Sunday, May 31, 2009

Early morning

This is a simple shot that I really liked when I first saw it this afternoon. Becky was downstairs playing the piano early in the morning and just happened to glance out at the backyard. She said the sun coming in through the trees made it look like a fairy world — and I think I agree with her. Do you?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

We won

You know the old joke about the cows being in the corn? Well, every once in awhile somebody phones us, or in this case, the fire brigade, to report that our buffaloes are loose. It is always a moment of slight panic because these beasts are big.

Today, as we prepared to sit down to our noon meal outside on the terrace it happened again. The difference this time is that two of them escaped from what we thought was our most secure field and they'd somehow crossed the Loir and were seen in someone's field.

By now Raph and Roo have got the tactic down to a fine art—as much as it's possible to do. Usually it means several hours of running, calling, and chasing. This time was relatively quick and Raph sent us this picture with the simple caption, as listed above. Here's the picture:

By the way, the England team got back safely on Friday, as planned, and I think Raph will probably have some more pictures and tales to tell here over the weekend. (It turns out his access was suddenly cut off after I received the pictures last Sunday.) Suffice for the moment to say that the visit was very beneficial and restorative and a great blessing to all.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Yesterday being such a warm day Becky decided we ought to pot the honey from the spring harvest -- mostly colza, of course. So last weekend she took off the two supers and everyone set about to remove the caps on the honeycombs ...

Then after letting it sit all week maturing Sunday afternoon was the ideal day to pot it.

This is always the fun part as we pour off the thick, creamy white honey into sterilized pots!

This time we ended up with 38 pots of 400 grams each giving us a total of over 15 kg altogether. Now that's not a real lot from one hive, but remember: it's only the spring harvest — we should get another at the end of the summer, in September! Thank the Lord!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

From Raph: Sunday evening

Hi there one and all,

We have just turned in for bed so I'm writing a quick email to give some news.

We had a lovely day the sun has been shining very hot and everything has been very peaceful. There was some "do" at Beach Grove so 200 of them went over there for the afte
rnoon and evening (!!).

As a result it felt like we had the place to ourselves. We walked around and saw the farm, Peace park, the composting/worm farm, horses, pigs, vegetable garden, sheep etc. We went fishing at the pond and I caught a young perch. Olly caught a big trout but it slipped off the hook at the last moment.

We spent the afternoon with our hosts Joe and Maria (Suzanne and Tom's daughter). They have 3 boys aged 9, 7 and 5 are very friendly. At noon we had "snack" with Rene and Myriam. This morning there was a morning meeting all together where there was a play done by the 7 and 8 year olds called Sir Roland of the Silver Shield. It was very well carried out (Becky would have liked to see it).

Afterwards the the kids all scurried off to school (yes, yes!!) while us old'uns had another meeting. We had it up on the hillock (Dad, you must remember) and the weather was like last time, really hot and sunny. There were several people who spoke and they asked me to share a word which I did.

It was very nice and we appreciate these people who are truly committed to the Lord and to each other. It's wonderful to see people functioning like this and it's encouraging too. On the practical level, if we could get some people from here or Elmendorf to help us out for a couple months a year we could really get organized on some long-standing things in the farm for example.

Tomorrow Camille and I are working at the factory I think and the kids start school at 7:30 and finish at 17:00. On Wednesday evening we've been invited to the house of Cornelius.

More later,
Love, Raph.

PS : I think it might be good for Roobie to consider coming on over then we could all be on the "same page". Why not next week — Tuesday to Monday or something like that (it would be nice to touch base at work this Monday and would nice for them to spend a Sunday here).

PPS for Debbie and Kripper : how did the elderflower champagne turn out? (Did you remember it???!!?! :-)) also don t forget to stir the cordial which is in the pump room twice a day!

PPPS for Claire : could you please water our apartment plants because they may be thirsty, including Teenie's avocado plant on her bedroom window sill. Thanks!

PPPPS for all our late night apartment visitors : please go up to the appartment and liberate Kleines : she's trapped in the hallway and hasn't eaten or drunk for 3 days.

PPPPPS for Laurent and Raffaella : vous avez tout compris, j'espère ? ;-)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Snoozies go to England

As I mentioned on Friday, Raphaël, Camille, Olivier, Christine, David, & Susanne left around 5 am this morning for a week in England. This is their trip as told by Raph in six pictures that arrived throughout the day:

Breakfast stop


So far, so good

Dover's white cliffs

Beach at Dymchurch

Safely arrived

Hi there one and all,

We arrived safely at around 5 o'clock today. We were shown our rooms and spent a bit of time with Joe and Maria our hosts. Maria is Susanne's daughter. We had dinner outside as you and can see and it was quite delicious and pleasant as the weather was warm and pleasant. The kids have fit in quite nicely with the others and aren't shy at all. We're having breakfast with another couple tomorrow morning. We tell you more tomorrow. Good night!

Lots of love from Raph and the others.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Holiday Friday

It is now nearing ten o'clock and I will soon be off the bed — climbing the wooden hill, as my dad used to say.

We've had glorious weather the past few days and today I see that the temperature is still, at this time of the evening, up to 24°. Clear blue sky and lots of sun but a very slight springtime nip in the air to remind you it's not July yet.

Jonathan & Debbie were working out in the garden most of the day, helped by Bocar, Andrea, and Paul. I never got around to my bonfire again today but plan to do so tomorrow. Becky and Nat plan to pot the first honey harvest tomorrow — it's had a few days now to settle and mature. She went out today and returned the two supers to the main hive and reports that all seems well.

Last year Jonathan bought some special seeds for producing green manure and planted them in one plot of the garden that he planned to leave in set-aside this year. The seeds (I can't remember the name) were marked as being especially "mieliforous" so we were anxious to see how our little friends took to them. Well today they are in full flower and Jonathan asked me to come over to the patch and listen, which I did. I don't know when I've seen so many bees per square metre!

Raph and David went out to collect elder flowers. Raph had read somewhere of all the wonderful things you could do with them and right now is when they are in season so he didn't want to miss it. They came back after awhile with a basket of beautifully scented flowers that they took to the cellar to start making elderflower cordial and something called "champagne" — apparently he'll have enough for ten bottles. Debbie has instructions from him on bottling it tomorrow so stay tuned! Here's a shot of David with some of the harvest:

Tomorrow morning the Snoozies (Raph, Camille, Christine, David, and Susanne) and Olivier are heading up to England to spend a week at Darvell. They're planning to leave at five tomorrow morning so today in order to catch the noon boat from Calais so this afternoon there was the usual cleaning of vehicles and bussle of planning and getting everything ready. I gave Camille my "English purse" which had fifty pounds or so in it — that will help them get started, though Euros and valid, of course, on the ferry.

I was reading my book more than usual today since Raph would like to take it on the trip tomorrow and read it with Camille. I just finished it before I started typing this so they'll be happy.

I spent a little time talking to Paul today who told me he updated his Frog Blog a little with Olly. (If you haven't seen it yet, do take a look at it here.) He has some great pictures and it's so interesting to see a different point of view. I like him a lot — God bless him!

Much to my surprise I got an email today from — wait for it! — Tot! If you don' t know who he is you must be new around here! Anyway, it was great to hear all his news and to renew contact with him — I'll have to reply tomorrow morning and perhaps send him to our family site.

We also received another order for books, the third this week, from someone wanting eleven books so that was real nice! It's order number 88 in not quite a year and a half so we're quite encouraged. Putting the bookshop on line after six years in town was the best thing we ever did in terms of selling books. But the bookshop really was only ever started, years ago, as a witness — a window display that we could fill with scripture verses and posters. Now it's still that but is also selling Bibles and books all over the world! Who'd have thought?

I've been at this long enough for tonight. Everyone else has wisely gone to bed and I should do the same — especially as I want to get up a little earlier to see Raph & Camille off. Good night, all and may God bless us every one.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Was he a Christian?

"What shall I do? Shall I live as all do, or live according to Christ's doctrine? I understand His commandments, and I see that the fulfilling of them will lead me, and all men, to perfect happiness. I understand that it is the will of the Author of all things, the will of Him from whom I have life, that these commandments should be fulfilled.

"I understand that, whatever I may do, I shall inevitably perish, as will all those around me, after a senseless life and death, if I do not fulfill the will of the Father; and that the only possibility of salvation lies in fulfilling it.

"By acting as others do, I act against the good of all men, I act contrary to the will of the Father of life, and I deprive myself of the only possibility of bettering my hopeless state. By doing what Christ teaches me I shall ensure the good of all men; of those who live at present, and of those who are to live after me. I do what He that gave me life desires me to do. I do what can alone save me."

(Leo Tolstoy, 1884 from What I Believe, page 150)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Deep thoughts and hard questions

Why does man not do the things which Christ enjoins, and which can give him the highest earthly felicity—the felicity he has ever longer to attain? The answer as usually given, with slight variations of expression, is that the doctrine of Christ is indeed sublime, and its fulfillment would establish the kingdom of God on earth, but it is difficult, and therefore impracticable.

It is in the nature of man to strive after what is best. Each doctrine of life is but a doctrine of what is best for man. If men have pointed out to them what is really best for them, how come they to answer that they wish to do what is best, but cannot?


If 'hard' means that it is hard to give up the momentary satisfaction of our desires for some great and good end, why do we not say, as well, that it is hard to plough the ground in order to have bread; to plant apple trees in order to have apples?

Every being endowed with the least germ of reason knows that no great good can be attained without trouble and difficulty. And now we say that though Christ's doctrine is sublime, we can never put it in practice, because it is hard to do so. Hard, because its observance would deprive us of what we have always possessed.

Have we never heard that it may be better for us to suffer and to lose, than never to suffer and always to have our desires satisfied?

(Leo Tolstoy, What I Believe, pp 106-108)

Monday, May 18, 2009

A nugget from chapter 1

Continuing on from my post of yesterday, I'd like you to read a few paragraphs that quickly follow. If the introduction didn't entice you to go out and get it, perhaps this teaser will.

I wish to tell in this work how I found the key to the doctrine of Christ, by the help of which the truth was disclosed to me so clearly and convincingly.

I made the discovery thus: almost from the first years of my childhood, when I began to read the Gospel for myself, the doctrine which teaches love, humility, meekness, self-denial, and returning good for evil, was the doctrine that touched me most. I always considered it as the basic teaching of Christianity, and loved it as such; but it was only after a long period of unbelief that its full meaning flashed upon me, that I understood 'life' as it is understood by our unlettered working-classes, and accepted the same creed which they profess, the creed of the Greek Church. But I soon observed that I should not find in the teaching of the Church the confirmation of my idea that love, humility, meekness, self-denial, were the essential principles of Christianity. I saw that this, which I regarded as the basis of Christianity, did not form the main point in the public teaching of the Church. At first I did not attach much importance to this. 'The Church,' said I to myself, 'acknowledges, besides the doctrine of love, humility, and self-denial, a dogmatic and ritualistic doctrine. This estranges my heart; it is even repulsive to me, but there is no harm in it.'

While, however, submitting to the teaching of the Church, I began to see more and more clearly that this peculiarity was not so unimportant as I had at first regarded it. I was drawn away from the Church by various singularities in its dogmas; by its approval of persecution, capital punishment, was; and also by its intolerance of all other forms of worship than its own; but my faith in the teaching of the Church was shaken still more by its indifference to what seemed to me the very basis of the teaching of Christ, and by its evident partiality for what I could not consider an essential part of that doctrine. I felt that there was something wrong, but I could not make out distinctly what it was, because the Church did not DENY what seemed to me the main point i the doctrine of Christ, though it failed to give it its proper position and influence.


What perplexed me most of all was, that all the evil things that men do, such as condemning private individuals, whole nations, or other religions; and the inevitable results of these condemnations—executions and wars—were justified by the Church. I saw that the doctrine of Christ, which teaches us humility, tolerance, forgiveness, self-denial, and love, was extolled by the Church, but that at the same time she sanctioned what was incompatible with such teachings.

Friends, this is eternal! Read that last paragraph again! We have strayed so far and we all know it but few of us can actually verbalize it. Let's keep reading and learning!

Paul's Frog Blog

On a slightly lighter note, Paul has started putting together a few of his adventures with Olivier while he's been here and announced a couple of days ago that they could be accessed on a page under his site. He calls it the "Frog Blog" and you won't take long finding out why!

See it here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What I believe

This morning I idly picked up a book I haven't read for several years now but remember enjoying a lot at the time. As I read the introduction, I knew I needed to mention it here and to quote a little for you. The book is simply called "What I Believe" and this is the introduction to it:

I am five-and-fifty years old, and, with the exception of the fourteen or fifteen years of my childhood, I have been until recently a 'nihilist' in the proper signification of that term. I have not been a socialist or a revolutionist, but a nihilist in the sense of being completely without faith.

Five years ago I began to believe in the doctrine of Christ, and in consequence a great change has been wrought in me. I now no longer care for the things which I had prized, and I have begun to desire things concerning which I had formerly been indifferent. Like a man who, going out on business, on his way suddenly becomes convinced of the futility of that business, and turns back; and all that stood to the right now stands to the left, and all that was to the left is now to the right; his wish to be as far from home as possible, is changed to the desire of being as near home as possible—so, I may say, the whole aim and purpose of my life has been changed; my desires are no more what they have been: for me, good and evil have changed places. This experience came through my apprehending the doctrine of Christ in an altogether different way, and seeing it in a quite new light.

It is not my intention to interpret the doctrine of Christ, but simply to relate how I came to understand the simplest, clearest, and most intelligible point in that doctrine; and how, when once I had clearly grasped His meaning, it gave a new direction to all my thoughts.

I have no wish to interpret the doctrine of Christ, but I should like to prevent others from interpreting it wrongly. Christian churches generally acknowledge that all men, however they may differ from each other in knowledge or mental capacity, are equal before God; and that the truth revealed to man is accessible to all. Christ Himself has told us that the Father has hid some things 'from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes.'

All men cannot be initiated into the mysteries of dogmatic, homiletic, patristic theologies, and so on; but all can understand what Christ taught and still teaches to simple and ignorant men. The teachings of Christ were incomprehensible to me until recently, but I undertand them now, and what I have found I desire to explain to others.

The thief on the cross believed in Christ and was saved. Would it have harmed anybody if the thief had not died on the cross, but had come down to tell us how he believed in Christ?

Like the thief on the cross, I, too, believed in the doctrine of Christ, and found my salvation in it. This is not a far-fetched comparison; it worthily describes the condition of anguish and despair I was once in at the thought of life and of death, and it also indicates the peace and happiness which now fill my soul.

Like the thief, I knew that my life was full of wickedness; I saw that the greater part of those around me were morally no better than I was. Like the thief, too, I knew that I was unhappy, and that I suffered; and that all around me were unhappy and suffering likewise, and I saw no way out of this state of misery but through death.

Like the thief, I was nailed, as it were by some invisible power, to this life of suffering and evil; and the same dreadful darkness of death which awaited the thief, after his useless suffering and enduring of the evils of life, awaited me.

In all this I was like the thief; but there was this difference between us—he was dying, and I still lived. The thief could believe that his salvation would be realized beyond the grave, but I could not; because, putting aside the life beyond the grave, I had yet to live on earth. I did not, however, understand life. It seemed awful to me until I heard the words of Christ and understood them; and then life and death no longer seemed to be evils; instead of despair I felt the joy of possessing a life which death has no power to destroy.

Can it harm anyone if I relate how it was that this change was effected in me?
You've surely recognized the style by now but if not, it was written in 1885 by Leo Tolstoy in Russian. We have Constantine Popoff to thank for this ancient translation into English.

If you've never read this book I strongly urge you to do so: it ranks high on my list of favorites for it's simplicity and clarity and zeal. Join me in reading (or re-reading) this book as I plan to do over the next few weeks. We'll have much to share. God bless us all with the light of his word.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mothers and fathers

Disclaimer: Now I'm going to say something that some may disagree with or misunderstand as soon as they've finished reading it. But instead of posting an immediate comment, give yourself twenty-four hours to think, first. alright? Let me preface my thoughts by saying that I feel fine; I'm not depressed, and I have some wonderful children — every one of whom I love dearly.

We've just recently passed "Mother's Day" — somewhere. I know because my inbox has been full of it, in one way or another: emails, newsletters, advertising spam, Christian powerpoint feelgood spam, and so on. I can only assume it is, or was, Mother's Day in America and that is the reason we are so full of it. That's nice. But let me go on.

We all know by now how important a place mothers have in our society, but it's nice to devote a time to remembering it, isn' it? But what about fathers? Well, I know that they have their day too, just like grandparents and everyone else Hallmark can convince us is worthy.

But what is the influence, really, of a father upon his child? Mothers' hands rock the cradle that rocks the world. Behind every great man... etc. I know that my mother's spirit still shapes me a little one way or the other for good or for bad.

But I wonder what the lasting effect is upon the child of a good father; someone who thinks, someone who tries, someone who loves.

I can only really speak of two fathers in this world: my own, father of four, and myself, a father of nine. So I must not generalize. But it seems to me that a father never really has or makes the time to spend with his children teaching them and training them as he'd like to. He is the disciplinarian, the final authority to be brought in when everything else has broken down. But as long as the mother can handle it, there is little room for him or his thoughts and ideas. The mother, who is with the child almost every waking hour, is the one to leave her brand. It is her ideas that carry the day, in the end.

Has a father no other role than to provide bread on the table and rent for the house? Should he back off and leave to the mother what she does best? Or is his input of some value?

We know who is to praise when things go well but who is to blame when things go wrong? What about when the child does not live up to the collective expectations of the parents? We all know and speak of a "mother's love" but whoever heard of a "father's love"?

Sure, our culture is full of empty expressions like "our fathers" and "the Church fathers" and so on but what does it really mean? Fathers are to be like God to a child. But what is God like? Tonight, I'm just wondering. Later, if I get it all figured out, I'll let you know the answers.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Courtiron from the sky

Here's a picture taken from the hot-air balloon ride of last week which shows our property. The house (Bethany-Courtiron) is squarely centered in the picture attached to the large newly-roofed area of Microtec and Raph's apartment.

The Land Rover Jeep is visible parked between the vegetable patch in the foreground and the garage in the lower left, right next to the Microtec parking lot. It may look like a ramshackle conglomeration of buildings from the air, but it's home to us!

As an added bonus I'll give you the link to see the same thing on Google maps! Just click here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Olly's report

Olly, who is not the most studious of us all, brought me this page out of his school notebook yesterday. It tells the story of Becky's capture of a new swarm and finishes with a good representation of one of her bees. What he may lack in reading motivation he makes up for in his artistic ability and he's produced some amazingly realistic drawings.

You can click on the picture to see it close up but this is the text: "Ce matin, mardi 12 mai, à la recréation, nous sommes allés aux animaux. Nous avons vu une poule dans un arbre. J'ai couru chercher Rébecca et l'appareil photo car c'était des abeilles. On a pris les combinaisons et on a mis les abeilles dnas la ruchette avec du sucre pour les fortifier."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Broken bones

For a very long time we have wondered about the significance of the prophecy of the Messiah (found in Psalm 34:20) and the fulfillment in Jesus on the cross (John 19:20) that "not a bone of him shall be broken." Why bother with such a detail? What are we missing here?

This whole idea is reinforced through the types of the Old Testament where the Israelites were told that during the rituals of passover the bones of the paschal lamb were not to be broken.

Exodus 12:46 says "In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof."

and Numbers 9:12 reinforces the idea by saying, "They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it."

So what is the idea behind a bone being broken?

Well, we've had the distinct feeling that there is something significant—in a spiritual way—about the breaking of bones. It seems that the word bone in the Hebrew means strength and it's easy to see the relationship since it is man's bones that give rigidity and structure to the whole body.

Now let's listen to the wisdom of the Proverbs which teaches us how bones are broken. According to Solomon it is with a soft (or gentle, NIV) tongue (Prov 25:15). The tongue speaks life or death, good or evil for "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21). The tongue brings about schism , backbiting, lies, and gossip. And this is what breaks bones.

Could it be that our breaking a bone is a physical manifestation of something going on in the spiritual world that involves our words?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Two swarms

Having lost one hive over the winter, Becky was planning to split her remaining hive sometime this spring to try to replace the lost one. Last month she was called out to the lake where someone had reported a swarm but it turned out to be a false call so she was resigned to do it herself.

Then just this morning, Olly came in to say that her hive had swarmed! Nat had seen what looked like a chicken in one of the fruit trees but when they got close to investigate they realized it was a swarm so they went to call Becky.

She just came in to the office to give me the news: two new swarms have been caught and safely hived! Just in time, too, as our honey supply from last year is down to only a half dozen pots! As Becky said, "Thank the Lord!"

The "chicken in the apple tree"

Becky at work

Monday, May 11, 2009

Up in a montgolfière

This morning started with our usual Bible class (we've studying through the Book of Acts with Don Preston) and I'd no sooner closed my Bible than there was a knock at the door — precisely at 7 am, as planned.

It was Philippe from ATH with his 4-wheel drive pulling the trailer with the great, yellow, hot-air balloon. It was a treat we'd planned for our guests the night before but the weather had called it off until this morning. Since there was room for four passengers in the basket, we asked dear little Hannah, from Ireland, if she wanted to go along with the Bercot family and she was delighted, as you can imagine!

It took about 45 minutes to deploy the balloon and get it inflated, everyone climbed into the basket, and they gently lifted off!

Handing our songsheets on Friday

By the time we got underway we had a lot more people than we'd expected: 51 altogether with representations from 2 from England, 13 from Ireland, 1 from the United States (not counting our guest speaker, of course), 1 from Italy, and 3 from the Netherlands, besides several from Paris and Bordeaux and others from local towns.

The handout songsheet

Here is a copy, just for you, of the brochure I was handing out in the other photo. We printed up 60 copies which turned out to be just enough. Since it was in A5 stapled-brochure format each page was only number once, on the left, which contained the French words to the same song that could be seen in English on the facing page. It was a good system. (If you click on the image at left you'll just get the cover page — if you want to download and read the brochure please click here.)

In the middle (page 7) were the songs the children sang (only in French) with a quick-and-clean translation of them in English for the monolinguistic anglophones among us — of which there were several.

The back cover contained the outline of activities of the weekend with times of meetings and meals. If you're interested in hearing the talks in mp3 or viewing any of the PowerPoint charts that David used, they will shortly be on line at our Courtiron site.

The quantity and quality of the questions posed after each session showed the level of interest in the subject matter and David fielded them very well.

The children's participation

The nine children did extremely well and just showed what a difference practice makes for there wasn't a day went by lately that they didn't go over their songs so they could sing them by heart without a hitch. Christopher backed them up on his violin. From left to right, Olivier, Ludivine, Marie, Rebecca, Claire, Celine, Romain, Christopher, and Christine.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Spring conference 2009

In case you don't know, in 2006 we decided to host our own spring conference and every year it's turned out to be a wonderful time of teaching and fellowship. It's a lot of work, we never forget, but when it's all over we've met many new friends.

This year we invited David Bercot to come and speak to us and were delighted that he accepted. His first book that we read several years ago now) was "Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up" and we started to translate it, along with "Common Sense". He and his wife Deborah got here on Friday, the first of May and both Raph and I went up to Paris to pick them up. (We took the Jumper because their daughter Heather as well as their daughter-in-law Susanne came along as well.)

The theme chosen for this year's event was "Living in the Kingdom of God" and was well-attended by over fifty people. Heather couldn't stay for more than a week so left a few days ago at which time preparations for the conference really started to get in gear.

Well, here it is Sunday and it's all over: this morning was our last session and the clean-up is over and most of the guests are gone. Tomorrow I'll sort through the pictures and post a couple of shots that are representative of the great time we had.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Heather is gone

• The four visitors got up early this morning and drove to Le Mans to put daughter Heather on the train home, via Paris. Apparently she took time off from her job to accompany her parents on the trip but was only able to stay a week – she won't even be able to attend the conference. Never mind, it was good to meet her.

We sent them off this morning with a C3 topped up with gas, a workable GPS unit, and my portable telephone, fully charged. We said jokingly to ourselves; If they get lost now, they're doing it on purpose! :-)

The idea was for them to head south and spend the day in and around Tours. On Monday they went with Mum in the afternoon when she took the children to the conservatory. They spent a few hours walking the old town and marveling at the architecture and so on. They greatly enjoyed spending time in the cathedral, too. So now they'll likely do something similar in Tours. Yesterday they'd spent the day with Rammy on a flash day-trip up to Normandy (see yesterday's note).

• Paul got here yesterday from Ohio and is outside now with Jonathan and Andrea working the garden and seeming to enjoy it as much as the others. He's corresponded a lot with Roo and has done a fair bit of support work on some of the CopyCat forums so it was nice to combine a little business and pleasure. He also knows David fairly well, apparently, and has visited Elmendorf several times.

• It's funny but we all have the sentiment that David is a little ill at ease and don't know why he should be. I think we expected a little more opportunity to share with us but it seems he's not much of a "morning person"– we're all different.

• We've got over 30 people signed up for the weekend so with us and the Sallèses we're looking at preparing meals for nearly 50 people. Camille and I went over the meals this afternoon.

• I got a letter from Eva in the post this morning which is always an initial visual treat since she uses paper and envelopes that look like it's been handmade last week – a real pretty rustic touch. If you're reading this, Eva, thanks for writing – your letters are the pearls in our mailbox. What is rare is valuable, they say.

• When reading Wendy's site I got the web page talking about an old CBC friend of mine, Doris Sauder. She was a good friend and came up to Yellowknife with me the following summer, must have been 1968. It's funny but of all the young people from that time period she is one of my best memories. Once I picked her up in Calgary – can't remember why – from the place she was working, which was Mobil. As she ran across the street and got in my car I remember asking her why it was that the letter "o" in the word "Mobil" was red while the rest of the word was blue (she didn't know). Life is funny like that. I'd sure like to see her again. Apparently she's a missionary in Uganda.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Sunny Normandy

Raph & Camille left early this morning with David & Deborah Bercot, Hannah, and Susannah -- as well as all their little family. The idea was to hit the Mont St Michel then swing by the D-Day beaches (David particularly wanted to see Omaha) making a lovely day out. We've been having such lovely weather lately we never gave a second thought to it. Maybe we should have.

Raph sent this picture this morning and it was him who chose the subject line, without further commentary. Still, if I know them, I'm sure they're having fun and making the best of it.


Monday, May 04, 2009


For two thousand years now, believers in Jesus as the Son of God have been dividing and splintering themselves into different sects, churches, groups, cults, associations, and denominations; I believe we're well over 45,000 of these offshoots at the moment, each one more or less firmly convinced that they are the ones who represent historic Christianity the way Jesus came to establish it.

While musing on all this I wondered, not why such splits occur, but why it is that we place such a high value on doctrine. Of course doctrine has not been the only cause of division but it must be the chief one.

Why is it we strive so endlessly to get our doctrine just right? Why does it matter if our beliefs are a little bit off? Why is it so hard to accept someone who doesn't believe like we do?

It is really an amazing thing, if you'll consider it. Surely no other religion is so divided ... therefore somehow our doctrine and set of beliefs must make a difference somehow — or at least we think it does. This is all the more the pity when you know just what Jesus stood for which he wanted expressed in love and unity.

This doesn't sound very profound yet and I know it. Let's just call it some "thoughts under construction".

Friday, May 01, 2009

David & Deborah Bercot

Our spring conference speaker, (David Bercot, of Scroll Publishing), and his wife and two daughters arrived today and Raph and I drove up to Paris to pick them up. He's quite a photobug so we got one of them while they were busy admiring the feilds of colza.

After listening to so many hours of his teaching tapes it was strange to put a face to the voice!