Friday, April 27, 2007

John

While working in my office this afternoon I heard someone come in and speak loudly in English to Nathalie so I just assumed another English ex-pat was needing some work on his computer.

In a minute Nat held open my door and introduced me to someone named John who, she said, "wanted to talk to me about the community."

It turned out that John had hitch-hiked down to find us from England where he's been staying the past few months visiting family on his mother's side. His accent betrayed his birthplace as America but his manner was refreshingly honest and loving.

He said he'd seen of our community on ic.org and said he'd written to me -- but I told him I'd never received it. He said he felt the Holy Spirit urging him to come down and see us so he came.

He's 46 and divorced a couple of years ago -- apparently his wife sued him for divorce and he gave her everything; land, house, and business. He has had a lot of experience in many different fields of work and asked if he could stay awhile and work with us.

I liked him right away and asked him what he wanted first; a shower or a bed. He said he'd slept rough last night and would appreciate somewhere to lay down and rest for a bit so I took him to the hotel and gave him a room.

Later on this evening I went over to pick him up and he ate with us as we broke our fast. I told him we'd been praying for help and he'd come at just the right moment as we were preparing our spring conference for next weekend. He said he'd do whatever was needed to help! God is good to us!

Eighty-five




Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Parting greetings

My dear family --
You are each so special and wonderful and we love you all so much!
We have enjoyed our visit hugely, and we miss you already and we are looking forward to seeing you soon!

With love,
Zack & Ammi,
Kimberly & Lauren

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Roo is better

Jonathan had his appointment with the ophthalmologist this morning who found that his eye was doing fine and he no longer needed to bother with the patch. We were all so thankful to hear that! In the end God has healed things far faster than we ever would have imagined and we are very grateful that things have turned out well. I pray for no lasting pain or disturbance of his vision and may he take just a little more care of himself in the future.

Dinner in Tours

Sarah and I went out with Isaac and Ammi this morning to show them around Tours, especially the old town with all its crazy medieval buildings and great restaurants. We found one -- Chez Gérard -- which looked good and settled in there and got a great three-course lunch for 11€.

Having forgotten my wallet in the car, I went back to get it while the others ordered. When I returned they told me the waiter had proved quite impatient and true to his international reputation. Zack said that in the west of Canada they had a motto in business that "The customer is always right" I said I'd heard of it but that here it was more, The customer is a nuisance! We had a good laugh at that.

To get to the toilets you had to go down a spiral staircase into a cellar then mount another on the other side. Sarah thought this was quite an unusual bit of planning and that I ought to take a look but since everyone else had already done so, I declined. Later on, as we got up to go we noticed that the "garden" we'd seen on the other side of the room was actually another separate entrance to the parallel street. Sarah wondered out loud if it was called Chez Nicole.

As we sat around we had a lot of time to talk and they went over their plans for the future. Zack really wants to finish his university education that he's started but he knows it might not be the best thing for the girls. All I could do was encourage him to trust God. I am far too far away from the details of their situation to be able to really give advice. We will certainly pray for them. They'd love to get closer to us physically and realize their need for fellowship. May God grant them the light they need and bless them for their love to us.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Moving the buffaloes

I got back from taking the girls to the airport by noon to learn of the exploits of the morning on the island. The boys had wanted to move the buffaloes to a new pasture land we got from Mr Gautier and he, one of his friends, and the boys spent over two hours trying to coax the three of them up the steep ramp and into the truck.

It didn't work. But in the process -- though quite unrelated to what they were doing -- Raph got himself very scratched up and worn out, and, worse, Jonathan got himself poked in the eye somehow while walking through an adjacent field.

When I got into the house and saw him he was lying on his bed in the darkened room. He said it was still very painful and I decided to take him to the Emergency ward at Château du Loir.

However, when we got there they wanted us to go to the hospital in Le Mans since they had no ophthalmologist on duty there. Having come this far, we kept on going to Le Mans where he was examined by a specialist who said it was "only" a scratch to the cornea -- but the most painful and sensitive areas of your body.

She prescribed some antibiotics and Vitamin A drops which I picked up there before coming home. I am now dead beat and Debbie has taken over his care to make sure he gets this drops every day. God bless her!

Marçon goes to Malta

This morning I drove our precious girls, Lilly and Nat to Orly to catch their flight to Malta. I was concerned last night because we still hadn't received our convocation -- which was crazy, but I've been so busy.

Anyway, after promovacance.com three times denying any knowledge of me, the trip, or the ticket, I thought of checking my bank statement on line and found the right amount debited about three weeks ago under the name of karavel.com -- but I'd never heard of it myself and promovacances claimed they had no contact with them.

Anyway, a call to karavel.com found my dossier and they resent me my convocation email. However, when I got it, it was from promovacances! What a mix-up -- we never did figure it all out, but we were glad to get the details.

So off I went this morning to get them there by their check-in time of 11:20; a nice, decent hour of the day. All went well and traffic conditions were good though I had the sun in my eyes for over an hour, just hovering above the autoroute. Here's my last shot of them as they waved goodbye.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Another sunny day

Another wonderful and sunny day finished yesterday with supper for everyone out on the terrace, the little ones eating at the stone table -- which was a very good idea of Debbie's.

I had spent the afternoon with Ammi talking while she accompanied me on a few errands that needed doing. We sat in the sun and had a coffee in Château du Loir while almost missing our appointment with the chimney-sweep at the hotel.

We talked about some of the deeper things of life and I stressed what I considered to be the most important characteristic of any couple's relationship and life together: total honesty.

I explained how this was one of Mum's most striking traits and that we have made it a priority in our marriage. Finally we noticed the time and scrambled for the hotel. We made it in the end and he gave the banquet room fireplace a clean bill of health. Michel has finished hiding all the ugly pipes and cabling down there and it looks all set to go.

Meanwhile almost everyone else had gone to the beach at the lake -- including Mum and Zak, but excluding, of course, Lilly and Michel, and Jonathan and Debbie who were taking care of the garden.

This is Lilly and Nat's last day before their trip tomorrow -- and we still haven't got a note from the airport yet to tell us where and when to go. It's funny how they always leave these things till the last minute.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ammi and Zak

Yesterday Ammi and Zak, Kim and Loren arrived as planned getting here a little later than they had originally thought (about 7 pm) but just in time for the kids to share their supper.

It's sure good to see them all again -- it's been a year for Ammi; two years for Zak. We all have much in common and we all feel the separation that we're living under as being a little false, especially since they have now moved into a new rental house and are no longer living with his parents.

Afterwards we all ate on the terrace in the garden and had a real nice time together. We've had gorgeous sunny weather for the past two weeks and the forecast is good for the coming week.

Zak gets on real well with Raph and Roo and there was a lot of comparing of projects and related shop-talk. He seemed also quite surprised at how self-sufficient we've become in producing our own food and there was a lot of good-natured kidding about Jonathan's butchery work. He's our butcher and our baker -- and now he jokes about wanting to learn how to make candles from the sheep fat. Why not?

He now has a rhythm worked out to bake twice a week in the bread oven and does it every Thursday and Sunday mornings. I'm not sure what kind of heat that's going to generate this summer -- we'll have to wait and see. For the moment we're all enjoying his work and his bread -- he sure puts everything into what he does! More tomorrow...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Comments are now on

From the beginning of this month I've decided to allow reader comments. That doesn't mean I'm expecting a lot, but it would be nice, once in awhile, to get some feedback.

This web log started out more as a personal diary than anything else but I feel it changing slightly to encompass a more specific goal: that of providing a written permanent record of our community existence and experience.

Please pray with me for each of us here. To that end perhaps I should introduce them to you, so I'll start with the obvious way of doing it around the physical family that God has given Sarah and I: Raphael (and wife Camille, and children Christine, David, and Susanne), Elisabeth (and fiancé Michel, and his father Frederic), Jonathan, Rebecca, Christopher, Claire, and Olivier. There is also Nathalie, Sarah's mother, Edith, and a sweet Swedish au pair girl Debora.

We are a very happy lot -- together, with each other -- but we don't seem to have or keep many "outside" friends. In the community at large we are very well thought-of and our family-run company is successful and doing well.

But these are contacts with the world, which are simple and straight-forward. All contacts with church people have so far (and we are amassing years of historic experience) failed.

Had it been a success ...

I would have wanted a little credit. As it is, I'll take all the blame. The kids just got back from the LSM Paris spring conference having left bright and early this morning to get there by ten.

It was an unusual thick fog over the whole area when they left but they called around nine to say that, while still misty, the road was clear and the fog had lifted.

But the thing is that I need to learn a lesson here. I can feel that Raph is hurt and him just talking about how they were all received reminds me of my last contact with Bill and opens a few wounds. Why do they dislike us so?

Craig was the one redeeming contact of the day -- and the reason I'd decided we should send a team up there in the first place. He remains the kind, soft-spoken, warm-hearted person we have always known him to be.

Apparently Bill was downright rude to them -- how can these people call themselves Christians? And this, after spending so much time with us and seeing us for what we are.

God will use this word one day to condemn them; this is bigger and truer than any of us.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Snippets

Don't know what I'll call this entry: I always leave the titles for last -- do you?

Well, I've just finished my monthly TVA return one week ahead of time because Nat will be gone next weekend and it's difficult enough getting it done with her help -- I don't feel like attempting it alone.

Especially since Ammi will be here in just a few more days now and what with the conference preparations to be done, we're going to be busy.

I am very sleepy today having been up till eleven talking to Raph. I always try, but rarely succeed in bedding down by ten. But the alarm is merciless at five, so my evenings are the only latitude I allow myself.

I received the autobiography of G. K. Chesterton in the mail today. It looks like a good read, he being a close friend of Hilaire Belloc and all.

My first impressions of what little I've read of him are: intelligent, humorous, religious though sometimes a little irreverent. I read Orthodoxy years ago but should get a copy for our library since I think it's gone the way of all flesh.

Craig called yesterday from the airport in LA -- he never got my email about the conference and was talking about the LSM one in Paris tomorrow, so we may not be seeing him this time after all -- too bad, I always enjoy his fellowship

Monday, April 09, 2007

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Our best Easter ever

Today was just a lovely day; very warm and sunny as it has been all week, and it seemed as if the weather boosted our spirits as well -- we had an extremely peaceable and loving day together and I want to tell you about it!

Last summer we had discussed in detail when would be the best time to share a communion last supper together, knowing of churches that celebrate it daily, others weekly, others monthly.

About this time we were being very impressed by the lifestyle of the Hutterian Brethren and found out that, for them, this was a once-yearly celebration, at Easter time. The more we thought about it, the more we liked it since it seemed to us that doing it too often somehow cheapened the experience.

So we decided right then that we'd put it off and do it again next for Easter 2007 -- that is, today.

So for the past few days as we've seen the Easter weekend approaching we've discussed some of the details of how exactly we felt the Lord would have us do it to make it the most meaningful.

Last night we gathered together in the evening instead of eating supper and found a common focus in anticipation of the next day. We knew Sunday should be a joyful occasion but we felt that we wanted to share in communion beforehand, so we decided to fast through the morning hours as well, in preparation.

I shared with everyone that if the Lord had wanted some of these time and place details to be carefully observed nothing would have been easier for Him to tell us.

I concluded by the lack of such details that He would have us do some things as and when we choose, and that in this, as in many other things, He has left some things up to us.

Raph and the older children decided this morning that each one of them who was going to participate should try to have a little one-on-one time with each other in order to clear any past or present quarrels or misunderstandings.

The more we shared these things, the more it became apparent to all that this was surely the essence of the event. As it happened this sharing took all morning and we weren't really all finished and ready till almost noon. But there was a wonderful peace and such a good, brotherly spirit by then that no one even noticed the time.

When we were ready we sat at the large table in the living room -- there were ten of us present; Sarah, Jonathan, Nathalie, Camille, Raph, Lilly, Michel, Frederic, Becky, and me.

Mum had spoken with Debbie the night before suggesting clearly that this might be a wonderful time to get baptized and for her to think about it. This morning she said she'd rather do it when she got back to Sweden so the matter was dropped and Mum simply explained that this morning we were going to participate in a little ceremony that really only concerned baptized members of the family.

We decided to let the children stay in the same room and watch so Raph gave them a little coaching about being sure to stay very quiet -- and they were. We'd already made sure that Grandma was upstairs taking her morning nap so that there would be no disruptions.

We sat down and after asking the Lord to bless with his peace and guidance we sang "Crown Him With Many Crowns" in French a capella. I read a little passage that Michel had given me earlier written by Roy Hession on the importance of mutual love as our expression of our love for Christ and it turned out to be very appropriate.

After this, Raph read a few related scriptures and we shared a small whole bread that Jonathan had just baked this morning followed by a glass of wine. Everything was just right.

We ended by all holding hands in a ring and sing our theme song, Psalm 133, and giving the person next to us on each side a kiss of love. I closed the time in a simple prayer and we went upstairs for the noon meal.

I don't see how it could have gone better and it set the tone for the entire day -- certainly it was the simplest and most meaningful communion ceremony we had had for a very long time and everyone felt united and blessed.

Later on in the afternoon Becky invited us all outside to inaugurate her new ruchette that had just been completed and set out yesterday. We took some photos and Raph, Camille, Lilly, Michel and Nat decided to take all the little ones out for a nice walk. Mum went down to the island to read and I'm sitting here to tell the tale for posterity.

God help us to preserve our simplicity and unity and peace for which we are all very thankful to Him.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

We're up to fifteen now...

... guests having registered for our sixth annual spring conference, that is. Not to forget our home-grown eighteen -- we should have quite a crowd ... especially compared to last year's turnout.

All I really care about is that the Lord is honored and his children are edified.

There's a lot of work to be done. God bless Michel for his work today in moving the wood -- he reckons one more day and the room will be empty.

This weekend is Easter, of course, and after Holy Thursday today, tomorrow we go into Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I only found out today that Alsace honors Good Friday, but not Easter Monday -- the exact opposite to the rest of the country.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

He said it very well!

In those days a boy on the classical side officially did almost nothing but classics. I think this was wise; the greatest service we can do to education today is to teach fewer subjects. No one has time to do more than a very few things well before he is twenty, and when we force a boy to be a mediocrity in a dozen subjects we destroy his standards, perhaps for life.

-- C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy (1955)

He said it well!

I think those are very wrong who say that schoolboys should be encouraged to read the newspapers. Nearly all that a boy reads there in his teens will be known before he is twenty to have been false in emphasis and interpretation, if not in fact as well, and most of it will have lost all importance.

Most of what he remembers he will therefore have to unlearn; and he will probably have acquired an incurable taste for vulgarity and sensationalism and the fatal habit of fluttering from paragraph to paragraph to learn how an actress has been divorced in California, a train derailed in France, and quadruplets born in New Zealand.

C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, (1955)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Spring conference 2007

I was planning the coming conference with Raph and Nat today and as we were talking about updating some of the web sites it occurred to me to make a new page featuring a picture or two from each of the conferences and we started wondering out loud just how many we had done now...

Well I worked on it this afternoon and was quite surprised to find out that we've done a spring conference every year since 2002 which will make this, in some ways, the sixth one we participated in, though only the second we've prepared entirely alone. But the surprise was to find that every year, without any of us actually realizing it, there has been a conference in the month of April.

I think the reason that this detail escaped most of us was because a couple of years ago we were doing them every two months with the brethren from LSM and so didn't think too much in terms of what month it was.

So, I'm working on updating my web site (if you know it, come have a look, if not, you'll just have to guess) by adding a page called "Conferences" and then listing them year by year with maybe two or three photos from each one, just to remind us of the event.

Having Andrew Strom here last year was a big change for us, just as David Kirkwood will be this year -- it'll likely be more of a change than last year, but we are bound to be blessed. I pray we will also be a blessing.

There's a lot of work to be done down at the hotel cleaning it all out and sprucing the banquet room up for the occasion. We have a lot more people than last year already signed up to be coming so we're going to be having to do a lot of planning -- especially since the two girls will be leaving for Malta just ten days beforehand.

In fact, we're going to have to be on our toes during the three week period starting around the 18th when our first guest arrives. More about her later. :-)