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)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

I love visiting churches but

I hate being away from home.

One of the things I hate is the lists you have to make of all the things you need to take with you and you're sure to have forgotten something important.

That's the phase I am at now, as well as the trying to get done all the things I have neglected to do so I can leave everything tidy and sorted out.

I call this "clearing my forelog".

When I come home there'll be lots of  new things to catch up on.

That's "clearing my backlog".

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Les réseaux sociaux

Al Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Seminary, is no fool. So when he says that if you are not using the social networks wisely then for the under-30s you don't exist, it's wise to take him seriously. Watch him here and read him here.

That's why I just spent about 1/2 hour starting up a facebook page for the French church. We have a website that we hope will soon be brought up to date. The church council gave me the job of creating the facebook page, and I wanted to get it done before going to the UK soon. That way we can add other administrators and it can be kept basically up to date and become a useful means of folk finding the church and of communication.

FAC, the student outreach, now has a professionally built website. The English Service already has its website - a simple noticeboard made with Blogger, but it works and enables people to find us. There's also a Facebook page for the English Service. The Chinese group are present on the web and on the Chinese Facebook equivalent.

It's work in progress, always.


I feel I ought to make clear...

The BBC News magazine has a nice article this morning here which talks about the London French.

(Makes me chuckle, that, with images of French friends doing la marche du lait, like the London Welsh did y wâc llâth all those years ago and set up Welsh dairies in London where they did not water down the milk...)

Anyway I feel I ought to make clear that while there are approximately 250 000 people who live in Bordeaux itself, that would be like saying that the population of London is those that live in the square mile. Everyone regards London as including a far wider area, and everyone would regard Bordeaux as including the CUB, which has 800 000 inhabitants.

Be that as it may, we're thankful for the friends who are reaching French-speakers in London, amongst them our friend Maxime !

Why am I so weak in making logical inferences ?

Friend Richard from Paris is in Bordeaux on business and had a free spot last night. Could we meet up ?

The buses were on strike yesterday (la pénibilité de la vie) so I suggested that he come by tram to Pessac Centre and we'd pick him up.

A little while later - the trams were now on strike, too. (1st missed logical inference - if the buses strike the trams usually follow). "I'll come and get you".

Happily zooming down the ring road when - HUGE TAILBACK. (2nd missed logical inference - when the trams and buses are on strike everyone drives into town and the roads get clogged...)

Eventually I arrive at the station and we find each other. We'll go back home and eat and talk.

On the way home we find they had closed the ring road for resurfacing and diverted us down the Toulouse road ! By now I am desparing and ready to strike over the penibility of life...

We get home via Léognan, Villenave d'Ornon, Gradignan, Talence, Bègles and eventually the ring road again.

We eat and talk. Then I deliver a tired-out Richard back to town.




Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chico Pinheiro

She passed ! She passed !

The letter says that Catrin passed the test and can ask to go to François Magendie on her official form.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The gospel always at the heart

Don Carson is helpful again today here

A joke for Saturday

A thug walks menacingly into a bar, wearing a slouch hat and a trench coat, carrying a trombone case. Everyone moves away, and some head for the door as quietly and quickly as they can.

The guy, impassive and scary, puts the trombone case down on the bar and slowly opens it.

Very deliberately, he pulls out a machine-gun.

The people in the bar breathe a sigh of relief and go about their business.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Here and there on Thursday

Meeting up with the Haitian brothers to read through 1 Timothy and to pray together.

Meeting up with a new prospective worker for France - who may come and spend some time in Bordeaux to begin with.

Then off to the church for a Thursday evening film night.


Late home !

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The day in view

This morning "prep for dep" - getting ready for church visits in the first two weeks of June.

This afternoon elders meet 2:30 then whole church council at 4. Our council meetings are usually pretty long so I'll get home mid-evening, I expect.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

At the mairie

We went into the entrance hall which, I think, doubles as the council chamber. M. Sarkozy gazed gravely down at us from high on the wall. Everyone is awaiting the official photo of M. Hollande.

"You can go in now". I was first into the room. "Bonjour." Then Elyane. "Monsieur le maire". Ah bon. Again I don't know how to behave...

"So what can I do for you."

"Well you asked us to come. We're from the Eglise Réformée Evangélique."

"Oh yes ! The temple !"

It had come to the attention of the town hall that we intend to sell the church building that's in the middle of the village. The building dates from 1892 and is in very bad condition due greatly to the presence of termites, but also to the decline of the church from the early parts of the last century.

The church in the Blaye area owes its existence to a revival in the 1890s. A protestant gentlemen married to a catholic lady passed away. His widow wanted to give him a protestant burial, so she wrote to the church in Bordeaux to ask for a pastor to come. One came, the funeral took place and people were so struck by what they heard at the funeral that they asked if he could not come back weekly.

Within a couple of years there were hundreds of new believers, two church buildings and outreach in all the surrounding villages.

The little out-lying town where we were was divided in two - there were two football teams, two town bands and never any problems between the two communities. Just friendly competition.

The mayor said, "That's all part of the town's history. It's very special. Although I am personally atheist I want to preserve the heritage of the town and keep the temple as a temple. We bought the catholic church and renovated it - we still have some things to do, but it's in good order. And what we did for the catholics we want to do for the protestants, too. You do it for everyone or for noone."

The town in question is a tidy little town with the kind of businesses that small French towns need - a butcher, a baker, a vet, a hairdresser, a restaurant, a couple of bars/cafés, a post office and an african goods shop (don't ask). Here's some photos of the town.

It's the kind of place where everything is neat and well-looked after, where there's lots of space between people's houses, where the sun shines warmly and where the wind could whip your ears off in no time.

Another of our group arrived. "Monsieur le maire". OK. Go on. Rub it in.

So we'll discuss the sale of the temple to the town hall at our council tomorrow and the town council has it on the agenda for Friday. I mentioned the key words I had to get in - "domaines" and our goal to see a pastor in the Blaye area to work in the area.

Back to Bordeaux to get stuck on the ring-road on the way to the prayer-meeting.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Preaching tomorrow

am French, pm English. Feeling ever so slightly shot-at after this somewhat tumultuous week...

Good to remember this. I searched for the Red Mountain Church version, but found this :


Measures to try to prevent more accidental drownings

The Sud-Ouest reports here the decisions and bye-law that have been decided to try to combat the tragic deaths of students following lively festivities near the river.

Essentially one can no longer drink in the streets of Bordeaux. Exceptions are obviously if you are in a restaurant or on the terrace of a restaurant.

Families picnicking together on the waterfront may also drink but not from glasses and the drink must not be carried in bottles. This latter probably has more to do with dangerous litter than with drowning - wine in boxes is no less strong than in bottles, I guess, though I suppose with bottles there's a certain pressure to drink the lot ?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

It's Ascension Day



Psalm 24

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; 
and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; 
and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? 
The Lord strong and mighty, 
the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; 
even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; 
and the King of glory shall come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? 
The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. 



Portes, élevez vos linteaux!
Elevez-vous, portes éternelles!
Que le roi de gloire fasse son entrée!
Qui est ce roi de gloire?
L’Eternel, si fort et si puissant,
l’Eternel puissant dans les combats!
Portes, élevez vos linteaux!
Elevez-les, portes éternelles!
Que le roi de gloire fasse son entrée! 
10 Qui donc est ce roi de gloire? 
L’Eternel, le maître de l’univers:
c’est lui le roi de gloire!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Church visits in June


Here's Alan's scheduled church visits in June.

Sun 3rd Widcombe am, Cardiff Bay pm
Tue 5th Newtown
Wed 6th Wrexham
Sun 10th North Bradley 
Mon 11th - 13th Bala conference (possibly)
Tue 12th Caergwrle
Wed 13th Ebenezer Swansea
Sun 17th Freshbrook Evangelical, Swindon am, Gosen, Rhuddlan pm

Thanks for your prayers !

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gwilym has a placement for work-experience

Thanks for your prayers. He got a phone call this morning to say he's got a place for work experience at Le Coq Sportif.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Achilles Liarmakopoulos plays Soledad by Piazzola

The Sunday of the BIG WEEKEND

Sunday morning brought more music duty - all our accompanists were absent and the youth were at a youth day in a sister church in Montauban, so our worship was accompanied by a solo flute...

I have to confess that my breathing seems ropey, my vibrato is too fast and I can't sustain a line as long as I used to. Prof de trombone Emmanuel says that it's not my breathing because it's fine on trombone - probably my economy of air/embouchure... It's possible. Anyway it all boils down to the same - a lack of practice ! Still, I managed for the accompaniment and the echo in the church on Saturday covered a multitude of inadequacies !

The service was followed by lunch, then by the church AGM. Among other things, we voted on the protocol between the UNEPREF, the local church and MPEF and UFM that defines and frames our ministry here. So far UNEPREF are happy. Yesterday the local church got to vote and that was passed. Now I need to send the protocol to Christ Church Deeside, to MPEF and to UFM. I'll obviously do it one at a time otherwise we'll get in a terrible mess !

It's also the first time the church has got to express an opinion on my presence/ministry in the church so obviously the vote in favour is important !

We high-tailed it back to Bordeaux for the English Service - week three of Christianity Explained - the cross. Various folk are travelling, tied up with visitors or preoccupied by exams, so we were the fewest we've been in a long time. Summer is here. However quantity was compensated by quality, and then we waited for the kids to come back from Montauban and dragged ourselves off to bed !

Journey back from Geneva

The Séminaire at IBG finished at midday on Saturday but I had a wedding to go to on Saturday morning at 11, Marije and Hervé were getting married, so at 22:30 my friend, Olivier and I hit the road in Olivier's car. My phone served as GPS a few times to get us on the right motorways and we alternated sleeping and driving. We got home at 6:45 and I crawled into bed to catch a few hours' of zeds.

Gwilym and I were on music-duty at the wedding, which was presided by our friend Régis Berdoulat from Lausanne. Here's a couple of photos :

 They had programmed two musical interludes, one before and one after the message, so before I played a bit of Bach, accompanied by Benjamin from the Eglise Baptiste de Cours de la Marne. Afterwards Benjamin played one of the Chopin Etudes.
After the ceremony we hightailed it to the Eglise Baptiste de Latresne where there was an apéro dinatoire (in English I think we'd say a finger-buffet) - these have become very popular in France because they're a bit less formal than a dinner as such. You have a variety of nice food to eat and you mingle, sit, stand, wander as you please. Patricia and Catrin were on food duty. Here is a photo that Patricia took of Catrin.

After the wedding, more talk of matrimony with a couple who will marry in July, then BED !

The sessions at IBG

The days were very full from 8:30 in the morning till about 9:30 at night.

There were various one-off sessions plus a shared exposition of 2 Timothy.

The speakers were :

John Piper - on Gospel-centred ministry, and on 2 Timothy.
Don Carson - on What is the gospel and on 2 Timothy.
Henri Blocher - on 2 Timothy.
David Brown - on the Emergent Church
A chappie talking about ministry to people of North African background

It was striking to see such a diversity of styles and yet a great unity of purpose.
Contrast John Piper's barn-storming approach (which worked very well through interpretation - no worries) with Don Carson's more calm manner. Both very effective.

I was disappointed that in the session on the Emergent Church there wasn't a discussion or debate between David Brown and Don Carson, especially since Don Carson is pretty well-known for his serious study of the movement.

As always, one of the best things was the time spent meeting people and talking with people. There were lots of young ministers there, too, but it was noticeable that there were few people from the west of France, the east is far better reached than the west.

This bunker-dweller caught up on sleep during the day


The bunkers

A photo is worth a thousand words. Here's a couple of photos :



 I had earplugs and they were wonderful. My neighbour was almost 70 years old and had a bad cough. To get in and out of bed he crawled on hands and knees. Two nights was OK. The bunkers are made to keep people alive for three months, we were told.

Séminaire à l'IBG - avec le "Gospel Coalition"

OK, so Easyjet to Geneva took about an hour. On the same flight were Fiona, Abigail, Nicky and Marc Weber from the CAEF of Villenave d'Ornon. I thought that if anything untoward happened it would make the news in Bordeaux ! On the plane I sat in the emergency exit seats and talked with the chap next to me, he works for a famous brand of surfing clothes and lives in Biarritz. He was off to Geneva for business, too, though he was glad not to be staying in a bunker. At the airport the girls went off to sight-see and I went to the station to meet up with Emmanuel from Brittany, on the way buying this :
Calvin beer. Oh well. At least it shows that Geneva has not completely forgotten its reformer.

The bus journey to the IBG went fine, though Emmanuel's train was delayed so we didn't meet up after all.

That evening we spent talking together on the IBG lawns before eating and then going to settle in to the nuclear bunkers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A bit of encouragement from R C Sproul to be going on with...


Posted: 29 Dec 2011 01:57 PM PST
And he said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear." — Matthew 4:26-28
Jesus said the spread of the kingdom of God is much like this process. It begins small, but while our attention is elsewhere, so to speak, the kingdom grows. Like the growth of a seed, it is a mysterious process.
We cannot see grass growing with the naked eye.
When I was in seminary, we often read and discussed the ideas of the higher critical scholars, who attacked every page of the Bible with their cynicism and skepticism. One of my professors constantly expressed amazement at "the arrogance of these men." When I asked what he meant, he said, "They think that they can watch the grass growing from two thousand years away." I instantly understood his point. We cannot see grass growing in the here and now; it is not a process we can observe with the naked eye. In the same way, the higher critical scholars are not able to make actual observations to support their conclusions about the biblical texts.
The things I say and do, though they seem infinitely insignificant to me, may have eternal significance as God uses me —Sproul
I find it very comforting to know that this is how God's kingdom works. This parable teaches me that the things I say and do, though they seem infinitely insignificant to me, may have eternal significance as God uses me in the building of His kingdom.
The power of a simple word.
Once, when I was standing at the church door after a service, a young man came up to me and began to tell me that he had heard me speak fifteen years before at a small church in Pennsylvania. He told me that following that service, he had asked me a question, and he was able to repeat my answer to him verbatim all those years later. He said, "When I went home, I could not get your words out of my head, and God used that comment that you made that day to convict me to go into the ministry." As I reflected on his story, I wondered how many other words I had spoken to people that had helped them—or, perhaps, wounded them, leaving scars on their souls that they carry to this day. We have no idea how powerful a simple word can be, for good or ill.
An encouragement for pastors.
Every year in the United States, thousands of pastors leave the ministry. Some leave for moral reasons, but most leave because they feel unappreciated by their congregations. They feel like they're spinning their wheels, that they're preaching their hearts out but nothing is happening. They need to hear this parable. Or they need to listen to Paul when he says, "Neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase"(1 Cor. 3:7). God can and does use their faithful preaching of His Word, though the preachers themselves may never see the effect their words have.
We are called to take the light and let it shine, then let God do with it whatever He pleases. —R.C. Sproul
I have been blessed to have some glimpses into how God has used my words. Some time ago, I had a conversation with Joni Eareckson Tada. At the time, she was dealing with chronic pain, and it was so bad she could not even sit in her wheelchair. To my surprise, she said, "I've been watching your videos and listening to your tapes every single day for hours, and I'm getting strength from those." Similarly, I received a letter recently from a man telling me how he first heard one of my lectures twenty years ago, then read some of my books, and he simply wanted to thank me for Ligonier Ministries. The letter was written by a man who is on national radio every day; he's one of the great leaders of the church today. I had no idea that anything I had said or written had had any impact on him.
Forget about trying to see the fruit.
That's the way the kingdom is. We often do not know what God does with our service. We plant the seed, go to bed, and, while we sleep, God germinates the seed so that life grows and eventually produces a full harvest. Then God Himself reaps for His own glory. We simply need to forget about trying to see the fruit of our service immediately. It does not matter if we ever see it. We are called to take the light and let it shine, then let God do with it whatever He pleases.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Please pray for the

"Gospel Coalition" conference in Geneva. Link here. Tremendous potential, I mean REALLY.

Please pray.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Not everyone's pleased

Sorry about the language ! (Pardon my French !)

Our poor sick girl

In May do as you please, says the proverb. And you have a little time to do it in, too, because there are various bank holidays in May. This year two of them fall on Tuesdays.

1st May is Labour Day when even the buses and trams don't run. So if you take Monday off you can have four days off for the price of one ! This is called 'faire the pont'.

8th May is Victory Day, so you can do the same trick of taking Monday off and get away for four days.

Thursday 17th is Ascension Day, so if you take Friday off.... You get the picture.

Gwilym's school is doing the Pont de l'Ascension, but not the others.

Catrin's school is doing all the ponts, but the poor girl has a tummy bug, probably following her trip to Toulouse. I wonder if all the kids are sick. Well, we won't find out till Wednesday.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Just goes to show how much I know !

Président is a brand of dairy products - in this case Camembert cheese. Flanby is a brand of crême caramel to which François Hollande has been compared - they were trying to say he is bland, I think, among other things....
I think I am right in saying that he's promised to reduce the retirement age back down to 60, which means I only have seven years left ! Oh boy - I don't think I am ready for that yet !

Friday, May 04, 2012

A few photos

Porte Dijeaux, Café, bikes, riot police, a nice quiet day in Bordeaux.

Waiting for the English exam...

Eglise Sainte-Croix too early this morning.

Wouhou !

La Gospel Coalition a pas mal de ressources en français ici.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

On the road

Well I got Catrin to her exam on time, we read the names of the others (Siobhan, Septimus, etc...) then watched them arrive at the lycée. Everyone milled. Then the hour approached and we surged down towards the exam room. Catrin went in and made me stay outside. I chatted with Amelia's parents who are hoping she gets in because then she'll have to leave home and live in the Internat (the boarding school section).

Then I went off to try and avoid spending money in a café until it was time to go back and get Catrin. I hunted for jeans in H&M. What an annoying shop !!! Why not put all the jeans in one corner rather than hiding them everywhere scattered between other things ? I bought a mango sorbet, then got some bottles of drink for the journey to Toulouse and got the bus to the lycée to pick up Catrin and the car.

Poor Catrin, she phoned me to say she'd finished her exam and the bus driver missed a turning and got lost. It meant doing a rather awkward manouvre by some roadworks to get back on route, so we were a bit delayed.

Catrin said her exam had gone OK, she was happy with what she'd written. So we set off to join her classmates at Toulouse.

What a lovely day ! It's hard to believe that just a few days ago we thought we'd all drown. Today was sunny and beautiful with lovely fluffy clouds in the shape of sphynxes and poodles.

On the way home from Toulouse I listen to the Sarko / Holland debate. I was disappointed not to hear any jokes from Holland. Still... If he gets in I am sure he'll tell a few good ones !

Geneva - full steam ahead

Well it's a man's life in France. I leave Wednesday morning next week to fly to Geneva for this conference (the one where we sleep on shelves) and come back overnight with my friend, Oliver in his car. In the morning is the wedding of our friends Hervé and Marije where I am due to play flute and then I'm preaching on Sunday.

OK. So three nights without sleep then a full weekend. Yeah, no problem !

But then I was needed on either Wednesday or Thursday evening to arbitrate a dispute. Hhmm. Awkward.  Anyway I just received a message saying that the parties are not all available for arbitration next week, it'll have to wait for the week after.

Not only that, but I am not in fact preaching on Sunday 13th at all !

So Geneva here I come !!!




Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The good news of technology

I"m watching out for an upgrade of the operating system of my Samsung mobile phone, so when I saw this film I watched it and found it interesting. I suppose current dogma is that it's technology that makes our lives better, though there are some dissenting heretics.

What do you think ?

It's the season of "va et vient"

Yesterday I had a bigger dose than normal of Monday blues - the weekend was pretty busy so I was fairly numb-headed and unresponsive. However by lunchtime I was more with it, a good thing because we had Brittni's birthday and bye-bye bash at the house.

Here's a vidéo of a game of UNO during the final phases of the festivities (when half the folks had already gone home...)
video

It's really hard when the students leave us. We're already excited, though, about who will come in September.

For the next few weeks we're going to be in Mark's gospel in the evening services, basically doing Christianity Explored. Back to gospel basics !

Today Jenna and Vincent Quentin returned from the States with their children, Luca and Maya. It was great to see them at the airport and to know that know they are back the good weather can return and we can have sunshine and warmth again.

This afternoon the musicians meet up to discuss and rehearse for Marije and Hervé's wedding which takes place in 12 days' time.

Please pray for the nephew of our neighbour.

Our neighbour's nephew is studying at Bordeaux though his family lives elsewhere.

This morning his father was at the house looking for him. The police have found his wallet at Talence and his mobile phone goes directly to the answering machine since last night.

He's a quiet, studious lad. But in the context where four students have come out of nightclubs in the centre of Bordeaux and disappeared, three having been found in the Garonne months later, to say it's worrying is a huge understatement.