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, September 29, 2013

Yesterday was a special day.

Firstly for the inauguration of the renovated Maison de la Bible, Bordeaux.

Then for the arrival of our friend, Chris, from Mold who is visiting to do some DIY at the church in Cenon.

Then for the baptism service for four Chinese students that took place at Cenon. The hour advanced, the rains came and Chris had not eaten since before leaving English soil at Liverpool, so we didn't wait for the actual baptisms in the dark courtyard, but charged through the torrential rains on tram and bus to Pessac !

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Reportage sur la vie d'une paroisse catholique à la Défense

Nous savons qu'il y a aussi des études bibliques à la Défense en semaine dirigées par nos collègues en région Parisienne :

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Book Group

So we've found that there's several ex-pat groups in Bordeaux, more than we thought, and people choose which one to go to based on various factors. This morning we shambled off to Pain et Compagnie for the ICB Book Group. The group had been pre-warned to read "The Uncommon Reader" by Alan Bennett.

Well both Pat and I have read it Some Time Ago so we didn't feel TOTALLY unprepared. The discussion was lively, good-humored and entertaining. At one point I said "it's like a sack of cats" and the lady next to me laughed. "You have that expression in your country ?" "Oh yes", she said, but she agreed that it was indeed like a sack of cats, albeit good-natured and non-agressive ones.

Will we go again ? Well they do two. One on Tuesdays in folks' homes with pot-luck lunch following. One on Fridays in Bordeaux in a café somewhere. Since Pat ain't free on Tuesdays and since it's a good way of networking we'll probably link in with the Friday group.

Book review : Apostate - The Men Who Destroyed The Christian West

I really don't want to review this book, but I received a copy in Kindle format free in return for an honest review. So here goes.

OK - for me this book is a three-star book. I'll tell you why.

The author's thesis is that a sequence of apostate men have dismantled the Christian heritage in the west, leading to the collapse of the traditional structures of society that we see today : marriage, family and church... He nicknames these apostate men the nephilim and presents a list of them for us.

There's a lot of things I liked about this book :

1) It's pretty comprehensive.

He deals with : Aquinas, Descartes, Locke, Rousseau, Bentham, Emerson, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, Dewey, Sartre, Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Twain, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Sinatra, Lennon and many more.

2) His basic observation is essentially right.

This book reads like Francis Schaeffer on steroids - if you identify with Schaeffer's analysis of the decline of the West, then this book will fill out that thesis a bit more.

3) He has a way with words.

Parts of the book are very sermonic and sometimes he writes very powerfully. I am led to surmise that the book began its life as a series of talks or messages, lectures or sermons, and some of the passages are very inspiring. Here's one sentence from my favourite paragraph of the book, in a section on Hemingway, "Though our faces drip with blood and our hands are chafed to the bone, there is joy in the battle and hope in our hearts as we fix our eyes on the day of consummation when the battle will be won."

But then there's the things I didn't like so much....

1) Editing errors

When you write a book like this it needs to be carefully edited or people won't be persuaded. So, for example, people don't "take their queue" from things, they "take their cue". It comes from the theatre. Again Montaigne's name was Michel, not Michal. I looked up the "English Empire" just in case it was a term in use somewhere for something, but Google returns the "British Empire". I didn't catch them all, I'm sure, and basic editing errors like this undermine a carefully argued book.

Again, a fascinating quote attributed the most abhorrent eugenic and genocidal words to Darwin. "These may be the most evil words ever recorded in human history" warns our author. I look in the notes to find the book they come from. A volume entitled "Ten books that screwed up the world and five that didn't help".

NNNOOOOOOOOO !!!!!! I need the SOURCE !!!!!

2) Repetition

I decided that if I read "abortifacient drugs" one more time I would throw the book through the window. Same for shack-ups and hook-ups. This is another reason why I thought that perhaps the book's earliest life was as separate talks or lectures. Then repetition would not be so obvious and heavy.

3) hmmm.

You know, I know the song "Strangers in the night" pretty well. I sang it to my wife earlier and asked her what she thought the song was about. Like me, she thought it was about falling in love at first sight. After all, it ends "Ever since that night we've been together, lovers at first sight, in love forever, things turned out so right for strangers in the night".

This is what our author says. "Maybe Frank Sinatra came across as a little daring with "Strangers in the night" in 1966, a chart-topper which left his listeners wondering if they were going to fornicate by the end of the evening."

Uh? Not this listener! I'm sorry, but I think there's a problem there. And it brings me to

4) The spirit of the book

I just don't know who I could give this book to. Anyone who is not already persuaded of the author's position will more than likely be put off by the spirit the book breathes. For example, anyone who disagrees, our author says, "If professing Christians disagree with me on this point, I wonder if they have joined the other side, or if perhaps they are too fearful to recognize the true magnitude of the social and cultural problems that confront the modern world".  Or perhaps they just disagree ? You don't persuade people by bullying..

I don't think this book would persuade anyone I know. You have to be rigorous in your citations and in your editing, and loving in your approach. You have to show the marks of the crucified hands.

This book didn't do it for me. But it's comprehensive and it may be well-researched. Three stars.

You can see a trailer for the book here.

You can hear an interview with the author here.

ps Oh yeah, I forgot the one that wound me up the most. According to our author the parable of the landowner in Matthew 20 teaches that "According to Christ, an employer has the right to set unequal pay for his workers as long as they accept the terms".

Um... Excuse me - surely in Matthew 20 Christ teaches that God rewards with eternal life richly beyond anything we can do or have done (see the context of rich young ruler end of Matthew 19 - "what must I do to get eternal life") just as the landowner paid a whole day's wages to those who had only worked one hour ! Surely if this parable teaches landowners anything it teaches them to be caring and generous and to pay a living wage even to those who don't deserve it !

But NOBODY, surely NOBODY would take this wonderful parable of the rich, superabundant, generous grace of God and turn it into a political argument for non-government involvement in the setting of wages ?

Well he would and he did. Is it too late to reduce it to two stars ?

Strange fire

Years ago John Macarthur's books on the Charismatic Movement were straight-talking and strong ! While I agreed with the substance of what he said, I used to find the manner strident and hard.

That was then, this is now.

Since the reformed resurgence, Sovereign Grace, Piper, Driscoll, Dever, deYoung et al we have realised (?) that the charismatic issue is a non-issue and should not even be discussed. In some conferences  there'll be times of improvised songs, rounds of applause and stuff, in others there won't. Hey, some of us are funky and some are not. Some of us got rhythm and some ain't. What of it ?

But I was always thinking, "yeah, but there's this like, great big animal in the room and he has a trunk and stuff and everyone is pretending it's not there..."

Well maybe John Macarthur and I have more in common than I thought.

His new book, "Strange Fire" comes out soon, and MAY put the cat among the pigeons...

Or maybe we'll all go "SHUT UP ABOUT THE EL...PH....NT !"

Well yesterday was a wonderful day, albeit somewhat exhausting (it was VERY HOT)

CNEF committee in the morning, good and pleasant, (command the blessing) !

Todd and Terri in the early evening, again good and pleasant, full of ideas, most probably won't work, but who knows...

Today networking with the book group, then get in that garden, boy, and strim.

Strim, strim, stri-i-i-im....

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Today CNEF committee and

We have the committee meeting of CNEF33 this morning,
then this afternoon Pat and I are meeting up with some of the folk planting the new church in Mérginac.

The CNEF33 meeting is at Eysines, perfectly reachable by bus, but you do have to change several times and it takes a long time, so I have reserved a Autocool car - first time in months !

While I was at it I reserved the cars for getting people to and from the airport next week. Exciting !

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A calmer Wednesday

This morning I met up with an esteemed senior colleague in Pessac for coffee, to talk and to pray together.

After that home again, nursing my ankle. I haven't mentioned my ankle, have I ?

Some weeks ago I gave my ankle a hard pull, moving some furniture, and every time it begins to settle down (i.e. stop aching !) I run for a bus or tram or to cross the road and set it off again !

So this afternoon I did not much, but kept my ankle in the air, quietly flexing, etc...

The kids came home from school, Gwilym printing out a brochure he's had to produce, and Catrin with details of the school's educational visit to the United States.

I was thinking this afternoon how much I'd love for our kids to visit the USA.

OK. Would I love it this much - 1270€ for the trip plus 160€ for lunches, subways, etc...

That's a lot of love.

More from a Sunny Tuesday

Sunny Tuesday

So Tuesday began at Villenave d'Ornon where colleague Pete/Pierre from Marseille was to be introduced to colleague Marc from Alsace, but who has been pastoring a church in Bordeaux for eight years and is well placed to reflect on the Bordeaux evangelical scene.

I got the 8am bus from Alouette and happily meandered through parts of Bordeaux I never normally see: the parks, estates and hyper-centre of Gradignan and the lesser trodden paths of lower Villenave d'Ornon.

Afterwards our conversation we hauled ourselves to our house where colleague Tim talked to Pete/Pierre about demographics while I threw together some spaghettis carbonaras.

Then Tim went off to work on his masters while I took Pete/Pierre to Cenon, we caught the tram to the Mairie de Lormont, descended the hill to the river and took the BATcub so Pete/Pierre could see a bit more of Bordeaux.

Afterwards to Maison de la Bible to see Mrs Davey, then Pete/Pierre had a hospital visit to do while I was off to meet the International Club of Bordeaux's Genial Ramblers.

I arrived and perceived the group. All women ! Eeeeekkkkk ! So I watched until they set off and I was sure no male rambler had joined the group, then fled in mild discomfort !

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday - busy at both ends

OK. Officially this week I am doing nothing.

This means that my diary is chock full of good things and I am having trouble fitting everything in !

Today I have delightful meetings in the morning talking about work in Bordeaux with sundry fine folk.

This afternoon/evening my first encounter with the International Club of Bordeaux - a walk round the bridges. A good way to meet folk.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A weekend off...

So this weekend we had a weekend off. This comprised various activities :

1) Selling the car on Saturday morning

At 8h30 I got a phone call from a man who said, "I am outside your house looking at the car and I'd like to buy it". So I showered and dressed quickly and explained to him and he explained to me and we agreed on a price and he gave me a cheque saying he'd be back in the afternoon with the cash.

I texted the guy who was coming at 9h30 to tell him the car was sold, so he rang me back and told me I was dishonest to have sold the car to someone when someone else had an appointment later in the day.

"You mean you have given your address to more than one person ?"
"Of course !"

Oh well, at least I him texted him.

In the afternoon our buyer, who had a splendid name a bit like Ali Lala, but not... same kind of assonance... arrived, paid up, took the car and we went out for a celebration slap-up nosh at Flunch.

2) Eglise Evangélique Rive-Droite

The Gwilym and I zoomed off to the Rive-Droite church. Their regular worship-leader was away, as was the senior pastor, but another of their workers, Revd Chicken, was preaching.

I know the ADD comes with baggage that we don't altogether share, but at least the chaps preach, and when they've finished preaching you do have the impression that some action is required on your part.

We bumped into some friends at the service and took the tram together back into town.

3) Eglise Baptiste de Pessac

In the morning Pat was unwell - after-effects of her giant couscous at Flunch - so I trotted off alone to Eglise Baptiste de Pessac while the kids went off to Cenon.

At the Eglise Baptiste we always get a good welcome and we saw friends there, too. The messages are proceeding through James, and had reached the opening verses of Chapter 2.

Then hobble home in time to eat a quick chicken casserole before going to a Jazz Concert given at the Eglise Baptiste de Caudéran in aid of the SEL (like Tearfund) by Benjamin Comba and his seven jazz friends - professional musicians each and every one - and a specially hand-picked 15-piece choir.

The concert went off pretty well. The seven musicians were talented and good-humoured and there was a nice amount of horn-blasting.

We came home in time to catch the bulk of Tim's message on Genesis 12 and God's promise to Abraham.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Maniacal Four

Internationals in Bordeaux

We've relaxed our rules on avoiding ex-pats a bit.

So we've attended a few meetings of Bordeaux-USA - here's their website,

and we're hoping to make the acquaintance of a new group called the International Club of Bordeaux. See their website here.

Pat has not yet managed to lunch with the Jolies Jardinières.

We have not yet explored the Bordeaux British Community - see here,

or the Bordeaux Women's Club - see here.

I don't think we can get involved in everything - there's lots going on !

Speaking of porage

Oh yes we were...

We buy either Quaker Oats or Auchan own brand porage (which is half the price but not as much fun to pronounce).

And we normally have UHT milk which we buy in bulk and work our way through each week.

But on Thursday I was in Auchan and I saw the microfiltered "fresh" milk and thought, "Why not ?"

Because the porage doesn't thicken, that's why not ! 

The first bowl was kind of like rice pudding. Clots of porage suspended in hot milk...

The second was not much better...

We're going back to UHT.

OK, the car is sold again...

I heard footsteps this morning while crunching my porage and quaffing my tea...

Then the phone rang. "I am outside the house and I'd like to conclude the sale".

So I showered and dressed and sold the car.

Then sent a text message to the guy who was coming at 9:30.

He phoned me, angry to have started his journey for nothing.

"C'est malhonnête!"

I said, "Listen, I'm sorry, but I can't reserve the car for each person who says they'll come."

"You have given your address to more than one person ?"

"Of course ! and it's not dishonest if you arrive at a shop to buy something and find it's sold already ! and I'm sorry, but I sent you a message as soon as the deal was concluded !"

It's VERY GOOD FOR YOUR FRENCH to have to argue your case like this !

Waiting for the Great Unified Study Bible

For years I really liked the NIV Study Bible.

Then the ESV Study Bible came out.

Then the ESV Reformation Study Bible. I was saving up for that one... Then I found an app. Saves a lot of space on bookshelf and on desk.

Then the Proclamation Trust NIV Study Bible, which I REALLY WANT...

But now I have heard that there's the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible - here's 20 great quotes.

OK. Here's what I'll do. I'll wait for the Great Unified Study Bible that combines all these excellent works.

As long as it doesn't have the Woman Thou Art Loosed Study Bible, Scofield et al...

Let's face it. It's not going to happen, is it...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Flogging the jalopy

Just finally plucked up courage to sell the car "spares or repair".
Put an advert on "le bon coin" with a price "to discuss".
Haven't put photos on yet, BUT

It has provoked a certain degree of interest !

One guy, a mechanic from Bergerac, is keen to buy it
because he has a Berlingo with problems.
He proposes to pay cash.
OK. He can have it.

If, for whatever reason, he does not take it we'll up the price !

(He didn't take it. I upped the price.)


Mindmapping is a very useful tool for taking notes or for making notes.
Thanks, British Telecom, for teaching me mindmapping on a course many moons ago !

Lifehacker, which is a source of all kinds of information of varying usefulness, has a good entry about mindmapping here.

"Jesus on every page" book and podcast

by the esteemed David Murray.

Here's the book

and the podcast

Well worth a read and a listen !

It's a two cups of coffee and Bolero sort of morning...

one of those mornings when you rouse reluctantly from your stupor,

wash up from the meal the night before, still in a daze,

then drink tea ... then coffee ... then tea...

then you try this :

Strangely I was talking to someone only the other day about Music Therapy as a possible career choice for their son...

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Annual General Meeting of Mission Protestante Evangélique de France this morning by Skype at 10am.

While we are occupied, here's a Blast from the Past, this time Pageantry, by Herbert Howells. Sorry there's nothing to see. I did find a video but it was so badly played that I couldn't bear to share it with you. Timing and tuning problems. No legato. Nightmare !

So here it is played properly, but with nothing to see... Sorry !

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Encouragement for Catrin

Catrin is doing a literature baccalaureat and she's been a bit concerned about her level of French, not that she isn't fluentor anything, but is her vocabulary extensive and advanced enough. She asked for suggestions of books to read to this end and her teacher said, "Aren't you French ?"

Anyway yesterday she had some work marked and returned and her teacher said, "Really, Catrin, there is nothing in your written style to suggest that you are not French. Nobody would know that you are not French from your written work."

So she's encouraged !

Online Theological Learning

I've mentioned these things before, but there's LOTS of good stuff online now that you can use for a bit of theological refreshment and stimulation...

Covenant Seminary has LOTS of online lectures :


Westminster has lots, organised differently :


Reformed Seminary has a different slant on things, using iTunes extensively :


Then, of course, there's sites like the Theology Network :


That's without considering things like our friends at Reformation21 and The Gospel Coalition.

You'll need to choose wisely, there's so much good material available !

"It hurts to face it"

Pray for the hundreds of thousands of Bordelais for whom reality does not exist.

To celebrate managing to get a PC running AND upgrade it to Windows 8

My favourite moment has always been the bit where the trombones go ba-daa-pa-daaa ya-ta-ta ya-ta-ta ya-ta-ta ya-ta-ta... (it's at 7:03)

Monday, September 16, 2013

One of those days !

Oh no ! 28 September is turning out to be one of those days !

15h Inauguration of refurbished Maison de la Bible in Bordeaux hypercentre

16h Collect friend from airport at Mérignac

18h Baptism of four Chinese friends at Cenon

18h Barbecue to celebrate inauguration of refurbished MB (see above).... in Villenave d'Ornon

Still, another way of seeing this is as a menu of delights, and I can choose which one(s) I do !

p.s. AND ANOTHER ONE - the installation of a pastor in one of Bordeaux's churches that day, too !

A lovely Sunday in early autumn

So this week we took the 4 to Pessac Centre, then the tram to Montaigne-Montesquieu before the 10 minute walk to the Eglise Baptiste de Pessac where my old friend Mr Bixby is pastor.

It's a church that we've had a bit to do with over the years : a friend, Joy, attended there and was involved with FAC, then two of Fiona's helpers attended the church for a year. It belongs to the Independent Missionary Baptist Churches of France, a group that comes from an American fundamentalist background.

We arrived at 10:20 and entered to find the place deserted, except for Mr Bixby who was getting the place ready. He greeted us warmly and then we found ourselves awkwardly placed by the door greetings people as they arrived. We beat a hasty retreat into the sanctuary.

The service began with a meditation on some verses from Romans 8, led by one of the guys in the church. He prayed, then we sang three hymns on a related theme : "Plus que Vainqueurs", "Celui qui met en Jésus" and "La Lutte Suprême". The hymns were all taken from A Toi la Gloire.

Then another guy read from Hebrews 3, which was followed by the offering. Three more hymns followed : "Pleins d'Espoir Levons la Tête", "Je sais qu'un jour" and "Seigneur en Silence" (this last will be known to readers as "Speak, Lord, in the stillness")

Then Mr Bixby preached on James 1:26 and 27, prayed and the service was closed with the notices.

Everyone was invited to stay and eat afterward - they always eat together - then the Bible Study began at 2 and would be followed by the English Service at 4.

We had our own English Service to be ready for so we left after eating (!), but we had a great time talking with a maths teacher as we ate.

We were wonderfully welcomed. I would estimate that there were 30 - 40 people present.

The walk back to the tram through the campus was lovely and shortly after we got home the children arrived, having eaten at the Cenon church.

We then got ready for the evening, which was on Genesis 6 - the Flood - Judgement and Salvation. I suppose we were about 15 people, some new folk present and some regulars absent. Our Iranian guys have dispersed, one to Grenoble and another to Milan, connected with Bible churches before they left. We miss them.

Somehow the evening seemed very disorganised to me ! People arrived late, we started late, we finished late, we ate late, everything was LATE !

Must not stress out about it. Just try to encourage everyone to be more PUNCTUAL !

Anyone good at interpreting dreams ? (just kidding !)

Last Wednesday, I think... Eating Maggot Casserole. Big Juicy Maggots, beautifully cooked but clearly identifiable amongst the carrots, peppers etc... I had to swallow them whole.

Last night... Driving a big Toyota hire car through heavy traffic in the rain - and the clutch cable snaps...

Oh well... Soon I'll be back to dreams of the Elysian Groves, ambrosia, nectar and fragrant delights.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Shadow of your Smile

A Visit to Saint-Seurin

Today is World Heritage Day and here in Bordeaux there are lots of fascinating places to visit.

I chose to go to a square that I have always liked the look of from the bus as it hurtles past - La Place des Martyrs de la Resistance. You can probably work out the meaning of that.

It is just beside the enormous church of Saint-Seurin, which is a Minor Basilica. (You can look that up in Wikipedia if you want.) The present building dates back to the 11th century, though it has been greatly altered with the passage of time.

Seurin (Severinus) was the fourth pastor of Bordeaux (well, they said bishop) and he is buried in the sarcophagus under the big table (well, they said high altar).

After looking round the huge church I went down into the crypt, which normally costs 3€ to visit, but today was free. Centuries ago it was at street level but now is a basement and it contains stone coffins and large jars used as coffins for children. The burials date back to the 4th century and it was a Christian cemetery.

It was strange to think of the gospel arriving in Bordeaux very quickly, and of there being an established and large Christian burial place around this ancient church at the time of Constantine, before the fall of Rome, before Augustine, Christians lived in this Gaulish city.

Bordeaux is a funny place. One of the young ladies who was working at the crypt said that Bordeaux was unusual in that it invited the Romans to come and occupy, develop and protect the city - a bit like Morocco with France or Botswana with Britain. Bordeaux was not conquered by the Romans. It invited them in.

Just opposite the entrance to the crypt there was a HUGE QUEUE to visit the Maison Frugès. It is a Bordeaux town house (hôtel) redecorated in Art Déco style in the 1920s by Frugès, the sugar magnate who also got Le Corbusier to build an estate of houses here in Pessac. It's a private house, so it's not normally open to the public but today it was for heritage weekend.

After my visit a quick trip to the supermarket for provisions for tomorrow evening's meal after the Service, then home.

Friday, September 13, 2013

I've looked at life from both sides now...

This morning we each received a happy invitation to the inauguration of the redecorated Maison de la Bible, followed by a barbecue, as a kind of thank-you for Pat's work as a volunteer, and also for my lesser involvement.

I sent a happy affirmative reply.

Then I received another message, this time destined for the committee that runs the Maison de la Bible, sending a copy of the former invitation and urging the committee members to bring salads and puddings to said barbecue.

I said we'd be happy to do so !

Getting the bone moving again

Yesterday trombone-brother Bruce came for a morning session on the bones. He did a college degree in tromboning after his (early) retirement, so he can show me a move or two (or three) and he's American so he has jazz in his genes.

We certainly did more jaw-jaw than blaw-blaw, but it was good to start to get going again. And the convocation for the first PJB rehearsal has arrived - next Friday 20th, with a first concert in November.

We shared a hearty lunch of salad dressed with lardons with Mrs Davey, by that time returned from la Maison de la Bible, and Desmond, a travelling evangelist who had arrived unexpectedly in his van.

The evening found Desmond and I braving the seasonal drizzle to attend the meeting of Bordeaux-USA with an intervention on Equality. It was a good occasion to meet folks and to network, something we have to apply ourselves to much more than in the past !

As we hopped, skipped and jumped back to the bus-stop we passed this festive band of nocturnal merry-makers playing pétanque in the rain.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

You can't stop a cat from chasing mice, you can't stop the young'uns drinking coffee...

Another bit of culture for you, this time hilariously set in a café - one assumes in the Netherlands.

(The flute player isn't amused, but he plays beautifully..)

This in honour of my £5 moka pot from Asda, perhaps the best £5 I remember spending in a long time. It's only fault is that it's a six-cup model so it makes one mug. I am actively looking for an 18 cup model so we can make three mugs at a time.

Oh yes, it's Bach's Coffee Cantata, written to make fun of the problems fathers were having keeping their kids out of them new-fangled coffee shops. And what do you know, there's a rumour that "Starbucks" is coming to Bordeaux soon. :(

Have I been in France too long ?

While in Auchan the other day I was taking the escalator to the middle floor and it went passed the apéritif aisle.

It always has.

But never before did I notice the effect it had on me this time. I craved,  I LUSTED for Lillet.

Lillet is a popular apéritif in Bordeaux. It's kind of like Sherry or Port, a mix of wine and other stuff - in this case "fruit liqueurs".

The type of fruit is unspecified. I suspect, like with mixed fruit jam, that it's turnip and rhubarb. Anyway, the result is a sweet, syrupy liquid that puts you in the mood to eat.

Or so the theory goes.

Of course I didn't buy any. That stuff is not cheap !

So picture my surprise when we went to the flat warming of a friend and there in the midst of the table was a bottle of ... Lillet.

Well that's that craving sorted for perhaps a year at least...

Pérès, we have a problem

so the lad was in town at the FACfilles'flat for apéro and fun night with some of the new students.

At 10h15 a text message. "Pérès, the next bus home is at 10h50".

I checked. He was right. It is at this point that you think, "At least we don't have a car so I can't drive an hour into town and back to get him..." (is that evil ?)

The website had no other routes to suggest.

But then... "You could get the tram to Pessac Center then get a vCub bike to Carrefour".

A little later, "Just getting bike".

I checked the vCub website. "There's 8 spaces at Carrefour. Make sure the it beeps when you put the bike in the rack."

We got him home. We got him home.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A bit of culture - Jesu meine Freude

We sang this in Aberystwyth. I think we did very well, though we did have occasional fits of the giggles at the moments where we had to go "TROTS ! TROTS !"... Even worse in Christ lag in Todesbanden when we had to sing about "der Tod so bald". Anyway...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I will not go nuts. I will keep my cool.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs are continuing their efforts to undermine my sanity by sending me letters from various different Assistant Officers saying various different things about my tax returns and my future need to send in tax returns.

Yesterday I replied to two of them suggesting that if they liaised and coordinated their work then they could save lots of time and also money on postage, but today I got another letter from a third.

I don't think I can do anything to help them. It's obviously crazy to have three people, all Assistant Officers, looking at my files and writing me letters. There may even be more.

But it's their problem, not mine. I am not going to reply to them all. I shall wait and maybe at Christmas send one letter with each person's name on it.

It might even start a trend.

OK, Blogger, so where are all the links gone ? Uh ? Uh?

Ah ! they're back !

Monday, September 09, 2013

How to explain the gospel in just five minutes

The chute !

In the English service we were looking at Genesis 3, and how things went wrong.

We talked about the way Eve was tempted, the way man fell and the consequences, being :

Relationships inverted and destroyed (including death !)
The curses pronounced
Judgement, and the promise of salvation

Then why am I implicated in what Adam did, with an introduction to covenant theology and our covenant representatives.

We sang "Joy to the world", "My hope is built on God alone", and "He was pierced", which went particularly well - NOT. Grace read, but we did not sing, In Eden - sad indeed that day. We didn't sing it because it's just TOO Welsh. We used guitar and the magic MP3 music machine.

Some new folk, some holiday-makers, some folk leaving us to return home after their studies.

Sunday showers

It was EMPTYING down so I looked for the church that's easiest to get to - and found that it's the Eglise Libre de Pessac.

The Eglise Libre has its origins in a sort of disruption in 1848 and was constituted in 1849. Readers will perhaps have heard of Frederic Monod, one of the early leaders.

In Bordeaux the Eglise Libre had a building in the centre of the city but decided to relocate to the suburbs and established itself in Pessac. Over the past few years their temporary building has been replaced with a more permanent structure which is well suited to the needs of the church. There's parking, a modern hall, kitchens, ancillary rooms, etc. It's not far from the university campus and within a reasonable walk of the tram line.

We took bus 44 from the flats at the end of our road to a stop not far from the church and arrived just after the start (bus schedules, you understand) We weren't the last to arrive.

By the end of the service there must have been about a hundred folk present. The service was structured round two readings with reflections thereon, prayers and songs, then the pastor's sermon and prayer, then the Lord's Supper, notices, benediction, etc...

We sang : Nous voici Seigneur (We are here to praise you), Comme un souffle fragile, Sonne la trompette, and perhaps two or three others... accompanied by flute, violin, guitar, piano and, I think, bongos.

The sermon was on Luke 14:25-35 and talked about the need in the disciples life for rupture and  reflexion.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Sign-up week at the music school

Well this week was sign-up week at the music school and, although I withdrew from the committee, I said I'd go along to help with inscriptions.

My task this year for the evenings I was there was to look up people's surnames in the big folder which was not entirely arranged alphabetically and where people could be filed under a completely different surname because of the French standard of ladies retaining their maiden name as their legal name for all purposes linked with the state. So sometimes it was quite a challenge to find people !

Very good for your French !

Once I found people I had to obtain their signature on the authorisations for various activities etc...

Today was a bit more bizarre - the Fête des Associations, where we have a table to interest people in learning an instrument at the music school. The thing is that it was raining and we had no shelter, so our table was entirely bare apart from a Blue Plastic Trombone - all leaflets and information sheets being stowed in the dry beneath the table.

However the Blue Plastic Trombone was a terrific draw. I ALMOST persuaded one gentlement in his mid to late fifties to take up the trombone as a worthy mid-life crisis - just as noisy as a motorbike and just as annoying to everyone around, but entirely safe. Small boys LOVED making the loudest noise possible. It was great fun.

The Maire of Pessac, Jean-Jacques Benoît came round to shake hands, as did various others town councillors. I only really know the adjoint for culture, but the others generally say "Je suis un élu". Then Alain Rousset, the Député for Pessac and Gradignan came round wearing a splendid scouts neckerchief.

Extra-curricular activities

At the fête des associations we spent a little while hunting activities : theatre for Catrin and something for Pat.

We found two possible theatre groups that might be suitable for Catrin.

Pat found the Pessac knitters circle and was excited by the possibilities of Line Dancing with the Honky-Tonk Pessacais.

For myself I was not looking for activities of that sort, though it is looking likely that I will meet up with a trombone brother for mutual encouragement, not to say outright lessons.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Sabbatical resistance

During our sabbatical we're not laying everything down completely.
We're continuing with the English Service and with follow-up / accompaniment of folk on a limited scale.

However we do need to have a bit of resistance.

For example, we helped out with getting the Maison de la Bible bookshop ready after it's refurbishment. But the bookshop could do with more volunteers. Pat does a day a week at present, and may increase that. Should I take that on, too ?

Also a friend is very occupied with feeding homeless people in central ordeal. He's desperate to find more help. Should I get involved ?

To both of these we've decided to say no. The first because I can't take on something more at present. The second for that reason and because it's not at all our area of service.

They said WHAT ???

Apparently we do not need to obtain from the tobacconist deux timbres fiscaux tarif vigueur auto-collants.

We need to provide two ordinary postal stamps.

Just a little mistake... Oops !

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Christian Hymns MP3

So you can get an accompaniment CD of Christian Hymns II. All appears to be played on a real live piano by a real live pianist and recorded in MP3 format by number in the book.

I got the CD and loaded the lot into a Dropbox folder. That way wherever I have internet access I have the accompaniments on my computer or on my phone.

We tried it out in anger last Sunday evening, using it for the tune Thaxted (which is seriously wrong for guitar) and it worked fine, apart from being pitched just a smidgin too high. But even that's fixable if you have the time and energy to detune everything using Audacity os some similar MP3 wangler.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

You want WHAT ???

Gwilym's school wants us to provide :

deux timbres fiscaux tarif vigueur auto-collants.

I know you get it from the tobacconist (!) but :

What is it ? What does it cost ? Why do you want it ?

baffled of Bordeaux

Further thoughts on study

This idea of doing a masters in missiology and church planting. Well. Here's where we are, in chronological order. It's the most honest...

1) Our home church expressed their "consternation" that I was planning to do "FAR too much".

I promised to limit myself to half-time.

2) Vaux said that since I don't have a B.Th. maybe I should do the masters programme but to be awarded at most a B.Th.

I don't like this idea. Vaux will decide at the end of September.

3) We have been away to the UK and met with lots of different folk, and talked with many of them.

The upshot is that I am less convinced about doing the masters. It would mean significant monetary outlay. It would mean 6 weeks away from home in Paris every year (in addition to the time I spend in deputation).

What other options are there ? Remembering that the goal is twofold - greater understanding of the French scene and improved French language.

Well one thing we explored some years ago but never had time to take up is to study as auditeur libre at the University in Bordeaux. I'll look into that.

Another option would be simply to take advantage of the various cultural and intellectual life of the city. Things like :

the café économique in Pessac,
the Forums that are held in the Athenée Municipal in Bordeaux,
the public lectures in the cinema in Pessac,
the public lectures in the various faculties, seminaries and so on in Bordeaux.

I've never had time to go to these things and MAYBE they would be more relevant to our role here than anything else...

Même un apôtre doit lire. (Even an apostle has to read)

One of the goals I have during my period of sabbatical (cough, cough) is to rediscover how to enjoy spending serious time reading. For some years reading has been squashed into a hurried activity suitable for buses and trams, for snatched moments, for the early mornings when nobody but me is awake.

I used to spend lots of time just reading for pleasure. Whole evenings with a book and, say, Rachmaninov, Dvorak or Bach.

I have been too much a people person.

In many ways this is a good thing. It means I want to see people, to talk with them, to try to encourage them, to have a coffee with them, to pray with them.

But the bad side of it is that I have neglected time alone, and even much of my time alone is spent connecting with people via email, etc. etc.

Cough, cough...

Here's a link to a helpful extract from a Spurgeon sermon. Attention ! It's in French.

La rentrée scolaire

As I hopped round the local supermarket - I had gone in for tomato ketchup and came out with cereal bars, a big slice of pizza and a ream of paper, but no tomato ketchup - it was pretty to see the pens, pencils, bags, rulers, compasses, exercise books and tracing paper all set out for the rentrée scolaire. Parents have to buy the stuff their kids will need in school and it suddenly hit me that next year, in all probability, will be the last time we have to do the shopping for the rentrée scolaire or face the prospect of another winter of 6am starts.

For Gwilym is in terminale this year. His last year of school. He's already actively planning his departure for the UK next August, thinking of a sort of music based discipleship school in Coventry, of church apprenticeships and then of WEST.

And Catrin is in première. She has chosen her option. She's doing a bac L - Littéraire.

Few choose this option.

Most kids choose a bac S - Scientifique - because they believe it gives you more options for gainful employ in the future. They are almost certainly right.

The majority of the rest choose ES - Economique/Sociale - because they are not that good at science or because they are fascinated by economics, sociology or business.

Some are told they must do L because their marks in S and ES subjects are not good enough.

But Catrin chose it out of interest.

So we just watched Catrin totter off down the driveway in the morning gloom.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

if you owe taxes, pay taxes

Well this year we owe taxes. Income taxes. For the first time since arriving in France we are liable for income tax.

Though not much.

(I did wonder if I made a mistake filling in my tax return, but if I did I can't find it.)

So today I went online to pay it. You have to give them your bank reference because they suck the money out of your bank account. Then you have to warn the bank that they are going to do it, so we need to buy some paper for the printer, quickly !

The website said "You can pay online any time up to 5 days after the date that your taxes are due, and the payment is actually taken from your account ten days after it is due."

School tomorrow

The children return to school tomorrow, Gwilym for his final year, Catrin for her penultimate.

Catrin starts at 8am. Gwilym at 2pm.

So today they are building up a sleep surplus to help them through all those early winter mornings.

Maison de la Bible reopening today

So yesterday morning, after sleeping late (oops !) we scurried off to help with the final setup of Maison de la Bible for opening today. We spent a happy moment labelling Croat, Kurdish and Occitan Bibles, popping cards into spinners and talking with J-P who called in after his final "becoming French after marrying a French lady" interview.

Here's some pictures. The shop is opening in about 1/2 an hour as I type.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Platina Jazz

I know that this is cheesier than a toasted cheese sandwich with extra cheese and grated parmesan, but there's still a certain charm. And I like the trombonist.

Caudéran Baptist Church

Our peregrinations took us this Sunday to Caudéran Baptist Church, where we could not have had a warmer welcome because our friend Collette was there. This is the lady who became a Christian the first weekend we arrived in France (not through us, I hasten to add). We were smothered in hugs and kisses. Other people were warm and friendly, too.

I suppose there were perhaps 50 - 60 folk present, though I am HOPELESS at counting people. The first 1/2 hour of the service was planned and conducted by the pastor's children and took the form of readings, reflections and songs of response.

Then my friend Micaël preached from Mark 7 about the challenges of descent from the mountain to the valley and our need for prayer and faith.

Songs included "Blessed be the name of the Lord" (in French one verse went Honorons le nom du Seigneur, which is very good for your nasal vowels). Toi qui disposes,  Sur le chemin va sans peur,  "Jesus, be the centre" and many others. I suppose we sang about 9 songs in total. Accompaniment included flute, guitar, violin, trumpet and piano in various combinations and at various times.

Getting to and from the church was easier than I thought as bus 3 - a SUPERLINE (Liane+) goes nearby.

Report on the weekend - The English Service

Well Sunday evening saw the first English service of the new session. In all we were about 15 people, including :

4 Daveys
2 Mitchells
then people from :

UK (2)
Canada/China (1)
Iran (2)
Taiwan (1)
France (2)
USA (1)
Germany (1)

Mostly students.

We started the Bible Overview planned out in Phil Crowter's little book, Preaching God's Big Story, which is available in French and also free in English in pdf format.

A charming little video from Bordeaux' Big independent bookshop

Advertising detective fiction. Who is the great detective this person is depicting ?