les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Friday, March 27, 2015


The internet is now working via Free - they took 4 and a half days to connect us and all is, so far, well.

Meanwhile Mrs Davey's back is OK. Today she sauntered off to Carrefour to obtain the little essentials that had been left off the list of the megashop I did yesterday, and she is up and about and smiling and saying her back's OK.

Meanwhile it has warmed up a little today. It is hard to believe that yesterday, almost at the end of March, we had the stove lit all day.

And the plumber phoned and said he'll call tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pat's back playing up

Pat has a herniated disc, relic of years of nursing, which now and again flares up unpredictably.

Sometimes it's a movement that sparks it off. Sometimes it's too much lifting or carrying. We've been doing some gardening, nothing heavy, but I don't know if that was the source of the current flare-up, but it's happened.

She's cancelled her stints in the Maison de la Bible and started on ibuprofen. We hope that all will calm down this week so that I can come to the UK with no great worries. If it develops into a big problem then I might have to cancel the trip.

Thanks for praying!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Where a phone call achieves nothing, twitter works marvels

Well the internet is back

Bouygues said that the internet software deep in the gubbins somewhere would try and sort itself out every night between 10pm and 6am until April 2nd. If April 2nd dawns and our internet STILL didn't work, then we should call again and a technician would leap into action.

And I leave for England on 31st March, and Catrin is studying for her bac, much of which entails the internet...

Well, on the way to the Chinese group on Saturday I was charged with getting some eggs and other comestibles. This I did with such panache and speed that I called in at the Free shop and:

1) ascertained that Catrin's mobile phone is on Free with 20GB of 4G (lots of internet connectivity)

2) it is really easy to switch people to Free, so I planned to switch Pat on Monday

3) switching to Free for the fixed line and internet is also quite easy.
"It takes between 6 and 15 days."
"Normally 6 or normally 15."
The guy looked me in the eyes. "Normally 6."  (Ha! We'll see!)

On to the Chinese group. We were not numerous but we were of great quality.
I suggested that since Saturday evening is prime work time for restaurants that people should be asked what day and time might suit better for the meeting...

Each morning we turned off and on the modem to see if the line was working again.
I decided that if on Monday the thing still didn't work I would zoom off to Free and switch Pat's mobile phone over and also request moving the internet.

So Monday morning our workman came to sort out the damp damage in the spare room, then off to Free I went, returning with Pat's new phone card and having signed up for internet.

Then I tweeted about my move.

All of a sudden Bouygues people leapt to reply. "What's the problem? Can we help?"

A couple of hours later the internet is working.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

First cold in ages

After the longest day came the longest night... somewhat sleepless.. and in typical Alan custom what comes next?

Yes. I caught a cold.

Still, it's the first in ages!

Internet failure - due to eclipse?

Hi! Our internet connection is down.

The technicians say it's a software issue rather than hardware. They do autorecovery procedures overnight, so we try out each morning to see if it's back.

The failure coincided with the eclipse, so it may be due to that, or possibly due to hacking by North Korea or terrorists.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The longest day

Well, it won't be too long, but this morning I'm in the Maison de la Bible from 10 till 2, then I have a little wait in town till 5:30 when there is a council meeting in Cenon, probably till about 7:30.

I haven't attended a council meeting for some months, but since I am away in April for that council AND for the AGM I will be there this evening.

On the bus and tram I chatted with a friendly guy who started the conversation by lamenting the need to travel by bus and tram - "it's restrictive". I told him how liberating I find it and we talked about the various ways of doing the things you can't do by bus - buying furniture, going to the dump, etc.

I told him about Citiz/Autocool and Drivy, and he told me about BlueCub, then we reminisced about bizarre French cars of the past. I told him about my Ami 8, and he told me about the Méhari he once had (I was green with envy) and his DS21 (I'd love to try driving one of those one day) and the Fiat 500 (that one he could keep).

Then, all of a sudden we were at his stop and he got off. Still, it was an agreeable start to the day. I hope we meet again.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A spot of music

The Synode of La Grand'Combe

OK. Here are some highlights.

1) Meeting the Men of Meaux - representatives of a church that dates back to the time of Briçonnet, Farel, and the others of the Circle of Meaux. I ate lunch yesterday with the heirs of the reforming Bishop of Meaux. How awesome is that.

The church is currently not attached to any union of churches and so they are seriously considering becoming members of UNEPREF.

2) Meeting Nely Vos, the missionary attached to the Friedland Church in Marseille. I had heard so much about her but it was good to meet her.

3) Meeting my host couple, who lived in Bordeaux years ago, when Yves was pastor of the Eglise Libre.

4) Meeting Arnold, an alarmingly young theologian, Calvin specialist, now working on the Trinity in the OT, who was great fun.

5) Being back in the Cévennes, where the valleys, villages and coal tips remind me of the Rhondda.

6) Seeing some very dramatic restructuring of the church committees and regions achieved peacefully and with rigour.

7) Hearing Yannick Imbert speaking on Apologetics and inter-religious dialogue.

8) Not having to count the votes this time!

9) Good journeys there and back, on the way in Harriette's comfortable car, on the way back in a comfortable train.

Here's some photos.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Off to La Grand'Combe

Hurrah! It's Synode time!

So later today we will drive 6 hours to La Grand'Combe, not far from Alès, which isn't far from Nîmes, which is just up the road from Montpellier, in the deepest darkest Cévennes, for the National and General Synod of the Nation Union of the Protestant Reformed Evangelical Churches of France.

I'm travelling down with Harriette in the Smitmobile but coming back on Sunday by train. It will mean 7 hours by train. I think. Between then the synod will accomplish marvels. The regions of France are to be abolished. The South-West region will be no more. Neither will Languedoc-Cévennes nor Provence-Ile-de-France.

The new denominational structure will be lighter, leaner, slimmer, swifter, more adaptable, quick-thinking and decisive.

As a humble pasteur-associé I don't have a vote, but I usually end up counting the votes so ... let's just say that there are ways and means.

I will try to add photos and perhaps the odd reflection from Synod.

Monday, March 09, 2015

From Auschwitz to Charlie Hebdo: the perils of being Jewish in France

Read the Guardian article here

25 Maps that explain the history of the English Language

can be seen here.


Catrin went off for a youth weekend to the foothills of the Pyrenees where she was to translate for a Surf Pastor who apparently, it turned out, did his theological training in Wrexham, the town where both Gwilym and Catrin were born...

Anyway, they all arrived, they ate, they had the first session, they went to settle for the night, then it all began. Catrin just vomited. Others had diarrhoea. All had to use one of those special turkish toilets - a hole for squatting. Que du bonheur!

Meanwhile Pat and I took the bus to Pessac Centre and then walked down along the tramline through the woodland where they're building new flats. The stuff they're building is too expensive for us, but it was good to see the kind of thing that's being put up.

We had a picnic sat on a bench in the first sunshine of Spring.
Then some television together, listen to last week's message from Deeside, and preparation for Sunday.

Sunday evening was a happy time. We were a few people fewer, probably because of the Mark drama being put on by the GBU in Latresne that evening.

However, our friend Nico was visiting and he was able to have a good discussion with one of our young folk who has read and been impressed by a singularly unhelpful book by some US presbys who decided to cross the Tiber, "Rome, sweet home". As Nico is currently engaged in swimming the Tiber in the other direction, I was extremely glad to get them together and let them talk. After all, I may know what indulgences are and how one uses a rosary, but I've never been in the system.

When I got home Catrin was waiting to recount her adventures, still looking somewhat ... drained ... but basically OK.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Book review : God's Battle-plan for the Mind, The Puritan practice of Biblical Meditation, by David Saxton

It is always fascinating to see how health advice swings around. I knew that if I waited long enough the doctors would recommend the health-giving properties of pizza and dark chocolate! And it has been wonderful recently to see scientific endorsement of the habit of daily prayer.

Well, it's not put quite like that. Instead a time of mindfulness is recommended. To turn aside from daily pressures and our usual mindlessness(?) and to focus simply on who and where you are. Previous meditation techniques spoke of emptying the mind. Now we are told to focus the mind, to be fully present.

Christians have a third way. (See what I did there?) Instead of emptying the mind, which David Saxton says opens us to the possibility of "spiritual predators, and instead of focusing the mind on me and my circumstances, we can raise the mind higher. Paul would say, in Colossians 3, "set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things"

Saxton tells us that the Puritans considered long and hard how to put into practice Paul's exhortation, as well as the other countless encouragements to turn our thoughts and minds to God, his word, his promises, his goodness and the salvation he has accomplished for us.

This is not a long book. It has 12 chapters, but some of those chapters are very short indeed. There is some repetition. But there probably is no book that more thoroughly considers how practically to engage the Christian's mind with the truth of God. It's an encyclopaedic vade mecum of Christian meditation.

Are there weakness? I would say perhaps two, and I hesitate to mention them.

Firstly sometimes the book comes across as being somewhat gloomy and joyless, more focused on the dangers than the delights. It's a pity, because I think that those who may benefit best from the encouragement and practical advice in this book may give up reading it or even be put off. We are called to persuade the unwilling and not just to "preach to the choir".

Secondly, what preacher is not aware of the danger of sounding more like his puritan heroes than the puritans do? We can slip into archaic forms of speech that are unhelpful. Obviously when one quotes puritan authors then those quotes will be in 17th century English. But the reader needs to be able to tell at a glance the 17th century puritan quote from the 20th century author's own text. We must write simply and directly. I think the puritans would if they lived today.

So this is a very useful book that deserves and will repay slow, careful study. Think on!

What's that crazy honking and squeaking?

It is the sound of hundreds of cranes flying overhead on their way north for the summer.

What's that insane beeping noise all over France?

It is the sound of millions of smoke alarms being tested.
From 8 March every home in France must be equipped with at least one smoke alarm.

Another half-baked reflection

Some time ago a Welsh clergyperson said during a conference, "While we may be alarmed at the philosophical assumptions of post-moderninism, we don't regret the passing of philosophical modernism. That never did us any favours."

I was thinking about this this week in the context of two discussions.

The first is a controversy that is smouldering about the work of the Spirit in relation to the Scriptures.

The historic evangelical position has been that when the Bible is preached, even if the preacher has done his work impeccably, with reflection, exegesis, analysis, application, illustration, structure, prayer and all, still for that word to have a powerful effect in the lives of the hearers the Holy Spirit must apply what they hear to their mind, heart, conscience, will, etc.

It is said that this position is no longer held by the vast majority of British evangelicals, with the watchword being "The power is in the Word". What this means is that the preacher must do an excellent job of reflection, exegesis, etc... and if he does, then the preaching will hit home. If he doesn't, then, hey, try harder next time.

I am disturbed by the "the power is in the Word" position because it effectively puts all the power in the hands of the preacher, which, incidentally, is just where we want it in our culture of celebrity. The gospel trains us never to exalt people, least of all ourselves. Only Christ.

(Incidentally putting preacher's mugshots on posters, or advertising services "With Fred Bloggs". Where does that come from?)

The second was a book on meditation that I have to review that, in the first chapter or so, gave the impression that "if you do these things you'll grow as a Christian and if you don't then you won't"


Anyway, I wonder whether in both these areas our heritage of philosophical modernism is doing us no favours. Modernism sees the world in terms of systems, and it is fascinated with working out how the system works and how we can understand, manipulate and control it. It's main fruit is technology.

Its drawback is that philosophical modernism believes in a closed system, where what we can see, analyse, manipulate and control is all that exists. If you can't see it, it isn't there.

Hence the "do this, it works" and the "the power is in the Word" problem.

We need to be able to do it, to make it happen.

Just a thought.

Gwilym's future

There is some discussion. At present he's doing a church apprenticeship at Freshbrook in Swindon.

For next year he is thinking of doing a course in Theology and Music at LST - the London School of Theology, erstwhile London Bible College.

Discussion centres around:

1) the suitability of the faculty - it's the only course in music and theology he's found

2) the fees - at £14000 per year including full-board accommodation they are not excessive by British standards. However they still amount to well over half our annual salary. He'll end up with a very large student loan. Some help may be available from trust funds and he can invite help via stewardship services.

Could he achieve the same results by doing a non-residential course in theology combined with another training position and music studies at LST by distance learning?

3) the goal. Gwilym wants to reach young people with the gospel. He doesn't have any sense of call to pastoral ministry.

Well there we are. We're thrilled that he wants to serve the Saviour, though the route there seems winding.

Bac blanc - done

Catrin's bac blanc exams finished on Thursday.

She's had her first result already, but from her weakest subject.
She's full of dread for her OIB American literature because the teacher has been absent a lot and they spent too much time on poetry.

It'll be fine!

A song from the colony

The first day of Spring sunshine

Well what a nice way to spend a Friday!

It started with the CNEF33 committee meeting which was to be held at the Caudéran Baptist Church.

Caudéran used to be a suburban town, independent of Bordeaux, just like Bègles, Pessac et al,  but it was bought, it was purchased by Bordeaux. So it projects out over the boulevards, the inner ring road that approximately delineates the frontier of the town. It is regarded as being a particularly bourgeois neighbourhood, containing the lovely Parc Bordelais, but it has LOTS of blocks of flats and no tram line. So I booked a pool car and popped the address into Waze.

Well that was my first surprise. When I started the programme Waze knew what was in my diary on my phone, and suggested that I wanted to go to Caudéran. I supplied baptiste, and it found the address and plotted a course. Bravo, Waze!

Second surprise - instead of directing me to the rocade as I expected, it sent me off through backroads of Mérignac. Now Mérignac is one of the towns that fascinates me. Like all Bordeaux suburbs it has these remarkable space-age looking blocks of flats in curved or angular geometric shapes with foil exteriors or balconies poking out eccentrically. But next-door may be an old house looking like a settler's cabin in the forest of the Landes. You get a sudden vineyard, a level crossing, a fine stone chateau, some post-war cottages built very simply with pent roofs and graffiti on the walls. So I had a wonderful trip driving through the first day of Spring sunshine.

The meeting was a delight, though part of it was spent trying to work out who can replace our brethren who are leaving Bordeaux for other fields of service. Then another lovely drive through little winding streets back to Pessac.

A quick sandwich, then into town to meet up with one of our students. Instead of our usual café table we decided to walk through the streets with our cappuccinos in a paper cup. Neither of us had read the next chapter of Schaeffer's "Escape from Reason" (in French - Démission de la Raison) so we talked about studies, family, the future, and enjoyed the first day of Spring sunshine on the quays.

Then dash home through the congested streets on a number 4 bus that was just too big to sneak through the gaps like the Vespas. A brief Skype interview with one of the glitterati of GBM, James' sending agency, followed.

Then off again in the other pool car to take Catrin from one side of Pessac (singing lesson) to the other (music option for bac). While she did her class I scuttled off to get some of those new magic wonder-logs from Leroy Merlin, past the Pessac vineyards with a gloriously golden sunset. Did I mention that today was the first day of Spring sunshine?

Thursday, March 05, 2015


French presidential elections take place in two rounds - deux tours.

In the first round all the candidates are put forward and if anyone gets over 50% of the vote, then he elected.

However it is quite common for nobody to have over 50%, in which case the two front runners of the first round go into the second round, and the winner of that round wins.

Nicolas Sarkozy, who I miss greatly, has befuddled the minds of many people by speaking of those who vote for the FNPS - the Front National Parti Socialiste.

He has since explained himself, saying that when people vote for the Front National in the first round and give that party a good percentage they provoke a backlash which results in people voting socialist in the second round.

I think he is probably right, though he's been perhaps just a bit too creative, cryptic even, in his description as FNPS

Wednesday, March 04, 2015


One of the folk who occasionally come to Bordeaux Church is a professional photographer. Not a studio, portrait or wedding photographer, but a street photographer. I asked about his work, an he has a photostream on Flickr. Here it is.

I thought, "I used to have a photostream on Flickr" and found it. There was good news and bad news.

The good news, the photos are still there.
More good news. Flickr now gives unlimited storage for photos. Yippee!

Now the bad news. Because I hadn't accessed my account for SO LONG I couldn't get into it and couldn't get the password. So I had to start a new one, and not as nicely named.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Zack Eswine in conversation about Spurgeon's Sorrows

Listen here.

The Chinese group

Last time I was at the Chinese group it was Valentine's day and I was asked to talk about marriage - and of course, I was glad to do so.

I suggested that perhaps if wished I could speak about relationships, singleness, contentment and so on from 1 Corinthians 7 the next time.

So in Sanary my mind turned to this subject, but I was a good boy and didn't go haring off into commentaries while on holiday.

So on the Friday when I got a message saying, "Tomorrow in the Chinese group, where in Colossians are we?", I was quite glad. I could bring out one of my favourite messages from Colossians 1 from this year and preach on something a bit easier than 1 Corinthians 7.

I want to ask you to pray for the Chinese group.

Some years ago there were the bumper years of the triumvirate, or the three wise man. One avuncular older man who saw his mission as to provide a family for all the Chinese students. One new convert, very gifted and a good team man. One older convert, wised up and with a bit of background. With their energy the group grew immensely. I remember a Chinese New Year where Chinese ravioli was prepared in a makeshift kitchen for 80 people and a room full of new contacts.

Now the group is much smaller and the current leaders, gentle, wise and in some ways, dynamic people, are looking to renew their strategies for reaching the Chinese.

My role can only be to encourage, propose and suggest. I can't do anything at all in Mandarin. And that's a good thing. But they're working on new cards to print and distribute, they'll renew the website, they'll do what they can to get things going once more.

The ongoing saga of the leak

Back before we went away to Sanary we had that leak in the heating system.

I phoned our insurance people and they told us the good news. We are covered both for sorting out the leak and for repairing the water damage.

The lady and I agreed a sum for sorting out the room and I contacted a friendly ex-pastor who is now working as an odd-job man. He's coming round next week.

The lady contacted a plumbing agency to come and fix the leak. They came on the Friday, I put the heating on - no water. But there was a drip from the hot water tank.

We can't quite work out why water was flowing from the corner of the room, but it is where the hot water tank is situated, so he adjusted the overflow mechanism (expansion vase) and said, "call me if it still leaks."

It still leaked, so I phoned the company and arranged for someone to come back - it would be after our trip to Sanary. When we went away I shut off the power to the hot water tank and turned off the water at the stop cock.

A different plumber came. "What's the new problem? My colleague said it was fixed."

"No, he did something to the expansion vase, but said to phone if it was still leaking, which I did."

"OK, I'll give him a ring."
"OK, he said, don't fuss about, it's the expansion vase. Give them a quote to replace the expansion vase."

He brought back his quote but also said that the expansion vases are prone to failure and a proper solution would be to run an overflow to the outside of the house.

"Anyway", he said, "I've had enough of being a plumber in Bordeaux. I'm off back to Tours. I've had enough of trying to cobble together dodgy setups."

I think I need to find another plumber.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Well Catrin survived her first day of bac blanc

with Spanish this morning

followed by philosophy this afternoon.

We went into Bordeaux for a meeting this afternoon and got in fine, but the bus back was TERRIBLY crowded.

But Catrin's bus, perhaps an hour later, was fine.

Phew, it's good to get a strike day behind you!

Oh the joys

Today Catrin starts her mock exams (bac blanc), all day Monday to Thursday.

And the buses and trams are striking.

Bus 4 is running, but less frequently and not as late in the evening.

The Sunday after the week before

Last week was bumper busting full week, with LOTS of visiting Dutch folk and a few others too.

This week was quiet week, with many students gone on the GBU skiing weekend and others taking advantage of the school holidays to get away from Bordeaux and the rains of March.

Déviations, retards and perturbations

Speaking of which yesterday was carnival day and the rain was emptying down. Our bus was diverted so we had to get off two stops before we intended, and the tram was not running, so we had to hoof it through the pouring rain. As we approached the cathedral we could hear the samba drums and soon we saw the carnival floats. First minions, then pirates, then a massive DJ nightclub wagon surrounded by sodden revellers, happily dancing half-naked or in disco-spangled-lycra.

By this time I had got separated from the girls, so I sambaed through the crowd and then told them that once they'd passed the disco-float the roads were clear.

I don't think anyone was prevented from getting to Dan by the transport problems, thankfully, and by the evening all was back to normal.

Well, apart from Pooh floating by on his hunny jar, that is.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book review - Spurgeon's sorrows, by Zack Eswine

I was thinking the other day of how much we owe to fragile, damaged, broken men.

The greatest example for the British is Churchill. Opinionated and stubborn, he was hardly a role-model in terms of personal fitness or healthy living. He also suffered from what he called his "black dog", his depressive episodes. And yet he was a remarkable writer, painter and probably the greatest statesman of the twentieth century.

Christians will think of Martin Luther, of Cowper or, of course, of Spurgeon.

"Spurgeon's Sorrws", by Zach Eswine, is subtitled "Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression" and in this book Eswine has done a remarkable work of research and collation to scour Spurgeons writings and sermons to glean information but mostly helpful reflections on depression and how to deal with it.

En route he reminds us of some of the battles Spurgeon faced, both early in his ministry in the Surrey Gardens catastrophe as well as later on when he wrestled with his chronic ill-health. He shares Spurgeons reflections on his pastoral ministry to those in his congregation who struggled. He works hard to avoid trite or superficial responses and to encourage his readers to take depression seriously.

Readers will sometimes struggle with Eswine's style. He has spent a long time reading Spurgeon and sometimes he writes like a Victorian, kind of. Sometimes it's too flowery for a book from 2015. Now and again you will have to work hard to understand the structure of the writing. One paragraph had me baffled until the third time of reading. Yes, it's a fault. Writers should write clearly. It's about communication.

But this is a helpful book. Read alongside other volumes the reader will find lots of help either in facing depression or in helping others to do the same.

I received this book free in exchange for a book review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Sanary sur Mer

We've been very fortunate this week, some friends live in Sanary sur Mer, just along the coast from Bandol on the Cote d'Azur, and they have an office, the office of the International Christian Communities, which can accommodate a small family for a short stay. So we hopped on the train on Monday and spent some very happy days in the sun at Sanary.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Le France, terre d'accueil

You may remember some happy adventures I had with asylum seekers from a middle eastern country some months ago. These friends were in a pickle because she had become a Christian and started going to a Christian house church in their home country. Her brothers heard about it and put pressure on her husband to use violence on her to stop her. His response was to pay a crook for a visa to get into Europe where they could go to visit some family in a Northern European country and ask for asylum.

The visa delivered was for France, so they came to France and then travelled to their hoped-for destination. On asking for asylum they were told that as their visa was for France they had to apply for asylum in France and they were put on a bus to Paris. After a few weeks on the streets in a country whose language they do not speak they returned to the Northern European country. This time they were put in a refugee centre while better arrangements could be made.

These better arrangements involved them being sent to Bordeaux, then the church they were in contact with up north got in touch with us to help them. Look back in the blog for further details of queues at the prefecture, queues at the CADA, queues at the OFII, queues galore, queues everywhere.

Well then they were relocated to a flat in a southern French town where another OFII, another CADA and another church has been looking after them.

And we heard recently that they have been given refugee status, the right to work and a ten-year carte de séjour. We never dreamt that the process would be so quick.

This is probably linked to France's decision to open the doors to Christian refugees from the Middle-East. Sometimes I am very proud of France.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Well that was fun!

Today we met up with James Hammond of GBM and Jim Sayers also of GBM for lunch. We ended up in the Hippopotamus Grill, where the steaks were very good, and then after a post-prandial discussion we hot-footed it, somewhat later than usual, to Dan for Bordeaux Church.

At lunch the waiter brought up some wine and poured some in my glass for me to give my approval. I saw from the label that it was a Saint Emilion.
I said, "J'en sais vraiment rien."
The waiter laughed.
"Mais je fais semblant."
He laughed again, "Comme tout le monde."
It was actually very nice. "Ah non, c'est bon!" quoth I.

The Dutchies were coming for the service - that made 9 people - as well as Harriette, Alexandra and Myriam. But we knew that some of our folk would be away, so I thought we'd be OK for chairs.

However some folk came who haven't been for a good few weeks, and in the end we were 32 people - one more than the number of chairs (Harriet sat on the steps) and another two people arrived very late, looked through the window and went away again!

After the service we had hot food - pizzas ordered from the pizza shop. A crazy, chaotic crowd!

Jim preached from Acts 2 v 1 - 11 and I interpreted for him. I had a copy of his script in front of me and, with the usual standard of competence one expects of Alan, started interpreting a point he hadn't actually made yet.

Help from Meredith Kline on the Sons of God and the Daughters of Men in Genesis 6

Who are these Sons of God?

Seth's descendants marrying Cain's unbelieving daughters?
Angels marrying girls?

Or something else? Like the first city-kings becoming polygamist tyrants.

Look here.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Catrin's dossier

Have I talked about Catrin's plans for further studies?

Well the plan is to go to the University of Bordeaux Montaigne from September for a degree in Musicologie - chanson française. It's a degree course that combines musical analysis and history with composition and performance of songs, recording, production of concerts, etc. etc. It sounds like a good all-round music education, ailing mainly at songs than at anything else.

That would be followed by a masters course at the Welsh College of Music and Drama, either in Opera or in Musical Theatre, depending on what Catrin's voice turns out to be most suited for and where her interests lie most.

Well, anyway, entry to Bordeaux Montaigne is by dossier, which means you have to compile a list of documents such as :

Lettre de motivation. This, I think, roughly equates to the personal statement that people now do in the UK.

Curriculum Vitae. This speaks for itself.

Bulletins scolaires. For the years of lycée.

Diplômes de musique. In the music schools at Pessac they don't do diplomas, but we have attestations de niveau.

Supporting documents. In Catrin's case four songs, two of her own composition, recorded in glorious surround-sound stereo in her bedroom and then burned to cd in iTunes.

So the dossier is almost complete. It's quite a project in itself!

Last night,

which seems like a LONG time ago, we had a nice soirée crêpes with tabletalkbibletime about the issues raised by the film Fifty Shades of Grey.

We didn't discuss the acting, the script, the cinematography, or anything like that, but we did discuss issues of abuse, consent, love, etc., and during my preparation for animating this discussion I found a quote that I now can't refind...

But that said that the underlying theme of Fifty Shades of Grey and of Twilight, of which it is fan-lit, is the desire to be loved by someone awesome.

When you think about it this is a pretty constant theme in Disney, too.

And it is the huge central theme of the gospel.

We are just so totally loved by someone just utterly awesome!

Oodalally, golly, what a day

The day started chilly and damp, but off I set to hunt for firewood as we were down to our last bundle and the heating was non-functional.

This morning as I entered the 13.8°C living-room I reflected on how effective our heating really is and on how much you miss it when it isn't working, then set off to get a car and go to hunt for fuel. I found not logs but "densified wood briquettes", each one designed to burn for an hour and give out lots of heat. I thought I'd take a chance and bought a week's supply. Well they turned out to be rather wonderful! They light easily and last for almost exactly an hour each briquette, giving out lots of nice heat. 

I returned to await the plumber. He arrived. I put on the heating. No leak. Innit marvellous. Meanwhile we inflated the diaphragm of the expansion vase as there was some suspicion surrounding the hot water tank and the last leak we had some 18 months ago... The plumber left saying to phone him if suddenly the leak sprang. It sprang not.

Then time to sort out the service sheet for tomorrow and help prepare for the Dutch onslaught of this evening - pasta bolognaise for 7 dutch youngsters, 2 dutch men and several French attendants, plus ourselves and a few hangers-on. It made for a lively household.

Now the house is calm, quiet and warm from a nicely-alimented stove. And it's bed-time!

Friday, February 20, 2015

MB, ComExSO and catastrophe!

Wednesday I was at the Maison de la Bible all day, replacing my friend and colleague, Jean. It was quite a busy day with quite good sales. James, colleague from Bordeaux Church, came in to talk and eat lunch together, and Tim, colleague from the Cenon church came in to talk, too.

Thursday found me on the train to Montauban, TGV both ways, for the meeting of the Commission Exécutive Sud-Ouest, or ComExSO as we tend to call it. This little group meets to discuss and encourage the life of the churches of the South-West of France, and it is always a privilege to meet up with the guys. As the regions of the UNEPREF are being abolished for a lighter operation without levels of discussion, we are aware that the clock is ticking for our merry band. But this doesn't stop me resisting their suggestion that I take up the role of secretary for the group, a role vacant since an American brother returned to the States just over a year ago. I'll do mailshots, coordination of documents and people and so on, but I don't think it's a good idea for me to go writing letters to folk. Better a proper French person do that.

The meeting starts at 16h30 and was scheduled to finish at about 19h. My train arrived at 14:30 and was scheduled to leave at 20:47. And the station is a 10 minute walk from the meeting place.

So before the meeting I explored Montauban and bought a sandwich and a drink from a small supermarket. Here are some photos.

First Bordeaux station, currently undergoing maintenance.

Now Montauban.

The town was quite a centre of Protestant witness in the 16th and 17th centuries, which led Cardinal Richelieu to march on the town in 1621 and put it to siege. The town resisted for 2 months and the army diverted its attention to Montpellier. Montauban did not fall until 1629 when a grand baroque cathedral was constructed to indicate the power of the King.

The meeting duly closed and our treasurer said, "So where are you eating tonight, because your train doesn't leave till 20:47?" and promptly invited me to eat with his family before taking the train home. It made the evening very convivial and I was in plenty of time for my moderately late double-decker TGV back to Bordeaux.

Eleven years ago the Davey adventure in Bordeaux began here, at the Regina, opposite the station.

Then this morning I woke, got up, put on the heating and heard water flowing somewhere. Oh dear - a leak in the heating system somewhere above the ceiling of the empty bedroom. How good that it didn't happen in the middle of the night, or when Pat's sister was sleeping in that room!

Monday, February 16, 2015

A festive family boat trip

Pat's sister flew home this evening, so we wanted to make her last day a nice one.

We hummed and hah'd and discussed and weighed up, and finally came up with the idea of a boat trip on the BatCUB. Pauline's 7-day tram and bus pass covers the BatCUB and so we hied us away to Stalingrad to catch the boat. We have done it a few times - a nice round trip from Stalingrad to Lormont, then back to the Quays, then to Quinconces, then to Stalingrad once more.

Except the 12 o'clock boat went straight across the river to Quinconces then was going to go back.

Oh well, we decided to take a stroll along the quays and find somewhere to get some coffee.

Then we saw the other BatCUB coming along behind us from Quinconces to the Quays.

It moored. We jumped on. I asked the lady what was happening. She explained that for about 18 months now the BatCUB doesn't do the round trip any more, though the leaflets, website and even the timetable give the impression that it does. Instead one boat goes back and fore across the river between Stalingrad and Quinconces, and the other does the rest of the stops.

Feeling much relieved, we enjoyed our trip to Lormont.
We then had 5 minutes before the boat went back.
Or an hour...

At that part of Lormont there are three cafés.

One advertised the lunchtime menu at 16.50€. Um, no.

Another was a kebab joint. It looked very nice.

The third was a café, tobacconist, bar, betting shop and it advertised omelettes or plat du jour for 8.50€. That's more like it.

What's the plat du jour?

Steak and chips.

That'll do nicely. Pauline chose an omelette with ham, chorizo, potato and cheese.

When it came it was on a large square plate accompanied by a salad and a small cup of vegetable soup, a wedge of camembert and a glass of fromage blanc flavoured with orange conserve. A smallish but perfectly decent four course meal. What a bargain!

We saw a small crowd gathering for the boat, so I rushed in and paid quickly, finished up and we scuttled across and just got to the gate in time to hop on.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

This weekend in view

1) Love and Marriage with the Chinese Group this evening from 17:30

2) "All in the name of the Lord Jesus" Col. 3:17 with the International Church

More about le Père Cent

Some photos of yesterday's Père Cent to be seen here.

When I arrived in town for a lunch date with a friend Victoire looked like a giant uncooked pancake.
OK, I exaggerate a bit. There were big holes in the crêpe.

Down Sainte-Cathérine where the shopkeepers had tried to wash the flour and eggs away it had become a sticky, slippery mess.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Cheeky monkeys!

Today is the "Père Cent" (Father Hundred) - one hundred days before the Bac exams start - and it signals high jinks outside the lycées of France as the pupils in terminale throw food at those in the years below them.

Last year Catrin arrived at school with her coat doused in ketchup only to find the gates locked and the staff refusing to let anyone in.

This year the proviseur has sternly told pupils that the Père Cent will not be tolerated. Also Catrin's school day doesn't start till 10am. Also she's in Terminale, so she should be the sniper, not the target. Also she's promised her friend, Paloma, that she'll be at school because most of her friends are just taking a day off.

But because it's not just her school that's involved in Père Cent she's decided that if she gets to the bus stop and sees a flour and ketchup fight going on she'll just stay on the bus, go round the circuit and come home.

Late News Update : Catrin got safely and cleanly to school. There were a few flour-warriors, but she walked right through them.

Fifty shades of grim

I've had to work with people who are in abusive relationships. That is why the magic word 'consensual' doesn't carry much weight with me. I still remember the day I said to one woman, "You don't have to live like this." I saw the light come on in her soul.

Anyway, amongst the ghastliness of the whole Fifty Shades of Grim phenomenon, and the bizarre sight of women flocking to see this kind of abuse glamorised - do we even have a word for this kind of pornography? - I was glad to laugh at a headline in the Telegraph this morning.

"Fire Brigade issues Fifty Shades of Grey warning about getting trapped in everyday objects."

A festive Thursday

Yesterday since Pat's sister is visiting us I replaced Pat at the Maison de la Bible. This worked out well because our manageress' son was ill, so I was happy to man the store alone. The morning was quiet, so I watched Wolf Hall on iPlayer. The afternoon perked up and came to a wonderful climax with a muslim lad who came in to buy a Bible saying he wanted to compare the Bible and the Koran. We had a four-way conversation with a catholic lady adding somewhat unhelpful remarks. I gave him my card and said if he ever wanted to discuss to contact me.

Then off to Monoprix to get my commissioned Fruit Shoot and home to find a small gang of girlies gathered for a Birthday Tea for Catrin. Her favourite meal, tune pasta bake, with some of her favourite people.  Meanwhile Pat and Pauline, her sister, had met up with Sally - who looks like she could be her sister - terrorised Pessac Alouette.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The morning after the "confit de canard"

I feel like the revered elected leaders of our dear European Union - GREASE EVERYWHERE!

We had 10 people round for a meal last night, including dear friends from Marseille, so we did confit de canard because I saw it on offer in our local supermarket and because it is REALLY easy to do - you just have to get it good and hot.

But it comes in it's own eco-system of thick, congealed duck fat, which it shares generously with all spaces and all surfaces.

Lovely stuff!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5

I think there is a danger of making too much of this, but it is interesting how in these parallel passages Paul says slightly different things.

For example :

Colossians 3:16 - Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Epghesians 5:18-19 -And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

It doesn't seem to me to be enough to EQUATE being filled with the Word of Christ and being filled with the Spirit, but surely we have to conclude that they are linked in Paul's mind.

Then : (and I am thinking of my preparation for this weekend, where for the Chinese group on Saturday evening I am talking about Love and Marriage for Valentine's Day, and on Sunday about everything in the name of Christ for the International Church.)

Colossians 3:16-17 - singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Ephesians 5:19-20 - singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Paul goes on in both cases to talk about submission in the various rôles we have in life, in marriage, in the family, at work, etc.