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)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Notable anniversaries in 2013 (thanks to Evanglicals Now)

Christian anniversaries in 2013

Here are some encouragements and challenges from the past.
The monk Columba sailed from Ireland, with 12 companions, and after a perilous journey landed on the island of Iona in 563. He founded a monastery there to train young men for the evangelisation of the North Picts.
The Thirty-Nine Articles, defining the position of the Church of England, were sanctioned by Convocation in 1563. Historically, all clergy in the Church of England have been required to subscribe to them.
Daniel Rowland was born in 1713, and became one of the foremost leaders in the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist movement in the 18th century. For much of his life he served as curate first to his brother and then to his own son at Llangeitho, Cardiganshire, and was such a compelling preacher that thousands flocked to hear him on Communion Sundays.
The Spanish Gospel Mission was founded in 1913. An Englishman, Percy Buffard, had been a teacher of English in Spain, and, appalled by the general ignorance of the gospel which he found there, trained as a missionary and returned to work in Spain, with the support of some friends. The Mission, and Spanish Protestant Christians, suffered persecution and considerable hardship during the Spanish Civil War and Franco era.
Operation Mobilisation organised its first summer short-term mission teams in Europe and the Middle East in 1963, involving over 2,000 people.
Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, started writing the City of God in 413, as a direct consequence of the sack of Rome in 410.
John Foxe’s Actes and Monuments, popularly known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, was first published in 1563. Many homes possessed a copy, and the book profoundly affected Elizabethan England.
John A. Robinson’s Honest to God was published by SCM Press in 1963. Robinson, who was Bishop of Woolwich, spoke of God as ‘the ground of our being’ and questioned the validity of traditional credal statements, such as that Jesus Christ ‘came down from heaven’.
The Edict of Milan, issued by the Roman Emperors Constantine and Licinius in January 313, granted religious toleration in the Roman Empire, and persecution of Christians virtually ceased.
22 Carl Henry was born in New York City in 1913, the son of German immigrants to the USA. Converted in a newspaper office, when working as a journalist, he helped to establish Fuller Theological Seminary in 1947, and was the first editor of the magazine Christianity Today founded in 1956 to be a scholarly voice for evangelical Christianity.
19 The Scottish medical missionary and explorer David Livingstone was born in 1813 at Blantyre in Lanarkshire. In the quest for unevangelised peoples, he travelled more than 30,000 miles in the continent of Africa, discovering the Victoria Falls and Lake Nyasa, and exposing the Arab slave trade.
22 August Hermann Francke was born in 1663. A leader of German Pietists and both a professor at the University of Halle and a pastor in a nearby church, he founded a famous orphanage there, which was serving over 2,000 children by the time of his death.
7 William Grimshaw died in 1763, aged 54, at Haworth in Yorkshire, where he had been minister for 21 years. Converted after he had been ordained, he preached in plain language to huge crowds in his church, despite the remoteness of the area, and also throughout Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire.
9 W.W. Borden (Borden of Yale) died, aged 25, in 1913. Despite being heir to a huge family fortune, he resolved to be a missionary to the Muslims of Gansu province, N.W. China, but died in Egypt, where he was learning Arabic, of cerebral meningitis. A report of his death was carried by most of the American national newspapers, and his biography, written by Mrs. Howard Taylor, proved inspirational. His personal Bible was found to contain the hand-written phrases, ‘No reserves, no retreats, no regrets’.
5 Soren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher, was born in 1813. In his highly introspective writing, he stressed the transcendence and otherness of God, was fiercely critical of organised religion and is remembered as referring to faith as a ‘leap in the dark’.
12 A.W. Tozer died in 1963. Largely self educated, he was a pastor in Chicago for over 30 years and had a world-wide ministry through his writings and as editor ofThe Alliance Witness. He stressed the overwhelming majesty of God and the priority of worship, and challenged the superficiality of many evangelical churches.
21 Robert Murray M’Cheyne was born in 1813. His seven-year ministry at St. Peter’s, Dundee, the quality of his spiritual life and his preaching profoundly influenced his generation and succeeding ones, despite the fact that he died at 29. He wrote the hymn, ‘When this passing world is done’.
25-26 The Baptist Union was founded in 1813 among Calvinistic Baptist churches. This was not intended to impose anything on individual independent congregations. Among its aims were to encourage support of the Indian mission of William Carey, to promote evangelism in England, to support the training of ministers and to relieve ‘aged and necessitous ministers’.
1 William Huntington, eccentric preacher and founder of a group of Calvinistic independent churches, died in 1813.
1 John Venn died at Clapham, aged 54, in 1813. As rector there, he had been closely identified with the activities of William Wilberforce, Zachary Macaulay and other members of the ‘Clapham Sect’ of political activists. He was involved in the founding and early running of the Church Missionary Society.
1 The first Wycliffe Bible Translators Summer Institute of Linguistics was held in 1963 at Pendell Camp, Merstham, Surrey.
13 Adoniram Judson arrived as a missionary in Rangoon, Burma, in 1813, his wife Ann having miscarried their first child on board ship. Although an expert linguist, it took him three years to learn the difficult Burmese language, and progress among the Buddhists was slow, but in 12 years 18 of them professed conversion and Adoniram had started translating the Bible into Burmese.
6 James Orr, Scottish theologian, died in 1913. Working in the heyday of theological liberalism, he wrote in defence of orthodox Christianity and was one of the contributors to the papers called The Fundamentals, which were issued 1909-15.
13 The Canadian W. Stanford Reid was born in 1913. His career as Presbyterian minister and professor of history at the universities of McGill and Guelph brought together church and academy. Like John Knox, whose biography he wrote, Reid was unapologetic in his defence of the gospel, and had a wide and effective influence, which continues today through the Stanford and Priscilla Reid Foundation which he and his wife established.
28 Martin Luther King led the ‘Great March on Washington’ in 1963, calling for civil and economic rights for African-Americans, and, standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, delivered his historic ‘I have a dream’ speech on racial harmony. This was widely credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act (1964) and Voting Rights Act (1965).
22 C.S. Lewis, the Oxford don who described himself as ‘the most reluctant convert in all England’ and subsequently became a notable apologist for the Christian faith and author of the ‘Narnia’ books, died in 1963.
8 Granville Waldegrave, 3rd Lord Radstock, an evangelist and preacher, died in 1913. During the 1870s, he made several visits to Russia, when there was a ‘Great Awakening’, and he built the Eccleston Hall in Belgravia, London, to be a centre of Christian activity.
9 George Campbell Morgan, Bible teacher and preacher, was born in 1863. He was minister of Westminster Chapel, London, 1904-17 and 1933-45, and a prolific writer of Bible commentaries.
30 Frederic Monod, a notable French pastor in Paris, died in 1863. Profoundly influenced when he was a student in Geneva by the Scot Robert Haldane, he started the first Sunday School in Paris and founded the Union of Free Evangelical Churches of France in 1849.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

I get to preach for three congregations this weekend !

For the Chinese this evening.
For the French tomorrow morning.
For the anglophones tomorrow evening.

Woohoo - here we go !

Looking for a Bible Reading Plan ?

The Bible Eater: A Plan for Feasting on Christ in 2013
Download here.

Here's how the Bible Eater works:

Old Testament: Read 2 to 3 chapters per day and take 4 days off per month. Read 1 to 3 designated one-sitting Old Testament books each quarter.
New Testament: Read 1 chapter per day and take 4 days off per month. One gospel is assigned to each quarter and Romans and Hebrews are assigned twice across the year.

Follow this rhythm and you will get through the entire Bible in one year.

So far, this doesn't sound a whole lot different than most other plans. So now I'll unpack some of its unique features.
Redemptive Historical Focus

Every chapter in the Bible is important since every word in the book is from God. But some chapters are more crucial for helping us understand the overall narrative of the Bible's salvation story. For example, the story of Joseph is an important demonstration of God's faithfulness to keep his promises, but God's covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12 is the very promise that forms the backdrop for Joseph's story and the rest the Old Testament as it prepares us for Christ. Or in the New Testament, for example, Paul's instructions to the Corinthian church concerning sexual immorality are crucial for a Christian sexual ethic, but Jesus' genealogy in Matthew 1 establishes the very identity of Jesus Christ as the Savior who bought our bodies with the price of his life.

By highlighting these chapters in red, the Bible Eater draws our attention to those chapters crucial to the story of Scripture. These chapters are like the frame of a house. Every part of the house is carefully placed, but these chapters hold the story together.

The Historical Redemptive highlights indicate promises, for example, of a prophet, priest, king, new exodus, or new creation to come. Others show the need for the promised Savior. New Testament highlights show the fulfillment of these expectations in Jesus Christ.

Romans and Hebrews are assigned twice, since these two books are especially helpful for seeing how the Bible's story unfolds and how the Old and New Testaments relate.

Quarterly Format
Plans that assign texts to each day have a number of advantages, including the needed reminder and help to be in the Scriptures each day. One disadvantage, at least in my experience, is that your reading can be more oriented to where you are on the calendar and less on where you are in the Bible, especially if you get behind. Getting behind, no doubt, is the reason many readers fall off the wagon, since catching up can feel overwhelming.

The Bible Eater assigns several books of the Bible to each quarter, allowing some flexibility with the pace without the discouragement that can come when your reading is a day or a few weeks behind schedule. This allows you to recalibrate several times during the year. If you get behind, get back on the wagon and catch up on your own time by the end of the quarter.

In addition, this quarterly format allows for one Gospel to be assigned to each quarter.

OT and NT Balance and One-Sitting Reads
The Old Testament is, by far, the longer side of the Bible. In my Bible the Old Testament takes up about 800 of the 1,050 total pages. There was a lot to prepare for in the coming of Christ! Given this, however, any plan for reading the Bible through in a year must grapple with the question of balance. Reading from Genesis to Revelation means the reader spends only a small part of the year in the New Testament. For that reason, most plans work through both testaments together, some of them working through the New Testament twice in order to balance the material. Many of these plans have two tracks in the Old Testament and two tracks in the New Testament. This has its advantages. But this can also mean splintered attention.

The Bible Eater works through both testaments together, going through the New Testament once, and with only one track in each side of the Bible. Normally that would mean reading as many as four chapters in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament on a given day. This is where "one-sitting reads" come in to play. By designating several Old Testament books to be read in a single sitting, and outside the daily reading rhythm, this keeps the Old Testament readings to two to three chapters per day.

In addition to thinning out the daily reading, one-sitting reads have another important advantage: they allow certain books to be read for the big picture. Multiple Old Testament books are pushing 40 chapters, or, in the case of Isaiah, almost 70 chapters. Reading these books several chapters at a time means that we inevitably lose the forest through the trees. By contrast, when we read books like Deuteronomy, Job, or Isaiah in one sitting, we're better able to grasp the overall message of the book and, hopefully, better discern how it leads us to Christ.

Enjoy the Meal
As you make plans to read the Bible in 2013, look forward with great expectancy to what God will do. His Word is living an active. It is busy. Whether you are excited to read the Bible already, or only committed in your mind, there are three great places in the Book of Psalms that will ready your affections: Psalm 1, Psalm 19, and Psalm 119. Camp out in any one of those psalms and pray for God to bless you, to rejoice your heart in him, and to conform you to the image of Christ in 2013.

You can download the plan here.

Friday, December 28, 2012


Administration ! Administration ! It's a nightmare !

I have a UK driving licence with a photocard.
It's not necessary now to exchange this for a French licence.
This is good for us because we are not permanent workers in France, we work for a UK organisation that could recall us to the UK.

However every five years you have to renew the photo on your driving licence.
No problem. The photo is already on my passport.
All I have to do is :

A) Log on to my UK Government User-id
B) Enter my passport number
C) Pay £20
D) Wait for my new licence to be delivered to UFM.

Easy-peasy !


A) I can't remember my password - or at least the password I SHOULD have used is invalid
B) The address on my driving licence is also invalid, even though the system printed it on my driving licence..

It might just be easier to swap it for a French licence...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gwilym's work experience

So the lad is going to work for four weeks in the Evangelical Movement of Wales bookshops, principally in Bryntirion, Bridgend. Some friends have offered accommodation a couple of miles away, though it is possible that WEST may have a room available. Next thing is to buy his airline and bus ticket Bordeaux - Gatwick - Bridgend.

Gwilym's eighteenth

So we pondered. A party ? So near Christmas ? What then ?

One of Gwilym's BIG ambitions in Borderaux has been to go somewhere for fish and chips. As this is NOT a cheap meal out in Bordeaux we have hummed and haed for years. So when I suggested that this could be the perfect occasion he jumped at the chance. So that's what we'll do. Probably on Friday.

Meanwhile on Christmas Eve, his eighteenth birthday, our ex-neighbour invited us for a Christmas meal, this time a fondue bourguignonne - chunks of beef that you cook at the table in a sizzling pot of oil. You eat them with bread and various sauces and I don't need to tell you how delicious it was, especially when mixed with the excitement of having extremely hot oil over a spirit stove in the middle of the table !

We were responsible for dessert, which was a raspberry meringue thing from the freezer centre. It said it would feed four to five people, but we were still eating it three days later.

A Quick Review of Christmas

Christmas activities began on 16 December with the first service at Blaye - a Christmas service - which went very well. We were encouraged by new folk attending and by support from folk from Cenon. A good start.

That evening was the English Service Christmas Meal and Message. We'd planned to hold this at the church but Mrs Davey's broken toe and back problem coupled with my bronchitis meant we moved it to our home. Again all went well and we squeezed in OK around the dining table lined up with the big white garden table. Sadly the message part of meal and message was not possible. Bronchitis oblige.

The following Friday was the French church Fête de Noël, which this time took the form of a follow-up evening for the Kids clubs that have been running in the church. The kids prepared various activities and it was good to see a number of parents and siblings at the church.

The following Sunday morning was the French church's last service before Christmas. I talked about the names Emmanuel - God with us - and Jesus - saving his people from their sins. The service was led by the youth and they did well.

Sunday evening was the last English Service before Christmas, but our numbers were down what with students voyaging. But it became a kind of carol service 'for us'.

Then on Christmas Day a varied group (sounds so much better than motley crew) met here for lunch and games. We got a leg of lamb from our local freezer centre, then discovered that they're much cheaper in Carrefour down the road. Oh well, you live and learn. I invited some folk who we'd only just met and was thrilled that they came along. Postprandial games ensued, but Pat and I were declining by this point so we lay on the sofas while the children played the role of host. We were able to watch the Queen together and I am sure everyone appreciated Her Majesty's contribution to the feast.

Yesterday we were not up to much, so the bulk of the family watched Doctor Who and Disney DVDs while I hunted down detective stories on Youtube. I had a meeting lined up with someone for the afternoon but low health meant I was unable to go. We rescheduled for Friday morning.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wake up !

OK, I have fought this long enough. I want to go to America and work in a church with a BIG BAND !

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The cherry on the cake of my crazy day

Oh yes, the bus and tram company emailed me today to say that my season ticket runs out on 31/10/2011 and please could I renew it before that date.

OK. It's like that, is it. Fine. If the world's against Alan, then Alan's against the world ! Look out !

One of THOSE days

I had to go to Cadillac for a church business meeting at 12:15 so I booked a car for 11:30.

Then this morning heard it had been brought forward an hour.
Almost changed the car booking (but forgot to click confirm)
Missed the bus to pick up the car
Wondered why the car wouldn't unlock, then realised I hadn"t confirmed the changed booking
Got the car
Got lost
Got flashed by a speed trap (I thought the limit WAS 70 ?)
Got left behind because I needed fuel
Got the car back late.

But the lunch was nice.

Joy to the world !

Monday, December 17, 2012

A little update on cars, clutches and autopartage

Well there we are : two Sundays and a mid-week expedition by Autocool so far, and so far so good.

The Bipper Teepee has covered 23k kilometres, it's almost new and it runs fine. We wouldn't buy one but it's fine for what we need. This Sunday it took us, the piano, sundry baggage and all to Blaye without any fuss whatsoever.

The Twingo was super for picking Catrin up from the theatre.

Meanwhile our Berlingo sits waiting for us to decide in January what we'll do : whether we'll just sell it and run on Autopartage or whether we'll attempt to exchange it for a little Yaris or something.

Whatever happens it means saying farewell to the Berlingo. It's been a great car. For years we had no problems whatsoever. Even now the engine starts fine and the car runs beautifully. It's easy to live with, has an enormous boot, is economical and comfortable. We'll miss it.

I have done a bit more research and there are various stories of people who have had repeated failures of the clutch thrust bearing on the HDi engines. Some on very low mileage cars. Citroën so far do not accept any responsability. It's a great pity.

Makes me think of how easily we can be talented, gifted, promising ... and yet flawed. One flaw, maybe not even a huge thing, can destroy all promise and shipwreck us.

So I went to see Pat's doctor with my chest

He's a very nice chap, but he does remind me of Louis de Funès - I am sure they must be related.

Anyway he listened to my breathing, listened to my cough, looked down my throat and then recommended :

1) inhalations of olbas oil or similar

2) a codeine based anti-tussive for when I have to talk and need to avoid coughing

3) that I consider seeing someone about sleep apnoea, because I have a very large tongue

4) that I have a colonoscopy perhaps every two or three years.

We discussed sleep apnoea first. Briefly. We discussed the prospect of a colonoscopy in more ... depth.

I said, "the thing is, Doctor, the human body has been designed with entrances and exits, and it is inadvisable to confuse them."

"yes, but with your family history".

I thought of my two sisters, both considerably my senior but neither having had a colonoscopy...

"Yes, seeing that your father died at 49."

"No ! 69, 69 !"

"Oh that's different then. You can just do the stool-test."

Christmas meal and message

Poor crocks, because of Pat's broken toe and my bronchitis we moved the English Service Meal and Message to our house.

We put two tables in a long line and managed to seat everyone comfortably.

In the end we had to forgo the talk - I was never going to project my voice enough. But we sang carols and so on.

First Service at Blaye

Well the first service seemed to go very well. We set it up with the apéro in the back room and the service in the big room. There is a strong echo, very forgiving for the musicians and a bit troublesome for readers and preacher.

Twenty-two people were there. A couple of folk I hoped would be there didn't come. All went very well.

Thanks for your prayers !

Twitter twinges

Twitter. For me it sums up the whole Internet discussion. What pros and cons !

Pros : quick communication of news. Headlines sent out swiftly. Photos. Link it with Facebook and you're sharing something quickly and easily.

Cons : strange tweets in your name advertising products you've never heard of. Ty to change your password - Byzantine complexity. And then there's all the tweets ! It's by far the biggest time-waster on the Internet !

So if you see strange updates from me advertising bizarre herbal products - it's not me, and I am working on sorting it out...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Oh well, it'll prod me into action

I've been brewing up a nice little bronchitis and not wanting to face up to it.

Two reasons - one is that I do seem to get quite a few colds and stuff, the second is that this weekend is a big weekend.

We have the first service at Blaye tomorrow morning. This time yesterday I thought we'd no chance of being ready, but now the music is printed out, the hymn sheets are virtually done - just need printing and stapling - and I know what I'm saying for the message.

Then in the evening we have the Great English Service Christmas Meal and Message. We've just moved this to our house partly because of the bronchitis and partly because of Pat's broken toe !

Anyway, on Monday I'll go and see the medecine man and see what he says. Then I'll look after myself, I promise, well, at least until next Sunday !

Friday, December 14, 2012

The fuchsia Twingo

 A theatre trip ? STARTING at 9pm ? On a Thursday ? They know what time you have to get up for school on Friday ? And how will you get home ?

So it was that we reserved the fuchsia Twingo overnight to fetch Catrin from Bègles. To get the car I had to go to Mérignac Centre, hence the photos of Mérignac's rather exuberant Christmas lights.

The fuchsia Twingo was just fine for scuttling off to the theatre to get Catrin, but I was glad it was dark when I picked it up and dropped it off !

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A coming together

So there I was, happily hurtling into town on the tram for my 14h30 meet-up.

Then suddenly : honk, honk, honk ... honk, honk THUD...

Someone turning left in their black Peugeot 206 had neither seen nor heard the tram and had pulled into its path.

Nobody was hurt, but we all had to evacuate the tram through one emergency door and continue our journey by other means.

So I walked the rest of the way and got to my rendez-vous somewhat late, but invigorated by my brisk walk !

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme !

Sherlock Holmes and quiches

Last night we held a Sherlock Holmes and quiches evening  for the students and others.
It was a nice evening with nice quiches, though I struggled to sparkle and crawled off to my bed fairly early.

Monday, December 10, 2012


So 8:30 found me at the bus stop waiting for the 4 to Pessac. I'd booked the car from 9 and got to the parking place a few minutes before. I think you pay per 15 mins, and I needed the toilet, so I asked some friendly neighbourhood JWs where the nearest loo was and went off to find it while one of them scraped the ice off the windscreen of the car. (I told you they were friendly !) Then pick up the family, deposit the kids at Cenon and bustle off to Blaye.

You sit high in a Peugeot Beepee Tipper, and the ride is kind of bouncy; it bounced happily up the motorway to Blaye and we arrived bang on time. Most folk were late. The congregation is not numerous but it's courageous and in good heart, and all geared up for the start of services in the town centre next week.

Aftewards we bounced back to Cenon. I was keeping my eye on the fuel guage because the goal is to always leave the car at least 1/4 full of fuel. Meanwhile Pat scoured the interior of the car for the card with which to buy fuel if we needed to. In vain. But we didn't need to. I later discovered that it is lodged somewhere in the elctronic gizmo in the glovebox.

After the church pie social and the time of questions and discussion and the English Service we headed back home, I dropped off the family and got the car back to its parking place by about 8:30. 8:50 bus from Pessac and home about 9.

Autocool. So far, so cool !

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Thanks, Lord !!!

I have just realised that yesterday in the church council meeting we moved from planning our preaching rota monthly for the month to come, to planning it quarterly, for the quarter to come.

I didn't suggest it.
Nobody objected.
We just went ahead and did it together without remark.

Woohoo !

Saturday, December 08, 2012

The lights of Bordeaux

I'm in meetings all day again today. Wouldn't you rather be in Spain?


The other day I left the house to hop into town for an AGM, the AGM of the student outreach. While on the bus I checked my messages and found it had been postponed by an hour.

What to do ? I know ! The Desigual shop !

Near the 1970s Meriadeck Shopping Mall there's a new Desigual shop - I don't know if Desigual are popular in the UK, but in this area there's a few "local" designer brands that people like : "64", Adishatz and Desigual. "64" is, I think, a Basque label. Adishatz is Gascon and Desigual is Catalan, centred on Barcelona.

And you can tell !

Their clothes remind me of Kaffe Fassett's knitwear, but after a very strong coffee. Ladies's coats that are a RIOT of colour, pattern and typography. Men's tweed jackets made from every tweed you can imagine. Their bags are like a herbaceous border in full bloom. Gorgeous !

I can't imagine anyone ever wearing them - well perhaps the mens' shirts, which are really nice. I suppose some of the dresses and coats would be good for weddings. Most of it would be like wearing a Salvador Dali painting !

But in the grey of winter, when the eyes crave colour, it's great !

Saturday music

Friday, December 07, 2012

We were discussing the last Big Band concert

and my saxophonist friend's ears were ringing.

"Oh yes, and you have D. the lead trombone right behind you"

"Ouais. Comme un âne. Comme un âne." (Yes. Like a donkey. Like a donkey.)

Every time I think of "comme un âne, comme un âne" it just starts me giggling...

I was very concerned

That made three consecutive Wednesdays that my JW friend had not called. I know that last time I had been a little straight about all this "That figure is figurative, that number is literal" mularky, and I had said that to imagine that Jesus had the committee in Brooklyn in mind when he spoke of the faithful servant in Matthew 24 was trumpery moonshine but it wasn't the first time we'd been straight like that.

He had taken a booklet. Maybe that's why he didn't come back. Pat and I talked about it. "Well he's certainly had a chance to hear!" That was true.

Anyway I was SO relieved when they came round on Thursday afternoon. I wasn't in, but it was good they came.

Vous êtes Québecois ?

There's a first time for everything !
I was tempted to say yes, but I confessed to being Gallois.

That means I've had Swiss, Belgian and Quebecois now.

Still waiting for the jackpot : Vous êtes Congolais ?

Sympa, Autocool !

So some time in the wee hours the decision was taken:
we would join the Autocool Car Pool Club without further hesitation or delay.

Thus it was that this morning found me traipsing down from Mériadeck to the Autocool office near the quays (the tram had broken down) where I found a very nice lady who explained everything to me.

Because I already have a tram season ticket then

1) I don't have to pay 150€ to join, the joining fee is waived

2) the monthly fee is reduced from 10€ to 8€, but there's also 20% reduction on the tram ticket,
so it costs between 1€ and 2€ a month to belong

3) we can add Pat as another driver

4) a UK driving licence is fine, though those from certain states of the USA are not

5) fuel is included in the charge for using the car - you get fuel using a special card kept in the cars

6) you can even put learner drivers on to do their conduite accompagnée

7) you can also use the similar schemes in Paris, Strasbourg, Marseille, etc. etc.

I left the office thinking that this is a very good deal, clutching my new Autocool card.

Thursday, December 06, 2012


So this morning we had a meeting with the official from the town hall to arrange the use of the rooms in the centre of town for our monthly service there. Here's some photos of the building, the entrance hall and the smaller of the two rooms we can use.

The building is the former law courts. This would be a bit off-putting in the UK, I think, but in France life is very conflictual anyway so the law-courts are seen as a place where you settle conflicts. Fairly positive, really.

It's a super situation. There are two rooms we can use; one seats 30 and the other 60. You can park opposite. There's disabled access via the rear. There's no kitchen, but apart from that it's great. Nobody else uses the building on Sunday mornings and we can have it free of charge.

Pretty good, eh ?

Aftewards on the way back to Bordeaux I had an episode with the car. I had managed every roundabout from Blaye to the Bordeaux ring road in 4th gear and I thought things were looking good for an uneventful return trip. That was when I hit the traffic jam.

What do you have to do in traffic jams ? Change in and out of first gear. What upsets our clutch more than anything ? Changing in and out of first gear.

So I had three or four of those ominous clunks with the sickening lurch of the clutch pedal that inspires so much stress. I managed to get into the inside lane ready to pull into the hard shoulder if necessary. Then the traffic got moving again so I stayed in 2nd gear as long as I could, then 4th, then got to our junction and through the lights, breathing a sigh of relief as we got into the drive.

If it's me preaching on the 16th at Blaye it's important I get there, along with the other folk I'll be taking. Anyway after a trip like that it takes me a few hours to de-stress, to calm down. Hardly conducive to preaching, really, so I think it's time to join the car-share club.

Then I can do what's necessary on the car ready to sell it - change the front tyres and clean it up. If we find we can change the car we'll get moving on that. If we can't then I'll try and find the best way to sell it.

Unemployment in France

has hit 9.9%, with 24% of under-25s unemployed.

Some Christmas music

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Athanase, Père et héros de l'église

Au temps d'Athanase ( 296 - 373 ) il y avait de féroces disputes sur l'identité de Jésus. Le chrétien aujourd'hui comprend que la Bible enseigne que Jésus est le Fils de Dieu, à la fois complètement divine mais une personne distincte du Père. Mais Athanase a vu l'église divisée entre quatre partis :

Les "arianistes", comme les témoins de Jéhovah d'aujourd'hui, disaient que le Fils a été créé le premier, semi-divine mais pas Dieu lui-même.

Les 'origenistes" disaient que Jésus n'était pas créé, mais il n'était pas exactement comme Dieu, ayant une nature similaire mais différente.

Les "nicenistes" croyaient que Jésus est le Fils de Dieu, de la même nature (le mot grec est homoousios - la même substance) que Dieu le Père. Jésus est complètement Dieu, mais il n'est pas le Père.

Les "sabellianistes" ont dit que le Père et le Fils sont la même personne dans de différents rôles, de la même façon qu'aujourd'hui un seul homme peut être papa, comptable et sportif à de différents moments de sa semaine.

Athanase a été le héros des Nicenistes. Il disait continuellement que si le Christ n'était pas divin et immortel il ne pourrait pas donner la vie éternelle à son peuple et le faire participer à la vie divine. En plus, si Jésus n'était pas complètement humain il ne pourrait pas vivre et mourir pour sauver l'homme pécheur. Pour que Jésus sauve l'humanité il faut qu'il soit à la fois Dieu et homme.

La dispute a été forte et chaude. Athanase a été exilé et rappelé cinq fois. Huit ans après sa mort, au Conseil de Constantinople, l'affaire a été réglée une fois pour tous. Le conseil a proclamé que Jésus est de la même nature que le Père - homoousios - mais en même temps pour protéger l'église de l'erreur des sabellianistes (le modalisme) le conseil a proclamé que le Fils et le Père sont de différentes personnes (hupostases).

Intéressant ! Athanase, pendant son dernier exil, habitait dans le tombeau de son père.

Citation ! "Le Jésus que je connais comme rédempteur ne peut être moins que Dieu".

Merci au "Good Book Blog" pour ce petit rappel de la vie d'Athanase.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Makes you think...

Notes finished - ready to go
In the course of my sermon from 2 Timothy at Anglade I mentioned that the best translation of the word for "preach the word" is to announce like a herald. Un héraut.

Now the congregation at Anglade is pretty canny, so you can imagine my shock when they didn't know the word héraut. Well, one man dredged it up from the depths of his memory but for most of them it was a new word. Or at least they said it was.

I thought, 'after scouring the dictionary to ensure it is le héraut and not l'héraut, I needn't have bothered !

Then I thought, well it's pretty logical. If you don't have a king why have a herald.

There may be other consequences of the word's disappearance, too.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thursday was a day for meeting up with people in the city centre

This is my office. The lady serving was a bit surprised when I was back in the afternoon meeting up with someone else. But it's a nice place to meet, comfortable with enough privacy to talk.

It was cold at lunchtime but lunch in a café is expensive so I got a sandwich from a supermarket in one of the shopping malls then sat on some steps to eat it, along with about 5 or 6 other people !

Thursday, November 29, 2012


So at the synode we discussed what we had for breakfast. I'd had a nice standard French breakfast of really nice fresh bread with super fig jam and black coffee. A colleague had had instant coffee (shudder... ) and those dry toast things...

So what do you normally have ? Qu'est-ce que tu prends d'habitude ?

Always porage. (Flocons d'avoine) Des flocons d'avoine tous les jours.

Oh, that's really nice, oatflakes. You can use them to thicken soup, too. Kwakawat. Mais c'est bon, les flocons d'avoine. On peut les ajouter aux soupes, aussi. Kwakawat.

Sorry ? Comment ?

Kwakawat. It's a brand. Kwakawat. C'est une marque.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Kids' Club, etc.

Pat's at church helping with a fortnightly Wednesday afternoon Kids' Club.

When Gwilym gets home I have to trim his hair, then we'll go off to get a replacement wood-burning stove.

I'm quite excited about this stove - it will take longer logs then our old one and the cost of the stove is less than the cost of the spare parts we needed to repair our old one (the grate burned through...) It's been a bit of a saga waiting for it to come in to our local DIY store - but it's there now and we should be able to get it (and fit it ?) this afternoon.

If I have trouble fitting it our old stove fitter said to call him and he'll come and sort it out for us.

Then we have the FAC AGM at the FacFlat in the middle of town this evening.

La prise de sang

So it's time for my annual blood test to check cholesterol, PSA, diabetes, etc. etc.

I have also had a letter to suggest I do a test for occult blood, but I have to get the doctor's signature to do that. I phoned for an appointment but she said to go straight away and I forgot to take the letter with me. Bof.

Still, she was a happy doctor. The blood test results will come this afternoon. If there's anything that needs poking around then she'll phone.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Synode Régional

I've always thought that Synod was an interesting word. If you try to understand it by breaking it down into its component parts you don't go far wrong, do you. Syn. Od. Synod.

Anyway the Synode Régional was in the charming and remote town of Rieubach, near the Mas d'Azil way down in the Ariège. Here's a few photos.

Synodes are not good places for the tummy or the wasteline as people try to present the best of their regional cuisine and also to make people feel at home. I don't know quite how this one worked out, but the first meal we had was a wonderful choucroute. The second was andouillette, but by that time I was feeling the need for lightness, so I stuck to the "salade de magret de canard" starter and let the "pigs guts sausage in a savoury onion casserole" pass me by. I did crack for a marvellously aromatic cheese that looked so innocent but had a strong element of ammonia. It was delicious spread with the local fig jam. I have paid dear for it since.

I went to the Synode as a humble pasteur associé, not in post in the church (so we can call a French pastor when the time comes) and therefore without a vote. I came back with a vote, elected to the regional committee and also to be a regional delegate on the national synod. OOPS ! A moment's inattention can have serious repercussions.

The preparation to vote on the regional committee (Commission Executive Sud-Ouest) was one of those precious moments. Our local secretary and treasurer had worked out between them that I was elgible ( = electable) but our National Secretary had arrived and he maintained that I was not. Out come the rule books. (Presbyterians will understand this.) We have a rule book that explains every situation you can possibly come across.

Page 54 Section 1 Paragraph 6 clearly said I was eligible.
Page 73 Section 7 Paragraph 9 clearly said I was not.

I went to my happy place and waited until the negotiations, discussions and interpetations were over.

After much discipline waving and page flicking it was decided. I was eligible. I was elected. There we are. I will get to know the train to Toulouse a bit better.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Best books on the Olivet discourse ?

What have you found helpful, folks?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A nice mild November and a gentle Tuesday

It really has been wonderful weather here. Especially good as we wait for a wood-stove to be delivered to Leroy-Merlin ! They said it would be there last week but it wasn't.

The afternoons are warm and sunny. The mornings have a certain nip in the air and the evening is a little chilly. We put the heating on in the evenings but really we're very comfortable.

After the excitement of a very full weekend I was pretty jiggered yesterday with a dry throat and an irritating cough. Today I have more energy so I'm back on the case with emails flying to the right, to the left and a long skype call this morning. I've also been doing a bit of planning and reflecting, not too much, just what is necessary.

We'll be writing a prayer letter soon, and for that I asked for a bit of clarification from the mission about finances and so on. I've also been ordering some books that I should have ordered a while ago. Catching up generally. This evening prayer meeting. A good Tuesday.

Monday, November 19, 2012

PJB at the Salle Galet

A video filmed by Mrs Davey on my phone - sorry for the dodgy sound !

Phew - what a weekend !

Saturday morning - Church membership class
Saturday afternoon - Conference on immigration
Saturday evening - Concert with PJB

Sunday morning - Preaching at Anglade
Sunday evening - English fellowship chez nous.

Some good news from the weekend :

1) We begin services in the centre of Blaye on 2 December

2) We also have the prospect of a monthly Bible Study in the heart of Blaye.

3) Attendance almost doubled for the English fellowship with some new folk coming along.
Some will come back. Some almost certainly won't, but we need to work out how to move back to the church.

Now I am having a quiet Monday and hoping the dryness in my throat sorts itself out !

Friday, November 16, 2012

Francis Schaeffer (Bitesize Biographies) by Mostyn Roberts

As a student in the 1980s I cut my teeth on Francis Schaeffer, reading the big classic, watching the series of films and being aware and shaped in a way by his analysis of the direction in which Western culture was going. "True Spirituality" was always my favourite Schaeffer book, and later contact with his family ensured that his influence on the scene I lived in continued.

So it's been fascinating to read Mostyn Roberts' little biography. I know Mostyn and this has added to my enjoyment - now and again his dry sense of humour comes through. It was good to place Schaeffer's formative years in context - the context of the huge battles for orthodoxy - and now as a missionary pastor in France the later battle with neo-orthodoxy is just as live an issue today as it was then. Maybe more so.

Schaeffer the man is portrayed sensitively as well as his real dependence on and need for Edith's complementary gifts and character. And just in case you were wondering, don't write this off as a trivial, superficial biography. Schaeffer's approach to apologetics is discussed, for example, explaining terms like presuppositionalism, evidentialism and plumping for Schaeffer being a "Verificationalist".

His famous struggle of 1951 is explained, though in less detail. Could anyone really go much further anyway, and what good would it do ?

Chapter 10 examines Schaeffer's teachings and gives a good overview of their basic approaches, arguing that he identified the essence of postmodernism long before the term was ever used. Chapter 11 describes his apologetics in more detail. Chapter 12 describes the films. Oh how I remember the sight of some Pope being carried over the hills in a sedan chair, followed by a goateed man in knockerbockers (How should we then live?), shown in the Geography Lecture Theatre. A final chapter discusses Schaeffer's legacy.

I enjoyed this book. I'll read it again some day. For me it plugged a character who was important in my Christian formation back into the context of 20th century Christian history. It put Schaeffer in context. And as we all know, nothing helps you understand like seeing a thing in context. Thanks Mostyn !

This sign appeared just down the road from the church

A new covered market under the flyer-over just about 50 metres from the church ! Whoopppeeeeee !

On the impossibility of mastering the French language

The more time goes on the more convinced I am that the French language does not yield. You can never master it. French will be nobody's mistress. No sir.

Just yesterday in the few little chores I had to do first thing in the morning :

1) I managed to massacre the conjugation of a fairly simple verb. An irregular verb, it's true, but no great shakes. However I messed it up good and proper.

2) I invented a past participle that does not exist. Again a straightforward verb. We are not talking about the subjunctive of paître here. An ordinary, everyday verb.

3) I fouled up a gender, making something masculine instead of feminine. La physique is Physics. Le physique is your physique.

Folks often say I have good French. That's very kind and of course I like it when people say that. It's encouraging.

But of course, the goal is to have an unremarkable French. One where it just doesn't enter people's heads whether your French is good or bad, it is just transparent. It just disappears.

However when people talk of mastering the French language I often say, "Ah non, la langue française ne se maitrise pas, même par les Français. Elle est résistante !" People generally laugh a little ruefully and agree.

Proof of Wales' status as a colonial power


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Morning chores

Yesterday being calmer it meant I could catch up on some things that had been waiting for me, like paying some cheques into the bank and paying for Catrin's singing lessons at the music school and so on. Yes.

So I sorted things out and then this morning walked over through the park to the post office and bank.

It is hard to describe how lovely this November has been so far. Last night the temperature dropped to just about 10°, in the house it stayed at about 19° all day so we didn't bother putting the heating on overnight. The grass in the park is a super green and the trees are all turning colour. Today there's a lovely blue sky and when I got in from my errands I took off my coat and jumper because it's so pleasant.

The bank was easy, the music school was understanding.
"I knew I hadn't done everything connected with Catrin's singing lessons !"
'Yes - after seeing the teacher you are supposed to come and pay.'
Doh ! So instead of ten monthly cheques it was 7 - one big one for this term, then 6 for December to June.

The Post Office was the most complicated. We wanted to send something to China. What a palaver ! Of course you are supposed to fill in a form with your address and the destination address in ball pen. But Pat had printed out the destination address from an email.
In Mandarin.

The guy looked at the address.
"You're supposed to copy that out."
I looked at him.
"You're kidding."
"We'll photocopy it and stick it on with sellotape."
I was pleased at working out that the People's Republic of China would translate as la République Populaire de Chine. It took some jiggery pokery but in the end the thing was sent.

I walked home through the park thanking God for putting us in this agreeable suburb.

The weekend ahead

Today seems so calm and normal. So far.

Anyway it's time to get on with preparation for the weekend !
It's a full one.

Friday evening - Home Group for Bordeaux Centre / South.
Saturday afternoon - Conference at the church on outreach to Muslims
Saturday evening - Concert with the Pessac Jazz Band at the Salle Galet in Pessac
Sunday morning - Preaching at Anglade
Sunday evening - English Service at our house

Better get down to it !

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Another drama over

Plumbers have been. Fixed the leak. Restored the water. Covered by insurance. Phew.

What about that then !

We got this guy coming to the church at the weekend to do an afternoon on outreach to Muslims and to preach on the Sunday.

And whaddayaknow ! He's a trombonist and his wife's a flautist !

Careful with Ryanair and Hertz

During my deputation trip in October I hired a car from Hertz via the Ryanair website.
It cost £308, which I thought was not bad considering I had almost 11000 miles to do.

However that £308 is not the cost of hiring the car from Hertz. What you actually buy is a "Voucher Credit" of £308 which you can put against the cost of hiring a car. The actual cost of hiring the car ended up being £449. That's almost half as much again.

So be careful.

Apart from that the flight was fine, the cabin crew were friendly, everything else was great.

Here's a Wednesday morning ditty

From the prayer meeting to where ....?

The prayer meeting was an interesting time, with lots of discussion about the upcoming legalisation of homosexual marriage, etc. etc. We finished early enough for everyone to get home through the November chill and left the building.

Yesterday was a glorious day. In the afternoon the lizards were basking in the sun, it was like a nice English summer's day. Not hot but pleasant, and the sun was hot.

By the evening it was chilly and I regretted dressing for afternoon and not for night. Still. I'd be home by 10 past 10; The tram came and we set off, only to break down one stop along. Technical problems as far as Hotel de Ville.

So we set off like the flock of little lambs we were to catch the bus.

First the 45 to the station. It came and took us along the right bank water front, past the white vans with their little red lights to the Pont Saint Jean with its view of the gorgeous buildings and Napoloen's Pont de Pierre. Such misery and such elegance side by side. That's the city.

The bus driver shared his opinion on why the tram had broken down. "Ils ont acheté des matos pas chers, c'est ça. Vous verrez quand le temps devient froid. Ecoutez, à Strasbourg il fait moins vingt et le tram tombe jamais en panne. A Mulhouse il fait -20 et ya jamais des pannes. Mais ici il fait 2 et l'APS marche plus. C'est des matos pas chers." Basically he reckons that the tram doesn't work in the cold because the town bought cheap stuff, whereas in colder parts of France there's never any problem.

Then at the station a short wait for the 16 to take us to Palais de Justice. I found a grid on the pavement where warm air was rising from the station tunnels. Lovely. There's the bus !

As we got to the Bourse de Travail I remembered that the Pessac bus passes near there. Should I get off and scuttle to the stop ? Decide quickly ! No, it would be a miserable place to wait. Then as we got near the Palais de Justice I saw the 10h10 number 4 going the other way. Will I NEVER trust my instincts ?

Next bus ten to eleven. That means over half an hour in the cold. I know, I'll go in the Connemara Irish Pub and get a hot chocolate.

It was nice, too, and I came out just in time to hop on the bus home.

Student and Eurotoit

So I had a meeting at 3 with a student at the town hall. We found each other - I was wearing my red jacket but he was in black, grey and jeans like everyone else. Saw a few other folk I know, too. He needed to get a Bible so we staggered off to the Maison de la Bible.

We chatted about the possibilities of making a few changes here and there, as Bethany Books has done in Shotton. Then we zoomed to the Café Cheverus where I used to do the Advanced English Classes so long ago ! (like in June...) We read together, talked and prayed.

Then off to the church to meet a roofer (Eurotoit) who might fix our leaks. ( New ceiling but the roof is leaky ! ) His proposal sounds alarmingly expensive to me, but then what do I know, and he's going to give us a quote anyway.

After he went I spent some time reading Mostyn Roberts' charming biography of Francis Shaeffer ( IV ) then got some grub to eat before the prayer meeting.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Plumbing adventure - continued

Well after a few calls to various people the man from Lyonnaise des Eaux came in his van, a young guy in his twenties, very polite and efficient. He got out a metal detector and searched for the meter. And in fact it had not been taken, it had been buried. We dug away and got at it, cleaned it out and turned off the water.

What a relief !

Interesting, though. That means our water meter has not been read for a very long time and, in my humble opinion, neither has our neighbour's - it was full of gravel and muck and I had to clean it out before turning off her water. I suggested to her last night that the meter readers had been submitting rélevés fictifs...

So now we await a visit from our plumber to sort out the leaky pipe. I hope that it is a pipe that feeds a hose buried under the lawn that rises to a tap in next door's garden. If so then we can just seal it off and have done with it, and the neighbours will be glad.

I've been trying to get that sorted for years. There is a worldwide shortage of plumbers.

Monday, November 12, 2012

OK, our neighbour's home

and what we think is our stop-cock cuts off her water...

She and her husband reckon that when the firm installed the pool they didn't touch either water meter, but she can see that one meter is missing and she understands me when I say it disappeared when the pool was installed.

They think that the builder moved it when they built the two new houses in front...

So do we have a water meter ? And if so where ? And how do we cut off our water ?

Confused ? Join the club !

Anyway tomorrow morning we'll call the water company and get them to tell us where they read our meter.

More plumbing adventures

OK, so this morning Pat said, "Can you come here a minute, Alan..." - words I always dread.

There was water flowing from a pipe covered by a kind of concrete cover just outside out back door.

I called the plumber and we tried to cut the water off.

We didn't manage to cut the water off - no tap or stop cock made any difference at all. And what is more, our water meter is not turning.

Never mind, the plumber's coming.

He came, he saw, he said "It's got me beat."

Basically until next door has their swimming pool installed there were two water meters and stop cocks at the beginning of our drive. When the pool got installed they moved one of them. Theirs, I assumed. (Fool not to check !)

Now it appears possible that they moved the wrong meter and stop cock and have, in effect, got two meters and stop-cocks on their water inlet and there's neither water meter not stop cock on our supply.

Since we pay by direct debit the same payment every month it has gone unnoticed.

Though we did get a bill to make up the difference at the end of the year...

Anyway we await the arrival of our neighbour to tell us if we have cut off her water. If so then we'll need to

1) stop the leak without cutting off our water.

2) put in a new stop-cock and water meter (at our neighbour's pool-installer's expense, we hope !)

If not then we'll have to try and work out what's happening and why !

And the next plumbing crisis !

There's some kind of leak under the kitchen window outside the house.

OK. The plumber will call later this afternoon.

Some photos of the student weekend

Some photos of the town of Maubourguet

Some photos of the premises at Maubourguet

GBU weekend

This weekend I have been the speaker on a GBU houseparty. The GBU or Groupes Bibliques Universitaires are the equivalent of the CUs in Britain.

This was a regional weekend for the GBU of Bordeaux, Toulouse and Pau, an area bigger than Wales and having more than a quarter of a million students. The region is served by one staff-worker, Julie. I was amazed at how hard she works and her enthusiasm for the student work ! At the same time she  is as tired and over-stretched as you would imagine. In addition to this, because her financial support is insufficient she's told that she ought to work part-time. Please pray. I suggested that she consider linking to a mission and widening her support-base in the UK.

Meanwhile on the weekend there were some 40 folk, happy students, being encouraged to share the gospel with their friends by reading Luke and Acts with them, being challenged to pray for their friends and to see the gospel flourish in Universities. Some super lads from Cameroon. Some fine French kids. Chinese folk throwing in their contribution. A bunch of German Erasmus students. The potential is enormous. Enormous.

There were also some 'old lads', people in their twenties and thirties who are no longer studying and not working, just not finding their way in life. One young chap dazzled me with the groups he attends - Bethel-REM, Charisma Ministries, Assemblies of God, Sacre Coeur, the Brethren, the Seventh Day Adventists. That was all in one week. "Why don't you ever come to us?" I asked, before realising that this was a stupid question on many, many levels. He's also part of the Witness Lee 'One Church' movement, so I introduced him to a friend who's part of the Brother Dong "Local Church" movement, recently thrown out of the "One Church" movement for insisting on publishing Brother Dong's own books.

Life gets complicated, don't it.

We have been in the premises of a church in Maubourguet, a small town in the Hautes-Pyrenees. The church has the most wonderful buildings with a paddock, a courtyard, lots of bedrooms, a big meeting room, a good kitchen, two and a half hours' drive from. Bordeaux and under 10 euros per head per night.
Was this what it was like in the UK in the 1930s? Small groups in the universities ? Folks battling with the errors of their day ?

The weekend went well and it was great to be amongst the youngsters, three messages, the first a quick scamper through Acts drawing principles from how we see Jesus building his church in Acts, then looking closer at Philip and the eunuch and the huge potential of one-to-one ministry, then on Sunday morning Acts 16, different folk, different experiences, same gospel, same Lord. 

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Two can play that game

ring, ring !

"Hallo, is that Mr Alan Davey ? This is Microsoft Windows Support Department."

"Oh yeah, OK, no thank you."

"Uh what happened ? what happened ? what happened ? what happened ? what happened..?"

(Alan thinks - "Crazy man..! still, if that's the game")

"are you really Microsoft ? are you really Microsoft ? are you really Microsoft ? are you really Microsoft ?"

Guy hangs up.

I must think these phone calls through.

Surely it can't be that hard to get from "Your computer is broken and we need to sell you some rubbish over the phone" to "your life is broken and you need something more radical than dodgy software to put things right..."

OK he might still put the phone down, but you never know...

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

I like these times when things go well

I hope it continues !

1) the walls have dried out after our waste water outlet catastrophe. This means we can proceed with putting up some toile de verre and painting the hall and kitchen. Yellow in the hall. Pale blue in the kitchen. Perhaps with yellow stencilling.

I wasn't at all sure that the walls were drying out but on Monday I had a really good feel and I am now sure.

2) the wood-stove needs some spare parts that amount to more than the cost of a new stove. I called our stove fitter and he said "Oh yes, at that price buy a new stove." so I just phoned the stovemonger. The website says they can get one in three weeks. OK. Not wonderful but we could cope with that. The stovemonger's man, however, said they have one coming in on Friday or Monday. Crackerjack !

The stove fitter said "You can fit the new stove yourself, you don't need me, but if you get stuck just call me and I'll sort it out for you and it won't cost much."

Then we need to put the old stove on the bon coin second hand stove site.

Our support levels - good news

I spoke to the mission on Monday and got some good news.

Earlier this year our support was in serious deficit. We peaked (troughed ?) at several thousand pounds in debt to the mission. Things were serious. We needed a large increase in support to repay the debt to the mission and to enable us to continue here. So we scheduled the June and October church visits to help meet this need - normally I do one visit of two weeks, three weekends a year. This year it was two visits like that. I began to wonder how we could continue.

Well we are now actually in the black. We are no longer in debt to the mission.

It doesn't yet mean any changes to our situation here in France - we still can't change our minds about running a car, for example, but maybe that will change in the future.

Being productive

The other day a pastor colleague was talking about how often he felt his day was unproductive, or at least that there was seldom a finished product, a concrete achievement to point to.

In the shower this morning I was thinking over his remarks and how I NEVER feel like that. On the contrary, one of the things I LOVE about being a missionary pastor is how frequently there is a result ! Maybe my previous work experience has something to do with it.

I was telling someone else the other day that I have been positively vetted and signed the Official Secrets Act. It was way back in the 1980s when I had a brief but glorious time as an Assembly Language programmer doing extensions to system software for a military application. I had three months to write a subroutine that told you if a computer user had pressed a key. Three months. To get one little piece of code working and integrated into the operating system. And it took all of those three months, I can tell you.

Most days I went home having done almost nothing tangible whatsoever. My program had run a bit further, I had sent data through different paths, I had pored over a hexadecimal debug listing for hours to prove that my subroutine worked.

It was like combing a wooly mammoth for nits.

Contrast this with the elation I have felt these past few days over :

linking up a brother with a church in a town far from here
seeing a lady come to church who was furious with lots of us last week
meeting with a lady for the first time who wants to know the gospel
sorting out an afternoon conference on reaching immigrants with the gospel
planning a student houseparty

Almost all these things are small things, but every one has potentially HUGE implications !

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

I'm so excited ... and daunted

This weekend I am speaking at a CU houseparty for the Bordeaux and Toulouse CUs.

The thème is "to the ends of the earth, beginning with my mates",

with the subtitle "and if it were possible to share my faith...."

I have two sessions and one sermon, from Acts 1 - 12.

Wouhou ! Help me to handle this brilliant opportunity, please !

Rhapsody for Trombone and Brass Band - Gordon Langford

Cleaning up a crashed Jaguar

See here how folks have recently been cleaning up a famous crashed Jaguar in Bordeaux.

The wood-stove

Some time ago, at the end of the wood-burning season, some parts of our wood-stove broke : the glass in the door and the grill on which you place the logs to burn.

So some time ago, as the beginning of the wood-burning season waved from the distant pages of the calendar, I went to the store where we bought the stove, armed with a photograph of the serial number from the back of the stove and asked about spare parts.

I'll ring the company and get back to you tomorrow.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow crept.

No phone call came. I phoned the guy who installed the stove. "They'll get back to you, they will."

I left on deputation. I returned. Still no call. I phoned.

"Oh yes, sorry, I have been ill. I'll phone them and get back to you."

Yeah yeah.

So I phoned two days later.

"Yes, I rang the company and the parts are available."

"Great ! How much ?"

"You want to know how much ? I'll have to phone."

A couple of days later I phoned again. This time a chap.

"Hi, I'm Michel. You want to know how much ? OK, I'll ring them and get back to you."

We went to Paris to the UFM Conference. We came back. I thought I'd have to go to the store again, but to say what ?

Then yesterday, oh day of marvels !

"Hallo Mr Davey Alan, it's Michel here, the spare parts come to..."

"OK, if it's that much I'll talk to the man who installed the stove because you have a whole new stove in the store for less than that."


Friday, November 02, 2012

Christ and the desert tabernacle - a review

I've never been in a church where people spend long months preaching on all the forgotten details of the tabernacle and what they really mean - the number and fabrication of the hooks, etc... So when there was the possibility of reading and reviewing this book I was a little apprehensive. Would I get submerged in all sorts of abstruse details and give up half-way through or something ?

Well I didn't. I should have had more confidence in Doctor Fesko and in Evangelical Press !

Instead what I got was a book that took the shortest route possible from the tabernacle to the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking of the big issues in a very helpful way.

Dr Fesko has such a simple way of writing that the book is quite surprising. You think that it's at a very elementary level and suddenly you realise that actually you have covered a lot of ground and he's said some very helpful and profound things. I spent a happy while on the TGV from Paris thinking about the relationship between the garden of Eden, the tabernacle, the temple and the whole creation, all the while looking out on French blue skies.

The book is based on a sermon series and you get a lot of 'we should'. I'd prefer to be spoken to directly, but the style is easy to read and to understand.

And the reader is led to Jesus. What could be better or more worthwhile than that ? Thanks, J.V. !

Christ and the desert tabernacle is by J. V.Fesko and published by Evangelical Press.

Paris !

We took a Batobus - a circular tour boat that you can hop on and off - to see the main sights, and we were also able to meet up with Carol and Christina Foucachon - the cherry on the cake !.

Paris !

After the conference we moved from a northern suburb to a western suburb, to Louveciennes.

Thanks to the generosity and hospitality of some friends we spent a cuple of days seeing Paris.


The Paris suburbs are not at all as I imagined them. Here's the place where our conference was.

Paris !

So we had to go to a meeting of the MPEF ( UFM in France ) in Paris. Or at least in a suburb of Paris called Ecouen.

To get there we took the train from Pessac Alouette to Bordeaux, the TGV from Bordeaux to Montparnasse, then two buses from Montparnasse to the Gare du Nord, then a very psychedelically decorated train to Ecouen. We passed through Saint-Denis which exceeded its reputation, but I didn't take any photos.

Here's some photos of the journey, though.

We saw a Starbucks, a chain of coffee shops that has excited a profound devotion in Gwilym, so we blew over 10 euros on just three drinks. Let's hope they never get to Bordeaux !

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Trouble at the station

We have to go to Paris soon, and I bought the railway tickets online at great cost some weeks ago. Today I thought I had better get them so I hauled myself off to the station.

The routine is simple - you stick the card with which you paid for the tickets in a slot in a big yellow machine and it prints off your tickets. Easy !


It said "We can't accept that card." I looked at the card, wiped it and tried again.

No. No and thrice no.

That's when I took fright. You see, I have two bank accounts. One is the family account that we use for paying for food and clothing and housing and all the stuff one needs to live. The other is for paying work expenses, like tickets to Paris etc... And for one of my bank accounts recently I received a new card. But which one ? And which card did I cut up ? And do I still have the card with which I bought the tickets ?

I went to see the lady at the counter.

"Big problem. We can't do nothing. You'll just have to get those tickets reimbursed and buy new ones for 200 euros more. It's not us. It's the banks. We can't do nothing about it".

I stared at my card again. But this LOOKS like the right one...

"Give it to me and let's try it.... Yes... There we are... It's fine... Put your code in..."

So why didn't it work in the machine ?

"Oh that machine is on the blink!"

Epic cymbals !

Friday, October 26, 2012

Back to Bordeaux

It's been so good to get back to the family.

Good, too, to get back to seeing folk, talking things through, listening to where folk are coming from.

Hard to get down to preparation, though ! But I'll get there !

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The laughing ducks of the Parc Bordelais

I met someone for a chat today at the Parc Bordelais.
(Sometimes being a pastor in France is a bit like being a spy.
We meet people in deserted parks by closed down cafés.)

Anyway, I was enchanted by one particular duck who had a very raucous belly laugh.

Haugh haugh haugh haugh haugh haugh haugh haugh haugh !

When my companion scuttled off into the bushes to attend to a call of nature
I amused the duck with some hilarious jokes, which he greatly appreciated.
Haugh haugh haugh haugh haugh !

Wonderful !

Vous êtes Gallois, non ?

I staggered over to the local Carrefour for coffee, bread and stuff.
(The breadmaker has yielded up the spirit. That's less than a year but we can't find the receipt. Marvellous...)
Anyway, on the way back I stumbled into the newsagents to scan the rags and the chappie saw me and said "You're Welsh aren't you?"
"Yup", quoth I.
"My son's just been to Cardiff."
"Well that's my city !"
"He was in the suburb of - darling, what suburb was junior in...?"
He phoned junior...
"Deenas Pooees. They visited the Millenium Stadium, Beeg Peet, they had a whale of a time" (ils se sont régalés)
"Dinas Powys ! It's not where I lived but I know it."

It's one of the great advantages of shopping locally.
I felt so full of goodwill afterwards that I thought I really ought to buy a magazine or something,
but hey, two euros is two euros...
Takes a considerable heap of goodwill to squander two euros on a magazine !

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Le pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas

Hitherto known as the Pont BaBa (Bacalan-Bastide).

Placing the centre part of the bridge - an elevator bridge which winches up the central part to allow ships to pass underneath. Watch the video here.

Giving online

I was looking for the contact details of our Mission Finance folk this morning and noticed for the first time that it is now possible to give to our work in France online.

Cool, eh ? Here's the link.


Visits to churches

One drawback of autumn is that often when you arrive at a church it's already dark and you can't really take a photo of the church building. I am more and more hesitant, too, to put photos of people on the site.

However one of the interesting things is the range of churches that I saw - from multi-hundred congregations to prayer meetings of fewer than ten people, from large modern buildings to groups that meet in schools, from multi-worker teams to one guy working away diligently. All very fascinating and heartening.

Heartening, too, the initiative being taken by two churches who want to begin a real relationship with us, to serve God in fellowship together, to maybe send folks out to help as they can, to keep in touch regularly, to have a real sense of partnership. 

Above the clouds the sun shines and the sky is blue

The lower photo shows the Gironde estuary as it flows into the Bay of Biscay.

Between Darlington and Otley

I called at Ripon to cast a glance over things.


Usually my quick lunch place of choice is Subway, but I had been put off by a huge difference in price between exactly the same sandwich at the White Rose Centre and at Exscape. Not only that but I had wanted to take some hosts out to lunch and we found a Wetherspoons very useful and good value. So I scuttled off to find the Durham Wetherspoons, hidden under a Nando's in a modern precinct by the library near a statue of Cuthbert's pall-bearers.