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)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

From our own correspondent

Two reports to do with France this week. The first is about people returning to Algeria to visit the towns where they lived before independence. The second report talks about the Julyists and the Augustists. Listen to find out more!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/5224244.stm

Saturday, July 29, 2006

French bloggers

http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article1202822.ece

Incidentally, this article shows you why I hardly ever read the Independent.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Greeting one another with a holy kiss

Apparently I once said of this "The least said about that the better". It was just a quip, you understand. Now my motto is "Just do it". Derek Thomas' article is more measured and more full.

http://www.reformation21.org/Counterpoints/Counterpoints/234/vobId__3713/

Poor Mr Putin's dilemma reminds me of the children's first day at school here. A little chap came running up with Gwilym and rattled off a long string of quick, unintelligible French at me. I leaned over to hear him better and he kissed me on the cheek!

It's important to note that not all men kiss all men here. Outside the school the dads shake hands. I shake hands with college friends. But brothers in the church kiss just like family members kiss. It's that covenant bond, see.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Some heatwave photographs

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/5213024.stm

Keep the shutters and windows closed and the house stays much cooler than otherwise!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I have never thought myself a Darwinian

or a neo-Darwinist, or an adherent of any other kind of theory of origins by evolution. It was never compelling to me, even (especially) during my Biology studies.

Nevertheless, thanks to Paul for posting a link to this article at the Royal Institute of Philosophy:

http://www.royalinstitutephilosophy.org/articles/article.php?id=26

Paul's post: http://www.royalinstitutephilosophy.org/articles/article.php?id=26

Bridge-building. Not easy!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5202670.stm

Friday, July 21, 2006

Health - the good news and the bad news

The Good News.

We are now members of the French Health System, with effect from last October. (I don't fully understand that bit yet).

The Bad News.

Our support target will need to be increased a little to cover the (quite large) employers contribution. This means that there'll probably be a bit of deputation to do perhaps early next year. Our support is a teeny bit under.

The Other Bad News.

I will have to have a routine blood test that the doctor has been putting off until we are in the health system (cholesterol etc.)

p.s. sorry if the title frightened you!

Landaise sale

is proceeding step by step. The current steps:

1) to get past the period of reflexion, which ends on Monday

2) paying the initial deposit - i.e. transferring the money from British savings account to French account, checking it is there, then writing the cheque. This we completed this morning.

Did I tell you that it is considered fraud to write a bouncing cheque in France? Your bank account can be frozen, or you can be banned from holding a bank account for doing so. This means that cheques are trusted here, but it also means that Brits tend to have nightmares about accidentally going overdrawn (which is, of course, forbidden), and that you have to maintain a buffer in your current account - you can't afford to run it down to zero.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Asbestos and parasites in the Landaise

The survey for asbestos and parasites arrived this morning. There is no evidence of any asbestos in the house at all, which surprised me a little. It was built in 1979 and I thought it could have had some somewhere.

They also survey for termites and rot. No evidence of termite activity, though the house is in a termite zone. (I think that all of Bordeaux is essentially a termite zone!) One of the shutters has signs of rot, and one of the external beams has some rot at the bottom, so it means painting some Cuprinol round sometime.

Other than that a clean bill of health.

I had better watch out!

though I am sure the mission would say something first, and it appears that her blog had a somewhat different character from this ...

http://www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?subchannel_id=25&story_id=31631&name=Secretary+tests+Frenchlaw+after+blog+sacking

Causes of death in Western Europe

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5191386.stm

Suicides and road accidents are tragedies. However, these statistics also reflect the good physical health of the population. Few die of infectious disease.

The statistics also show the desperate need amongst western europeans for the hope of the gospel. As the gospel triumphs, then one can expect fewer road accidents and dramatically fewer suicides, of course.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

France is evacuating people from Lebanon, too.

http://www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?subchannel_id=25&story_id=31601&name=France+prepares+to+evacuate+1%2C250+people+from+Lebanon

France has colonial ties with Lebanon, having recognised its independence in 1943.

The heat!

While Britain luxuriates in the warmth, Gironde is on orange alert because of a potentially dangerous heatwave. French readers can read about it here:

http://www.lexpress.fr/info/quotidien/actu.asp?id=4756

The drill is:

Shutters and windows closed.
Drink LOTS of water.
Eat salty food occasionally.

Monday, July 17, 2006

With us it's

Cheddar cheese, baked beans, P G Tips, proper bacon

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5173326.stm

Oh - and for Pat brown sauce, Dairy Milk chocolate and salad cream

oh, and jelly, and whipping cream

and marmalade

and ...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

We have something like this

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5180958.stm

Because our car is so ancient (2003!) it doesn't play MP3 CDs or have a socket to plug in your MP3 player. But these gadgets are sold in all sorts of places in France; Planete Saturne, Virgin Megastore.

It works OK and enables us to tune in to our MP3 player (Creative, not iPod!) and listen to MP3 of Bible or sermons in French without making audio CDs all the time.

If on a winter's night a traveller, then Demission de la raison

Italo Calvino first. I am reading this in English because he wrote it in Italian. If you have to read in translation you had just as well read in English translation!

Then I have lined up "Escape from reason" in French. If this book is as good as I thought it was when I was a student I'll give it to one of our lecturers at DEFLE.

La moustache

by Emmanuel Carrere. Just finished it. Gripping book again. Been turned into a film, which I haven't yet seen. Would recommend reading the book before seeing the film. Pretty sure the book exists in English translation.

Essentially the story starts like this - a chap and his wife are talking. He says, "Would you still love me if I shaved off my moustache?"

She says, "Of course I would, silly. I love you, not your moustache."

She goes out. While she's out he shaves it off. She comes back. Says nothing. They go for a meal with friends. They say nothing. They return home. He says "Well?"

She says "What?"

He says "The moustache?"

She says, "What moustache?"

He says, "I shaved it off."

She says "You never had one."

Is he mad? Is she mad? Is it a conspiracy? Is she out to get rid of him? What's going on? The book's conclusion is indescribably sad.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Pictures of Bastille Day!

It's July 14th! Hooray!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/5179860.stm

Nuclear power

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/5166142.stm

The different attitude to nuclear power is amazing. In France about 80% of electricity comes from nuclear power stations and they are built pretty near to where people live - our nearest is in Blaye, about 30 miles downstream (and upwind...).

I was talking to someone about the British distrust of nuclear power and he laughed. "They're not going to build a Chernobyl in France!" he said. Of course, for the British mind, that's exactly what we suspect they will build in Britain.

I don't think the safety record is dramatically different. It's just that in France nuclear power is seen as safe, modern, clean and practical. In Britain it is seen as dangerous, new-fangled, dirty and expensive.

The government and EDF work very hard to encourage this positive attitude to nuclear power.

Jolly pictures of the tour

http://www.apple.com/pro/profiles/watson/

It's an Apple advert really, but there's some nice pictures of the tour, especially passing Carcassonne and on a snowy mountain road.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Centenary of the Dreyfus affair

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5173094.stm

It is difficult to overstate the importance of the Dreyfus affair to France and to Europe, giving a chilling indication of the horrors to come less than 50 years later.

What do you think Microsoft will do?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/5171126.stm

a. Pay the fine and change their ways

b. Ignore the European Union ("Union of what?", says Bill)

c. Buy the European Union and release Europe 2007 XP Enterprise edition in 2012

d. Something else (please supply)

When the Tour came through Gradignan


http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/cycling/5168194.stm

 Posted by Picasa

Tim is reading Jerry Bridges' Discipline of Grace

Tim Challies is reading "the Discipline of Grace" and sharing his readings and reflections with us.

You can start here: http://www.challies.com/archives/001958.php

Jerry Bridges' books are wonderfully helpful, from their sound teaching to their short chapters, and much of what he has written is available in French. I plan to use his books more than I used to in English.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Football, France and me

I have never taken any interest in football whatsoever - until going to France. Football in France is important.

1) It has been a key bridge between Gwilym and the other lads.

2) It is a ready topic of conversation, and if French people find you supporting the blues they generally like it.

3) It is a ready source of gospel illustrations. For example:

a. the French team is among the strongest forces for racial integration in France today. They come from everywhere and they are heros. They are building bridges between people of very different origins and cultures. That's a gospel issue! The church of God is kaleidoscopic and multiracial and wonderfully integrated - not in a team, but in the one man Jesus Christ.

b. the French media use the word "dieu" very freely - for example a calendar of rugby players called "les dieux de la stade", etc. Zidane has been nicknamed "le dieu" because of his footballing prowess. In a way, that's understandable and a testimony to the truth of the Bible because we are made like God. We are not apes and we didn't come from the apes. We are made by God, to be like God, made in his image. But Zizou is flawed. He can behave badly. Of course! Doesn't the Bible tell us that we are made to be like God, but we became flawed, behaving badly, sinful and fallen. The only man who was never sinful is the man who never fell - the man who is God, Jesus Christ.

c. Forgiveness. Zizou has been forgiven by the President. We can be forgiven by the great King through Jesus Christ.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Marseille grand mosque

http://www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?subchannel_id=25&story_id=31407&name=Marseille+breaks+deadlock+over+Great+Mosque+

Bethinking - a thought stirring site

http://www.bethinking.org/

World cup

Bof! bof! and thrice bof!

Bof! because they played it on Sunday. What's the matter with Saturday? Has there been some strange law banning sport on Saturday?

Bof! because the World Cup was decided on penalty shoot-outs. This ought not to be.

Bof! because France lost (and so ... embarrassingly.)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs

When we were anticipating coming to France one of the things I knew I would miss is the strong "meat and taters" hymns we sang in North Wales. We sing modern songs in France, like we did in Deeside, but we don't sing many of the strong old "meat and taters" hymns.

However, we do read lots from the psalms.

In my opinion the psalms are really important for worship, whether in Isaac Watts type gospelisations, or in free interpretations like "Praise, my soul, the King of heaven" or "A mighty fortress", or in more straightforward settings.

For one thing the psalms are full of Jesus. What shows the triumph of the gospel as wonderfully as Psalm 72? Or the world's rebellion like Psalm 2? Or Jesus' sufferings like Psalm 22?

The psalms are full of authentic Christian experience, too. There are too few contemporary Christian songs that show the hard experiences of the Christian life. That means that without the older hymns or the psalms you can end up with a huge gap between what you sing on a Sunday and what is really true of your life. The psalms and the older hymns express a fuller range of Christian experience.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Well, it probably beats sitting on the terraces

with flags painted on your cheeks... Posted by Picasa

Lots of sermon notes

My good friend Richard Mint (and a member of our mission council) is loading a lot of his sermon notes onto blogs. Good man! You can find them here: http://www.blogger.com/profile/15136748

Study Reports More Bibles, Less Religious Literacy

==================================================
ZENIT News Agency, The World Seen from Rome ==================================================
Study Reports More Bibles, Less Religious LiteracySurveyed Catholics in France, Spain and Italy
ROME, JUNE 29, 2006 (Zenit.org).-

Despite the increasing number of Bibles in circulation, knowledge of the Scriptures and the Church is weak among Catholics in three European countries, reports the Universal Biblical Alliance.

In a three-year study conducted by professor Luca Diotallevi, of the University of Rome Three, some 650 Catholics in Spain, France and Italy revealed low levels of Mass attendance and general religious knowledge.

The study, commissioned by the Universal Biblical Alliance, and carried out by Eurisko, also conducted in-depth interviews with leaders of the Catholic Church in the three countries.

Diotallevi, presenting the report at a press conference on Monday in Rome, said that in the 40 years following the Second Vatican Council, the Bible "entered massively in the families of many Christians, in homes where it had not been kept before. The pity is that in many cases it remains closed, a sacred object instead of a sacred book."

The study revealed that dissemination and knowledge of the Bible text takes place mainly at Sunday Mass, but less than half of all Catholics attend Mass regularly.

Some 49% of Spanish Catholics answered that they fulfill their Sunday obligation, followed by 29% of Italian and 26% of French Catholics.

Of those who attend Sunday Mass, the study said, barely half do outside reading of the Bible.
Some 21% of the French Catholics answered that they take part in Bible study groups, followed by 17% of Italian and 12% of Spanish Catholics.LiteracyDiotallevi said that the study showed that "religious knowledge is weak or non-existent."

According to the research some 56% of Spanish Catholics have little religious literacy, followed by 47% of Italian and 44% of French Catholics.Biblical literacy is lower, with 30% of Italian Catholics demonstrating basic knowledge of the Bible, followed by 22% of Spanish and 21% of French Catholics.

A sample question of the survey, revealed Diotallevi, was to identify what saints were authors of a Gospel.

Some 32% identified St. Peter as an evangelist, and 49% identified St. Paul as being an author of a Gospel.

Sts. Peter and Paul both wrote letters that are included in the New Testament, but the evangelists are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

According to those interviewed in the three countries, "the most positive aspect of the Church" is the parish, the Pope is second and lay groups are third, said Diotallevi.

The director of the study said that in general, "there is awareness of the importance of the Bible, but it is necessary to undertake initiatives that promote its dissemination and more profound knowledge of it; it will be more effective if Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox are able to collaborate together."

Geoff, Graham, Al, Garry, Ted and Jonathan

http://www.banneroftruth.org/pages/articles/article_detail.php?1096

I've been itching to read these. Geoff sits at the back of the room with his loptap taking full notes of the talks, and so does us all a favour.

I love to read people who write about Jonathan Edwards, and to hear people talk about him. He does make people passionate, and he makes me excited about the Saviour.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Allez les bleus

The children have made French flags to put in the back windows of the car.

The other day we were on the rocade, overtaking a car full of people (not that common for us, even with our turbodiesel engine, but one tries one's best...).

All of a sudden they started honking like mad!

Oh no, I thought, a wheel's coming off or something!

When we looked they were honking and jumping up and down excitedly in the car and pointing at the flags and shouting "Allez les bleus!".

And our wheels were fine.

An interesting looking book

on the historicity of the New Testament.

http://www.challies.com/archives/001951.php

...
Just out of interest, when one writes "a historical" one says "er historical"

When one writes "an historical" does one say "an 'istorical" or "an historical"? The former sounds odd, the latter clumsy.

I know this is virtually an 'eretical hopinion nowadays, but I think it is far simpler to keep it as "a historical".

Ken'll answer this one, I am sure!

English MP3 Bible

http://davidpfield.blogspot.com/2006/07/audio-bible-now-complete.html

Toll roads

Quite a lot of motorways in France are toll roads. OK, you accept the status quo.

But after the meeting in Montauban the other day I have thought again about French toll roads.

You frequently see vans driven by chaps who seem simply to be driving up and down the motorways, keeping an eye on things.

Think of that when a lorry sheds its tyre - you rarely see any debris on the toll roads. Or think of the reassurance for women driving alone, and the deterrent to any misbehaviour. Even if you can't get mobile phone coverage, you know a van will be along sometime, and one may appear at any time.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Landaise signed for

Vendors and us. Initialled (8 times each) and signed (twice each, I think.)

There we are. It looks like we are buying a house in Pessac Alouette.

RAIN!

Lots of it. Coming down in buckets!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

My prognostication

That's what a lady asked me for today when she saw the tricolor flags the kids have stuck in the back windows of the car.

Quelle est votre prognostication? On va gagner ou perdre?

I said gagner, bien sûr!

Landaise in the picture again

It transpires that the person who bought the Landaise can't get a mortgage. So we have made a proposition of the same price as they (a few complications on the way) and we await to find out whether the vendor will accept our money.

I'm pretty confident of getting a mortgage because we have a good deposit.

Oh what fun, eh!

If we do end up buying this house, spare a thought for me this October, up on scaffolding, spraying magnolia paint on the double height, rough-cast (crepis), sooty living-room walls.

You see, it's not simple...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/global/main.jhtml?xml=/global/2006/07/04/wvous04.xml&DCMP=EMC-exp_05072006

but just as the Welsh address God as ti, the French pray using tu.

An old friend once told me that when he was little God was the only person in the whole wide world that he ever said ti to. (Except, I guess, his playfriends)

More international sports

As you probably know, this area is rich in maritime pines, which produce massive pine cones. At the Pignodrome of St Jean d'Illac, les lanceurs de pignes compete in the world championship at the end of June. The current world champion, a local man, chucked his regulation championship pine cone a staggering 60 metres! Posted by Picasa

So a France - Italy final then

Catrin to her mother

"I really look forward to going to school now."

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Some thoughts on Independence Day

I can never suppose this country so far lost to all ideas of self-importance as to be willing to grant America independence; if that could ever be adopted I shall despair of this country being ever preserved from a state of inferiority and consequently falling into a very low class among the European States. - George III

"I desired as many as could to join together in fasting and prayer, that God would restore the spirit of love and of a sound mind to the poor deluded rebels in America." - John Wesley, Journal, Aug 1, 1777

Could it be Sego next year?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/5146732.stm

Some thoughts on guidance

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%2015:36%20-%2016:10;&version=31;

Sometimes we have to drive to places we don't know. We have three ways of doing this. One is the excellent www.viamichelin.fr or www.mappy.fr giving you routes to places. Another is to get directions from someone. The third is to have someone with you to guide you.

With mappy and viamichelin you always know where you are. It's great really. However, you can go wrong if you miss a turning or a sign, or count your roundabouts or exits wrong. A lot still depends on you.

With directions, well your directions are only as good as the person giving them, and sometimes they can be hard to follow. But you generally know where you're going and sometimes where you are.

What I like best is having a guide - like when we take someone home. They know the way. From time to time they may say things like "Do you know where you are now?" and generally I don't! I can't even guess what the next turn will be, but I am very confident that they'll guide me safely where they want me to be, even though I don't know where I am, where I am going or how to get there.

In the passage from Acts above we see how God got the gospel to Europe. He used common sense "Let's go back and visit the churches". A sharp disagreement. A reasoned decision: Timothy was well spoken of. Then a long fruitless trek across Turkey - I would have been somewhat confused about that, I think. Then a dream and a discussion 16:9 & 10.

I often think about this succession of events in Acts. Lots of things work together to put God's people where he wants them to be. Good things and bad things. Sometimes they know where they are going. Sometimes (usually?) they don't. But those who trust in him have the best thing - a guide.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Termites

I talked with a few people about the Landaise, and about my remaining reservations:

a) the cracks (fissures) in the exterior woodwork. Apparently they're all like that. They're meant to be like that. Fissures don't matter. Little holes do, because that's termites.

b) the heating. Apparently what we need to do is get an insert installed. That way we won't need to use any heating anyway because burning wood in the insert will heat the whole house. (The couple who assured us of this live in a really big house, so it must be true!)

But, you must buy your wood from a reputable wood furnisher, and you must not stack it against the house because that is an invitation for the termites.

Yes. Bordeaux has termites. They eat their way through concrete to reach tasty wood. The folks mentioned in b) showed us where their next-door neighbour had to have his concrete walls treated to kill and repel the termites after stacking his wood against the house.

So. The house is probably OK. The estate agents phoned today to tell me that yes, there is a boiler - an electric boiler, that heats the radiators and the hot water, and it does it for about £500 a year.

OK. I think we've checked about all we can. We've seen the plans for the two little houses to be built in front. We've been down to the house early morning, midday and late at night. We've walked the area and examined the shops. We've driven the school run in both directions.

I think now either we go for it or we don't! What more could we do?

She rolls well.

One of the nice things about French is that when talking about driving you use the verb rouler, to roll. So:

A car is a nice little runner. Elle roule bien. (Cars are, of course, girls.)

... doing 80 mph. ... roulant à 130.

Nice, eh?

MP3 files

We have not hit a rich vein of MP3 messages in French, have we! It is much easier to find material in English.

For example Capitol Hill Baptist Church (of 9 marks fame) have an introduction and overview message for every Bible book.

Old Testament: http://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID324006%7CCHID677216%7CCIID2142376,00.html

New Testament: http://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID324006%7CCHID677216%7CCIID2058052,00.html

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Bye, Ross, bon retour!

Ross is a young American chap who has been over for a few months to stay with the Foucachons. He's here because he's doing a History and French degree, but also because he's exploring the possibilities for the future. He's a great chap.

We made our farewells today because he's off back to the States soon, and I won't see him again before he leaves (he's at a young people's camp this week).

I think a good option for him might be to come back and improve his French at the DEFLE while immersing himself in the work of the gospel here.

But of course, the one who's building his church may have other plans far better than mine.

Anyway, blessings, Ross.

Fortes chaleurs!

N'oubliez pas de se réhydrater.

Strong heats! Don't forget to drink.

(Helpful sign over the ring road today.)

What a noisy evening!

A friend from DEFLE got engaged on Friday. It was great news. He had been planning it for months, a small circle of us were in on it, helping him with the ring and things like that. He popped the question and she said yes.

So they had a quick engagement and football party last night. They were away somewhere watching the England match so they said not to arrive before 8. So we all drove down to their apartment to chat with their mates, enjoy salads and pizzas and watch France play. Sort of. I can't watch a whole football match. They're too long! It's like those films that last two hours. I know I will never watch Narnia all the way through. But one of their friends is a professional footballer, so he was very entertaining as he shouted instructions to the team (and they did seem to follow his advice.)

It's great that you're never off duty as a pastor - a guy there said that in his home country of Chile he used to go to an evangelical church, but he hadn't found one in Bordeaux. He lives in Pessac so I said I'd get him the address of the two churches I know of there. I'll also give him details of our church, but we're a long way for him really.

When France scores you hear shouts and cheers from all the houses around - even out in our sleepy suburb. And when they finally won - well there were fireworks, people running round the streets congratulating each other, singing down their mobile phones. Utter lunacy. It's also the fête des vins in Bordeaux at the moment, so I imagine today at Quinconces will be even more festive.

The match finished at about 11 pm, so we drove home pretty well straight afterwards and discovered another custom - to drive round the streets hanging out of the the car window with massive French flags, everybody honking like crazy. The kids thought it was wonderful, and I quite liked it too! It took a very noisy half hour to get home.

The only drawback - I have never been drunk so much in my life. Those mosquitos were sucking their fill, going off for crisps and nuts and then coming back for more! I have HUGE bumps EVERYWHERE today. (You didn't think I meant....?)

When we got home I warned the kids to be quiet now and to stop whistling and shouting, and they told me to stop honking the horn, but our neighbour was having a barbecue out front, so we had a quick shout and cheer at each other, then went over for a late night chat. Pat and the kids left when the kids were on the verge of collapse, and I stayed till everyone left because we have been itching to have a good chat with this lady. It was a pretty good chat, too.

And to be honest I am not sure that we saw anybody drunk even last night. There was one chap who wandered into the middle of the road and back again, but he wasn't staggering or anything, and he did meet a lady half-way across. The behaviour was rowdy and cheerful, but nobody was carrying bottles and there were lots of children about. And even at the party there was a little drink, but not that much, certainly not by British standards.

I sent a brief message of condolence to a friend who is English and works in Brazil, and went to bed, tired but happy.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Collaborative postings - Evening services and MP3 sermons in French

Evening services: I have nothing new to report. I'll post a summary of people's comments in a few weeks time.

Preaching in French: There are not many websites that offer MP3 files of preaching in French. One I know of is the church where Florent Varak serves at http://wm.eefgl.free.fr/.

What other sites can people offer?

These three for a start:

http://www.ab-servette.net/audio.php

http://affeltranger.yves.free.fr//html/predications.php

http://cms.unpoissondansle.net/

I'm not a poet

I had to do this talk and project on "Oulipo" - a workshop of writers who try to set themselves strict limits to stimulate their creativity. They describe themselves as "rats who build their own maze to find the way out of".

One of their techniques is to cut down poems to make new structures that they say are sometimes more powerful than the original. I tried with this one. You may recognise the original.

Helpless babe,
Glory veiled;
To serve,
That we might live.

Garden tears.
Chose to bear;
His heart torn,
'Yours,' He said.

Hands and feet,
Sacrifice,
Stars in space.
Cruel nails.

Learn to serve,
Enthrone Him;
To prefer
Serving.

Jan Ullrich out of the Tour!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/cycling/5132054.stm

Two years ago I came on a recce of Bordeaux and walked through central Paris a week after the Tour ended.

This year the tour is passing within 2 miles of our house, and we will be away.

Irritating.

The kids' school reports

We are thankful, proud, humbled, reassured, overwhelmed. Thankful to all those who took our kids to their hearts and did so much to help them settle, especially prayed. Thankful to God.

Gwilym's report was awestruck. The teacher is impressed by his progress in French. His geography is good, as is his science and maths. And of course, in English he got 89.5/90.

Catrin, too. Here's her teacher's comment:

Despite the language barrier, Catrin has progressed enormously in the class. An hour of support (from the headmistress) each morning has allowed her to integrate into the group of children in the class and at last to communicate, to play, to participate. Some gaps remain, certainly, in French, (I know the feeling!) but Catrin has the motivation and will make the effort necessary to fill them. After explaining the instructions (I don't think her teacher speaks English), her level in Maths is completely satisfactory.

John Piper's been talking at EMA

http://thebluefish.blogspot.com/2006/07/ema-john-piper-risk-is-right.html

It reminds me of when I left British Telecom to be Assistant Pastor at Deeside in 1891. My mother said "Will you be better off financially?" (My salary was going to be halved - and then some. No church can pay like BT!) I said "No, it's not like that, Mam." She was worried for a while because what I was doing seemed risky to her. It seemed risky to me, too, frankly. But she had a chat with her vicar who explained how he had left his job in local government to become a vicar, and I think she realised that if what I was doing was risky, it wasn't so unusual really.

Coming to France seemed risky too. Still does. "What if?"

But what if God works everything together for good, like he promises, eh?