Showing posts from October, 2015


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

And now for something completely different


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.

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

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.

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?" "Yes..." "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 year

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. UGH! 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...

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!

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?

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.

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

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.

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 characte

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.

Well the great sort-out has started

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

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. :-)

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!

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 t

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 tha



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

Oh the JOY!

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

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".

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 overc

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 tradit