can practice my French and learn painting. Once a month Carlan attends a continuing medical class

Wednesday: day off / study day / get out and enjoy the mountains / music practice for Sunday

Thursday: class all day / every two weeks we attend a French Bible study

Friday: class all day / date night

Saturday: study day, take weekend exam

Sunday: day of rest / once a month I play the piano at our local French church and Carlan works the sound board.


I have also had the opportunity to arrange some Christmas music and lead our student body in choir practices leading up to our graduation performance on December 16th. Also, on December 17th I will have the opportunity to be a part of a Christmas concert held at a local concert hall.


We would appreciate and covet your prayers!

  1. That our minds would retain the onslaught of information we are learning each day
  2. That the Christmas concert would be a blessing to many people
  3. That we would have the strength needed for living abroad and learning a new language


  1. We are adjusting well thus far
  2. God has given us opportunities to serve our local church and community

M3 (Mobilizing Medical Missions) Conference


In February we had the privilege of attending and speaking at the M3 Mobilizing Medical Missions Conference in Houston. Here is a recap of our time at the conference.

The conference was brief (Friday-Saturday), but good and very encouraging. Each of the 4 plenary sessions were packed with at least 5 speakers doing a Ted-style talks (18 min). The breakout sessions were a bit more in depth. Carlan was the first main speaker for the conference and he did a great job. Thank you for all your prayers!  Kibuye Hope Hospital, “our” mission in Burundi was one of the highlighted ministries of the conference and received a check for $10,000 from the conference sponsors at the end. Our Kibuye booth was busy the whole time and there are TONS of people interested in what we’re doing in Burundi. The holistic vision of what we are doing and the emphasis on team/community really attracted the interest of people from lab technicians, pharmacists, physical therapists, med students and a bunch of specialists in attendance. Praise God!

Below is a picture we had taken with Paul Osteen and his wife Jennifer.

IMG_3847 IMG_3845

Below is a picture taken during out of the breakout sessions. It was encouraging to see many medical students and residents with a heart for missions in attendance, and with many eager questions.




Below is a picture with Chrissy Chipriano, who flew out from Serge to help us man the booth. We couldn’t have done it without her! Behind us you can see the banners that Carlan designed himself.


It was a great experience connecting with those who are like-minded in their desire to use their gifts for the glory of the Lord and in His service. We really enjoyed reconnecting with Paul Osteen and his family and seeing their heart for missions and desire for the spread of the gospel. He had the speakers and their families over to his house for dinner before the conference started which was a rich time of fellowship. The evening ended with the group congregated around the piano singing Amazing Grace while Michelle accompanied.

While we were attending the conference, Carlan’s grandfather Del Carper went home to be with the Lord. We were saddened to be away from home but thankful that he is now free from pain and his faith is now sight! A few weeks prior we had the opportunity to visit him the day after his 91st birthday and to celebrate with a chocolate pudding pie (he had no remaining teeth at that point, probably due to his inclination to favor the sweet dishes on the menu 🙂  Before we left we asked him how we could be praying for him, and he said, “Pray that I will remain true to the Lord.” What a heart of faithfulness to the very end! We were so very thankful to have had this opportunity to visit him before he passed away.

Thank you all for your prayers! God answered in many ways!




A Hero Passes (Written by Carlan Wendler)


Grandpa upon graduating Navy basic training at Farragut, Idaho.


“Pray that I would remain true to the Lord.”

That’s what my grandpa said when Michelle and I asked him how we could pray for him the last time we saw him. Ninety-one years old. He had served faithfully on his family farm growing up, in a Navy submarine in World War II, at the mission station and in a rebel prison during 20 yrs in Congo plus 17 more in France afterwards and for decades in retirement.

In my mind, he had already passed the “true to the Lord” test.

In the sovereign plan of God, he would pass the ultimate test two weeks later, in a hospital bed but surrounded by family.

My impulse is to “go philosophic” in the face of Grandpa’s death. I’m wired to engage the deeper, weightier things, to search for meaning in the jagged, ruptured edge of our earthly existence marked out by sin’s cursèd effect. But for Grandpa, I don’t really have to: he had completed his course and was receiving his medal of reward.

We, his surviving family, all prayed that God would not delay his death for even a moment. He was ready to go. I don’t mean that he had checked out of life and become unresponsive or listless. He was simply a boat at port (“Submarines are referred to as ‘boats,’ not ships,” he had taught me.) Rudders and planes locked, engines quiet, ropes coiled or fastened — his journey was almost complete. He had only to walk down that gangplank onto the dock of that glistening shore where his Savior waited to welcome him home.

I love my grandpa. To say that he inspired me to attempt great things for God and expect great things from God is understatement. I depend on him for a quarter of my genes but he had an outsized influence on my spiritual heritage. Grandpa taught me as much about  carpentry, agriculture, prayer, ministry, and trusting God as anyone.

And though this is a time of real sorrow for my mom (his daughter) and our family, this is also a time of real rejoicing. Grandpa knew Jesus Christ well. I saw Him shining in him all the time. His sins were forgiven. His heart and mind were at peace. He was prepared. After all, it was Grandpa who used to tell me as a boy,

“A missionary’s got to be ready to preach, pray, or die at a moment’s notice.”

(In lieu of flowers or gifts, we are honoring Grandpa’s legacy by planting the Word of God in Congo through the continuing work of missionaries with his mission,  Crossworld, accessible by clicking here.


Grandpa and Carlan in France in 1993.


The Wendlers’ 2016 Travel-Line to France & Beyond!

unnamedWelcome to 2016!

This year represents many small steps for the Wendler family as well as one giant leap [back] into international life and ministry.

We’ve constructed a rough timeline of travel between now and September, when we will hopefully be moving to French language school in Albertville, France. We have been deliberately vague with some locations (sorry, can’t specify further) but would be happy to furnish you with dates for any of these so that we can coordinate seeing you.

Thank you and we love you!
Carlan & Michelle

First Married Christmas

As the business of the holiday season starts to climax, a moment for contemplation and praise is in order. Looking back over this last year I am amazed at God’s work in our lives. He gets the credit for where we are now, and for crossing our paths those many months ago. And it is because of His great love and mercy towards us that we have something to celebrate. Christmas…Christ with us! What an awesome reality!

We shipped our Christmas decorations to a container in TX which will leave for Africa in a few months, but my parents graciously let us borrow a few decorations, and the Winslow family sent us our first nativity scene (as seen on the fireplace mantel).


Don’t worry, we have two stockings…I just need to hang the other one 🙂


We didn’t have Christmas tree topper, so Carlan got a single sheet of paper and voila!


A paper poinsettia ornament I made out of some old sheet music.


We have so very much to be thankful for!

“O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds, and enlarge my mind; Let me hear good tidings of great joy and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore, my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose, and my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father.

Place me with ox and ass, camel, goat, to look with them upon my Redeemer’s face, and in Him account myself delivered from sin.

Let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child to my heart, embrace Him with undying faith, exulting that he is mine and I am His. In Him Thou hast given me so much that heaven can give no more.” Valley of Vision

Delicious and Easy Butternut Squash Soup


We’ve been living on a budget and trying some fun/easy recipes. This one is definitely one of our favorites! My mouth starts to water just thinking about it. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup

2 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 medium butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and cubed

1 (32 fluid ounce) container chicken stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring chicken stock to boil. In a separate pan melt the butter and cook the onion, celery, carrot, and squash 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add to chicken stock and cook until soft, (around 40 minutes).

Transfer the soup to a blender, and blend until smooth. Return to pot, and mix in any remaining stock to attain desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper (or cayenne pepper if you like your food spicy hot).