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)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A stressful Saturday !

Well it's been a hassle today ! We delivered Catrin and Pat to the church at (just after) 10:30 for the kids' club (which went very well). For some reason the ring road was suddenly completely clogged, we saw two firemen's vehicles go by and a police car, then all of a sudden everything flowed again and there was no accident, no nothing. If it wasn't such a frequent event we'd think it weird.

Then Gwilym to the barbers. I was scheduled to take some folk from Pessac to Bordeaux at just before 1, so plenty of time, we arrived at the barbers' at 11. You'll have a 20 minute wait, he said. OK; No problem. I went to find some paper Catrin needs for school and failed. Got back to the barber, Gwilym was just having his hair washed. The barber was very nice, very chatty. So chatty, in fact, that the cut took 2 hours.


T W O   H O U R S !!!

By the time he'd finished the hair had started growing back !

I phoned my folk and told them I was on my way, but they said I'd arrive too late and they'd have to make other arrangements.

Oh well - home for lunch, then Gwilym went off to town to try to sort out his next batch of work experience, and I got down to work and to do some trombone practice.

A brief Thomas Quasthoff season

Thomas Quasthoff is a German baritone who was refused admission to conservatory because he is unable to learn piano. He studied voice privately and became a remarkably engaging and verstile singer. He gave up singing earlier this year because of persistent health problems. He's just a little younger than me.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I heard this in the car today and I know some of you will like it

Closure of a café

The café where we have held our Cafés Philos is closing down. In a way I am not all that surprised. It was a super little place, but tucked down a side-street and easy to find once you knew exactly where it was.

So we are moving to a different café, to the place where the Intermediate English Group have had their after-class coffee for a while. Here's some photos for you to see :

Bomb scare in Bordeaux ?

Last night after the English class I walked to the tram with my Moroccan muslim friend. We heard the tram arriving but when we got to the tram stop it was clear that something was up.
A police car was parked diagonally across the crossroads.
Police officers were moving crowd control barriers to block access to the cross roads.
A policeman came up and told us that the tram stop would not be in action for some time.

We got off the tram stop and started to walk up to the next, but a policeman directed us away from the crossroads down a side street, from where we could turn and get to the next stop.

As we went down I overheard one policeman say " un ...... suspect"...package ? car ? I wasn't sure...

Anyway we got to the next tram stop, a tram arrived and off we went.

France is on high alert after the events in Toulouse. It's very sad in such a quiet and peaceful city as this.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Extreme jobsworths

Now and again in France you come across people who practice the art of the extreme jobsworth.
It was our privilege to meet a splendid example this morning at the lycée where Catrin wants to go.
We both went to give Pat some getting about practice (her back is improved but not yet right...)

We arrived at the reception with Catrin's dossier. Up the stairs, first floor, door on the right, "Service scolaire".

Well we found the right area but no door was marked service scolaire.
Someone walked by, "Hallo, are you looking for something ?"
"Yup, service scolaire"
"It's that door, knock."

I knocked. Nothing. I knocked again. "UNE MINUTE !"

Some pupils came up. One opened the door, then shut it again quickly.
After a brief discussion between themselves they decided to come back this afternoon.

We heard various noises come from inside.
It appeared to me that someone was having a fairly animated argument on the phone.

The door opened. Two women walked out.
The first, a small elderly woman looked at us and said "Oh non !"
The second smiled. They walked off.

We waited. There were chairs. We sat.

The elderly lady came back.

"What is it ?" (Note, no bonjour... that's offically impolite)

"It's a dossier of inscription."


"The only thing is that there's a problem with the date of the exam, my daughter is supposed to be on a school trip."

She made to give the dossier back. I didn't move a muscle.

Pat said, "but the American teacher said it was possible to do it on another date..."

"Who did ? Oh well, if she wants to make personal arrangements that's her business but as far as the lycée is concerned....."

"OK. Bye bye."

I was trained in the art of the extreme jobsworth at the language school where one of the teachers was just like that. I quite admire it in a way. It's better than television, at any rate. In the bus on the way home I reminded Pat that every time Catrin is ill or there's any kind of problem it's that lady we'll have to deal with.

Invitez quelqu'un à Pâque

Dans la semaine qui vient il y a beaucoup d'activités différentes centrées sur les évènements de Pâque.

Ce samedi (31.3) il y a le Club Bonne Nouvelle pour des enfants de 4 à 12 ans.

Il y a aussi ce weekend le spectacle "Marc l'Expérience" à Pessac, Latresne et Bordeaux.

Mercredi il y a la soirée film "le Pont" au temple d'Anglade.

Jeudi la même chose à Cenon à partir de 20h30 avec le film, "Le Pont" sous-titré en français, bien sur.

Vendredi Saint, à partir de 20h un culte centré sur la croix de Jésus.

Dimanche matin Maxime Soumagnas qui prêche à Cenon, Patrick à Anglade.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

You know, what REALLY annoys me is not

so much that some people pick quarrels.

It's that I'm so ready to take up the gauntlet....

Ce qui m'énerve, ce n'est pas tellement les quelques gens qui cherchent des disputes,

ce que je suis si prêt à leur donner ce qu'ils cherchent....

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Some sad news

Two students have disappeared this year.

The first on a VERY cold night in January came out of a night club with his friend. His friend was later found wandering disoriented and in a sorry state on the railway line near Bègles. He was not found.

The second disappeared in March in similar circumstances.

Yesterday a canoeist found a body floating in the Garonne and pulled it upstream to Bordeaux where the police could recover it. Today a second body has been found in the river. One body has been identified as one of the missing students.

Terrible rumours have been going around of people being kidnapped so their organs could be harvested...

The more likely explanation has always been of simply falling in the great, big, deep, wide, tidal river.

So sad.

This is crazy Wednesday week, so here's what to pray for :

Today is calm : just lots of documents to read and reflect on, then prayer meeting tonight.

Tomorrow : Passerelle preparation in the morning. Church council afternoon. Passerelle in the evening.

Thursday : calm : Just English class in the evening, and preparation for it during the day.

Friday : the weekend is in view. Sort out Sunday properly.

Saturday afternoon - Easter Kidz Klub at the church. I'm not involved but Pat and the kids are.

We also have a Family Need - Catrin is hoping to get into Lycée François Magendie in the American section. We have to submit her dossier by Friday. To do this we need her school report for the second trimestre. Please pray it arrives soon. Also there's an entrance exam, two 250 word essays in English. I don't think this will be a huge problem, except that the exam is on 2 May when she is due to be on a school trip to Toulouse. Pray that they'll accept that she sits the exam on another day.

Stuffed in here and there, sermon prep for the Colloque. I preach evening of 10th, 11th and 12th April.
I know where I am going with the messages now, please pray for clarity and organisation of thought !

A nice restful weekend, but still tiring !

This Sunday Andrew Lytle from the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Nantes came down to preach for us. It's his third visit to the church. The first time he came and stayed while on a fact-finding tour of France before moving out here. The second time was to see the student work in more detail, and this time was to preach. It was great to have him. AM he was in Mark 8 and the evening Isaiah 6. I led the service both times, reading Psalm 16 which tied in very well with Mark 8.

At present Pat is still unwell so it meant that all the preparation of the church fell to me, and although I'd already washed the church floor on Friday (don't ask) it was covered with muddy footprints again, so I set to to wash it again. This was when my new hero Pierre showed up really early and took over the floor from me so I could sort out the wiring of the amplifier and radio mike and so on. We were a good crowd on Sunday morning with a couple of visitors passing through.

In the evening I asked one of the English church regulars a couple of questions. I've been thinking for a while that I need to do some kind of questionnaire to try to find out what role the English service is playing and what changes we could make to make things more effective. Most of our folk are students, and almost all are only in Bordeaux for a year, so we have very little time to do something that makes a difference. If anything is to be changed next September then I have to start thinking about it now so things can dovetail with the other things going on (French church and student work).

Next weekend I am preaching in Anglade. The folk there need some encouragement. We all need encouragement, don't we !

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Music for the weekend part 2

This starts with the trombone theme played by the monstrueux Christophe Sanchez. You can tell when he's about to start playing because the conductor raises his eyelids...

Music for the weekend

Thursday, March 22, 2012


We have a church in Toulouse and I also know several folk who work in student outreach or in different churches there. Our sister church is very near the flat where the gunman is holed up and the pastor there was interviewed by "Libération".

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's lunchtime !

Thanks, Tim Challies, for pointing out this article about how "Marriage is for losers"

What would we do without Tim ? Well we'd do less reading of blogs and stuff, that's for sure.

But sometimes we'd miss good stuff, like this.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A full day off

starts with seeing Gwilym away to school, then having a leisurely breakfast before taking Catrin to school.

Pat had a doctor's appointment, so we walked slowly round to the surgery and waited a very long time. The doctor talked us through things, then referred Pat for physiotherapy. We then walked slowly back and I scuttled off to get Catrin for lunch while Pat got lunch ready.

After lunch, Catrin back to school then I had to give some documents to a chap at Saige and hand back a book for Pat so I drove down to the social centre and waited for people to arrive. The sun was shining and the car was warm, and you know how it is.

Anyway they all sneaked past me while I was asleep, but thankfully I woke in time to catch people in the entrance of the place, hand over the goods then drive home. Washing on the line, then off to trombone lesson.

I am going for contre-ut (C above middle C) by June. If I achieve this then most of the classical trombone repertoire is at least within my range, including my current project - Eric Cook's Bolivar. Emmanuel says contre-ré (D above middle C) in six weeks. We'll see. I also have to master reading in tenor clef, but I think that's just a question of forcing yourself for a while...

Then got diesel (70€ to fill the tank today, when we arrived in France it was 40€ for a tankful) , got Catrin, cooked tea and took her off to her solfège class. While she was singing Clapton numbers with her theory of music class I was busy reading and greeting old friends from the music school (where I hardly ever go now, except for committee meetings !). Then home.

Now everyone's gone to bed and I am watching a DVD of Mnozil. Nutters !

Hot chocolate or medicinal red wine before bed ? I ought to have the wine but I do fancy a hot chocolate !

Conference: Neo-Calvinism and the French Revolution

The French Revolution was the scene of much intellectual and social upheaval. Its impact touched a wide range of subjects: the relationship of the church to the state, social relationships, science, literature, fashion, philosophy and theology. Although the French Revolution’s momentum was felt across Europe and North America, it met a particularly interesting response in the Netherlands, at that time the scene of a burgeoning neo-Calvinist movement. In that context, the likes of Groen van Prinsterer, Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck responded to the French Revolution’s ideals and influence in a variety of intellectual and practical ways.

This conference (at the American Church in Paris, on 23–24 August 2012) will focus on the historical and theological aspects of this neo-Calvinist response to the French Revolution.

For more information see The Bavinck Institute.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

How are we doing ?

Well Pat has spent the bulk of the day in bed. This morning she couldn't get up at all, but after taking the pills she got up and has been up and down, moving slowly round the house on and off all day.

Yesterday I couldn't get to the student Bible study and last night we had to cancel the home group. Oh well.

Today I was OK for the Chinese group and I am almost ready for tomorrow. Preaching in French from Philippians 1 : 12 - 18 am and in English from Romans 15 pm.

So we're OK. I sorted out my sock drawer and so Catrin is making a sock monkey.

Gwilym went to town looking for a new place for his work experience and returned in time to watch the Grand Slam.

All in all, OK.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Then all of a sudden chaos breaks out

Well, not quite... Patricia has a weakness in her back - an old nursing legacy - and from time to time she locks up and has to be led gently to her bed, there to lie until her anti-inflammatories and antispasmodics take effect.

And it happened this morning. Oh well. FAC Bible study postponed till next week. Home group cancelled. Suddenly Friday is quite quite different.

Pat's OK, and it's easing up slowly.  She's been able to use the loo, thankfully !

Phew !

Gwilym has a work experience to sort out. He was due to do it in a music shop in the middle of Bordeaux but sadly the shop has closed down. To arrange a new placement he needs three copies of a form. He had two spares. He asked his teacher for another copy. She said no, and photocopies are not acceptable. You must find another original (!) I thought, "Great. It's an A3 form so we can't scan it and print it." So I told him to go to the school office and ask for a form.

Anyway yesterday Pat was rooting around in some papers and found three more copies ! Wahay !

Catrin wants to go to the American Section of Lycée François Magendie next year. To do this she has to sit a test in English and also send in an application form with a letter of motivation. The application form has to be signed by the teachers from her current school and arrive by 30 March, and her current school has to request the form by email. I didn't like to say so, but I thought the chances of her current school requesting the form, sending it round the teachers and getting it in by 30 March were NIL. Forget it !

Anyway I looked on the lycée website and, lo and behold, the application form was downloadable. Hurrah ! And it only has to go to two teachers - her form teacher and her English teacher (whose English is not as good as Catrin's). So Catrin wrote her letter of motivation and we sent the form off. I think there's every chance the form will arrive in time.

Meanwhile my crazy weekend has gone all calm. Well, calmer. Half the home group can't make it after all this evening, so we'll do a reduced version.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Nineteenth wedding anniversary

Poor Patricia ! I have engagements every evening this week, then was invited to a birthday tea yesterday.
I declined so we could go out for a quick coffee and dessert while Catrin was in her solfège class.

Then - "No, let's not do that because Gwilym will come home from school to an empty house. Let's do breakfast in Ikea tomorrow morning" Me : OK.

Later - "Ah, I have a meeting tomorrow morning at 9:30. What about Wednesday ?"

Me : Wednesday I have a meeting at 10. What about Thursday ?

Pat : Thursday I have the bookshop at 9:30.

Both : OK. Next year we both take the week off, right !

This week (and looking ahead)

This week is another crazy week. Here's what's on the agenda :

Tues : prayer meeting.
Wed : conseil presbytéral then Passerelles Bible Study
Thur : English class
Fri : FAC Lunchtime Bible Study and Bordeaux South Home Group
Sat : Chinese Service
Sun : French Service, English Service.

So preparation has to be EFFICIENT. For me that means getting the passages read today and stewing away in my little heart. I generally print them out on sheets of A4, too, so I can stare at them blankly in the tram.

I am also starting to prepare seriously for three messages I have to give at a conference the week after Easter. I'm going to be surrounded by preachers from whose wellingtons I am not worthy to lick the mud. I am standing in for somone of the same stature. However I also know that they are not worthy to lick the mud from my wellingtons, either, but I still want to be well prepared and not leave everything till last minute as usual.

p.s. in industry there is a special term used for 'last minute'. They call it "Just in Time" and it is seen as a Good Thing.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Harriette reflects

Posted by Picasa

There's been a discussion at "The Gospel Coalition" about baptism

and how although we can be a  "Gospel Coalition", we can't be members of each others' churches if we have different views on baptism.

Well, except this chap : (click here) 

I feel a little article on the AECW brewing, but first I must go to the Synode of Nîmes.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Monday, March 05, 2012

French-speaking towns - ça fait penser...

Church visits 2012

Looks like it'll be 1st to 18th June.

I am getting in touch with folks even as I type.
Please feel free to get in touch with me, however !

Saturday, March 03, 2012

I know it shouldn't make any difference

but somehow the fact that liquorice is made in the shape of a famous Belgian statue of a small boy relieving himself kind of puts me off eating it.

Summer plans

We're trying to sort out our summer. We're due to come to the UK this summer and one of the things we hope to do is to attend the Aber Conference.

Anyway over the past week, fruit of discussion and reflection and lots of messages, there's the plan :

1) Get the clutch properly sorted out - somehow - so we can come back to UK un the car.

2) House-swap with a family who live near Aberystwyth. This means we can go to the conference and be near the kids' camps.

3) Also UFM FamConf. This will be good to see folk in the mission again. It's four years since we were last there.

It does mean that we're a long way from our family, but since they live all over the place anyway (South Wales, Home Counties, Shropshire) being near them is a bit of an unattainable goal !

Holiday week

This week has been schools holidays. This means not leaping out of bed at 6h30, not being governed by lunchtimes and hometimes, but having FLEXIBILITY !

This week there's also been no FAC activities. So in the Advanced English Group we invented one of our own - a March 1st meal and film. I cooked the best main course that Wales can offer (Lamb stewed with leeks, parnsips, swede and potatoes and lots of onions). Catrin made lots of Welsh Cakes. And we showed "The Englishman who went up a hill and came down a mountain." In the end we were about 11 people - just too many for our slow cooker to cope adequately - we were thankful that the kids had gone out bowling !

In addition we went to the cinema together (after the prayer meeting on Tuesday night - who had THAT bright idea) to see Sherlock Holmes in English with English subtitles. It's fine to have Robert Downey Junior and Jude Law being action heros, and Benedict Puddleduck being a geek, but I still miss a more traditional Sherlock Holmes. Still it was good to be out together as a family.

This week also saw a LONG church council meeting. There was lots to discuss but I think we made progress.

This week also saw a visit to a couple who live rather a long way from Bordeaux in the wastelands between Bordeaux and Bergerac - beautiful countryside with small towns where there is almost no Christian witness. One couple we know have settled in their local Catholic church and run Alpha courses with a sympathetic priest. Sometimes there's no alternative to travelling MILES AND MILES AND MILES to get to church.

The man who drylines walls has been drylining our church walls. I had a nice long talk with him on Friday morning - he's a muslim called Mehdi and breaks off from plasterboarding to change his trousers and shoes and rush off to the mosque. I wonder what Mehdi would ask to dryline our living-room walls ? I ought to ask him.

This weekend I am preaching at Cenon tomorrow morning in French and ion the evening in English. Must get on !