Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday morning thoughts

It's Thursday morning and Jonathan is still in the Vendée; left yesterday and spent the day teaching our program in La Châtaignerie. Today he's going to do the same thing at Santonge even further afield -- it'll be nice to have him back soon because when even one person is missing at the table, there's a hole.

I told John last night that I'd like to take him out to lunch today with Sarah -- we just want to talk to him a bit to see if we can get closer and help. For the moment, he seems quite taken by the girl in Uganda and we have serious reservations about how such a thing could possibly work.

The new office is almost finished -- they just have to cut out the plaster for the door since all the dry-walling and most of the electrical work is already finished. It'll be good to be finished. The resulting space (an extra 35 square meters) should keep us for years and it's hard to imagine ever outgrowing that.

We've invited everyone over tomorrow night after work to have some pizzas in the bread oven. It's mostly an excuse to get together for an evening to make Alexandre and Cyril feel welcome. We also picked the date (July 28) for this year's méchoui and there should be quite a few more people than last year.

Michel came to see me yesterday about taking Frederic back to Alsace on Saturday. Apparently his wife is moving this weekend and having an operation next Tuesday so is understandably a bit stressed about it.

I said I agreed that this sounded like a very good plan since that would give both Michel and his dad a couple of days with her before her surgery, which would be nice. Lilly came in a bit later to calmly ask if she could go with them. I said I didn't think it would be a good idea but that I'd think about it.

I called Aunty last Sunday as usual. She is getting a bit discouraged and I think the time must weigh heavily on her.

She's impatient with her own slowness and has been talking that way for years. She's still at Broadwaters and it doesn't look like she'll be home for weeks yet. I wonder if I'll need to hop over and see her again...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Morning prayer

Time is so short and passes so quickly and these are the only days I'll ever get to do what I have to do now.

I feel the burden of my responsibility every day and so wish it could be otherwise. I am to be held accountable for the lives of everyone here but I don't know what to do.

So many things are possible; Father in heaven hear me and speak your voice to me, I pray.

If I pray to you, you will not ignore me. If I ask you for wisdom, how could you refuse? I don't ask you to do things for me, just that you'll give me an assurance of walking in your truth and light and strength to do so.

Thank you.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A call from Hans

Yesterday afternoon I got a call from Hans from Elmendorf.

I guess he'd got wind of my letter and wanted to clue me in on the results of the Swiss meetings last year. He told me about Kees and Alexander and a few others whose names I have forgotten.

He said that Alexander had stepped down from being Project Leader for the planned Austria project and that things were more or less in limbo on that score -- something about personal problems that prevented him going all the way into community.

I shared my burden with him and he gave me a couple a good tips.

The first point was that we need a web site describing our "church" -- I said that we'd been recently talking about the same thing and had spent all day Sunday working on which I just bought last week.

We decided to make the other sites informational and generic with links to our community site instead of mixing things up with personal testimonies. Raph and I talked a lot about it and he's got the burden (and skills) to do the job so it should be up and running this week.

His other point was a simple one for outreach: he reminded me that Jesus' method was to start with meeting people's needs and then move onto the spiritual solution and that we must find some niche in which we can give to those around us something that they want and need and will appreciate.

He told me of a community in Switzerland that ran some kind of shop making goods that were sought after and appreciated even though the community itself was not necessarily liked.

His call lasted forty minutes and it was good to hear from him again. He said that their visa expired in August of 2008 and that he didn't really know what he was going to do either, after that.

He said that Elmendorf was quite willing to send out helpers (as in Tasmania, etc) but that he thought they would need to see me and get to know me face to face before anything like that could happen.

I said I'd find it very difficult now to leave things here but that I'd consider what he said. I suppose I could go with Sarah ... if I really felt it was the right thing to do and that it would be profitable I'd do it. (This, in spite of the fact that I promised myself that I'd never go back to the States again -- one bad experience too many, and I find any pleasure I once had in flying is completely gone.)

But I will make it a subject of prayer. Perhaps the thing would be feasible this summer during our slack time of July or August. I pray the Lord would guide me and speak clearly about this to me.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Update to my siblings and cousins

Hello Joy, so good to hear from you, and you, too, Bryan, thanks for writing. It's Monday morning and one of the main things I had planned for myself this morning was to write you all about Aunty.

Bryan wrote me an almost identical note last week and I told him I was getting ready to drop you all a line, so I must not delay any longer. What's been taking me time is the fact that there is little difference between the last event and we're not in a crisis situation at all. But here goes ...

First of all, rest assured that she is well and happy, and there's no cause for alarm but she is still falling about a lot and doing herself damage and this is a cause for concern to me. It has happened so much since I last wrote you that I really am having trouble getting my facts straight -- never mind the timing.

Once she fell out of bed. Another time, she fell over and was hospitalized for a day (though nothing was broken) then kept in for the rest of the week for tests. She was discharged and fell over again and this time broke her arm again (same left arm) in a different place.

Again she was hospitalized in the same hospital in Poole, but this time she had to have an operation to set the bone because it wasn't right. After that was in plaster she was transferred to the same rehab home in Christchurch.

She's funny because she always gives me some reason why these things happen (I just tripped on such-an-such, or so-and-so had my hand and I told her not to lean on me like that...). But she doesn't really seem to realize that her balance is off and that that is the real reason this is all happening.

She sounds good on the phone, but she tires quickly. She has lots of home help but still it seems obvious that she can't go on living alone much longer.

For those that don't know, I offered to take her into our home and look after her in every way if she wanted to; without any cost or obligation, of course. I just feel like I'm her nearest kin and I have a moral obligation to take care of her, if she needs it.

But up till now she has always said she'd miss her friends and so on. I've never pushed the subject but I always wanted her to know that if ever the day came that she could no longer cope, she ought to know she could always come here and I'd take care of her, as I would have my own parents.

(We already have my mother-in-law with Alzheimer's and have just finished building her a new bedroom of her own so we're pretty well set up.) Anyway, that's just the background; nothing to do with the present because I think she'd rather go into a nursing home in Bournemouth and if that's what she wants, then I'm all for it. Thing is, it seems to me that whatever she decides to do, I think it's going to have to happen soon.

So she is still in her old rehabilitation unit in Christchurch, which is why she's not answering the phone these days. :) I told her you've both contacted me and shared your love for her welfare. Unfortunately there's not a real lot more to say; she's got a massive plaster on her arm that bothers her a lot and won't come off for four or five months, apparently, but that is the price of these things, I guess.

She seems to be getting good medical care, and I make sure she always has a supply of those French chocolate biscuits she likes so much and that helps keep her spirits up. :)

Lille, Brest and Marseille

This last weekend our family was stretched out over the whole country! Becky and Nat got back from visiting her grandmother in Lille yesterday around 1 pm -- just after Mum and I got back from Marseille where we went to pick up the pottery wheel; a flash two day trip of over 1.700 kilometers there and back!

Meantime, Raph and Camille had the little ones up in Brittany playing in the sea off of Brest. They got stuck in bad traffic and didn't get home till nearly 10 pm but it was good to be reunited once again.

Jonathan heard from Debbie who also sent a couple of pictures, including one of her and her father and another couple during her famous "French meal" that she'd planned for them.

She looked so great and her picture made us all proud of her, she seemed to happy.

I am asking the Lord why He sent John here. He is a great blessing, of course, but it is causing me to reevaluate many things and I really need to know what lesson we are supposed to be learning from this experience.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Back to Sweden

Got back last night after seven hours of driving. Well, after eleven months and two days the big day finally came and our Debora went back home to Sweden so I drove her up to Beauvais in order to catch her 2:30 pm flight.

When I got back I saw she'd written in our guest book.

Dear Family Neve!

I'll start with saying Thank you one and all! The last year has been very inspiring and giving. The love that you all gave me I couldn't have found anywhere else. Through you shines the love of God and I know you will go on showing it to others, thank you! You'll always be in my heart and I know God will bless you all for your hospitality, faithfulness and love. Praise the Lord!

Lots of love, from Debbie.

God bless her with His peace and guide and keep her in His ways.

Then it was off to Montreuil for me to pick up the Leclerc loom we'd bought through eBay. I found the place just fine, got it in the car and was back off for home.

At a service station I saw a poster without any indication of what it was advertising, which said simply Qui êtes vous? so that set me thinking...

Strangely enough the verse that came to me in that minute was Genesis 12:1 -- all of life is a matter of faith.

It sounds so presumptuous that I don't say half of what I really think.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Aunty's illness

She is "doing alright" I guess but I need to write about what is going on. She has been in and out of hospitals so much lately that my head is spinning. Back a few months ago when she first fell and broke her hip and arm I was up there every weekend for over a month, then I sent one of the girls over for a week to keep her company, clean up for her and shop, etc.

Got back and a couple of weeks later she fell again but didn't break anything. That took awhile to sort out. Then a friend of hers died. Then a couple of weeks later she fell again and this time broke her arm again in a different place.

Now (yesterday) she's just had an operation to set it -- that's why it's not answering at home. I'm ragged over trying to keep up with her. She needs full time help and can no longer live alone realistically or she'll fall again.

Anyway, I talked to her last night and she's OK but was not feeling too well. I keep sort of waiting till things settle and I can report to you all what's happening. There's no crisis and nothing anyone can do to help her at this distance.

I offered to take her in here as I have a spare room on ground floor level where she always likes to stay when she comes. But she's a stubborn girl who thinks she doesn't need anyone's help. But she's not doing herself any good like this.

Still, she's just as sharp mentally as ever but physically can't cut it any longer and can't possibly do things for herself that she needs to. She's hoping they won't take her driving license away from her! (sigh)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Rucher école

Or "bee school" as we call it around here had their second meeting of the season so I took Becky and Christopher out for the afternoon. Christopher had his final test of second cycle music theory (solfège) today in Le Mans so it worked out well.

I took them both out to the music school for Christopher's exam (which finished around 12:30) and then to a nearby cafeteria where they got a great little plat du jour for 6€80 and I got a salad which satisfied me completely. Then off to bee school, getting there just after two -- probably the earliest we were ever there.

While I waited at my usual spot I ordered a coffee and Perrier and read. First I finished The Path to Rome which had a dozen pages unread at the end. His ending is almost hilarious and I'm glad I stuck to it and finished it; you really feel like you know the man once you're done -- and he's a very likable chap!

Then I started on a new book I've recently got by him called The Eyewitness and read the whole of the "historical fiction" stories. Becky read the first one (The Climax) out loud to Kripper and I as I drove and liked it as I knew she would!

When I got home Nat said that Nelson had written her an email and she was a little bent out of shape over it because I hadn't had the occasion to speak to her yet. God will give me time tomorrow.

I need to call Aunty tonight since the hospital called yesterday to say that she was fine but was going to have an operation this morning and that I could phone this evening if I wished.

She is in such a problem situation but her pride makes it hard for her to accept help.

Everyone is out on the terrace eating and fellowshipping together and having a good time. Michel went back early to the hotel and Debbie said she was tired and went upstairs real early too. Never mind.

We will miss her when she's gone but God bless her while she's here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Our guest book

Here is the newest entry to our guest book (David trying to put all his French in one place!):

May 7, 2007
Dear Family Neve,
Merci pour votre agape dans
Jesus Christ! Je pense je have
morte et gone to heaven while
staying at votre home. Je am
taking tout de you, mon frères
et ma soeurs, avec me as I
travel to England. Mais our Lord
Jesus Christ continue guide you
into his eternal light.
With love, David

Monday, May 07, 2007

The president

France has a new president and I certainly think they've made a good choice. In my naiveté it's a good thing I don't vote. :-) If Mr Sarkozy keeps half of his promises, we're going to see and feel the improvement very quickly.

I can almost catch the excitement that is in the air at what this change of power will bring about. There is nothing inherently good about youth, of course, but in the dirty world of politics 52 is young and the world wants youth to be equated with goodness and innocence.

As we are enjoined to do, I earnestly pray God for the government under which he has led us to live. I ask that he will give them wisdom. I ask that he will give us peace.

Since he first came to my attention two or three years ago, Nicolas Sarkozy has struck me (and many others, obviously) as sincere, basically honest, moral, and transparent.

He struck me as a rising star whose day was coming. It seems I was right. I have very much liked several of the things he's said and done. I think he'll do more than just talk.

Of course, we didn't vote here. I have never voted in an election in my life. Not saying I'm proud of the fact; that's just the way it is: we are not of this world.

This is their election, for their president. I would love to be a part of it in many ways, but we are of the kingdom of God and the leader has already been designated.

Spring conference 2007

I've just gotten back from driving David Kirkwood to the TGV station in Le Mans from where he'll be on up to Paris and to catch his flight from England.

And so our sixth annual spring conference is over -- by far the best ever; best messages, best fellowship, and the most well attended.

We had Martin who drove down from Germany, Jean-Pierre from Bordeaux, the Garniers, from Carpentras, Paul and his friend, from Orleans, the Lopes family from Tourcoing, Laurent, from Millau, Flora and her parents, Jean-Claude and Françoise, and Hoodong.

These all traveled far to be here and everything went so smoothly. There didn't seem to be any stress at all, but rather a very loving relaxed spirit pervaded the meetings and meals and everyone was busy talking and sharing.

Sunday morning David, John, and I discussed traditional Anabaptist beliefs (politics, voting, war, separation from the world, and the two kingdoms) for over an hour after breakfast at the hotel until Raph and Jonathan got there when they jumped right in with gusto.

Jonathan is really very eloquent and clear in formulating his ideas and I'm proud of him. All that reading of the sermons of Menno Simons and John Wesley has left its mark on him!

John proved himself to be valuable beyond measure this past week, working and painting and cleaning the conference room and getting things ready. I wonder if the Lord has given Nat a husband?

They are two peas in a pod and get along perfectly. Lord, help me to led you lead and thank you for your goodness to us.