Saturday, 4 April 2009

I see it has been four weeks since our last post. Sorry for the delay. Lots to report since then:-

1. We have still not sold our house in Coventry. Well, we have and we haven't. An Indian lady who first visited it in October and then many times since has apparently received and signed her mortgage offer and signed the contract. We can't remember when we signed the contract it is so long ago. Then just when we thought contracts would be exchanged, she went off to Ethiopia for three weeks with her work and everything ground to a halt. She should be back now, but with no news this week it appears that normal service has been resumed!

2. Our life groups in the church have started well. It seems that many people were really looking forward to them. Gill and I are leading two at present. For one of them we have chosen to have our meetings in a local cafe. It is quite fun praying there at a table while people are wandering past!

3. We have David Stroud from ChristChurch London coming to visit our leadership team for a day trip on Monday. I am really looking forward to that and trust that he will help bring some more clarity to us as a team. As leaders with our wives we had a good time praying together last night in Creteil. It takes Gill and me an hour to get there on the metro (including a 15 minute walk at the other end).

4. On 15 March I had invited a number of keen rugby fans from the church (French and English) to watch the rugby international here after lunch. It was such a good result of course.

5. We have an outreach team coming here from Mosaic Church Leeds from 10-19 April with the intention of helping us in our mission to reach the people of Paris with the good news of Jesus Christ. We are praying that they will be extremely fruitful and leave behind many new contacts for us to befriend etc.

6. We have both Sarah (6-10 April) and Michael (9-13 April) coming to stay with us for a few days next week and overlapping for 24 hours. 17 Rue Gazan has been a little bit of an hotel recently with Charlie Gordon staying for a week, fresh from her six months in Tashkent Uzbekistan and her friend Amanda from London for the weekend with her. A bit of a squash, but remarkably they were happy to share a single bed!

7. One of our blog readers kindly emailed from Rennes a few weeks ago to give us some extremely helpful advice about our ongoing Carte Vitale saga. Thankyou. The latest position is that we visited again our local social security office, full of confidence that we would explain that the UK DHSS tell us that Gill's name should simply be added to my continuing UK cover. Not so easy as we thought, of course! "Irregulier" was the lady's first comment and, in the end, she took photocopies of everything to send off to another office in a different part of the city with the promise that they would telephone us. Needless to say we have received no such phone call. Nor, if we are honest, do we expect one! It all rather reminds us of the Circumlocution Office in Dickens' Little Dorrit.

8. Gill has had two recent brushes with the law which are worthy of report. To take her mind off her mother's death she decided on retail therapy and a trip to the local Ikea. I gave her detailed instructions as to how to get there (train, train, bus, walk) informing her that all trains on that second line stop at Choisy Le Roi. However, her train failed to stop there and she carried on going in a southerly direction. Unusually there was a ticket inspector on the train. He was minded to fine Gill until she explained that she was English etc. Forgiven, but only just! Then a couple of weeks later on her way to her conversation group she was stopped on her bike by the police for going through a red light. She explained that it hadn't been red. The officer disagreed, but she was nevertheless forgiven again!

9. Gill was 50 on Tuesday. I had organised a surprise short holiday break to Bastia and told her about it on Tuesday morning leaving enough time to pack a few things and get to the airport. However, there were real problems with the trains that morning and, as a result, we arrived at the airport having already missed the final check in time. We speed-walked, jogged and ran (about 12 kilometres) through Terminal 2 to get to the Easyjet check-in desk. The plane had not actually left and I was told to rush through to boarding, but with the warning that we would probably be too late. On turning round to encourage Gill to keep running an extra few minutes, I was horrified to see she wasn't there! I found her 15 minutes later elsewhere in the airport. I think she had tried to get on a different flight (to Shanghai or somewhere). Anyway, despite our disappointment, we had to come up with a plan B. We ended up having a wonderful three days in the sun on the Normandy coast and, by the way, there were storms all week in Corsica. God is very good, of course, as usual, even when you can't always see it at the time!