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)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Association 1901 déclarée

Well I've just declared online our Association 1901 for the International Church, which bears the unfortunate and unwieldy name of Communauté Chrétienne Internationale de Bordeaux. This because it matches the groups in Lyon, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, etc.

It took just two goes. The first time I didn't have the address of one of the Conseil d'Administration. So a Facebook message got that for me.

One thing about the website is that the addresses are all in a funny order, so it does end up feeling a bit like doing maths puzzles. Kind of taxing for the old brain, but satisfying when the answer comes out right.

I subsequently discovered that in our minutes the cotisation is set at 5, without specifying 5 euros, 5 centimes, 5 balles, 5 whatever...

Oh well. Perhaps they won't notice. We didn't !


Sunday, March 30, 2014

All change at the mairie de Pessac

There has been a swing to the right in the municipal elections in France and this is reflected in Pessac where the existing mayor, Jean-Jacques Benoît and his team from the Socialist Party have been replaced by Franck Raynal and a team from the UMP. It will be interesting to see what changes that brings to the town.

Assemblée Générale Constitutive

Well we held the assembly to create our Association 1901.
Tomorrow I will scan the signed papers and feed them into the website for creating your association online.
Hopefully we'll have our association number by the end of the week.
Then we can open our bank account and take out our public liability insurance ready to meet in the restaurant.

We're off!

At the Brethren assembly

Now I've been to Brethren Assemblies a couple of times in the UK, but always to those assemblies that call themselves "Evangelical Church", and that have basically stopped being ... well, brethren assemblies. But the assembly in Bordeaux is still noticeably brethren.

I went on the number 4 bus. Gwilym went to Cenon. Catrin and Pat were in bed, Catrin ill, listening to Stuart Olyott. At Place Tourny you get off and walk up Rue Fondaudège till you get to Rue du Docteur Albert Barraud, and you're there. (Doctor Albert Barraud was deported by the nazis in the second world war).

As I crossed the road to get to the building, just opposite the Palais Gallien, I was surprised to see a squashed rat in the road. "Aha, there's rats around here, then", I thought, though I know, of course, that in our cities you are never very far from a rat.

The brethren meet in splendid premises. You enter through an alleyway that opens out into a charming little courtyard. Above is the terrace of a house, to one side an entry to a house, perhaps the same one, at one side a bike shed and at the far end of the courtyard a large meeting room with big windows and room for some two hundred people, I should think. This weekend there was a youth meeting so all the younger folk were missing. Not only that but the brethren are in the process of starting two church plants, one in Floirac and the other in Saint-Médard-en-Jalles, but I would say that there were still approaching a hundred folk at the meeting.

We began with songs, readings and prayers. We sang well, in four-part harmony without accompaniment. Then followed the Lord's Supper. Afterwards more songs and prayers, then a coffee-break. There would normally follow a teaching meeting, but this morning it was replaced with a prayer meeting, but well introduced by a brother speaking on how the church in its earliest days devoted itself to prayer.

Afterwards some folk who live out beyond our neighborhood gave me a lift to the end of the road. Folk were very welcoming. Of course, I knew a number of people through our collaboration at the Maison de la Bible. I chatted with the lady who runs the christian bookshop opposite the Palais Gallien about how difficult it is to get "passing trade". She's wondering what to do. With someone else we talked about the need for witness in the city centre of Bordeaux. The folk have a stand at Quinconces and that was good to hear about.

It was a good morning. Very, very different from anything I have been to before, but serious, joyful and serene.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A la Maison de la Bible

We could make a packet selling rosaries, crucifixes and liturgical candles!


Which sounds better ? The "Three Wise Men" or the Triumvirate ?

Anyway, following our meeting on Wednesday afternoon various things are taking shape, amongst which will be a somewhat structured accompaniment of the three chaps who are leaders of the Chinese group. It will be great to work with these guys. One chap I already know very well. Another I know a little and the third I have seen but not yet met. Please pray for the triumvirate, the Three Wise Men - or the Gang of Three if you prefer.

"Did you fall in the toilet?"

Me, I laughed...

So my day was all mapped out neatly.

"Café readers" 10 - 12
Find a sandwich in town
Bookshop committee 14 - 16 in Villenave.

But how often have you looked at a map and found that it doesn't QUITE reflect reality?

We were nicely on time for Café Readers, though Catrin being off school meant that our morning wasn't quite as energetic and disciplined as it would normally be.

There ensued a lively and wide-ranging discussion. If we had used theological words we would have said that we were discussing the nature of sin, I think.

Then home, where at 13:55 my phoned buzzed to remind me that there was the bookshop committee.

AAARRRRGGGGHHHHH I F-O-R-G-O-T!

Now for the last bookshop committee I tried to get to Villenave by public transport and failed because a late bus sabotaged all my connections. This time I had quite simply forgotten to go.

Idiot!

So I quickly booked a Citiz car (formerly Autocool) and hopped on the bus to Pessac Centre.

On the way I looked at the agenda for the meeting. Ah ! So that's what's going on !
I contemplated turning back, but no, I had to be there.

Into the Peugeot. Down through the campus to the rocade exit 16. Off at 18 Villenave. Quickly, quickly. I arrived 40 minutes late.

Into a discussion of accounts. Do we stay in the MB grand centralised accounting system in Switzerland or do we paddle our own canoe. Though there would be advantages in going it alone, for the moment we're holding back. I proposed that some competent person from one of the churches audit our accounts.

Needy people who come to the bookshop for support. Well it isn't a day centre, though we want to welcome people. Basically our folk are doing well at this.

Volunteers. What about folk who want to help but who don't share the basic evangelical convictions of the shop (who come from churches like "The School of Praise" or the "Prophecy Center (sic)". What about a trial period to see if it works out?

Future chairman of the committee. Having missed the last meeting (see above) I wasn't sure how far this discussion had gone, but it now became clear that there had been a conspiracy to choose a new chairman, a Welsh one. After a brief discussion during which we agreed the desirability of someone called something like Pierre Dupont, we agreed that I should insert an apostrophe in my surname for correspondance purposes. To be honest, I am the best candidate, maybe even the only realistic candidate at present. So, fearing Pat's reaction, I prayerfully accepted.

All business being concluded I talked with a chap who is a pastor in one of the churches in the city. There's been upheaval in this family of churches. One new guy lasted about a year because of personality clashes. It's a pity. He was young, tall, gifted and good looking. (Probably doesn't help!) Another pastor is leaving to take up a post in the north. As for my friend, his congregation had voted not to renew his contract, so he's taking a leave of absence to try to set up an odd jobs business. I told him we had lots to occupy him and I'd be in touch! And also that we'd meet up for a coffee and to pray together. Another one bites the dust.

Back to Pessac in the car, then bus home to face the music.

Pat went rather quiet. Asked for clarification about the weight of duties involved, I made light, as anyone would. She reflected. And said, "Yes, that's good, that makes sense."

Phew!






Thursday, March 27, 2014

Café readers, Blindness, Saramago

It's café readers tomorrow and I am putting off finishing the book.

It's Blindness, by José Saramago, translated, I think, from the Portuguese. It's written without paragraphs or any indication of speech or even who's speaking, usually. Long sentences that just run on and on.

Funnily enough, the quirks of style have been OK. After a while you don't notice it.

What you do notice is the DEPRESSING story. It's kind of "Lord of the Flies" on steroids.

Saramago is a Nobel laureate and Blindness is among his greatest works. Here's what he said about it in his acceptance speech :

Accepting his Nobel prize, Saramago, calling himself "the apprentice", said: "The apprentice thought, 'we are blind', and he sat down and wrote Blindness to remind those who might read it that we pervert reason when we humiliate life, that human dignity is insulted every day by the powerful of our world, that the universal lie has replaced the plural truths, that man stopped respecting himself when he lost the respect due to his fellow-creatures."

Man. I haven't felt this fed up from reading a book since the great Thomas Hardy debacle when I read Tess of the Durbervilles closely followed by Jude the Obscure and cried all night. (I was young). Or the dire Northern Lights crisis, when I read Philip Pullman's bleak children's trilogy and went mentally numb for three whole days.

Never mind. Lunchtime tomorrow it will all be over. 

I wonder what next month's book is. Just as long as it isn't about fascism or some other dystopia.

Quartier Saint-Michel

I've always liked the Quartier Saint-Michel, with its huge square, its eclectic market, its thousand and one kebaberies and the wild mix of races, languages and clothes. Yesterday we went to call on someone to discuss future ministry. They live in a beautiful flat overlooking the Place Saint-Michel.

On the way home we went down the main side-street to Cours Victor Hugo and admired the North African cakes and pastries, all gleaming and dripping with honey, then the crazy cafés

"and look at that boulangerie - you won't find a finer"

It was true. It was a mighty fine boulangerie. The baker, with a white napkin tied round his head, was baking at the back of the shop. As we watched a chap came out thrilled to the point of ecstasy with his crusty rustic baguette, tucked it under his arm, got on his bike and rode off.

(Sorry, no beret or onions)

We walked on.

"Bonjour m'sieur. Ca va bien? J'ai du bon s**t si vous voulez."

The chap muttered, then gave me a beaming smile. It was the first time someone has offered me drugs in Bordeaux and I was more than a little taken aback. I thought I looked more fuddy-duddy than that! Must be doing something right...

I didn't buy any.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ed Yong: Suicidal wasps, zombie roaches and other parasite tales (TED talk)

Yes, Mum, Bordeaux even has a fish and chip shop

Called "Yes Mum" at 2 Place Fernand Lafargue, it has recently opened.

One ex-pat reviews it (eventually) here.

Sanders : Calvin : Symbolum Apostolorum : If we seek...

This from a blog under the name of Sanders, which you can read here.

He writes of a particular sentence of Calvin's from the Institutes:

 We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is “of him.” If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects that he might learn to feel our pain. If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross; if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection; if immortality, in the same; if inheritance of all blessings, in his Kingdom; if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given to him to judge. In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other. (Institutes 2.16.19)

The original is well-worth reading (Sanders), as is the original of the original (Calvin), and the original of the original of the original (Symbolum Apostolorum).

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Oh, the joys!

"Leave the house at 18:22", said Moovit, the clever little gizmo in my mobile phone that plans journeys by public transport in Bordeaux. "Walk to stop Macédo and bus 23 will come at 18:27. Then change at Fontaines d'Arlac for tram A and you'll get to the church prayer meeting just in time for 19:30."

It all seemed so easy. Too easy. Macédo is the nearest stop to our house and the timing was perfect.
So I wasn't THAT surprised to find myself waiting at the bus stop at 18:35... 18:40...

I was scared to go home because I knew that if I turned to go home the bus would arrive. But there is a limit.
"Right. You have till 18:47. Once you're 20 minutes late I'm off home."
The bus must have read my mind. It arrived on the stroke of 18:47.

Strangely, though the bus was 20 minutes late, and the timing in Moovit was so precise, I arrived at the church only 5 minutes late, which in Bordeaux means 10 minutes early.

Result! I'm the king of Bordeaux public transport! A charmed man!

I left the prayer meeting at 21:06 because Moovit said if I caught the 21:08 tram I'd be home at about 22:15.

What Moovit DIDN'T say was that there were no trams at the stop outside the church because of engineering works. "No trams here. Replacement bus every 30 minutes."
I managed to find out that there were trams at Galin, the next stop, so I started hoofing it down the road.
Ah - there's a tram, its lights flashing - it's just waiting at the points and soon will start to move off - Oh, it's moving.
There was a little herd of us traipsing down the road. When the tram started to move we all started to run like startled antelope of the Serengeti.
I'd had pins and needles all night from sitting awkwardly and my leg was reluctant to move, but a finely striped individual held the door open for me while I limped and shuffled up and off we went.

Strangely, though the walk must have taken some time and I can't imagine the tram was the one I intended to get, I still ended up on the correct number 4 bus and got home just after 10.

 I am, indeed, the king of Bordeaux public transport, and my life truly is charmed.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Weekend report

Poor Mrs Davey is wrestling with what she insists is a cold.

Friday, she spent much of the day in bed. Saturday she roused herself, but it did not do her a lot of good.

Sunday morning she was once again "stuck to the bed". She roused herself for the afternoon and evening.

For the morning service we broke our pattern and went to Cenon where Maurice Raetz was preaching.

In the evening, a goodly gang including some visitors from Melbourne, Australia.

We talked about the Assemblée Constitutive and the need for some names of founder members on the Statuts, etc...

We're all systems go for our Assemblée next week. Then hopefully we'll get everything set up and settled before Easter ready for our start at Dan from 4 May.

I'm thinking also of getting a plastic banner to put outside the restaurant (top priority) and a roll-up to put near the lectern (music stand) so that wherever we meet it will have a visual cue.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Baptism in the FIEC, le baptême dans l'FIEC

Sometimes people are surprised by the approach many Welsh churches and pastors take to baptism, and by the stance of the AECW, which unites "credobaptist" and paedobaptist congregations in one body.

Here are four articles on the website of the FIEC, and nationwide body, but most strongly present in England, and all four churches are English.

1. Pasteur pédobaptiste, église pédobaptiste.

2. Pasteur baptiste, église mixte, mais de confession pédobaptiste.

3. Pasteur baptiste, église mixte, mais de confession baptiste.

4. Pasteur baptiste, église baptiste.

I think one reason for this suppleness is the desire to make unity around the apostolic gospel of the cross more important than unity around sacramental practice. Another is the practical situation of many towns in the UK where there is not much evangelical witness and a reluctance, therefore, to send away people whose denominational background and convictions may not match those of the congregation.

A quiet Friday morning

All is calm in Château DesVies this morning.

Mrs Davey has a cold and is lying in.

Gwilym Davey has a day off and is lying in.

Catrin Davey has and 11am start and is lying in.

Alan Davey has found the perfect time to practice long crescendos on the trombone.

On which theme, this had me laughing out loud on the bus the other day, till Pat told me to stop.

When a trombonist sneezes :

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cafés and stuff

We don't have any premises in Bordeaux for student work or for the international church, so when we meet up with people we meet in cafés. Here's a few of the ones we use :

This is "Les Mots Bleus" and it's my favourite for meeting up with people. The drinks are not cheap, but you can easily find a quiet corner in which to talk.




The Cheverus. The Advanced English group used to meet here. They do a coffee for 1€ and they have a huge list of home-made desserts.



Couleur café. This is where the English class meets for after-class conversation. It's stylish, chic, and pricey !



Here's where the discussion café evenings are held. It's a really nice café with weird and wonderful drinks as well as speciality coffees, and it's great for group events.



I discovered this place yesterday, right opposite the cathedral. It's called Black List and I popped in to chat to the owner. I was sad not to have any money on me or I'd have tried an espresso, but I'll go back another time. It's called Black List. Next time I go in I'll ask him why. It's not really a café for private chats. Group events could work, but he closes at 6pm.



This is the café where the Bordeaux International Club Café Reading Group meets. It's called Books and Coffee. You can see that the English language is seen as pretty chic and sophisticated in Bordeaux!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Attention ! Arnaque !

We got Pat's mobile phone bill yesterday. She's on a 20€ plan, but the bill was for 38€. Strange!

I downloaded the detailed bill and looked. Some text messages overseas at 30c a time. OK...

Hang on - 3G TV every week for 3.99€ a week?

Do you watch TV on your phone ? No...

Time to dig on the boogie-woogie telecom website.
The FAQ revealed a question from another customer about exactly the same thing.
Apparently you can subscribe to third-party scams which are then paid through boogie-woogie.
The way to prevent them is to activate parental control on your account.

I went into the browser on Pat's phone. Lo and behold, a website that sold something or other at 3.99€ a week. "I've never seen that before!"

Via a wap site at boogie-woogie you could unsubscribe from everything.
We did that.
Then we activated parental controls.

I wonder how many people they milk like that.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Bordeaux Sunday

In the morning we were at Cenon for the service that was focused on the work of the S.E.L., the French equivalent, more or less, of Tearfund. Pierre Vincent, the president of the Conseil Presbytéral, preached and after the service the kids went off to eat with the FAC girls and the gang of youngsters.

We went home for burgers and fried onions and to make a "magic chocolate cake" - that's one of these cakes where the batter is very runny and it divides into layers - a pastry-like bottom, a custard-like middle and a light and fluffy top. Apart from a minor panic when it became clear that 6 tablespoons of cocoa exceeds 60g by a huge margin the cake turned out OK. It all disappeared, anyway.

The evening service was focused on the return of Christ to make everything new. It was a happy time and the meal afterwards was fueled by pizza (to commemorate Pi-day, March 14) and chocolate cake (see above).

I didn't count the participants but we had folk from the Americas, from Africa, from Asia and from Europe, and I broke my embargo on sugary drinks to try a fizzy drink from Madagascar called Bon Bon Anglais. It tasted very much like American Cream Soda. Go figure.

One of our number left early in haste because she's en route to the States where her father is in his last days. The harsh realities of geography can be very difficult.

Clever cat !

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Anniversary excursion

It was our 21st wedding anniversary on Thursday. Knowing how much Pat itches to just get away sometimes, and believing that getting away is a state of mind rather than a number of kilometers, I booked a Friday night overnight stay in the new Philippe Starck hotel in the centre of Bordeaux. It's not horrifically expensive, though the restaurant and the breakfasts were outside our budget and anyway, why eat there when Bordeaux has more restaurants than you can shake a stick at.

So we high-tailed it into town for the Maison de la Bible prayer gathering at close of day on Friday, then shambled through the streets of Bordeaux looking for a restaurant that took our fancy. We ended up in a crêperie that was very cute. Then off to the MamaShelter. That's what the Philippe Starck chain is called.

It was jolly nice. A step up from the Etaps we used to stay in on our journeys to the UK. We had a nice view out over the rooftops of the city.

For breakfast, Pain et cie. They're a chain and the one in Bordeaux is quite popular for breakfast as they give you a basket of bread with lots of different spreads, and the lady who was working there alone was in the finest tradition of surly waitresses.

Then a concert - the auditorium runs occasional one-hour concerts for young people on Saturday mornings and this one was a show done by the Ensemble Intercontemporain (that's Pierre Boulez' bunch up in Paris) on the Wind Quintet through the (2) centuries of its existence. It was a nice mix of Danzi, Haydn, Berio, Ligeti, Cage etc... and all with a narrator, Clément Lebrun, to stick it all together. The whole ensemble were, of course, excellent, but the clarinettist really stood out.

Off to Auchan for supplies for Sunday, then home.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Woohoo ! New wheelie bins !

Some time ago I remarked that our black wheelie bin seemed to have lost it's wheels, becoming instead a draggie bin, or perhaps more simply, a bin.

There then followed a period of uncertainty where the bin with wheels sometimes came to our house and the bin without wheels went to our neighbour's - or vice versa... This period came to an end when Pat examined the bins closely and became convinced that the wheel-less bin was indeed ours.

On Monday she phoned the Bin Authorities - the number was printed on the bin - and left a message. Yesterday they phoned back and asked what condition our green bin was in, too. Well it was OK, though the hinge of the lid was broken.

"Leave them both on the pavement and the firm will pass by some time this week."

They came this morning and exchanged both our bins. I thought, "OK I'll write our number on them", but it's already done.

Quelle efficacité, non !

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Book review - Captivated - Beholding the mystery of Jesus' death and resurrection, by Thabiti Anyabwile

This is a little book of five chapters which, it seems to me, first saw the light of day as sermons. The writing style is sermonic - rhetorical questions, repetition, the style is oral rather than literary, and that makes for a nice, gentle read.

But the subject matter is far from gentle. Anyabwile turns the focus on the sufferings and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. That makes this book review timely. This would be a good book to buy for someone around Eastertime.

Anyabwile does look long and hard at the experiences of anguish, of desertion, of death itself. But not in an unbiblical way. I'll explain what I mean. Paul says "Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture". To focus simply on Christ's death and to recount the agonies of crucifixion under the Romans may evoke horror, shock, sympathy, pity - but that's to completely miss the point. The point is that he suffered for our sins. And it's there, rather than on the detail of the physical sufferings, that the Bible would have us centre our thoughts.

That's why Anyabwile's book is so useful. It avoids the big mistake of things like the Mel Gibson film. The cross isn't announced unless you say WHY he hung and suffered there.

It isn't a flawless book. I felt that certain parts could do with further reflection. For example the section on death said many good things, but under the heading "Agony", saying "Death is agony" he talks about the rich man and Lazarus. He continues "Death is not a peaceful sleep or a lights out... Death is torment." Well maybe so for the rich man, but not for Lazarus. For Lazarus it was a welcome  homecoming.

OK. Maybe I pick nits, but it behoves an author or a preacher to be as clear as possible.

The odd shortcoming like that apart, this is a good book! Buy it for someone this Spring.

Here is a very short video of the author talking about his book.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Yesterday

So off we went to Anglade. I picked up the Peugeot 206 from Pessac Centre and then pick dup the girls and we hied us away to the Blayais through glorious sunshine. The vineyards looked beautiful, the rolling landscape was a lovely change from Bordeaux' river plain, there were 18 people in church, which is really very good for Blaye, and the message I had seemed especially apt for one of the folk there.

We scurried back home for a quick lunch, a quick nap, then the culte en anglais where I was delighted to find two new people, one of whom is from a West African country I visited last year and the other has a special link with the country, too. So we talked about the country and the people and the food and so on and generally had a lovely time.

Well that was quite productive, in the end

I got the Statuts of the Association 1901 sorted out, and then registered myself for creating an association online through a government website.

Now all we have to do is announce in the English Service an Assemblée Constitutive, hold it, type up notes of it, approve a letter authorizing me to deposit the statuts, then upload the whole lot and wait for our number to come back.

Facile !

Then off to meet up with a colleague who finds himself at a crossroads.


Saturday, March 08, 2014

Gants de toilette

I don't know whether I've ever told you about these, but since I sat on one this morning while loading the washing machine with sweaters, and I stil haven't dried out yet, I was provoked into telling you about them.

Basically they fulfill the function that a face-flannel fulfills in Britain, but these flannels are sewn into the shape of a bag, about the size of an old-fashioned sweet-shop's paper bags, and the idea is that you pop your hand in and then soap up the gant de toilette and then you can wash with the right combination of suds and abrasion.

I mention them because when somebody comes to stay they'll generally expect you to provide a towel AND a gant de toilette. So you get some in. They're not expensive, depending on where you buy them and what quality, of course.

Some music for a sunny Saturday

Friday, March 07, 2014

You're not alone

Yesterday at the CNEF33 pastorale I learnt of another chap going through burnout.

This is a young chap in his thirties who is one of the pastors in one of the bigger churches in Bordeaux. The Senior Pastor has been ill for some time and recently had a blackout while driving, writing off his car, but emerging thankfully unscathed. Medical examinations continue!

But his young colleague, trying now to juggle all the balls, I imagine, has succumbed to burnout and is signed off by the doctor and obliged to keep away completely from phone, email and internet.

Ravel : Introduction and Allegro



It's been a sad evening and morning in the Davey household, but this has been very therapeutic.
It's really very fine playing. Very fine indeed. A delight to hear and an education to watch.

Cet aprem à la Maison de la Bible

This afternoon we have our first author's visit to the Maison de la Bible.

Dany Hameau, former-president of the Fédération Evangélique de France, will be at the bookshop from 4 till 6.

Pat and Alan will be there with coffee-pot poised.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

CNEF33

This morning was the pastorale of the CNEF33, and Grace, Emily and Peiguang were coming along to present the work of FAC Asso and the GBU, so we all met up at Pessac Centre at the tram stop where I had reserved the little Peugeot 206+ and scuttled off to Eysines.

The girls done great, everyone was impressed, there was another "jeune fille" who works with the Association for the Gospel and Children and all was grand.

The group is diverse, which has its costs, but it's still good to be amongst brothers who respect and support each other and want to see the gospel advance in the Gironde.

Ah que c'est bon!

We didn't need much in the way of shopping this week so after Pat's stint in the bookshop yesterday we met up at Auchan. They had a huge tank of lampreys and we stopped to admire the squirming, writhing fish.

Lampreys are vampire fish. They live in salt water, but spawn in freshwater, and they have a long, eel-like body. They lurk, waiting for another fish to swim by, then attach themselves by their toothy mouths and suck the juices out of their prey. (Other species of lamprey do not feed at all as adults, living off the reserves they built up as silt-feeding larvae.) They're quite a local delicacy, and I was surprised how big they are.

"They're beauties!"

"Yes." (two ladies had stopped to chat with us and give us their favourite lamprey recipes)

"To prepare them you buy them live, then what I do, I attach them with a hook through the mouth - watch out for the teeth - then open up the tail and bleed them into a container.

Then you gut them and cut them into handsome pieces and cook them slowly in red wine with some chopped leeks. when they are almost ready, stir in the blood. Lamproie à la bordelaise."

"I use white wine."

"White wine?"

"Yes, but the same method."

We bought some fish fingers.


La recette de la lamproie à la bordelaise par thelma-productions

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

It's a long time since we had a ditty.

Here's Ian Bousfield playing Bolero like a BOSS (9:30 - 10:20).
Pahud on flute, too.

First draft in English and en français done

My brain feels comfortably empty and my mind cheerfully blank.

Now the next job is to use bonpatron.com to winnow out any grosses erreurs, barbarismes and bêtises, then lat them lie for a while and reread before adding, subtracting and amending.

Then remains the statuts for Bordeaux Church Association 1901 and a document de mise à disposition for a local.

But I don't think I'll get much of them done this week as I have two sermons to knock into shape and a CNEF33 pastorale all morning tomorrow.

"ring ring" Can you preach at Blaye on Sunday 9th ?

A phone call on Friday.

"I hope you don't mind me asking, but there's really nobody who can come."

"What, really? But there's LOADS of preachers at Cenon now!"

(Well, there's four, but proportionally to the size of the church, four is loads)

"No, that Sunday there's nobody available."

"We'll discuss it and get back to you tomorrow."

We discussed it and said yes. So I'm preaching at Blaye on Sunday morning.

OK. Now en français

Yesterday I finished the first draft of the report of the sabbatical with an outline of plans for future ministry.

During this process I ruled out using the excellent little software package "Scrivener". It's GREAT, but it was a case of sledgehammer and nuts. Still, at least the trial version was free !

Writing it was like pulling teeth and I am sure that I will be doing further changes before I finally send it off to all and sundry.

However, now comes the task of writing it all again, but in French. I won't, of course, translate it. I'll produce a different report that says almost exactly the same, but in French.

Translation is too difficult. Also some things I want to say in English but not in French, and some things I want to say in French but not in English.

This means that bilingual people will be specially privileged, which is only right, of course.

Oh well, off we go !

(At least I don't have to do at all a third time in Welsh !)

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

"Wined and dined" by Nicodemus

On Saturday we got a text message from a friend in Marseille, nicknamed Nicodemus for reasons I won't go into. To be honest, I am not sure what he's real name is. (Goodness this sounds dodgy, but it isn't, I assure you.) He was visiting Bordeaux to consult his architect (who we put him in touch with) and would we care to join them for lunch and also see his flat.

Since his flat is in probably the most prestigious address in Bordeaux, right on Quinconces, and since he's a splendid fellow, we quickly agreed. So lunchtime found us sheltering outside the beautiful 18th century crescent waiting for our friends, then riding the lift (yes, there's a lift) up to his small loft apartment.

It's beautiful. Well, to be honest it's a shell, but it will be beautiful, and it has a rooftop terrace with the statue at Quinconces peeping over the roofs at you. Wonderful.

We ate at "La Maison du Magret", a restaurant entirely given over to the consumption of the duck with a chart on the wall to tell you where the various cuts of duck come from - with the notable exception of the gésiers, absent from the chart. Starter was salade de gésiers, and very delicious it was, too, with big meaty slices of gizzard and a variety of salad leaves. Main course was roast breast of duck with chips, salad and some kind of sauce which I couldn't entirely identify. The restaurant has it's own duck farm down in the Landes somewhere, so all their produce is fresh, local and good.

We discussed church life, the family, future ministry, etc. The architect is the current president of our church council.

"Have you ever been to l'Entrecôte?" asked our friend. L'Entrecôte is a Bordeaux institution, a steak house which serves only one meal - entrecôte and chips - but with a secret sauce and apparently it's the best steak you'll ever eat. You can't book. You have to turn up between 6pm and 7pm and just join the queue of people outside the restaurant waiting for it to open.

"No, but it is on our list of things to do before we leave Bordeaux."

"Next time I come I'll take you there. "


Monday, March 03, 2014

Book review - Eternity changes everything, by Stephen Witmer

Subtitled "How to live now in the light of your future", published by the Good Book Company.

Let's get one thing out of the way for a start. I have never, ever, in all my considerably long life, heard anyone say that somebody is "Too heavenly-minded to be of any earthly use."

That got that off my chest.

Now for the book. This is a super little book. No, seriously, it's a corker. Easy to read. Short chapters. Well-enough written. Simple illustrations taken from everyday life. Depending on solid theology without the need to flash it around like a new engagement ring. It's the kind of book pastors would choose for a book of the month in church or that richer pastors would have a little stock of to give away during the morning service.

Brother Witmer's thesis is that the way we envisage the future will have a huge effect on how we view the past and on how we live in the present. He's surely right.

From that starting point he goes on to explain the Bible's view of the new creation, the prospect of eternity in the presence of God, the certainty of the Christian's hope, how assurance of salvation is grounded in confident faith in Christ, holding loosely to the things of this world, living as citizens of heaven.

Of course, on many of these subjects you could write a whole book to explore the fullness of the Bible's teaching. Of course.

But that doesn't mean that this short book is useless or even superficial. Not at all. It's helpful, serious, entertaining in the right way, encouraging.

In short, it's a good one. Buy it now. I read it in Kindle, but you need it in paper form so you can lend it out and give it away.

I was given a copy of the book in electronic format in return for writing a review. I was not required to write a positive review. The views expressed are my own.



Sunday, March 02, 2014

The end is in sight

1) The end of the school holidays.

We love the school holidays because we are not obliged to haul ourselves out of our downy couch to face the dark, bleak winter morning and wave our little angels off to school.

However the coming weeks won't be too bad because Gwilym is on work experience in a classy boutique in Bordeaux and starts every day at 10am, so he'll probably get up between 7 and 8, and Catrin only starts at 8 two days a week, so that means a 6am start twice a week. That'll be OK.

The house will be quiet, but that means I can get on with things more easily.

2) The end of the sabbatical.

The sabbatical ends after Easter, which means Easter-time meetings with the mission and with the church elders in Deeside, and possibly with the church council here and denominational instances. It also means that in the next few weeks I have to write up my reflections on the past few years, on the situation in Bordeaux and on our place in the scene for the years to come. In French and in English. And send the document to the various parties noted above, plus some more.

Writing starts on Monday.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Joined-up thinking... As in lack thereof...

Either that or I am missing something.

The Countries of the European Union have banned the export of certain drugs to the USA because of their use in capital punishment. Michael Portillo does a documentary on methods of execution and concludes that none of the methods currently used to induce death are humane.

OK.

Meanwhile, in another room ?, the countries of the European Union are one by one legalizing euthanasia in certain circumstances, in some countries even of children.

But none of the methods currently used to induce death are humane, are they?

Or are they unreliable and inhumane when used for execution but painless, effective and dependable when used for euthanasia?

Or is it another example of propaganda - something is true because we say it is true?