Monday, December 31, 2007

Old postcards to end the year

Last Friday I mentioned some old postcards of our house that Gérard had brought over for us to scan. I thought maybe I'd make that the subject of this last post of 2007.

Here is a picture of what they called (in the 1920s) the "meeting room" of the dairy. Today we call it the dining room.

See the very same stairs we use to go up to Raph & Camille's apartment? And the very same curtains on Camille's windows! :) If anyone could recognize that car, I believe it's the only clue as to the real date on the photo.

Now here's a pic of some children (who I doubt are still alive today) playing around what was to become our letter-box. Notice the driveway in exactly the same slope leading to the Microtec offices and the studio. It evidently used to be the offices.

Now the last one for tonight will have to be this "vue générale" in which is clearly seen the studio, the kitchen, Raph & Camille's apartment, and the Microtec offices. You've got to admit, though, that our color scheme today is slightly more alluring. :)


Good night to you all, and a happy new year to everyone. We don't learn much from our mistakes, do we? But may we learn to do it better this time. Hope springs eternal in the human breast ... all you're being asked to do is love one another!


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Email to siblings and cousins

Hello everyone!

What a coincidence you wrote!. I have just returned this morning from my latest trip over there -- and I left the very same day you called -- so we're on the same wave-length. I was just sitting here wanting to give you an update on how things are going with Aunty and I saw your email waiting for me. So here's the story as it stands now:

I left Thursday night with Peggy and took the night boat, like we always do, and met Aunty for breakfast Friday morning. She told me you'd called but the line was bad and she is starting to have a hard time on the phone. Later on we had afternoon lunch with her (they eat at 5pm at that place) and I took a shot of her at the table. Here it is:


We got to work and spent the entire two days packing up her stuff, sorting through things and bringing her stuff. It was very tiring work and we were beat by the end of our stay. But it's got to be done.

While there I stopped at Denisons, the estate agents who are handling the sale of her house. I picked up a leaflet and checked on how things were going with them. They are quite optimistic that it will sell easily and soon; they have their first showing tomorrow and two more lined up. He said the inside condition of the house was not really an issue: so many people would be buying just for the property location, which he said is highly sought-after. I took the papers back to Aunty who was very glad to see them.

Before we left yesterday we had completely finished Grandad's room and most of the spare room. Her bedroom was done first months ago and the living room only has a couple of pieces of big furniture in it yet. So we started on the attic and brought down her old boxes, suitcases, and even a tea chest and started filling them with things. It is a big job. Next trip I've pretty much decided I'll have to rent a U-haul moving van and go on up there just for the day with the boys. I think if I play my cards right we might be able to get everything in one haul. Peggy and I half filled the living room with boxes that are ready to go. Apart from that, there is only (very old) furniture. I would say everything in the whole house falls into one of these categories:

1. 5% intrinsic value (real value furnishings -- I'm being generous here)
2. 15% utilitarian value (used things that could still theoretically be used again)
3. 30% sentimental value (papers, letters, photos, diaries, etc who would only be valued by us because of what they represent)
4. 40% completely valueless (old, dirty, broken, tacky, kitchen appliances, or crockery, or cleaning items -- not worth even putting in storage for her)
5. 10% pure waste paper and trash (carloads of waste paper, used envelopes, every card she's ever received, every shopping bag she's ever used, etc)

Are you starting to get the picture? I'm sure at some time or other you've all gone through similar situations; this is my first. It is quite amazing the things that she has accumulated over the decades.

What's her future? I wish I knew, and so does she. He main problem, as she always says, is her arm. She got an infection in it months ago and they can't seem to get rid of it. The district nurse stops by almost daily to drain the pus and clean it and re-dress it. The swelling has gone down but it is still very red and obviously infected and no one seems to know why. I'm calling her doctor myself tomorrow because I'm finding it hard to believe all the stories. Seems to me, they must know more than they are telling her. Anyway, I'll let you know if I find out something.

My point of view is that if that issue were resolved she could perhaps gain strength and confidence and could start to enjoy life in a limited way again. She will never be the old Aunty you once knew again. She will never drive again. She will never go for a walk again; it is painful enough to watch her cross the room on her zimmer. (These are all 2007 victories because she hadn't admitted any of them a year ago, though they were just as true then as they are today.) Despite it all, she remains fairly coherent and sensible and "her old self", thank the Lord. She just has a very hard time admitting where she is at, at any given moment. Just yesterday she asked me (all full of enthusiasm) to come and take her photograph so she could get her bus pass. She will never ride a bus. I take her out for drives or for lunch in my car but it is a monumental task that triples the time of any event since she can't go out without a wheelchair, then gets into the car with great difficulty, they I have to dismantle and fold up the wheelchair, put it in the trunk, and when we get where we're going, do it all again in reverse. The last time I took her to Stewart's she was whacked after about an hour and the trip was cut short.

I don't want to sound negative nor give you undue cause for concern. She is as happy as she can be expected to be for the moment. Her arm gives her constant pain and so is a right hassle and brings her down a bit, understandably. It also saps her strength over time. She often gets short of breath and you all know her heart is weak. But these things are all being watched by professionals and we are all hoping she can clear this infection one way or another very soon. If so, she could pass the rest of her days in relative peace and happiness since every physical comfort is currently provided by the home where she is. Here, maybe this shot will cheer you up. Yesterday she had just gotten her hair done and was sitting there like a queen, so I said, You're looking rather regal today, Aunty! I'm going to take your picture! Here it is (she looks a bit grumpy, but she wasn't. She broke into a big smile when she saw the picture):


So what else can I tell you? I think she'd be happier if she'd be more resigned to her condition, like it or not. She's had a good life and now it is time to slow down and let others do what she can no longer do.

About your trip, Wendy... I already told her about it long ago, when you first told me that you were coming and she'll be glad to see you, of course. She understands. No problem with seeing me, I reckon -- for the moment I'd be hard to miss; I'm over every month. I've just had a try to juggle things and work out a rhythm and it seems like every four weeks keeps things getting done. There is so much to do while I'm there, and she has grown rather used to seeing me often. I call her every day and after a week or two of calls rehashing what we last did together we start preparing what we're going to do on my next visit. :-)

Well, I'm tired and I can't think of what more to say. Please ask if things aren't clear.

Love to you all,

Derrick


Friday, December 21, 2007

Denise

Here is my diary log for yesterday, to bring you all up to date with goings on here.


A few days ago Camille got an email to the surprise and delight of everyone saying that Denise was coming back on Thursday! This time she was flying direct from Valletta (private joke) and said she'd be at Orly by 11 am.

Camille wanted to bring David as well as Susanne, so we got ready and were gone by half past eight. It's still bitter cold here -- unusually low temperatures -- and by the time we left it was showing minus five. We were thankful there was no wind.

I'm especially careful on the roads in conditions like this but we made Orly without incident by ten past eleven (Josephine had told us 2 hours, 20 minutes and, as always, she was correct to the minute).

Denise came by Air France and there was some go-slow action by ground crew that meant a slight delay in meeting her but she was out by half twelve and glad to see us all. We went upstairs to a self-service type of restaurant for lunch. Denise wouldn't let me pay but wanted this one to be on her, which was a kind thing to do.

I ate light so as not to be sleepy on the way back and had a great salad. By the time we got home (five o'clock) the two children -- who'd been good as gold all day -- had had quite enough of traveling and sitting still and were letting it be known. We're always so eager to be with our children that we sometimes forget how boring for them trips must be.

Later on, Gérard brought over some old postcards (from the 1920s) with pictures of the town and several of our house, both inside and out. He borrowed them from an elderly lady in the town and promised to bring them back to her Friday. I plan to scan them properly today and will post one for you to see later on.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

A week later...

I know it's been a week since I last found time to write to you; sorry about that, I hope you remember the old saying that 'no news is good news'.

Right now I'm listening to some Yvon Gendron music in my office. Did I ever tell you about his stuff? It is so beautiful! I'd like to let you hear some of it. Right now it's Dans le desert aride.

I wanted to note for my own future reference that I've been measuring the level of water down by the hotel this week since we had a lot of rain lately and it seemed high to me so I want to try and learn from it. I went down on Monday and it was about 10 bricks under the strut of the bridge and moving fast. Tuesday, it was moving very slowly but still at the same level. Yesterday, Wednesday, it was a bit higher at 9 and a half brick and still very sluggish. The Loir was still moving quickly, though. After no rain since Sunday, today it is down to 12 bricks and moving quite nicely so it is no longer looking like flooding this year.

I need to get back here and fill you in on some more details of events. Over and out for tonight.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A very good article -- take a minute to read it!

Dealing with Christian Zionists in Our Own Churches and Families

Charles E. Carlson

A long time friend named John wrote in frustration about a reply he received from his pastor in response to his letter about the church's lack of concern for the ongoing slaughter in Iraq. John sought an answer to two scriptural references, and to his frustration the pastor's reply was entirely secular. This big church pastor ignored the questions involving Jesus and the Apostle Paul's words. Instead, John was told how evil Saddam Hussein was; that Islam must be stopped, and that the State of Israel is an example of why all wars are not evil.

Secular and even bloodthirsty replies from religious leaders are not the exception. They usually ignore scripture, especially the New Testament. As an extreme example, John Hagee has held "Night To Honor Israel" programs where Jesus' name has never been mentioned. War-favoring, war-excusing, and war-enabling church leaders avoid New Testament scripture because in it there is no justification for killing anyone. Your friends and family who are under Judeo-Christian influence do not realize this until they are shown, which is our self-appointed job.

We Hold These Truths and Project Strait Gate can share what we have learned from uncounted conversations at vigils in front of about 50 of the biggest Judeo-Christian churches in America. We have come to view those who have strong feelings about their faith and who profess to be Christians in two general camps, Judeo-Christians and Christ followers, the first being a large camp and the latter a very small one, which we call the Strait Gate.

It should be obvious that many do not fit in either of the above camps, are either ambivalent or confused, but for reasons of their own they go to church. Some who read this will say they have, at times, been in all three camps.

Christ followers, by our label, generally believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of biblical prophesies, mostly fulfilled in the first century AD when Jesus came, taught, set up his earthy discipleship, was crucified under the will of the Pharisees, and arose from the dead. They think Jesus told His followers about His heavenly kingdom so they would seek it, a state of spiritual reward; but not without a judgment that would be visited upon each when we exit physical life.

By contrast, Judeo-Christians may believe all or part of what Christ followers believe, but they have an added layer superimposed over the top, like frosting on a cake, that holds to the notion that the physical, political State of Israel is the fulfillment of God's Old Testament prophesies. In order to make room for Israel as sort of an extra deity, most Judeo-Christians accept the explanation that Jesus left unfinished worldly business behind that will require His return to manage an earthly kingdom for 1000 years.

It is not your writer's place to decide if Jesus will return to earth again, as there is some Biblical evidence both ways and Jesus did not firmly say. I do not see how this question mattered to Paul or the Apostles because they all died 1,950 years ago without seeing this rapture and millennium kingdom, yet surely they have met Christ and been judged. The same is true of about 100 generations of good and bad people that have come and gone since Paul and the disciples were on earth. It did not matter to them that they died without seeing Armageddon and 'the rapture,' so why should it matter to me? I would like to think He never left.

Certainly the odds are also against this writer witnessing the "rapture." However as a consolation, D. James Kennedy and Jerry Falwell both missed it too. But Jesus promised that either we are faithful and will receive Christ's promise, or we are faithless and will be shunned by Jesus in His Kingdom. Either way, rapture or a millennial reign is not likely to be important to me, and I find no reason I have to know or debate the issue. This is the position WHTT Christian Zionism Blog will take until someone convinces us otherwise.

Unfortunately most pastors, even those in traditional churches, have been influenced by the opulent worldly success of the Judeo-Christian churches. Many cannot identify with a poor and humble Jesus and penniless apostles, and have compromised. I visited a church on Sunday that may be a case in point, a part of the Evangelical Covenant church where I once was a member.

Covenant churches are rightly considered "mainline Protestant," with a home in Chicago, IL, the Evangelical Covenant Church tends to be traditional, and describes itself as such. But this one taught, at least on this day, a mixture of Judeo-Christianity veneered onto following Christ.

Fred, as I will call the lead pastor, is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, and calls himself a 'Christ Follower.' I like that term, it's what we call ourselves, and Pastor Fred began with a moving account of Isaiah 9 which I also liked. The story is poetic and it furnishes an important chorus to George Frideric Handel's Messiah: 'And His name shall be called Wonderful, Marvelous, the mighty God, the everlasting father, the prince of peace.'

This is the prophesy of Jesus' first coming to earth as the Messiah to the Gentiles (that's us). Pastor Fred stressed that Jesus was the peacemaker in a time of terrible war and evil conflict, and he went on to suggest to the audience that most of us have had enough wars. The audience responded positively, Pastor Fred is clearly not promoting more war from the pulpit. So far so good, right out of scripture... the traditional view of Jesus, who could be more traditional than George Frideric Handel?

Pastor Fred almost had me won over, starting off on the right foot as he did, but then came a disappointment. He made a simple statement, given as fact, that Jesus was indeed coming again to set up the system of Justice and Peace promised in Isaiah 9, 'and the government shall be upon his shoulders,' meaning he said, Jesus will be very much in charge! The pastor did not say when he expects Jesus to come again, nor did he explain why He did not set up his kingdom when he came the first time.

Until Judeo-Christianity came along in the 19th Century, Isaiah 9 was accepted by almost everyone as a prophecy of Jesus' first coming two thousand years ago. It is a stretch to consider it is talking about a future coming, ignoring that all who call themselves Christians believe this is history. But Pastor Fred confused this in all our minds. He superimposed a thin, but a very hard veneer of Judeo-Christianity over following Christ.

It is basic that we who call ourselves by Jesus' name are supposed to be following the living Christ day-to-day on this earth, our testing ground. Jesus' kingdom is "not of this earth" as he told Pilate, but is a spiritual one. Pastor Fred did not say where or when Jesus' next 'coming' would take place, and he did not mention a 'rapture,' or a millennial kingdom' where Jesus would rule, nor did he project when this event would take place, but he certainly asserted it was coming in our future. Except for this one Judeo-Christian admission Pastor Fred appears to be a traditional Christ follower. It is our job to seek a dialogue with those like him and talk about the layer of Judeo-Christianity that is spoiling the whole cake .

What is the damage in believing Jesus will come back to earth for a 1000 year reign of goodness and justice? First Jesus does not say this; it is implied by some aggressive assumptions. If we expect another coming it removes from us the need to do our part to maintain His Kingdom on earth. This is exactly what He told us we must do in His book, the New Testament. If indeed Jesus came, finished His work, and left as planned, then we had best be very serious about doing our work and following His commands on earth if we are to have our own personal "second coming." Jesus told us to love our brother, even love our enemy and hate and revile no one. If this is indeed His last word to us, until we face Him in some distant year at the doorway of His kingdom, we must be diligent, constantly on guard and never slacking from our work. If we are indeed followers and don't want anyone else to do our task or carry our cross for us.

Judeo-Christianity is a great mega-church builder because it relieves us of the burden Christ placed on us of following regardless of the cost of inconvenience. To all the Disciples that meant death. Judeo-Christianity shifts the burden back to God. Judeo-Christians have only to confess that they believe in Judeo-Christianity (not simply Jesus), an apostate concept. Are we to give up the chance to walk in Jesus' footsteps for a lie?

If there are wars and slaughters, even natural disasters, do not be too concerned, these must be God-ordained acts for his ordained reasons, or so goes the Judeo-Christians' logic. They will invariably testify: 'You do not have to do a thing to be saved; Jesus did it all for you. You have but to believe.' These are the implications of Pastor Fred's disappointing words.

The illogical conclusion of Judeo-Christianity is that we must tell lots of people about Jesus and his impending next coming, and to stay out of the thankless grind of trying to make the world we live in a better place to live. It is indeed fortunate that most Judeo-Christians are good people who are not ambivalent, and who do a lot of work in spite of all the coordinated efforts to teach them they need not do it.

Jesus never told us He planned to fail in His first try on earth, and that He would have to try it a second time when conditions were more conducive to His Kingdom. But this is what Judeo-Christians rely upon. The 'government' and all earthy matters are to be settled by Jesus at his return, so following him becomes quite irrelevant. After all, if Jesus is coming again, and 'the Government shall be upon his shoulders' why even vote? We have only to believe, but in what? This is the result of the Judeo-Christian heresy and it is why our country is at war all the time and has many other ills...everyone in politics knows that the Judeo-Christians are the key to his or her political success. We Hold These Truths believes this will soon change.

WHTT Christian Zionism Blogs http://whtt-christianzionism.blogspot.com
Project Strait Gate http://cp.whtt.org/straitgate/index.php?id=14&news=1

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Back from England

Thursday morning and I'm back. I took three hours, as usual, from the boat and that's including my obligatory 15-minute coffee break at Pierrefitte. True to time I was here just past ten-thirty and being greeted by Olly, 'Tine, and Davy who ran over from the fishmonger's truck on the parking lot to see me. It's good to be back!

Besides the family, what do I miss the most when I'm in the UK? Driving (road infrastructure, condition, and just plain driving on the right side of the road), decent food (I mean good food, and washing my face without having to plug the sink and waste five litres of hot water and another five of cold water! The great French melangeur has yet to cross the Channel and makes washing your hands throughout the day a real chore. :)

OK, my pet peeves are over. I see there have been over two hundred people looking over these lines. I can't help but think they must wonder what they stumbled across, but still, I'd like to use my time and energy wisely because there is always much to be said.

I only spent two full days this time -- Tuesday and Wednesday -- but got a lot done. Aunty was happy to see me and she persuaded me to take her back to Baring Road one last time. My condition for taking her was that it would be her last trip. I don't think it can be good and healthy for her to continually live in the past. She needs to come to grips with the fact that the house is gone.

I saw Mrs Stevens on Tuesday and told her I was thinking of going with Denisons and she agreed they were the company that looked the best. So I went to see Steve at the Tuckton office who I'd already spoken to on the phone. I like their setup and think they can be trusted. We agreed on going for private tender for offers in excess of 320K and put a cut-off date of the 29th of February 2008.

I signed that contract and then took it to Aunty for her signature as well and she agreed they would be best. I then got a call from the firm they deal with for convalescing and I paid the three hundred pounds they needed to do the new "HIP" (Home Information Package) that I have to supply to any prospective buyer.

Yesterday I found the front right wheel completely flat to had to get a couple of new tires -- it was very convenient to find a Citroen dealer right next door to Denisons' office. I went back to the house and loaded the car (with the back seats down) with momentoes, keepsakes, and books -- but mostly books.




Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Mennonites are talking about us

My attention was drawn to an article by Robert Rhodes in the Mennonite Weekly Review that mentions Rocky Cape and Courtiron. I thought it might be nice to reproduce it here for you so here it is:

An inter-Mennonite newspaper, putting the Mennonite world together every week since 1923


December 4, 2007

Communal churches still carry appeal


Many churches in today’s disconnected world preach a gospel of “building community” or of functioning as a “true community of believers.” What this really means varies as widely as the people in those churches, all of whom bring their individual needs and concerns to that effort to come together. Some churches have discovered deep spiritual streams flowing among them in this way. Ultimately, however, the members of most of these churches return to their own homes and jobs at the end of the Sunday service, re-establishing the disconnection they have been trying to combat.

Still, throughout the history of the church, starting with the body of original believers in Jerusalem, communities of faith that truly are communal — sharing everything and living and working together on a committed basis — have persevered in one form or another. This is a trend that can be seen in communities emerging even today, including two in places as far-flung as France and Tasmania.

According to its Web site, the Community of Courtiron Anabaptists (www.courtiron.fr/en), near the village of Marçon, France, about 150 miles southwest of Paris, stands for a very traditional approach to Christian communalism, similar in many ways to the 500-year-old Hutterian Brethren. But where the Hutterites — once communalists of a particularly radical bent — have mostly forsaken mission work today, Courtiron places a special emphasis on outreach.

“Life is not a mad race for money, pleasure or success,” the community, which has about 20 members, declares online. “Life has a meaning that is far above these things. The meaning of life lies in relationships: love for God and love for each other. Each generation has to learn that truth and thus find the secret of happiness.” Though claiming to know the secret of happiness might be presumptuous, the people of Courtiron say they take this mutual love as a fundamental article of their faith. Showing this love to others is one of the community’s basic goals.

“To those who do not call themselves Christians, we want to bring the Word of God in all its purity and truth, that they will find the same solace, liberty, morality and comfort that we see on every page,” according to the Web site. “To our Christian friends, we must exhort, encourage and share what we have lived, encouraging by word and deed, the life of godliness in all.”

Meanwhile, a hemisphere away in Tasmania, the Rocky Cape Christian Community (www.thecommonlife.com.au/home.html) espouses these same goals and also identifies with the greater Anabaptist movement. Established on the grounds of a former Bible camp by conservative Mennonite author Peter Hoover and several families from the Elmendorf Hutterite Colony at Mountain Lake, Minn., Rocky Cape also includes a number of newcomers — believers for whom the way of community is still relatively fresh, perhaps even a little uncertain.

“While we have close and direct links to other Anabaptist communities like ours, we seek fellowship with all serious believers — regardless of their background or credentials — that know Christ and follow him,” according to the Rocky Cape Web site.

While both of these communities work from a mostly rural, agrarian model, urban church communities also are thriving. These often take the communal lifestyle in new and unexpected directions, frequently with a focus on social justice and public activism. Because they see themselves as offering a radical departure from materialism and self-pursuit, many of these communities also identify with the Anabaptist movement, or at least its heritage.

Though living communally can be rife with just as much error and tension as any other group of people in close quarters — in some, an insular “ghetto mentality” can pervade like a crippling smell — it also can be a life of many blessings.


Though no community can rightly claim to be Utopian or even remotely perfect, those who live in this way typically feel a deep personal calling to share with others not only their faith but their material goods. This calling is an old one and, despite the persistent human drive for isolation and wealth, it is still being heard. — Robert Rhodes

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Still playing with pictures

Here are a few more random shots from that three-year period when I had my "old" phone, now retired. Every time the page reloads, you get three different shots at random. Have fun! (I don't have to tell you that if you click on any image you get taken to the flickr account where you can see it close up. Coming soon ... more recent pictures. :)




Friday, November 30, 2007

Family pix

I don't know if this is going to work very well, but I'm going to try to include a few of our family pictures in the left side panel that will change automatically every time you refresh the page. Could be nice ... if it works and looks nice maybe I'll change it the first week of every month to show you last month's pictures.

For now, to start, here are some old pictures from my cell phone. I recently upgraded my old Motorola V500 to a newer W510 (if you know the models, or care) for the price of 1 Euro. Since my old one was starting to give me problems I thought I shouldn't wait. In course of the changeover I removed all the pictures off the camera -- most of which I had never seen up close. So it's a nice surprise for everyone. They're only VGA but that's good enough to get the picture!


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"French Youths” Riot, Again

Picked this up by a guy named Gary Bauer and thought it pretty well hit the nail on the head. In this crazy world we must not say what we all know to be true.



The French apparently have a youth problem. I know this to be true because Big Media told me so.

“Dozens of youths clashed with police… in a working and lower class suburb north of Paris.”
New York Times
“…Angry youths set ablaze a police station,
a McDonald’s restaurant, two garages, a gasoline pump and several shops…”
Washington Post
“Nearly 80 French police officers have been injured,
six seriously, during a second night of riots by youths…”
British Broadcasting Company
“Riots in French suburb for second night after two teens killed in police crash.”
CNN

Youth. Teens. Rioters. Anyone reading these stories would think that young men named Pierre and François were rebelling against their country. Perhaps the French need to initiate “Midnight Basketball,” the famous Clinton proposal to deal with youth crime.

But of course the rioters aren’t just “youths.” They are Muslims, overwhelmingly from North Africa, who reject French society and values. When they rioted in 2005, these same youths were very clear about what they wanted—an Islamic France. Some wore t-shirts with the number 2020 on them—the year Muslims could become the majority in France if current immigration and birth trends continue.

Of course none of this information was deemed worthy for us to know by the Big Media reporters who brought us the stories of youth rioting in Paris. “Nothing to see here folks—keep on moving” was the theme for the day.

Meanwhile, Islam is re-conquering Europe one baby at a time.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Letter to family

Greetings to you all,

I am amiss in waiting so long before communicating with you all; please forgive me. Time seems to be the one thing I never have enough of, but perhaps this just shows a lack of organizational skills.

Be that as it may, I want to bring you up-to-date a little on your cousin, my aunt, Ruth. You must all have heard by now that she is not well. Well, she is better but I fear we will never see her as free and autonomous as she was even a couple of years ago. In case you missed any details, her present woes began a little over a year ago with a nasty fall in her bathroom in the middle of the night. This resulted in a fractured hip and broken arm. Since that time there have been other operations, more falls, infections, another break to the same arm, periods of hospitalization, and more falls. Once she slipped and fell out of bed and gashed her head. Though this was not a serious injury it topped a long list of events that have discouraged her greatly and gone a long way to destroying her feeling of independence.

She, who had always preplanned everything hadn't foreseen such a year as this last one has been. Her paperwork, always so neat and orderly, has been thrown into disarray and confusion from sheer lack of upkeep. A lot of bills come in the space of one year and while I've been trying to deal with things as best I can it has not always been easy. I have been over to see her and help do what I can every few weeks of this year -- probably once a month, on average. I brought my girls over a couple of times to stay with her for a week to help keep things tidy and do the shopping. My weekly phone calls turned into two- or three-a-week calls several months ago and now, since my last visit at the end of October, I promised her I'd call every day. She has grown to depend on it.

Several months ago it became obvious that she could no longer live alone at home and I started trying to persuade her to find a caring accommodation nearby. This summer she was admitted into the Retired Nurses National Home in Bournemouth for respite care following complications from yet another fall and resultant operation on her arm. I became convinced that that was where she ought to be and started trying to talk her into the move. To shorten the story I would just say that the decision has now been made, and the move fully done. There are a thousand things to be done but at least she is now in full-time care 24/7 surrounded by people who are very good to her. She now has a very pleasant south-facing bedsit, quite large, with two bay windows in it and an en-suite bathroom with shower.

There is no point sending anything further to Baring Road as we are trying to put the house on the market. This became necessary, unfortunately, because of some clause in an equity loan that she took out some years ago against her home. We haven't got very far yet but Northern Rock has asked that we put it up for sale within six months of her moving out. A couple of months ago Ruth engaged a woman she knew of from her church, an accountant by trade, to act as her Power of Attorney. This has meant that I am working with her to plan what needs to be done. Apparently my cousin Joy also has such a PoA but of course she is a very long way away now it is needed.

I've just gotten of the phone with Ruth. She slept well last night (not always a given) and sounds pretty good today. She is also sounding a little less confused this past little while. Some say that may be a side-effect of her medication. Her doctor of twenty years is passing by to see her on Monday and she feels good about seeing him. She walks very slowly with the help of a zimmer -- I should probably use the word "moves" rather than "walks". I alway take her out for lunch or for a drive when I am there, using her collapsible wheelchair but last time she was just too weak and tired even to attempt the adventure.

She mentioned to me that she lately received a card from her cousin John to which she has not been able to reply and she feels bad about this. I said I was writing you and would ask if any of you have a way of contacting him with her news to please do so. She would appreciate this a lot.

This note may have raised more questions than it answers -- if so, don't hesitate to get in touch with me. In the meantime she would love to hear from any of you who could write or call. Her mailing address is now: [snipped for posting to the blog -- if you want it, please just ask] and her phone number (a permanent land line into her new room that I had transferred from Baring Road) is [also snipped, but freely available on request].

As for the rest of us here in France, we are doing well, all thanks to God. It is winter and days are short and rather overcast a lot of the time, though yesterday was a royal exception with bright sun ever since breakfast. I pray you are all well.

Love,

Derrick

Friday, November 23, 2007

The birthdays

One is 29 today and the other is 49. It's that time of the year again. This afternoon I said to Becky in the car that Mummy and I were going to take the "birthday children" out for dinner tonight. I meant to say Camille so Becky took ages going through people we know trying to figure out if Loren was coming over for dinner or was Flora coming down tonight to see us, etc. Quite funny at the time since we have four 23/11s listed on our "birthday board" today.

Anyway, the four of us went out to Le Tanger in Château du Loir and had a very nice Moroccan meal of couscous and tangine and other assorted delights. We were back by ten having had a good time talking and sharing about events.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thursday

I seldom pick so boring a title but I'm at a loss this morning.

We all united for devotions this morning. Christopher made a nice fire and John got some logs to put on it. Raph brought out a book I'd bought some time ago but not read yet on the resurrection. It's a Crown Rights reprint from the mid-nineteenth century. Claire set up her spinning wheel and did some spinning while I read. We only read the first chapter this morning, due to a late start, but it sounds interesting and put us all in a good humor. I'll let you know how far we get.

Yesterday I called Aunty late (around nine) because I'd forgotten earlier. But it wasn't too late and she was glad I'd called. She said Mrs Stevens had come over that morning and said she was going to email me the results of her visit but this morning I still haven't heard from her; I surely will during the day.





Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A letter to Grandma's children

I'm sorry I have been amiss at keeping you all informed about Grandma. The best I can say is, No news is good news. She is doing just fine since she got over the hectic time of hospitalization a few months ago. Her paperwork is progressing and she's got her resident permit renewed, as expected. A few weeks ago we got another complete checkup done on her with full blood test and everything: the results looked like a page from the answer sheet! You could all wish for such perfect analysis!

Unfortunately her Alzheimer's has continued its inroads into her little world but she stays happy and this makes things easier. She is living in her new bedroom that we had built for her with her own toilet/bathroom/shower area and that makes things a lot easier for everyone. She is happy and putters about the house sometimes grabbing a broom and sweeping the floor, sometimes stocking the woodpile with some sticks from outside. What she most seems to like is to sit with the women in the kitchen when there's some work to be done
on peeling vegetables or some such thing. She wants her cutting board and paring knife and sets herself down at the end of the table where she's given her part of the "work".

Here's a picture you may not have seen of the wedding party in front of the town hall last September when Elisabeth married Michel. Grandma happily took her place between Michel and his father! Rebecca is next to his father on the far right an
d Jonathan is on the far left, next to Peggy and Christopher is between her and Elisabeth. You might recognize Nathalie standing just behind Grandma, Claire (holding Susanne, Raph & Camille's littlest one) in front of Peggy, Christine (R & C's eldest) next to Claire, Olivier (nearly 7 now) just in front of Michel, and Raphael almost hidden by Michel's father. I took the photo so you don't get a picture of me. :-)




Monday, November 12, 2007

Selling the house

I've started to try to get in touch with estate agents in Bournemouth to see if I can get some kind of an evaluation on Aunty's house.

First I called her former neighbor who she was keen on involving in the sale of the house but I haven't been able to track him down yet and can find no business in his name.

I did find a couple of others, though, and after leaving full details at a Clearwater Real Estate Ltd (they're going to have a look and get back to me via email) I tried another business in the area but only got an answerphone, so I left a message.

The first fellow seemed very helpful and said they'd have a look from the outside and give me some sort of ball-park figure of what it is worth. We'll see what happens. I can see this is going to take some time!


Departures

I just got back after a full day on the road with Becky. To get to William's plane in time at Roissy we had to get up at 2:15am. I had Becky as my copilot and we got ourselves together and were at the hotel, as I promised William, at exactly 3 am where we picked him up, as well as Debbie's mother, Ruth, and her sister Anna who needed to be at Beauvais for their flight this morning.

The trip went well and without incident and we dropped William off at Terminal 3 at exactly six, as he'd wanted. Then it was off to Beauvais for the next flight and by 7 there was only Becky and myself to make our way homeward.

After an hour of driving we were back in the outskirts of Paris and I was feeling very tired and looking for a rest. We spent half an hour looking for a coffee shop and a quiet place to park but not finding it, we headed toward the autoroute that would take us home.

We'd originally thought we'd be home by noon but around ten thirty we stopped at a service station for a coffee and a nap and I didn't stir until past eleven thirty so we phoned home to tell them not to wait for us.

Half an hour later Becky and I stopped for lunch at a new autoroute restaurant and had a nice meal before setting off again -- we got home just after three and Becky went straight to bed and I checked in at the office.

At four this afternoon after answering another email from Mrs Stevens I called Aunty again but she was not being clear and I had to repeat my name three times before she knew who was on the phone.

I am at the point of really not knowing what to do for her now. Sarah called the home about Aunty's clothes that she was concerned with yesterday and they mentioned that Social Services had called about all the equipment they'd lent Aunty so I just called them back now to say that half of it was at the home and the rest was still at Baring Road. The person handling her file is a Jacky Clarke who was not there when I called but who is supposed to call me back tomorrow.

This is not real news for most of you reading this but I'm trying to keep track of events so that I can reconstitute events in the future in the order that things happened.

I got nice letters about Aunty's situation from Marian and Wendy but haven't heard from anyone else yet. They'd like to help but they are a long way away so I guess it is up to me.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tuseday, Wednesday, and Thursday in the UK

Another three days with Aunty are now over, trying to get her set up and comfortable. She is in good hands and is reasonably happy but all is not well yet.

I called ahead and found that she was still in the Poole hospital on Tuesday morning when we got there so we went directly to the RNNH and left our stuff in the Cottage and said we'd be back a little later. When we got to Poole we found Aunty very frustrated and seemingly not able to get much attention for herself as well as not knowing what was going on with her nor what time she could expect to go home.

I scouted around and found someone who promised they'd call me by three if we went out for lunch. We got some pub food and sure enough they called just after three to tell us that she was being released to go home the same afternoon.

Next we went to Baring Road to pick up some stuff and then to visit with her back at home -- she was so glad to be back! But all is not well and I'm concerned about her situation.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Last week

Well, yesterday was a busy day but it's over now.

After leaving Don & Jan in Paris (I drove up there with Becky as a companion) and dropping them off at the Gare du nord we went and found a place to get a coffee and a croissant for breakfast since we left them by eight-thirty.

The idea was to get across Paris to the British Embassy and pick up my renewed passport which was supposed to be ready for me. But I called Nat who said they needed another half hour so we started out to get there about nine, which should have been easy. Suffice to say, it wasn't, because of heavy traffic and after much "site-seeing" we finally got there just after eleven thirty, I got my passport, and we headed home.

We got back in the middle of the afternoon and I took a little rest before leaving for England with Sarah around six-thirty. It was a nice easy trip that I know well by now and we were at the boat in plenty of time to board the midnight sailing from Caen. More on that trip a bit later...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

How I'm doing

Well, I'm back with just a little update -- though I ought to be telling you all about the conference; that will have to wait right now.

Ever since the incident the other night I have been feeling perfectly well in every way and I thank God for each new day.

Thursday, of course, was a bank holiday so everything was on hold. Bright and early Friday morning I was down at the lab to get a blood test, as requested. That only took a few minutes out of my day but it was done.

Yesterday morning we got the results from the lab in the post and I went to have the Doppler scan done in town around ten. I described my problem and what brought me here and at first the technician could find nothing. But he said that hard masses don't just appear and disappear and that as far as he was concerned I was having a recurrence of my former hernia.

Then he tried a different position and finally got the pictures he wanted and expected, confirming his initial diagnosis: a hernia waiting to happen.

I went the the doctor's but he was closed by the time I got there and I didn't figure I had big enough news to tear him away from his wife and children so I left planning to go see him with my scan and lab results next week. He'll give me some advice on how to live. As I understand it, there is not much one can do but be careful lifting or straining oneself.

Today we're back to the hotel to finish up a wonderful conference. Tomorrow I'm driving Don and Jan to Paris to catch the Eurostar to London. Then I have to swing by the embassy and pick up my renewed passport which should be done by then. Sarah and I plan to leave for England tomorrow night to spend three days with Aunty -- more news on that later.

Thanks for your notes and calls and good wishes, girls. I appreciate your kind thoughts. I hope this is a good way of spreading our news to you -- but don't let yourself get tempted into worrying; that solves nothing. Prayer is what changes things and remember what the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplished, all right?

Much love to you both. Keep us in your prayers. All is well. I will try to write more later on this afternoon.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

My health

If you know me at all, you know how much I hate talking about my health, or how I feel or, God forbid, my operations. I have even less patience with others who are that way inclined. But today I want to do just that, so you are forewarned: if, like me, the whole subject bores you, just skip this post.

In my life, I have suffered from three incidents that required help from a surgeon, and the first was in my 50th year, 1999, when I suddenly had a hernia occlusion that was excruciatingly painful. The only remedy was surgery to set things right. A year or so later I was taken with acute appendicitis with peritonitis and we're very fortunate to have caught it in time because I was told that it was not a pretty sight and the infection was starting to spread. But here, too, a masterful surgeon cleaned things up and removed the offending member.

The only other incident was during the Christmas holiday a few years ago that we had decided to go to Rome and only got as far as Riom -- no pun intended, whatsoever. But it was indeed in that city's hospital that I was admitted late one night with intense back pains and vomiting. While the others waited at the hotel I was examined by a kindly Martiniquaine who said that the only way out of my woes was l'ablation du vessie. After being discharged next morning, I well remember the lovely sunny drive Sarah and I had back toward Le Mans and home and the memorable Christmas dinner was ate at the Auberge du cheval blanc at the end of the autoroute. All the others followed in the Jumper as best they could and thus ended our trip to see Titus's Arch in the eternal city.

Anyway, this is history and my intention was to recount what is happening to me now.

For the past little while I've had an uncomfortable feeling come over me that is slowly starting to leave the realms of disagreeable to be qualified more as painful. I seem get it once or twice a week and my whole lower abdomen is affected leaving me feeling as if I had just left the table after an uncomfortably heavy meal -- even at times when I have hardly eaten.

This happened to me last Saturday while we were all working in the garden. Though I was barely doing anything that could be considered "work" I suddenly felt this pressure that made me want to loosen my belt to provide relief. I went into the studio and lay down for perhaps an hour, almost dozing off a couple of times. When I first laid down I could barely find a comfortable position but after an hour the feelings had subsided and I felt much better and well enough to get back with the others.

Last night while we were sitting at the table it came again, pressuring, hurting, rendering my whole lower abdomen tender and restricted. I excused myself and went to bed, knowing a bed as providing the most efficient relief I knew. But last night I could get no relief and it was getting downright painful. I felt a large, hard mass that I knew was not normal. I had noticed it before but it seemed smaller and in any event I assumed it to be scar tissue. But after an hour of tossing I decided to get up and go to the emergency ward of the hospital. This must have been around ten because I had retired well before nine.

By this time we were leaning heavily toward the thesis of the reappearance of a hernia, half hoping that is all it would prove to be. But apparently it is not. The young doctor listened patiently then examined me fairly thoroughly before saying it was not a hernia, but that he didn't know what that lump was.

He prescribed a Doppler scan and a blood test, to be done, if possible, tomorrow, followed by a visit to Dr Pérol as soon as possible next week.

I know that some of you will find this of some interest. Check back in a day or so.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Don and Jan are here

Just a note to tell you that Don K. Preston and his wife Jan (from Janis) are here with us now.


I went to pick them up at CDG with Becky along for the ride — after the trip to England, she's becoming my riding partner of choice! She loves the special times and so do I.

Well, the clocks went back last night so we got and extra hour of sleep and still got up at "5" (though it was now 4), planning to leave at "6" (really 5, get it?) and actually left at 5:30 am -- or 6:30 am for our poor mixed-up bodies. Josephine assured me it was a 3 hour trip so this would put us in at 8:30 — which sounded fine for an 8:40 arrival time, since they'd need a little time to clear baggage control and customs. I figured we'd have a good half hour wait till we could expect to see them.

Well, at 8:30 we were parked and walking around the terminal trying to get our bearings and find where AA arrivals were. As I was looking at the television screens trying to localize flight AA712 I suddenly heard someone call my name. Turning around on the second call I came face to face with Don!

When I asked him how long he'd been here ("about half an hour") and how on earth he could be here in the arrivals hall already he said something about a tailwind and "making good time." I looked up at the clock and saw that it was right now exactly 8:40 but it took me a little time to get things straight in my mind.

The arrival time given of 8:40 am was given as calculated without taking into account the changing back off of DST. Grrr.



Saturday, October 27, 2007

Back to Paris tomorrow morning

Well, that was a nice lunch; boeuf aux carrottes prepared by our friend Hoo some time ago and faithfully frozen by Nat till today.

William is a very nice man and we both feel like we've known each other for a long time. He loves the Lord and is never happier than when singing or reading about Him. John was so tired this morning that he went back to the hotel after breakfast and told William not to come and get him for lunch. I need to talk to him later on because it's easy to see all is not well.

This afternoon I need to make sure my car tank is full and find out which terminal Don will be coming in at. I may bring mother with me which would be nice. I hadn't suggested it because I need to leave at 5 and that is not her best time of day. But she said at noon she'd like to come, so it will be good to have someone with me for the trip.

I got a quick note from Don early this morning asking for my cell phone number (which I gave him) but then our servers went down and have been down for hours now. Raph says it's a "known problem" and that he manages to hang them by updating the CLB site.

I bought some odds and ends for the studio since that's where I've decided to put Don and his wife -- I think they'll be better there, and more accessible. Last week I rolled over a hundred thousand kilometers on my car which is not quite two years old: fifty thousand a year is quite a bit, I guess.


Saturday morning

I've been nicely reminded that my news is read and appreciated so I'd like to tell you what's on my mind this morning.

Today we had another round of Raph's study on resurrection getting as far as John 8. William really enters into the spirit of it and seems to really enjoy it. John slept through most of it, I think, then went downstairs afterward to lay on the couch. He is not an early-riser. Michel & Lilly came in a little late but didn't miss much and Michel also seems to enjoy the times together.

Yesterday William and John worked down at the hotel, as they have all this week, cleaning and making preparations. Yesterday they cut all the new wood and brought it back to stock it in the woodshed at the bottom of the garden. I guess they made a big bonfire of small scrub brushwood down there and generally tidied things up outside.

We received Judas Maccabeus by Handel yesterday so I immediately ripped the two CDs and sent them up to mp3tunes for safe-keeping and easy access. (It's a good, free service you should check out if you don't know it.) We've got over seven thousand songs on line now -- or I should say "tracks" not "songs" since I have over four hundred sermons by Tozer as well as the whole Bible both in French and English.

This morning Raph is doing the finishing touches on the boutique part of our CLB web site (www.connaitrelabible.org) and I'm going to help by scanning the covers and preparing blurbs and teasers for the books. Tomorrow morning I'm off nice and early to Paris to pick up Don and his wife at Charles de Gaulle; their plane is in at 8:40 am so I'm going to need an early start. I'd better get busy! Talk to you later.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Busy week ahead

Well, this is due to be a rather busy week coming up. We called Mario tonight and he said that due to his work load he thought he wouldn't be able to attend the conference after all. Laurent apparently called also to say that they'd be in Sunday afternoon, instead of tomorrow, since their children needed more time to finish their school work. This all is in our favour and gives us an extra day tomorrow to get caught up on preparations.

We had a great study Thursday morning. Raph led us in a study he'd prepared on the resurrection, chapter by chapter through the book of John. This morning we listened to a study by Bercot on reconciling Paul and James. It was well done and clear, as always. John tossed and turned a lot and didn't seem to be entering into the spirit of it, although I know he is in agreement with what was said. He seems to have a problem listening to anyone else, a recorded sermon or a chapter from a book. This may just be an over-reaction to things of his past but I think he needs to be careful not to cut himself off from the Lord speaking through others.

By the way, if you want to get yourself a copy of our new book by Ehrenpreis (see my note a couple of days ago) you can get it here!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Here is our news

If I don't start trying to catch up on my news it's not going to be news much longer. We sure seem to live a busy life!

What I wanted to tell you was that last Friday we had the visit of René & Miriam and their 16-year-old daughter, Erin. They flew down in to Le Mans in a rented Beechcraft piloted by a member of the community of Darvell in England. We knew a little about their community, but we learned much more and it was a blessing to be able to compare experiences and share together. We have much we can learn from them!

He said there are about 300 of them living in community of goods in Kent from many different nationalities but one in the Lord, of course. René, despite his name, was raised in the States, as was his wife but they've been living in the UK for five years now and are hoping to get British citizenship very soon.

At any rate, it was a wonderful visit and we really were able to have good fellowship. I can't remember when I was able to converse with a brother on that level and besides being very encouraging to what we are doing he was also able to offer a little real brotherly advice. I only wish I'd been able to free up a little more time to talk to him alone.

Becky got along famously with Erin, as you'd expect. But she told me yesterday that it was the first time in her life that she was able to have a spiritual conversation with someone of her own age and she enjoyed that a lot. She said it wasn't like it often is (a "love at first sight" kind of friendship with a little silliness) but rather a serious more adult sort of contact that she liked a lot. At first she said she was wondering whether this was due to the fact that she is growing up or whether Erin was just so different from others she's known.

I thought it was probably the latter, myself.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rejoice with us!


We just received a parcel in the post this morning from Kenny Woolman at the Hutterian Brethren Book Centre. I couldn't believe it had arrived so fast! We had so wanted to get it before the conference but I was wondering if it would make it, but it did.

So here is the cover: Brotherly Community -- The Highest Command of Love, by Andreas Ehrenpreis, for the first time in French and the first time that a book we've translated has actually made it all the way to print edition -- despite multiple assurances and promises.

Kenny sent us a box of 60 and I don't think we're going to have any trouble distributing them! Raph is working on our webstore at his site (I'll post the link once it's finished) and got a lot done on it over the weekend so this will be one of our first boutiques to sell it. Please pray for all who will read it; it is most powerful!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The weakest link

"In a Christian community everything depends upon whether each individual is an indispensable link in a chain. Only when the smallest link is securely interlocked is the chain unbreakable. A community which allows 'unemployed' members to exist within it will perish because of them.

"It will be well, therefore, if every member receives a definite task to perform for the community, that he may know in hours of doubt that he, too, is not useless and unusable. Every Christian community must realize that not only do the weak need the strong, but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak. The elimination of the weak is the death of fellowship." — Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Four days with Aunty

Well, it's been awhile since I last had opportunity to post a comment here; I've been pretty busy. Here I am in Portsmouth again at their Internet kiosk in the terminal building and since I have a little time before sailing, I thought I'd bring you up to date.

It's Thusday night and I ca;e over by myself last Sunday to try to help Aunty get sorted out since she was so distressed by events when I spoke to her on Saturday.

I spent all day Monday bringing furniture and pictures to the home and making her feel comforted. A big part of my visit was meeting Mrs Stevens on Tuesday morning which went a long way to calming her fears and apprehensions. Mrs Stevens was probably right in most of what she said, but she was trying to move Aunty far too rapidly.

Lat night I drove up to see Tony & Peggy who put me up for the night, God bless them, and I took them out for lunch today with Rosemary. They haven't changed a bit and together represent everything that is good, and that I most like, about the English.

There was so much to do: I had to try to arrange with BT to disconnect her old phone and tried to get a new one installed in her new room, I have some papers I have to give Tony for the sale of her car, I called Kevin, the neighbor, to sort out the issue of her old fence, I saw Frank about her keys and her mail. As soon as I return I need to contact my siblings and cousins to try to bring them up to date on happenings here.

Basically, Aunty is well, but has lost her mobility and is starting to confuse things in her short-term memory banks. Her arm still shows some infection but the doctor is starting her on another treatment of antibiotics that ought to help.

This is a long time to be away from home and business and I do not do well on my own in that I seem to be of a rather gregarious nature. Left to myself I ponder the "meaning of life" a lot. But tonight I am just tired and wanting to get home -- though Aunty would have had me stay longer if I could have.

I remember first proposing she live with us about twenty years ago. But at the time she had a dozen more pressing things to do and reasons why she couldn't. Over the years the offer was renewed but there were friends, art classes, and church that stood in her way. I decided a couple of years ago to drop the subject and see little use in reminding her of what could have been for her now; there's no point in her feeling regrets about anything in her life (as she is wont to do anyway) now that nothing can be done to change them anyway.

I lean heavily on Raph, his love and judgment and I'm always glad he is there to talk. Lilly has quite understandably been preoccupied lately with her own life and I've yet to see how Mrs Roess will fit into our community activities and decision-making. She has a good heart and I'm sure she will do well.

Well, that is a hodge-podge of news for you till this weekend. I'll try to write a little more once I get the essentials sorted out. May the Lord bless and keep us all.



Sunday, October 07, 2007

How much is unity worth?

Sunday afternoon. We had lunch down at the island on a beautiful sunny day, but I'm no fun to be with,lately. I'm very preoccupied about events: Michel & Lilly's return tonight, their housing situation, Gérard and his children coming over tonight for supper, Debbie & Roo's upcoming marriage, the Fall conference coming up, William's arrival, meeting Don and his wife in Paris, John and his speech-ways, PowerPoint translations for the conference, Mario & Gina who'll be coming in here in a couple of weeks from Portugal, Laurent & Raphaella from Gap, the sewage problem at the hotel, Nat and Gérard and their situation ...

No point trying to enumerate everything here, but it keeps me busy.

Last night I started singing as the others ate the evening meal and that added a nice spirit to the evening. After several from the book we did a few of our favorite Psalms (133, 117, etc) which led me to end by saying, "And all the people said? Amen!"

To which John was noticable by his loud, "Yes". I would say it didn't bother me but the truth is I didn't want to say anything. Apparently Raph felt much the same since he did challenge him on it. I didn't hear the conversation but I know Raph and I imagine he has had about enough. I told him to read 1 Corinthians 1:10. It seems to me that sooner or later this issue will have to be resolved by unity.

John came in to talk for a few minutes this afternoon and brought up the subject. I reminded him that if we were both seeking unity and truth, God would lead us together. I said that, for my part, I think it might be best for him to keep these things for his private prayer life (to which no one is privy) and that he should consider forsaking it in public prayers and songs for the sake of unity. He said it would depend on how he felt his conviction about it. Well, of course; that's why I thought he might want to make an effort toward unity.

It's funny what some people hold to be important. Usually it's doctrine above all, in his case, it is practice. Everyone wants to "get it right" and I can't blame them for that. But unity and fellowship have a price and it is up to each one of us to determine how much we're willing to go to achieve it.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday morning, everything is quiet

I'm in the office early. We've been busy this week without Michel and Lilly; it's starting to seem a little strange but I daresay they'll return this weekend since they were planning two weeks in Alsace as honeymoon.

Raph bought a load of apples yesterday and we're planning to process them tomorrow all together making our applesauce and preserved fruit for the year.

I talk to Aunty every couple of days, seldom less than twice a week. On Wednesday she was quite distressed because she felt that Mrs Stevens, to whom she has given her POA, was wanting to move too quickly and sell her house, get rid of her stuff and so on.

I tried to calm her down and told her I agreed with her. I said that if there were no urgent need to sell anything, she could leave things that way for months or years. Aunty is slow-moving and gets suspicious of quick changes to her program. I said to think it over and I'd call her back the next day.

So last night I talked to her again. It'll be nice when she gets into her new room and has a proper phone hooked up; the system she has at the moment is far from ideal. She was doing much better and said she talked to Mrs Stevens that morning who had reassured her that she didn't intend to sell the house yet.

Apparently she's having a friend with a truck come over on Monday and pick up the furniture Aunty wants in her new place. Mrs Stevens apparently doesn't think much of having Joy or myself as executors of Aunty's will since we are "out of the country". I said that, for me, it was a non-issue since I could be there within a few hours if needed. But after thinking it over I agreed with her and said that, with Mrs Stevens having her POA, what need was there for either myself or Joy? Why not just turn everything over to her and keep things simple.

It's fine with me and I told her I thought Joy was a great deal too busy and too far to bother much about it; I'm sure she'd agree. In any case, when Aunty starts talking about things like that you can be sure she's already made up her mind and merely wants approval. I told her to think about things and I'd call her next day -- today.

I am wondering if I should go over and see her for her birthday next week. She'll be 87 and it may well be the last one she'll have.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Thursday, September 20, 2007

J-2 (as we say here)

Two more days to go till Lilly and Michel are united and we're all starting to wonder if we've forgotten anything. But, in all, we're not really stressed over it; it will just happen nicely, I'm sure.

We're expecting about 50 people including children, in spite of the fact that Lilly had said she "didn't want a do." The pièce de résistance is going to be the two of them riding from the mairie to the hotel (about three kilometers) in the old donkey-drawn cart! I'll have to post a picture.

I just heard our US phone ring but didn't get to it in time. It has such a funny sound and rings so seldom that no one is used to it and it takes awhile before intruding into one's consciousness just what it is. I got up and brought it back from the servers and placed it on my desk.

No sooner had I done that than an email popped in from Vonage voicemail: I clicked it to listen and it was John, who'd been the one to just have called. The surprise is that he said he's coming for the wedding and he'd called for some advice about the best way. He said he'd try to call me from London! I knew he'd been thinking of returning but I didn't know he was at that point yet! It'll be good to see him.

I went out for lunch with Sarah at noon today. Making a community work is not nearly as easy as one might think. Somehow we feel that the idea of dying to self is an abstract one. Community brings out the fact that it is not.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Greetings brethren!

I can't do better today than share this letter we received this afternoon from our new web site (courtiron.fr); it says it all!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I am so glad to have literally stumbled into your web site this morning. What a breath of fresh air. All glory and honor to Him Who has loved us and set us free from the wrath to come upon those will not bend their knee to the Lord Jesus Christ in this life.

All that you stand for and live for and have expressed on your web site I am in complete agreement with.

My wife and I were raised Roman Catholic and fled that church when God, through His great mercy and love, revealed His Truth to us through His Word. It is a long story but when I finally came to faith in Christ and knew Him in the pardon of my sin in 1996 I began a personal study of the Truth to find just which church, group or denomination best expressed my understanding and practice of the Word of God. I found it in the Anabaptists. Hallelujah!!

I also later came to find out that my great grandfather, born in 1852 in Gros Réderching in the Moselle, was born an Anabaptist but married a Catholic girl and came to America. He converted to Roman Catholicism on his death bed. My 13th great grandfather was also an Anabaptist who suffered martyrdom for his faith in Holland. A number of my ancestors were leaders in the group. It is a proud heritage yet I know that this alone does not guarantee me entry into the Kingdom of God.

There are so many Mennonites and Anabaptists here in America that are only Anabaptists in "name", they are nominal. It is a social religion for them or a cultural experience rather than an expression of God's Holy Truth found in His Word.

Thank you for the stand you have taken. I will add you to my ministry prayer list. I, along with others, are seriously looking into doing something similar to what you are doing here in America. It is nearly impossible to do where we currently are living, approximately 85 kilometers north and east of New York City in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

You are an encouragement to me. You also look to the works of Tozer, a true man of God and one who is very near and dear to my heart as well. God bless you richly . . . I will write again soon!!

Building upon the only true Foundation, the Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 3:11),

John

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Off to England again

I'm leaving in an hour or so for another 24-hour stint in the south of England to see Aunty and how she's doing. Last time I called her she said she's very glad I'm coming.

She enjoyed the kids when they stopped over last weekend for the conference and tonight I'm bringing Becky with me, who is quite looking forward to the trip.

I may get a chance to log on tomorrow, but I doubt it. You'll be waiting for me when I get back to tell you all about it, right? Along with the rest of my work! :)

I was last over there a month ago, I reckon, and she sounds like she's doing better in every way. I need to see if she can make it over here for the following weekend when Lilly and Michel tie their knot.

Life is really not quite as simple as it sometimes seems. But if we are honest to each other and to ourselves, it's not as complicated as we often make it, either.

Thanks, Ammi!

I have been asked by Michel & Lilly to come up with a sort of slide show from old photos, of Lilly's childhood. This has been weighing on me a little and so we finally used the occasion to buy a special slide and negative scanner so that I could take care of this thing once and for all (I have a couple of thousand slides that go back to the early 80s).

While thinking of this I said to Raph, I think I remember Ammi doing a lot of scanning last time she was here... I said to Sarah, surely I didn't just let her walk off with them without at least taking a copy of her work. I couldn't imagine that, but I couldn't remember her giving me anything. Say I'm getting old. Anyway, finally I said to someone the other night, But I remember Ammi has a directory on our "Personal" net drive, I'll look tomorrow to see if there's anything there.

Well when I did I found about 500 scans I hadn't seen for years and I'm sure all the ones I will need for Lilly's wedding show. What a relief and what an enormous amount of time saved!

All I can say is, thanks, honey!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

News

There's just so much to say and it occurred to me several times lately that I really should try to record what is going on -- for YOU and also for you. :)

Mario and Gina and their three children are here and supposed to be leaving tomorrow. They were going to drive up from Portugal on Saturday with a view to getting here Sunday but in the end didn't leave home till 5 am on Sunday. I had just posed my cellphone in the hallway for the night and all of a sudden it buzzed. It was three minutes past nine and I'd been half expecting a call from them all day.

It was Mario who said they'd passed Poitiers and reckoned they'd be at Château du Loir by midnight and said he'd call me then. I was amazed but went and told the others. Raph was staying up writing to Laurent and finishing a few things so he said to see if he was still awake when I went out and he'd come along.

It was ten before I lay down with a view to getting a couple of hours sleep and the next thing I knew my phone rang -- it was twenty past twelve. I got up and found that Raph was just packing it in for the night but wanted to come so I got dressed and we went out to meet them at Château.

We found them easily enough -- at that time of night cars were scarce, much less those with Portuguese plates -- and took them straight to the hotel. I said I'd be over to see them next morning at 10.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Just heard from Mario

After a few months of dialog, I just got an email from Mario and Gina to say that they will be here this weekend!

I can see I am getting behind at this being a log of our community activities because you don't even know who they are, do you? They're email-friends from Portugal who have been looking for their place in the body. So the idea is to come on up with their children to meet us. Lord help us to be a blessing!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Too Old To Die Young

If life is like a candle bright
Death must be the wind
You can close your window tight
And it still comes blowing in

So I will climb the highest hill
And watch the risin' sun
And I pray that I don't feel the chill
Till I'm too old to die young

Let me watch my children grow
To see what they become
Oh, Lord don't let that cold wind blow
Till I'm too old to die young

Now I have had some dear, sweet friends
I thought would never die
Now the only thing that's left of them
Is the teardrops in my eyes

If I could have one wish today
And know it would be done
Well I would say everyone could stay
Till they're too old too die young

Let me watch my children grow
To see what they become
Oh, Lord don't let that cold wind blow
Till I'm too old to die young

Let me watch my children grow
To see what they become
Oh, Lord don't let that cold wind blow
Till I'm too old to die young

Friday, August 31, 2007

Five to the Mennonite conference

Raph, Jonathan, Nathalie, and Camille (with little Susanne) left about 7 pm last night to get the night ferry we'd booked. They're going up to Oxfordshire to a conference hosted by some Mennonites from Wisconsin representing Rod and Staff Publishing House.

The theme of the conference is the family and since we get most of our school books from them, it should be a good time and very instructive. Apparently they have set up an importer in the UK to distribute their books and materials so that ordering should be a lot quicker in the future.

I called the contact man yesterday and talked to him for about an hour. He was quite interested in what we were doing and said next time he came to Europe he'd like to come down and see us. I told him about our new web site but he said that they don't have Internet access -- the church has a policy against it.

I've never heard of that before but it is a nice idea and you can certainly see the sense of it.


This morning Raph sent us a photo of Camille outside the nursing home to say they'd arrived since they were due to have breakfast there with Aunty at half past eight. Here's the shot -- looks like a nice blue sky!

Half an hour later he sent us another one of them all sitting down to breakfast in the main dining room, so I'll show you that one, too.

Finally, here's one of Aunty herself taken at lunch a couple of hours ago. She really looks good in this picture. When I talked to her last night she said she was having her hairdresser come today and it sure looks like he did a good job!

I daresay I'll have more to post about the conference in a day or two but we're expecting quite a blessing from the visit.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Aunty's mail

The other day while on the phone with Aunty, she said she had written me a note but hadn't sent it yet as she couldn't remember my address! If you knew how many years she's been using it, you'd be as surprised as I was -- especially since it was only the one word "Courtiron" that she couldn't remember.

Anyway, this morning a card came from her which I want to post because I'd like to remember it. I have never seen her handwriting so bad and it was sad to notice. It is dated 19.8.07 and this is what she said,

Dear Derrick,

This is just a line to thank you for the lovely day you gave me on Wednesday last week. It was a great thrill to be out again, and it was such a lovely sunny day.

Sadly though I haven't felt as well since and the weather hasn't been as good, with a lot of rain. This is the first letter I have written for months. I was sorry not to be able to speak to you when you phoned on Thursday, I think. Several people told me what a handsome nephew I have.

This afternoon I discovered for the first time that every other Sunday afternoon there is a service in the chapel here. It is very small but was very good.

I may not be feeling so well because my BP is very low at present, but no one seems concerned about it.

This is all for now.
Sorry about the bad writing,

Lots of love,
Auntie Ruth

Songs of the heart

I guess I'm just an old softy. I'm sitting here this morning listening to Jim Reeves sing An Evening Prayer which I think I already quoted the words to some months ago.

There are some songs that just seem timeless to me. I've always loved that song and never listened to it without praying it from the heart at the same time. I feel such a failure and we all are in so many ways. This song touches something deep down; God bless the man that wrote it.

I always say I'm not into poetry but what is a song but a poem set to music? Ah, but the music makes the difference, doesn't it?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Visit to Aunty on Friday

I've just gotten off the phone to Aunty tonight while you were all eating. I thought of a few things that would make your visit more enjoyable for her. Remember that visiting the sick is one of the things that Jesus said in Matthew 25 that He was going to ask us to have done.

1. Camille, I suggest that you print this out, plus the last one I sent of details of the trip, and take it with you.

2. She said she would be very pleased to see you all and she was very glad I called tonight!

3. She is supposed to "have her hair done" on Friday morning so she suggested that you not arrive before 10 am, so please do that.

4. I suggest you get up a little bit earlier than usual and have a cooked breakfast on the boat because you will not find such good food so easily once you are set free in England.

5. On the boat you can pay in Euros or Pounds Sterling. Take a bit of petty cash. In England Euros are not accepted anywhere.

6. I was thinking (for the conference) that it might be nice for at least one of you boys to wear your suspenders. If you want to. Remember, it's Mennonites that are putting on this show and if you look a little like them it will give you an immediate acceptance with them that won't do you any harm in winning friends. Just an idea ...

7. I was also thinking that both you boys should perhaps consider "trimming" (tidying up) your beards for Aunty's sake -- mostly so she recognizes you. You can always let it grow again afterward but shaving your neck and a light trim on the scraggly loose ends might go a long way. Remember that for years I used to shave completely just for her sake.

8. You must take some pictures of us all with you for Aunty. Remind me tomorrow to take some and to print them out.

9. Mum is going to make her one of her special chicken pies that she likes so much. I think she will even make two for Aunty. She can see about getting the extra one put in a refrigerator for another day then microwaved when she wants it. She said to me several times last week that she wasn't very happy with the food.

10. I'm going to call her on Thursday before you leave to see if there is anything else you could bring that would make her happy.

11. As I said, breakfast on Friday will be too early for her so you can mess around for a couple of hours until 10. You may even want to stop in for an hour late Sunday afternoon before you go back. She is quite looking forward to your visit.

12. Aunty is a very strong, positive person but she said that today, for the first time, she was starting to feel a little bit down. Try to be light and encouraging with her, please.

13. She is staying in a place called the Retired Nurses National Home in Bournemouth. It is a saved address on my GPS so you'll be able to find it easily. The docks at Portsmouth are also saved on the GPS.

14. From the ferry to her house is about one hour. You're on your own for finding the conference center but the GPS has good Michelin maps of all of Europe and it works well.

15. Don't forget to bring your new cards that came today.

If I think of anything else tomorrow, I'll do like this; it might be the best way to be sure that nothing gets forgotten.

Have fun,

Dad