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.