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)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oh it's so HOT

and I am charging round the streets like an idiot !

Ministry and money - minefield !

It is, though, isn't it ! And it's a bit of a joke, really, because everyone knows that everything in life costs money.

Three basic approaches.

1) We don't talk about that. We just talk about the work and if people want to contribute financially then they will.

I suppose one great example of this was George Müller. It's a noble tradition.

2) We tell people very clearly that it's their responsibility.

I think of the pastor who said "The good news is that God has already given us all the money we need for the building project. He has put it in your wallets and bank accounts !" I think this may be a little too forthright for my sensibilities !

But it is a delicate matter.

I tend to end up taking a third way. I think about it like this :

You are our partners in the work here. You take a serious interest in it, you pray for it and you give towards it. You invest in it, you give of yourselves. We are thankful for that and we respect it very deeply.

To me that respect implies a certain openness when we face challenges and problems. Including financial ones. Because in a very real sense we face them together. You stand with us, pray for us, do all you can for us.

Imagine if one day we had to abandon a project because of insufficient funds and we either never told you, or we told you only after the event. What kind of partnership would that be ?

What do you think ?

Brevet 2

Second day of Brevet. History/geography. Gwilym felt that yesterday's tests in maths and French were not too difficult. In theory the exam lasts 9:00 to 11:00 but yesterday they all finished an hour early.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I forgot about this !

Loads of forms asking things I just don't know and needing to be returned before Monday or he can forget that place in Lycée Pro...

Brevet !

Gwilym is in his exam.
It works out pretty well because he has to sit his brevet in a college in Villenave d'Ornon and I have a meeting in the same town to talk about the future of the Christian bookshop in Bordeaux.
A friend told us what one traditionally wishes for a kid doing their brevet but we decided to forgo this particular tradition...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Gwilym mécano

Gwilym has his brevet exams tomorrow and Wednesday. Basically he needs to get 3/20 to pass so he's quite relaxed about it.

The other, bigger news is that he has been accepted to go and do a Bac Pro in Métiers de l'automobile at the lycée Alphonse Beau de Rochas.


Please, no more food for a while... Here's something different - Vuvuzela-Konzert

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A happy Sunday

The Foucachons are back !

Samy, Carol and family are passing through France, they've been visiting family and now they're spending a few days in this area, so it was great to see them again. Marije was due to play but she has a problem with her wrist, so Samy played and preached. It was also a kind of farewell to the Griffins day - next Sunday is their last day but we scheduled a church barbecue on a campsite called Camelot (!) and it was great to see some of the folk from the evening English service coming along and fitting in very happily.

I'll pop on some photos.

Church barbecue

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Barbecue d"église

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Hey ! They based it on a Christian marriage service !

Yesterday evening was my first wedding outside a church context - in a lovely hotel chateau in Martillac.

Everything was very beautiful; beautiful château, beautiful weather, beautiful couple, beautiful wedding, beautiful reception, the hoteliers worked very hard to make everything special, and God was very kind to everyone.

It struck me after the ceremony that the French civil ceremony in the mairie is modelled very closely on a Christian marriage. Where we read the Bible, the maire reads extracts from French marriage law. Of course, the maire finds it hard to proclaim love like Jésus'. All he can say is "The couple ought..." We can announce a glorious and profound and immense love that married couples can make it their lifelong calling to reflect.

Afterwards we ate delicious grilled meats for apéro, then the meal was duck. I was sat next to "Miss Canette" and she proclaimed everything good !

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The wedding

So after my late night landing from London Saturday found me like a bear with a sore head trying to make sure everything wes ready for the wedding. My poor wife and kids ! Still they cope very well. Pat took the kids to their club - the last one before the Griffins leave - and then we got ready and drove off to the Chateau-hotel in Martillac.

It was a beautiful setting. We found the room, fiddled with the chairs, chatted with the fiddler, promised to make signs to him when he was to play (I forgot, of course). Then came the time for the wedding. Stephane and Caroline were a lovely couple and the French and Brazilian folk were neck and neck for elegance and charm. We Brits didn't even try - we played the eccentric card by wearing hats in the hot sun.

Following the wedding there were cocktails and grills on the terrace. Beautiful little cuts of beef, chicken, duck, pork and salmon. Salads of melon and cucumber. Canapés of smoked salmon and foie gras.

I was a bit stressed out during the day because I had never seen anything in writing to do with the wedding. My memory is dodgy for practical things so I love it when there's emails to check or letters to look at. I managed to sow doubt in my own mind about the start time of the wedding, but Pat pointed out that if it had started earlier than 5pm they would have phoned to see where I was, and if it started later then we'd be there ready anyway !

My vagueness also caused a bit of doubt about whether we were invited to the meal. (Poor Pat) We had already said goodbye to the violinist. I told Pat to sneak in and look at the tables, but she couldn't see any names. Then we both went in and I found a seating plan which had our names on it. So we returned to talking with the other guests.

The diner was delicious. A granita to begin, which was very welcome, then duck, then cheese, then various desserts that were built up into a pièce montée and cut by the bride and groom. we left just after midnight, planning to eat with Stephane and Caroline in a few weeks' time. I'll pop on some photos of the wedding.

Wedding photos

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It's been quiet on the blog because I have been in Britain, far from even 3G internet access, and therefore not able to report at all. Dik and I were there for the Evangelical Ministry Assembly, the first time either of us have ever been.

We were very kindly lodged by a lovely family who live in Tower Hamlets, so after the first day when we took the bus to and from the conference, we walked either through the busy streets or "alongside the river" - in quotes because a large part of the Thames Path was closed because of moored boats.

The conference is held in St Helens, and this year it was very crowded and hot. We were glad of the free flowing tea and coffee and also the squash and water.

Bible Readings in Judges 13 - 16 (Samson) were given by Rupert Bentley-Taylor, and it was good to introduce Dik to Rupert and Margie. Widcombe have long been very supportive of our work here.

Papers on the Spirit and the word in John's gospel came from Christopher Ash, my first time to hear him. I enjoyed his rigour and his very British style - lots of understatement - an interesting contrast with John Piper.

Vaughan Roberts gave a paper on George Whitefield.

Afternoons are varied. The first was entitled "An honest conversation" between John Cole of New Wine, Liam Goligher, Terry Virgo and Hugh Palmer, chaired by Vaughan Roberts. Everyone was very kind.
The second was a discussion/debate between Wayne Grudem and Iain Hamilton on "Prophecy today", when again it became clear that the argument is really about the use of the very important word, prophecy.
The third was a lovely interview with John Piper, who also preached in the late afternoons.

Message 1 was on "Living by the Power of the Spirit", and was essentially a strongly reformed, animated expositional survey of Galatians. It was wonderful stuff, and a very interesting contrast with the earlier discussion.

Message 2 was on "Preaching in the Power of Spirit", and JP was extremely practical, giving two acronyms that he uses to help himself in ministry.

Message 3 on "Praying in the Power of the Spirit" I missed - I was on the train to Gatwick Airport.

It was wonderful to meet old friends and new - I met some old friends for the first time (oh the wonders of the internet !). A splendid time.

Travelling to London for EMA

What a laugh !

Easyjet Bordeaux to London. No problem !

It was my first time in Billi, the new low-cost "terminal". It was OK really. Flying Easyjet from Bordeaux was never very inspiring anyway. Security was very relaxed - I could easily have smuggled 125ml of shampoo...

However the flight was delayed. Lots. It meant that we arrived in Gatwick at about 11 pm, and friend Maxim who was on general EMA helping duties would be waiting for us. So I texted him to say we were landed and we hopped on the first train to Victoria.

BIG mistake. We SHOULD have hopped on the first train to London Bridge.

So 23:50 found us charging round and round Victoria station trying to find each other. Maxim explained that the tube closes around midnight (WHAT ?) but that it was still worth a try to avoid high taxi fares. So we zoomed up and down tunnels and escalators to the platform and got the last tube to Tower Bridge. Thence DLR to Limehouse and our safe house... At 2am. Friend Rob made us a cup of tea, for which we were gasping, and so to bed, to sleep, perchance to dream.

Coming home I sneaked out of the Piper interview and staggered through the fierce London heat to London Bridge and into the station. Showed the lady at the turnstile my Easytrain ticket. OK. She said. Next train to Gatwick platform 5 at 15:03. It was 14:54. Easy ! Except that there were herds of people moving like wildebeest on the Serengeti plain and when I had ducked, dived and dodged round them I got to platform 5 and saw that the train actually left at 14:56. Bye bye train. The 15:03 was in another part of the station on platform 8. So back I went, through the barrier again, ducking, diving and dodging, this time the buffalo of the American prairies, only to watch that train depart, too.

OK. I don't like this game.

And by now the lady at the barrier knew me pretty well and she was aware that I was becoming frustrated.

"Are you OK?" she said.
"This is doing my head in," quoth I, "Can't I just stay on platform 5?"
"Yes, and the next train is the fast one to Gatwick."

So it was that I arrived with lots of time to spare for my 18:10 flight.

Which was delayed till 20:25. So delayed they gave us a free drink.

Still, I got there and back ! Mission accomplished !

Staggering off to London Bridge station

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Walking to the conference in the morning

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Tower Hamlets

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Finally got oS4 loaded on

Folders are cool. I hope to use Skype a lot more too now I can leave it running in background.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

So here I am in the shed

There's a great big mottled shed at the airport now, called Billi, short for Bordeaux Illico. It's ok as waiting rooms go.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Drains flowing ! Hurrah !

A combination of megableach and the patient application of the small ferret.
We got it screwed into the blockage and pulled gently till the thing came out.
Hurrah !

A word of explanation - whereas in Britain outlet pipes and drains run all over the outside of the house, somewhat unsightly but accessible in the event of problems, in our French house the drain is set into the foundations, a plastic pipe running right through the middle of the house... This means that when it blocks you can't just take it off and blow or whatever. You can't even SEE it ! so it's a bit... frustrating. But it maintains the glory of the wonderful saying, pourquoi faire simple quand on peut faire compliqué.

But we got it. Us and our trusty ferret.

The spell is broken

Upgrading the iPhone to oS4.

It's been chewing away for hours.

Stupid thing.

Monday, June 21, 2010

"We know you're very busy"

Those words used to go through me because they clash with a fundamental belief I have about Christian ministry, that it's about people, being accessible and giving people the time they need (of course, not necessarily the time they want!)

Mind you, I was very busy. I remember going to a meeting where a certain degree of preparation to speak was being advocated. I timidly lifted my hand and said that most weeks I had five major teaching and preaching events to do and one minor one, and could they please advise me on how to spend that amount of preparation on each one...

For me the challenge became how to maintain a worthwhile, sound and serious teaching and preaching ministry and spending quite a lot of time staffing our Christian bookshop, while devoting appropriate time to the people who needed it and not appearing busy.

I think the biggest thing for me was to try to eliminate "headless chicken mode" and be calm.
It was a lot about trust in God, that he would enable me to do what he wanted me to do.

We live in a culture where "being very busy" is seen as being of value in itself. Doesn't matter what you achieve, or whether you achieve anything at all, as long as you're very busy ! It's an ethic that belongs to the world of machines, technology, tools and tricks. So appearing very busy is important, and trying to not appear very busy can be seen as counter-productive. What if people think you're lazy or a time-waster !

However, when you work with people (or with animals for that matter !) "being very busy" isn't the point. The point is investing in people the time that they need, taking time, not rushing on.

La vidange

So the car was due for its service - oil change and filters, basically, and check the brakes.

Last time a mechanic friend did it and with the oil and stuff and his morning's work it cost roughly 100 euros.

Since then our local Citroën guy has replaced the timing belt and the clutch mechanism - and the clutch is making a rather strange noise - like a cicada - it reminds me of the noise when the thrust bearing went on my dad's Oxford.

So I rang around:

The Peugeot garage where Gwilym was doing his work experience: 220 Euros.
Midas (a drive-in servicing chain): 150 euros.
Someone else whose name I've forgotten: 160 euros.
The Citroën guy down the road: 70 euros.

I said, "When can you do it ?" "Friday morning..."

I then thought that I must have heard him wrong and it was 170 euros, but anyway I thought we'd go for it.

Well the bill was 85 euros. And he said, "that noise is the thrust bearing (butin), it's covered under warranty, come in sometime in July with it and I'll sort it out free".

And the brakes ? The disks need replacing but the pads are good, so we'll wait till it needs pads as well...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I do try, honestly

Last trombone lesson of the year. "Let's have a gouter (afternoon tea) ! Anna has made some cookies, Thomas and Yannick are bringing drinks, I've made a chocolate cake, we'll start earlier at 5, is that OK ?"

Yes, that suited me because we had a Church Members' Meeting at 7, so I found some cherry jaffa cakes and a bottle of nice orangeade and off I went. Needless to say, the presence of cake attracted many spectators, including profs of percussion, piano, oboe, guitar etc. I manfully blasted through my mambo to wild applause (they liked the cake) and we played scales in chords and stuff...I suggested that next year for the open day if instead of a demonstration we do a dégustation (tasting) Renaud would have lots more pupils. It was a very nice chocolate cake.

Then quickly off to get Pat and go to the Church Members' Meeting.
A barbecue.
We took thinly sliced and marinated belly pork and a nice salad with onions, olives and stuff. I avoided most of the meat and ate a couple of small chicken drumsticks and a slice of belly pork to know if the marinade was OK. Salads otherwise. Two ladies who haven't seen me for some weeks said, "You've lost weight." They're adorable. Discussion was of what Biblical principles determine how we furnish a place of worship.

Over the meal table (not my fault) people reassured us about our pipes problem. Everyone has had it and everyone suggested means of clearing it :

1) extreme plunging. Stop up every orifice and plungs vigorously at the last one.
2) déstop. Evil caustic soda down every orifice
3) call a man with a powered plunger

there are two things that the British frankly do better, shared one friend. Wiring and plumbing.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Article from Le Figaro about the formation of the Conseil National des Evangéliques de France

Click here or read below. Thanks, Dan, for sending this.

Les protestants ne parlent plus d'une seule voix

Mots clés : ProtestantismeEvangélisme
Par Jean-Marie Guénois
14/06/2010 | Mise à jour : 23:58 Réagir

Les évangéliques créent mardi une structure nationale, indépendante de la Fédération protestante de France. 

 On savait le protestantisme français multiple et varié mais les différents appartements de sa diversité, sauf quelques exceptions, étaient jusque-là abrités sous le toit d'une seule et large maison, la Fédération protestante de France (FPF). Un bon siècle d'existence donnait à cette demeure une respectabilité unique dans le paysage public et politique français. Mardi matin, une nouvelle maison protestante s'installe dans le paysage des religions en France et va regrouper les deux tiers de la mouvance évangélique. Même si le Conseil national des évangéliques de France (CNEF) existait sur le papier depuis quelques années, il devient aujourd'hui, à Nogent-sur-Marne, par assemblée générale constitutive, une fédération à part entière.
Pour les uns, ce conseil s'inscrit «à côté» de la Fédération protestante mais pour d'autres il apparaît déjà en «concurrence». Parmi les responsables et de part et d'autre, personne ne souhaite toutefois que la minorité protestante, estimée à 2,1% de la population française (soit 1,3 million de personnes en France métropolitaine), affiche de nouvelles divisions. On admet donc, côté Fédération protestante de France, que les évangéliques se donnent une meilleure organisation, se félicitant que la multiplicité évangélique trouve là plus d'unité, tout en regrettant les «occasions manquées » de voir ce rassemblement évangélique s'épanouir au sein de la fédération historique.


On sera, en revanche, très vigilant sur la représentation vis-à-vis du pouvoir politique du protestantisme, l'une des missions classiques de la Fédération protestante de France. Côté évangélique, on revendique une «maturité acquise» mais aussi de sérieuses différences théologiques, notamment en matière d'éthique, justifiant cette singularité. Et une plus grande marge de manœuvre avec les préfectures pour négocier la création de nouvelles implantations.
Qu'est-ce qui caractérise en effet ces «évangéliques» dont les médias ont souvent parlé à l'époque de la présidence de George Bush Jr.? S'ils se démarquent aussitôt de cet amalgame entre politique et religion, ils se reconnaissent dans une même filiation qui remonte très haut dans l'histoire de la Réforme.
La première composante est liée à la notion de baptême. On ne naît pas chrétien, on le devient par adhésion - à l'âge adulte. Ce qui suppose souvent un nouveau baptême, même pour d'anciens catholiques. Et ce qui exclut le baptême systématique des nouveau-nés. Mouvance, donc, de «re-naissance» à la foi chrétienne. La deuxième composante est pentecôtiste. Elle est caractérisée par une expression spirituelle très spontanée, «sous la mouvance directe de l'Esprit saint». Et rompt avec l'interprétation rationnelle de la Bible propre aux réformés. On les accuse donc souvent de «fondamentalisme» parce qu'ils assurent «qu'il n'y a point d'erreur dans tout ce que la Bible affirme». Enfin, dernier marqueur, une volonté forte d'évangéliser, donc de convertir, d'où le reproche de «prosélytisme». «Plus des deux tiers de l'humanité doivent être encore évangélisés», stipule la «Déclaration de Lausanne», l'une des pierres fondatrices du Cnef.

400.000 personnes en France

En France, cette dynamique évangélique est essentiellement portée par les quatre piliers fondateurs du nouveau Cnef : l'Alliance évangélique française, la Fédération évangélique de France, les Assemblées de Dieu, les pentecôtistes et charismatiques. Sans entrer dans un dédale de sigles, il faut noter que les baptistes, fondateurs du Cnef, garderont une double appartenance avec la Fédération protestante. Mais que la mouvance des évangéliques tsigane, numériquement puissante (50 000 membres), n'a pas voulu entrer dans le Cnef et reste affiliée à la Fédération protestante.
Cette dynamique se lit surtout dans les statistiques. Au total, les évangéliques - environ 400.000 personnes - représentent un tiers des protestants français. Alors que les six Églises historiques de la Fédération protestante de France ont perdu 32% de leurs effectifs depuis 1959, le protestantisme français doit aujourd'hui, de facto, son maintien et sa progression relative à la seule expansion numérique des évangéliques.

Today is the anniversary of

deGaulle's famous speech broadcast from London calling the French to resist. Few people heard it, but it marked an important step and it is being commemorated this weekend.

Tomorrow there's a big open day at the air base in Mérignac and we hope to go, partly because there'll be an A380 there. We saw the first wing sail down the Dee back in Easter or 2004, was it. We've seen parts sail up the Garonne. It'll be amazing to see the bird on the tarmac.

Bit of language. French has various ways of commemorating something :

Fêter : when something is so joyful you have a party. (Eng. would probably be celebrate)
Célébrer : when you remember something, but not necessarily with a party. (again, celebrate)
Commémorer : We're getting quite solemn, now. (commemorate in Eng.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why everything is so expensive in France

Where French taxes come from :

46,76 % of French tax revenue comes from VAT.
18 % comes from income tax
12,9 % comes from tax on companies' profits

Actually though I complain constantly that so many things are so much more expensive here than in Britain, still I actually think this is a good way to run your taxes. That way people are taxed on what they spend. If you don't spend it you don't pay tax on it.

It's that time of the year again

I did earmark yesterday as the day when I would do my tax return, but the morning got swallowed up by family comings and goings and the afternoon by our friends, the JWs.

Incidentally I did like the way that in the New World Translation John the Baptist is described as being the voice in the desert saying prepare the way for Jehovah - and it is Jesus who actually comes. My friend pretended not to hear. Three times. The third time I said "and I hope you are going to reflect on why Luke quotes Isaiah as saying that Jehovah is coming and it is Jesus who arrives..." I don't want to win an argument or score points. I just want him to think. Long and hard.

Anyway - you can imagine how stressful doing your French tax return is. Especially when if you owe anything substantial you know you'll have to phone them up and ask for time to pay !

So seated at my (t)rusty laptop I prayed that the wifi would keep working and launched into the site. I tried to declare by certificate like last year but the tax website said I don't have Java, and the Java website said I do, so I thought, "forget it - I'll do the new-style declaration without certificate".

For this you don't need Java, though you do need :

a: numéro de télédéclarant (7 digits)
b: numéro fiscal (13 digits)
c: revenu fiscal de référence from last year (5 digits !)
d: strong cup of coffee

then you plough through.

Quick moment of angst. Is Gwilym in collège or lycée ? Since it's referring to last year I decided he is in collège, but next year he'll be in lycée (even though his school for last year is called a lycée. Maybe I should have said he is in lycée. You get bigger allowances for kids in lycée...)

I reach the end. It estimates the amount I have to pay.


I smile. Phew !

Parce qu'il pleut....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wahay ! Good news !

We are Brits. We don't got no id cards.
But what happens if you are spot-checked ? (contrôlé)
We are never spot-checked.
But what if a policeman wants to know who you are ?
He asks, "Who are you?" and I tell him.

Incidentally, for me one definition of freedom is being able to walk down the street in shorts and tee-shirt with nothing in your pockets at all.

Of course, the drawback is that we have no official photo-id. French friends can travel within Europe just with their id cards. We have spent 500quid on renewing the family's passports ! Photo-id is also used for backing up cheques.

Enter our photo driving licences. Very useful as a kind of id card (except not valid at border control...)

Brits here argue vehemently over whether we have to exchange our nice little British licences for a nasty big French one. One friend was told that he was too late exchanging it and he would have to take a driving test.

The consulate website says that following European directive number nnnnAAAnnAn;n Brits no longer have to exchange their driving licences at all ever ! Wahay !

Youtube and copyright

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chose promise, chose due

I told the Griffins that I'd blogue about their car.

The Griffins' arrival in France three years ago coincided with the departure of a young lady from the Bordeaux area. She had her father's old car and needed to get rid of it so she sold it to the Griffins, not for a king's ransom it must be said. It's a 1998 Peugeot 405 estate diesel, a very good car when new but it has not been new for some time now, it has seen many of France's kilometers and much better days.

In these past three years the Griffins have replaced most of its moving parts, generally out of dire necessity - the car has a very unnerving habit of suddenly going on strike and demanding reparations.

Anyway, you will realise that our dear friends are leaving Bordeaux for the UK in just a few weeks time.
We considered taking on their car as a second car.

We considered it briefly.

I didn't even get as far as phoning the insurance for a quote.

Instead Ben is going to offer it to the mechanic who has replaced almost all the moving parts. If he isn't interested then we'll try and sell it for them for whatever we can get.

Baffling, our drains

For a little while our bath, handbasin, sink and shower have had some trouble emptying. Repeated applications of evil caustic soda have alleviated the problem from time to time but have not solved it.

Today we got the spade and lifted the drain covers at the corners of the house. All seems fine there.

A friend has a power-washer which he's said I can borrow, so first I plan to look for more evil soda and possibly follow it up with very hot water. (If you hear a bang ask about my well-being...). Then once we have gotten hold of the power-washer we'll lift the BIG DRAIN COVER and power-wash the scum out.

If that fails then I know a guy who's good with drains.....

Monday, June 14, 2010

Seventy years ago in Bordeaux

Utter collapse, and great heroism.

The French government capitulates to the invading Nazis...

Meanwhile de Gaulle flees from Mérignac to London to fight on, a certain Portuguese consul, Aristide de Sousa Mendes, defies his government and writes visa after visa for those who fled, saving thousands of lives, and, Jean Moulin, another civil servant sets out on the road to resistance and death some years later in a railway carriage en route to prison camp.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

New folks at church today

A new couple in the morning. Another new couple in the evening (professional rugby player).

Meanwhile said goodbye to some more students.

Latest news on the building front

OK. Meeting in Toulouse on Thursday with responsible persons from our fellowship of churches.
The churches are very excited about the building project and very much behind it..
The proposal (eagerly accepted) is that the national union of churches buy the building using it's greater size and larger budget to enable loans to be acquired, then we occupy, adapt and rent the building at a mutually agreed rent until the building is paid for, at which time we become the owners.

It's so exciting !

Friday, June 11, 2010

Belshazzar 2

so the Pessac Jazz Band played our concert for a conference dinner

in Arcachon, in a super function room, hard to find but with a nice view out over the bassin.

I think we played better than ever before - the solos were especially good last night and people danced.
I made a video of folks dancing and when I can work out how to transfer it off my phone onto the blogue I will.

We ate during the interval - a kind of mega picnic. Mohammad brought a huge joint of roast pork. Melanie had done the basic shopping and we rounded off the feast with stewed apple in sachets.

Boy were we late getting home. I woke up to find us at Junction 13 and got dropped off on the way.

Mérignac airport has a new low-cost terminal, or, as Fiona put it, "shed"

Read about it in French here.

And yes, "malice" means malice !

Belshazzar's Feast

That 'season of odds and ends' didn't come to much. So here's Belshazzar !

Thursday, June 10, 2010

This morning's meeting and the CNEF

Something rather big is happening in terms of church relationships and representation in France. For many years the groups representing church bodies have been :

FPF (Fédération Protestante de France) which includes groups like the Eglise Réformée, the Luthériens, and which does not require adherence to a declaration of faith, but rather a charter which respects all protestant beliefs and therefore includes liberal protestant convictions.

AEF (Alliance Evangélique de France) which represented evangelicals and charismatics.

FEF (Fédération Evangélique de France) which represented evangelical and pentecostal churches and works.

Evangelicals are found in all three groups, and sometimes one church or work will belong to two or more groups. The latter two groups have a basic evangelical declaration of faith.

Recently people have felt that this must seem very confusing to the French authorities and that it would be very good to have one body which represents all evangelicals. Hence the formation in 5 days' time of the CNEF (Conseil National Evangélique de France).

On this date the AEF will cease to exist and will be subsumed into the CNEF. The FEF will still exist for doing the things it does which the CNEF will not do. The FPF does not welcome the new organisation very warmly, possibly feeling that it is an attempt to encourage evangelicals in the FPF to leave and join CNEF...

Anyway, in Bordeaux there is a group of people in charge of evangelical works,, to which I have long belonged. It invites all evangelical leaders in the city to come and to inform one another in a brotherly way of the progress of the gospel in the city.

We're turning into the local CNEF group. So while up till now someone to send out the email reminders was all the organisation we needed, now we need a little bit more (not much). We're working on it.

La répé générale

Friend Aurélien works front of house at the opera. Friend Katherine is singing the lead soprano Iphis in Jephtha. So it was that we had free tickets for the dress rehearsal last night.

Jephtha is an oratorio - I think Handel's last - but it worked as an opera last night, staged in puritan America. All was beautiful with the possible exception of the (fake) severed head gratuitously swung and I wasn't convinced by the rituals - neither the blood brothers knife stuff nor the Maurice Cerullo style twitching session. But it gave people something to do during the sinfonias.

Katherine was just perfect. A lovely blend of sweetness and vulnerability. Beautiful long notes.
Paul Agnew's Jephtha was wonderful. He sang with such calm, poise and delicacy that it made it all the more poignant. Proof that less is more.
Iestyn Davies and Anne Hallenberg and the rest of the cast were great, too.
The chorus I thought were OK. I might have liked the high voices to have been a bit brighter and less saggy. They sang with appropriate bang and slash, though ! At one entry I thought it sounded almost like a côr meibion (male voice choir). Normally French choral singing is like candy floss - very sweet and tasteful but not much body.

I was very impressed with Jane Glover's conducting. I bet she's great to work with - you could really tell what she was aiming at from the way she moved. She was also nursing the chorus well (she conducted it like an oratorio, basically...)

The staging was fine and worked basically very well, although it was obvious that the producer had little sympathy with the story really and went for paganism a bit more than was warranted. The ninja tree and stuff worked really well.

It was long ! And when I saw some of the audience yawning I thought how much stamina the cast need !

As for the music, two moments stood out for me. "Waft her", the tune, was beautifully done by Paul Agnew. High notes like dew on a spider's web. The "don't kill her" quartet was musically one of the most interesting numbers - not very baroque ! It was a great foretaste of what was coming with the later guys.

Oh, and nice trumpets.

Watching Jephtha it hit me that the story is about a Father who vows to give his only-begotten to bring peace and freedom - and of the agonising pain of his determination to fulfil that vow, promise, covenant.

How deep the Father's love for us

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure,

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers.

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished,
His dying breath has brought me life
I knoww that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom,
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer,
But this I know with all my heart,
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Bill Mounce - what's a word mean

read here

Randy Alcorn on Evangelism

Read here

but you aren't our regulars ...

"there's someone coming down the drive... it's a woman ... it's the JWs." said Pat.

"What ? But Jérôme is away this week and anyway, he always comes in the afternoon."

It was another couple who we've met before. They're Spanish and she speaks better French than he does. Really he speaks Spench or Frenish. Sometimes I can follow him but only because of the Spanish I done years ago. (Faut dire la hora, les gens suivan..) Anyway...

We sat down and talked. We talked about life in Spain under Franco. Coming to France. Them becoming JWs. The Bible in Spain and in France. Why the JWs do so well in RC countries. We compared JW and RC. We read from Romans 1 and 10, Psalm 19, Psalm 104.

I said, "if you want to come again, you come. We'll read the Bible together. I am not interested in doing the studies in the magazines, but we can read the Bible together if you want." Do pray for the Spanish couple. They're a lovely couple and remind me of dear friends in North Wales.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Christianity Explained

We've used Christianity Explored with the students this past term.

It went very well - especially he first six sessions.

However, although we got a pretty good run of six weeks going we then hit a period of exams and holidays that meant the rest of the course had a lot less momentum.

Try to add in a weekend away or a houseparty and the timing becomes very critical !

So we're thinking to cut back to the six-week beginning which was the original Christianity Explained as it came over from Australia.

Cue Michael Bennett, stage left. He on his website offers Christianity Explained in several languages, of which the French ! I contacted him. It turns out that the French version has been withdrawn from sale because the translation was not up to standard.

Monday, June 07, 2010

A season of odds and ends - This is Michael Buble singing "All of me"

Culture vultures extraordinaires !

One of the folks currently part of the English language service in the evenings is currently appearing in Jephtha at the Grand Théâtre. (I tell you, our singing's been good for a few weeks !)

Another works front of house and can have tickets for the dress rehearsal. So we're hoping to go and see it this week some time. Ninja tree and all !

Innit marvellous !

Just on the way to church when we discovered that all the water from our morning showers (upstairs) had accumulated in the bath (downstairs) together with lots of gunge. Ha ! We had to leave anyway.

On our return the waters had not much subsided so great plunging ensued, interspersed with distracting cheerful conversation with our lunch guests. To no noticeable avail.

Pat meanwhile found the "Evil Caustic Soda Granules" so just before leaving for the evening service I popped a dose down the shower outlet, accompanied by the required amounts of cold water.

The evening found us with a nice dry bath, the waters had dispersed. "Evil Caustic Soda Granules" rule. (Sorry, sewer rats)

The programme for a forthcoming concert of the PJB

1st set:
Fly me to the moon
On the street where you live
Love for sale
Blue skies
Straight ahead
Mister Zoot Suit

2nd set:
El Taco Loco
Don't get around much any more
Critical mass
All of me
Some of my best friends are the blues
Now's the time
Watch what happens
Chega de saudades
Call me irresponsible
Out of nowhere
As long as I'm singing

We'll sleep well after all that !

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Time to wake the family !

I like my early Sunday mornings - it's quiet and cool, the birds sing.
I can eat my breakfast, drink my tea and my coffee and my water, preview the day, plan quietly.

But now it's 8:45 and if we are to get everyone through the bathroom and leave the house before 10 we need to get a move on !

This morning is an introduction on the Spirit-filled marriage - Ephesians 5:22.
It's really important to think straight about marriage.
A strong backbone and wide-open arms.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Wow ! Vincent replaced the mechanism in our toilet !

We talked about it the other day at the Griffins and today at lunchtime he showed up with a mechanism in one hand and an adjustable spanner in the other.
Now we have a little button for small flushes and a big button for big ones, and no more do we need to ban the use of the flush or rush in to fix it every time a visitor uses it.

Oh that's better

If Thursday was the day of sneezing, wheezing and oozing, Friday was the day of fevers and aches. However with a dryer nose at least I was able to get stuff done. By the evening, though, I was good for nothing ! After drinking the tap dry of water I crawled off to bed.

Today I feel so different. Just as well. The day starts early with a trombone quartet rehearsal at 9h30 - I'll go along a bit early so I can do some of the practice I couldn't face doing yesterday. This was moved from yesterday evening. Just as well - last night I'd have ended up doing something uncalled for with the trombone slide, I'm sure.

Then scuttle off to Auchan to get Gwilym the safety shoes he needs for the two-week work experience he's doing at the local Peugeot garage.

Then finish off preparation for tomorrow before going down to the central park for a grand musical event staged by the town hall. Nine artistes, all unknown to me. A big apéro on the lawn. Duck and chip stands everywhere. And it looks like being a nice day, too.

Tomorrow I am preaching in the morning. Big reflections on what to do, but I have decided to continue with Ephesians because of the excellent section I am just coming up to.

Friday, June 04, 2010

"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom." Luke 12:32

Larry shared an encouraging link

and I am delighted to share it with you !

Here's two paragraphs that I especially loved. Before you click on the link, who wrote this ?

For the little birds that sing, sing of God; the beasts clamour for him; the elements dread him, the mountains echo him, the fountains and flowing waters cast their glances at him, and the grass and flowers laugh before him. 

But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinners justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. 

Oh boy...

A foul cold. I guzzled coffee all day, interspersed with a rather strange fruit juice that the students had rejected (orange, swede and carrot - guaranteed high in vitamins). I used Vick vaporub and French olbas oil (mostly lavender), but to no avail.

I said I couldn't go to the Pessac guys group - after all we meet round a small table and suck the sugar off each others' coffee spoons.

I went to the student centre and managed an hour before slinking away home again. People on the bus looked alarmedly in my direction till someone got on and started shouting rude words, helpfully distracting people from my wheezing, sneezing and oozing.

I went to the late night jazz band rehearsal and sat in a daze trying to count the beats in "Blue skies" - which last night just had me completely foxed. I didn't know if I was coming, going or been. I didn't know if I was in the loo or the barbers'. I was rewarded by the news that I have been unanimously elected onto the Conseil d'Administration. OK. It's all grist to the mill.

Apryl says I should take the salt water aerosol and spray it up my nose. I have never been so tempted by something so vile in all my life (apart from the New Year oysters, but that was just peer pressure which I resisted manfully.)

Today I feel a tiny bit better. Yesterday the world was weird and I wasn't coping. Today things have at least an air of normality.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Meeting with the JWs

It was the third time my JW friend had called. We can't meet up every week, and that may be just as well. I said I wasn't interested in playing textual ping-pong but that if we read passages together I'd be up for that. So today, after a certain amount of persuasion and persistence on my part, we got through the first two chapters of Philippians reading aloud. Meanwhile we talked about their problems with the nature of God, the person of Jesus, the personhood of the Holy Spirit. They're very open and I keep telling myself that I may be the first pastor they've ever spoken to. Certainly the young one today called me a prêtre. It'll be a different young one next time. We'll see.

We're trying to get our movements in Britain sorted out for this summer

We know certain dates:

7th July - Grove Chapel
17th July - Keswick Convention till 24th
26th July - UFM FamConf till 30th
1st August - ChristChurch Deeside
31st July - kids on camp in Tywyn till 7th August
8th August - Shrewsbury Evangelical Church

We hope to have a big family conference soon to sort it all out !

More admin, phone calls and stuff

This is to get me in form ready to do my tax return !

Just cancelled my mobile phone - I have changed number and the old one will now be no more.
Pat gets messages from the family allowance people telling her that they don't know our income for last year, and to enter it using non-existent options on their website. I phoned them and they are happy.

If this carries on I can do my tax return soon ! (I have until the 17th June)

1,20€ !

Yippeeee ! The pound is at 1,20€ and rising ! When we came to France it was 1,40€ and since then it fell to almost parity... While the whole effect of currency markets us complex and problematic, a strong pound/euro rate helps our support a lot!