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)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Some Easter Music - Mache dich, mein Herze, rein

from the Saint Matthew Passion :

The Good Friday service ... and beyond

Good Friday is a working day like any other.

Well I say that, but because Easter Monday is a public holiday that means that the traffic on Good Friday evening is even worse than usual.

For this reason, and with memories of services scheduled for 6pm which started very late because half the folk were stuck in traffic jams, the Good Friday service was scheduled for 8pm till 9pm.

There was quite a good turn-out - I think the later time probably helped a lot ! - and we finished just a little after 9 to reflect the fact that we started just a little after 8.

Afterwards we scuttled out having missed the optimum 9:20 tram that connects with a nice bus that gets you home just about about an hour later. We hopped on the first tram that came, when ...

Catastrophe !

The tram had to wait for the firemen to come because someone had been taken ill on the tram.

Good distance vision enabled us to see the person taken ill. It looked to us like the kind of illness you get from excessive consumption of bottled liquids, but hey... ill is ill.

The pumpers came, they hauled the guy somewhat unceremoniously off the tram, confirming our diagnosis, and we continued on our way to see a No 4 bus leave the stop just as we arrived.

We had a 40 minute wait. I know !

So we popped into the Connemara for a quick coffee. There was an Irish jam session going on. When I work out how to I'll pop on the videos I took with my phone.

A while later the bus came, we hopped on, we got home to a waiting daughter. (Gwilym was here but not so actively waiting...)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

If you're going to eat horse, why not say so ?

Eating in Africa

There were four different circumstances in which we ate :

1) in the training centre, where good local food was prepared and served carefully. The local food includes a lot of fish and rice. One meal contained tripe. Pity my colleague asked because I generally operate on the "if you don't know what it is don't worry about it" principle.

2) in restaurants, chosen because they cater for white folk. Sometimes the food was very good. Sometimes it was OK. Generally it was western-style (grilled local fish came with chips or sauté potatoes, for example, or there were dishes like coq au vin, etc...) One restaurant was great fun, run by someone left over from colonial times, it was Rick's bar in Casablanca, it really was.

3) in the hotel where we stayed, the food was atrocious. No, really, it was ghastly. The breakfasts were OK - just bread and jam, but the evening meal was awful. If I ever go back there's no way I'll eat that again. I'd rather buy a bunch of bananas.

4) in folks homes or after discussion evenings, where the food was as 1) above.

Folk eat a lot ! Two big meals a day, plus they seem to eat a standard French breakfast of half a baguette (please note that their baguettes are amazingly light. It's all air !)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Health in Africa

OK. It is important to stay as healthy as possible. So a couple of weeks ago I went to see the doctor and we discussed malaria, yellow fever, etc. etc. I came away with some anti-diarrhoea pills (he made me accept them) and jabs for tetanus, diptheria and polio.

For malaria, seeing it was the dry season when they are fewer and less active I proposed to use anti-mosquito preparations and take malaria medication if I had any sign of fever.

Next stop the pharmacy. I bought a BIG bottle of spray on factor 50+ sunscreen. I bought some anti-mosquito spray you put on your clothes and some you put on your skin. I also got some smelly inhalation oil because the little critters don't like strong smells.

Then the next thing to consider is the heat. For that you drink bottled water, and lots of it. At times more than 3 litres a day.

Then there's the general bugs. One problem is that the water is drinkable but has different microbes in than we are used to, so it will give you the runs.
Not only that, but salad washed in the water wll give you the runs.
Not only that, but plates and cutlery washed in the water will give you the runs.
Not only that but it is comparatively rare to find a washbasin near a toilet.

So you need

1) to avoid salad unless the people preparing it know how to feed foreigners
2) to avoid anywhere where cleanliness is not understood (you have to let clean dishes dry)
3) to avoid eating those lovely delicacies they sell at the side of the road. It's not for you...
4) to use that alcohol gel stuff to clean your hands - sometimes surreptitiously to avoid giving offence.

I assumed I would be eating lots of oranges and bananas, anything that could be peeled, and drinking coca cola. I was wrong.

Instead I was fine eating the local food, served on clean, dry plates, eaten with local cutlery, and drinking lots and lots of bottled water as well as the local tea and coffee (incidentally always taken with lots of sugar).

I did get two bouts of diarrhoea :

- the first I am pretty sure was just a touch of heat-stroke the first weekend in the interior where it is very hot and the locals were talking about a heat-wave. One uncomfortable session on the loo, two pills (see above) followed by a lot of sleep and I felt like a new man !

- the second was probably linked with something I ate. Who knows what. It lasted longer, had more unpleasant symptoms and came just before a long bouncy car journey and the flight home. The doctor's pills stopped any excess of discomfort.

Thanks Doc !

One other thing. Sometimes in the summer in hot weather my fingers swell up. One day in Africa my feet swelled up. I was a little alarmed and tried to do what I could to minimise it. Anyway, it was only for one day. We took it as a sign that I should drink even more, but before any possible return trip to Africa I'll go and discuss it with the doctor.

My amazing new discovery

From time to time you hear chaps preaching and teaching who share their amazing new discovery about, for example, who wrote Hebrews, or what the main purpose of Romans is, or what Jesus really meant by the third beatitude...

Forgive my less than enthusiastic response. I'll try harder to be more excited in the future.

At the same time, come on...

I suppose it is strictly speaking possible that the thirty-something years old pastor trained in the EWFCNNPPQ pastors' training course and ministering faithfully in Little-Spitting-on-the-Marsh will make a discovery that has eluded the most eminent doctors of the church for two thousand years. (substitute the Master of Divinity programme of Canterbury School of Theology, Pittsburgh according to your background, obviously) 


But not terribly likely.

I suppose what I am calling for is a small dose of humility. We haven't solved all the enigmas of science, or of biblical interpretation, or of much else, for that matter.

And you don't need innovations and brand new insights to be able to take people on in their understanding of the Scriptures and in their life of holiness. In fact innovations and brand new insights are more likely to be signs of problems than of strength.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Some African animals

Pat and I planned a productive day today, but then Catrin was off school with a tummy bug that's doing the rounds, so we diverted into fussy mother-hen mode.

That means no big update on the blog yet, but here's some African animals to keep you going :

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Back from Africa

So I got back from Africa on Friday morning, landing at Bordeaux airport at about 9:15. I caught the No.1 bus to Mérignac Soleil, then switched to the No. 48 and had the same bus driver that took us to the airport two weeks previously. We chatted happily till it was time for me to switch again to the No. 4 and home.

Well Africa. Africa. What can I say ?

Obviously I don't want to say anything that will identify the country, but I hope to pop on some photos of varuous village scenes and so on, and also to make some reflections on the trip.

Before I can do that, however, I have some more sleep to catch up on, my digestive system is calming down and I have to just let the strong impressions settle in my mind.

But I'm back in France !

Friday, March 08, 2013

Book review : Passion: How Christ's final day changes your every day, by Mike McKinley

To review this book I think that first of all it's useful to know what it isn't.

It isn't a magisterial examination of the atonement or a defence of substitutionary atonement. Those books are important. For those you go to Stott or to Jefferey, Overy and Sach.

It isn't a devotional book as such. For those you go to Leakey or perhaps to Mahaney ?

This book isn't an exposition of the closing chapters of Luke as such, either, though it is based on those chapters and there is lots of examination and explanation of the text.

Rather it's a kind of easy-to-read, practical expository devotional, aimed at taking you to the cross and bringing the cross to the heart of your everyday life. How you behave at home. How things go at work. How you face suffering. But not in a simple "Don't be like Judas, Peter or Pilate" kind of way. It's Christocentric, not moralistic.

And in that it succeeds very well indeed. It's easy to read but it doesn't aim at nothing. It wants to see the reader changed by Luke's account.

How many stars ? I thought, "Not 5. There are better devotional books. 5-star devotional books. Not 5. There are better doctrinal discussions. 5-star doctrinal discussions."

Yes, but to review this book you have to know what it is. It's a book that takes you to the cross so that you can be transformed on the freeway and in the home. And as that it's a 5-star book.  

Then there are reading guides in the back - 8 days in Luke, The Passion in the Old Testament, Jesus' last week day-by-day, 50 days through Luke. All useful stuff !

The book grew out of a series of sermons and will be 'suggestive to preachers' !

I received this book free of charge from the Good Book Company and Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

I am pretty well almost ready

I bought a massive spray-bottle of sunscreen half-price from the pharmacy.
I got mosquito repellent for my clothes and for my neck and ankles, lots.
I got supplies of antiseptic and antiperspirant and antidiarrhoea.
I need to remember to pack a loo roll and a towel.
Some M&Ms would be useful to keep the chocolate cravings at bay.
(I am expecting a fortnight of bananas and coca cola)

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Our next car ?

Well, not really, but partly to avoid the rain I snuck through the Renault showrooms on the way home.

And yes, they did have a Zoe on display.

The Renault Zoe is a Fiesta sized hatchback that is entirely electric. I wanted to explore it a bit. To look at the inside, the boot, etc.

And it's great ! Just like a Clio, really. Perhaps a tiny bit smaller. Boot about the same.

The government offers a 7000€ subsidy on the price, so with the base model costing about 21k€ the price drops to below the price of the equivalent Clio. You do have to rent the batteries, which is Renault's way of coping with the need to renew them eventually.

Now years ago I heard someone explain that one buys things that appreciate in value, like houses. One rents, leases or hires things that depreciate in value, like cars.

I could see their reasoning, and I couldn't assault the logic, but still, well one does what everyone else does, doesn't one.

Now more and more people are leasing their cars. I know several people who do that here in Bordeaux.

Maybe one day we'll lease a Zoe !

Autocool vs Renault Rent

Our car pool club, Autocool, has preferential tariffs with the local Renault Rent place which, as it happens, is in the road parellel to ours. So for the Bible Study at Blaye yesterday I thought I'd book a car for 24hours and see how prices compare.

I clicked on the "Our partner, Renault Rent" link from the autocool site and booked the car. A Twingo for 24 hours to do 150 kms.

When I went to the office to collect the car I discovered that in fact the site had not applied the Autocool rates and that now nothing could be done. "Next time phone us to book a car". So off I went.

The negatives - it did work out more expensive. Also you have the whole stressful car inspection thing at the end.

The positive - no "Get it back by 5" stress, so I popped into the supermarket in Bourg as I passed it and got the shopping.

This morning before returning the car I looked on the Autocool website to see how much it would cost for a car to go and conduct the funeral today. 50€ all-in.

I took the car back, then said to the guy, "OK, how much to book a car via Autocool for 24hours." Well, you do get an automatic upgrade to the next size up of car, but it worked out to 53€ without fuel. Fuel would come to another 15€ roughly.

I think he worked it out wrong. I'll phone later and see if I get the woman I dealt with yesterday.

But otherwise Autocool is best !

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

A death in the Blayais

Someone in the Blaye area, someone we don't know, but who is apparently protestant, has passed away just in time for me to take the funeral on Wednesday before leaving for a west-African country.

The council is somewhat perturbed by the way that now the majority of the funerals we conduct are for people who are protestant, who have some kind of protestant background, but we have never ever met them. At the same time it means perhaps one funeral every two months or three months ? and it does give an opportunity to announce hope in Jesus Christ to those who are left behind. I know that often they are not really listenning in a time of grief, but our history in Blaye is linked with a funeral, after all.

As in those early days God used a funeral to bring new life in Blaye, may he do so again !