Showing posts from December, 2008

Sorry about neglecting the blog

but it's Christmastime and we had two services on Sunday and in the morning lots of people were away and it was me preaching and we were still about 25 to 30 people and then in the evening it was the English service and again lots of people away and we were twelve people among whom were some French guys who are anglophile and it was a good time and this week it's doing chores and odd jobs except last night we were invited round to some friends' house who have converted their garage into a study come home cinema with a video-projector and a big screen and surround sound speakers and we ate fettucini bolognaise and then watched Indiana Jones and I fell asleep in the middle but that's normal for me and this evening I want to go to the student centre and get the office PC so I can try and encourage it to work a bit better and faster and more efficiently and it's a time for planning the coming months too especially for the home groups, international and French. Sorry abo

"As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God."

Read Matthew Parris' article here .

Penn State Trombone Choir performs

A lively day !

Well well that was a lively day. It started quietly enough simply running someone to the airport. Then I had a rendez-vous for coffee with a friend visiting from Switzerland BUT we had not arranged a place to meet, he is staying in a rented house and his mobile phone doesn't work here. I phoned his father who was unable to tell me the house number but he told me the road, so I drove down there to look for a Swiss Opel. Nothing. I drove home to find the Griffins there for lunch. Our friends, the Foreaux arrived soon afterwards and we got our raclette sets out, the meat, cheese and potatoes. We waited for the last person to arrive but eventually gave up and ate a hearty meal of bacon, spuds and cheese, followed by leftover cheesecake from yesterday and icecream log. While we waited we had a phone-call to inform us of the death of an old friend in Connah's Quay. She'd been ill for some time and died during the night of Christmas. It snowed this afternoon, quite hard, but not f

Les huîtres: guide d'achat

How to buy, keep and serve oysters. Yesterday as we drove to the student centre we passed oyster stall after oyster stall. The bakers and the florists were open, too. So oysters are extremely popular but I can't imagine I'll ever eat them.

It was Christmas Day in the centre

The quickest report on Christmas Day in the student centre. We were about 25, of whom about 20 were Chinese. I was especially pleased that a friend called Mohamad was there and had brought his neighbours with him. Fiona was unable to be there as she'd gone down with 'flu. An excellent meal - largely Chinese but some other stuff. We ate, we played games - ice-breaker games, a team quiz, we inveigled people into singing. I ended up singing " Un fendith dyro i'm " because I could only remember that or " Oes gafr eto " on the spot. The beginners English class did this sketch of the nativity story, which was made all the better by the fact that the angels shepherds and mages were all played by the same people with the addition of wings, tea-towels or gifts. Then I did a brief talk- ette on our reaction to the good news - how the experts thought they knew everything so they didn't seek the truth about Jesus, how Herod just wanted to keep things th

Brass quintet playing Christmas music

Yahou ! Chicken !

I've remarked before on how expensive chicken is in France. Pork is much cheaper, and beef can be reasonable, too. I think a lot of it is down to farming methods - chickens here are usually either free-range or barn animals rather than battery hens. But that makes them more expensive. So we eat a lot of pork and some beef and not much chicken. We ought to eat much more fish than we do. However, recently we have noticed a fall in the price of packs of chicken legs. It's not that nice chicken, quite fatty, but it's OK. Then our supermarket had chickens at 5.35€ ( that's about £14 each now, I think ! ). We wanted to contribute a chicken to the Griffins after them feeding everyone for Christmas lunch (well we did supply puddings but...) so I bought two and we are about to eat one. The next time I went in the chickens were two for 5.35€. Today it was three for 5.35€ ! And they're nice chickens, not enormous, corn-fed ( poulet jaune ) . Over-production, perhaps ? Anyway t

La Veillée de Noël

This evening is the Christmas service at Anglade near Blaye . A number of us will travel up from Bordeaux and environs. I'm technicien de projection de chants , so I'll sort out the PowerPoint file for the hymns once I get the list. One of the big things I miss about Britain is the richness of our hymns and songs. At Christmas-time you can easily sing carols for a couple of weeks without repeating any. Not here. If I were a poet and good at French I'd set about translating and writing, but I am not, so I'll have to pray for someone else to get on with it. Tomorrow there's no service for us as such. Normally we'd go along to the Anglican Chaplaincy Christmas morning service but this year instead we're going to the student centre early to set up for lunch. Except that I am wondering whether to drop off Pat and the kids and scuttle off to the chaplaincy myself. It's my once-a-year visit and it would be a pity not to say hello at all. I'll check the

Deck the Halls

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

At the supermarket

Pallet-loads of oysters, and jars of goose-grease, presumably for sewing your children into their underwear for the winter ? I jest. Goose-grease is an important ingredient in all sorts of dishes. What would baked beans be without goose-grease, for example ?

Trouble at 'piste

Bad times for the ski resorts says Emma Jane Kirby

Celebration de Noël

Well yesterday was the nearest Sunday to Christmas so the morning service was pretty normal but in the afternoon was the Célébration de Noël with Christmas songs, items by the children and youngsters and so on. There were a good number of folks in the building, some from Blaye, some old friends come back for the occasion, some new faces, it was a good time and the building only just contained us all. Things seemed to go pretty well, especially when you consider that one item involved the ados holding candles. No casualties. Great ! Pat stayed at home in the morning and nursed her indisposition, but she felt well enough to come along in the afternoon with a friend from Pessac.

In The Bleak Mid Winter

Now for something tidy. Don't you always think of this as Calvin's Christmas Carol ?

Carrying the percussion down the stairs

of the school of music. I carried the big xylophone and the vibraphone. It's an injury claim just waiting to happen, but thankfully the French don't seem to think like that. Yet. Hence our pavements are dreadfully uneven - quite lethal - but people seem to feel that it is their responsability to ensure they walk safely.

Well that seemed to go OK

Tonight was the Music School Christmas Concert. It had several elements to it : 1) Les brasseurs de vent - a " fanfare de rue " ¤ (a kind of high-class banda) who played various lively pieces interspersed throughout the concert. 2) An ensemble d'accordeons playing various things, including ' Round midnight ', some Yann Tiersen, etc. 3) a super flute duet playing the first movement of a Cimarosa concerto. 4) the youngsters' orchestra playing various things 5) us in the grande finale doing our festive list : Begin the beguine, Sleigh Ride , A Christmas medley thing, The most wonderful time of the year , and then a dreadful thing compiled from the film score of Happy Feet. It all went very well, although there were one or two incidents. One poor girl from the brasseurs de vent tripped over something on the stage and fell on her saxophone which promptly refused to sound in the grave though it worked in the aigu. We had a nice time with the flute players sat in

On the way to the Christmas market


Tracting at the Christmas market

Well my first visit to the Christmas Market at Bordeaux, and it was more interesting than I thought it would be. Ought I to take Pat and the children ? Maybe... I took one or two photos. Anyway we went distributing tracts, and had a few brief discussions, mainly with the stall-holders. There weren't that many people around. The little chalets are all for sale afterwards. One of them would make a fine woodstore. Or a fine bike shed.

Denver and the Mile High Orchestra Jingle Bells

Deck the Halls

This should make us think

People are willing to inflict torture when told to by a figure in authority. Is it not true that in groups sometimes people behave astonishingly cruelly towards others ? Think of situations in schools where everyone joins in bullying a particular child, or in sects where people can be treated shamefully by everyone involved. ... and in churches ? We need to be very aware of the depths of our fallenness and of our sinful nature.

Hold on tight.

Here we go !


Kids most want to ban divorce. Read about it here.

O Come All Ye Faithful - Mars Hill Madrigal Singers

What is it about Christmas ?

While Shepherds Watched

and ... morrismen danced ...?

Cracking Contraptions - The Snoozatron

On the utility of GOOGLE search and "cybergossip"

You know these Shock ! Horror ! Probe ! emails that do the rounds ? Well I got one once from a dear friend in French which claimed that in Angleterre ( "Honte à l'Angleterre!" ) the compulsory teaching of the history of the holocaust was to be discontinued - nay, banned... Now far be it from me to think that l'Angleterre needs my defence. L'Angleterre is, as my wife would say, old enough and ugly enough to sort out its own problems. But still I smelt a rat... After all, I am over 25 now, and I was never taught about the holocaust in school. Maybe people who did A-level history were. I don't know. But even way back in those days it was not compulsory to teach the holocaust in schools in Angleterre . A quick GOOGLE search revealed that this is one of those emails that does the rounds - started off, I suspect, by out of work vascular surgeons who hope that by raising the blood pressure of the community they can drum up some extra custom. (I have long suspect

Silly chumps !

The high-school students are striking at the moment against Sarko's education reforms. (Just pause and savour that sentence for a while - it is right at the frontier between French and British culture !) When school children strike they mount demonstrations in the city centre ( and so disrupt the trams and buses ) and they also block the high-schools to stop the teachers and other kids getting in. blocquer, blocqué, un blocus. Sarko has delayed his reforms by a year ( reporté ) but the strikes and blocks continue. Thus it was that we turned up at the front door of the collège this morning to be told that the kids had to scuttle round to the rear entrance. I leaned across and asked the pion : Et à midi ? On espère avoir reglé le problème. Ah bon, il y a un petit souci ? Oui, on nous a mis des chaînes... Some silly chumps had chained the collège doors together in a futile attempt to block the collège with a hefty chain and padlock. Sadly, the only one it really inconveniences is m

Fash not yourselves

In 2004 there was a team in Bordeaux doing up the student centre and doing student evangelism in the streets. There were many Scots on the team and we noticed certain similarities between Scots English and French. For example, the reflexive Scots verb to fash ones' self ( se fâcher ) to become annoyed. This verb is now almost exclusively found in the second person imperative dinna fash yersel' = do not get annoyed. But who can doubt that at one time this verb existed in all the richness possible. Are you trying deliberately to make me fash myself ? I could not continue the discussion because everyone was fashing himself. Had they not fashed themselves they may have understood the point I was making. Their behaviour is so intransigent that I just know that I will fash myself.

Well there we are - all taxes paid for 2008

Today was the day for paying taxe d'habitation (equivalent of council tax, I suppose) which includes 116 euros for TV. And I signed up to pay monthly next year. I always think it's a bit of a swiz to pay monthly because you begin paying next December's bill this coming January - It'll be about 60 euros a month instead of 720 euros now, and the tax office puts it into its big savings account and gets the interest - but at least it avoids a big bill just before Christmas, eh ?

What an odd day

It's a funny sort of day here. First off the weather. It's like freezing fog without actually freezing. ( Do we just call that "fog" ? ) Then sirens all over the place. Something odd on the rocade this morning - a little Peugeot just stopped in the outside lane with police all around and the traffic at a standstill. Then by Unitec tram stop roads closed by the firemen, police all round and a Gas Safety van driving up at full pelt.

ESV Study Bible

With the beginning of services in English and so on I decided to order an ESV Study Bible from Amazon in the USA. If I bought one from Amazon France it would cost a huge amount. Amazon UK don't seem to be able to find our house here in France, so I spent a few US cents on the new study Bible. They said it would come around Christmas, but it actually arrived about a fortnight ago. It's GREAT ! It has a mini-systematic theology in the back ! Great if you can never remember who the monophysites were and what the nestorians got up to. Anyway, here Al Mohler tells us how to use Study Bibles and recommends the ESV Study Bible. There's one sentence in American Academic English that I so appreciated I thought I'd translate it for you. Al says : The ESV Study Bible redefines the study Bible in terms of its sheer heft. Alan translates : It's REALLY BIG.

International Carol Service

Ben gets ready for the kick-off in his best wedding suit. Olivier reads while Catrin and Christina (and everyone you can't see) listen.

International Carol Service

Another happy, helter-skelter weekend, Saturday began with emergency shopping for cable, logs and instant hot chocolate - then Student Centre AGM, then off to rendez-vous with Pat so I could get the car and go off to the church for preparation for Carol Service, then back to Eysines for Team Christmas Meal - Hooray ! Tomato and basil soup followed by Chicken, carrots, sprouts, roast potatoes, stuffing, pigs in blankets, all the peas you could eat, followed by Banoffee pie and/or raspberry trifle. ( Ben is a good cook , being a follower of the blessed Delia. ) A good time was had by all and we collapsed into bed after playing this game where you have to find lots of different things all beginning with the same letter... Today was strangely encouraging : AM two new couples - one christians, the others wanting to see what a protestant church is like so they found us in the Yellow Pages ! PM International Carol Service - strangely hardly any Chinese ( one of them is moving house so they&#

Bordeaux Team Christmas meal


On the way to the team Christmas meal


Inviting the students to Christmas lunch

Last night a group of us went inviting students to Christmas lunch at the student centre. I'll spare you the gaffs, such as the chap who was inviting them to come for lunch in the evening (!?) We met lots of folks who seemed keen - North Africans, other Africans, Chinese. Some expressed interest in the English classes. It was a super time. I got dropped off by the S5 bus de soir stop in time to catch the 10:30pm. As I waited a chap went past and said "It isn't coming by here at the moment because of the roadworks further on." Aaaaarrrrgghhhh ! Where was it passing ? Hard to say. So I began walking home past the dark vineyards of Haut-Brion and phoned Pat to come and get me. We met by the lawn-mower shop and got home safely.

Parity ! Never !

Apologies to all reformed baptist brothers - this isn't about eldership but about the euro. I don't often write about the economic realities of mission, but they're there nevertheless. Our American colleagues have lived for years with a weak dollar. When they came to France their support was OK. Now it's inadequate. In addition the American economy has struggled for a long time and American churches are sometimes overstretched in world mission. With the best will in the world ( and American goodwill is surely among the best in the world ) churches cannot do more. Finding new sponsor churches is a challenge. The USA is big so to become known amongst the churches is a huge challenge and involves a lot of travelling. Denominational ties help to establish relationships of trust but churches still sometimes need forms to be filled in, interviews to be held and committees to meet and it can take months before a decision is taken. It isn't easy. Now it's the turn of

The next EREI pastor for Bordeaux

will be Dik Briennen. He'll start with us on 1 August. Here he is being interviewed on Sunday evening. Alongside him is his wife, Hetty. Dik and Hetty are Dutch and have been ministering in France for almost 20 years.

Amazing growing Chinese floral tea

Ooh la la, c'est grave !

A message from Ben came today : Hiya, Have you heard? Speedferries have gone bust!!! Not only that, BMI baby have pulled their Bordeaux-Birmingham flights through the summer. I think that we are going to have to take out a mortgage to get home at all. Blessings Ben

Where to begin ? I need :

my hair cut my eyes tested my head examined. I'll probably start with my hair. Pat says it needs cutting badly, like last time I got it done.

A quick report on the weekend

The International Home Group numbered about 15 people. Some of our old faithfuls were otherwise occupied with young peoples' sleepovers but there were a few new people, Chinese and French. Andy brought this special Chinese tea for us to try. Later on I'll make a cup and video it (yes - it's moving tea) Nicer than you might fear. Sunday began bright and early with the PowerPoint and a call for help in getting the sleepover lads to Cenon , so I despatched Pat to fetch 'em while I finished off the preparation and leaped in the shower. And we weren't late ! After the service some charging round sorting out address lists, carols for the carol service, English, then French, then rehearsing a song we'll sing (get this - we have an impromptu choir : 3 sopranos, 3 altos, 3 basses ... and me. I said, " Bon , si le monde est contre Athanase , Athanase est contre le monde ." I should save my breath for singing. ) Then zoom off home for 3-minute spaghetti

sentir and se sentir

Je me sens bien. I feel fine. Je sens bien. I smell fine. X-Y se sent assez fort. X-Y feels strong enough. X-Y sent assez fort. X-Y smells strong enough. In fact I had said X-Y se croit assez fort pour venir - X-Y believes he is strong enough to come.

Before the International Home Group


Outside the Hôtel de Ville

there was this recruiting lorry for La légion étrangère ( the Foreign Legion ). It was unbelievably wonderful, with diaporamas of different scenes, including the jungle, a North African looking city, the desert and the Arc de Triomphe, and in the centre stuffed dummies of someone behind a computer desk dealing with someone's dossier while splendid martial music played. It's a good thing that the lorry was unmanned and that the person behind the desk was a stuffed dummy because otherwise I think I might have signed up on the spot.

My admiration is dented

It had to happen. And it happened this morning. I was off to the student centre for 10 am. Easy-peasy. I had a rendez-vous this afternoon in Pessac so I decided to park the car there and hop on the 45. Four buses an hour. Nothing could be easier. Well I waited at the stop. I was having a happy time listening to Brandenburg 5 on my phone and remembering the time in Cardiff when I heard it live and the famous harpsichordist got lost in the long cadenza. This disabled lady with walking sticks came and also waited for the bus. But there's four buses an hour so one must be along soon. One was. Sans Voyageurs. (Not in Service.) We looked at each other. But there's four buses an hour so one must be along soon. One was. Another Sans Voyageurs. What is it with them today... We waited more. I sent a SMS to say I was having bus problems. As I sent it a bus came and we got on. Then a lady got on who was not pleased, but who held her peace for a moment. Then another lady who was not pleased

Meeting this morning to discuss a team coming to work next Easter.

from Mission Vacances .

What's mission ?

Click on the headline or here

Iain D Campbell talks about twice on a Sunday

Iain D Campbell talks about morning and evening services here . Our situation in France is different. There's no history of morning and evening worship - at least within memory. Also there's a prevailing image of duty rather than privilege, that is that we go to church to do our duty. Having been, we've done our duty. Does this come from the surrounding catholicism ? The upshot is that it is quite difficult to encourage people to come twice on a Sunday and to build up any kind of momentum for evening worship. We are very conscious of our protestant forefathers. They preached several times a week - often every day or more than once a day. Of course, they were greater men than we. Their preaching style was different from ours. Their social context was different from ours. But they still present us with a great challenge. Faced with unbelieving Western Europe - no less dark than the days they lived in. Surrounded by Christians who need building up. Armed with the same word, in

I keep thinking someone's left a tap running

They haven't. It's just that it's raining cats and dogs again. That's Bordeaux : you freeze, you bake, you drown - all in the same day. Yesterday I scraped thick ice off the car to take the kids to school. The sun in the afternoon was blinding and hot. Then came the rain - lots of it. It's a bit like being a sausage. Frozen, then grilled, then drowned in gravy... It's great, really, because it means you always have something with which to begin a conversation to strangers. Il fait beau, hein ? Ô, vous êtes gelé ! Ooh la la! cette pluie !

Mapple MyPhonies

Here we are - a bit of French, a dig at Apple, the Simpsons and an illicit video that will surely disappear as quick as winking. I so identify with all that Lisa says. If they would bring the price of those MyPhonies down just a little - say to $20 - I'd get a pair. Saddo !

At the supermarket

We have this system of self-scanning now with these zappers you use to read the bar codes on the stuff you buy. However from time to time the computer says you have to pass everything by the scanner on the till anyway just to be sure. When I bought the emergency rice on Saturday I had to rescan at the till. Anyway this morning someone called to see Pat so I made myself scarce and did the "weekly shop". At the till the people before me were being scanned. I was happily sorting out my coupons (we now have about 6 million zapopoints - almost enough for a free litre of milk) when the lady finished doing their scan. "Il manquait un article. C'est une manque de rigeur!" (There was one item missing. Careless !) The couple took this criticism in their stride, but I thought "I hope I don't get rescanned, not if we get marked on our scanning !" All was OK. No rescan. Anyway I always scan with extreme rigour - especially since that day when something appeared

After the International home group

Bibles and chairs everywhere . Lovely.

I wonder if this stuff works

It ought to ! "Kill it, bang!"

You can tell Christmas is coming

These are all ice-cream Christmas logs. They stretch as far as the eye can see !