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, March 31, 2009

A couple of random shop-related reflections

Buying breakfast cereal you have to read the label. Catrin's favourite cereal was suddenly available in a huge box and not quite twice the price. Must be better value ! Ah no - the big box contained 650 grams versus the 500 grams in the smaller box.

They must think we can't read. Hmm. No. They think we don't read, and often they're right.

Buying mobile phones get them from the operator's shop if possible, but not from the supermarket. We bought a mobile phone from a supermarket and it's just gone wrong for the second time just as its year-long guarantee runs out. The first time we took it back with the till receipt and they sent it away for repair. It took four weeks to come back. Could we borrow a phone in the meantime ? No, we don't have any loan phones ! So we used an old phone from the bottom of a drawer.

No loan phone ? Of course not ! The supermarket doesn't care whether you make calls or not. They got their money when they sold you the phone. The operator, on the other hand, wants you to call, to text, to surf, so they'll lend you a phone or do whatever they can to keep you online. So when I can I need to call on the nice people at the SFR shop.

Monday, March 30, 2009

and so it was that ...

Gwilym has a kitchen table in his room to use as his desk.

The church needs a kitchen table for the kitchen to use as a kitchen table.

Gwilym could do with a desk, or at the least a computer workstation for his room.

IKEA has a sale on.

And so it was that we bought a massive heavy wooden table to replace the plastic patio table we've been using for almost 4 years now. It was a bargain, and there's good wood in it !

But we still need to find a desk for Gwilym. Hmmm.

Sam Waldron learns from Calvin

Sam Waldron has been learning lessons from Calvin as a Pastor and Expositor for what seems like a Very Long Time.

Some of the lessons he draws are gems. For example :

Humility and appreciation for others.

Aiming to be useful.

Accepting God's plan.

Having a simple aim.

A quick report on the weekend

Saturday was a day for comings and goings. Our friend Chrissie arrived for a fleeting visit on Saturday afternoon at Gare St Jean. It was great to meet her.

Then we'd invited a variety of folk to come and eat at our place on Saturday evening. It clashed with a fair amount of other things and some folk were ill, but in the end a nice little gang gathered to eat pizza, Japanese curry and nice cake.

Meanwhile I went to Gare St Jean to collect Catrin from her school trip to Paris. It was good to get our girl back and to be back at full complement.

Sunday began bright and early with set-up at the church. We were a decent number and the service seemed to go OK. Then home for pizza and Japanese curry. Some Griffins came leaving the halt, the lame and the blind back at barracks. I got ready for the English evening service and we loaded into the car taking Chrissie back to Gare St Jean en route.

For the evening service we were about 12-ish, I think, and again we sang very well and we read and I preached on the rich man from Matthew 19. 

Afterwards we discussed the passage a little and prayed together, and then discussed our pattern of meetings (Sunday evening at Cenon, Saturday at Pessac). People seem content except that we need to meet a little earlier on the Saturday evening because of buses etc.

Catrin brought a Parisian sore throat home with her so she collapsed into bed, Pat in the bottom bunk and I sank into a heavy sleep punctuated by dreams of my closest friends becoming aliens and infecting each other.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Don't change that clock ! It's BAD for you !

http://www.sudouest.com/accueil/actualite/economie/article//mil/.html

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Well we saw Catrin off on her school trip

at the main railway station in Bordeaux at 05h50...

then pinched ourselves to keep awake during the UFM Team prayer meeting

etc...

Meanwhile some of Gwilym's teachers are not there tomorrow so he gets to roll into school at 10h45 !

Not always easy to get a good cheese

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Six word autobiographies from the English Class

I think that you'll agree that they're excellent :

A long path. For what ? Teacher.

Your whole life studying - and then ?

Not a chance for the foreigner.

My future is not dream - striving.

Primary-school carefree. High-school lost. Today ... visiting.

Was born. Have to do something.

To make me stronger and useful.

Papa left Wales. Pastor in Bordeaux.

I thought that dark chocolate with chilli peppers would be the weirdest I would ever try, till I saw :

dark chocolate with crystals of sea-salt.

Yum yum !
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Easter mission preparation

Well preparations continue apace. On the agenda now :

¤ état des lieux of the flat above the church to see what needs doing before the team can stay there, eg shower curtain, etc.

¤ print off publicité - invites and posters - on Sammy's color laser printer 

¤ post posters hither and yon, to the right, to the left

¤ write gospel tract in French based on Calvin - my first ever tract-write in French


Oh boy !

Catrin's on a school trip to Paris this week - she leaves the central station in Bordeaux (Gare St Jean) at 05h50 tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Netbooks" - these small pcs

I thought I'd pop a little post on about these tiny laptops commonly called netbooks. Being somewhat geeky I like to keep abreast of what is happening and I now and again wander round the computermongers, so here's my take on the "netbook phenomenon".

It's a good thing.

For various reasons: 1) It gives people the opportunity to try linux easily 2) these netbooks are really easy to carry round 3) they are also often much cheaper than classic laptops 4) they are adequate for what most people need (you see LOADS of them on campus)

There are various choices you'll make according to what is important to you:

Cheap The best deal I have seen was for an eeepc 701 in our local Surcouf at 99€. This has a 7" screen and runs linux and I used one for deputation last year very adequately. SFR are currently doing it by mail order for about 130€.

Battery life The best at present is the Samsung NC10 but it is expensive at about 370€ if you shop around.

Keyboard For typing in French the best keyboard that I have tried is the Acer Aspire One which comes in all kinds of sizes and flavours and starts at 150€ in our local surcouf for the linux version.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Oh boy ! If this doesn't get us in the streets nothing will !

Talk about fat in the fire !

L'Institution Chrétienne

Here it is - the Institutes in modern French

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It appears that the guinea pig's pregnancy was more advanced than we had thought

because there are now two surprisingly large baby piggies in the cage !

See Pat's blog for photos later.

Xandros Presto

It's a fast-boot Linux for your laptop - it installs as a Windows program but then gives you the option to boot Windows or Presto.

For people on the road checking their email in wifi hotspots (for example) it'd be great.

Presently in free beta download they will charge for the final version. The beta works well and I've found it very useful even though it doesn't have a French keyboard setting (US only at present).

Until I saw your foot

 I thought this music was in four, 
 Until I saw your foot.
 But now I think it must be three, 
 Or maybe five, I can't quite see. 
 Or six? Or maybe not.

 I thought this piece was rather slow, 
 Until I saw your foot.
 But now I think it's double speed - 
 Sometimes it's very fast indeed. 
 And other times it's not.

 I thought conductors gave the beat, 
 Until I saw your foot.
 But now I think it rather neat, 
 To look at all the tapping feet, 
 And choose the speed that I prefer,
 And play along with him - or her. 
 I find it helps a lot.

 I thought my timing was all wrong, 
 Until I saw your foot.
 Conductors beat both east and west, 
 But we don't play with all the rest:
 We've found a tempo of our own, 
 And bar by bar, our love has grown.
 O I was feeling so alone, 
 Until I saw your foot.

© Heather Wastie

Friday, March 20, 2009

All rendez-vous went well

Pat paid the dentist who said that what we paid is reimbursable and sent off forms hither and yon.

I saw the form teacher who gave me the name of his mate the philo teacher who also coaches in French and Maths and said that we should forget any options such as redoing the year or looking for a different kind of course. It'll be fine but help with French and Maths will be a good thing.

Gwilym's form teacher said 'Any questions or problems just grab me outside the school.' 
I said, "Well I still have your home phone number !" 
'Yes, there we are, ring me !' 
"You can't do that ! Annoying the teachers at home !"
'Why not ? It's not annoying ! Just ring.'

You can see why I think so much of the guy !

We ate at the Vietnamese restaurant which turned out to be really charming with a very welcoming waiter, nice food, very well served, all was just great. And the lunchtime three-course menu is 11 euros, which is pretty good for Bordeaux.

Publicity is done.

Phew !

Meanwhile...

Pat has an appointment with the dentist, Catrin's dentist, to work out payment for her brace etc. the bill for which comes to 500 euros.

We are very glad to have our health cover both our statutory minimum and our mutuelle top up cover !

A different kind of day - rendez-vous no 1

Today I meet up with Gwilym's form teacher to discuss what options are open for him. He does pretty well in most of his subjects (like 65% in Technology), of course he does very well in English but he's really struggling in French and Maths. Yes, I don't understand, either.

Is the best thing for him to :

1) scrape through the year and carry on regardless - as in previous years
2) redo the year concentrating hard on his French and Maths to try and get them sorted out 
3) switch to a school with a more technical / practical bias, like some friends at church have done
4) something else I haven't thought of or don't know about

I am keen for him to keep his options as open as possible as long as possible. At present he doesn't know what he wants to do after school - he started the year thinking of professional football, then switched to paediatrics, then to car mechanic. That's right. He doesn't know.

A different kind of day - rendez-vous no 2

Last Friday was our 16th wedding anniversary, and I was at the Synode. Hmmm. After deliberation we decided to go out for lunch today.

There's various advantages to going out for lunch :

1) We can go to a restaurant in our area - I wondered about the big posh one on the junction, le Bistro de l'Alouette, but after reading the restaurant reviews for Pessac on linternaute.com a little Chinese restaurant round the corner gets really good write-ups. The biggest criticism is that it's too small so you have to book !

2) You are less likely to have candles. I can't do candles at the moment.

3) You can eat from their lunchtime menu which is usually better value for money.

Of course, the drawback is that Chinese restaurants don't generally do good desserts. Still !

A different kind of day - rendez-vous no 3

Yesterday was the big day of national strike against the government that we elected last year. They want to keep their election promises, the rogues !

Anyway - mistakenly believing that there would be problems with the trams and buses (there weren't) I switched my afternoon at the student centre to today. 

Now prayer would be good for today because we are going to finalise the publicity for the mission team week so that posters, invitations and exhibition displays can be printed. 

We need prayer for wisdom in choosing wording etc., but also because the software I use is of the easy-to-learn, easy-to-use, non-graphic-artist, no-learning-curve variety. The software is very easy and quick to use but that also implies a certain ... inflexibility. 

And I am partially colour-blind ! When people say "Can we have a darker blue ?", they may get purple. And I may not know...

This tends to mean that there is a gap between people's wishes for the leaflets and what the software and I can actually achieve. So today we will be living on the fault-line of compromise between desire and reality ( ! ) 

Never a comfortable place to pitch one's tent.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Oh well, I'm off to bed

You know those times when you can't feel your brain any more and you just aren't sure ? Well it's one of those.

Still, I saw the doctor earlier for my 6-monthly checkup. I blew down the tube and she said 'pour un asthmatique c'est tout-à-fait digne'. She checked my bp and weight and listened to me hyperventilate for about 15 minutes. 

Then she said "All fine - see you in six months - blood test first - over 50's we test once a year for PSA etc."

Over 50's ! Cheeky thing. I won't be over 50 till 2010 !

V'lou mes copains !

We buy from the supermarket and freeze it, but it's not the same.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sterling and the retired

Readers will be aware of the problems of the weak pound. For serving missionaries it means that the generosity of supporters in Britain cannot buy as many euros for mission in Europe as it used to. For us that is a serious problem but not an immediate crisis as the Mission buffers the impact - we get in debt to the Mission, who keep reserves partly for these kinds of eventualities, until we can make up the lost ground.

However for retired people living in Europe but with sterling pensions there is no buffer. Their (already low) income is cut by a third.

This is just a reminder to pray for these folk, some of whom are "retired" missionaries, that is to say they have retired from official involvement with a mission though they are still very active in the churches. (Why can't I spel misisonaries...?)

End of an era

I finally deleted the ASDA Chaplains blog, created in 2004, I think, when I was a chaplain at the Queensferry branch of Asda.

Happy days, eh.

That piggy's pregnant

either that or its innards have developed a new, autonomous life of their own....

Imagine a guinea pig with an autodeterminant spleen !

No, it's far more likely to be baby piggies...

Frank Vignola Group plays Stardust

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An interesting article from the Telegraph on Science and Faith

Of course, it is ridiculous to oppose science and faith, because scientists need faith to believe that they can observe reality and make objective observations about it that will be repeatable and verifiable - that the universe is rational and trustworthy.

But people are very arrogant, aren't we. We persist in thinking that the views we hold now are true and the truth. Even those who deny the existence of truth, deny it dogmatically, as if their denial were obviously true !

That is why I think we need much more humility in the study of the Bible (which is true) and in the study of the creation. We don't yet understand everything.

Scientists are prone to think that they have discovered the truth about the world, but later discoveries modify or even negate what they said.

Theologians refine their understanding of the Bible and sometimes find that Scripture is much more nuanced than they first thought.

That's why when people ask me when I think the world was created I say "I don't know, but I don't think it was 4004BC, and I don't think it was billions of years ago either !"

And I certainly don't think that man descended from ape-like-creatures via natural selection by the untimely death of the weaker.

Mission in April

Now it's the big preparation time. Find printers for exhibition posters, get invitations prepared for printing, sort out folks for various responsabilities, etc. 

British visits in May

I am getting down to getting ready - flights, etc...

I hope NOT to hire a car this time.

Setting a clear beat

I don't watch a lot of television for various reasons. However I do watch videos on Youtube now and again, as regular blogue readers will be aware. There's various things I am subscribed to : National Geographic for the English Class, TEDTalks because sometimes they're useful, and some music things. 

Then Youtube suggests videos for you. Recently it suggested a video that a conductor had posted of himself conducting the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique 5th movement, so I took a look.

It's a funny thing, conducting. 

I had the immense privilege of playing percussion for that symphony when I was a student, thanks to a friendly bank clerk at the local Barclays. I played bass drum and cymbals, and for the coda of the 5th movement (if my memory serves me correctly) essentially it goes Ya-ta-ta-Ta-ta-ta-bash, bash, bash-ta-ta-Ta-ta-ta-Ta-bash, bash, bash-ta-ta-Ta-ta-ta-Ta-ta-ta-Ta-ta-ta-Ta-ta-ta-Ta-ta-ta-Ta-ta-ta-Ta-ta-ta CRASH. Meanwhile conductors like to speed up so that you have the impression of smashing into a brick wall at the very end of the symphony, which is a VERY LOUD NOISE in best Berlioz style. The CRASH of the cymbal comes as your nose touches the hard brick.

Of course, you have to synchronise all that. The best way, as always, is to watch the conductor. Ours, however, got all excited and went into a kind of nervous, rhythmic spasm. This is fine as long as his spasm is extravagant enough for you to see. If not (it wasn't) you have to do it by ear. Then you have to find the instrument that plays the loudest and most reliably to synchronise with. For us it was the trumpets. Thanks guys !

Another conductor in the brass band used to conduct us for some vaguely Italian thing of Tchaikovsky - Capriccio Italien ? (I was about 15 !) He found the rhythm at the end very exciting. Essentially it went 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 (or ya-ta-ya-ta-ya-ta-ya-BANG-BANG-ta-ya-ta-ya-ta... etc...) The problem is that when he got excited he went into the foetal position and kind of hopped up and down. This was OK, because it was perfectly visible, but our bandroom was precariously built on a hillside and his hops would set the floor bouncing, which sent the music stands swaying, which made the music fall off - 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 BANG GRAB 2 1 2 1... The answer ? Clothes pegs.

Another common mistake in conductors is to beat during the point d'orgue / final pause of a piece. Once I was happily playing oompah oompah and we got to the end - long pause - but the conductor carried on beating time ! "AARGH, I must have miscounted", thought I, and played an extra(neous) oompah.

So ? Well the Christian life is a marathon, yes - but now and again there are sprints to be done, build-ups to missions, preparations for opening events, all kinds of things like that. And people time things differently. For some there's a long build-up, so everything is ready for when the time comes. Others are "last minute Larry" - EEEK - everything happens tomorrow, quick all hands to the pumps ! The vital thing is communication so that people have a chance of knowing what's happening and keeping in rhythm !

Monday, March 16, 2009

The naughty Riddleblogger

Has found a rather delicious photograph which you can see here.

Anglade church tower

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Bagard - village scenes

then the tents where we ate lunch and supper
and the room where we ate our breakfast

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Some more shots of Bagard

this time with the Protestant church, and look ! they are building alongside it.


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Synode - where it all happens

You can see the new name on the screen and the leaflet for the new translation of the Institutes into modern French, referred to as the "bouquin de Calvin".

The chap on the right of the bottom photo is Eric Denimal, pastor of the Eglise Libre, ex-journalist and prolific author. His biography of Calvin came out recently and he's also the author of 'La Bible pour les nuls" (The Bible for dummies). Imagine - that book written by an evangelical is available in all kinds of bookshops and supermarkets all over the country !

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Synode of Bagard - eating, voting, listening

(The drinking water tasted AWFUL. We are spoilt with our lovely, plentiful Bordeaux water ! )

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Synode of Bagard - the view from my window



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Hurrah for Potter's catarrh pastilles !

Wonderful things !

I have been brewing a sore throat that started up in the Cévennes. I tried to ignore it but it didn't go away.

Potter's Catarrh Pastilles got me through yesterday.

Now I am gargling TCP.

Yum-yum !

A couple of highlights from the synode

One of the things that struck me this time was the way that the various church commissions (committees) discuss something, send out their proposal round the three regional councils and get responses back, then discuss these and incorporate them in their eventual proposal to the National Synode. Synode then discusses all sorts of ins and outs, with amendments being put forward and retracted, then eventually Synode votes overwhelmingly for what the commission had proposed in the first place.

The point is that the commission has been entrusted with a task. They have fulfilled that task and everyone is sure that they have. However it is still important to explore that a little and also for any nuances to be discussed. In the end, however, everyone knows that the commission have done the necessary work and almost always what they propose will be accepted. Just like in church meetings at every level.

So it was that the name of the union of churches was changed. We used to be the Union Nationale des Eglises Réformées Evangéliques Indépendantes de France (UNEREIF). However the "independent" was always ambiguous - it never really meant that the churches were independent (of what, of whom ?) but that the Union was independent of the Eglise Réformée de France.. Now that the ERF is merging with the Lutherans and changing its name we no longer have to explain that. So we are to be known henceforth as the Union Nationale des Eglises Protestantes Réformées Evangéliques de France (UNEPREF). Well it's easier to pronouce, anyway.

The Faculté Libre de Théologie Réformée at Aix is doing very well just now and it has a great group of students, but no-one from the EREI / EPREF .

About 6 years ago the church voted that a Maîtrise in theology would be necessary for all its pastors. I am not sure why that came about, but the vast majority of the present pastors do not have a maîtrise because when they were appointed a degree was considered a sufficient level. Anyway this decision is going to have to be revisited because the maîtrise no longer exists - it has been replaced by the new European system of university-level certificates of LMD - degree, masters, doctorate (license, masters, doctorat).

As always the best thing is meeting up with folks. Even in our own area of the South-West the distance between churches makes it difficult to sustain any meaningful level of relationship. So times like this are important.

If there is a chief LOW point it is what we sing. I so miss our strong doctrinal and experimental hymns, our metrical psalms and our meaty songs. Here Arc en Ciel is weak, A Toi la Gloire is better but has a huge Sankey-style content to the detriment of other stuff, and neither could come anywhere close to any of our hymnals like CH, GH, CHII or P! Imagine if French Christians had the same riches that we have (and neglect). Wouldn't it be great.

We left on the Saturday evening after dinner to drive through the night back home. Samy drove, Elyane was unwell, I slept. Not the best journey we've ever had but we got home safe and sound. Samy was preaching at Cenon and I at Anglade, then Samy had agreed to preach for our Hispanophone friends at 8pm in their new premises.

So today everyone is pretty bushed !

Friday, March 13, 2009

At the synode

It is difficult to explain what a French synode is like. The closest thing I can imagine is the Grace Assembly - or what you'd get if you crossed the Grace Assembly, the Annual Assembly of the AECW and the European Parliament.

Why ?

Well you get a booklet. I was not an official délégué so I didn't get sent my booklet through the post, I had to collect mine from our Secretary General, a heroic man who battles with Parkinson's disease yet who fulfils his role amazingly. I asked him if he'd slept well. "No", he said, "I forgot my sleeping pills." Certainly he seemed very tired but he kept going.

The booklet is 100 pages of A4 and contains reports from every department of the union of churches which in theory you read beforehand and are ready to discuss. I had in fact read them - in the car on the way !

Then everything is done according to strict business meeting order : the motion - any amendments ? - any discussion - ? vote on the amendments - vote on the motion ... etc. The moderator was a friend from Montauban who struck just the right balance between utter strictness ( ah no ! the time for that is past ! ) and good humour.

It is hard to convey the charm of these Cévennes towns - Bagard is in the foothills, not that far from Montpellier, so it is set amongst rolling hills. Few vineyards, but lots of olive trees. It's very southern with houses with deep-set windows and double or triple roofs to insulate from the hot summer sun.

We were welcomed by the mayor who is also a member of the church council. I chatted with him later - he was born in Bagard but had spent his working life as an army accountant in Paris, Berlin, all over. Now he was back home, though, and serving his community. Down there pretestantism is establishment. It's another world. (It reminds me a lot of the South Wales Valleys.)

Going to the synode

On Thursday we set off for the National and General Synod of Bagard ( le Synode National et Général de Bagard ) in the Cévennes. The name is a bit of a joke in French because the place name Bagard sounds like bagarre, which is the word for a punch-up. Would the name be prophetic ?

Samy had booked a hire car so we headed into town for 2pm. I anticipated catching a train from Pessac at about 13h30 or thereabouts and certainly in the morning about 5 minutes later you'd be at the Bordeaux station. However the next train was at 2 and it would take 1/2 hour to get to the station, so I hopped on the tram to Victoire and then the bus to the station.

The Clio Samy had booked was not yet back from hire so they gave him a Modus - not a car I like, but this one was super for the three of us with its comfy seats, adequate boot, aircon and cruise control. The cruise control was especially useful on the French motorways where you can just drive on and on and on at a steady 130 but where speed cameras are always ready to catch you if you stray above unwarily.

We collected the third member of our party and headed off via Toulouse, Montpellier - then smaller roads to Bagard. We stopped once for coffee and once to eat : I had a chicken tajine with apricots and prunes. We arrived at the centre at Bethanie where the synod was to be housed and fed and I settled into my room - a conference centre style dormitory with 5 beds and a bunk-bed, but I turned out to be the sole occupant.

We drove through southern sunshine but at night it still gets REALLY COLD and the centre has thin bedcovers so the first night I didn't sleep too well, especially since I wasn't sure whether anyone else would arrive in my room. The second night I knew nobody would so I stole the covers off all the other beds and slept long and snug.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I DON'T BELIEVE IT !

"She can't be pregnant. They're both girl guinea-pigs. The lady in the petshop checked."

"And they both have nipples..."

"So do I, dear, so do I."

Photos at the FAC


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Students on strike !

( All you Brits, stop laughing ! )

The Faculties of Bordeaux 3 and Bordeaux 4 (humanities and law/economics/politics) are striking in protest at Nicolas Sarkozy's government's proposd education reforms, led by the lecturers.

So when I arrived on campus today Bordeaux 3 was empty - there were a few militants handing out leaflets to the few who passed. Bordeaux 4 was even more empty - there the militants were taking down their bassicades following the management's decision to close the university for the day. We talked with a couple of students we know who are concerned at having basically wasted their academic year and contemplated how the foreign students must feel who pay through the nose to come and to live in France and who then can do nothing much because of the university strikes.

For Brits the concept of students striking is genuinely funny - who'd notice if they strike ? Who'd care ? But in France it's very serious.

Bye bye Brits

Could the Dordogne become a huge uninhabited wasteland ?


OK - this could be far-reaching

France withdrew from NATO in 1966 and has kept a lot of influence in various countries round the world by its opposition to, for example, the invasion of Iraq and it's stance of being aloof from USA foreign policy (while its neighbour Britain is seen as the USAs poodle or even as the 51st state.)

Meanwhile France has been involved in NATO operations for many years. Président Sarkozy wants to rationalise the situation.

Trouble at' mill

The FAC is blocked. There's a big demo. It's all against the government's education reform plans.

Hey ! here's a good tip that may just work

One problem French people have when speaking English is the absence of the 'i' sound in French, hence big becomes beeg and this ship -> thees sheep, with evident possibilities for confusion.

Well here's a tip from someone that may just work.

For the big "i" sound get them to say bég. Thus this ship becomes thés shép.

ét ésn't the right sound and ét és really déffécult for Bréts to do but éf ét works for French people and sounds better than thees sheep, well why not ?

It has to be a proper short French é, mind you, none of these English dipthong "ay's" !

Monday, March 09, 2009

Disraeli v. Gladstone (1 of 7) - including some nice footage of Hawarden Castle

near where we used to live and in whose gardens we had permission to walk with our pass given free at the estate office.

Church visits soon

I hope to be coming to Britain in early May to visit churches and prayer groups. I have two Sundays available "on the mainland" and the weeknight evenings between 7 and 25 May. I can go outside these dates if it would help. Please get in touch if you think it may be good for me to visit your church or group. (Leave a comment containing your email address, for example - I won't publish the comment but I will reply to your email address.)

(extract from prayer letter below - it is on its way)

For workers in France at the moment the strength of the euro is a big issue. This is leading us to think seriously about the student centre premises and whether there are more cost-effective options. Not only that but we Daveys need to see our support increase quite considerably. We are thankful that the shortfall is not as great as it could be, considering that the pound has fallen from about 1€60 when we first came here to almost 1€ now. However we do need to find additional supporters and so Alan will be returning to Britain for probably two trips this year – the first from around May 7th to 25th. God willing, he'll begin at the UFM conference in Ireland and finish up with the AECW Assembly in Newtown. In between he's hoping to speak in churches and groups about the work, so please get in touch if you would like a visit.

Do you have to send statistics of results home ?

is the question one person asked me during the conseil presbytéral.

While on the one hand it may be quite helpful to send some kind of stats, like people contacted, etc, I assured him that our mission knows what France is like and that we don't have to try to generate impressive quick fixes. Read what Al says here.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Did I say "it doesn't get much better" ?

During the morning service one of our ladies was making extravagant signs to me. I knew what she was saying...

Last night she and one of our friends from the international group went to a womens' meeting. She'd told me about it earlier in the day and asked us to pray about it, which we gladly did. Our contact had said that she intended coming to the English service, so we looked forward to hearing her feedback.

Anyway, during the women's meeting our friend professed faith. Yes.

This evening she did come to the English service, and she does give every appearance of having really come to faith. Pat has arranged to meet up this week.

Oh yes - message on 1 John 4:10. Fewer folk than last time, but a nice coherent group who listened well and had good questions and observations to share afterwards.

I love my life

It's a bit wearing sometimes, but it's a grand life (as long as you don't weaken).

Preached from a mindmap - two sides, which is too big - on Ephesians 3:8 - Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, to a very full church.

Had they all come to hear Daniel ? Who knows, but anyway people didn't hear him, they heard me instead.

It's a poor exchange but still nobody actually ran out screaming or complained at the door or even did a double-take.

Still, it doesn't get much better than preaching on a text like that, does it. In French.

A moi, qui suis le moindre de tous les saints, cette grâce a été accordée d’annoncer aux païens les richesses incompréhensibles de Christ

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Kentucky fried chicken

Having spent more of the afternoon in the car than I had anticipated, and having collected Gwilym from the teens group, and having a hunger that could eat a horse (a dangerous thing to confess in France...) and having an empty house to come back to - Pat and Catrin being out, we stopped off at Kentucky Fried Chicken on the way home. My first KFC in France.

It reminded me of my first KFC ever - which was in Deeside in about 1991. One of the chaps in the church suggested we eat KFC for lunch and I took to it like a chicken takes to Colonel Sanders' special blend of 'erbs and spices.

French KFC is very good.

Things not to do in France, no. 1

Ask for naturalisation.

A friend who is a student from a francophone country has decided to naturalise and become French in order to be able to sit the exams to become a French teacher in France. 

OK - this is the procedure so far....

Day 1. Go to the prefecture for 8h30. Wait in the queue till 14h45 because that is the time that the naturalisation office opens. They open and call forward the first 30 people to arrive that day. They chck that you are not an illegal immigrant (a clandestin or a sans papiers) and give you a date and time for an appointment for the following week.

Day 2. Go to the prefecture in plenty of time for the appointment on the day they specified. However you still have a very long wait because the time of your apointment means nothing and they just see you in the order you were seen the week before.

Get your dossier checked. "This is illegible! I must have the original!" (of the mother's birth certificate). "This must be translated.", "Do you want to be French or not ?", etc. etc.

Apparently the process can take YEARS.

The definition of Chalcedon

Last night at FAC Daniel Bergèse did an evening on Ecclesiastes - the gospel backwards. There was a decent crowd and the evening went well. He stayed at our house afterwards and we sped off this morning to the church for a morning conference on the Nicene creed. During this session I was reminded of the glorious definition of Chalcedon, which I cite below for you. 

Chalcedon's definition of a Saviour who is 100% God and 100% man, who becomes what he had not been without leaving aside what he had always been, is of real importance and relevance.

It means there is a man in heaven. A real man ! Flesh and bones like us.

It means that when we look at the gospel accounts of Jesus we see one whole and indivisible person. We can"t say "Oh now it's the God-bit acting and there he's acting just as a perfect man." He is always the God-Man.

It means that Jesus has exalted human nature to the heights of the throne of God. Isn't that amazing.

It means so much :

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.

Friday, March 06, 2009

OK - my passages for the weekend

AM Ephesians 3 - Paul's prayer.

PM 1 John 4:10 - This is how we know what love is.

Love's been a bit of a theme this week for me, with the Tuesday English class, the Thursday morning UFM prayer meeting and the Thursday evening Bible study being wholly or partly about love. So preaching on this in the evening will round it off nicely.

Eeek - emergency !

Our preacher for Sunday morning thinks he's not. Sammy's in Paris and already running as fast as he can in order to stand still.

So I am preaching instead.

( Hey, I picked the right moment to give up typing out full notes ! That's providence for you, and the guidance of the Spirit ! )

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Brrrrrrr !

Saturday - barbecue in shirtsleeves on the patio at 6pm. Nice and warm.

Tuesday - wearing your fleece indoors becase it's SO COLD...

Wednesday - the birds dive for cover from the torrential hailstones.

Go on. Some wag is going to tell me that it's because of global warming.

Still, it means the weather's always interesting !

Sometimes I feel quite sorry for my English class

Last night we listened to a BBC 6 minute English webcast that talked about oxytocin and love. Some crazed loon has decided that we could produce pills to take away the pain of the broken-hearted, and DNA tests to assess whether someone is capable of forming a stable, faithful marriage relationship.

Anyway from there we discussed mechanistic theories of man, and whether a pill to cure a broken heart would be a good or bad thing, then listened briefly to the song "I'm Henery the Eighth I am" sparked off by someone's story of their friend who has been married and divorced 8 times. Then we reviewed how to describe people (tall, short, thin, stocky, etc...)

Then we turned to read 1 Corinthians 13 and to 1 John 4 for some help !

I can tell you, they REALLY talked last night !

Monday, March 02, 2009

Dad, your shoe's wrecked...

Oh no ! My Clarks "elders shoes" bought from the outlet shop in Ellesmere Port about 5 or 6 years ago have decided to yield up the spirit.

So I took a trip to the outlet store at Bordeaux's Quays.

Hah ! The cheapest pair of Clarks in the outlet store was 74 euros ! Presumably Clarks are normally more than that in France.

It'll have to wait till I go back to Britain and get to one of the Clarks outlet stores. Meanwhile I have a pair of nice black leather slip-on Vans with little holes in the top that I got for £10 last time I was in Britain. They're fine for Sundays for now.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Three firsts this weekend


1) First barbecue of the year Saturday evening for the International Home Group. 

Imagine it ! A barbecue in February ! And it was a beautiful evening, warm on the patio with a nice sunset over the trees behind the houses across the road. Today has been grey and damp, however.

2) First time to preach without full notes in French.

I decided that I should take the plunge this morning, so the plunge was taken. I've asked a few folk who I can trust to tell me if they think I should go back to full notes ! But they said no, so far so good.

3) First time to be invited to a neighbour's to "wet the baby's head".

One of the couples in front have had a baby boy, their second, so they invited us, the other couple and the friends across the road to come for a "coupe de champ". It was a nice time and we found out about the other protestant families in the area. We may even have got the kids occasional baby sitting jobs !