Wednesday, December 29, 2004

A transcribed note

Wednesday, 29/12/04
C.H. – Le Mans
5 pm

Nothing left to read so I bought this A5 notepad to perhaps jot down some thoughts or maybe write a letter or two.

First, I thank my God once again for bringing me through this little test—I pray that my faith has grown somewhat from the experience.

So far as my health goes, this coming year I want to lose another five kilos to bring me down to an even 100 – then afterwards we'll see.

The cardiologist said to keep losing a little weight, to try to get my TA to around 14/8, and to try to get a little exercise every week. I can do that. God helping me, I will.

6:30 – supper. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the good food.

I've had a room-mate since this morning. Having him here takes some of the joy out of enjoying my food again since he can't eat. Don't know what he has. Lord help me to say something kind before I go—something that might cheer him up.

The food is piping hot, as are the plates, and the portions are generous—especially the vegetables which is about double what you'd expect. I "ought" to have passed up this one—two hot meals the same day! What about my weight! I'll see to that tomorrow.

Saw the doctor in the hall and confirmed check-out for tomorrow. What'll I do till then?

Sunday, December 26, 2004

What a way to spend Christmas!

Well, this was the year we had decided to spend the holidays in Rome but we never made it!

Driving on the first leg of the trip down to our hotel in Riom my back was hurting me more and more till all I wanted to do was lay on the floor of the room to try and relieve it.  Finally Sarah called me a nurse who, after a basic examination, sent me to the hospital in town that very evening — the night before Christmas!

There the night-nurse on duty diagnosed gall bladder stones; or as we say here, cholécystite aiguë.

She said I needed to get it seen to right away but agreed to me driving home, so as to get things done at home in Le Mans.

So next morning we were off and spent our day —Christmas day—getting there.  We were admitted that same day and an operation was scheduled for the following day.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Microtec Annual Dinner

As usual we celebrate with all the employees from Microtec with a dinner together.  This year we went to the Le Mans Country Club and had a top notch meal with excellent service.

Here the whole team:

Left to right, in front of me, is Pascal, Raphael, Jonathan, Nathalie, Stéphane, and Cédric
And here's the venue

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Change of Schedule

Being a Proposition
for a change in the schedule
to be applied only on weekends

Given that,

— we work a “hard week,” and that

— we “never have a minute to ourselves,” and that

— everyone has a pile of books they are pretending to be reading,

Be it therefore known and resolved

that, by the powers invested in him by virtue of his position

as Father, Husband, Friend, and Head of the Courtiron Household,


(the undersigned)

hereby states and declares

that with effect Sunday the seventeenth day of October, 2004

the family schedule on weekends will start with


being promptly served

at the respectable and customary hour of 7 o'clock.

It is to be most carefully noted that on these days,

to wit, Saturday and Sunday,

no interrogationwill take place

as to the activities of anyone between the hour of “going to bed”

and the call to breakfast of the following day,

each person being accounted responsible

(rightly or wrongly)

enough to have used his (or her) time wisely.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Monday, September 20, 2004

The Grace of God in Caen

The grace of God is on the right. But no right turns are allowed!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Tuesday evening

Grandma visited us this afternoon and that is why, at ten past ten at night, I am still up and pecking at my keyboard.

We are not fighting a physical battle but against spiritual forces. The only thing we can do is pray. We must all pray for Gaëlle because this poor girl is still in the clutches of untruth and deception. I just pray that somehow she will come to realize that if she wants sanity and truth in this life there is only one way to get it.

At work we got a very big order but had to reduce our margins so much that one wonders sometimes what the point is of doing it. Still, we will try to use it as a means of advertising -- something we have never really done yet.

The Lord is very good to us and we are so blessed in every way. All I want is the truth. God helping me, I do not want to hold on to anything, any doctrine, that is not completely true. And at the same time, God help me not to reject anything just because of ridiculous mans' traditions.

Good night ....

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Saturday night

I think I'm getting the hang of this thing and so you won't have to read too much drivel in the future -- I'll try to stay on topic (whatever that is) and these little notes will replace what we have been doing for the past year in writing to Tot. I think I like the idea.

I have decided to go ahead and sign the quote we got from M. Bardy and get him in to do the new stairs. It's only money - - (some of us had thought that it was too much money) but I think our time is far more valuable than our money -- and we can always get more money but we can never get more time!). I will be very happy to get that done and I know Camille will, too.

I think the next project around here is the much-talked-about "summer kitchen" so us boys will have to plan and see how and when we can put that into action.

Lilly was out manning the bookshop this morning, as usual. She said there were a couple of nasty calls on the answerphone. This evening they all went out and hit Château with some of the new posters. They were back by around 7pm having gotten up four right in the center of town. We must have gotten out around a quarter of the 10,000 "Péché" tracts we got printed up. We're now working on another one!

Another beautiful day today with a bit of a breeze but sunny and warm. I have just one more part of Evangeline to read to Becky and we will have finished the poem. It is sad, but he sure had a way with words!

See you tomorrow ...

Saturday afternoon ...

Today is Saturday afternoon here, Paris time. Happy birthday, Bryan. It is a beautiful sunny day and we've been busy all morning with the animals. What animals? Well, we have a couple of dozen sheep and a handful of goats that need fairly constant attention and so Jonathan decided to take a week of his holiday to construct a winter shelter for them in the "garage" area of our property. He finished it yesterday and it is well done!

Still no word from the Tots (more about them later!) but we got a Baslé update from Atlanta and a month-old newsletter from Mandy in Argentina.

The boys are stewing duck gizzards today which gives a nice smell to the house. They (R, J, C & O) went up to M. Morillon's and picked up three of our sheep that are marked for slaughter within the next few weeks. They're going straight into Jonathan's three new stalls.

We are so thankfull for the blessings of the Lord on our life.

I am still wondering how and when I should write to Tot and what I should say. We've all talked about it and have decided that we cannot just let him disappear into thin air with no word at all. Over here that is considered bad manners and I don't mind saying so to him, if it comes to that.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Hello all and sundry ...

Well, up till now we've been using this site as a way of communicating and posting our correspondence with Tot (hope you've enjoyed it, though I see there are not many lurkers).

With this post we are hoping to keep track of a little bit of our life here today on a personal level so I want to introduce you to the whole team -- all thirteen of us!

My name is Derrick and my wife is Sarah. Together we have raised seven children that we are very proud of: Raphaël, Elisabeth, Jonathan, Rebecca, Christopher, Claire, and Olivier. Raphaël got married a couple of years ago to Camille and they now have two children of their own; Christine and David. The thirteenth (in this list) is Nathalie who came to live with us several years ago and is in every way just like our eighth child, and what a blessing -- if you don't know the story, we'll tell you all about it a bit later!

This is a new venture for us; we have no idea who may want to read this blog, but we are united and excited about the idea of putting it together. Every day? I doubt it. But check back here at least twice a week if you want to keep up with us.

May the Lord God bless you all!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


Christopher turned ten today and this was his catch, pictured here with his proud sister, Claire.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

From MDR to polygamy

We were anxiously awaiting your letter this morning so thanks for being faithful to send it. It's nice to get a lot of mail in the morning, isn't it? How about a word from you too, Natalie?

It was nice to hear you responding to Becky's little joke. I guess your questions were directed mostly to her so I'll let her answer it. Her side of the discussion seems to have deviated completely from MDR to polygamy about which, as I mentioned, I personally don't have a lot to say.

One question just comes to mind, though, as I'm skimming over your letter of this morning. Would it be fair to say that you think that Solomon sinned when he took a second wife? I think that might be the crux of it all.

We can't find a word in the Bible that would suggest that but perhaps this is how you feel and if so, you could maybe share this with us. All we want to know is what the Bible teaches.

Moving on to your comment on Lilly's quote; sorry if we appeared a bit confusing. We have talked a great deal about this subject over the past couple of days and then each has typed out his or her thoughts to you in their own letters. But I think we are fairly agreed about things here. I never saw the need to get into polygamy in the first place but I'm sure not going to shy away from it, now we're here. Let me just go on the record again by saying:

1. I believe in marriage. I believe it is right and honorable in all, and "God's way" for mankind. (I also believe in monogamy, for the record, as being the best way to work this out but I just don't think it's a moral issue. It's either an individual or a cultural thing; but not a moral one.)

2. I don't believe in divorce. It has always existed and it probably always will, given the hardness of men's hearts but that doesn't make it right or proper or permissible. A Christian especially must have a much higher standard by which to live that is based upon faith, love and repentance.

3. I don't believe in remarriage for divorced women, just as the Bible makes clear. I don't think we can offer any "loopholes" for selfish motives in cases like this where God's word is clear.

OK I hope that helps make things clear. Now, don't we see things eye-to-eye? Then you got to my letter but only asked me to confirm that we are all seeing things "as one" over here, and we are (I just checked).

Your closing thoughts on unanimity were good. When we talk about unanimity we assume that we are talking about it in a Christian context among brothers and sisters that are seeking God's will together.

Obviously there is no benefit whatsoever in unanimity without the Spirit of God. I'm sure the devil's councils are unanimous gatherings but that doesn't make their conclusions right at all.

Well, this note is short but I think I answered everything in your last letter. I sure hope you will get a bit of time to sit down and share your heart with us on this (and other issues) so that we can see as one.

We have sent you a lot of our thoughts and insights but we don't really feel you've had the time yet to address them so we mustn't hurry you and try to go on too fast.

We look forward to hearing from you all. Lots of love from all of us.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Reply to a friend

Thanks for your little note this morning, Tot; too bad you didn't have time to write. We had best go slow since there's no hurry in all this and if you are busy, take your time and respond whenever you can. That way it gives us something to answer and discuss too. (I'm okay, thanks. I just need some R&R and so am taking the week off. It's nice to be able to get in the Word a bit more.)

Now as to the issues at hand, I guess we can stop calling it MDR now because I think it is starting to cloud the real point, which is remarriage only, right? We all know marriage is honorable in all and that God hates divorce so that's not the question. The question is remarriage.

Now, as I said, I liked Timothy Williams' tract on the subject very much which is why we had it translated into French. It's a good message and needed right now more than ever before. But the simple "problem" -- which is not really a problem at all, but typical -- is that the scripture often has many different things to say about human relationships; and that is why we need to be led of the Spirit.

If things were that cut and dried we wouldn't even need the Spirit. Only the Spirit can guide us into all truth and out of what may look like a labyrinth of "contradictory" scriptures. Every Christian doctrine in the Bible is fiercely upheld by some and fiercely contradicted by others -- all trying (often sincerely) to use the Bible as their guide.

Now you and I know that the Bible is only saying one thing but in order to discern what the Bible is saying we must be in tuned to the Spirit of God -- the words alone won't do it, right?

I'm reminded of the Pharisees and the case of the woman taken in adultery. OK, here's a woman taken in the very act. Is she guilty? Yes. Should she be stoned? What did Moses say? Yes.

Then stone her; why hesitate? If you want to follow the law, stone the woman and no one will be able to fault you; you will be absolutely right and 100% following the law.

But Christ Jesus would have us see a higher way, a way of love, a way of being led by the Spirit and you can't legislate that way. You can't put it into a book or a box all nice and cut and dried and sorted out. It doesn't fit. God has a higher law which is above every other one of His laws and that is the law of love.

Church people like Timothy Williams (as I know him) don't usually like this higher law because it is so much easier to impose the lower law, of which we are all sinners. Now the irony of it all is that we need this "lower law" to show us God's righteousness and to show us where God is and where He wants us to be. That's why Christ said that he didn't come to abolish the law but rather to fulfill it.

OK these are just a couple of thoughts on this issue this morning while waiting for your letter. Take your time -- there's no hurry. I think we will find that we are more agreed than it might appear on the surface sometimes.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Peritonite appendiculaire

That's the fancy term for what we sometimes just call appendicitis — with a slight difference; and that is that this one was getting out of hand!

I was sitting on the terrace enjoying the evening when I was taken with a feeling of nausea with increasing backache pain.  After going inside Sarah persuaded me to go to the hospital in Château du Loir to get things checked out.

As it happened, Camille left home the same evening.  For the maternity ward!

After keeping me for observation for a couple of days and seemingly not able to locate the source of my pains they sent me in an ambulance to Le Mans where a more proficient medical team came up with the above diagnosis.  They scheduled an operation the very next day!

Everything went very well and I was back home inside the week.  This is my second medical problem of my life; first the hernia in my fiftieth year, now this, in my fifty-fifth.

Think I'll let things stop here.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Here's David!

After much waiting and anticipation, Christine was provided with a little brother, whom his parents (Raphael & Camille) have called David.  Just thought you'd like to see the first picture of him:

As usual, our family web site has been updated with a few more pictures for you.  Just click here.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Friday, June 04, 2004

Sarah in the kitchen

News from France

Good morning to you. Thank you for your letter, Natalie and of course for yours, too Tot. I will try to answer yours later, Natalie -- unless I mix everything up in this letter. :-)

You were asking about our projects, Tot, and I'm glad to tell you that the list is getting shorter by the weekend. The back garden is really quite nice now and will soon be the most productive it has ever been, under Sarah's watchful eye. The greenhouse is full and flourishing as is the vegetable plot next to it. The terrace is the thing that has most changed our lives as we eat all our meals there and it is even a most pleasant place to sit and read or have a tea in the afternoon. All ready for you to come and visit, Tot. I'll have to take a picture to tempt you. I found one yesterday of the guest room that Ammi took with our camera while she was here and thought I might send it to you so here it is.

They had a digital camera too so we got lots (about 300) of photos during last month -- where normally we get only a dozen or so. (I'm playing around a little here hoping to reduce the size of sending you all these pictures as well as getting a little bit better page layout.)

OK, on to other things. We are putting the finishing touches to EDB in French (the footnotes and so on) and then we're told it will be ready for what they call "Print on demand" (POD) which means that you can just print up a few copies if you want to, like 100 or so, rather than having to do a print run of thousands. I hope to have that finished and sent off today.

The boys are now very concerned about having a building on the island for the goats to shelter in during the winter and as a milk shed all year round -- any experience or advice to give us on that? I reckon the only way it can be done is to build the thing on pilings of cement or wood about 50cm off the ground. We called in a builder to get some quotes and ideas -- it's not going to be cheap but it's that or nothing as far as using the island is concerned.

Last time we were in England one of my father's cousins gave me a bound photocopied edition of her father's manuscript book called "The Bible in Palestine". I had heard about this book but he never actually got it published, as far as I know, and so I was glad to get a copy. I started reading it last night and it's very interesting -- I couldn't help but think of you the whole time and how you'd surely like to read it too. I think I may type it in a few pages at a time and that way we can share it together. It was written by my uncle Arthur Neve who served in Palestine during the First World War and then returned after the war (in November of 1919) as a colporteur for the British and Bible Society selling Bibles all over the middle east. Quite an amazing idea and he spent a fascinating seven years doing that before moving to South America to continue his work with this Bible Society. (It was in Argentina that my "cousin" Rosemary -- remember her? -- was born, for my uncle Arthur was her father). Complicated, isn't it? If they ever discover a missionary gene, we'll probably find that it has existed in the Neve family for some time. :-) And it doesn't seem like it is on the wane any, does it? Anyway I'll "read" you the story when I get a minute. It might be sooner than you think because this ankle is making life difficult for me so maybe I need to take a break.

I was surprised to hear you'd read Blood Brothers. My aunt Ruth first told me about that book and I bought it on the strength of her recommendation a couple of years ago. Thanks for that (important) point about the Jews being forced to leave for their new homeland -- I'd thought, from what you'd said (and what little I knew) that they had gone voluntarily. It is amazing the lengths men will go to just to make life miserable for their brother or neighbour. Life here on earth could have been so easy if men would only listen to God and obey the very simple rules He laid down.

Yes, it's too bad that you folks won't be here for Thanksgiving. Here's a picture of Sarah and I when we heard the news:

Just kidding, guys: Nathalie took this on Sunday as I was leaning on Sarah for support after twisting my ankle. The picture looked so nice, though -- I like it. We walked back to the car like that with Olly and Christine while the others had their picnic. It seems a bit sad though and I wouldn't want you to have that impression of us.

I don't think I can say anything else about your coming here, buying the TH and all that. I will let you talk all about that -- what can I say? Our ears are still wide open though, for rumors and news of any doors opening. I somehow feel that maybe I have failed you somehow but I don't really know what more I could have done. It is so difficult to find time for all our daily activities. Anyway, personally I am not sure the whole episode is over. Why should it be? Maybe the Lord hasn't said GO, but He hasn't said NO either, has He?

How about sending the M&M's over for a nice summer holiday and let Mum and Dad have a bit of time alone in the Word? Hmmmm? Now, admit it, doesn't that idea have merit? (I bet the girls are screaming at this point. If they're reading over your shoulder you'll know when they get to this part.) It has the added advantage of making lots and lots of children happy, only costing half as much as you'd thought, not requiring the sale of your house, and not necessitating the purchase of a new property in France to pull it all off. And what's more, you don't need a lot of time to figure it all out because the time is now and the kids must be ready -- if I know kids!

As for the rest of you, something will work out yet. You say you don't want to push this move if the Lord is not in it and I agree with you, of course. But it could be that the Lord has not given His (last) word on the subject yet. Anyway, I'm keeping an open mind. However, please rest assured that we are neither dissatisfied nor frustrated. Natalie, does that sound like me? :-) We're a trifle disappointed but I wouldn't want to say anything more; certainly nothing approaching dissatisfaction nor frustration. And nothing -- nothing, Natalie -- especially something on this level -- has breached our friendship and the understanding that we have allowed to grow over the past year. What kind of friendship would that be? Naw, we're still in it with you even if we go it alone. Something will show up, you'll see. Maybe the Lord thought you meant the first of June next year ... our Nat said that actually from January to June 1st is not six months but only five and that perhaps something would still give within the time period of your fleece.

Anyway, we're going to try to get our "How To Know God's Will" thoughts down on paper this weekend -- don't hold us to it, but we're going to try.

OK Tot, over to you and the Dome of the Rock. Let's go!

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Another picture for you

Good morning!

Good morning and thanks so much for your letter of last night. It is always good to hear from you. I have told the others to make an effort to communicate too, so I think you will be hearing a bit more from us, even if it is not always from me.

I was interested to hear what you had to say about Menahem Begin. No, I have never read any books about modern Israel that I can think of; oh, except one called Blood Brothers -- did you ever read that? It is written by a Christian Arab whose family had lived in Palestine for centuries before their town was destroyed by the Jews. I read it some time ago and if you see it around, it is worth reading. Unlike yours, it is quite an easy read, written as an autobiography starting when he was a child. Apparently now he is an official in some Christian Orthodox church and has no bitterness towards Israelis but rather tries to build bridges of peace between the warring factions.

In talking about your book you compared the Palestinian displacement to the Jewish migration and said that, numerically speaking, it was about equal. I am struck by the fact of one important difference: the Jewish migration was voluntary whereas the Palestine displacement was not. However it is an interesting point. I know nothing more about Begin than everyone knows as public knowledge. I remember though that he was the leader (I believe) of the Zionist movement that terrorized the British mandate for years following the Second World War finally leading to the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

He was one of this centuries original terrorists, but a lot of this tends to be forgotten and we now just remember the "statesman" he eventually became. Like Arafat too, of course. It's all a messy, stupid situation and I marvel at people who think they know the answer to it because I sure don't.

The best thing I ever heard was an archaeologist and historian who weaves a fascinating and entirely believable tale that tries to prove that the original Temple Mount of Jewish fame is not at all where they currently think it was -- on the present site of the Dome of the Rock -- but rather significantly further south in the same area.

Of course he has his hands full trying to convince the Jews of this although he claims that there are currents within Judaism that know this to be true. This of course would easily solve the main unsolvable problem: coexisting the mosque and the temple on the same piece of real estate. Did you ever hear of this guy or this theory? His name is Ernest Martin and he's produced maps and charts and photos and all sorts of historical information to prove his point -- it is not just wishful thinking, but he really believes it is true and is trying to prove it.

Regarding my ankle: I went to the local GP last night because it was not starting to look good and was puffed up a little more than I would have liked. He gave me some anti-inflammatory pills and suggested a kind of cast (I suppose) called an Aircast (he spoke as if I should know what that was but I didn't). Anyway, I reckon I'll live, thank the Lord.

I was telling Sarah last night: things like this just drive our blessings home to me; how so many of us manage to live for so long with so little sickness and even accidents. I thank God over and over for good health, and you are never reminded of it so much as when there is an abnormality. This time I am just paying for my carelessness. Maybe the Lord thought I was being a bit negligent in my correspondence with you all.

As for Bill and the hotel: complete silence. I have no idea what is happening but I drove by the other day and saw the 'For Sale' sign is still up. Sure you don't want it? I work on the principle that it's never too late until it is too late. :-)

Glad you liked the picture of the kids against the wall -- we all liked that one, too. They really are quite a cute bunch. They are just missing the M&Ms, I reckon. Thanks for your letter of last night Natalie (Lilly is writing you today, she says). We were disappointed to hear your news and would surely want to speak differently if we were together in person but so many things cannot really be properly shared through email like this because so much give-and-take and discussion is involved. Let me just try to ask a couple of questions for you that may summarize our collective feelings after reading your letter this morning. Please take them in the same spirit that you know of me, Natalie; as a brother to a sister.

1. Why was 'coming over to France for the summer' dependent upon the sale of your house? We never fully understood that, but didn't want to ask at the time.

2. Why did you set June 1st as a 'deadline' for God to do something?

3. Does the fact that nothing has happened by your deadline mean that you now know that it is not God's will for you to come to France?

4. We used to call this kind of putting out of conditions for the Lord, 'asking for a fleece.' Do you function often by using fleeces to hear the Lord's will? Do you think we all should, as a rule?

5. Could you tell us how you think a person is supposed to know God's will in anything? Do you have a list of ways and/or methods that you could suggest (to a new believer, say) for a person to learn to know God's will for them?

I think these are good questions that we could all consider together because hearing from God is one thing we need to know how to do well, don't you think? How about a little note from everyone on this subject? -- There's no hurry, of course, but it might just be fruitful for all of us to look at the scriptures with this in mind.

Well, l need to get this off to you all for your breakfast -- if I do so soon, maybe Mike will even get it before he leaves, as I hear he's an early bird. :-) I got the pills from the drug store this morning plus my Aircast which turns out to be a very intelligent-looking idea of thin plastic with an inner air cushion in two sides that are strapped together around the ankle area with thick Velcro straps. I have it on now and it feels tight but comfortable and walking is a little bit easier. As usual, I don't think I'll use the pills. :-)

Well I can only hope your day turns out to be as sunny and warm as ours is here. We eat outside at our new terrace every day now and listen to the Word or song tapes on the speaker so it is very pleasant.

Tot, I'm thinking about your question on how we see us fitting in to RI. Right now I don't have anything to tell you, but I am ready to hear. Have you got anything from the Lord on this that would point us in the right direction? I am living here as if I'll live here all my life, but that's how I live everywhere, and we are not putting down roots of any kind that could not be uprooted when needed.

We are not of this world and we are no more of France than we are of America, of Canada, or of England. We are strangers and pilgrims who have no permanent dwelling here but are looking for a better city (a much better one, in fact), a city without foundations, whose builder and maker is God. We have proved we are not attached before and we're ready to do it again when the Lord gives the word. I know you feel that way, too. That is why this question of knowing the Lord's will is important for all of us. The verse I got last night was, "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:17). It is God's will for us to understand what His will is, don't you agree? Lord help us all.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Letter to America

Good morning and hello again after almost a week's absence! We're back safely, thank the Lord. We returned yesterday noon, tired but so glad to be home. The trip was useful in all respects; not a real lot to tell but we had a good contact with these older people to whom we owe our respect and honor. Your envelope was waiting for us too, Mike, for which we thank you. I'll try to get them off by this weekend but will tell you how it goes.

Thanks for your birthday wishes for Nathalie yesterday, she is doing well, as we all are. We got online only once this past week and there was so much junk mail that it was all we could do to find your letters in the crowded inbox. She is writing to you all now and I'll probably attach her letter to this one, if it's finished in time.

Jonathan should try to write you all too about his email friend because I don't know all the details myself. He's been busy also with another young lad from Paris who got in touch and wants to serve the Lord.

You asked why my parents emigrated to the US, but it would take a long time to answer -- especially since I was too young to be a party to their deliberations. I reckon it was a lot to do with the fact that Britain was still suffering economically after the war and North America seemed to present a new life with new opportunities -- which it did. Those were very different times. We had food rationing coupon books still way into the forties. I have one still in my name for the year 1954. My mother grew up in Western Canada and had fond memories of her time there, so this was surely also a factor. Anyway, the Lord was in it and it all went into making me the kind of person I am today.

OK, in one of your first letters after I left, you mentioned that I had 'laid a heavy on you and then split', so I guess it's time now to try to analyse what I said and maybe to clarify my thoughts especially in the light of your reactions. Basically, knowing I was going to be gone for a week and that you were progressing quickly with plans to come here I wanted to be sure we were all on the same wave-length and thinking and seeing the same thing. I'm sure you realize that it was never my intention to be discouraging in the slightest -- I just wanted to be sure that what we were doing stood the reality test and that we were not fooling ourselves that the whole proposition would be easy.

Today, I have nothing to add to what I said then because the facts have not changed. Nathalie is hoping for some word from her uncle and Camille is trying her charms today on the préfecture to see what she can find out. I am also writing this morning to brother Robert (of the LC, in Toulouse) to see exactly how he did it for he is American and has recently acquired a job in the aerospace industry there. I think he came over here with a US firm originally via a transfer so maybe he got his papers that way. However, I'll let him tell me and will pass on to you whatever I learn. I have also dashed off a letter to brother Bill (also of LC fame) asking much the same thing of him. I'm milking everyone I can think of till the click falls into place.

We got a bit of a feeling of depression from your letters (not really depression, of course, but disappointment at the immediate plans 'not working out' and so on). We are very disappointed that you are disappointed. But actually, we have to remind ourselves that nothing whatsoever has changed over the past week. I don't want to put myself in a position of preaching to you, Mike & Natalie, because that is not at all my intent. But what I want to say is just that if the Lord told you to go, GO regardless of what height the waves are. Nothing has changed. I don't know what the Lord has in mind but then again, I never did. But I know that He will always honor obedience and faith, right? I knew an elderly woman who had a radio show years ago and always used to say, when talking of the ten lepers healed by Jesus, "'as they went they were healed' and we need to do the 'went'ing and put feet to our faith, don't we?"

I must leave you now because you'll soon be up and around and are surely waiting for a word from us. So here it is. Let us all trust in the Lord with all our hearts and believe that what He has said, He will accomplish. In the meantime, rest assured that we are pulling out all stops and trying to see what can be done -- maybe there is something that we have not thought of yet or even heard about. It can't be that difficult, can it? People do it all the time, one way or another. So let us seek Him who knows the beginning from the end and put our trust in Him. Nathalie's letter is not finished so that will have to be for later.

We love you all and remember you daily in prayer.

Monday, April 26, 2004

How we spent our Sunday

Good morning to you all. So glad you had a good reunion over the weekend and that no tornadoes touched down near you. You might well regard them as the wrath of God; I think I would too! The only "natural" disaster that I can think of that is more personal than that is being struck by lightning.

I have been meaning to tell you a little something for the past couple of days but keep forgetting so today I am going to start with it, then answer your letter afterwards.

I have been listening to the Psalms a lot lately and have been impressed by a lot of things that I don't remember seeing there before. Lately we have been thinking and praying a lot about RI and Psalm 37 really stuck out from the crowd because it seemed that the author was saying something about inheriting the land over and over again in that psalm.

As I listened to this one and was thinking along those lines I noticed that sometimes what seemed to me like the same thought was expressed in a slightly different way, that is, instead of seeing the word "land" we have the word "earth."

I started thinking about how those words could be interchangeable according to context but wondering if they were. I thought of Jesus quoting "The meek shall inherit the earth" as a quote from Psalm 37. So I checked and found that this thought is expressed 6 times in this psalm (in verses 3, 9, 11, 22, 29, and 34). Three times the word "land" is used and three times the word "earth" is used.

Now comes the surprise: all six occurrences in the Hebrew are exactly the same word (Strong 776)! What about that? In English the word "land" has a slightly different connotation that the word "earth" doesn't it? Try reading those six verses by replacing the word "earth" by "land" and see how you feel. Even better, read the sermon on the mount when Jesus says, "The meek shall inherit the land!" Doesn't that give new impetus to RI? Because when you read that, the obvious question comes to you mind: what land? Praise the Lord.

We got Mike's very professionally-done CV and letter this morning, same time as yours. As I mentioned to him, it was well done and I have nothing particular to suggest he change at all.

Well, our Bible study yesterday was quite different. It was real good up to a point, and from then on it went downhill very fast. From the moment everybody got settled in and this new couple and their daughter were introduced to everyone, we started with a prayer together then just jumped in. 

Raph mentioned a few things he'd seen lately and then everyone else picked things up and were tossing scriptures back and forth and scurrying to find them so as to read them out loud. We just followed the Spirit for about an hour or two mostly concentrating on dropping out, forsaking all, and being separated from the world for the Lord.

Then at an appropriate pause in the discussions Sarah whispered to me that maybe we should ask this fellow if he wanted to speak, since he'd said in advance that that was what he wanted. So I said that if he had a testimony he wanted to give that now was as good a time as any to do it. I believe that was the last word I said till they left.

His wife was the spokesman (no, that's not a typo) for the three of them, but his daughter was a close runner-up. I will spare you the anguish we had to submit to by listening to that drivel but I'll just try to give you a brief summary of the main points, if I can remember any. 

Basically, they are vegetarians, with a vengeance. They have another name for it but I can't remember what it is -- but it denotes a real sold-out vegetarian, one who will not compromise. They told us their whole story (it's what they call their testimony) that went back 25-30 years and all the sicknesses and accidents they had -- or didn't have -- and all the diseases they got -- or didn't get -- just because they ate herbs instead of good meat the way the Lord made it.

It seems they have more accidents and illnesses in one year than we've had over 25 years -- but I didn't tell them that. They advocated the Garden of Eden menu completely forgetting the amendment that Noah received afterwards -- maybe they think we should go naked, too, but I'm glad I didn't ask. They went on about meat quality and the adverse effects of proteins on the human body and pesticides and battery farming and the evils of for-profit husbandry and of cross-breeding for improving the stock (forbidden by God) and the foolishness of doctors, vaccinations, antibiotics, and medicines and the wisdom of always keeping a little jar of clay around the house -- just in case. We couldn't get a word in edge-ways! This was not a Bible study; it was an indoctrination class, and the Bible had nothing to do with it (except to flatly contradict everything they were saying).

The horrors, dear friends, the horrors they felt they had to describe to us: amazing! If Franck & Angela had not been present I would have turfed them out after half an hour at the most. As it was, F&A being as impressionable as they are I just left them rave and prayed it'd be over soon. Once they left (never to return) we spent another hour with F&A alone making sure they were seeing things correctly. Then we went and prayed over the premises, rebuking any evil spirits that might have been left behind accidentally. 

Doctrines of demons; never heard such nonsense, and all in the name of Jesus -- of all people! Anyway, they are SDA (in case you hadn't guessed it) but this was our first run-in with a real live one because the Vs keep a very low denominational profile around us -- in fact, Jean-Claude only got saved last year and we have the witness of the Spirit with him. The Spirit witnesseth with our spirit that we are the sons of God. But this crew was fit to be tied. You said you wished you'd been here: we wished you'd been here, too!

OK enough of that. Your word definitions were gratefully received. To be honest I haven't had time to look them all up yet and I want to, so that they become a part of our common "dictionary" that we are building together. We have gathered a few words too -- I must look them up. Right now I would say the same as you: they are not sufficiently well organized that I could present them to you.

Last night I bought tickets on the night ferry to Portsmouth (leaving from Caen). The boat leaves at 11pm and after your meal you go to bed and wake up in England. It's a nice way to travel that trip. Our return is planned for Tuesday night (same boat, same time, other direction) so since we are only about a couple of hours from the coast we'll be back in plenty of time for Wednesday lunch.

I will probably have much better opportunities to get online so we'll do like we did last time and I'll try to pick up my mail on the road. Please remember to start redirecting mail to Raph (and/or Jonathan) in a couple of days and please include me in a CC for everything. That way I can keep up the Tot-Not archives intact. Besides my Aunt R, we were planning to see R and have been invited to her sister's to stay -- they just live near each other. The R's never married and both were missionaries, one in India, the other in Hong Kong (I have another aunt that was a missionary in Pakistan, so you can see I come from missionary stock :-)).

Anyway, her sister M, is married to a very amiable retired high-school teacher named A. I don't know them quite as well as I know her so I can't remember what their church affiliations are. Now you might say to me, it doesn't matter, but they would probably say to you, ah, but it does! :-) I seem to remember that they are Methodist or something mainline like that. They most certainly consider themselves Christians and would even say 'born-again' but they are not ones to get silly about it, like us. I reckon their favourite Bible verse might be, Let everything be done in moderation. :-)

Are you laughing? I'm fooling around when I should be working so I'd better go. When I reread Raph's famous (around here) "Plan B" letter, it occurred to me that my sense of humour has most certainly been passed on and, in his case, improved. The kids make puns and word games in French and normally you can't do that in French! :-)

Tales of garden lore will have to wait till next letter, sorry to say. Our greenhouse is finally finished (and very hot inside) but it's not a greenhouse yet, if you know what I mean. Still, the girls will doubtless be on it soon.

No, it would not occur to me to say that "the French eat BLT sandwiches" but only for one reason, and that is that, traditionally France is not really the sandwich capital of the world. You can get them, of course, but mostly in the bigger cities or maybe for a quick snack. I don't expect anyone would ever make one at home. Except the Nots. :-))

Lots of love to all of you aspiring Europeans,


PS - Yes, we eat pork. We went through a few years when we didn't, then a few more backsliding years but the conviction was still there so we ate very little before ending up right where we started for lack of real conviction. We don't eat very much of it and we'd always pick something else first, but at the same time we wouldn't balk at it either. 

Few things BBQ quite as nicely as pork chops, don't you think? The only exception might have to be lamb chops. What a wonderful smell grilling meat makes! I've always liked how the Lord calls the burning of a lamb or beef on the altar, a "sweet-smelling savour" in His nostrils. That's nice because spring is really here now and the weather is glorious. 

I promised you some lamb didn't I, when you get over here? Well, we could have a méchoui where we roast an entire lamb whole on a spit over an open fire. 

See you soon!

Sunday, April 25, 2004

My Sunday letter to Tot

Good morning to you all! It is Sunday morning and I'm sitting outside on the terrace in the sun with dozens of birds making a racket all around me and a gentle breeze blowing through the trees. I could wish this kind of weather all year round and it sure beats tornadoes! :-)

We read with much interest your two letters this morning. I especially liked the little study comparing Lot and Noah. I was thinking just recently that, apart from Lot, Noah's day is the one most referred to as characteristic of the last days. There are certainly some striking similarities between events recorded for both men and I think we are wise to look for these similarities. (...)

It is now nearly 3 pm and I must try to get this off to you – I've been interrupted too many times this morning. Franck called last night to say they could not come over this morning but would come at three in the afternoon, instead. Then this morning another couple, the Zs, called to ask if they could come over this afternoon so we said, sure, come at three. I don't know what we'll do exactly but Lilly is going to take the kids down to the island to free the rest of us to get in the word and fellowship together. If I have time I'll write you tonight and let you know how it went.

The Zs are a retired couple with seven kids who belong to the SDA Church in Le Mans. We met them through the Vs and have only met them once, going to their house (not far from here) a couple of months ago. Because all of their kids were there too it was more of a social call and we didn't really get to know them very well at all. It was quite a surprise to have them call us like that this morning.

I need to try to find out tomorrow about yesterday's “coffee-spiller” news. :-) But remember this would – if true – authorize a resident permit, not a work permit. So this might be ideal for you and Penny but might not help the others much. Although it would sure help overall since it would allow you a “foot in the door.” Apparently the mayor of the village has the discretionary power to grant a resident permit (carte de séjour) and that being a property owner is usually sufficient for him – which makes sense. The mayor here owes me one, so I'll try to get in touch with him and see what he says.

We all had to laugh out loud at your question of, “How much used furniture would 15K€ buy?” and the general impression was, More than you will need! Yes, used furniture is relatively easy (and cheap) to find; beds, dressers, wardrobes, tables and chairs can be picked up for a song. You should see the set we got yesterday for 75€! In fact we got two while we were at it and both make into double beds, in case we would need to. They are in very good condition, heavy and seem perfectly solid. What we could do, if we know you're coming, would be to scout around and buy some things, bit by bit, as we run across them.

About the Uplook magazine, I, too, went to their web site ( but it seems out of date to me and I couldn't find the current issue anywhere. I'll give you the rundown on this month's issue as soon as I can find the time. What I meant in my last letter was that I thought that the Brethren were dispensationalists as regards Israel but from this article they seem very close to us in their understanding of the old covenant. The article stopped short though, of really concluding who the Jews are then. Still, I'll try to get you a copy – or tell me if you get one in the mail, ok?

I answered Dominic this morning, just saying, in essence, that, as he knew, we have rejected the clergy/laity system of “sharing” and that therefore, the idea of him coming for a “series of talks” on the condition that there would be no prior discussion was not going to work. He'll like that. :-)

I am going to have to go now so I'll get this off to you.

More later, and much love to all.

Friday, April 09, 2004