Showing posts from January, 2013

Restoring the internet

This morning Bouygues Telecom and Orange (formerly France Telecom) combine their forces to restore internet to the house,  along with telephone and television. We have quite enjoyed our period of purdah, though buying and printing Gwilym's tickets to return from the UK was stressful and it would have been good to be able to phone him. We need to be online again, though. For one thing we want to sell the car. For another we need the telephone. The Bouygues engineer who came on Tuesday confirmed my thesis that there was no signal arriving at the house. The exchange is just 250 metres away. At the exchange the dsl card is a Bouygues card. Bouygues say the problem is in Orange's network. (i.e. In the 250 metres of wire...?) So from 8am to 11 we have to be here to give access to the house if they need it. Rendezvous online at 11 hours at the latest!

Meanwhile, here is some music

Still waiting for the Bouygues-man to get our internet working. Meanwhile here is some music. We have just started rehearsing this with the Pessac Jazz Band.

Internet out of order.

It broke down on Monday. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. Meanwhile here's a picture of Bordeaux.

Puritan Portraits - by J.I.Packer - A Puritan easy-reader !

I enjoyed this book. I really enjoyed this book ! In some ways it must have been a publisher's dream - about half of the book is made up of reprints of introductions that Jim Packer wrote for reprints of Puritan classics. At the same time it must be a publisher's nightmare. After all it's a(nother) book about the Puritans. OK, the die-hards will buy it because of the word 'Puritan' in the title, but who else will ? Well I hope you will ! No, really ! Here's why : 1) Jim Packer's enthusiasm for these guys is wonderfully enjoyable and infectious. His delight in these men really comes across the page. 2) You'll learn stuff. I first heard about the Puritans shortly after my conversion cough-cough-cough years ago when somebody showed me Perkins' chart of salvation. That's a long time ago and I have kept being reminded of them ever since, but I still learned things from the book. 3) Jim Packer's introductions are pretty famous in themse

Sluggish after a good weekend

Today my brain is running slow and everything else is even slower after a good weekend. It started, I suppose, on Friday evening. Friday saw me take a funeral in Blaye, then scuttle back to return the car and get home to see Flavien, who had meanwhile flown from Marseille to Mérignac and been collected from the airport by Myriam. (Thanks Myriam !) The funeral went OK, though it was glacial in the cemetery and it's very hard to pray when you're shivering, your teeth are chattering and the wind is whipping the pages of your notes back and fore. Anyway, mission accomplished. Back home we got set for the Home Group. We were few, perhaps due to the several evening activities happening at the same time - FAC Games evening took at least two or three people away and another group was meeting, too. Still, the study was good. Saturday Morning was Flavien's conference - an overview of Biblical Theology, basically - so we hopped on the bus and tram to Cenon. We were a decent nu

It makes you think - Review of "Will you be my Facebook friend", by Tim Chester

A complimentary review copy was provided to me by Cross Focused Reviews (A Service of Cross Focused Media, LLC). I was not required to write a positive review. It makes you think doesn't it. Facebook has become a massive phenomenon in such a short time. Families use it to keep in touch. Friends use it to catch up on each other's news. Adolescents use it to invite thousands to parties at their parents' house. Churches use it spread the news of Jesus Christ. And all that in just a few short years. Although he sees some useful aspects to the Facebook revolution, Tim Chester thinks it's a problem. His first chapter is entitled "What's the problem?" He then goes on to identify several of the problems linked with Facebook in chapters entitled "Recreating my world", "Escaping my limitations", "The Facebook of God" and "Twelve guidelines for social networking" His thoughts are very helpful. His guidelines are good, wise and

Ice Day

or Ice Morning anyway. Last night I woke up in the aptly-named wee hours and used, as is my habit, my mobile phone to light to way to the toilet. I noticed that I had had a text message at 11:30pm. I read it. It said that the Prefect of the Gironde had prohibited buses from running before 10am. 'No school for Catrin', I thought, as I wended my weary way back to my downy couch. Thus it was no surprise this morning when I heard her coming back from the bus stop where a kindly gentleman had told her that her 7am wait was futile, there were no buses. It's drizzling out there, and I don't think it is all that cold. I'll be able to get to Blaye, I'm sure.

Preparing for the funeral and for the weekend - or not quite

On Wednesday afternoon I discovered that I was needed to conduct a funeral in Blaye on Friday at 2:30. Ah ! But I am picking up Flavien from the airport at 4. "I'll pick up Flavien !", said a helpful soul. OK, but I'll need to reserve a car. I'll confirm tonight. After getting home through the wet, wet streets I looked on the website. The little Mairie 206+ is available. Booked. Confirmed. Telephoned. We're away. The funeral is for a man I have never met who was catholic but married to a protestant lady who for many years was the treasurer of the church in Blaye. She died in 1986 and since then he has moved around a bit. He came back to Blaye to live with his son, then in a retirement home as his health deteriorated. The funeral will be my first contact with the family. The son went to Sunday School and so on. You never know. We'll keep up contact and who knows if one day he'll come to the service in Blaye. The funeral will be in the fu

After the rain...

Well it rained and rained and rained. Everything everywhere was soaked. I was soaked. Absolutely soaked. We had a church council on Wednesday afternoon followed by a voice workshop with a lady in the congregation who works in the vocal arts to try and get people to speak up when they read and preach. Then home through the wet, wet streets.

Rain !

People from South Wales are acquainted with rain. I remember one time in Cardiff when it fell so fast that the roads were covered to a depth of an inch simply because of the quantity that fell - the drains were all working fine. That may be why in Welsh it doesn't just rain. You can't say, "it's raining". You have to say "It's throwing rain," because it's always chucking it down. I suppose only Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear, better than us. Maybe Rudolph the Red was Welsh ? But I have never seen a place so waterlogged as Pessac this morning. Our garden is absolutely sodden. The park is absolutely sodden. The paths are punctuated by pools that you have to get around somehow.  My cap, coat, trousers and shoes are absolutely sodden. It's not falling fast, but it's falling persistently, with occasional claps of thunder. The forecast was for very cold weather. Just goes to show.

There's a lot of crazy people in the world.


Auditorium de Bordeaux

Honestly, it's just incredible. Bordeaux has a fine italianiate opera house. Admittedly it's finer from the outisde than from the inside, but it's OK. It has more cinemas and theatres than you can shake a stick at, but it has no concert hall. Also, for some reason, the cathedral doesn't seem to be used for orchestral concerts. This has led to the (to me) unbelievable prospect of performing the Saint Matthew Passion in the Palais des Sports - a Sports Hall ! - and the Berlioz Requiem recently in the Patinoire - the Ice Rink ! It was 50 quid for the cheapest seat to hear the St Matthew Passion in the sports hall. I'd rather whistle it !   Acoustics ? Anyway the town hall has seen the need and a new auditorium is being built. There were hitches in the last minute safety-related jobs, but it is now due to open on 24th January. There's various concerts planned, and some of the tickets are reasonably priced (like 8€) but the first one we could go to is in Marc

The Museum of Decorative Arts

So yesterday was my day off and we had a nice, slow, easy morning followed by a trip to the Museum of Decorative Arts and a tea shop. The Museum of Decorative Arts is housed in a very fine house just next to the Town Hall in Bordeaux. The house used to belong to the Lalande family and was completed in 1779. It is a very fine house with a large courtyard in front and (originally) a garden behind. It is found at 39 rue Bouffard, Bordeaux, and it is worth putting that address into Google Maps and zooming in till you see the house and courtyard clearly. It's a fine building. So the house was completed in 1779. Its builder died in 1784 and, as some of you have been predicting, his heir, the next owner, was guillotined in 1794 at Place Gambetta, just round the corner from his fine home. The contents of the house were confiscated and sold at auction. When Napoleon came to power the family owned the house but rented it to the government because of the sad memories it held for them. A

Smaller bills and faster internet

So another project recently has been to reduce the mobile phone bills. Thanks to Free (oh, I feel so GUILTY !) the pattern of mobile phone contracts has changed in France over the last year. Until recently you had two options : 1) Pay as you go: Phones cost lots, you pay as much as you use, free to stop at any time. 2) Contracts: Phones cost little, but you pay LOADS each month, and tied up for one or two years. Since Free a new option has come in. You pay a smaller amount - 15 to 20 € a month - for a comprehensive phone service, but this does NOT include a mobile phone. If you need to buy a phone you buy one outright or by paying monthly, but this is a different additional cost. Also there is no engagement. So we've been switching people around. Gwilym has been on Free for some time, paying 15€ a month, using my old iPhone. When it finally yielded up the spirit we bought a Sony handset. Catrin was on Virgin Mobile. We have moved her to Free, paying 2€ a month. Her o

Hi ! I'm back !

Well the blog has been rather quiet this week. Let me explain why. Firstly Sunday went well. There were new faces in the morning service. Catrin played well - for the first time, I think, as sole accompanist. There was useful feedback from the message. It was a good time. However ministry is never simple and there were also the kinds of reactions that are hard to work through. So when Monday came I was more than usually tired and more than usually discouraged. I didn't write my resignation letter, but I made plans and rehearsed various conversations !  This week was the FAC Student Ministry week of prayer, but I also had various meetings arranged with different folk. This means I have been away from my study and my PC more than usual. One chap is meeting up with me to work through John 3 using Peter Jeffrey's little book, "From Religion to Christ". This book doesn't exist in French, but my friend reads a little English so we get by. Another i

A helpful book on the new technologies of communication.

That was the day when my smartphone almost learnt to fly. I was on the phone - the "landline" - in the middle of a l-o-n-g conversation. Meanwhile emails popped up on my computer screen demanding a quick yes/no reply. And then my smartphone started ringing... I rejected the call. It rang again .. four times... However did we get here ? And after all I am not a brain surgeon, a fire-fighter or a soldier - except in the most figurative sense of those terms. I'm a humble pastor working in a small church in a very large town in France, ignored by the world, submerged in the general noise of 21st century life. Ah, excuse me, there's a text message... Friends "don't want" a smartphone or even a mobile phone. Email at home is enough. Why be always available? I understand and sympathise with their point of view. But at the same time I'm a missionary, sent overseas. I think of the heroic waves of people sent to Africa to serve for six months then die of fe

Well the lad has gone

to the UK to work in the EMW Bookshop in Bridgend for four weeks on work experience. He'll have a great time. He's staying with a super family and being looked after en route. All will be well. And I am heartbroken.

La vie associative

A few times this week I have been caught up in this wonderful feature of French life, la vie associative . There's various kinds of associations that exist in France. One is l'association de fait . This is where people meet up and do things together without putting in place the legal framework that one is supposed to have. Some churches are associations de fait , notably brethren assemblies and some immigrant churches. Another is l'association 1901, l'association culturelle . This is a group of people who agree to do something together and who elect a chairman and a secretary (and a treasurer if money is involved). The name of the association, its officers and its address for correspondance is then registered at the Préfecture, the French Government offices in Bordeaux. An association 1901 could exist for : playing Scrabble, playing rugby, teaching music, an orchestra, a music group, a walking club, distributing Bibles, famine relief, supporting the Occitan lang

From Bitter to Sweet, by John Currid

The book of Ruth is a lovely moment in the Old Testament. We love the book because it is short - you can easily read it in me sitting. We love it because it's very dramatic - who can forget Orpah's farewell and Ruth's defiant clinging to Naomi ? Who can forget the night-time scene at the threshing floor or the happy ending as Obed is dandled on Naomi's knees. We love it because it's a very human story, of economic disaster, of migrant workers, of loss, of love, of resolutions and happy endings. But does it mean anything for me ? And what about sandals, corners of mantles, uncovered feet and kinsman-redeemers ? What's that all about ? John Currid's little commentary is a great book. He obviously has a huge affection for the characters, he's keen to vindicate them wherever he can. He explains customs and traditions to help the reader understand. He situates the story within Biblical history. He doesn't see Boaz as a type of Christ, but he sees the

New Year's Day

New Year's Day found us walking over Bordeaux's swanky new Elevator Bridge. It's not open to traffic yet, but they opened it for a New Year's Day walk. 38000 people crossed to see the new views of the city.