Showing posts from September, 2012

On peut trop pousser, quand même

On the tram opposite where I was sat a block of four seats was occupied by three chaps, one sat diagonally on his bench. I like to sit like that, too, but as the tram filled up I thought 'Yes, but surely he'll straighten up and let someone sit beside him.' Then I looked again. He HAD to sit diagonally. His thighs were too long to fit straight between the facing seats. I thought, 'Wow - how tall is that guy?' I soon found out. He got off at a stop and as he stood I and the lady opposite me watched his head as it approached the tram roof. He had to stoop to get through the joints between the carriages. He had to stoop to get out of the tram door. He walked down the road, stooped. The lady looked at me. I looked at her. "C'est la prochaine génération, ils seront tous comme ça." "Ben ouais, mais on peut trop pousser, quand même..."

Le groupe Chinois

"Pass me some serviettes". "Ah yes", I thought, as the Chinese group said goodbye to Sharon and Sen. Next week it will be goodbye to Andy. Talk about catharsis ! We cried like babies. (Well, in fact the only one not crying was the baby, who was very contented.) Sharon, Sen, Andy, we all know it's just for a while, but we sure will miss you guys.

Please pray for this weekend

Preaching for Chinese on Saturday evening - Mark 9 - Glory on the heights, glory in the depths Preaching in French at Anglade Sunday am - 2 Tim - A model to rely on and to pass on Leading in English at Cenon Sunday pm - trying out "Tales of the Unexpected". Thanks for praying !

Alabamy bound !


Some of this week's photos

 Some products in the supermarket appeal more than others.

Photos at bus stops and through the front window of the church building


Car reflections

Phew. I have got over Wednesday's little crise de nerfs about the car. Partly, it has to be said, because I have not gone near the thing since ! Anyway, we won't decide anything in a rush. We'll talk it through with the powers that be, with the wise men, and stuff. I'll ring a few garages and see if anyone fancies having a go at solving the clutch problem properly. We'll see.


It's a good job I believe in belonging to things. Because I am a Pasteur Associé (missionary pastor) and church member I belong to the UNEPREF. I am also an elder in our church in North Wales, so I belong to the AECW. I also belong to MPEF, which is our mission's identity in France. But also because I belong to MPEF I am also a member of the Réseau FEF. FEF and MPEF belong to the CNEF. The UNEPREF belongs to the FPF. And our mission is of course UFM. So that makes, in alphabetical order : AECW - Associating Evangelical Churches of Wales CNEF - Conseil National des Evangéliques de France Réseau FEF - Réseau Fraternel Evangélique Français FPF - Fédération Protestante de France MPEF - Mission Protestante Evangélique de France UFM - UFM doesn't stand for anything any more UNEPREF - Union Nationale des Eglises Protestantes Réformées Evangéliques de France Jolie, non ? Anyway, all that to say that we're all very excited ! We all have to go to Paris next

Bye bye Nixon, Héber and Donerse

Our life has been enormously enriched by friends from Haiti over the past few years. Now they have left us, and last night there was a little gathering to say goodbye to Nixon. I left the party in full swing to wend my weary way home. (Well, I am not as young as I was, or as the others are !) As we said last night, "on se retrouvera !"

CNEF 33 comité

This morning was the committee meeting for CNEF 33, the Gironde section for the National Council of Evangelicals of France. We met at Villenave d'Ornon at 9am for croissants and coffee and to discuss the coming year. I left Pessac on the bus 44, changing for the 36 which followed more or less the route we used to follow from Villenave to Pessac when the rocade was blocked in the morning. It took and hour and I read happily on the bus. The discussion was good. We talked about the various new churches that spring up, some with animist theology and practice that owes everything to African folk-tradition and nothing to Scripture, some with rather unhelpful leadership that seeks to draw people away after them. And the usual prosperity stuff. It's not always all that easy to find the right way of helping people to have a better understanding and practice. We also discussed our developing relationship with the Protestant Federation of France. It was a good time with my brothers

Pastoring the Pastor - a book review

Pastoring the pastor, by Tim Cooper and Kelvin Gardiner, is a new publication from Christian Focus , endorsed by folk like Hector Morrison, Timothy George and John Woodhouse. It is a true to life account of a new pastor's first two years in ministry in small-town America, recounted by the emails he exchanged with his uncle and other people. It's a very easy book to read and although there's no way that it's a pastoral theology, still it gently makes some really important points about the nature and goals of Christian ministry. In this way it reminds me of Preaching with Freshness, by Bruce Mawhinney, though it's not as "teachy" or as thorough. I did find a certain cultural gap between the world the book is set in and the world I've inhabited. In my ministries in Wales and France I have never encountered anyone like the people in this book. But maybe that's a good thing. If the characters were more true to life we'd be tempted to start class

Oh, I HATE it. Stupid car !

Since we came back from holidays we've used the car just for the weekly shop and for church on Sundays. This has had an immediate beneficial effect on our monthly spending !  We spend about 90€ a month on public transport for the whole family.  In addition we used to spend 140€ a month on diesel (in addition to insurance and repairs etc.).  This month we've spent less than 50€ on diesel (we've filled up just once and the tank is still on half-full). It also has helped my state of mind. After four years of intermittent trouble with the clutch I just hate driving the thing. Twice this month the clutch has made that ominous clunk that usually heralds another breakdown. Once was this afternoon. I can't foresee any circumstances that would allow us to change the car.  I've wondered about personal leasing, but it costs too much. I honestly think that the next step for us is to no longer have our own car.  We'd shop online for the big shop.

People thinking about preaching

Here's some links to some articles about preaching. The first, here , talks about perceived need to hit a six every sermon and the dangers involved in having a wrong view of how preaching works. Incidentally some time ago (some years ago) I was preaching on a passage and felt I needed some help to know how others tackled it. So I looked at the websites of preachers known for reliably hitting a six every sermon. And guess what I found. None of them had ever preached on the passage I had to deal with. Hah ! The second, here , talks about preachers and their critics. Both are worth a read and reflecting on.

Vaughan Roberts published in French !


New folks on Sunday - and a potentially menacing development

Yesterday I was at Anglade (Blaye) in the morning then at Cenon for the English Service in the evening. Anglade went well, though with a late start as there's lots of to-ing and fro-ing that people do, picking up folk from hither and yon. Still the service went well, the car behaved itself and we got home to find our friends Bryn and Betty Jones from UFM Council waiting outside the house. Had they known that Gwilym was at home ill with la crève (a heavy cold induced by the sharing of bugs at start of term) then they could ahve waited for us in the house. Anyway all went OK and the spaghettis went down well, followed by chocolate and vanilla ice-cream. I retreated to the study to get my head together for the evening. While I was there I had a phone call from some folk from Widcombe church in Bath. They were booked onto a ferry from Santander but because of a strike by Brittany Ferries staff they were having to drive up to Calais - could they stay at our place overnight on Mo

Some music for a Friday morning


The bus ride home

We approach the Barrière de Pessac. A guy runs into the road in front of the bus and waves his arms wildly. The bus driver considers his options... and stops the bus. "Ah merci, merci..." "Vous avez bu, quand même ?" "Ouais, un peu, mais on est gentil, y'a pas de problème" The two men get on the bus and talk happily at the back. (Bordeaux won 4-0 against Bruges) The bus driver kept one eye on them as he drove, but there was no problem. We approach Pessac centre. The 4 going the other way honks and stops. "Y'a'n accident. Il est sous la bagnole !" "Quoi, les pizzas ?" "Ouais" We continued and sure enough at Pessac Centre there are scenes of sadness. A pizza delivery scooter-lad has gone too fast through the roadworks and ended up underneath a car. We see the aftermath. Lots of folk stood around cars and talking it all through. The bus driver lives in terror of the scooter-lads. They're a re


One more chore to do for "Back to School". Catrin needs a "Cahier de l'écriture chinoise" (Chinese writing notebook) which costs just 1.50€ at Mollat, is unobtainable anywhere else and which Mollat sold out of quickly. I know now which shelf to look on, having looked with various shop assistants, so I was able to go straight to the pile and get it. Then off to the church to meet with the leaders of the Chinese group and Patrick. NIGHTMARE ! There was a football match between Bruges and Bordeaux, the stadium is near the tramline so the trams were all disrupted. Pat was stuck going the other way ! Anyway a tram came along and we all squashed in. Sardine tins are spacious, I can tell you ! More people squashed in. "Can"t you move further into the carriage ?" "Frankly no..." We moved off. The tram did an emergency stop. Screams. We all fall over. My arm is trapped behind a metal rail. I listen for the crack.  No crack comes.

Home for a while

Home for a couple of hours. Emails, reading, preparation for Sunday. Then back on the bus into town for a meeting. On the bus I can read some books I have to review using the Kindle application on my phone. I can listen to sermons or to music. I can chat with people. The bus is way cool.

At Andy's

Next stop was Andy Cheung's place. Andy is leaving us and returning to Martinique. His daughter is leaving us and going to Hong Kong to study. They need to clear their flat and to get rid of various pieces of furniture. I made a list and discussed with Mrs Davey. We think we've got everything sorted out with a destination. I don't know if it is possible to pass through Andy's flat without eating something. At any rate, I have never seen it done. Yesterday it was tuna and tomato sandwiches, and Andy is a real restaurateur. Somehow those tuna and tomato sandwiches were probably the best I have ever had, even though it was just a tuna and tomato sandwich. Then off home, carrying a George Clooney coffee machine. Maybe it will go in the office when we have finished it. Andy lives in one of the most beautiful parts of Bordeaux and as I walked to the bus stop I passed a smart tea shop that sells scones (1.50€ each to take away, 6.50€ if eaten on the premises with j

At the FNAC

After fixing the lights I had a bit of "back to school" stuff to do. Catrin needs a graphical statistical calculator for school. Prices for the thing vary from 70 euros upwards. Except on where it was 50. So I ordered it, for delivery to the FNAC in Bordeaux. (I love that shop.) That was on 12th September. Since then we heard nothing. Catrin needs her calculator now, so I looked on the website. "Sent on 13th September". Oh aye ? So I went to the desk at the FNAC. The lady looked on her screen. Nothing. She looked in the computer system. Nothing. She looked in the back room. Nothing. "I know that there was a mix-up a while ago where stuff ordered for Bordeaux went to Nice and vice versa. Trouble is, if they did that then they'll send it back to Paris from Nice, then to Bordeaux. I'll ring them up." She rang. "Four minutes wait. Is that OK ?" I said it was. "After a week what's four minutes more ?&qu

Fixing lights

Yesterday was a rich and full day, so I thought I'd blog it quickly this morning. It started with a rendez-vous with Harriette to fix the wall lights in the Sunday School room and to plan the next step in getting the church office sorted out. Harriette and I made a good team. I am not scared of wiring lights, especially since the electrician had already done the hard work and left bulb-holders attached. All I had to do was disconnect the bulbholders and connect the wall-lights, ignoring Harriette's worries "what if you get electrocuted... what if the whole place goes bang...". Fixing them to the wall is another thing entirely. Harriette is not scared of fixing lights to the wall. All she had to do was drill the holes and I hammered in the wall plugs and then she screwed on the fittings, ignoring my worries of 'but what if a child touches them and they fall on her head... what if you come in one day and find the fitting on the floor and the glass shade in a t

Procès Verbal

The kids are slowly settling into their school-term, but it's hard for everyone. An added complication is the tram card. Both children get unlimited tram and bus travel for 17€ per month each - including going back and fore to school. Great. The drawback is that you have a photocard with an electronic chip that you have to carry and swipe on every journey. Which is hard if you have mislaid your card since last night or if you go charging off to school leaving the card at home. Which is how Gwilym got caught by the inspectors, who hunt in packs. The nice lady told him that since he had a season ticket then his fine would be 5 euros, but he was still concerned about who would pay. I said (I think I told you this before) that he could do it the little boy way (I pay and I give him a hard time about forgetting his card and then nag him to remember his card) or the big boy way (he pays and we say no more about it.) He chose the big boy way. He went off to pay the fine, but a

Changes ahead in the Chinese group

Until recently the Chinese group was headed up by the Gang of Three, or as I preferred to say, the Three Wise Men : Andy, Sen and YiHua. Yihua finished his PhD and left to do research in Germany. Sen is continuing his PhD but from China. Now Andy will return to his wife in Martinique. He originally came to Bordeaux four years ago to accompany his daughter as she began her studies. He quickly found the church and took to it as the proverbial duck. He has LOVED his time in Bordeaux and it is clear that he finds it very hard to leave. It won't be easy for us to say goodbye to him, either. However Andy's daughter is leaving Bordeaux to continue her studies in Hong Kong. Andy's son is studying in Lyon. Andy's wife is running the family business in Martinique. He needs to go back to be with her. So please pray for the future leadership of the Chinese group. It will mean changes, obviously, but that's normal and as it should be. The only way to avoid change is t

Start of the Year Sunday

Somehow "Back to School" doesn't quite capture the whole weight of the French la rentrée . Nothing could. You gotta experience it. So last Sunday was d imanche de la rentrée , when both churches, from Blaye and from Bordeaux-Cenon, got together at Thomas and Charlotte's château to plan out the year. We asked Eugène Boyer to come and preach. You can read about him here . After the service a short time of sharing and prayer in groups, followed by lunch of spaghettis bolognaises. Various folk prepared the sauce. Patrick and Pierre prepared the pasta.

After lunch, games and the business

After lunch we divided into groups again to play some games and let the spaghetti (and dessert) go down. Then the business as we laid out our plans for the year to come. We needed a projection screen - I found a roll of paper tablecloth and one of our taller lads chucked it on top of a wardrobe where it will probably be found in a few hundred years' time. Thomas laughed graciously when we told him ! Obviously I didn't take photos of the business meeting - just the games. We closed with prayer for God to fulfil his plan through us and wended our weary way back to Pessac, tired but happy.

Photos the British Press wouldn't print

Here's the first batch. This is from last Friday when Gwilym and I went to the Mitchell's for a meal (Catrin has been unwell this weekend with la crève - the kind of cold you get at the start of term.) Tim and Suzanne are very happy in their flat, and I am relieved ! I don't think I unduly influenced them when I did all I felt right to do to persuade them to take the nice, light first-floor flat with a big balcony rather than one of the dark little basement hobbit holes that, it has to be said, were substantially cheaper. As I say, I don't think I unduly influenced them. They are big enough to make up their own minds, after all. But it's still good to see them happily settled in ! Incidentally some French words are just glorious. For example : compétitivité.. Somehow the uniform vowels lift the French word high above the base English. créée.. le monde a été créé , of course, while la terre a été créée . 

Our latest prayer letter

can be downloaded here .

Coming soon to the blogue

photos the British press wouldn't publish

OK. Flights for October Church visits are booked.

Here's the plan. Sat 6th -  Fly Bordeaux to Edinburgh Sun 7th - Preach at Smithton Culloden Free Church Mon 8th - free / travel Tue 9th - Dovecote Evangelical Church, Liverpool Wed 10th - Hall Green Baptist Church, Haworth Thu 11th - Free Grace Baptist Church, Lancaster Fri 12th - free / travel Sat 13th - free / travel Sun 14th - Christ Church Bradford Mon 15th - free / travel Tue 16th - Sunderland Evangelical Church Wed 17th - Newcastle Reformed Evangelical Church Thu 18th - Geneva Road Baptist Church, Darlington Fri 19th - Reeth Congregational Church Sat 20th - free / travel Sun 21st - Otley am, Tinshill pm Mon 22nd - free / travel Tue 23rd - Fly Edinburgh to Bordeaux I'm flying with Ryanair, so I'll have to be careful with my bags !

Rentrée nearly sorted

This period of the year is known as la rentrée scolaire (back to school) and it's always hard work. For one thing the kids have been used to getting up at 7, 8, 9 or later. Now they have to get up at 6 to get out of the house at 7 to get to school for 8. Poor things, they're generally in bed before 9pm at the moment. Then there's all the back to school stuff to buy. This year we bought a lab-coat for the first time. The supermarkets have them at what I thought was a very reasonable 10 (though those buttons will come off before Christmas). Not so reasonable is Catrin's stats calculator that she needs - it has to be exactly the right one - which some shops had at over 100€ but I tracked down online for 50€. Then for the church there's all the different ativities to relaunch. It seems more difficult here than in Wales. In the church in North WXales you just started again where you left off last time. I suppose youth activities took the most planning and stuff.

Iced tea

Take a big plastic jug - ours are 1.5 litres, I think. Add two tea-bags. We've used : Green tea with mint Camomile Lime Green tea with jasmine Fill with cold water and put it in the fridge. After a couple of hours you have really nice refreshing iced tea with no calories nor nothing. Just good green tea.

Rearranging the house

When we arrived in this house Gwilym was 10 and the biggest bedroom upstairs has a balcony. We wanted to sleep in the bedroom next to the front door, so the big bedroom upstairs became my office. It's a big room, so we could put a mattress (or two) on the floor for people passing through. However as Gwilym grew bigger so his room seemed to grow smaller and smaller. So we have swapped rooms. It means I get a nice sunny office, but sadly it's too small to have people sleep on the floor, with or without mattress.  Gwilym gets a nice big room, but alas, it's too full for folk to sleep on the floor unless they are OK about sharing the bunk with Gwilym. Oh well, you win some and you lose some.

The weekend at the church

The morning service was focused on Philippians 2 : 4 - 8, on the Eternal Son of God who Humbled Himself. There were some new folk there, some students and some guys who work in a restaurant in town. Afterwards Peinguang from the Chinese group came to talk about the group and future plans and stuff. In the evening for the English Service we had our first group of new students (from Germany, Denmark and Canada) and a new grown-up. It was a good weekend.

Back to school shopping lycée style

In école primaire and collège you get a grand unified list of what you need for school. This means a long list of various exercise books with small squares, large squares (inexplicably the large squares and smaller than the small squares - Gwilym did explain why but he lost me...) of size 32cm by 24 cm or A4, covered in various colours together with coloured pencils, coloured felt-pens, coloured crayons, coloured this, that and the other., rubbers, tipp-ex, pritt-stick, scissors (round-end !), compass, protractors, rulers long, short, rounded and flat, pencil case for pens and pencils, pencil case for felt-pens and coloured pencils, partridge in pear-tree. In lycée it's different. Bit by bit, subject by subject, teacher by teacher and class by class the kids are told what they'll need to get before next class. This means a daily list. Todays' was blanco (tipp-ex), four-colour pen, A3 paper folded (small squares), rubber, pencil, document folder and an old shirt. I c

Settling down into the new term

Well we have got through the first week, with all the fun of : Maths test sat, failed, then allowed into the next year anyway, queuing multiple times to renew bus passes, the start of back to school shopping, finding our way hither and yon, getting timetables, threatened demonstration marches against chaotic timetables, bus passes lost - and found, helping with signing up new parents at the music school, etc. etc. We're almost there now. All the remains is to find a spot for Catrin's singing lessons (she's the only one continuing with music lessons this year). And so far so good.

This year with the car

Well this school year will be very different. Until June the car did lots of short hops back and fore to Catrin's school to pick her up and drop her off. Now she's at lycée in the city and travelling by bus. Since we pay for season tickets for bus and tram for everyone I am determined to use the car as little as possible - basically for the big shop and for Sunday. Maybe for Tuesday evening prayer meetings. Maybe not. The immediate result of this has been a vastly reduced fuel bill ! We generally filled up twice a month at a cost of about 140€. So far in a week we have not even used a quarter of a tank, so we should see our monthly bill halved at least. We also walk much more. Each time we travel instead of 2 yards to the car and two yards from the car we do 10 minutes to the bus stop then a bit more the other side. And you can read, chat, look at the scenery and generally have a much nicer time in the bus and tram and rush around less. Since the car is also becoming le

Trouble at 'school

Sir or Madam The Parents' association, the body of teachers and numerous parents deplore the major problems in the timetables distributed at the start of the year. ... Meetings are scheduled to sort the problem out, failing this we propose to march on the Bordeaux Education Offices tomorrow morning with, we hope, the support of the parents. ...  Well the problems are being ironed out gradually and we have not had to march on the Education Offices.

Back to School Week (la rentrée)

Queueing and queueing and queueing again. Shuttling back and fore. Little crises, hassles and blips. Errands to run. Thankfully a Church Council for light relief ! Next week things will have settled down, surely.

Mawr yw ef yn y nef ar ei orsedd gadarn gref.

Watch "Bryn Myrddin" on YouTube Great is he in heaven enthroned in steadfast might.

Last Sunday in Deeside


OK, I know, I know, but it makes its point...