Showing posts from November, 2007

Give people time In France it isn't that easy to find protestant churches, and anyway they are all sects aren't they, and there was that war wasn't there, and so there are people who come to a biblical faith in Jesus Christ and take a very long time to leave catholicism.

Concealing sin

Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 10: 12 Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. Proverbs 17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. From which I conclude that the godly man confesses his own faults and admits his own errors but covers over the errors of others as much as he can.

Tony and Gordon

I'm no expert on rugby, and I know that rugby and politics differ in certain aspects anyway, but I am sure we were taught to pass the ball before being tackled wherever possible. You're supposed to hand over when things are going well and you're in full flight.

A nice test with video of the Asus eee pc 701 Well of course it's in French.

What if, indeed...?

Found it !

Cartoon by Dave Walker . Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons .

This is special detergent

to keep your blacks black, with a new black blackness like you've never known before.

Monday night Soirée Internationale

Last night the programme was in English - that is to say, the only difference was that I read the Bible passages and delivered the short comment at the end. It was a nice evening and there were several visitors that we had not met before - or that we thought we had not met before... One couple are moving into the area and were staying at the centre while they look for a house, so we chatted about the different suburbs of Bordeaux and about prices etc. They're teachers. Some folks were, I think, from the Villenave church, including one elderly lady who joined in with the French carols. To begin with I thought it was an effect of the acoustics, or difference tones, or that one of the lads' voices had changed suddenly - then I saw her lips move. The biggest surprise was one young couple who came in - he's the son and step-son of one of our couples. He and his partner came in and said to me, "Do you remember us ?" I had to admit I didn't. "You did a survey wi

Sorry not to have posted for a few days !

This weekend has been very busy - it's been one thing after another ! So it's good to have a chance to catch my breath a little. Here's what's been happening : Saturday 9 am - 9 pm (roughly) Synode Régional of the fellowship of churches Saturday 2 pm Pat's brother Nigel arrives at Mérignac airport Saturday 3 pm Deliver posters for choir visit to office in the Chartrons Saturday 4:30 - 6:00 English Class at Student Centre Frankly I wasn't sure how all these things in the afternoon would work given that there's no public transport to the centre where the Synode was taking place and that everything else was dotted round in different parts of Bordeaux. However by means of the GPS God got me where I needed to be and he did what no GPS can do, providing each time just the one parking space I needed when and where I needed it. That's no small blessing in Bordeaux on a Saturday. I was glad not to have cancelled the English Class because a new student came, a Syr

Sunday synodal

So Sunday began bright and early with the setup at the centre for the service at 10:30. I'd been up since 6 doing the PowerPoint of hymns. The service went pretty well and Dik Brienen, pastor at Montauban, preached on Jonah. Interestingly two of our guys came up to talk about the message afterwards: one said 'He's good, isn't he ! Direct, straighforward', the second said 'How can I tell him I disagree with his view of Jonah?'. That's preaching for you ! The service was followed by "an apéro with the authorities", except that M. Juppé sent his apologies, then by lunch - then a hurried clean-up and pack-away because the choir were doing their first concert in Blaye. We zoomed off and found the place after asking a few people and the concert went well. It was well-attended and I served as interpreter for an elderly lady who wanted a CD of the choir. They have made one, so they'll send a batch and I'll forward one to the lady concerned. The

A brilliant display of mushrooms from the supermarket near the student centre

I took this picture with my phone a while ago and then forgot it !

The great tram adventure

The first photo shows the inside of the bendy bus. This was taken at a rare moment when I was the right way up. Next you can see a picture of us all walking along the tram lines to Peixotto. It was quite pleasant. I think it might have been different if it had been emptying down, but it was a rare dry half hour. Below you can see two pictures I took on my arrival at the cathedral . I thought the trees looked specially nice today. I was glad to see them.

Bordeaux pronunciation

Incidentally I asked last night, "Why is it pésac for Pessac, and not pesac? " The reply came, "Because that's what we say. It's like aré for arrêt de tram, instead of are, like je marché for marchais, instead of marche, and foré for la forêt instead of fore. It's just like that." OK

Well that was fun !

It started when I approached Unitec in the car. My plan was to park there and catch the tram to the student centre. But all through Pessac there were tramsful of people just sat in strange positions, like just before roundabouts etc. The power supply to the trams had just failed between Peixotto and Pessac. OK - they send out shuttle buses, but how long do they take to come ? While we all waited an 84 bus came. That takes you to Arts et Métiers (illegally pronounced in Bordeaux as arzémetié). Well it was a bendy bus and the driver really went for those roundabouts. I reckon you could train astronauts on those things because the G-forces are amazing. Even sat down I had to hold on tight. We got to Arts et Métiers. No shuttle bus there. But a 41 would take us to Victoire, and one was due in 20 minutes time. I thought about it. Peixotto is two stops. In 20 minutes I could crawl to Peixotto and thankfully I had left my laptop computer at home so nothing to lug. Off I set among the festive

These shops and cafés are far more interesting than the chain stores of the main shopping streets


I found this street called Rue Ruat

It's sandwiched between various shopping streets near the student centre and it's gorgeous.

Halfway down the street is a gorgeous looking café


Someone has sabotaged all four TGV lines out of Paris

There's a strike of railway and public sector workers on at the moment. It was quite interesting to hear a discussion on the radio of the legality and illegality of various things. Anyway, all four TGV railway lines out of Paris have been sabotaged, seemingly at about the same time but many miles apart. The signalling cables were unearthed and burnt. Everyone is shocked.

From time to time Dilbert is bang on

Here's another ! Let the reader reflect !

OK - that's publicity for the American choir concert sorted so far

I've sent to consulates, to language schools, I have put flyers in the "cultural office" in Pessac and when I get some more flyers I'll take some to the English bookshop and to the Irish pubs (which are manifold). Then it's on to sorting out flights for deputation. I need to avoid the period 3 to 10 March, because I need to cover for a colleague who's on holiday. I want to avoid being away for Easter, and also I want to be here for school holidays if I can . So that gives available periods of 1 to 22 February, (21 days) 10 to 22 March, (12 days) and 24 March to 17 April (24 days). The budget airlines are not flying at the moment, but Lufthansa would fly me via Frankfurt. It's a Sopwith Camel from Bordeaux to Frankfurt, then an Airbus A320 Frankfurt to Manchester. I know that once I settle on a period everything will go haywire - it won't suit churches, the flights will all be cancelled, special events will crop up here, kids will break their limbs, etc

Notre Dame des Courants d'Air

St Aubin des Courants d'Air

Yesterday morning I was preaching at St Aubin de Blaye. It was pretty cold, and there was heavy frost on the ground when I left the house. It's an hour to St. Aubin so I popped my huge, lined, thick, leather coat in the back of the car (24€ from Auchan, the till girl couldn't believe it) and I took a small flask of coffee. At St. Aubin the temple (church) is in pretty bad repair, so we meet in a back room. The back room isn't great, either. There was a fan heater and a gas cylinder with an element screwed into the top, but the gas ran out before the service started and everyone made me scuttle out to the car to get my coat. It's the first time I've preached in an overcoat and I was glad of it. I did think of taking it off before the message but thought better of it. There was an oil-filled radiator, too, but the electricity supply isn't strong enough to cope with both heaters. In fact the lights flickered ominously from time to time... After the service people d

Louis de Funès knows the wine just by looking at him

Now you know why I fret so much about buying the wine for communion at church.

Phew - made it through to Sunday night - and it's raining !

It's only been a cold, but you know how it is, and I was preaching twice today and taking the forts and the faibles in the English class. So it's good to get to Sunday night. And it's raining ! Hooray ! That means it won't be as COLD ! Anyway my cold is better. We were a bumper crowd at church. Pat counted people during the message and got 63 including kids.

Hurrah !

Do French people do mental arithmetic like what I have to do ?

Soixante-dix-neuf - I have to add it all up before I can move on to the next figure in the phone number. "60+10+9 = 79 what did you say came next...?" Quatre-vingts-dix-sept is even worse because it includes multiplication and addition. "4(20)+10+7 = 80+10+7 = 97 can you repeat that please...?" I am hoping that for French people the number just comes without them doing the sum, and that one day it may do the same for me.

An update on the Griffinmobile

Well Ben went to the car this morning and phoned a breakdown service he had found using the online phonebook. Then he phoned me, because they seemed reluctant to come and help. He said 'They keep telling me I am on the rocade and I keep trying to tell them I am on a sliproad - except I don't know the French for sliproad." I don't know the French for a sliproad, either, but I phoned the people and explained that Ben's car had broken down as he left the rocade just before the traffic lights. (I got a few funny looks because I was in the supermarket balancing boxes of cereal on racks of stuff while writing down the police phone number before relaying it to Ben in English. I think they are starting to get used to me in there though...) "That's the problem", the breakdown people explained. "Anything before the lights counts as the rocade and he has to phone the police to get help." As I suspected they had understood each other very well, but the

Myerscough the early adopter

Myerscough, our great friend, mission council member, confidant, fellow founder member of FAPMA (Former Assistants to Peter Milsom Anonymous) and editor of Four Corners - possibly the finest mission magazine in the world - has taken delivery of an Asus eee pc. Small and relatively inexpensive, this could be a cracker of a tool for folks like us, especially for people on the move.

Vincent and the Ruebkes

came for the evening. We ate raclette and Vienettas. Raclette was a good move. It's easy, entertaining, filling and warming. Ice cream was not so wise, and illustrates the hazards of shopping on Monday for a meal you will eat on Friday. Monday was pleasant and warm. Now it's freeeezing. I thought about rice pudding but on Monday it would have been too much on top of a raclette. Now it would be just right ! Jenna and Michelle fly home early on Sunday. Poor Vincent ! Still, at least he'll be able to move a bit in his flat... He'll visit them for Christmas, then in February, then the marriage is hoped to take place in April and Jenna will come home to France.

Your car has done what, and where ?

Fi's in the UK. Pat's indisposed. I am in the student centre. So Ben said he'd pick up the kids from school for us. On the way so to do, at junction 13, his gear lever lost touch with the gear box. Ah ! What to do ? A few frantic phone calls and I decided to shut up the student centre, scuttle back to Pessac on the tram and get the car, then the kids. They, dear brave hearts, were sat on the pavement outside the school waiting patiently. Then I found Ben and we got his car safely stashed on the grass at the side of the slip road. French motor insurance includes breakdown cover, but he couldn't find the phone number to ring if the car broke down. And the office they got the cover from closes at 4 on Fridays and doesn't open on Saturdays. Ben says it opens for an hour in July and for half a day in February. So I took him into town to get the tram home (I was meeting folks at the student centre at 7pm) and he's going to tackle it tomorrow morning.

It's FREEZING here in the South of France

I mean seriously freezing. We're in the negative, said the man on the radio and judging by the frost in the garden he was absolutely right. Yesterday I spent a good part of the day on the phone finding out who's eating what and when for the church's regional council weekend. Today I have one or two people to finish chasing up on that, then to find a firewood supplier and order a goodly supply of logs, and to suss out flights to Britain in February and in April so as to work out finally when deputation can occur and get in touch with the churches concerned. Oh, and preparation for Sunday. I'm preaching in Blaye in the morning and in Bordeaux in the afternoon. Pat is much better this morning. Perhaps the kinésiterrapin has helped.

A quick update on Pat

She finished the course of pills the doctor in Villenave gave her, but without much improvement. A Chinese student applied some Chinese medicine (don't ask - it was fine) and she's a little improved. She went to see the doctor round the corner from us yesterday and got the forms to change doctor and a prescription for five sessions of physiotherapy, so she should see the physiotherapist (also round the corner from us) tonight.

I am starting to love French, and I am a bit alarmed

I mean, I always loved France, and the French are wonderful, but French... Spanish is pretty well Latin. Italin is beautiful. English is useful. Welsh is glorious. German is unthinkable. French is Latin overlaid with German in a most unhelpful way. All those vowels ! How could anyone think a language beautiful that contains from 3 to 6 nasal vowels depending on where you live, and the sound eux, them. It sounds like the noise you make when you see a molten slug in your lettuce. but you do get to say some wonderful things. My all time favourite was when a student (we'll call him Sam) got a letter whose certainty he doubted. As one man we said Si Sam, ça c'est sûr ! - see sam sa sé sûr... Then yesterday reflecting on the RCF broadcast C'est comme ça qu'on sème - sé com sa coñ sem. "Yes, Sam, that's certain", and "That's how one sows"

RCF Bordeaux

(See a little matter for prayer below.) Well we went and recorded. Emmanuel Alvaraés, the pastor of the Eglise Evangélique Libre in Pessac, looks after Point de Vue Evangélique, so it basically took the form of a very brief, round table interview with myself, Emmanuel, Sammy and Fiona. It's broadcast tonight and also tonight they will come to the student centre and record the programme for next week with a couple of students involved. We talked basically about the work, trying to present it in a way that might encourage students to check us out. Emmanuel helped us tremendously with his useful questions, of course.

It struck me when I was preparing Ephesians 1:2

that Paul greets the saints with the Greek greeting "Grace" and the Hebrew greeting "Peace". He, of course, means far more by those words than the man in the corner café in Athens or Jerusalem ever imagined. Quite often French people greet each other with the French greeting " Salut ". We, of course, mean far more by that word than the chaps in the corner café imagine. Salut means salvation.

Stan Guthrie explains briefly why he is a Christian

Baked beans - and tajine

What a saddo, eh ? The thing about baked beans is that they are such a good, cheap, nutritious meal. Except when they are £1.20 a tin, that is ! Some friends who will remain nameless but lived in Provence until recently used to import beans from Britain, and once when we stayed at their house we were warned off the beans ! There is a French version that is about 60p a tin or less - haricots blancs à la tomate . What you have to do is add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar per tin, and tomato ketchup to taste. Some people add a spoonful of vinegar. The beans are a bit big, but a nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse, as they say. I'm reading a book I should have read at the DEFLE but I dropped the course - it is called "Une enquête au pays" by Driss Chraïbi and it introduces a Moroccan detective called l'Inspecteur Ali , who stars in the next book too. Anyway, it's very entertaining, and they have just eaten a glorious meal of mutton tajine - mutton cooked slowly with f

Pat went to see the doctor today

When we moved house from Villenave to Pessac we didn't bother changing doctor. After all, neither of us is ever really ill, though we both have to see the doctor from time to time. So we go to Villenave, about 20 minutes drive away, three junctions of rocade. But at the moment Pat can't even bear the thought of getting in the car, and there's a doctor 3 minutes walk away. So today she went to see them and got referred for 5 sessions at the neighbourhood physiotherapist ( kinésothérapeute ) and got the form to change doctor. Everyone's pretty tired. Pat's tired because she's in pain. I'm tired because she can't do much of what she used to do. Even sharing the school run. Still. It isn't for long.

France divided as Sarkozy woos US

Don't get excited. US means United States, not "us".

"Crapaud dans le trou"

It was toad in the hole for tea tonight. When I think of all you Brits who make your toad in the hole with sausages I have to say that it is a poor substitute.

A quick matter for prayer

RCF Bordeaux are coming on Wednesday at 10:30 to record an item about FAC and the student work at the student centre. RCF is Radio Chrétienne Française and broadcasts "Christian music ", documentary programmes about nature, gardening , family life , etc., and also more specifically Christian stuff , mostly Roman Catholic , though there is some Protestant input and often it's Evangelical . At one time RCF Bordeaux was run by an evangelical , but not now . I listen to RCF Bordeaux quite a bit in the car, though I turn over pretty quickly when they're doing the rosary. You get the picture. We'd value your prayers for how we put the centre across .

If one day the church seems rather gummy...

it could be because I did it again... I was doing the offering bit, and I thought 'Must remember to do a good long face for dons so it doesn't come out dents' and when I came to actually pray I said "so we ask you to take our teeth, bless them in your service and use them to your glory for the kingdom of Jesus Christ." ah bon. From now on I am going to say "take this money".

40 % pray

Hey !

Pat's back remains very painful and incapacitating, so here's some Saturday night culture in an attempt to cheer everyone up a bit.

Can't say I blame him, do you ?

It's a scam, he says...

Easy ! It's a bag of sugar.

A quiet week on the blog

I know it's been a quiet week on the blog. This is because of : 1) The pastorale nationale. I ought to post my reflections, but I confess that I am still chewing on it all. 2) Installing a new printer at the student centre and blissfully printing out LOTS of Bible study booklets (it prints A5 booklets automatically !) 3) Today the car had it's first controle technique. As our car has a five year service included guarantee this was done free of charge and the bulbs that needed replacing were also free of charge. The two tyres were not free of charge, but the car has now done 92,000 km (57,500 miles) so I suppose to have now replaced all four tyres is not such a raw deal. The free servicing runs till November 2008, and I hope that the next service will include the dreaded timing belt change. It'll be good to get that done free. The drawback is that due to a mess-up in the garage in Picardy that initially sold the car, I have to take the car to our old garagiste in Villenave

They found a 1st century Roman mosaic in Bordeaux yesterday

One block away from the cathedral and therefore about 150 yards from the student centre they are building some "logements de standing" but before they start squirting concrete about the archeologues have been digging. And they found this Roman room, with intact mosaic and reconstructable wall decor and a ceiling height of about 3 metres. Class, eh ?

If you're thinking of retiring early to France, be warned.

Some last views of the Cévennes

It's back home and back to the grind !

They don't put this in the papers here

Some more pictures from the Cévennes

Families were allowed to come - you can see French children eating their salad.

The three-fold division of the law

Richard Barcellos is thinking about the moral, ceremonial and judicial law.

The Pastorale

We arrived in time for lunch, which means we missed the first session. We have a PhD student from Cambridge speaking to us about cosmology and the Bible. It's been very stimulating and I have revisited things I thought about when I was a student all those many months ago . The photos show when we spent an hour walking through the woods surrounding the centre where the pastorale is being held .

Well that was a happy, busy day

It started with the meeting for the lycéens, where we made a start on Christianity Explored and ate croque monsieur for lunch. Lots of them. I can tell you, they're heavy in quantity. Then I left a bit before the end to get to the centre to set up for the church service. Pat is banned from the car till her back gets better and I left the church to go straight to Montauban, so it felt VERY ODD INDEED to be at church without the family, and covering Pat's "duties" as well as mine. Oh, and this time it included preaching on Ephesians 1 : 3 - 14 - part 1 ! Then to Montauban where we spent the night before going on this morning to the Pastorale Nationale of the EREI in the Cévennes. There's a wireless internet connection, so that's how come I can type this. If I get a chance I'll pop some pictures on later. I slept a lot in the car.

If you have CDs with no cases, or if you burn CDs of messages to give to friends

Here is a CD case made from a sheet of A4 paper (remember to tick the A4 radio button) for you to print and fold ! Remember to tick the A4 radio button !

Phew ! At last I finished it !

OK - a quiet day

spent preparing for the weekend : Sat 16h30 - 18h00 : English class Sun 10h00 - 16h00 : Lycéens megarencontre (Explorer le Christianisme) Sun 16h30 - 19h00 : Culte - Alan preaching Sun 19h00 - Wed 19h00 (ish) EREI Ministers' Conference somewhere in the Cévennes... Please pray for Pat. She put her back out. It's taking a while to improve. She has these mega-ibuprofen etc. but she'll be alone at home with the kids Mon - Wed. Not only that, but she's banned from the car § for 'a good ten days' and the kids start school before then. Ooh la la... § - it was not obvious whether the doctor meant driving the car or even just passenging in it.

So we took Pat to the doctor with her back

Pat cleaned the kitchen on Monday and put her back out. It was all part of the weather turning colder so firing up the wood stove. To ensure that Catrin's room gets a bit of warmth means opening the door through the kitchen which means ... and so she put her back out. So after a few days of ibuprofen and continued stiffness and pain we went to the doctor. It's Toussaint, so there was only one doctor on duty, who made Pat walk across the room on tiptoe, then on her heels, then checked her feeling and reflexes and put her on three different drugs - all stronger than ibuprofen.