les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Friday, September 30, 2011

At the airport

I am off to Lyon to visit the church at Grenoble. This tea isn't as ghastly as it looks and the bottle is strong,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thanks to Mez for this link about Community-Shaped Discipleship

Read it here.

Struck by this the other day...

Philippians 4:2 - 5
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord... Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

English classes

In the FAC free English classes I take the advanced group. They're a fine bunch of folk and very good at English. And I made the rash mistake of asking them what they'd like to see in the coming year. The reply included a survey of English literature.

Hmm. They know that my degree was in Biology and I worked in computers before becoming a pastor ?

So one of this morning's big tasks was to get on Google and look for surveys of English Literature and syllabuses for GCSE or A Level. They don't want to study texts in depth - just to get an overview and maybe find authors that are to their taste.

Well syllabuses were no good whatsoever, but Wikipedia seems to be my best friend, followed by some American universities that put overviews of literature in iTunes.

Today is a quiet sensible day

Only meetings are student prayer meeting at 18h followed by church prayer meeting at 19h30.
I shall not catch up on sleep ! I shall catch up on emails and preparation !

Monday, September 26, 2011

Une histoire incroyable...

20 Minutes Carla Bruni raconte aussi comment elle a été séduite par les connaissances botaniques de Nicolas Sarkozy: «J'ai été vraiment impressionnée, vous savez. On marchait dans les jardins de l'Elysée, et il m'expliquait tout sur les tulipes et les roses et je me disais: 'M** D***, mais il faut que j'épouse cet homme. C'est le chef de l'Etat et il sait tout sur les fleurs également. C'est incroyable'».

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thinking about suicides

From time to time there are scandals in France about spates of suicides, usually in the big companies like EDF or Orange, but this time in the Paris police. People quite rightly try to work out why folks are driven to suicide, looking at conditions of work, the practice of moving people round the country at short notice, injustice in the workplace, etc...

I wonder whether we ought to look deeper. 

People are increasingly taught that life is an accident, that the world is going nowhere except destruction (the big crunch ?), that there's no story in history and that there's no meaning to any individual life.

Meanwhile people live in dysfunctional families with financial insecurity, sometimes health concerns and the promise of a late retirement made up of money worries. As one pastoral colleague says, "at least the food is good !" but what about when a nice cheese is no longer sufficient reward for the hassle of life ?

Well if life loses its savour and means nothing anyway - isn't it logical to end it ?

The Christian knows that life has meaning, my story is part of a bigger story that means that history has a meaning, a purpose and a goal. Makes life worth living ! 

Pas d'souci... j'espère !

Friends who follow our children on Facebook may be alarmed to read that Catrin is taking "sedatives". Let me explain. A couple of nights ago Catrin had trouble getting off to sleep - resulting in headaches, fatigue etc. So Pat went to the local pharmacy to ask for something herbal to help her sleep and came back with something that says it's for anxieties, stress etc... Herbal sedatives. That's all. ... I think. ... I hope !

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Metaxas on Bonhoeffer

The book is doing my head in. Mainly it's the style, but also certain things just baffle me till I do a good hunt.

Style ? Well for example what is the point of writing "the vampiric homunculus, Joseph Goebbels" ? What is that supposed to convey, anyway ? We kinda guessed that Eric wasn't a fan of Joseph's anyway.

Then speaking of Frank Buchman of the evangelical "Oxford Movement". Uh ? Eventually Wikipedia was called to my help. Yes, I wasn't wrong, the Oxford Movement was the 19th century Anglo-Catholics, John Henry Newman and all. Frank Buchman was the founder of the Oxford Group in the 1920s and 30s.

They'll be queueing up to kill me for this..

Fac Mission week is over

It was a good time with lots of contacts made in various ways. A good start to the year.

Now it's meeting time for the rest of the week.

Today : Conseil Presbytéral

Tomorrow : MPEF AGM

Friday : CNEF Gironde CA am and Maison de la Bible CA pm.

Saturday : Day of prayer and also Conseil Presbytéral meeting with Dutch mission GZB.

Morning rendezvous

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L'Aula Magna

the main Law lecture theatre is too small so they have to run the same courses twice a day.
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Madame Elizabeth Gaillard

came from Paris to help us
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Pastor Tom Forryan

of Derby Road, Watford, came to help us.
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The campus

looking like a scene from a science-fiction film.

For inscription week the university had very kindly provided deck-chairs which were very useful at lunchtime.
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Poussez ! Poussez !

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Caution - FAC team meeting

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Family logistics

The logistics of today are already falling apart.

My 8:30 phone call and my urgent phone call in 10 mins have not happened and I am not clear how the children will be in Caudéran for the Open Doors day while Pat and I will be in Cenon for the FAC mission Irish Evening, with the car.

Well actually the question is more how everyone will get home.

Meanwhile I discovered a new Black Trouser Crisis - my favourite pair has developed a big hole just where my phone rubs against the pocket.

BOF ! Oh come on, it'll all be fine.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My family find it amusing

that I don't use shower-gel or soap - I just shampoo all over.

Head and shoulders, knees and toes.

Metaxas on Bonhoeffer

I mentioned that I'm reading the Metaxas biography of Bonhoeffer, and that I am hoping for ripping yarns etc. I also mentioned that the style sometimes drives me nuts (marmoreally memorialised...)

But I'm not just reading it for style and story, but also to try and understand something about the difference I see in US and UK Evangelicalism such as I live it. In the US the list of guys who are seen as card-carryin' Bible-preachin' evangelicals is a bit different from the UK's.

For example C S Lewis. I mean, he was Anglo-Catholic. Strongly so. Did he identify with the Bible-preaching evangelical ministries of his day ? Why would Bible-preaching evangelical ministires today identify with him ? He's Anglo-Catholic. His books are useful but with that proviso.

And Bonhoeffer ? Well he was theologically Barthian. So why the eager appropriation into the ranks of those whom he didn't espouse in life ?

It's questions like these that I thought might get answered by Metaxas' biography.

However, the book raises other, huge questions about the way we think today :

For example Bonhoeffer's Christian upbringing is described.

"the Bonhoeffers rarely went to church.... The family was not anticlerical... but their Christianity was mostly of the homegrown variety." His mother "was a woman who was serious about her faith and hired governesses who were serious about it"

Because I have the Kindle edition I can't cut and paste passages to quote, but the impression is given of a devout Christian family which went to church only for baptisms, weddings and funerals, not even Christmas and Easter...

Now the questions that raises for me are these :
In what sense is someone a Christian who almost never attends church ?
What is this Christian faith that leads one to separate oneself from any confessing community, from the people of God ?
Is this anything like what we see in the Bible, where God calls a people together ?
Have we gone so far from a Bible definition of what is and isn't a Christian ?
Have we so completely lost the plot ?

A friend more travelled than I says "Yes, Alan. It's that bad."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Well I wouldn't have believed it possible...

I had a list of things to do as long as my arm, and I think that as the day draws peacefully to close, I am on schedule to sort all out by lunchtime tomorrow when the Student Mission team hits town and lists of things to do become things of the past...

This included a nice two hour Skype call with a brother working in the esat of France. A blest day really.

Oh, and Pat has become Parent Representative on the Conseil de Classe for Catrin's class. Thanks for praying.

Culte de rentrée at Château Segonzac

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Friday, September 09, 2011

Belle Bordeaux

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Request for prayer

Catrin's school just phoned to ask if Patricia would be the class parent representative.

It's a great vote of confidence in her, but hmm. is it a good idea...

Wisdom please.

La rentrée rolls on

The info that came from Gwilym's school was a bit vague about certain things - we have to make a parental contribution to his school of 720 euros, but can we pay that in ten monthly instalments ? Nothing said we could. So I was reluctant to just send them the direct debit form without knowing what they'd do with it.

I tried phoning. Oh boy, how I tried phoning. But the phone was never answered. Never.

Then there was chaos about the canteen. That costs nearly 800 euros for the year. Working it out showed that the meals which, by and large, our children don't eat would cost a lot of money each. We decided to send him with sandwiches - a thing almost unknown and unthinkable in France. Hey, we're not here so everything stays the same !

But when they handed out the canteen cards to the kids having school meals they gave one to Gwilym. He thought it was wonderful, ate his sandwiches and then went off looking for chips. "You've paid for it", he said, no doubt echoing the words of his teacher. No we haven't. Give the card back.

So off to the economat I went. Firstly my son is not demi-pensionnaire. OK, easily done - he changed one thing on the computer and it was done. If I pay with prélèvement automatique is that monthly ? "Yes, over ten months."

Perfect. It's so much better when you see the person face to face.

I also had the certificat de radiation to give in to the secretary. "The lycée pro has no secretary at the moment", said the receptionist.

That explains all those unanswered phone calls.

I so love Bordeaux

After a crazy hour helping at the music school with inscriptions for saxophone and piano (I was very good and did not try to persuade people to do trombone instead) I met up with the stalwarts of the advanced English group in the Cheverus café. Pat had said to eat there so that was a unique treat. We met up for a review of last year and to put together a wish list for this coming year. Thanks, guys, for your feedback.

Bordeaux was buzzin'. For some of the students it's the first Thursday evening of the academic year, and Thursday evening is when everyone goes into town to frequent the bars etc.

At Saint-Nicolas the tram was assaulted by a gang of ticket inspectors - they block all the doors and won't let you off without wither a valid ticket or a notice of fine. "C'est moche", said one large fellow as LOTS of people charged down the tram to try to get away from the inspectors - they tried in vain.

The lady sitting next to me was amazed. "So many people don't pay !" I told her about my God-fearing friend who appeared to sincerely believe that public transport in Bordeaux is free in the evenings, then said I could vouch for her having a ticket and she for me !

At Victoire a swarthy gentleman unsteadily holding a bottle of beer, not his first, I think, started yelling obscenities at the nearest inspector - a BIG BLOKE. The inspector ignored him, then told him to shut up, then started shouting obscenities back, then got off the tram to sort him out. After his colleagues and the drunk's friends intervened the inspectors got back on the tram and we carried on our journey, but they never checked our tickets. The moment had passed, somehow.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

"marmoreally memorialised"

I just can't get those words out of my head...

Start of term drives you nuts !

SMS from son : We've paid for the canteen - they've given me a card.

SMS to son : We haven't paid for anything yet and the canteen is too dear ! I didn't tick that box. Give the card back.

So it was that I scuttled off to the school to continue (complete ?) the long process of enrolling Gwilym, giving over his certificate of radiation and the direct debit mandate and ensuring that he isn't down as eating in the canteen. I discovered that the Lycée Pro where Gwilym is has no secretary at the moment, which might explain things, like the fact that I have spent ages listening to the phone ring.

Ah non ! Il faut un justificatif de domicile, quand même !

I tried to sign up for something. The sign outside the office said you needed a "justificatif de domicile". This is French for an electric or gas bill. You always need a justificatif de domicile for everything you try and do, but I had forgotten again and the sign was inappropriately placed outside the office instead of inside our front door. So I didn't have one.

I said, "I don't have my justificatif de domicile."

Oh well, then we can do nothing !

Yes, but I am in the phone book and it has my address.

Oh no, you need a justificatif de domicile !

Look, here's my cheque book and it has my address on it...

Oh no, you need a justificatif de domicile. You have ten days to come back with your justifcatic de domicile.

Oh well, I tried...

On prose style, British and American

I've started reading the Metaxas biography of Bonhoeffer because it was cheap on Kindle, I can read Kindle books on my phone and on my PC, and I thought it would be a ripping yarn and well-written.

So far I haven't got to any ripping yarn passages but I don't doubt for an instant that it's well-written.

And yet the prose style.

Well of course American authors don't read Fowler - how could ardent rebels read "The King's English" - but I should have thought they would read Hemingway ? How did UK and US ideas of prose style come to differ so widely ?

Here's a couple of examples (talking of Bonhoeffer's important family) -

"Their importance and influence may also be seen in the Michaelskirche (St. Michael's Church) where the Bonhöffers are marmoreally and otherwise memorialized in baroque and rococo sculptures and epitaphs."

marmoreally and otherwise memorialized - is it a tongue-twister competition ? an attempt to conceal the sense ? an exercise in alliterative poetry ?

And another :

"But the welter of wonderfulness that was their heritage seems to have been a boon, one that buoyed them up so that each child seems not only to have stood on the shoulders of giants but also to have danced on them."

welter of wonderfulness ? I looked up welter in the dictionary to try to decide in what sense it was being used here and I remain baffled.

And can one say wonderfulness ? Should one ? Why would one ? And what about beautifulness ? Would that be OK ?

Please don't read this as a criticism of Metaxas' style or of the book. Metaxas' style is impeccable and the book is wonderful.

But this welter of wonderfulness is in US prose-style and it's foreign to me and seems heavy, awkward, clumsy even.

To a British ear !

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Rose-hip jam !

Wish I'd bought some to try, but I was a bit scared, really, and I didn't have a dictionary with me to look up "cynorrhodon".
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She's very good at going nuts

Monday, September 05, 2011

Well-said, that man.


Filling the pool

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The team thanked

One of the things the Ebe team did was to clear a Youth Space in the warehouse at the back. The space then was used to put the baptism pool in. We did think of putting the pool in the courtyard, also cleared out by the team (and swept, swept and swept again by Roger). Glad we didn't do that because it rained very heavily during the baptism service.

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Four Chinese students baptised

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La rentrée

Catrin went back to school last Friday - just for two hours. Her school is abnormally keen, so this year she'll have an exam every Friday and she started school earlier than anyone else.

Gwilym goes back to school today, but to a new school. He takes this in his stride, but it stresses us out ! It's a school where you have to pay a parental contribution, but I am not sure if I sent the direct debit form back or not. And I want to pay monthly and I can't find anywhere that says that's allowed. And I have his "certificate of radiation" from his old school that in theory they're supposed to receive before accepting him but it only came Saturday. And the school canteen is amazingly expensive and they often have squid or chicken gizzards so we want to send him with sandwiches but is this allowed and even if not can he get away with it anyway.


Watch out for muesli

I am referring, of course, to the great muesli fraud.

When muesli was first introduced to Britain commercially (I don't mean the first wave of muesli brought in by Lloyd-Jones, I mean the commercialisation) we were told that because muesli is so full of good things - cereals, dried fruit, dried milk, nuts, sugar, salt etc - you only need to eat a tablespoonful for a complete nourishing breakfast.

Ha ! Maybe, but for a satisfying breakfast you need more than a tablespoonful of seeds and a splash of milk. You need bulk.

So we ate more and more museli until in the end we were filling out weetibang bowls with heaps of muesli, and taking in enough calories for a week.

Nowadays, of course, they've changed their tune. The standard dose for cereals is now not by volume. It's by weight. 40g. 40g of museli gives you all you need, together with 5 ml of skimmed milk.

Yes, but how many of you weigh your cereals in the morning ? Exactly. Nobody.

We measure out our cereals by volume and this morning, just for interest, I weighed out 40g of muesli.

It's a tablespoonful.

Banana porage. That's the stuff. You know where you are with porage !

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Hoooooo hoo hooooooooooo

All night. I mean ALL NIGHT !

Owls. Hooting round and round our garden.

I suspect they are eyeing up the guinea pigs.

I hope they shut up tonight !

Friday, September 02, 2011

Saint Emilion

So the team was dropped off in Saint Emilion by Roger the chauffeur, and he went off to park the car.

It was at that moment that the thunderstorm struck, the heavens opened and the sky fell on their heads.

So Roger, after running through the rain to find the team then sheltering for a while to watch the hailstones, ran back through the rain to get the car and Saint-Emilion had done its worst.

It always used to rain when we went to Saint Emilion - at least for the first few times.
Then it got over it. We've even seen sunshine there in more recent years.


starts school today.

Well, nothing enormous. Just a couple of hours 14h30 to 16h30 to get her timetable, her textbooks and to do a quick examination to see how much of last year's maths she remembers after the summer break.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

It's raining on the patio - THUNDERSTORM

so I am sitting very quietly eating my breakfast and doing my diary at the dining table.
The slumbering German giant on the sofa slumbers on.

Today the Mold team planned to take the day off IF the weather was good.
It isn't !
However they'll have to persevere without me as I have a meeting this morning to plan the Chinese ministry, and early afternoon I am on airport taxi duty.

It's been a summer of coming and going at the Davey house - tents in the garden, blokes in the study and on the sofa - but today Hostel Pérès closes. We have one guy coming during the FAC mission but apart from that it's a family home again.
Not only that but Catrin starts school tomorrow.
Then Gwilym on Monday.
Then it WILL be quiet !

The presence of the Mold team has been a great encouragement for the church-folk here, and the meeting-room will certainly look a lot different once they've finished. I have a finishing touch planned, too, which I think we can pull off.