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)

Friday, October 30, 2015


It's a beautiful day here and I'm doing sermon prep.

And now for something completely different

Thursday, October 29, 2015

GBU Weekend

Thanks for your prayers. This weekend I am at the Student Movement's weekend for South-West France. I've been before and greatly enjoyed it. It's great fun and the students are always great people. This year I think about 10 of them are from Bordeaux Church, too.

The theme of the weekend is "Love your neighbour as yourself, and I have three messages to give : on John 13 - Loved to love, on John 4 - Loving across barriers and on 2 Corinthians 5 - A Life of Love.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Why Windows drives me nuts

So the old laptop is now on Windows 10, and what gets me about it is that they've changed the whole thing all over again. I can't find anything! Thankfully they've put a search box in the bottom left hand corner because that's 70% of all I've done on the thing - search for how to do one thing or another.

Meanwhile since I bought this Mac the operating system has bene upgraded about three or four times. And everything is still pretty much in the same place. It means there's less radical changes and the screen tends to look more or less the same, but that's a good thing. It means you don't have the feeling that you are learning the whole thing all over again.

Shingles update

rash subsiding

Sunday, October 25, 2015

So no flu jab for me...

I arranged an appointment with Pat's doctor, just round the corner, to have a flu jab.
Went to the pharmacy next door to pick up the vaccine.
Into the waiting room to commune with Spotify for a while (currently Fauré songs).
Went in about 1/2 hour late - not so bad - and he asked, "anything else...?"
"Well I do have a little rash on my shoulder. It's round, so I wonder if it's fungal..."
"Let's have a look. Oh no, come over to the light. No, I think that's a zona."
A quick discussion of symptoms and causes and a confirmation search on google and it transpires that I have shingles.
So no flu jab for me unless and until it clears up.

Another brief visit to the flat, and one here

Yesterday we made a quick visit to the flat to see how things are coming on. It seems to me that they have prepared the gardens for turf and we can see now where the trees are planted.

Meanwhile our buyers called round with some friends to show them the garden and so on. They noticed that the bunks were gone from the downstairs room and Pat explained that we were getting ready to move and should be out before Christmas. They said they'd be ready before Christmas, too, so all depends on the speed of the notaires.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Preaching for the Chinese

Nice people. Good interpreters. Great food.

and a rather odd character who wanted to heckle...

I explained politely, "Excusez-moi, monsieur, mais vous avez remarqué peut-être que nous faisons un culte en chinois. Le culte en français se passe demain matin à 10h30 et vous serez le bienvenue pour cela, mais je dois vous demander de ne pas intervenir ce soir."

(This is a Chinese service as you can see. You're welcome to come back tomorrow morning for the service in French, but please don't try to contribute this evening.)

He more or less kept the deal, I didn't have to ask him to leave, but at the end he said, "It's a protestant church, isn't it?"


"So you're the ones who marry homosexuals."

I thought, "They had to do that, didn't they"...

The Eglise Réformée de France is the historic reformed protestant denomination in France, mixed in theology but with some evangelicals in it. Some years ago it merged with another denomination and took the name "United Protestant Church"

Now that was some coup. Of all the words that exist in French: Reformed, Evangelical, Baptist etc... it was Protestant that was respected, because during years of persecution and war, the protestants suffered for what they believed in and didn't give up.

Then, this year, the United Protestant Church voted to celebrate same-sex marriage.

In one sweep the way people view the word "protestant" has been changed.

Friday, October 23, 2015

There's no fool like an

My old windows laptop was sitting in a crate. It brought back painful memories of those days when I would turn on my laptop before heading into the shower, and maybe, just maybe, once I was dressed and breakfasted it would be ready to go.


But there's this new super-duper Windows 10 out now. It's super-duper, optimised and stuff, and the upgrade is free. Not like in the old days when you had to buy a cd, you just launch the upgrade process...

Well I started the old tug, found the upgrade site and launched the process.

A day later all the updates were done and the laptop is now on Windows 10.

I wouldn't like to say that it is snappy.
I can't imagine doing any serious work on it, but it might do watching videos or something.
And apparently Windows 10's constant updates are just as annoying as were those of Windows 7, XP, etc...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tonight we have our first group Bible study for everyone

We're going to go quickly through Ephesians, mainly because you get a great gospel overview in a short book. After that we'll probably veer into the Old Testament.

We're holding the Bible Study at Nicodème's flat. He lives in probably the nicest place possible in Bordeaux and I am personally gutted that in a little over a month he will be leaving to go and study in the USA. Which means losing his flat as a venue. Oh well...

Mise aux normes

Yesterday one of the students and I zoomed off to take a nice tea at Books and Coffee and talk about a book we're reading, only to find it closed!

Closed till 28 October.

For a mise aux normes (bringing up to standard).

They're making the toilet accessible to people of reduced mobility and putting in a ramp to get in.

The sort-out continues

Yesterday one of our sofas went to furnish a student's flat, as well as a kind of trolley thing we used in the kitchen, some hard plastic chairs and a little metal shelf unit. Our living-room is looking as if something is happening!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A quick visit to the new flat

First job, to time the walk from the bus stop and tram stop to the flat.
To Grangeneuve: 5 minutes. To Pessac Centre tram: 10 minutes.

Then to see what progress is being made with the grounds. The hedges have been planted and watering hoses laid round them. As I watched various trees were being put in.

Here are some photos:

Straight on to the terrace. Kitchen window at left.

Diagonally on to terrace. Living room window then our bedroom window at right.

Showing the hedge round our patch of garden.

Our garden extends under the living room window and our bedroom window.

Sunday evening at Bordeaux Church

We were full. Very full. Every seat taken.

Exterminate? Exterminate?

The Gironde has a small population of raccoons, introduced from America for their fur or as pets, but since escaped. Just like the minks of East Anglia, or the coypu that you commonly see in the lakes and waterways around Bordeaux.

The raccoon is not a native species and has no natural predators. So, what to do?


Saturday, October 17, 2015

International Thanksgiving

Last night we had perhaps the last big gathering in our home before the house move. I didn't count people, but the living room was pretty full and I don't think we will be able to contain all those people in the new place. Nico spoke simply on thanksgiving with illustrations from his home village in Austria. There was a huge variety of different dishes to eat and I had a piece of leftover apple tart for breakfast. Not bad, eh.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Papers delivered to the Notaire

The lady on deception checked them and said "Impeccable" so that's OK.

Then off to buy 3kg (six and a half pounds) of chicken drumsticks for Cawl Ciw Iâr for the International Thanksgiving Meal this evening, along with an excessive quantity of leeks and other stew-type vegetables.

Then a quick lunchtime concert at the Opéra - David Bizic - Bordeaux' impressive young Serbian baritone singing various arias from Giovanni, Figaro, Faust and Carmen.

Then home. Now just sitting and warming the place up before this evening.

It has bene unseasonably cold here - about 10 degrees less than the usual for mid-October. Normally we don't start heating till the 1st of November, but this morning there was a frost! Imagine it!


I'm off to the notaire this morning to drop off:

1) Titre de propriété - our title deed

2) Avis d'intention d'aliéner - forms for the town hall in case they want to preempt the house sale

3) Details of our mortgage so it can be redeemed

Meanwhile once we have the keys we can order :

1) Catrin's bed

2) the sofa bed

Thursday, October 15, 2015

One set of bunks and my big trombone gone.

Way hay! Shall I put the sofas on the bon coin now?

Meanwhile I drove past the flat today and they are planting the hedges and trees.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Taking apart the bunks

to sell tomorrow, assuming the person comes.

Easy peasy!

Mission exists because worship doesn't

There's a little discussion brewing in my heart at present, centred on this wonderful soundbite and the possible ways in which we misinterpret it and misapply it.

It has to do with how we read and understand the word "worship".

Many years ago when I was a handsome, young pastor in North Wales some cheeky people put forth the proposition that Christians do not gather to worship. (Even to recollect this now seems quite amazing, in our context.) Christians meet, they said, to encourage each other. They then part to worship God in their daily lives because in the New Testament the whole of life is worship.

Now we find ourselves in 2015, and I am have become a wizened, old pastor in Southern France. Virtually every church in our city organises it's Sunday meetings into "Louange" and "Enseignement". The time of Worship and the teaching. I imagine this is the case in other countries, too.

Those of us of a crusty, old, reformation-heritage character will sometimes say "but listening to God's word is surely worship", and of course, this is true. But sadly, because of the way we use the word worship, or louange, or "time of worship", etc... we can give ourselves the following impression (forgive the simultaneous equations / syllogism)

A. Mission exists because worship doesn't.

B. Worship is singing songs to God with a band for half-an-hour before someone speaks.


C. Mission exists because people don't sing songs to God with a band...

Do people really think like that?

Yes, I believe they do. This is why I think that.

When we lose the perspective on worshipping God together we produce "Christians" who are entirely horizontal, who have no ongoing relationship with God, who never pray, never meditate on his word and think that being a Christian is only about applying through the week what they hear on Sunday.

Know anyone like that?

When we lose the perspective on worshipping God in your daily conduct, we produce "Christians" who are entirely vertical, who are lost in wonder, love and praise on Sunday and who are amazed at his word and who adore him in prayer, but who do not grow in holiness and good works and who frankly don't see the need.

Know anyone like that?

By God's grace we can avoid swinging to extremes, we can keep our focus on worshipping God together with heartfelt humble praise AND live for him and walk with him every moment of every day.

We ought to do the one without neglecting the other. And mission exists because worship (in both senses) doesn't.

We are constantly reimagining how to improve the ministry of the church as God opens doors for us...

Over the summer we thought, prayed and discussed lots, and came to the conclusion that we should aim to begin a French-language congregation in one to two years, hopefully with a French pastor at its helm and part of our team.

Meanwhile it is possible that in not too many months' time we will be able to meet in a bigger hall. If this comes to fruition, maybe we can put in place a step on the way, which is simultaneous translation via a smartphone application. The translator sets up on his phone a little local wifi network to which his hearers connect. He speaks into his phone, and they listen via headphones to theirs.

If this happens we could conceivably offer simultaneous translation into not just French, but also Mandarin.

Selling the trombone

Yes. I know.

But don't panic.

Well, you know, it's a big hefty thing that's worth lots of money.
I'll still have the plastic one, and once we move I can decide what to do about getting something cheaper and smaller.

Getting the keys

The company we're renting the flat from phones yesterday to say that we can have the keys early, but they'll still charge us from 1 December. So that's great! It gives us even more time to sort out what we put where and what we need to sell and buy.

Dancing on the tram

I'm sorry if anyone in the tram was alarmed yesterday, but I did have Sinatra singing "Under my Skin" in my headphones.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Well the great sort-out has started

One set of bunks and an oil-filled radiator are on a second-hand goods website.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Preaching for the Chinese

Last night on Isaiah 40. They needed encouragement. They are all excellent students, top notch, but the challenge they face is ENORMOUS. And the pressure to succeed is immense.

And of course, we so want to be successful, and God so wants us to be holy - and sometimes the path to holiness is paved with failures... Some, at least.

Anyway. There was an excellent gang of people there including several children, babes in arms and babes in wombs, too! The Chinese group is turning into a church before our every eyes.

Afterwards an excellent Chinese buffet, including very good honeyed chicken and beef with ginger.

I'm preaching again for them next week. :-)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Working hard on getting rid of stuff!

Pat is decimating the DVDs and CDs.

I am plotting and planning for bulky musical instruments.

We're making lists of furniture that we keep, furniture that we sell and furniture that we dump.

It's all go!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Book review - Martyrs of Malatya - "James Wright", published by Evangelical Press

This is probably the hardest book review I've ever done. Not because there aren't things I could say. There are, about the book's structure, style, content. But somehow the story line of the book makes all that seem somehow nitpicking, secondary and frankly pointless.

The book tells the true story of how three men were murdered in the Turkish town of Malatya on the 18th of April, 2007. These men were targeted because two of them worked for a publishing house and the third shared an office with the others. The publishing house was targeted because it publishes books about Christianity. The five murderers were caught red-handed - very literally - having trussed up their victims before torturing them with knives, then slitting their throats. Two of the victims died at the scene of the attack. The third died later in hospital.

The trial of the assailants has taken years, despite their being caught at the scene of the crime, four in the offices and the fifth unconscious on the pavement outside having leapt to try to escape the scene.

As far as I can ascertain, the assailants are under house arrest. The book portrays the events leading up to the murders as an example of religious fervour turning young men into murderous hotheads. The internet suggests larger and more political forces at work. Who knows. I think the hothead theory is much more plausible.

Writing from France certain comparisons are obvious. Millions of French people took to the streets to protest against the shooting of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. There has been no comparable public outcry at the bloody murder of the three men of Malatya.

But these are the dynamics of what it means to be a Christian. Jesus spoke in his day of those who prayed on street corners to be seen by men. "They have their reward", he said. "But when you pray do it in secret in the store-cupboard of your house, and your heavenly Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

The book is entitled "Martyrs of Malatya". People who are targeted, attacked, slaughtered simply for their Christian faith - and we know that there are many like that in this enlightened age of tolerance - are referred to as martyrs. It means "witnesses". People who testify by their death that they value Jesus Christ more than life itself.

I recommend this book. It is for us in our Western countries an extraordinary story. But for many in this world it is very, very ordinary. How we long for the day when men will no longer believe it is appropriate to kill in the name of their god. Or politics. Or money. Or ideology. Or...

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

OK, here's some photos of the flat where we'll be living soon

Our flat is the ground floor one just behind the tree

Our bedroom

The living room

The terrace and garden

The Kitchen

Catrin's bedroom

The terrace and garden

The floor plan

And when the ship to Tarshish won't start?

We had to go and sign for the new flat, and give a cheque for the deposit, and a month's rent, and agency fees - GULP! Still, all that will be OK.

The agency is at Mérignac, near the ring road and quite accessible by bus with various options suggested. The best was the 48 from Pessac Centre, so we presented ourselves at the stop to see the petite bus driver opening the engine canopy. She didn't look all that proficient in the maintenance of large diesel engines, but you never know.

"It won't start", quoth she. She pressed a button, looked at some gauges, then closed the engine cover and went to phone the control centre.

"It won't start", she repeated to me.

"They'll send another bus?"

"Not very soon. You'll have to take the 35."

As we walked off I thought, 'and if we can't get there does that mean we miss out on the flat? And if we miss out on the flat we'll accept it as God's will. But does that mean we shouldn't bust a gut to get there, or that we should?'

As we walked I looked at the magic mass transit app on my phone. We could take the 35, but we could also take the 42 or some other bus. With them all we'd have to change for the 1. We opted for the 42. The app said it would be there in 5 minutes. The bus stop said 20. We hummed and hahed, then strode off to the stop for the 35. It came directly.

Where to change for the 1. The app said at Mérignac Centre, but at the stop before there was a 1 waiting for passengers to get on. We crossed the road and hopped on. Shortly afterwards we arrived at the agents' office, ten minutes early.

We signed the forms. We signed the papers. We signed the cheque. We signed the agent's son's plaster cast on his broken leg just for good measure. Well, OK, I made that up...

And we walked away contented. Now, buyers, don't use this period of reflection to pull out. All the way, buyers, all the way!

Tuesday, October 06, 2015


The apartments

So we went to see the flats. The nice gentleman greeted us with the sombre news that all the T4s were gone - that means that there were no three bedroom flats available. Bu there were two T3s, two-bedroom available, one on the first floor, one on the ground floor.

We looked first at the first-floor flat. It was very nice with a rhomboid living room, nice square bedrooms and a large wide terrace facing due south.

Then the ground floor. It had a covered terrace, a small garden beyond and a separate kitchen as well as a rhomboid bedroom. The irregularly shaped bedroom would provide room for Catrin's keyboard. The covered terrace is a great idea when it's raining. The garden - well we weren't looking for a garden, but it would give us extra space if we had folks round to eat in summer.

So we'll go to the office tomorrow and sign for the ground-floor flat. The rent is well within our budget and will reduce the outgoings on our support account nicely. The only drawback is that we have no spare room or office, but if and when Catrin leaves home, then we get a nice sized office.

The flat will be ready on 1 December. We should have to be out by 2 January. It gives us a nice overlap for sorting out stuff like buying a bed-settee, an oven, etc...

Oh the JOY!

There was a LARGE mosquito on the shelf in the kitchen.


I grabbed the shelf, then washed the beast off my hands.

It's such a long time since we had some music on the blog

So here we go:

Monday, October 05, 2015

OK, I have my dossier all ready and we have clearance to rent.

Please pray that tomorrow's visit is good and that we will find favour in the sight of the company!

Monday Morning Misery

There'll be Monday Morning Misery in Bordeaux today.

It's grey and damp.
It's Monday morning.
The lifting bridge is up for a boat to pass through.
The buses are on strike, so there's more traffic on the roads.
And tram A has just gone out of action in the centre of town.

City life, eh? Nothing like it!

Google photos crisis-ette

My Gmail account is full? How come?

If you go into Google Drive online it will tell you how your space is being used.

What's that? Several GBs of photos? How come? I thought we had unlimited space as long as you allow Google to optimise the file size.

I deleted all my photos - do it in Google Drive online - and now they're all being loaded back on "optimised".

Saturday, October 03, 2015

OK - we have till the 2nd of January to get out

We just signed the agreement to sell the house to the charming young couple who came round last weekend.

I spoke to our neighbour about the sale. I also asked the estate agent if he knew of the company whose flats we're booked to see on Tuesday and he said they're OK, no problem, he's worked with them himself very happily.

I've got most of the documents together for the dossier they ask for rentals. There's just our latest payslips and a letter from UFM confirming our "employment".

The sale should go through on 2 January, but if can we get a rental sorted out there's no reason in principle why we couldn't move in before Christmas and have Christmas in the new place.


We have the first of our planned English Conversation Afternoons tomorrow from 3:30 till 4:30 at Dan.

By the magic of Facebook the event has been publicised widely.

So widely that 70 people say they're coming and there's 30 more who may possibly come.

And Dan holds 30 maximum.

"No problem!" we thought. "We'll overspill into the local park."

But the weather just broke and has become wet and thundery.

So I think we'll have to cancel.

I believe there is a way of limiting the number of places available on Facebook and for our next attempt we'll do that.

You live and learn, eh!

Confirming the sale and finding a flat to rent

So yesterday our buyers signed the "compromis de vente".

This is the formal agreement to buy the house, with the price stated and the names of the notaires who will handle the legal aspects.

At the time of signing this the buyers pay a deposit to the estate agents. The sale is binding from this time, except in case of force majeure. Force majeure may include inability to get a loan approved, a severe change in health, the discovery that the house is next to a source of great danger, etc. Or at least this is my understanding of events.

The notaires take about 3 months to do all the searches and legal niceties, and then the deal is done and everyone moves.

Today the agent will call at our house with the compromis de vente and we will sign it. Then we're under starters' orders. Or should I say, notaires' orders.

Now then, that means we need to find a place to rent. Either in the centre of Bordeaux or in Pessac. We've been torn between the two. The overcrowding of the trams between Bordeaux and the campus has persuaded us to choose to be on the Pessac side of the campus.

I applied on Tuesday for social housing and yesterday got the notification that our application has been checked and put on the list. Now I can call at Aquitaine, Domofrance and Axanis to see if there's any hope.

But there's another possibility. Each time I take the Citiz car back to Pessac centre I drive along the Pape Clément vineyards and at the far corner of the vineyard you turn right to head for the tram stop. On that corner there was a big old house which was demolished to build a small block of flats. These flats are just being completed. And they are being built to be let out.

I emailed the company and a nice lady phoned me back. The company has a website which outlines the responsibilities of tenants and the documents you have to provide to rent a flat. I can give them everything they need (tax returns, salary slips, electric bill, etc.) I just need a letter from UFM saying that I am not on a permanent contract and out of trial period.

So we're going to see the flats on Tuesday. There seem to be two options:

1) A two-bedroom flat with a balcony. Built-in wardrobes, fitted kitchen with hob, but not oven. About the minimum size we need. I wouldn't have a study and we wouldn't have a spare room, but we could get a bed-settee for when we need to accommodate people.

2) A three-bedroom flat with a big terrace. Equipped as above. I would have a study which could double as a spare room, and we would have space for barbecues for quite a lot of people. But at a higher rent.

So there we are. Time for me to get the info we need from the various internet accounts, to talk to the mission about acceptable levels of rent, and to go and see the flats.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

We're off to see a flat

A company is building a very interestingly shaped block of flats right by the vineyards of Chateau Pape Clément. It's about 1km from the Pessac Railway station, tram stop and coach service for Lyon or Hendaye. They have two-bedroom and three-bedroom flats. We are booked to go and see next Tuesday afternoon. I'm very excited!

At the piano shop

Catrin needs a new piano. One with 88 keys.

Frankly, it's about time. She's been working with an electric piano that must be about 20 years old or more and only has 76 keys. More than enough for Bach, but this is the 20th century.

So a while ago I sent her with a friend to the Piano Shop in Bordeaux. She talked to a young salesman with an amazing piano technique. "This is what you need, this is what they use on that course", said the salesman, smiling as he showed her a model that cost almost double our budget limit.

I looked at the thing on the internet. It did look very impressive. It was also very expensive.

I contacted a friend who knows these things. "I would find your budget very restrictive", he said.
No sweat. There's a knack.

OK, listen, this is what we'll do. We'll wait till you start your course and see what they use.

Catrin has discovered that they use a miscellany of rag-tag and bobtail keyboards and pianos, some traditional, some digital, most in a worse state than our old one.

So back online I went. What could we get within our budget that would do what we need and have a good piano-style keyboard? I found a model by Yamaha that seemed pretty good.

Off I went to the other piano shop. It wasn't there. The guitar shop across the street was still there.

Where's the piano shop now?
Gone. Closed.
But you still sell keyboards on the quays?
No. The shop on the quays has closed too.
Oh! So now it's just guitars and winds?
Yup. That's it.
But you guys are doing OK?
Yes, we're fine, though it's tight.
Who sells keyboards in Bordeaux, then?
Well you could go to the piano shop or to a keyboard shop near the Pont de Pierre.

I went to piano shop number one (see above). There was the model I had identified. I poked it and prodded it. A salesman appeared, smiling.

"It's a good one, this. Let me show you what it can do."

He gave me a ten minute recital including:
some piece or other by Chopin on piano,
Bach's toccata on Organ (sounded ghastly, but I didn't tell him that),
99 Red Balloons played by a synth band and
The Girl from Ipanema accompanied by a funky bossa-nova rhythm section.

I am sure that you get the idea. He obviously had quite an accomplished piano technique.

"And the keyboard?"
"Yes, it's good."

I thought that the quality of the keyboard was probably of more importance than the multiple speeds of bossa-nova that were available.

"Now tomorrow is the first of October and all the prices go up."
"Yeah, yeah", I thought. Usually my reply to that is, "Oh dear, now I CAN'T buy it. I promised my father NEVER to respond to that tactic."
"So what is the price now?"
"Come with me and we'll see what we can do."

He looked at his price, then at what Thomann, Amazon, etc. were selling it at.

"I'll match their price", he said.
"Done", quoth I.

So today I hied me away into the heart of Bordeaux in the Citiz car to collect it.