Saturday, June 30, 2007
So far Gwilym has done two stints as PowerPoint monitor, and we plan to involve his two mates as well.
It's the disused chapel of a closed convent that now belongs to the school that Gwilym and Catrin go to.
Soon the plot of land it is on will be sold to a property developer.
But this summer, with the addition of a large vase of flowers on the little shelf on the left hand side, it will be our home.
Beenuss I am from the valleys I did used to talk tidy. I don't mean I used language. Mam didn't like it. She'd say "Don't use language when you talk to me." Anyway I was a tidy boy.
No, I just mean I used to talk tidy. So we would twti down in the gwli to watch the gambos going down. I had a gambo my dad made for me. We kept it in the cwtch. Or we would quat it away in the shed down my gran's back. Anyway, when they weren't playing catty and doggy you could go down the fan on your gambo. Bopa Jarman lived down by there, I think. It was all hills, see.
Google 'Talk tidy" and who knows what you'll get.
beenuss short for "being as" = since or because
tidy as an adverb = properly
tidy as an adjective = nice, decent or considerable as in "it's a tidy step = it's a long way"
use language = use bad language
twti = to squat
gwli = the space between two houses
gambo = a soap-box cart
cwtch as a noun = the cupboard under the stairs
cwtch as a verb = a bit like cuddle
quat = to hide
down my gran's back = in my gran's garden
catty and doggy = a game where you wallop sticks round a field
the fan = waste ground (from y fan, in Welsh, the place?)
bopa = auntie
Friday, June 29, 2007
Nice trombonist !
The first timer Gwilym and Catrin heard a recording of this we were in the car and they both laughed themselves silly.
GD: Hello and welcome, Alan. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
AD: Wotcher Guy. I'm a Rhondda boy, Rhondda born and Rhondda bred. I grew up in the 60s and 70s. Studied Biology at Aberystwyth, where I became a Christian and first became aware of a call to Christian ministry. I am married to Pat and we have two children; Gwilym and Catrin.
GD: Your blog is called "Les Daveys de France". Please explain.
AD: We are the Daveys and we have been in France since Autumn 2005. There are other Daveys in France but we have had no complaints so far.
GD: So, why do you blog?
AD: Really the blog aims to reach the parts a prayer letter cannot reach - so it talks about the everyday little challenges and encouragements, and gives people an insight into what it means to us to come and serve in France.
AD: Being contacted by new people, some of whom sense a call to Christian work in France, too. That's by far the best thing. And when people have visited our church because of the blog I dance for joy.
AD: Woah! Loads! I think there's a danger of moaning, of ranting, of the blog being your outlet for all that. Again the potential for gossip is enormous. And time wasting. (Have you seen Facebook? It's like a hoover for time.) But I think the worst thing is the temptation to try to appear clever or funny. Pride and egoism and all that.
GD: Yes, we need to blog as Christians in the name of the Lord. But I'm not into the Facebook thing. I don't really get it. Now, where did you train for the Christian Ministry?
AD: I did the Evangelical Movement of Wales Theological Training Course (The Bryntirion Course). It was taught by the LTS men, but part time over four years. It suited me because it enabled me to continue being a deacon in the church I belonged to at the time.
GD: What is the most important lesson that you learned from your studies?
AD: That God is good and works out his great and glorious plan in the short lives of little people who love him.
GD: What does your family think of your blogging habit?
AD: The best thing is to ask them. Pat's blog is called pat-in-france.blogspot.com, and Gwilym has france.blogspot.com. I think they're OK with it, and Pat soon tells me if I spend too much time on the computer.
GD: Wow, a regular little family of bloggers aren't you? Right, you were the pastor at Deeside Evangelical Church in North Wales and then you felt called to serve the Lord as a missionary in France. Tell us how you became convinced that the Lord was leading you in that direction.
AD: There were two threads to it: On the one hand, in the church and in my life I was praying that God would send labourers into the harvest field, and especially Europe.
Then when we went on honeymoon to Spain (my first time ever on the continent) we saw how needy the country really is. We also found that it is possible to learn a language and speak to people and be understood.
Over time these two threads (praying for God to send, and being personally aware of the need) grew to the point where I became convinced that God wanted us to go and work in France. We had lost all our parents. Nobody was any more free to go and serve overseas than we were. Our kids were still at the right age.
The elders of the church were supportive and not surprised, though one had thought we would head for Spain. The church took a little more time to think it through. We came in 2005 and left the church in the loving and capable hands of Martin Downes. (Thank you heavenly Father!)
GD: We Brits are notoriously bad at learning foreign tongues. Why should we bother when English is the nearest thing to a world language? Had you long forgotten your schoolboy French, so that you had to more or less learn the language from scratch? If so, do you now feel comfortable ministering in the language?
AD: I didn't do a language in school to O level. We had to choose between Latin and Physics. I was good at Latin but I needed Physics to be a doctor (don't ask!). We had to choose between Welsh and French. Welsh was taught quite well at my school, but French was a disaster - nevertheless I chose French then dropped it one year later. Nobody passed their O level French first time. Then just before coming here I did A level French in our Deeside Consortium sixth form college. I feel OK ministering in the language, though it's more like walking in wellies than in slippers...
GD: Say something in French.
AD: Quelque chose.
AD: Something. (Have I missed the point here?)
GD: Er, yes! Now, what is your biggest pulpit faux pas while ministering in French?
AD: Well I had a nice one this Sunday. I was preaching about Rahab and imagining what the people of Jericho might have said. My notes said "J'ai un bon verrou" (I have a good lock). My lips said " J'ai un bon verrue" (I have a good wart). I have since smacked them thoroughly and they promise to try harder in future.
GD: I hope you mean your notes rather than your congregation! (Editor's note - it's my lips I smacked...) How have your family coped with the move?
AD: Great. It has been really hard. REALLY HARD. But recently Gwilym said that he'd be sad if he had to go back to Britain now. And when things are hard you are more aware of God's help.
GD: Apart from language, what is the biggest cultural difference between the French and the Brits?
AD: Oh boy! I could write a book. [A short answer will do - GD] The biggest difference... I think it is almost a kind of epicurean/stoic thing. In France what matters is to have a personal project, to enjoy your food and your family and friends. In Britain it's more about your career and your home. That's very broad brush, but I think it's more or less the case. That and kissing the blokes at church, of course.
GD: Do you get the hiraeth (Welsh homesickness)? If so, what do you miss most about Wales?
AD: Yes. I miss the hymns, the roadsigns, the accents, the humour, the hills, my family, the church, the North Wales churches, the ministers fellowship, the AECW, the Banner conference , my friends, Evangelical Times and Evangelicals Now, Christian bookshops, Chester Road West, BBC Radio 4, Borders bookshop.
GD: Tell us your top three songs or pieces of music.
AD: Bach: St Matthew Passion, Stravinsky: Dumbarton Oaks, Red Mountain Church: Streams of living water flow
GD: Who was the most influential figure in your theological development?
AD: Geoff Thomas. First pastor. What can you say?
GD: Nothing, I am awestruck. Who has taught you most about preaching?
AD: Geoff Thomas. And Stuart Olyott. A heady mix ! If only I lived up to that...
GD: Some role models. Now, what would you say is the biggest challenge facing evangelicalism today?
AD: The unbelief and utter incomprehension of the masses in our countries. That feeds so many other things: our need for Christlikeness, our pressure to compromise, our need for revival, our call to evangelise, our need for clarity, the call for unity in truth, etc. etc.
GD: What is the most helpful work of theology that you have read in the last twelve months. It is a must read because....
AD: I have really enjoyed (re-)reading John Piper's Let the nations rejoice. Re-reading because I have read it before but in brackets because I read an old smaller edition. I am reading this with a student who hopes to devote his life to mission and it's been very helpful for me. It's a must read because it will help you put the evangelisation of the world at the center of your Christian life. I was enjoying Peter Leithart's A house for my name till we moved house and I haven't found it since.
GD: Lastly, which blogs do you enjoy reading most and why?
AD: I enjoy Darby Gray because there's almost always something new to read. I enjoy Tim Challies because he gives a window on the Christian world in Canadia and the USA. I enjoy Barnsie, Myerscough, the metrocalvinist, Jon Mackenzie and the Exiled Preacher because you get good-humoured theological reflection. I enjoy Downsie because he is so against heresy and he interviews the people that matter. And I enjoy Reformation 21 because they are all nuts. However, I am aware that most of these people are "Alan's mates"... what does that say, eh?
GD: It says that you have lots of mates who blog, which is nice. Well, it's time to bring our little chat to a close. Good to catch up with you Alan. Diolch yn fawr!
Tomorrow is also the great final English class of the year, and probably my final English class of all. The concept is that as I get more involved in the life of the church then I will need my Saturdays back. This is indubitably true and a good thing, but I will miss the classes. They've been good for my French, too.
Sunday is a big day at church. A Chinese student is being baptised, then there's a big church meal, then once everyone's finished their lunch (probably around 4pm) a big information meeting to sort out the moves for the summer and the future of youth activities etc.
Meanwhile Bordeaux has been recognised by the UNESCO global heritage committee, so the town hall has invited everyone to come and celebrate at 5pm on Sunday. I can't imagine we'll have finished our info meeting on time, though.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
(1) Maybe you don’t know, but there is a heavenly dilemma over you. You are loved as God’s special creation. But because God is also holy you are cut off from him by your wickedness and under his judgment. The Bible tells of God’s one solution: Jesus, fully God and fully sinless man, ransomed us to God through his death on the cross. He paid our sin-debt and rose from the dead as proof that he is the way and the truth. Eliminate the dilemma! Turn from sin; follow Jesus by putting your complete faith and trust in him.
(2) Allah commands you to read the Injil. But what does it say? It says salvation comes from Allah’s love, not Allah’s rules! It says the straight path to Allah is faith in the Jesus of the Injil. The Injil gives only one path: Jesus, fully God – fully man and perfect, ransomed us to God through his death on the cross. He paid our sin-debt. He rose from the dead as proof that he is the path to heaven. Does Allah’s strength not protect his word? The Injil says repent; follow Jesus; put your complete faith and trust in him.
[Editor's note: in further conversation with Mr. Stiles, he said he often will use this story with unbelievers (which he says is not original to him): Two men went to the mosque to pray. One was a rich man, the other a poor man. The rich man went through his libations and prayers as he did five times a day. As he was praying, he began to have a sexual fantasy about the young wife who lived next door to his home. But he finished his prayers and went home. The poor man stood off at a distance. He came so infrequently to the mosque, that he couldn't remember the positions for prayer or his libations. But he looked up to heaven, beat his breast, and said, "Forgive me, O Lord, for I'm a sinner." Who went home justified? Mr Stiles says that every Muslim he has asked this question has answered "The rich man."]
Mack Stiles is a businessman in Dubai, UAE, and is the author of Speaking of Jesus, 17 Things My Kids Taught Me About God, and Mack & Leeanne's Guide to Short-Term Missions. His son is a member of Capitol Hill Baptist Church.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
King Menelaus is being sent to Crete for a month, to the illicit and all too evident joy of his wife Helene and her suitor, Paris of Troy. This is what will spark the Trojan war.
Offenbach makes fun of the Greek myths.
My favourite bit is "Va t'en, mon lou-lou, va t'en, n'importe où".. (Off you go, sweetie. Off you go, anywhere...)
I thought, "I have a good lock".
My notes said, "j'ai un bon verrou."
My lips said, "j'ai un bon verrue." (no sense of gender, either, my lips... verrues are girls, of course.)
The folks heard, "I have a good wart?"
I've given my lips a good smacking, and they promise to try harder in future.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
one egg = oeuf ( erf ), two eggs = oeufs ( er )
one bone = os ( oss ), two bones = os ( oh ) ...................... good this, innit ......................
Heard on Saturday - Sue (name changed to protect the guilty) wasn't sure if her letter really guaranteed entry to university or not...
Si, Sue, ça c'est sûr ! (see soo saa say soor = but yes, Sue, that's certain..)
physiotherapist = kinésithérapeute ... but I have only ever heard people say kiné. There is a limit, after all...
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Thankfully we are further ahead than some of these suggestions assume - but this is still valuable stuff
So we read Luke 23 in French - I read from 3 to 5 syllables and he reads after me. Then we read Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12 in the same way.
mon serviteur, mon serviteur,
prospérera, prospérera - pro - pro - spé - spé - re - re - ra - ra - prospérera - prospérera...
I am sure you get the picture.
Then we attack the study questions. He understands the questions and does the sensible thing by looking for the answers in the text and pointing at them. It's clear that this chap is a Christian. You can tell by the sign language and the expression on his face. I give him a CD of the Bible in French in MP3 format.
These people have guts.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Then after the study - Mark sandwiches - we scuttled off the find the action and the pastor and family.
The fireworks were scheduled for 11h30. At one point we wondered if M. Juppé had cancelled them in a fiendish revenge for his election defeat, but they began at about midnight and were very pretty. Some photos to give you a brief flavour.
I think that the fête de la musique does for Bordeaux what the bonfire night display did for Deeside - a time for us to bond and to feel like a community. The big difference is that fête de la musique involves an all-night stint (not for me!) and rather a lot of alcohol. It was the first time I have seen loads of drunks on the streets in France.
Next year I'll avoid the town centre and the whole family can go to the Pessac fête until a reasonable bedtime for the kids. The Pessac fête will be a bit more our scene.
Here are a banda (my favourite), some salsa dancers and a group attached to a "resto of the islands".
Thursday, June 21, 2007
I was worried about his Technologie. He got 13.5 (67 %) - bang on the class average.
Education musicale - 17 (85 %). Arts plastiques 15.3 (76 %)
We need to work on his maths (8.8) and his science (9.6). But at least I can help him with those.
And it's pretty good for the end of his second year in France.
Overall 11.8 (59%)
Ensemble moyen. Admis en 5ème.
That means that in Pessac there'll be concerts in the town square, in the church, in the school, from 3pm into the night.
In Bordeaux there are things going on all over, the streets will be full of people and of groups, bands and orchestras. One square (Place St Pierre) is the focus for Christian music.
We suggested replacing our usual étude biblique with a shorter time of prayer, but the students want a proper study.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
1) To save fuel
2) To reduce carbon emissions
3) To reduce congestion
4) To reduce fatal accidents
I think that's all the reasons they gave.
I tell you - for a while they'll be RAKING in speeding fines !
You should have seen what came out of this lady's lunchbox ! A picnic table and chairs, dishes, cutlery, bottles of wine, loaves of bread, cheeses, a ham, a parasol for everyone to sit under. Amazing.
Oh, and on Sunday there will be three stints of people swimming across the Garonne. The France 50m champion started it all, though the Garonne is actually 1.7km across.
The posters read "Come and swim the cleanest estuary in Europe !"
Apparently the dodgy colour is because the salt causes particles of clay from the river bed to enter suspension.
Then we have to work out how to claim our reimbursement from our mutuelle. I hope they cough up !
If they do I'll go and have my eyes tested. About eight years ago the optician gave me glasses to use if I felt the need (I have an astigmatism). I found that they were more of a nuisance than a help - and then when we were burgled I think they were stolen by mistake for sunglasses. Anyway, I probably ought to get my eyes tested again...
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I also think the earth is much less than billions of years old, though I don't know how old. I suspect that nobody yet does.
I consider that God made the world in six days, each day being roughly a day in length.
I have always thought like that. Through my A level Biology course. Our Botany teacher helpfully discussed the issue with us and told us of his engagement with it over the years - he had come down finally on the side of creation. Through my degree course in Biology, where we studied genetics and population drift. Before and after my Christian commitment.
To begin with I rejected evolution because it didn't make sense to me. Everything degrades and decays. Why would life go in the other direction spontaneously and by accident? We see a massive loss of genetic diversity all the time as species are competed out of existence. Why believe that this same struggle for survival as a result of competition gave rise to diversity? I studied ecology and read of man's destructive influence in the world. But if man is just another species, then so what? Who cares?
Later on I rejected evolution because of my commitment to Jesus Christ, and especially to his death and resurrection and the reason behind it. Paul puts it best, of course. 1 Corinthians 15:21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.
Some Christians say that they believe that God created by means of evolution. So death did not come through a man, did it? Man came through death. Death cannot be the last enemy, can it? It is the creative power through which God made all this wonderful diversity we see today. Death cannot be the wages of sin, can it? It's a wonderful, positive thing, death!
All accounts of our origins pose us with huge mental puzzles. Belief in Biblical creation does too. The Bible doesn't answer all our questions. It doesn't claim to.
But neither does the concept of our existence coming from nothing, spontaneously, by accident.
Montauban is 2h30 drive away § , and once I parked the car I couldn't find the church because it was crawling with workmen ! They are putting in underfloor heating - the hot water comes from Montauban's rubbish incinerator so it's cheap.
I got given a bit of a grilling regarding my background, my work and my status in the denomination. It transpires that the denomination does not yet actually recognise the CPO catalogue as a formal theological qualification. Fancy ! So I am officially sans-papiers.
We were : 1 American, 1 Dutchman, 1 South African, 1 Chilean, 1 Welshman and two Frenchmen, one of whom is black. I don't feel especially foreign in our meetings.
§ We gogs ¤ are used to that. When on EMW English Exec I used to drive 9 hours there and back for a 2h30 meeting.
¤ gog is a slightly perjorative term for a North Walian.
Monday, June 18, 2007
My coat is still not dry. Neither am I.
You know that thing about a british summer ? Two nice days and a thunderstorm ?
That's what we get pretty well every day here. Two nice hours and a massive thunderstorm !
Still, as Neil said, accept all experiences gratefully. I was grateful to get home, I can tell you .
Sunday, June 17, 2007
* Someone explained the suppleant like this...
Alain Juppé is already maire of Bordeaux and a Minister of State. Hugues Martin is deputy maire.
Thus if elected to Assemblée Nationale, Juppé would continue as maire and as minister. Hugues Martin would take his place in the Assemblée Nationale and continue as deputy maire.
Since Juppé has not been elected he will resign as minister and simply continue as maire.
This may be wrong, but I have no better explanation at present !
Anyway, the cheese and the pear tart were very nice. And a country that provides food at the town hall for election night has my vote.
I wonder what the French left eyes are polling...
§ the original headline for this link was "French right eyes poll victory"
Saturday, June 16, 2007
So often when I read the headlines these days I have to check the calendar to see if it's April 1st again
and terrorist threats against ... Jamie Oliver ?
We've not even been gone two years yet and frankly you show no signs of coping without us.
It's a worry, I tell you. A worry.
The one bright gleam on the horizon is the Deeside church, which is in great form.
Friday, June 15, 2007
What makes us impure? People, stuff and what goes in ... NOT !
SO NOT !
It's not what goes in, it's what comes out ... which was already there ...
This is good to talk about in French because you have pureté and propreté, santé and sainteté.
Maybe you're right, Matthew. Maybe I should watch more normal stuff, like that one about a copper who shoots back from the 21st century to the 1970s and does all the Sweeney stuff that coppers do... or that one about aliens chasing aliens who seem to have their hearts set on occupying Cardiff for some reason...
Thursday, June 14, 2007
At the moment I am not sure what to blog about it. ("Shut up then!", they cry.) It raises so many issues.
For one these kids are encouraged to do things that are obviously wrong, unhelpful, inappropriate. There's the whole politicisation thing going on in the background, too. The cardboard cutout President Bush was too wonderful for words. I did hope that they'd given him an opening mouth and that they would have him do a speech, but no...
When the students went to see it the reactions were different for people from different nations. Interesting.
Have you seen it? What did you think?
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Today the French teacher had a little word with Gwilym.
Would he like to drop German and do Latin instead, staying in the same class ?
Oh yes !
The message to us reads, In view of Gwilym's good progress in French (double underlined), and if he stopped German, it would be really good for your son to do at least one year "Introduction to Latin". It's really helpful for spelling and grammar. (And there's not much homework to do.)
Vu les beaux progrès de Gwilym en Français, et s'il arrête l'allemand, il serait très bon pour votre fils de faire au moins pendant un an, Initiation au latin. C'est très formateur sur le plan de l'orthographe et de la grammaire. (De plus, il n'y a pas beaucoup de travail à la maison) bien cordialement...
It is taught by the French teacher, too. The same teacher who, early on in the year when he got 10/20 in a test on the imperfect, gave him a round of applause.
Cracking ! Pactum factum !
Now where are those Henricus Barbatus books someone loaned me once just before leaving for Latin America, and I never returned them...?
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Alain Rousset (PS) for Pessac gained over 50% of the vote, so he is elected. But M Juppé for Bordeaux didn't, so there's a second round next Sunday.
I asked him what he'd think about continuing in the same class but with some help with his German, if we can find someone. He's up for that if we can do it, so I need to fix a rdv with the director and/or the German teacher. Or failing that, write them a note.
This weekend was quite full. I was only at the centre for the English Class, but then there was the kids' fête des scoutes (see below), I was preaching in the morning and also the Pegingtons came to church (see below) and they stayed for lunch and to talk to the young people (interview with translation). Then they had a bataille d'eau in the garden of the premises we are leaving in just a few weeks' time. Make the most of it while you can... Then home for an early night.