Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Blog – Tuesday 28 October 2008

It is raining and we can’t believe it!

We had a wonderful weekend in Bishop’s Stortford at my parents’ house celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary with family. There were 23 of us and how my parents at the age of nearly 91 and nearly 84 coped with us all I really don’t know. But then they’ve been married nearly 60 years so presumably know how to pace themselves. Seriously, they are a marvel.

On Sunday morning we visited Bishop’s Stortford Community Church who very kindly allowed us to share briefly what is happening here in Paris and then they prayed for us.

Philip and his girlfriend Libby are staying with us for a few days which is great (for us at least). I thought, however, they were university students and this is the end of October, quite a few weeks before the Christmas holidays. Apparently it is “reading week” for both London Met Uni and University College London but if you go back to the original Greek, “reading week” is actually Ψλζθΰΰ which more literally translated is “vacation”. That is presumably why there is a distinct lack of books apart from one of Libby’s on Paediatric Dysphagia.

The other two on our leadership team are both away this week so I shall have to run the Thursday evening and Sunday morning meetings without their help. That should be challenging. On Sunday we will have no musicians either as they are all in Valence for the weekend for the worship teams from all the Newfrontiers French churches which is being led by Paul Oakley and should be excellent.

Of course, we still do not have a landline and are now in our sixth week of waiting. It might be a lot quicker to walk to the distribution depot of Free.fr (apparently in eastern Bulgaria) to collect the box myself! I am proposing to set off a week on Thursday if it has still not arrived.
College continues much as before. My first teacher (Lucie) is now back from her holiday in Japan and is still keen to come to one of our Sunday morning meetings which is very exciting.

Tomorrow I may have to give a little presentation in class on the causes of and solutions for stress. If so, and given that I am allowed to express personal opinion, I may have some interesting thoughts for them all!

Many people are praying for us. That is so encouraging. If you are one of them, please pray that God would wonderfully help us both in the French language and that he will work signs and wonders in and through the church to bring honour to his name and many people to know him.

All for now.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Blog – Sunday 19 October 2008
Thankyou to so many of you who have encouraged us about this blog. I am so glad it is proving helpful and shall endeavour to keep it going!
Just to let you know, we still do not have a landline and are now in our fifth week of waiting. It is difficult to know why things should take as long, but there you are. I suggested to my teacher last week that France is part of the developing world and he gave me a funny look, but then he’s probably got a landline and didn’t spend seven weeks in a tiny caravan in the summer!
The church, Le Chemin, La Vérité et La Vie, which may in due course be referred to as CVV, is now two weeks old and seems to be healthy! We have not had the same numbers as we had for the launch Sunday and 35 seems to be more normal at present (no children). Quite a large proportion of folk seem to be away on Sundays/at weekends which in a small church matters rather more than in a larger one.
I preached this morning, in our series on Nehemiah, on the great challenge he faced and the faith he had. People are being kind to me in saying that they think my French is improving which is good. More importantly, I hope they really get hold of the message! Our worship times are steadily seeing more of a sense of God’s presence which is exciting and Gill stepped out this morning and did some prophetic humming!
We are back to college tomorrow morning for our seventh week out of twelve. Gill did quite well in a little exam last week which has encouraged her. I have had some interesting class discussions on the history of the strike in France, women’s rights and other issues of inequality in the workplace. I have continued to have great opportunities to share the gospel with folk in the class.
By the way, our record for cycling to college was, on Thursday, reduced to 11 minutes 35 seconds although we were rather fortunate with traffic lights. Having said that, Gill seems to have developed a rather French colour blindness so that, for her and most Parisian cyclists, traffic lights only ever have one colour (green). That’s all very well until you get to Boulevard de Montparnasse which is about nine lanes wide. It’s interesting to note that for our first couple of weeks Gill would only ever cycle on the pavement for fear of getting too near the traffic or looking the wrong way at junctions.
I suddenly realised on Friday evening that we have been in the city here non-stop since 17 August and that made me want to escape the city for a day. We decided to do a day trip to Versailles on the train. The chateau/palace is immense and amazing (and that’s just from the outside) and the gardens go on forever. Absolutely stunning. Late in the afternoon all the fountains were switched on which provided an unforgettable sight. It did make us consider that this amazing place constructed over three hundred years ago as a display of human splendour and perhaps the finest palace in the world is nothing compared to what God has planned for those who love him.
The Car Show has finished today at last so next week’s parking for our Thursday evening and Sunday morning meetings should be much easier.
We celebrate a notable wedding anniversary this week and return to the UK for a family party at my parents’ house in Bishop’s Stortford on Saturday afternoon which we are so looking forward to.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Blog – Monday 6 October 2008
Sitting in the park as it is warm again today and we are now in our third week of waiting for our telephone line to arrive. Gill met someone recently who told her that her line took nine weeks to arrive. We might therefore get a landline this side of Christmas (this Christmas, that is).
The church was launched yesterday afternoon. Praise God. In some ways it has seemed a long time waiting, but at last. We had 50 people there in Gordon and Kerry’s house which was, therefore, almost full on our first occasion. Having said that, I am sure there were a few there specifically for the launch who might not be expecting to return another week. Still, we were very pleased with 50! I shall suggest to Gordon that he builds an extension for next month.
We started very late because of when people were arriving mainly due to getting lost and to parking problems (the French version of the Car Show is on at present just down the road and that caused a few parking problems to say the least).
I was anchoring the meeting which I found considerably more difficult in French than any other language I have ever had to use in anchoring meetings, but it was fine really. Gordon preached from Nehemiah 1 although after at least half an hour Gill was still thinking he was preaching about Naomi! Her excuse was that they sound the same in French. She clocked that it might be Nehemiah when she thought Gordon told us to turn to the book of Naomi!
We saw one woman healed instantaneously from back pain which had prevented her from walking normally.
Instead of tea and coffee in plastic cups at the end of the meeting (like we might do in the UK) we had a sort of champagne based aperitif which was great anyway, but also meant that everyone stayed longer to chat etc.
We will not start cell/house/life groups until early next year so Thursday nights we will all be together. This week I am speaking about passion for the Kingdom of God.
Gill was wearing a very fetching outfit on Saturday when she was stopped by a passer-by who suggested she looked like someone out of the 19th century! I think that’s a compliment. She wasn’t so sure!
Meanwhile on Saturday I went shopping on Gill’s bike with a dodgy back wheel (buckled). I reached the nearest major shopping centre and decided to buy some wood to make some 3 large shelves for our bedroom. I don’t know what weight of wood I carried on the bike back to the apartment (at least 2 km), but I must have looked a right sight. It was virtually impossible to steer so I was having to ask 90 year old ladies to get out of my way. All a bit embarrassing, but the shelves look great. The end justifies the means?
Michael has been with us this weekend. Our first visitor staying in the flat. It was wonderful to see him and good to have him around for the church launch too. He managed to break the bath, but that wasn’t too bad as he was with us two nights.
Just before I go as it is beginning to get dark, my new teacher (Anatole) does, as feared, speak quicker than the TGV. Last Monday I noticed that he only took three breaths during the four hour discourse on the French higher education system. I found out the following day that he had actually been teaching on the French Parliament!
Thankyou for all the encouragements and, no doubt, prayers.
Will keep you informed of developments!
George and Gill