Monday, July 30, 2007

One more visit to the hospital

Well, you'll be glad to know that Grandma has received a clear bill of health from Dr Lebas! Today was her follow-up appointment that was set after she was discharged from hospital a month ago.

Nat got her showered early this morning and we set out just before noon. It was a lovely sunny day and Edith enjoyed getting out of the house for a drive in the country. On the way, we stopped at a diner for lunch.

First her doctor had wanted her to have another x-ray so back we went to Claude Monet to get that done and then we had an appointment with him afterwards. He said that all the tests he'd done had come back negative and that the x-ray just done showed no progression whatsoever from the pictures taken a month ago.

He concluded that his mission was over and that Edith was in fine health; as well physically, as could be expected from someone of her age.

All in all she seems to be as fit as we've seen her in a long time with little sign of the fatigue she seemed to show before -- maybe this is due to the iron supplements the doctor has her on.

But the main thing is: she's happy!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Our third annual méchoui


Though a sunny day didn't seem guaranteed this year, that is, nevertheless what the Lord gave us. We had a very relaxed day and didn't start the fire till around eight o'clock.



Pascal came around ten having prepared a treasure hunt for the children complete with a map and compass. What with that and the stream all around us, the children were kept busy all day. After eating everyone came up for donkey rides around the parking lot.


Becky and I went around to the Machpies' and Graslins' but we'd left it too late for both of them as they had other plans. But the Morillons came as well as Gérard (though his children were absent on holiday in Brittany). Including them all was a great idea and one that we must duplicate in the future.

Everyone came from the company, of course, and for the first time we got to meet Alexandre's parents who drove up for the occasion and seemed to enjoy themselves a lot.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The father has objections

We have run up to a very unexpected problem: Debbie's father is being very obtuse and wants us to act according to the rules his church's prophet has written down regarding marriage.

We've learned that he belongs to a small so-called Christian denomination that was started in England in 1986 and is ideologically situated half-way between the Hebrew-Name Messianic fringe and common Evangelicalism -- which makes a strange place to be. This "prophet" (a certain Christopher Warren) used to be a Mormon, apparently, and so clings to tenets like polygamy and so on, while rejecting Joseph Smith -- I think.

Welcome to the New Covenant Church of God, which is based in Sweden and which I had never heard of in my life before. You can find out a little more about it here (www.nccg.org).

So now I have a divorced polygamist giving me his take on how a real Christian marriage should be carried out. Why is it I'm feeling a little down today?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Home from Sweden

Taking Claire with me for company on the ride, I drove to Beauvais-Tillé yesterday to pick up Jonathan from the airport after his eight days in Sweden.

We'd meant to leave at ten but didn't actually get off till eleven so he'd already arrived before us. He called on his cellphone and I suggested he get something to eat as we were negotiating Paris traffic at that very moment.

It was good to have him back and listen to all his stories and adventures with Debbie -- it sounds like they really had a wonderful time! Sweden sounds like a delightful place and reminds me a lot of what I know of Canada.

We got home last night around 7 and soon all got together in the living room to see his souvenirs of Sweden plus some unusual objects I'd brought back from the UK a couple of days ago.

It was good to be together again -- the only one missing now is Debbie!


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Debbie said "Yes!"

As I was preparing to leave for the Paris airport at Beauvais this morning my office phone rang and Camille passed the call to me from the house: it was Debbie!

She just called to tell me that she "had said yes", so I asked her what she meant. She said Jonathan had asked her to marry him! I was so surprised by such a call and hardly knew what to say but I told her I was very glad for them both and that I loved her! She is really a sweet girl.

There's going to be more on this story! We're already thinking the most sensible thing might be a double wedding with Lilly & Michel who are also chafing at the bit -- take note, friends. I thanked the Lord so earnestly last night for this victory in our life. May He continue to lead us.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

People wanted

Just had a thought: I wonder how many people reading this might be interested in what is going on here. I wonder how many people reading this might be at a loose end and ready for a change? Do you...

  • like country life?
  • enjoy working on a farm?
  • like taking care of animals?
  • want to learn how to milk a goat and make cheese?
  • want to learn how to keep bees and make honey?
  • want to prune a vine and make wine?
If you'd like to learn how to shepherd sheep, shear them, wash and card the wool, learn how to spin it, then knit or crochet it into something beautiful...

If you'd like to learn how to butcher animals, skin them, wash and tan the hides, dry them and cut them then make rugs or gloves or coats from them...

If you like a little bit slower life than you have right now, if you value the real things of life and don't care what other people think about it, if you'd like to live in a loving atmosphere, helping, working, singing, and giving... why not come on over here:

  • for a month, or
  • for a year, or
  • forever?
If you really don't know, don't worry -- you don't have to know right now. Come and live and work with us and help us and we will do everything to help you!

We won't pay you anything for the work you do, and we won't charge you anything for room and board and all your needs supplied. There's no catch. And if you've got anything you can teach us (or our children) then you have your job cut out for you!

Soon you'll be able to check out our web site www.courtiron.fr and see for yourself in pictures. God bless you!

The funniest thing...

I'm back for another short note. About two hours ago I had just finished the last post about seeing that Eva had logged on here when I thought I'd just check my email one last time before closing down and going to the store.

Right there in my inbox was my once-a-year letter from Eva saying that she'd been reading this blog! Well, thanks for writing, Eva, and thanks for reading!

Well, it sure was good to hear from her and I'm glad a few people use this to keep up with the family happenings. I'll try to keep that in mind as I write and be a little more loquacious.

Raph is still up at the vines, pruning and cleaning and weeding and generally making things tidy. I just got back from filling the tank for my trip to Paris tomorrow to get Roo. I think Raph and I will start the study on Acts this evening and then I'll listen to it in the car tomorrow with Jonathan.

Raph wanted me to ask at the hardware store in La Chartre if she wanted to sell. Sounds crazy but she'd mentioned once before to me that her husband was soon going to retire. Today she said they've been there for thirty years and they were going to sell as soon as the right person came along. Once again we have more ideas than we have personnel to carry them out; we've always liked that store -- it's one of a kind, and when it closes you'll never see another. But right now I can't see who would operate it, no matter how much we might like to.

Check back here to see if anything happens on this front. :)

Two visitors from Kathmandu?

Stat counters are wonderful things and I just noticed today that my visitor count is approaching a hundred and that yesterday (or early this morning) I had two visits from Kathmandu.

Now who do I know that hails from there?

Well, it's nice to "see" you Eva and I must keep in mind that you might be checking once in awhile and leave a greeting for you. I've told very few people about this site, that way I can just use it more naturally, as a notepad to express my thoughts and prayers.

But I realize that Eva and Ammi may well be checking for news of the rest of the family from time to time so I'll try to keep my posts interesting for you! I've been using this blog more this year than I ever did before, which is nice in some ways.

I was talking to Don K. Preston via email a bit last week as we prepare for his visit at the end of October and the conference we'll be hosting. His study in Acts just came a few weeks ago and we hope to start it today or tomorrow as it will make valuable preparation for the conference.

We all got a nice little postcard signed by Jonathan and Debbie -- and he sent one to Microtec, too. Apart from one call at the beginning of the week he's stayed in complete incommunicado -- but that's the way we agreed it would be before he left since it's pointless to go away on holiday and then spend your precious time writing emails and talking on the phone.

He says it's the best holiday he's ever had and I can well believe it must be a big change for him. Everyone is anxiously looking forward to seeing him again tomorrow, though, and to hear news of Debbie. More on all this tomorrow night!

A cheese, a bottle of wine, and a pot of honey

Today was a musing around the house day. We decided to scrap the schedule and morning reading together in favor of a little more relaxed "everyone for themselves" devotional time.

This was partly because several of us were rather late getting to bed and in need of a little catch-up. Raph & Camille went out to eat last night (with Susanne, of course) and I stayed up with Mum for them while we spent our time talking and getting the vision.

I'm presently enjoying Chesterton's Orthodoxy and I like his style as much as his content.

This morning I went to the notary's office to buy the new field -- five parcels of land including our new vineyard. We're planning to make our own wine this year so that will be a nice experience. It's about three quarters red and one quarter white.

Afterwards I went to have a drink at Mme Graslin's (the former owner) who brought out a bottle of 2001 white that her husband had made and it was quite drinkable.

We made a little small talk and I told her about Becky and her bees and how much honey we had harvested this year. Afterwards I got the idea of giving her a pot so Becky and I went back up to give her one as well as a great little cheese that Michel had just finished making.

She seemed quite touched by the gesture. A man that will have friends must show himself friendly, says the wisdom of Solomon.

Raph, Michel, Christopher, and Becky are up there now at the vineyard giving it a late (belated) pruning before the summer. The harvest this year will depend more than ever on the weather we get in the next month or so. A good month of hot sun ought to give us some decent wine.

Friday, July 20, 2007

24 hours in England

Well, it's 7:15 am and I'm back home -- another smooth crossing and a good night's sleep, thank the Lord!

I got to Portsmouth in plenty of time last night. I was going to get on line from the terminal (like I did last time) but one of the machines was out of order and the others were in use so I forsook the idea.

Instead I bought a glass of wine. Television programs seem certainly not to have improved since I last saw them -- what filth!

The snapshot of British society left me with several impressions: men with shaved heads or very short hair, the number of people disfigured by tattoos, and the big-ness of some people.

After a long wait on the terminal parking lot we embarked, tired and ready for sleep. I had another glass of wine on board and a stroll on the forward deck. I noticed a black man -- the only one I'd seen on either crossing on this trip.

Went to bed thinking of life and of home. Now we're docked and it's time to leave. France always looks so good, so clean, so orderly.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A day with Aunty

A day of running around for Aunty and making sure she was alright. I got to her place around nine having done a bit of shopping first, so as not to get there too early.

She was glad to see me but is (as the nurse says) starting to get a bit confused; saying silly things. For example, later on, after going shopping for her at Tesco's she said, "You didn't see my nephew there, did you?" Wow, I just stared at her! Another time we were talking and she said, "How did I get in here? I just can't remember what I'm doing here." so I went over her recent history and reminded her that it's actually been going on and off ever since last year.

Anyway, she was in a bit of a sour mood and discontented when I arrived, complaining about different people and her conditions, the doctors, and so on. I first tried to steer her back on track but then just tried to cheer her up.

She is really in quite a bad way and I don't think she really realizes it yet. With her fall last Tuesday it should be obvious to anyone that her balance has gone completely. Whether it's due to her medicines or other factors, I don't know, but I think her days of living alone are over.

I went to the house and got her mail then went through it with her. Then I went over to get her some fresh fruit to complement her meager supper and she liked that. Finally I bought her a new card for her phone and tried to get it charged up and running again so we can keep it touch. We'll see if it works now!

Ready for bed

It's midnight and we haven't sailed yet. I had plenty of time. God bless Mummy and Nat -- they're worth more than gold. The boat is full of kids -- some kind of girl scout club, by the looks of it. I wish Klow was here. Two and a half hours is not long. Good night!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Le Normandie

Well, I'm off to check on Aunty again. It's 11:30 and I'm sitting on the Normandie with a glass or Bordeaux and a moldy bun. This is my supper and I'm glad that Roo knows how to make bread!

In the end I got here at 10:15 pm (having left just before 8) -- five minutes before Josephine had said I wouild, and I even stopped in Ouistreham to fill up the tank!

So I'm all set. I asked the man at the counter if I could stay an extra day if I wanted to and he said there'd be no problem but there might be a five pound surcharge. I asked him to check availability for Friday night and he said there was plenty of room and to call back tomorrow before midnight if I wanted to change it.

I put my overnight kit in my reclining seat and covered it with a blanket. I'm in 7434 -- if you're on board, come see me and I'll buy you a drink!

Portsmouth again?

I've just gotten off the phone to the Nursing Home in England where Aunty is staying. I called yesterday and Angela (night shift) told me to call today once she got back from Poole.

I'd better backtrack. They called me a couple of days ago to say not to worry but Aunty had had a fall while getting up in the night and had gashed her head. Apparently it required three stitches in Bournemouth but that she was back in care again. I think that was Monday.

Yesterday, Tuesday, when I called she gave me an update on her state of health and said that she had an infection in her arm (at least that is the suspicion, because she's running a slight fever) and that on Wednesday they wanted to send her to Poole to get the plaster seen to; maybe changed.

Well just now she says that she is a bit confused but well. I asked if it would be a convenient time for me to come over and she said yes so I'm thinking of taking the night boat from Caen this evening. I can stay with her all day tomorrow and be back by 10 am Friday.

She even said I could stay in their guest room if I wanted since no one was in it so I must pray and consider how long I should stay. Mostly I just want to try to be a comfort and encouragement to her. However my TVA form is not finished yet and it has to be out postmarked the 21st which is Saturday. To be continued...

Another broken promise

My parents had four children, of which I am the eldest and Cynthia, now 42, is the youngest. Cuddled in between us were Bryan, just 14 months my junior, and Wendy.

My father died at the untimely age of sixty; my mother at seventy-five. Though once a close family, the four orphans' experiences in life have led us all on very different routes with very different values and very different families of our own.

Twenty-two years ago Cynthia married and has had a difficult relationship with her husband ever since -- and he, with her it must be said. They both approached family life as children with disastrously immature expectations and virtually no preparation. It is not so much that their marriage has now failed; it would be more accurate to say that it never really started.

However... and, as always in these situations, though the marriage relationship was never really formed emotionally, physical attraction was there and over the years they apparently managed to give me three nieces and a nephew. You realize, of course, why I say apparently though perhaps that is a little hard; I did meet two of them when they were toddlers.

So now, this girl, my sister, has done the unthinkable and rather than work the harder at what was badly started she has decided, like the depressive who resorts to suicide, that the easy way out of her present misery is to simply break her vows and leave the man she promised she never would. For good measure, she's taken the three minor children with her.

I am told she's living in a "safe" house; the word is loaded. But like the suicide that she is, she's pointing the loaded arm the wrong way. She was always safe and provided for and well-fed. She has launched her life full into the teeth of insecurity and the future does not auger well for her children.

May God has mercy on her and grant her a little bit of wise counsel from someone somewhere who she'll listen to before it really is too late to escape and change.

It is the ultimate paradox that it's when this life is finally over that we are probably best prepared to start it.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What Jesus Meant

Michel left for Alsace this morning at six leaving only Raph and I left to read and talk together. We read on and discussed the Needle's Eye and almost finished it. We agreed that we need to have it translated soon, and add it to our basic list of reading for newcomers.

Speaking of reading, I have been enjoying a new book and am almost finished now, called What Jesus Meant by Garry Wills. It is an easy read but very challenging. Seeing on the cover that he is a Catholic, I have been half expecting to soon reach the part with which I would have reservations. However, I'm almost finished it and have yet to get to that point!

His style is very frank and very real and for this, I suspect, this book will not be loved by everyone -- especially church people, which is alright with me.

I recommend reading it very strongly!

Long hair

Paul asked rhetorically, Doesn't even nature itself tell you it's a shame for a man to have long hair?

For some reason I've been thinking about that lately and trying to see what it is, in nature, that speaks that so loud to us. I've been thinking that somewhere there must be some sort of an example... in the way that the metamorphism of the butterfly teaches us of resurrection and life after death.

What is it that teaches us from nature that a woman's long hair is so beautiful and attractive? And what is it that conditions us from nature in such a way that we invariably are initially repulsed by seeing long hair on a man?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Electrical storms last night

Monday morning and I'm back at work. The weekend went well, very hot and stormy during the night with thunder and a bit of rain, as the weatherman predicted.

Raph, Michel and I progressed in reading "Through the Needle's Eye" and then we got together after breakfast in my office to make a few plans. Michel thinks he should wait till September for the wedding and we discussed how we envisioned the event. We suggested it'd be good for Lilly to write to England right away to give them a rough idea of our plans as they stand today.

I tried twice yesterday to get through to Aunty again but I cannot. It must be a full week since I last spoke with her; their phone is always broken or won't reach or it isn't convenient. Apparently she is doing well, last I heard, but she was going to meet with Social Security last Monday and I never heard how that ended.

Over the weekend we got the new office organized, Jonathan's desk put together and everything in place. It looks beautiful! I'll have to take a picture for you. It'll be nice to come back to for Roo.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Villebourg

I am so tired today, I don't know what to do. I don't think I'll be up late tonight.

Last night, after eight hours of driving, I was thinking we'd have a quiet evening and I'd get to bed a little earlier.

Around 7 pm Camille came to say that she and Raph had been thinking of taking all the children to see some fireworks somewhere and she'd thought of going to La Chartre. I said I'd seen Château's display from the parking lot last night and suggested we check the journal as to which town was doing it tonight.

Well, we went town by town and it seemed that almost all the villages around here held theirs the night before, on the 13th. The only exception -- the only village having festivities last night -- was Villebourg.

Back when we used to live in St Christophe we got into the habit of spending the evening of the 14th in Villebourg -- and we had some pleasant memories of it. It was 8 by this time so we rounded everyone up and decided to go.

When we got there (Nat, Mum, and I with Becky, Flora, Christopher, Claire , Olivier, and Christine) tables were just being set up end to end for the big repas campagnarde that we so enjoyed in past years.

This year was no exception and we were greeted by many that we knew but hadn't seen for years. After the meal, the children had a great time spending their two Euros each on the game stalls while we sat talking to those around us. It was nice to see that the old France is still alive in some places.

Even the music was not too unpleasant and after the town brass band had played for us (around ten thirty or so) the fireworks started and the kids loved it! Once that was over the music changed and the ball started and we left. Of course it was after midnight by the time we were back which explains how I feel today.

I think we ought to go back to going there every year -- it really makes a nice and harmless outing for the little ones.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Roo is off to Sweden!

At last a hot day, the fête nationale of course, and I've been out driving today having just got back this evening.

Jonathan made bread this morning so he could take a loaf to Debbie then we left around eight with Basheer who wanted to get dropped off in Paris. (This trip to the airport is three and a half hours from the house so I added another, just to be sure, for dropping off Basheer.)

Finding the Porte d'Orléans open we entered the city there and dropped him off at the Clichy métro station. He was planning to see the city a little before ending up on the Champs Élysée for the free concert and fireworks tonight.

Roo and I drove on to Beauvais-Tillé where we just had time for a salad before he caught his Ryanair for Stockholm -- he looked smart and was very excited! God bless him! Besides listening the entire book of 1 Corinthians, we had a bit of time to talk of our plans, too.

We are agreed about our outreach and need to work on it as priority from now on.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Our livre d'or

Thought you might like to see the sweet message we found in our guest book today:

Merci pour cette semaine!
Ce n'est pas des coups de soleil que nous avons attrapé ... et pourtant nous avons tous été illuminés par votre rayonnement !!! Que de leçons nous avons reçues !!! Qu'il est agréable de vivre ensemble dans l'amour du Christ.

Nous avons ressenti beaucoup de tendresse et d'attention (ainsi que plein d'expériences agricoles ...) qui nous ont donné l'impression de "faire partie de la famille" !
Nous partons, mais nous restons ensemble en union de prières.
L'ordinateur nous permettra de rester en contact en attendant de se revoir en chair et en os.
Continuez bien et à bientôt.
On vous aime !!!
The Sallès Family le 10/07/07

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Goodbye!


Benoît, Laurent, Marie, Ludivine, Raffela, and Daniel just before climbing in their car and heading back to Gap around 3 pm this afternoon.

Laurent said last night that they wanted to do a meal for us before they left so we decided they'd buy something for lunch today. They decided on something simple (they weren't used to cooking for twenty-three!) and bought some sausages, merguez, and baguettes and we made sandwiches with tomatoes and fresh onion and lettuce. It made a nice change and we had a good time.

Originally we'd thought of a BBQ but the weather has been so instable this year that we felt we couldn't even count on a day in July. As it happened the day was overcast and threatening this morning with sunny periods but we soon had a drenching shower by four this afternoon. Apparently summer weather is forecast to be on its way at last by the end of the week.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Basheer and the buffaloes

Raph took Basheer up to see the buffaloes yesterday. He had never seen them before and wasn't too easy around them but wanted us to take his picture. It's funny, but he had a pretty startled reaction to both cats and dogs on other occasions which makes us think he must not have spent much time around animals of any kind. This is him yesterday in his typical, serious pose. He told Mum yesterday that he was leaving today not because he had anywhere special to go but rather because he didn't want to overstay his welcome. She told him we enjoy having him and to stay as long as he liked, so he may not be leaving today after all. We'll see.


The Salles family plan to leave tomorrow but for the past week we've been cooking for 23! Laurent is very nice and Raph and I have had several good talks with him. He is serious and simple about his faith and that's a nice thing to find.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

What a wild night

Basheer is still here with us (planning to leave tomorrow) and the Salles family, who are leaving the next day. Apart from the fact that feeding 23 people is quite a challenge (and we've extended our family to maximum length) the visits are going very well.

Basheer has been teaching Becky and Claire a bit of basic Arabic and Raph even had a quick lesson last night. The Salles, who are staying at the hotel with their four children, are quiet and soft-spoken and seem quite genuine.

Yesterday was a lovely day, with everyone working in the garden harvesting green beans (we brought in 14 kilos just yesterday!) so we decided to eat outside for the evening meal.

After the meal we sang a few psalms and the children ran around splashing each other from the pump. We'd brought Grandma up a little after we'd started the meal because she had been sleeping but when she got there she was in a black mood and couldn't be pleased.

Afterwards she got out the side gate and was walking down the road but I was able to bring her in. Next thing I knew it was about 10:30, everyone had gone off to bed, and someone was asking where Grandma was.

Mum and Nat and Lilly and I split up and searched the house and property. The side gate was open so we figured she'd gone for a walk again. In Marçon all the shops were closed -- even the bar -- and only the Boeuf restaurant was open, apparently having a party. We asked there but no one had seen her.

Finally, after another attempt criss-crossing the countryside to no avail, I told Nat to go back to the house and call the gendarmerie. We did the island, the tent trailer, and all the cars in the parking lot one more time, to be sure.

The police arrived about half past eleven and I gave them a description of her. First thing they asked me was whether we'd searched the house. I told them several people had and it was the first thing we did.

They went out with flashlights and beacons and scoured the countryside after doing a thorough search of the back garden, greenhouse, summer kitchen, workshop, and garage. No sign of her. All this time I was never really worried because I somehow felt we'd find her somewhere at home.

I should have followed my feelings harder -- although we fact we didn't find her wasn't due to a lack of looking. When the police came by a second time about an hour later I said I thought I'd turn in about 1 am but that I'd keep the phone by my bed, in case they called. They said they'd "keeping looking for me." Nice way to put it.

Before laying down I thought I'd just check the office area one more time. Nat said she'd looked there and Mum told me she'd also been to the office, but I hadn't.

Well, it didn't take me long because I saw papers on the floor in front of Nat's desk and when I pushed open the door of my office, there she was, loaded with a stack of papers on her arm and a handfull of CD's, a bag with a USB cable in it and a few other assorted things.

Though I'd come to check one more time, I wasn't ready for it and got the fright of my life seeing her there when I flicked on the switch. She must have been in the office for over two hours (a good hour an a half in complete darkness) and so she didn't put up too much resistance when I led her down to her bedroom, though she wouldn't surrender her fistful of disks and paraphernalia.

After putting her to bed I wondered what to do fearing she'd get up and start wandering again if I went upstairs to my room. Nat and Lilly were long ago asleep by this time so I tried to make myself comfortable in the dining room thinking if she came upstairs I'd wake up.

But after about an hour there I realized I would probably be too tired to even hear her if she did come up, so I went upstairs and laid down for a couple of hours without even bothering to undress.

Needless to say, Grandma was not up early this morning!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A silly coincidence

After morning reading and while waiting for breakfast this morning I told everyone it was one of those nice palindromic dates today. We all started talking about what we should do next August to mark the day, Camille was pointing out birthday coincidences and so on.

Everyone was chipping in and laughing. Then I pointed to the clock which showed 7:20 and said, Do you realize we've been talking about this for almost fifteen minutes?

Too funny for words!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Though none go with me...

I was just thinking about that well-known chorus this morning when it came to me that every time I've sung it I've always been surrounded by others -- brothers and sisters, friends and family.

It's not a song you sing alone, is it? But that is the challenge of it, and that's what we're singing about in the first place.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

From Jonathan Sauder

According to most religious people, even many who name the name of Christ, it is possible, in fact, it is necessary to “do evil that good may come.” There is a good kind of evil, they believe, though when they mention it they always call it a “necessary” evil. They cannot even imagine, let alone believe, that the universe is arranged in such a way that good will triumph without the aid of strategically administered evil.

They say they are in touch with enough facts to demonstrate that careless or unlimited love and forgiveness can do nothing but long term damage to the moral order of the universe.

Vengeance, they believe, is a more basic reality, and therefore much more effective for salvaging our fallen world, than forgiveness.

It is unrealistic, they say, to forgive people who might hurt you again, or to love people whom you know will not love you back.

They believe, in the depths of their souls, that the deep fabric of the universe consists in the law of retaliation and that in the end it is that law – and not the scandalously forgiving love of God – which will save the world itself.

They take no note of the fact that the first man God promised to protect with vengeance was a murderer on whom God refused to take vengeance. They don’t seem to notice that God did not give mankind permission to kill killers until after He’d tried it Himself with a global water eraser and determined never to do it again.

It is endlessly significant, I believe, that when God announced the termination of His use of that method of ridding the world of evil, He took a bow, which everyone could recognize as a weapon of war, and aimed it UPWARD, away from man, toward Himself!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Who knows me in Grabill?

About a month ago I got an air mail letter from an anonymous person in the US. They carefully recorded their postal box address in the tiny town (according to Mike) of Grabill, Indiana.

I know no one living in Indiana, much less Grabill but the letter was personally and correctly addressed to me.

Inside was a xeroxed sheet with a handwritten Bible verse and a message calling someone (me?) to repent. But strangely, this message was written on the sheet before it was photocopied.

There was also a second printed sheet with a list of character traits called "The Heart God Revives" and it is apparently done by a Nancy DeMoss of "Life Action Ministries" -- neither of which I have ever heard of, needless to say.

Anyway, this letter has occupied its fair share of my thoughts for several days now simply because I don't know who it is from.

The contents is a fairly straightforward appeal to healing a brotherly offense by forgiveness -- on the part of the offended party. Good advice. But not knowing who is talking to me puts me at an impossible disadvantage.

If I am the "offender," tell me so frankly so I can repent and be forgiven. (Or tell me then forgive me yourself, which is the advice on this sheet.)

If I am the "offended," then I have no problem with this person because I don't bear a grudge against anyone. Altogether it is a crazy puzzle that I may never solve. Someone spent 90 cents to get this to me yet it's been on my desk for over a month not understood.

Funny world.

Studying Hebrews

At the men's meeting this morning we started another study of the Book of Hebrews. The study is presented as 37 PowerPoint presentations and was put together by a pastor that wants to remain anonymous -- I found the study on Don's website so that gave me confidence in the spiritual content.

After an hour we had only got half way through verse two, which I've found to be pretty typical of studies in this book. Although we didn't need convincing, he made some new, and very strong arguments for Pauline authorship.

On a completely different topic, I ought to record Becky's final baccalaureate marks that she got off an official Internet site yesterday. She was quite pleased and was telling everyone who would listen:

Français et Littérature écrit: 80% (16/20)
Français et Littérature oral: 65% (13/20)
Enseignement Scientifique: 80% (16/20)
Mathematiques - Informatique: 80% (16/20)

She gets her grades by the sweat of her brow and these marks show the time and effort she's put into them over this past year: now, just one more year to go and she's all done.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Grandma is back!

Well, it seems all over for awhile now. This afternoon I went down to the hospital in Château du Loir to get Grandma.

We found her roaming the hallways peeping into other rooms and shuffling around tidying things and generally had the nurses laughing. This is a good sign though, that she's feeling good.


A few minutes later, after picking up her papers at reception, Nat was leading her to the car. She got the royal welcome at home and seemed glad to be here so that's the end of a one-month story! I'll post the details later once I get the final reports from her doctor in Le Mans. In the meantime, here's a picture of her coming up to the house.

This should be July

Tuesday morning. It's the third of July. Woke up to a soft rain again today and temperatures of only 14°. Christopher is down about all the rain we're having; it's cramping his style and stopping him from all the things he'd like to do.

I reminded him it was God who sends the rain and that He knows what's best for us. We all remember the wonderful "summer" month we had in April -- we haven't even thought of eating outside for over a month!

Basheer, Jonathan, and Michel got here a little late this morning but we all got together, with the women, to read our Proverb of the day (3) and then I read Matthew chapter 26.

After praying the Lord's Prayer together, Camille announced banana pancakes for breakfast so we all went off to work well content in body and spirit.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Scout Centenary

Mum saw a poster on the outside of the church in La Chartre about this last weekend being a "Scout Weekend" inviting everyone interested to come to a full 24 hours of cook-outs, games, and campfires in the best Scout Tradition.

It was due to start at 2 pm on the Saturday and finish up late Sunday afternoon. Because of our commitments with the music audition we knew we couldn't go until after that so decided to attend the campfire session that was due to start about 8:30 and let Christopher and Olly camp out with Michel and Jonathan to help.

As it turned out they had a great time of skits and songs and lots of childish foolishness and by the time it was all over Claire and Becky wanted to stay as well! We couldn't really see the men take care of so many little ones with the girls as well.

Thankfully, Nat said she'd be happy to stay and let Michel and Jonathan go home -- that seemed to answer everyone's desire (including Nat, I think!) so it was decided to do it that way.

We brought our tent and blankets and they had a good night and somehow didn't even get too wet from the shower that I heard coming down around 3 in the morning. (We all went to the campfire except for Raph & Camille and Lilly who stayed with little Susanne and David. They checked in at the BBQ at the lake in Marçon so that made a nice time for them, as well.)

The next day, Sunday, we had arranged to all eat the lunch meal out there with the scouts -- a Mr Verger told me there were over 130 people signed up already -- and that following that there'd be games for the children. I told him there'd be eight adults and six children (since I wasn't counting Susie or Grandma, of course).

First of all that morning I dropped off Lilly to give the children some Bible Time and picked up Nat. We then both went back to the hospital to check on Grandma and give her a shower. She was fine and so glad to see me! She told me to sit on the bed and kept fussing about where I should put my hat. In the end, when we weren't looking, she picked it up and put it on herself. How funny she looked in her armchair wearing my hat with a big smile on her face! Too bad I didn't have my camera on me to record that for you.

I asked the nurse if we could take her out for the afternoon. I explained that we were planning a family gathering and it'd be a good occasion for her to get a bit of exercise and some fresh air, but the head nurse said that was the kind of thing that should have been planned in advance since the doctor had already gone home.

I told her in didn't matter, that I'd stop by on Monday in view of seeing her new doctor. Dr Eugène had said she'd just have a blood test here on Monday and then would probably be discharged. We'll see how things turn out. We were already thanking the Lord she was so much closer!

As could be expected, the whole weekend was done in an effort to promote their troop and get new recruits as well as celebrate 100 years of scouting. I was surprised to see several people I already knew: Gérard Robert, who bought our Chrysler Voyager from us about 8 years ago in St Christophe; Claude Denis, mayor of Beaumont; Jean-Christophe Maleval, Notary Public in Château du Loir; Christian Mamelle, the curé of the area.

I was also pleased to meet several new people who I'd heard about or who knew us as a family. I think we left a very good impression on everyone there and had a chance to make a clear witness to several.

The 2007 Audition

We had a good time this past weekend. It was the last one of the month of June and it stayed pretty much dry. Someone said we've only had four entirely dry days this month, which is amazing for a month of June.

Saturday was the end-of-year concert for the local music school. Because of the uncertain weather it was held indoors this year and went very well.

Last year was interminably long (over three hours, as I remember) and tedious. The message must have gotten out because this year many children had been combined into one act, a mini-orchestra, and the whole program only lasted an hour. Becky was on her cello and Christopher and Claire played violin. It was perfect and everyone enjoyed it.

Later on Christopher did a four-hands at the piano with Becky and then another with Claire, who was a little nervous this year, it seemed to me.

Near the end Becky did a lovely flute duet with Noellyn. I took some photos but they really are not good. Here's just a little shot to give you the ambiance.

Born in Bethlehem

No, not the Person you may be thinking of. It was just too catchy a title for me to pass up.

Basheer finally got here yesterday -- he called me on my portable while I was already driving to Le Mans to get him. We met up fine at the South Station just before seven and we talked all the way home.

He told me all about his Master's program that he's doing out of Malta and it was good to finally meet him. He was a little more free and genial than Raph had given me to expect.

Back at the house we all squeezed in around the kitchen table and let him talk while we got to know him. Overall we were struck with his honesty and sincerity. He didn't seem like he has any ax to grind which lead some to only ever really have one topic of conversation.

At the end of the evening, he left with Michel for the hotel and we're looking forward to getting to know him over the next few days.