Showing posts from July, 2014

Gwilym's farewell Sunday

Last Sunday the church at Cenon said farewell to Gwilym, with a lunch, songs, sketches, a gift and with prayer for his future. He'll leave Bordeaux on 7 August to be a Church Apprentice at Freshbrook Evangelical Church, in Swindon, working with youth, doing the South West Gospel Partnership Training Course, serving in the church and preparing for the future.

A wee bit more music

Sorry it's been quiet here.

Here's some musique to make up for it!

A long, full day in Bordeaux

began at the Maison de la Bible where we met some fine people and had a nice long conversation with our friendly neighbourhood beggar and also with a lady who comes in for some calming influence and so on. Among other folk. Then off to the hospital to visit a lady from Bergerac who comes down every fortnight at the moment for chemotherapy. Then off to Gwilym's shop to take him some instant coffee, then a moment of quiet in a bookshop before tramming across the river to the first Conseil d'église that I have attended for a long time. Tim got it sorted like a boss, with times allocated for each agenda item, and we only overran by about 1/2 hour. Then off home via Auchan to pick up some essential supplies for the lad. I took some photos on the way. The courtyard of the hospital The hospital chapel

A year with the Macbook Air

Well there we are. It's over a year old now. And it's by far the best computer I've ever had. It's just as fast as the day I first had it. Its battery life is just as good. I still get around 12 hours. It still looks like new, too. I have needed to fuss with applications far less than with PCs. For word processing I use Pages. Comes with the Mac. For presentations Keynote is more than adequate. Also comes with it. I have Sunrise to present my Google Calendar. Olive Tree Bible software, though I also have Logos loaded. Skype, of course. It's just great.

Book review : God's Story - a Student's Guide to Church History

History is not bunk. It is awesome. It tells you the route that brought you where you are today. It warns you of the mistakes and errors that others, wiser than you, made. It inspires you with stories of heroism shown by people in worse circumstances than you. And the history of the church is especially God's Story. Dr Brian Cosby is pastor of Wayside Presbyterian Church in Tennessee, and he has sketched out this little survey of Church History for students. Here we hit our first snag. British people will think the book is aimed at university students, at kids of 18 - 21. If the book is aimed at university students of age 18 - 21, then I suggest it is aimed a bit low. But high school kids would appreciate the level of Dr Cosby's approach. The book is the product of a pair of theologically safe hands. You can generally see where the author is coming from in his treatment of the reformation, of the puritan period, of Christianity in the New World, etc. On the other hand

A bit of morning encouragement!

Naughty naughty !

Last night we were invited to our Dutch missionary friend, Harriette's place. Some of her friends from Holland were visiting. They came into the bookshop earlier that day, which was great. The Dutchies and Daveys evening was spent in the usual European high-jinks, including : : Making those wristbands out of rubber bands, you know the things... : Trying to work out how to make a Dutch "r", by vibrating something deep in your throat that I am sure does not exist. Catrin is a natural at this. : The "Sing a song that has this word in it" challenge. We failed on scissors. (There is a Dutch song about the dentist, would you believe...) Then this morning, by unhappy coincidence, I discovered that some person or persons unknown in Germany and in Holland has been accessing my Hotmail account. Rotters! I have now set up two-step verification and a password SO ENCRYPTED that even I don't know it.

Crazy lunch!

Courgette cuppa-soup. Sweet flat white peaches. Cake with lychees. Baby lettuce with balsamic dressing. In that order...


At the end of the fete du vin they had planned a huge fireworks extravaganza, with thousands of wine-filled, sun-kissed festive throngs all over the quays watching the show. But météofrance forecast a nasty storm, so they cancelled it. (no storm came) Then last night was the first night of the reenactment of the battle of Castillon, which ended the Hundred Years' War and returned Aquitaine to French rule. Also various open air music concerts were planned. But météofrance forecast a nasty storm, so they cancelled it. (no storm came) This time we did have some brief downpours of rain and thunder rumbled a bit. But nothing that would make you batten down the hatches or cancel your stuff. I hope météofrance doesn't swing the other way, though!

Sans même râler!

Catrin wants to study voice with a view to singing professionally, and in the meantime she makes videos of her songs and puts them on Youtube. But her camera is a bit... well... she could do better. So she's been saving up. We said we'd pay half and so on. So the other day we started looking seriously at what might suit her. We looked at websites and videos done by people who make videos. Some of them - well they say "An inexpensive set-up" and wave this massive device at you that would cost thousands. Yeah. Right. One lady said "I use my iPhone." Yeah. Right. One person pointed out that for singing the important thing is to capture the voice well with an external mike, so that set us on a more helpful quest. So off to the Fnac we went to hunt for cameras that take an external mike. I'd been fancying a Lumix FZ200 for her, really because I'd like one myself, except it's too big so an LX7 would be the best for me, but the lens on the FZ

When it's HOT, HOT, HOT

Well yesterday Pat was in the Maison de la Bible all day and I was in with her in the morning. At lunchtime I came out of the nice, cool, stone-built bookshop into the heat of the afternoon sun on the hottest day of the year so far, 38°C. When it's 38°C in Bordeaux it's a bit like when you check the barbecue to see if it's nice and hot. The sun beats down at you mercilessly and you need to drink lots of water and seek the shade. Everyone walks very slowly. Very slowly indeed. Thankfully there were nice breezes, but still the side facing the sun was getting nicely cooked. I had an errand to run in town, then home on the nice air-conditioned tram!

The Office for Bulgarian and Romanian Squats

While I was waiting at some office or other with our asylum-seeker friends I noticed that the next door office was entitled "The Office for Bulgarian and Romanian Squats". OK... Another thing that you can"t help but notice is the number of Ukrainian families seeking asylum in France. Youngish parents, one family with 6 little children, all sat in a row in the préfecture. Imagine!

but it is God who gives the increase

Many years ago when the world was young and I was doing my ministerial training I used to preach in a church belonging to a denomination with an illustrious past but a somewhat faded present - the church was one of a few relict communities of evangelical life in what had become a moribund, formalist body. I remember a conversation with one of the church leaders of the congregation where I had preached. He criticised another denomination because they had lost the truth, "gone rotten from the bottom up" because of their independency and democratic church government. "Our system kept the church pure", he said. I thought, 'You don't get out much or go to your denominational meetings, do you?', but I listened politely, treasured up what he said and pondered it in my heart. His answer to decline was having the right structure. Even more years ago I was very keen on a strong independency myself. "Groups of churches go down the Swannee", I woul


I've always cut the family's hair, ever since the children were small. Sometimes I try and encourage them to go to a hairdresser. Pat likes to go to a stylist now, but the kids still prefer me to do their hair. But I was a bit daunted when Catrin said she wanted me to cut her a fringe. I resisted for a long time. She found a video on Youtube showing how to do it. My resistance weakened. I found another video. This morning my resistance crumbled. So she has a fringe. And she looks fabulous.

Pictures from 14 July

The Fête Nationale festivities for Pessac were held in the park at the end of our road. This was very good news for us, of course! Here's some photos.

It's going to be the best 14 July EVER!

Well here we are just getting ready for the Fête Nationale, the 14 juillet, and everyone knows what's happening where. In Bordeaux there are the Firemen's Dances tonight from 8pm to, I think, 3am. Then tomorrow evening the military parade complete with parachutists and alphajets, followed by fireworks. In Pessac there is the 14 juillet extravaganza. From 16h tomorrow the park opposite our house gets turned into a fair from the year 1900. Everyone is invited to come dressed up. (I'll wear a cap and braces) There'll be period burger stands and crepe-mongers. There'll be a méchoui - a spit-roasted lamb stuffed with cous-cous. There'll be singing and dancing and giant wooden games. There'll be fireworks at the end of the evening. Hmm.. Bordeaux or Pessac?

Self-help religion

(Please note that posting this extract does not imply approval of everything Paul has ever done or of the Anglicanism of which he is a part.)

Wedding and Groupe chinois

Today at 11 at the town hall Manu and Delphine are getting married. Wahoo! Then their celebrations continue at the church in Auros at 4, but we're not going to that. Auros is about 30 mins by car outside Bordeaux. We were offered a loan of a car, but by then I'd been asked to preach for the Chinese group. So at 6 I'll have the joy of preaching for the Chinese. Last time was on the Trinity. This time will be on Jesus, his person and his work.

Poor kids

Well Catrin's results were due at 17:00, but we encouraged her to look at about 10:00. You never know. All went quiet just after 10. Then "Mum, come here..." Then all went quiet again. Then the silence grew deeper and more ominous... Catrin had passed all her exams, with a very respectable 15/20 in Science, 14/20 in Geography and History, but 11/20 in français écrit and 10/20 in français oral. That was the first silence. The deeper and more ominous silence was as she began to hear from her friends. Some had got 7. Some had got 5. 7 is bad. 5 is the pits. Some few had done better. Still, she's accumulated 20 or 21 points towards her bac next year, though it seems that some of her fellow students are starting with a negative score.


This song took a while to grow on me, and I'm still not sure about the balkan-style arrangement, though it makes a change from riverdance-praise.

Catrin has passed her bac français

with a mix of good and OK marks. Some of her co-students have not done as well. Post mortems are in process. Oh well.

Today Catrin gets the results of her Bac Français

I did have a rendezvous at 10 in town, but the chap phoned yesterday to postpone.

L'administration française - dans toute sa splendeur !

So I spent a happy afternoon with our friendly local asylum seekers getting their request for asylum completed and sent off. This experience was made wonderfully surreal by the following : 1) the charming Italian lady in the office whose English was better than her French, which meant I had to correct her spelling a bit. 2) the sheer glory of our friends' national calendar. It is NOT the Islamic calendar. It is another lunar calendar in which we are in the year 1393. This meant that working out the parents' and siblings' dates of birth was an exercise in complicated mental calculations. I KNEW algebra would be useful one day. 3) the application to join the French health scheme, a thick wedge of documents sealed in a plain brown envelope accompanied by colour photocopied instructions to : 1. take bus 15 direction Les Aubiers, 2. alight at Place de l'Europe, 3. find the tall building in the photograph, indicated on the map, then 4. enter, ascend to the second f

Evocation de la venue de Napoléon à Bordeaux

Napoléon came to Bordeaux last weekend. Here's a nice photo and a little vidéo :

In a strange coincidence...

On Saturday I shot briefly into town to meet up with one of our old Chinese students. Now working in a financial trust in a city of 10 million people in the heart of China, he came to faith in Bordeaux and we spent very happy years together, studying and reaching out and working with the Chinese group. It was a good time. Now he's married to a super godly girl, and they have a little boy who is growing up fast. They are looking for a church, which is not so easy when you're in a Chinese city of 10 million people. It was an encouragement to me to work with these Chinese lads.

Book Review - China's Reforming Churches, edited by Bruce Baugus

This is a really good book. No, I mean a really good book. It's essentially the story of Reformed churches in China (Reformed in this context meaning presbyterian) Bruce Baugus is the editor, with different authors for the different chapter, the book is organised into four parts : 1) The Story of Presbyterian Missions in China 2) Presbyterianism in China today 3) Challenges and opportunities in China today 4) Chinese appropriation of the Reformed faith I don't know of that sounds all that appetising to you. What if I tell you that along the way you'll read discussions of : how to conduct overseas mission such that strong indigenous churches result, how to face up to doctrinal shift in ministerial training, how to pastor in today's connected mega-cities, the practical implications of covenant theology in church and family life, ministry in times of social upheaval as well as a detailed exegesis of Acts 15 ? It really is a most stimulating book and I w

It's a tough life for asylum seekers

For our asylum seeker friends the week started early - Monday morning rise and shine and go and register at the OFII. So 7:30 found me haring off to the bus stop for the 7:41 bleary-eyed bus to Bordeaux. 8:25 we were in place. 8:30 the doors opened and we were in line. Then sat waiting in the reception area. I fingered the tricolour sitting proudly in the corner by my seat. Its bold colours were taken up by the reception area - bright blue doors white walls bright red desk (this was a bit of an eyesore, frankly). But it did get the message across. This was not Kansas, either, Toto. A gentleman came in and called out the name of our friends. We followed him by a circuitous path to an office where he entered all their details on computer. Voilà. By 10am I was back home, making and answering phone calls and sending out an email with details of the meeting for the little team that is taking over from next week. Can you imagine it. A trip to the OFII and you don't e

After-church barbecue

No problem - we'll use the amazing, magic, electric barbecue. Plug it in. It heats up. POP. The electricity trips. Unplug it. It still trips. OK... Let's get the Davey nose on the job. In the kitchen there's that familiar smell of hot wires... Unplug the kettle, the coffee machine and the oven. Turn on the electrics. Fine. Turn on the barbecue. Fine. "I think it's the kettle". That's bad news, eh? So we put the kettle to one side and plug everything back in. An hour later. POP. The electricity trips. Well it isn't the kettle. Get the Davey nose on the job again. Oh dear. It's the oven... Still - at least it's not the kettle! Let's get some tea made. UPDATE : it tripped again, so it isn't the over either. Perhaps it's the coffee machine. We'll leave the lot unplugged overnight and try it in the morning. UPDATE : finally tracked it down to the extension lead the kettle and oven were plugged into. :-D

The Bible in the mother tongue.

TGC Intl Outreach  ‏ @ TGC_IO     16m "The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue. It needs no furlough and is never considered a foreigner." - William Townsend Just to mention that at the Maison de la Bible we don't half sell a lot of Bibles. We sell over 100 Bibles at 1.90€ EVERY WEEK, in addition to all the other numerous translations and bindings that we sell.

Happy Bac Day

Today was also results day for Gwilym, the day when he got his results for his Bac Pro Commerce. Well the boy done good. He got an average of almost 70%, buoyed up by 100% in his three English exams, but sustained by good marks in Geography, Commerce etc. He ends up with a Bac Pro Commerce Admis avec Mention Assez Bien. Bravo, fiston. Tomorrow he starts his summer job at smart togs in Bordeaux.

Happy Independence Day!

Who'd be an asylum seeker, eh?

So this morning while we still had the car I roared off to Carrefour and did the big shop, then returned the car unscathed to its waiting owner. Paperwork completed in order, off with me to my meet-up with our asylum seekers to accompany them to the OFII - Office Français de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration. But nipping round to the OFII sounds so ... ordinary somehow... The lady at the OFII was charming. She said, "You'll have to come back next week." A bit of discussion uncovered the reason why. All the relevant staff were at Paris for meetings. So there we are. Rendez-vous next Monday, 8h30 at the OFII.

Day trip to Beynac

Well we wanted to mark the end of the BAC exams in worthy manner, so we planned a trip to Puy du Fou. It was suggested to us as an outing when we first arrived in France nine years ago, but it's still hideously expensive, mainly because it's SO FAR AWAY. We'd have travel costs and accommodation and... Well we thought again, and decided to go to Beynac. It's the setting of Michael Crichton's book, Timeline, and the associated film, and a very historic castle, the Lionheart bought it not entirely honestly, but there we go... So we hired a car from a charming gentleman in Bordeaux whose cousin is a pasteur protestant and whose brother is a pasteur évangélique (small world) and hied us away to Beynac. Including a somewhat comic moment where the various follies and foibles of the family made either buying lunch or even eating the rolls we brought with us utterly impossible, the day passed very enjoyably. Here's some photos.