Ludmilla is a high profile lawyer specialized in family law. When we first met her many years ago through mutual friends her life seemed pretty perfect, enviable really : fabulously successful career, two beautiful daughters, a luxurious home, exotic family vacations and close extended family. From my vantage point, Ludmilla had it made.
But two years ago the bottom devastatingly fell out of Ludmilla's world when she shockingly discovered that her husband of more than 20 years had had not one, but numerous affairs over many years. As you can imagine, their marriage disintegrated overnight. Thanks to her career, Ludmilla was fortunate to be in a comfortable financial position, and wasted no time in getting out of her toxic marriage. She was so desperate to get away from her cheating husband that she even left behind the beautiful home that she had lovingly created for her family - her husband wanted to keep it, and not wanting to fight, they quickly agreed on a settlement and she bought an apartment near us, near town. She now shares custody of her two teenage daughters and last year she crossed the threshold of her fifties as a single Mom.
It has been devastating, but also humbling and beautiful to see the transformation in Ludmilla despite this truly heartbreaking experience. Having always maintained a certain polite distance, the walls crumbled as she couldn't hold back her tears whenever we got together and she began sharing her story. Then about six months ago, she asked me for a Bible to read with her daughters, who were struggling with anger and lack of forgiveness towards their father. Ludmilla had never read scripture before, and didn't know where to begin, but she wondered if it would be helpful for her and for her daughters! I gave her a copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones in French as I thought that she and her girls would enjoy it together, and explained that it gives a fabulous overview of God's commitment to bringing salvation and healing to the world, and that Jesus has a lot to say about forgiveness and relationships!
Part of Ludmilla's journey of healing has been making a commitment to serving the children of Parfums de Vie. After admiring the work of Parfums de Vie over the years and showing an interest from afar (we have many French friends in this category) Ludmilla decided to make some more changes in her life, and since September she has faithfully committed to helping one or two hours every week to serve the kids at our Parfums de Vie Homework Club.
When difficult things happen in our lives we sometimes feel so emptied, with nothing left to give. Just keeping going and trying to continue with our responsibilities can feel overwhelming. The thought of doing more can seem impossible and maybe even sometimes, we feel so hurt that we can't even bear to be with other people. These are all parts of the stages of grief, but we don't want to get stuck there. I am truly encouraged to see Ludmilla learning to move through her devastating experiences and to discover the truth in Jesus' teaching - that serving others brings so much joy, it nourishes our soul, bringing a greater sense of purpose and even healing. Ludmilla tells me every week how much she looks forward to coming to Parfums de Vie, how she prepares for her time, sometimes even bringing cool treats and gifts for the kids, and that every week, making sure she finds space in her crazy schedule, has become a non-negotiable in her life!
Over the past five months, it has been beautiful to watch Ludmilla get involved at Parfums de Vie, and especially to see a unique bond grow between her and 10 year old Fatma. Fatma, from a deprived Muslim family, is now in 5th grade, she is extremely intelligent, hard-working and has a LOT of potential. Fatma, like most of the kids at Parfums de Vie, doesn't encounter many women like Ludmilla, who is so different from the women in her family - who are veiled, uneducated and stay at home.
Recently Ludmilla invited Fatma to visit her at her office, because she wanted to inspire Fatma! It was a delight to accompany Fatma, and to glimpse more of the impact that this unlikely friendship is having on BOTH of them. Ludmilla is drawn to Fatma's hunger to learn and feels compelled to help, encourage and contribute to her life. It's exciting to see this special connection blossom. Even Fatma's parents are truly thankful and amazed for this incredible opportunity that has unexpectedly fallen into their daughter's life! Fatma's Mom Kamar went out of her way to come and meet and thank Ludmilla, despite her shyness and struggles with the French language.
We don't know what the future holds for Fatma, but we all regularly encourage her that if she continues to work hard at school, she has the potential to accomplish amazing things! So, what happens when a prestigious French lawyer and a disadvantaged Muslim kid become friends? I can see already, without a shadow of doubt, that BOTH of their lives are being impacted and transformed!
I have a feeling in my heart that this is just the beginning of something special, and I am so encouraged that Parfums de Vie provides a safe place for healing for people from all walks of life. Will you pray with us for Ludmilla and Fatma?
with love and profound gratitude,
Nicole & Vincent
***We continue to raise support for our General Ministry Fund which covers the operative costs of running our Education & Literacy Center, Kids Clubs, Youth Groups and Camps. We have camps planned for February, July and October 2023. We are also still raising support to cover Tuition and Living Expenses for our four College Students, hopefully five starting in September 2023. If you would like to support the ministry through regular or one-time giving, all the information is below. Please don't hesitate to contact me for more information! Thank you so much!***
*****Please remember to specify if your gift is for: Parfums de Vie Côte d'Azur Project #70350 OR the DERIEUX family #40415*****
If you would SPECIFICALLY like to help our College Students - please designate the gift to Parfums de Vie with a note specifying "University Scholarship Fund"
Phone: 888-242-5930You can make donations over the phone if you prefer. Lynette in the office is amazing and super helpful. Stock donations are also possible, ask Lynette for more details!
Post: PLEASE NOTE NEW ADDRESS
PO Box 60543
City of Industry, CA 91716-0543
You can email the Communitas office for any enquiries about setting up donations.