The first day was at our flat and began early to mid afternoon, with plane arrivals dictating the start time. Emmanuel kicked off with the scene-setting and agenda-setting passage, then we shared news of those MPEF folk who could not be here and prayed specifically for them. The evening meal was a vegetable curry prepared by Patricia, which went down very well, followed by verrines of fruit compote topped with home made yogurt.
The second day was at a hotel where our colleagues were staying. We had a Citiz car booked and hit heavy traffic on the rocade, so when we arrived everyone was patiently waiting for us in the conference room. The person detailed with bringing short talks to fuel prayer had had to pull out, so on Saturday Emmanuel had asked me to do something. I was in full-on Sunday preparation, so Monday morning I had got up early and my thoughts had been turned to Acts 16 - verses 6 - 10 where the little missionary band cross Turkey not being able to carry out any of their plans until finally they find themselves at Troas on the beach. The perplexity of following a plan that is revealed just one step at a time. I speculated on how they travelled the huge distance - 400 miles as the crow flies. We must assume they did the bulk of it on foot. 700km à pied, I said. "ça use, ça use les souliers" came the response in chorus. Well, it's cheesy, but it gets it across.
The time of sharing and prayer focused on UFM, the wider mission and those in special need of prayer as well as the mission staff. At present the Mission is advertising for a new Director, see the advertisement in Evangelicals Now.
Lunch was at the hotel. Salade de gésiers (lettuce with gizzards on top - very nice) followed by steak and sautéd potatoes and a fruit tart dessert.
The morning had been misty, damp and drizzly. In the afternoon a trip was planned to Bordeaux to see the sights and then to eat in a restaurant "pas cher". And the clouds cleared and Bordeaux put on it's best show for us. I scuttled back to Pessac to drop my computer in at the flat, to leave the car at the station and to hop on the tram for Victoire. Meanwhile Pat guided the intrepid band to the bus stop for the number 11 which would bring them to Victoire. I happily beat them by several minutes and watched their bus arrive.
We then hopped on the tram to the Place de la Bourse and the world-famous Miroir d'Eau, before jumping on the boat to the Cité du Vin. For some reason the boat didn't stop at the Cité du Vin, so we had to stay on to go to Lormont and then come back. "Just validate your tickets again", said the man. I was fearful that people's tickets would have expired by now, but they validated them and it seemed OK, so we disembarked at the Cité du Vin without incident.
We walked through some of the building - the snack bar, the cave, the entrance hall, and then walked back along the quays to our restaurant. It was like herding cats, but we managed to all get to Dan, where we meet each Sunday, and people enjoyed looking through the door as the house staff got the place ready. Then we continued just a short distance to eat at Caffé Cajou, where for under 15 euros we ate salad with hot goat's cheese, followed by steak and chips (some people chose this) or baked hake (delicious) followed by a pear muffin, accompanied by a glass of wine or a bottle of mineral water. Very good value, and the fish was very good indeed. We popped our friends back on the bus to the hotel - this time the number 1, and crawled onto the tram for Pessac.
The third day we rose bright and early to get the room ready and to get lunch going. I had three cups of coffee in quick succession and eventually got going! This time the Bible focus was on Paul and Silas in prison. I have an old sermon I managed to find, entitled "Singing in the chains", but sadly it was on the wrong passage. Oh well. Then we went round the table sharing particular prayer needs. After lunch, with much more rice this time, we waved our friends off and took a nap!