Showing posts from March, 2005

Pat came home from Bordeaux today

Waiting for Pat at the airport..

The children were very patient at the airport...

Where is she? Her plane landed ages ago..

They were excited to see her coming at last...

Who's this? Yes! It's Mammy!

very excited!

Here she comes!

Welcome home Mam!

Welcome home, Mam!

Long-term housing plans

We hope to rent in Bordeaux to begin with. When we first started talking about Bordeaux it seemed vital to find a house because it's so much easier for the work (having people round, meetings in the home, etc.) But now that the student centre is in full use that isn't so important. A flat would do. Long term we hope to buy outright using the equity from selling our house here. There are pros and cons with this. The French property market is more static than ours - prices do not rise (or fall!) as much, and there are heavy taxes on house purchases. So it is not a good idea to buy and sell and "work up the housing ladder" in France. For ministry this means you have to be sure that where you buy is basically going to be where you will work long term. Also moving your focus of ministry is a big issue - you sacrifice flexibility. While renting a flat seems o.k., buying a flat isn't as convincing, because of service charges, maintenance and such like. While we could pro

More from the recce - the school

Pat has been to see the school that Samy's kids go to (he's the Floirac church's pastor). It's in Pessac, near the university. It seems very friendly. Pat asked if she could meet the pastor's wife to ask her about the school - but that turned into a visit to meet the head and some of the teachers and to have a tour of the school. There are English-speaking teachers at the school and Gwilym & Catrin could be placed in their classes. I was very amused to hear that after we all had a 4am start on Monday (her flight was at 6:45 from Manchester) Pat had a 5:30am (French time, so 4:30am BST, 3:30am GMT!) wake-up on Tuesday because they had to get to the pastor's house for 7am to go to the school for 8! What's the chances of Pat coming home "a mornings person"? (I can tell you - no chance at all.....)

More from the recce - housing

Pat spent yesterday looking at different areas for housing - I imagine for rent. They decided that Pessac, the area near the university and the schools, is too expensive! But the area next door, Begles, may be an option. I need to work out what our rent budget is once more. I was once told on the telephone, but foolishly didn't make a record of it! (With me everything has to be documented - I think I worked in computing for too long.)

Pat's reconnaissance visit

Pat's gone to Bordeaux on her reconnaissance visit. She'll be away till Thursday. Here we are at about 5am at Manchester Airport, with the children bidding a tearful farewell. While in Bordeaux she hopes to see a possible school for the children, and she may even get to look at some possible housing!

Groupes Bibliques Universitaires

The GBU is the Christian student organisation in France, the equivalent of the Christian Unions and UCCF in Britain. GBU is part of IFES. Pray for this movement and for David Brown, on secondment from France Mission, who leads up the work.

Skype - a useful tool

Skype is a free program to enable you to make free phone calls over the internet. You can telephone people anywhere in the world at no cost with your voice going over the internet. This must be a very useful tool for those working abroad or for those working in mission. What you need is a PC, a good (broadband?) internet connection, and some means of hearing and speaking into your PC. You can use a special plug in telephone, or you can use the speakers connected to your PC and just plug in a microphone. The person you are going to speak to needs to be set up for Skype, too. It is easy to get going - and you can even ring people who don't have their PC set up by ringing their ordinary phone - these calls are not free, but are much cheaper than international calls because your voice travels almost all the way over the internet and just takes to the ordinary phone lines locally.

Article from a pastor in Grenoble The French weekly magazine "Courrier International" 2 Dec 2004 ran a feature on evangelicalism (Fous de Jésus : Les évangéliques à la conquête du monde). David Vaughn has summarised some of the main points in this article on the Banner of Truth website. Unfortunately to look at the original articles on the Courrier's website you need a paid subscription.
Through Bordeaux flows the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo river - oops, the Garonne, with the picturesque Pont de Pierre.

An interesting article on evangelism in France

Although the culture is often perceived as being aggressively secular and anti-religious, many French people are disillusioned with materialistic attitudes to life. You can see this in the popularity of superstition and false spiritualities. But you can see it in openness to consider the gospel, too. Here is an interesting article from Christianity Today.

Some photographs of Bordeaux

Again it's a week since I posted anything. There is little news to report, so I thought I'd post some photographs of Bordeaux that may give you some impression of the place.
This is a large 1000-seat protestant church in the city centre, built in 1830 and now fallen into disuse. The city own it and maintain the exterior. O that it could be used again as a centre for the gospel!
This is the monument to the Girondins, at the top of Quinconces, the largest area of municipal gravel in Europe.
Bordeaux is quite a high-tech city. Here is one of the new trams outside the railway station. Look! No overhead wires! This is because Bordeaux is pioneering alimentation par sol - underground power supply to the trams - in the city centre.
High-tech Bordeaux! This is a super-duper pooper-scooper scooter, cleaning up dog muck from around the cathedral.
The Pessac campus where we hope to study French at the DEFLE. (Yes - the area in front of the building is a vineyard...)
This Christian bookshop is in the heart of the city on a smart shopping street, about 250 metres from the student centre.
This is backstreet Bordeaux, where people live. It is not as attractive as the public buildings, is it? This style of house is a Bordeaux speciality, known as echoppes.
This poster was in a newsagent window last September. It claims to advertise meetings about philosophy, but the Ying/Yang symbol suggests otherwise. Occultists, superstition and alternative spirituality are all very popular in France these days.
Bordeaux Town Hall (Alain Juppe is Maire at the moment). The FAC student centre is about 100 metres from here. A small bomb exploded here some months ago. Nobody was hurt, but many windows were broken.
This is Place de la Victoire in Bordeaux. The building to the right of the picture is a University building. Students hang around the street cafes here.

Pat's recce

Pat will fly out to Bordeaux (direct from Manchester) on Easter Monday for four days. She hopes to- 1) find out about schooling in Bordeaux 2) see a little of the work we'll be doing 3) see a little of the city 4) maybe find out about accommodation That's a lot to achieve in 4 days! Pray for her. She will post her reflections (and maybe some photos) when she comes back.

Where will we live?

We hope to move to Bordeaux some time in August. Then the children could enrol in school in France at the start of term in early September. Of course the actual date depends on promises of financial support being made to UFM before August. Some time soon (April?) we will put our house up for sale. We hope to have enough money from the sale of the house to be able to buy outright in Bordeaux. From the estate agents on the internet I have seen a few flats in the city itself that would be within our budget - one with four bedrooms! But before we buy we hope to rent while we study at the Pessac university campus. Why? 1) it will give us an opportunity to work out where we ought to live for the sake of the work. 2) it will enable us to get to know different areas 3) we can see whether it would be practical to live outside the city and commute in to the student centre 4) we can settle into a church, and it may be wise to buy a place near the church where we settle So we need to find a house

Deputation - visiting churches

Another joy is to share the hopes and possibilities for the work in France with various churches. It has been so encouraging to witness people's concern for France, and for the work in Bordeaux, and for us. Some people then go on to contact us to ask for our prayer letter or for details on how to support us financially. Every time we speak somewhere I come home to modify our presentation. We are learners, you see! A friend in the Deeside church helps us by maintaining a prayer letter list. We produce the prayer letters in Adobe Acrobat (pdf) format. I hope to work out soon how to post the files for downloading. Offers of financial support need to go to UFM directly. You can get their contact details from their website ( ).

Other things to pray for

We are praying, too, for God to bring to light those who will replace me in various roles - as pastor here in Deeside as one of the volunteer chaplains at Asda (all three chaplains are Bible Christians) to lead the Welsh language Bible studies It is very interesting to be working hard with the church to replace myself as pastor here. I wonder how many people in industry plan their own redundancy or their own replacement! It is a source of wonder, joy, and perhaps a little nervousness now and again to be actively seeking to establish a new pastor here as soon as possible.

Financing mission to Europe

Hi! It's such a long time since I posted. Please forgive me. A lot has happened that I can tell you about. Firstly finance. One of the great benefits of being in partnership with a mission society is the experience and expertise they can give. UFM has had a worker in France for many years, and she has been working hard to establish support levels for the new workers joining the team. France is an interesting country economically. The cost of living is basically about the same as in Britain, especially after the price rises of recent years which most people blame on the introduction of the euro. So the cost of maintaining a family in France is broadly the same as Britain, with ministry costs added on top. The upshot of this is that our support target is more than £2500 per month, and all this money has to be pledged from supporters before we can set a date for moving to Bordeaux. This seems a vast sum of money, especially when you work out the annual figure! However, this is the rea