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)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Etat des lieux

At 6pm we did the Etat des Lieux.

It was great fun, our landlord and landlady are lovely people, very funny and very kind. Most of the time was spent finding faults with the way the house was built some four years ago. There we are, old house or new, there's problems.

The new tenant is an "artisan painter" (painter and decorator) and he was very useful in explaining that all the aluminium sliding windows he has ever seen begin to fail after about 1 or 2 years. You have to replace the rollers in the bottom. That explains why the one side of the most used window makes a funny noise. Normal wear and tear.

It was funny to think back to the first time I met them, when I said "Bonjour messieurs" to Mr and Mrs Taste. I didn't remind them of it, but if I had they would have laughed lots.

By about 7pm we bid our tearful farewells to two very kind proprietors and a house where we have been very comfortable at a time of great changes, thanking God for all his kindness.

We are encouraged to think that he will continue to bless us in new ways in our house in Pessac.

Déménagement

Well, the removal men arrived good and early - 8h15! We were ready for them, though, and they worked very solidly till lunchtime - 11h30. It's now 3h00 and the afternoon has just begun, but they have almost fnished. Just boxes of books from the garage - computer, printer, stuff, and then it's goodbye till Thursday.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Well we are just about ready.

The removers say they dismantle and mantle furniture that is dismantleable, so I am going to let them dismantle and mantle the bunk beds because I can't be bothered. I expect they have the knack now, anyway - probably more than I do.

Our whole team came over to help with the packing up and cleaning today, that is Carol and Fiona. We were very grateful, especially considering that today is their day off, and they had both already had a very full week - Fiona at the European UFM Conference in Tossa de Mar, Carol covering for her.

I took a load of rubbish down to the dump, which closes at 6pm. But not tonight. It closed at 5:45, three cars in front of me. So I bought all the rubbish back home again and I'll try once more in the morning.

There remains a small amount to do this evening - dig out the "état des lieux" from last July, when Carol went through the place with the proprietors noting defects. Take down the curtain pole in our room and in the shower. Print off a RIB so the landlords can refund whatever we end up being due from the deposit. Read the meters with the new tenant. A few odds and ends like that. Once the removers are out, dust and hoover everywhere and mop throughly.

Then Bob's your uncle and we're off.

I'm sad to leave this house. It's been very easy to live in - I could get used to renting! Our landlords are great. The area is very much on the edge of the city - almost like living in the countryside.

But the Pessac house will end up much cheaper (especially long term), we'll have more room, it'll be more useful in ministry and it's better placed for public transport and for the kids' schools. Once we move in and make it our own it'll be fine.

The riots, one year on

I am not aware of anything unusual happening in Bordeaux. Mind you, last year we only knew what was going on from the newspapers and radio and TV reports.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/10/30/wparis30.xml&DCMP=EMC-new_30102006

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2414175,00.html

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Cap Ferret


The children needed to get out of the house for a while (you know those caged animals that pace?) so we took them for a Sunay afternoon stroll to find the gun emplacements at Cap Ferret. Unbelievably lovely, and entertaining for the children too.

We didn't see any ferrets but I did spot one whippet on the beach.

There are these sand cliffs you can launch yourself down. But when you do you get a cut in your foot so you have to be carried piggyback back to the car.

The WWII gun emplacements are really impressive. Isn't concrete good stuff! And now they form a suitable surface for grafitti artists.

The only minus - it took us an hour to get to Cap Ferret and THREE HOURS to get home in the traffic jams.
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What a palaver!

This morning was the special Culte de la Réforme (Reformation Sunday service).

That meant there were lots of hymns to type in from A Toi la Gloire and various extra bits to put in the Powerpoint. The order of service arrived early, before I even went to the student centre, so I set to it.

Well - I did a typo in the chorus of a hymn, which meant that FOUR TIMES we sang le flamme instead of la flamme. FOUR TIMES! The irony was that I know perfectly well that flammes are girls, and I had said la flamme about 5 minutes earlier in an intro I had to do.

Yes - today it was my turn to introduce the confession of faith and the offering.

Well that's ok, now I have my natty PowerPoint remote, so this morning was the first time to use it in anger.

And it didn't work! We went from page 1 of the confession of faith to ... stubbornly stuck on page 1!

How irritating!

Still, the offering bit went OK.

Then Sammy had done this slide for 2 Tim 3:16, with words twirling and all sorts - but he left out that part of the service completely, so that meant that during the short prayer after the reading I had to press the button several times to get past all the twirls onto the blank slide just before the final hymn.

Andy (PowerPoint man in Deeside), I never appreciated you like I should have.

R E S P E C T, man, respect.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Prayer needs over the next few weeks

They bring our stuff to the house on 2 November. While we settle in, find the essential boxes and pile all the rest neatly here are some dates to pray about:

2/11 Bible Study in French. I'll need special help to be awake and alert, and to manage to speak in comprehensible French as well!

4/11 English class

5/11 Preaching at Floirac

7/11 Rive gauche home group grand opening!

11/11 English Class

13/11 to 17/11 the Director of our mission is coming with a colleague to make a DVD of the work in Bordeaux, Gironde and beyond.

I'm also booked to preach on 26/11, 24/12 and 21/1 (these last dates subject to change)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Taking possession

One drawback of signing at 5h30 is that by the time you get to the house it's dark. And of course here in France one removes the light fittings (not just the bulbs) when one leaves. In fact we are removing the light fittings from this house, because we bought them and put them up. It's what you do here.)

So we scuttled round the dark house, opening all the windows and squinting at the floors. It didn't look terribly dirty, except in the kitchen, where it's greasy. The kitchen also has no hob or oven now. That probably suits us because we'll put the fridge where the oven was, the freezer where the fridge was, and buy a hob. We'll have to put up LOTS of shelves because there are not many cupboards. Or maybe put wall cupboards over the freezer? We'll see.

There we are. A couple of bushes to remove in the garden. Some trees to trim. The grass to tame. Shrubs and bamboos to find and plant. The heating system to learn! A spot of redecorating here and there. Some holes to fill. We either have to learn how to paint over roughcast in a room about 14 feet high, or get used to a grey roughcast living room.

We'll get there.

The house is bigger than I remember. Also I thought the shower was downstairs and the bath upstairs. It's the other way round.

We signed, they signed, everybody signed

OK. We got to the notaires ten minutes before time, like you do. The estate agents arrived dead on half-past, along with a lady who turned out to be one half of the vendors. Eventually the other half of the vendors arrived, we were at full compliment and so we began.

We were ushered into the office of a jolly notaire who proceeded to read the acte de vente, which tuned out to be fairly straightforward. One unexpected piece of good news - Pessac is about the only part of Bordeaux not considered to be at risk of an environmental catastrophe (flooding, industrial explosion, etc! (Having said that, Blaye is not considered to be at risk, either, despite the presence of a dirty great nuclear power station.)

Once all had been read, and odd bits here and there explained, we initialled everywhere (2 vendors, 2 buyers) and signed in two places (2 vendors and 2 buyers) and we all shook hands and we went off with the keys.

Hooray! We're insured!

So the new house is insured and the old house is still covered while we move out.

And we now have complementary health insurance for the whole family. Interesting to note that health insurance is 6 times more expensive than house insurance - I guess because we are six times as likely to be burgled than our house ... or something.

A slight complication - because Pat and I are over 41 (oh yes we are! I know it's hard to believe) we have to wait 6 months before we can have an operation.

(Hang on appendix! Not long now!)

The iPod's fifth birthday

A nice article on the link.

We don't have an iPod. We have the real thing. A Creative MP3 player. We have found it useful (of course) for language learning, though you have to do it in the house really. You can't really sit on the bus or train exclaiming every now and again "Voulez-vous me dire où c'est, parce que je voudrais savoir!" and such like.

I also find it useful for rehearsing readings, getting the liaisions right and stuff.

Actually I have a great respect for those who listen to iPods on the bus and the tram, especially if it's not too loud, so that you can hear the "tss bang tss-tss-tss-tss bang".

The alternative, often done, is to use one of those phones that plays MP3 files and has a speakerphone facility and just play it. No headphones. Just play it. It's at its most depressing with French rap. It's more fun when it's a group of four young women and they all join in with the song.

Our old route to the kids' school used to take us past a particular bus stop at Gradignan where we used to see a man who had the most amazing pointy ears.

Not.

His iPod headphones stuck upwards and made his ears look pointy.

We miss you, Elf-man.

Aïe aïe aïe - transport to the centre!

It will be good to be living in Pessac.

Yesterday evening I left the house before 6 to go to the centre for the Thursday evening Bible study (John 4:43 - 5:18, linking it with the Samaritan village, too, hence Samaria -> Galilee -> Jerusalem).

Anyway, the traffic was normal but the parking in town was appalling! There were cars EVERYWHERE! I circled round fruitlessly for about half an hour before eventually I found a space, by which time I was a quarter of an hour late! Nightmare!

Now then - from Pessac I'll be able to drive to the nearest tram stop and hop on the tram. It'll be much more flexible. The tram doesn't go anywhere near Villenave and the last bus leaves the city centre just before 9pm.

More phone calls

(Note - we sign at 17h30 this evening. Apparently most people read this blog at 11 in the morning and at night. Perhaps you could pray that all will go well when we sign and that we find the house in decent condition.)

The notaire wants our deposit on the house to be paid by banker's draft, so yesterday evening I phoned the bank to ensure they had sent it. They had, on Tuesday. So when the notaire rang yesterday evening I was ready (aha!).

Have you obtained the banker's draft?

They have sent it directly to you.

For the loan?

And for the deposit. They sent it on Tuesday 24th.

OK. Hang on, I'll go and have a look. Oh yes. We have it. Do you speak French?

Thinks - "What do you think I am doing now?" Tempted to say - "Not a word!" (I sometimes do say this, in French of course...) Actually say - "I try."

Do you need to bring a translator?

No, I don't think so, as long as you read the documents fairly slowly and I can ask questions *. Oh - and we'll need to bring the children, but they're pretty well-behaved.

That's OK. We'll take care of them. Oh, and you need an attestation d'assurance for the bank.

OK, I can do that.

Till tomorrow then.

Till tomorrow.

* They have to read out all the legal documents relating to the transfer of ownership. Because lots of it is standard clauses they sometimes read at breakneck speed - like when they read out the small print in the adverts on Classic FM, for example. You have to stop them and tell them to slow down. Then you have to initial each page to say it was read to you and sign at the bottom to accept it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The estate agent phoneth

"Monsieur Davey?"

"Oui"

"C'est Brigitte Bardot ici, de Cabinet Depardieu"

"Bon jour"

"Vous allez bien?"

"Jusqu'ici..."

"Ah non! C'est simplement pour dire qu'il faut absolument avoir votre carte d'identité demain pour signer."

As she rang off I could hear her saying "He thought I was ringing with some disaster or other..." while I was thinking "What box are the passports in?"


I rang the notaire earlier to say that the bank were posting a cheque direct to her for our deposit on the house...

"Madame DeNeuve?"

"Oui?"

"C'est Monsieur Davey ici."

"Bon jour.....?"

"Vous allez bien?"

"Oui merci...?"

"Ah non, c'est pour dire que notre banque vous envoie le cheque directement"

"Ah bon!"

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The great pack-up has begun

We are packing up.

Greatly.

I have just packed at the bottom of a box of books the book I was reading (albeit slowly) and that some have asked for comments on.

Ah well, that'll slow that one down further..

The removers Les Déménageurs bretons gave us lots and lots of boxes, some scotch and some bubble wrap for packing the crocks. We still have some full Britannia boxes from our move from Britain, and they are SIX times the size.

Still - when we were packing in Deeside we had to pack the Britannia boxes in situ and leave them where they were! Even with just "stuff" inside they were much too heavy to pick up. These breton boxes are much easier.

I am interested in the relationship between déménager (to move house) and dément (someone who is demented). There must be a link, mustn't there?

Better scotch that rumour quick!

* please note! The English sellotape is scotch in French

Monday, October 23, 2006

This is where we are moving to.

You have to try and imagine it with geraniums and petunias trailing down from the balcony and lavender in front of the entrance.

That upstairs room with balcony is set to be my office.

They've built (almost finished) two little townhouses in front, so the front garden ends where you can see the big bushy shrub in the lower picture.

There we are. Or there we should be very soon now. Posted by Picasa

The man from Breton Déménageurs came

He quickly zoomed round the house and estimated our volume. He said they could move us out on 31st and move us in on 2nd November. (1st November is a bank holiday)

I said that would be OK (without consulting the family!) because we slept for 2 weeks on camp-beds when we first arrived in France. 2 nights will be no problem.

His price was actually slightly more than the British guy said, but the volume he worked out was twice what the British guy guessed. If we applied the Brits prices to the calculated volume the price would be doubled.

I signed on the dotted line there and then. We'll do all the packing and Bob's your uncle. They supply boxes, tape and sticky labels to indicate the room where things are to go (blue for kitchen etc.)

It'll work OK because we'll have a bit more time to get the house ready and work out where to put things.

So now I need to phone the British guy and let him know.

The presidential elections continued

It's six months to the election and so the newspapers are discussing the opinion polls and whether they are any kind of guide to who will be president in 2007.

Meanwhile there is a possibility that Jacques Chirac will stand for election again.

If he doesn't, then he would probably have to stand trial for corruption as soon as his presidential immunity is over. He would have been involved in financial irregularities involving non-existing jobs during his time as mayor of Paris.

If he does stand, would people select him as UMP candidate? I think they might. He could be seen as a middle ground between Ségo the socialist and Sarko the UMP hardliner.

We'll see.

Countdown to déménagement

OK. We're in the countdown to the move. This week we have to:

1) sign on the house (5:30 Friday!)

2) pack as much and as best we can

3) inform all the utilities (phone, water, gas, electricity, internet) and the insurance

4) also continue as much as possible with the regular ministry

I'd really like to cover for Fiona at the centre as much as I can - she's at Barcelona at the conference that we are missing because of the late move. Our senior colleague here, Carol, is ready, willing and more than able to cover this week, but I feel that if I am here I want to be in harness. After all, I'm here to minister, not to move house. Anyway. That's a little tussle that is quite common.

When will we be moving?

Well the British guy could do us on Saturday 28th. I think he's expensive, though I don't have much to guage it against except moving here from Britain - which was about 3000 pounds. He says about 1300 pounds for Villenave to Pessac. Maybe that is just what it costs.

Then Breton Removers are the only others I could find with a slot in October. They could move us next Tuesday 31st. They are coming today to give us a price.

Even before we get the price there are pros and cons to moving Saturday and Tuesday.

Moving Saturday we get no time to clean the house in Pessac, but we get Monday and Tuesday to clean this house to hand it back to the landlords.

Moving Tuesday we get no time to clean this house - we'll have to clean behind the removers, but we get all weekend to clean the Pessac house ready to move in.

Ministry wise, I could still function normally on the Saturday (English class, PowerPoint in the evening) whereas if we move on Saturday then we are scuppered for PowerPoint for church. Of course, the PowerPoint is not that crucial. We were away in the summer and they used OHP instead.

Anyway, we shall see. Once we move we will be entering internet and telephone silence again until FREE can connect us up. They quote about a fortnight. (Oh yeah?) Only our mobile phones will work.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Well I'm not 'avin' any o' that!

In France you can get instant mashed potato with added peas and beans, or with added carrots and pumpkin . It's a way of getting the kids to eat peas and beans. Or it would be, if the mash were not quite this colour.

Pat made a shepherd's pie. Reminds you of the green pastures, doesn't it.

I think the mash with carrots and pumpkin may be bright orange. Perhaps that'll be more successful.

Or perhaps not. Posted by Picasa

Impounding a car in the early morning

I got back from taking Gwilym to school to find the road blocked by two police cars and a big lorry with a hoist on it. They took away a Peugeot 405. Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 20, 2006

700 - or so

Someone who should know recently estimated that there are roughly 700 Bible Christians in Bordeaux.

Not bad. There are countries in this world that don't have 700 Christians yet.

However, Bordeaux is a city of about 750 000 people - roughly the size of Glasgow.

That means slightly fewer than 1 in 1 000 people are Christians.

Imagine how these people have to stand out to be noticed! 1 in a crowd of 1 000!

Or again in Cardiff, a city of some 250 000 people, one church alone has roughly 700 people..

There's a lot of progress yet to be made.

Preaching at Anglade

I'm preaching at Anglade on Sunday, covering for a chap who can't make it.

Really?

One of the Chinese guys keeps us all smiling with his French:

"Est-ce que tu as vu Le vent se lève?" (that Ken Loach film about Ireland)

"Non. C'est un bon film?"

"Oui. C'est un film érotique."

.....

"Non! C'n'est pas érotique!"

"Non. C'est un film ésotérique."

...

"Je crois que non..."

"C'est un film historique."

"Oui. C'est ça. Un film historique."

Once he told us that he couldn't switch mobile phone operator because he has a flat. We were baffled. He hasn't got a flat. He meant un abonnement (a contract) but it came out as un appartement.

Makes me wonder what ones I do but nobody tells me about.

Come to think of it, sometimes people do fall about laughing suddenly for no apparent reason. I just thought it was their joie de vivre...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hooray!!!

We have a letter from the notary - "I confirm to you the meeting for signing arranged for Friday 27 October at 17h30 in my room."

Whooopidoo! No bridges for us! Only cardboard boxes ... to fill quick..

That means we can either move on the Saturday with the ex-pat removals man (expensive, I think) or maybe Breton removers will come up with something for Mon 30 or Tues 31.

Phew!!!

Funny how when you are between the pharoah and the deep Red Sea, you wave your stick and watch - and then suddenly you're through...

Paul Wells on Cezanne

Paul Wells, Liverpudlian, teaches in the seminary belonging to the denomination of the church I am attached to.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

House move - the good news and the bad news

The tax people have come up trumps with the document needed for the completion of the sale, and the other documentation (parasite and catastrophe report) has all been renewed.

BUT

The vendor says he cannot sign before the 30th October.

I said "Impossible. We are already a month late. We have to vacate this house by 1 November and we have nowhere else to go." Actually, I suppose it would be JUST POSSIBLE if we were to sign on 30th and move on the 31st!

Meanwhile on the removals front:

I just spoke to five French firms. Four have no space in their diary next week. One said to e-mail them the list of stuff to move and they'd get back to us.

I also phoned a British chap who was recommended to us. He can do it on Saturday 28 October, but he's very expensive and needs to be paid in sterling if possible. (It is!)

And I thought that moving from a rented house to a purchased one would be less stressful!

Big week at Deeside

Last Sunday there were four baptisms - two women, one lad and one girl. One of the women I have never even met.

Today they start two Christianity Explored groups, one early afternoon and one in the evening.

Then on Friday some folk from the church have arranged a concert at Wrexham with Stuart Townend.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Monday, October 16, 2006

Good news from my sermon buddy

Yesterday we went over my script from August 13.

There really wasn't much she had taken exception to. Once or twice she wondered quite what I was getting at (they had the same problem at Deeside, I think...) and I do have difficulties with the word "de", but then she said "Who doesn't?"

So I felt very encouraged.

I also took the opportunity to ask her about one or two things:

1) Direct preaching.

Like I used to in Britain, I preach saying you - using "vous" when I am talking to the whole wide world and "tu" when I want it to feel as if I am addressing each person individually. French preachers tend to say rather "What will we do, what will one do".

So I asked her if she felt my way was too direct, too brutal for the French ear. She said "I think you can get away with it with your English accent". In fact several people have commented on how much they appreciated being spoken to directly in preaching.

2) Liaisons

Last time I preached it was on Isa 55. I read it like the guy on my MP3 of the Bible. Venez_aux_eaux (vunézozo). But that night when a French lad read it he didn't do ANY of the verb ending liaisons. They are generally regarded as being for formal speech. He said Venez aux_eaux (vunéozo).

I asked her whether it would be best to do the posh liaisons when I read, but drop them when I preach, for fear of sounding too "posh".

She said "Frankly, with your English accent, that's the least of your worries!"

(Actually she didn't put it quite as forcefully as that, but that was the upshot...)

OK! I shall not worry about that!

And maybe having an 'English accent' is not so bad after all if it means you can get away with preaching directly to people, like God does when he speaks to his people and like the New Testament preachers do.

Well? What about this house move?

When the estate agent opened we were there with a letter which said basically we have to sign for the house and move before 1 November or we'll be on the streets. They phoned the notaire and explained this, and they said that the signing had been provisionally arranged for tomorrow, but they still lacked a document from the tax office.

Anyway I delivered a copy of the letter to the notaire's office, and also gave a copy to our landlord.

The landlord, ever helpful, said "Why not phone the notaire, ask what document they lack and where to go to get it, then drive over there for it? If it helps I'll ring 'em for you!"

So I have just got home. I'll have a spot of Asterix's magic potion (a cup of tea!) then phone the notaire. It's worth a go!

... 1/2 hour later ...

I had coffee. It's quicker.

I phoned the lady at the notaire and offered to go collect whatever document she lacked. She said that they wouldn't deliver it into my hands because it is concerned with how much the vendors owe on the house, and it assures that if they are selling for less than they owe, she knows. She thanked me for my offer and said it was kind, but I said it was far from kind - that I was trying to avoid being under the bridges with my wife and children.

Anyway, there is a way around this document - you can sequester the price (or something!) - so we have fixed to sign and get the keys on Tuesday 24th at 11h00. So I shall try to sort out a removal firm for Wednesday, Thursday or Friday of next week *. Then we can have the weekend and Monday 31st to clean this place before the new people move in on the 1st.

* our American friend Ben is like real keen to help us move and stuff. He can borrow his boss' lorry and get some strong arm help to cart stuff around, but I still want a price from removers. They're insured, aren't they, for if our sofa causes their bad back to flare up and so on and so forth...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Tim Challies and Christianity Today's top 50 books

The inimitable Tim makes some brief comments.

The list obviously reflects American evangelicalism more than British, but it also shows how closely we are linked and how narrow and crossable the Atlantic pond really is.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

At the estate agents'

Have you heard anything from the notaire?

Yes, I think we have a date for signing. Haven't you been told?

No.

Oh - it's not in the diary (telephones colleague) oh, no date, but hopefully it should be next week.

That's what they said last week.

Oh. Yes, and the original date was 29 September.

That's right. We have to leave our rented house by 1 November and if we can't have the new house before then we'll have to find a hotel. We have no family here. Also my company has a conference from 23 - 29 October, and I should go. If we can move house next week then I can go, but if not I need to tell my company.

OK, I'll phone the notaire.

(While the agent is on hold) Is it always like this in France?

Yes. 'Fraid so.

So what's the problem?

The notaires have piles and piles of dossiers all the time.

It's bad in Britain, but not like this. Perhaps that's why French people don't move house very often.

(20 minutes on hold later) Don't worry Mr Davey, I'll get in touch with the notaire and ring you.

St Delphin

I took this picture today while waiting for the windscreen to be replaced (Carglass repare! Carglass remplace!) I've often seen this church (yes, it's a church) while passing on the bus. I am not sure, but I think St Delphin is the patron saint of visually impaired modernist architects. Posted by Picasa

I got back last night from a workshop for International Church workers


I was sent on a fact-finding mission, as you can read from the post for a few days ago.

 Posted by Picasa

The workshop was held at Chateau Andelot

in the Jura, near Bourg-en-Bresse. The chateau is owned by an American and run by him as a small hotel. It is BEAUTIFUL. By far the nicest place I have ever stayed in. It has a website, www.chateauandelot.com . The rooms are expensive, but I would say it's good value. But not the kind of thing we do! We have just moved up from the Formule 1 hotel chain to the B&B chain. But if you are the kind of people who may pay that kind of money I'd recommend the chateau.


 Posted by Picasa

The workshop was useful in various ways


The goal was to create links that will enable people to help each other in establishing international churches in France. Most people were from the Lyon-Aix-Marseilles triangle. One chap was from Paris. I was from Bordeaux. I think geography does change the nature of your links!

For me it was a helpful time first in clarifying the international church issue, then in thinking through my goals here, and in re-establishing priorities.

 Posted by Picasa

A bit more about the International Church leaders' workshop

The journey there? Interminable! We travelled on a Corail train that passed through the Dordogne, the Limousin, then the Auvergne. The scenery was lovely, but we boarded the train at 10h30 in Bordeaux and got off at 19h00 I think, in Lyon. That makes 9 hours in the one train. There was a trolley service pushed by a very genial chap, but I had just two euros in my pocket after failing to find a cashpoint in the station at Bordeaux (I'm sure there used to be one.) I also had a banana! Every now and again they'd have to take the locomotive off one end of the train and put it on the other, and this gave opportunity for a 5 minute stop and a "petite cigarette" - but at one station around 5 o' clock we had a 15 minute break, so I dashed into the station buffet and bought a croque monsieur and some iced tea and paid with my card. It was a really nice croque, full of flaky wafer-cut ham. I arrived at the chateau at about 20h30 and they'd kept some dinner for me. Thanks!

The journey home was better because I found a cashpoint in Bourg-en-Bresse and I took a TGV up to Massey TGV (Paris) and then another down to Bordeaux. The ticket inspector said "You're going a long way round - oh yes, if you went direct you'd not get there till tomorrow." Exactly!

The workshop itself showed various things. One is the breadth of the Internaional Church leaders invited. We ranged across the evangelical spectrum from those who embrace post-modernism and the perspectives of Brian Maclaren over to the more conservative end. (I was not the most conservative person there. There was one guy more conservative than me!) We talked about various aspects of Christian service - balancing demands on your time and energy, and things like that.

For me there was a pivotal moment. It was when we were set the question "No holds barred, what would you really want to do?". People talked about seeing great cities change, etc.. I thought, "train men and start a chain reaction", so I said "Pick some men and train them", and Dan said, "You basing that one what someone else did?" or something like that, and just that remark encouaged me tremendously in the role I'm playing here.

See, how do you make disciples of all nations? Well, you take twelve men - twelve somewhat unpromising men - and you spend lots of time with them, then tell them to take over the world.

I know it's not as simple as that, but it suddenly occurred to me that both in the student work and in the church I have been given the brief of doing what I would dream of doing. Isn't that great?
We need a small army of people to work in the Gironde in these unreached towns. Dan's wife said "They don't just appear. You gotta find 'em and prepare 'em". Thought as much...

The other things that I want to see happen will, I hope, follow on from that and be interweaved with that - church establishment, church planting, English language provision, whatever...

Another thing that became clearer for me, too, was the advantage for an international work of being a ministry of an indigenous church, if possible, to avoid the "American church in France" thing. I'm not American and American Christians are not Welsh. At a fairly basic level we tend not to understand each other sometimes. (I had to translate times into British for a friend "a quarter of four" - ça veut dire quoi, exactement? and when people start conceptualising they just lose me totally!) The common factor we should have is that we are Christians in France, so to key an English language work into a French church would seem to me to help avoid the separation into a cultural ghetto. This needs a bit more discussion with the powers that be and a bit more reflection on my part, too.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hoorah!

OK.

The bank is now all ready to go.

Now all we need is that date with the notaire!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A French election

Tonight was the planning meeting for the forthcoming year at the student centre. It happens now because it's the students who have identified with the work who plan the programme.

It was also the municipal elections for Bordeaux, which means the re-election of Alain Juppé as Maire.

Voting finished at 20h30. Our meeting finished at 21h15, and by that time it was obvious from the cheering that the results had been declared. One of the students urged us to go to the Hotel de Ville. "There's food!", he said, so we went for the ambiance and he went for the food.

Well it was jolly good. Party time. Everyone friendly and in a good mood. One chap helped me to understand why when Alain Juppé had been sentenced to one-year ineligibility for public office and 14 months prison he had served his time in Canada. Bit of a slap in the kisser for the Canadians, I thought, but he was given a suspended sentence and went to Canada as a University teacher. Oohhh! All is clear! We also chatted with some ladies, one of whom was French Algerian (pied noir) and had returned to France in 1961, hoping it was temporary. It wasn't.

We saw M. Juppé and Hugues Martin, and there was also a guy who was the spitting image of Sarkozy, but I don't think it was really him.

I spotted the food through a window, so the student went shooting in and came out with a nice plate of saucisson, emmental cheese and a packet of crisps. I ate a slice of saucisson and some cheese so I could say I had, then we went home.

The quick results? Apparently they count each box of ballot slips as it is filled, so at the end of the day there isn't much more to do. Hmmm.

Fact-finding trip

Tomorrow I go to near Bourg-en-Bresse for a three-day fact-finding trip about International Churches in France. It happened like this.

The pastor of the church here, though French, is supported by an American mission, Global Outreach Ministries. He went to their mission conference in Switzerland recently and there mat another GOM man who is involved in establishing and encouraging international church in France with the goal of harnessing internationals to stimulate the national church. Apparently 40% of the folks in international churches in France are French people.

Now Bordeaux is a prime place for there to be an international church. There already is an Anglican Chaplaincy here and CofE services each Sunday in English. I think it is inevitable that something "interdenominational" comes to the city at some stage.

The question is do we stand aside, do we get involved or do we initiate?

So I am going to find out and report back to the folk here. It's a long train journey, which I shall enjoy. I'll take books and my camera.

But I won't take my pen so I can't sign up to anything!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Bordeaux bus queues

Brilliant!

I wanted to take a picture of the queue this evening, but I'd have had to take it from above to show what was happening..

Basically it is a bit like the electron-shell model of atomic structure. The post with the bus stop number on it is the nucleus, and the people arrange themselves randomly at some considerable distance from the pole. One guy put his shopping bags by the pole then wandered off to about 10 metres away where the mobile phone signal was better. A family with two sons in their late teens bickered happily, the lads chucking stones at each other, then dancing on the pavement to their walkmen. (The shopping guy and I caught each others' eye at this point and started laughing..) A lady stood at quite a distance. One chap stood so far away that when a different bus arrived at a different stop he got on it - like a chemical reaction, I suppose.

Then when the bus comes you all surge forward and get on in any old order, but without scrambling. We know everyone will get on so there's no need to line up or to push and shove.

Oh, and say "Bonjour" to the bus driver. We are increasingly urged to get on the bus at the front door, following a study where they discovered that getting on at the front improved courtesy on the buses because everyone says "Bonjour" to the driver. It also cuts down the number of people who don't use a ticket or a bus pass!

Once inside, Bordeaux buses are designed for sociability. They have some seats arranged in groups of four, like on trains, so you can chat, argue, eat a kebab with friends, play your radio or sing along to your mobile phone like a group of girls did the other day. It's party time.

Some seats have priority for the elderly or the pregnant, but it seems that you don't need to worry about that. If an elderly or pregnant person (or both!) wants that seat they'll ask for it and turf you out of it. I have seen this happen a few times.

It's all so very different!

A prayer letter is due

for October, but I will hold off for a while so that I can put in news of the house move.

Meanwhile, to encourage you, imagine an English lesson where one of the people wants the imagery of Psalm 23 explained, and where you then look at a modern metrical setting of the psalm by Stuart Townend and listen to a recording of it, then do some work on pronunciation and phonetics, then finish up with another quick burst of Psalm 23, all the while thinking that next time we must look at Mark 6 where Jesus sees that the people are like sheep without a shepherd, and makes them sit down on the green grass, and spreads a table before them while restoring their souls. And maybe afterwards Isaiah 40.

That would be an enjoyable English class, wouldn't it?

Pat's going great guns at the DEFLE!

She has one teacher that I had last year. A good teacher with a dry wit. Then she has another lady who has a kind of elegant silliness that reminds me of Hinge and Bracket. She teaches through humour - always a good policy I think.

With this particular lady Pat has mixed results in tests. One test of pronouns (eeek! like "I some of it to him have given") she got 23/30. That's 77%! However, they also had to write some odd sentences in strange tenses and there the teacher said "I think you write like this", miming Pat writing while staring intently at the ceiling.

Well, you win some, you lose some - but if you can win more than you lose then it's not so bad!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Pictures of the walk through the St Michel area




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A new view of Bordeaux

I called on one of the church members today, who lives in the city centre near the Conservatoire.

To get there I walked through the Capucins Market. Magic! It was wonderful! Chinese stuff galore.

To get back to the Student Centre I walked past l'Eglise St. Michel, with the various people who sell junk all over the square. If you want to buy French junk (and what British person doesn't want to?) that's the place to go. Old radiator grills from pre-war Citroëns, dull brown pottery jugs with duller brown markings, all sorts of junk!

Then through the Arab quarter. Prickly pears, 2,80 € per kilo, and loads of different kinds of peppers, and old chaps with Arab hats (I saw a chap straight out of King Solomon's Mines, in long robes with a kind of African turban, buying bananas) and a stall selling those black and white houndstooth scarves that Palestinians wear and that trendy guys wrap round and round their necks, and stalls full of little bags for men, because in France you have to carry your keys, your wallet, your driving licence, your car registration documents, your insurance certificate and your identity card at all times or you can be fined. Then up Cours Victor Hugo to the Musée d'Aquitaine and over to the Student Centre.

It was brilliant to see parts of the city I have never visited. The Big Bell! I am slipping into my old ways. Never stopping to look around or to explore.

I took some pictures. I'll put them on later. Now I must go back some time to buy a black and white houndstooth scarf to wrap round my neck like the trendy guy that I am (deep down...).

I just love Bordeaux sometimes.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

4D baby imaging and abortion

We Daveys have seen a lot of scans of babies recently as our nephews' wives have babies in the north, in the west, in the south; babies everywhere! But I have never seen one of these 4D scans that have so set the cat among the pigeons.

Some doctors and scientists say that seeing the scans of babies at various stages of development, and seeing their baby-like movements and seeing the baby-like expressions on their faces and seeing the baby-like way they seem to respond to stimuli must not confuse us. These are not actually babies at all, and their development may be stopped and they may be destroyed, and it is not like killing a baby.

Click on the title of the post to see what the man who developed the 4D imaging technique says.

I wonder if some people are not saying "I have made up my mind - don't confuse me with more evidence!"?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A lovely red Vélosolex


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Storm damage at Catrin's school


This huge oak came down into the playground (and a fair bit on the road the other side!) Posted by Picasa

Storm damage at the Campus

A really tall maritime pine snapped about 15 feet from the ground and fell just to one side of the classroom where Pat has her classes.
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COUP DE VENT !

There we were, just leaving the rocade at J16 for Gradignan/Talence when all of a sudden a hail of leaves, sticks and branches came flying over. This was followed by a flying marquee which soared over a row of houses and landed on the road, some 100 yards after our turning. Near Gwilym's school a road was blocked by a fallen tree. Catrin's school yard is hopelessly unusable with branches everywhere.

There was some question over whether they'd keep the kids in school today because of fears of damage to the buildings, but after a few minutes they decided the storm had abated enough.

Meanwhile I tried to take the tram to town for our 10am team meeting but the trams were all cancelled just as I got on. I am not surprised, those few we had seen moving were travelling very slowly with indicators flashing, dragging shrubberies in their undercarriage.

So I am now back at home and there's a bus at 9:50. If that isn't running then I've had it!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Some French people prefer tea

A recent conversation:

"Would you like a coffee or some tea?"

"Oh, tea please. Tea is an excellent drink. It makes you perspire. It makes you urinate.."

"Ummm - we wouldn't say that in Britain.."

"Oh yes - you would say it makes you sweat?"

"Ummm, no. In Britain although everyone does urinate we do not generally talk about it much. Except with the doctor."

In the home straight...

Slight panic on Saturday. A prospective tenant who came to see the house a while ago rang to check that it would be available from 1 November. I said, "I hope so, but I don't know."

The thing is, all has gone very quiet on the house move front. The estate agent told me they'd ring as soon as the solicitor got in touch to say "chocks away". Meanwhile the bank has sent out its offer, we have accepted it and we await their letter to the solicitor.

So today I called at the estate agent. "Our landlord has found a prospective tenant, who needs to move in on 1 November. He doesn't want to lose a tenant. I don't want to pay another month's rent. The solicitor has had the dossier on the house since July. Can you confirm that we can complete the purchase this month and if so, ask them what they are waiting for, please".

Half an hour later we were told that we should sign at the end of next week.

Jolly good.

Please pray that we will be able to do that. We would really like to get moved into the house ready for the end of the kids' half term, which is at the end of October.

Framakey

Useful if you need to use more than one computer, and especially if you need to use other people's computers - this loads a complete toolkit of programs on a USB key, including Firefox and OpenOffice.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Preached again this morning

Now my third time. It's still a bit too physical - I need to be very aware of where my tongue is and what my lips are doing, but this morning was basically encouraging:

1) it looked like people were with me as I spoke (lots of feedback from people's faces).

2) people seemed to have got the message.

3) it was certainly less difficult than before.

4) it felt like preaching.

So I go to bed tired but happy.