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)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Our house - in Villenave d'Ornon

This is the house we rented. The agency (email me and I'll gladly recommend them to you by name) took a chance and said we could view two houses. Well, one had gone by the time we got there, but the one we saw was 150 sq. m. and 1020 euros/month (seriously over budget!) However, it's in good shape. It has a garden. It's on the right side of town, fairly near the schools. It has three reasonable sized bedrooms and it has a garage with a window (where I reckon I could have the back as a study and the front as storage). It's quite a bit smaller than our house in Shotton, but it's big enough for us and to have people to visit. And it will be ok. I took lots of pictures for Pat to see, and she's already happy with it.

The agent said to the landlords "Now, what do you want to do about this insurance?" They said "Insurance? I don't think we need to bother with the insurance, do we.." Agent - "Are you sure - it's your decision..." Landlords - "Yes, we're sure..."

And we finished up at the landlady's house, drinking orange juice and mineral water.

What about the seriously bust budget? We'll have to make it up in other areas (food?) and it will mean that we will try to buy our own place sooner. I doubt if we could afford to live here long term! But to get us to France it is a wonderful provision. One woman said that it is little short of miraculous!

Viewing in Talence

This was great fun. Again we queued behind another prospective tenant who chatted happily with us. This house was 85 sq. m. and 750 euros per month (about 100 euros over budget). Well. The bedrooms were ok, and it had a really nice staircase. Sort of spiral. But downstairs was .. really small. It had one living room about the size of our dining room at present, with the kitchen in one corner (and the kitchen was not fitted - it only had a sink unit) At the back was a small yard - perhaps 14'x10', with only awkward access through a narrow doorway. It would mean no bikes for us or for the kids - but they could have guinea pigs. It was near their school and ours. But they'd have to play in the street. We could have made it work. I didn't take any pictures of the inside, partly because it was so cluttered, and partly because if we were going to live there I didn't want Pat to see it beforehand.

Anyway, the owner asked us what we thought of it. I said I thought the bedrooms were good and the staircase was very nice. He asked who we worked for. Carol explained. "Ah - evangelique! C'est les Mormons, non?" So we gave him a brief overview of church history since the 16th century.. He said he had a list of prospective tenants and he would decide on Friday who would get to rent it. Carol felt we had a good chance because he said we were the first people to have said anything nice about the house! The current tenants are due to move out at the end of August.

"Viewing" 1

We went to see this house in Cenon. We spent a happy hour chatting with the other prospective tenant who was in the queue before us. The owner didn't show up. The house was already let. I can't remember what size it was or what price it was. It seemed sort of ok from the outside, and it was in quite a convenient place - very near a main road into central Bordeaux and overlooking the main railway line (where the TGV runs)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Renting in France (for Brits)

Have just been to Bordeaux to rent a house. It went like this!

I arrived and Carol said "Do you want to hear the bad news?". She had been working really hard, scouring the papers, surfing the websites and phoning agencies. The bad news is that the agencies did not want to deal with us at all. Why? Here's why (it's a long story....)

1. France has a law that forbids evictions between October and March. You can't make someone homeless in the winter, apparently.

2. This makes landlords nervous, especially in student towns. After all, what's to stop a student from paying his deposit, then living in your place scot-free until April, when you evict him and he goes to doss on someone's floor for a month till his course ends!

3. So landlords take out an insurance policy against non-payment of rent, and the insurance companies pursue your family, employer, whatever to recover the rent.

4. The insurance companies cannot recover the rent from people who are paid from foreign countries (like Britain)

5. So the agencies didn't want to even talk to us!

In fact, one French pastor in Bordeaux is funded by an American mission agency. he is French, has lived in France most of his life and is a tenant now - but STILL the agencies won't deal with him because his salary comes from overseas!

So it meant that instead of Carol lining up LOTS of viewings, when I arrived she had only succeeded in securing four. Actually, I thought that was fine. Too many viewings and you can't remember which was which anyway! Two were private, and two were with an agency that somehow had decided to chance it. I'll tell you how they went! (I was a bit disappointed that the one with the pool would not talk to us!)

Sunday, July 24, 2005

House sale

One little snagette. Seven years ago when our garage was converted into a study the builder didn't get building regulations approval. Hmmm. So we need to get that sorted out before we complete the sale.

It could be worse - at least we never needed planning permission! That takes a council committee to sort out. I think that all we will need is for the buildings inspector to come and look at the room and (I hope!) approve it.

Please pray someone will be able to come and see it mid-August and approve it forthwith!

Last Deeside Sunday

was today. This morning in John 10 / Eze 34 - the shepherds and THE SHEPHERD. Not brilliantly with it when preaching. Too aware of it being the last Sunday. This evening went better on Daniel 7. Hard doing final benediction, but then it is not meant to be easy! Some people scuttled past rather than say goodbye. I know exactly how they feel!

Thanks all for praying.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

This was Pat's last day at work at the Hospice Day Ward. They cast off their uniforms and had a French theme day. Here the accordionist (!) is leading a rousing chorus of "Frere Jacques". Sorry.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

This is Martin Downes by the Deeside Church noticeboard. They'll get the name changed soon.

This is our official UFM photograph, taken at Hothorpe Hall last year.

Next thing to pray for - a house!

Soon I will fly to Bordeaux - I have two days there to find and secure a house! I am sure it can be done - just as all the other steps and stages have been accomplished so far. God has been amazingly good to us, and made each step fall into place - at just the right time.

Please pray that we'll find something suitable. We have to think of budget, size and position. Basically I want a 100 square metre T4 or T5 house, in Pessac, for 650 euros a month. They don't exist (!), so unless something utterly amazing happens, we'll have to compromise on size, position and budget!

Just out of interest, look at this website! It is POSSIBLE that this firm may have a 87 square metre house to let at 870 euros per month in Talence, near the university campus. I'll take my courage in my hands tomorrow and ring them. Some houses were advertised to let on seloger.com. http://www.monne-decroix.fr/Residences/Bordeaux/LeHameauDeLaTour.html

Monday, July 18, 2005

Commissioning and induction

Well the day came and went. And what a day it was! Bright and sunny. Connah's Quay looked as pretty as ... it ever has. Palm trees adorned the plaza in front of the Civic Hall. The hall itself was resplendent in its nice new light decor. I spent the morning working on the form of words for the ordination and induction in Bethany Books. It had the added advantage of keeping me away from my phone and giving me some peace and quiet to get it all sorted out! Lunchtime took me home where my sisters and Pat's brother had gathered amongst the boxes and bags.

At 2:30 the Civic Hall was comfortably full - approaching 250 people were there, which was great because we had printed 250 orders of service, and all the people who were taking part had arrived.

We began with me chairing. We sang "Mighty Christ" to the tune Bryn Myrddin. Then Lynton told the story of how God has dealt with us as a church over the last year or so. I talked a little about our call to France. Then Lynton prayed for us Daveys. Then we sang "King of the Ages", a recent song based on Revelation 15.

Then came the induction part. We prayed for the Downes family as they move up north. Then Martin made his promises and we formally appointed him to Christian ministry and the pastorate in Deeside. Peter Milsom (Director of UFM, and our first pastor) prayed for Martin. Then we sang "Immortal Honours", partly unaccompanied.

Mark Rowcroft was assistant pastor with us until last year, and he read Acts 20 before Stuart Olyott preached with his characteristic grace and clarity.

Stuart said that Paul had 8 essentials for Christian service:
1. Clear priorities - "I served the Lord"
2. Personal integrity
3. Obvious courage - "the plots" against Paul
4. Deep emotion - "and with tears"
5. Unwavering faithfulness
6. Hard work
7. Extraordinary insight - "I know ... so be on your guard"
8. Shepherdly care - the word and God's grace.

He summed it up with Paul's lost 9th beatitude "It is more blessed to give than to receive".

We concluded by singing "Jesus! the name high over all!" before Pastor Downes closed the meeting and we adjourned to the church building for tea.

It was a very good day.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The green light

We have the green light to move to Bordeaux this August.

Our support promises have not all come in, by any means, but UFM are quite confident that we will hit our target. It may mean that in the autumn I will have to return to Britain to do some deputation.

So I will travel to Bordeaux some time over the next few weeks to secure a house to rent. Then when our house sale goes through, off we go.

Thank you all for praying. Keep praying! We still need to hit our 100% target. And if you have been considering making a commitment to support us, then it is still a very good time to contact UFM. (In fact, I think any time is a good time to contact UFM about this)


Today was mabolgampau at the kids' school. I think it is the highlight of the school year for me, partly because it is held towards the end of the summer term.

I also like it because it is competitive - there are trophies for the boy and girl winner in each year, but it is also very much teamwork. The children are divided into four llys (Gwent, Gwynedd, Dyfed and Powys), who compete against each other. The headmaster also gets the kids very excited, awarding points for the noisiest llys, etc.

My favourite race this year was the ras gwisgo - a relay where the children have to put on wigs, coats, shorts and wellingtons then charge down the field to the finish.

Gwilym & Catrin are in Gwent, and Gwent won. Gwilym was wearing his France cap, bought very cheaply indeed from a supermarket after France was out of the football world cup a few years ago.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The time of decision

It seems to me that this week is pretty decisive. If we are to move to Bordeaux in August, then I have to find a house in the next two or three weeks. (If we are to move there later on, then we have to find a house to rent here from August onwards!)

A few things need sorting still:

1) A guarantor in France. We still have no idea who can act as guarantor for us. Basically this person needs to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to pay our rent if we default (in euros in a French account).

2) Our bank account. We still haven't received our cards and cheque books, though we have lots of codes to access our account on the internet and lots of little slips to give to people with our account number etc. I'm sure the cards and cheque books are on the way, though. We have our pin.

3) Support level. Last time we asked was 20 June, when we were at 51%. I know it has risen since then, but enough? I will phone today to try to find out where we are.

4) Travel to Bordeaux. The flights from Manchester to Bordeaux are all booked up. This means I will probably have to fly Liverpool to Paris, then TGV, though I can fly back directly to Manchester. That's ok, though it takes a day to get to Bordeaux that way rather than 2 hours!

Inoculations / vaccinations

Kids in France have lovely records of all their jabs. Ours don't. The doctor keeps them.

Not only that. Kids in France have their BCG (anti-TB) earlier than ours do.

So Pat telephoned our doctor to see if our kids could have their BCG before they went.

"We don't do it," denied the doctor. "You'll have to contact the respiratory nurse at Wrexham Maelor Hospital."

"There's a shortage", breathed the respiratory nurse. "Even kids who are due to have it can't."

So we were really pleased when this morning an appointment turned up to take the kids to Wrexham to have their BCG in a week's time. (The kids aren't so thrilled.)

Friday, July 08, 2005

Any news?

Hi there. It's a while since I posted, and that's because there's been little to report. Here's where we are at present:

1) Support levels. Last report was 20 June at which point we were at 51%. I know it has risen since then, but I don't know how far. I will contact UFM some time next week, because we will need to find new accommodation pretty soon - we expect the house sale to be complete sometime in August. If our support level is nearing 100%, then we will need to rent in Bordeaux. If not, then in Deeside.

2) Admin. We "completed" the form to enrol the children into the school in Pessac. "Completed" isn't quite the word to use - the kids need BCG injections, which are not available in Britain, and they need to have a record of their immunisations, which we will probably have to get officially translated in France for the school.

3) Church. We are busily preparing for the commissioning and induction service on 16th July at the Civic Hall in Connah's Quay.

4) "Disposal of stuff". Our beloved Dandy trailer tent is going to some friends. That is such good news to us. They are seasoned campers (well all the family are campers, and some of them are seasoned), so they will enjoy the luxury of Dandy camping.

5) The children are speaking quite a bit about France now, and in happy terms.

6) Family. One of Pat's nephews got married in Watford last weekend, and that served as a family farewell time for us, too. Pat's brother hopes to be up for the commissioning and induction, as do my sisters.

I'll post again soon - and hopefully then we will know whether August will take us to Bordeaux, or just down the road to another house somewhere!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

AECW 1st Cluster meeting

This morning we held the first meeting of the Flintshire cluster of AECW (www.aecw.org.uk).

Since it started in 1988, AECW has grown from 26 to 63 churches. These are all churches that subscribe to one of the reformed confessions of faith (1689, Westminster, Savoy, 1823, etc.) This growth has been very encouraging, but it means that some of our original regions have become unwieldy and no longer serve as well as they ought to promote cooperation and fellowship between the churches. So some of the regions have been subdivided into clusters.

Thus it was that today representatives from the three churches in our cluster met at Flint. As churches we know each other very well, we meet up quite frequently, and we work together quite closely. We want to build on this good starting position to help one another in reaching the people of Flintshire with the gospel.

Of course, for me it was also my last cluster meeting, but it was a good way to end.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Astudiaeth Beiblaidd Llysfasi

Hi! Tonight was the last time for me to lead the Llysfasi Bible Study (astudiaeth beiblaidd Llysfasi). I've been leading it for about a year, I think, and we have been working gradually through Acts.

The Llysfasi Bible Study was important to me in the process of thinking through the possibilities of working in France. I learnt Welsh in my twenties in Cardiff and got to be pretty fluent thanks to an excellent teacher down there. But I lived my life in English, and didn't want to change church, etc. to a Welsh church. (In Wales English-speaking and Welsh-speaking churches tend to be separate). This part of North Wales is even more anglicised than Cardiff, so my Welsh rusted up severely after I moved up here 14 years ago. Then we started attending Llysfasi each month, and afterwards I was asked to lead it.

The first few months were extremely stressful - especially the preparation! First off I tried translating notes entirely into Welsh. It took DAYS! Then I decided to change my tack, and to take into the meeting the mindmaps I used to do during my preparation. This worked much better, and needed only minimal translation. I was then speaking Welsh on the fly, rather than translating, and this is much better because the word order in a Welsh sentence is completely different from English.

I then switched to preaching at church from mindmaps, and that worked o.k. too.

But what Llysfasi really demonstrated to me was the possibility of working and ministering in a second language - even if that language is somewhat rusted up.

Some pitfalls:

I already told you about how Jesus' cross washes away the guilt of "the present, the future and July". Gorffennol, the past, is a bit like gorffenaf, July.

The latest one was about the number systems. Welsh has two systems of counting. The old system I think dates back the Romans and is based on 5s and 20s. So 45 would be "pump ar ddeugain". 5 on two twenties. The modern system is quite boring. You say pedwar deg pump. 4 tens 5.

Anyway, for clarity is it sometimes a good idea to use both number systems. Like for example when you are going to read Acts chapter 12. Because in the old system 12 is deuddeg (said like day-thague). But in the new system 20 is dau ddeg (said like die-thague). You can probably see where this is going.

So I advise that when you mean 12 you say "deuddeg - un deg dau", and when you mean twenty you say "dau ddeg - hugain". Otherwise people will be hunting in Acts 20 to find Peter in prison and Rhoda by the door, or in Acts 12 for the Ephesian elders.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Commissioning and induction - 16 July

This will be a very special time for the church, for Martin and Debbie Downes and for us Daveys, too.

Stuart Olyott is preaching for us, and the meeting will be held at Connah's Quay Civic Hall, which is easy to find. It's on Wepre Drive, just off the B5129 Shotton to Flint road, near Somerfield.

More details here:


July prayer letter - read it online

It's available here: