Saturday, July 31, 2010


I just wanted to record for whoever may be interested that today the brethren from Moravia arrived—all thirty-seven of them! Their huge bus pulled up to the town and Karel called me for guidance to the hotel.

They were parked past Thierry's garage in front of the cemetery and in a few minutes I was leading them on to Port Gauthier. This was early afternoon. Just minutes later Andrea pulled into the parking lot, said he'd find himself a room for the night and then come over in the morning.

It was a crazy day all around what with the Marché nocturne tonight that got under way around nine or ten, but the children sure had a good time!

It was good to see Andrea again and to hear his French. As for the Moravians, we only have one who really speaks French among them with perhaps half-a-dozen anglophones and only the odd person or two who speak German or Russian. It's going to be a challenging couple of weeks with Karel seems to have prepared things well.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A very thoughtful gift

This morning there was a book in the post.

That in itself isn't surprising as we buy almost all our English-language books through the net (of course) and so, being bookworms, it's a rare day when there is nothing in the mail.

Today, though, I thought I recognized my brother's handwriting on the outside. A quick check of the upper left-hand corner proved I was right. Well, that was downright mysterious—what kind of a package was this?

The next surprise was looking at the franking stamp and discovering that he'd mailed the parcel on the 26th, Monday, and I was receiving it on the Friday morning—it must have hit every mail bag just right.

It reminded me of a silly incident I've never forgotten from the time when I was living away from my family. I went to the University of Saskatchewan during the school year of 1968-69 and it was during this time that my parents left Yellowknife and moved to Toronto.

It was while I was spending the summer holidays of 1969 therefore in my own apartment that my mother wrote me. I won't bore you with further details but suffice to say that she wrote me and mailed the letter from Toronto on the Friday and I received it in the morning post the very next day, Saturday! Overnight delivery! Imagine getting a letter a distance of nearly five thousand kilometres overnight!

Anyway, this parcel was less impressive in some ways (although North Carolina to France in five days is a good service in anyone's book) but when I opened it up I found the book carefully gift-wrapped with a card taped to the outside.

I was really puzzled since my birthday was long past and Christmas was not yet in sight. Besides, I'm not really the type and neither is Bryan.

Well, this is what I found on the card inside.

And the book, you must be wondering? It is a beautiful leather-bound volume called The Valley of Vision and subtitled A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, being edited by someone called Arthur Bennett and published by the Banner of Truth Trust.

I can't tell you much more about it of course because I haven't read it yet nor ever even heard of it. It is definitely not the kind of book I would naturally gravitate to but I will enjoy reading it on the basis on what it means to Bryan.

This is what I wrote to my brother last night:

Subject: Thank you
Date: 30/07/2010

Bryan, I just received the book you sent me in the post this morning (mailed by you the 26th!) and before even reading it I want to acknowledge it, to thank you, and to tell you how touched I am by the gesture.

To say I was surprised doesn't do events justice -- not least because it doesn't appear to me to be the kind of book I would ever have chosen to read for myself. But the Lord knows better what I need and maybe you do too.

I will comment more fully on it, of course, as I get into it. For now I've only read the preface but will work my way through it thinking of you and your comments on the accompanying card and how much it meant to you. Thanks very much; I will treasure it all the more.


Thursday, July 29, 2010


A few months ago I told you about a friend I'd had many years ago in Yellowknife (read about it here). Well after an email contact with him he said he'd been wondering what to give his wife for her birthday and since she'd always wanted to visit France he'd decided to surprise her with a trip to see us—and Paris!

Here's the boy I as I remember him at the age of 18 when we visited Ottawa in 1967.

Well needless to say, forty years has wrought changes in the both of us such that it occurred to me to wonder if we'd have any trouble meeting each other at the train station. As it happened, we knew each other at first sight and before we knew it we were embracing like old buddies just recently parted.

Here he is now (reaching for his iPhone):

They had decided to spend a week with us (from the 23rd to the 29th) and end with a week exploring Paris—a good choice, we thought.

What a surprise to discover all the little mannerisms I'd remembered so well. He remembers the last time he saw me was when I was visiting him in hospital in the summer of 1970 as he'd badly broken his leg falling down the Cameron Falls thus completely missing the royal visit and the centenary celebrations that were held at that time exactly 40 years ago!

We had a lot to catch up on and a lot to laugh about and a lot to sympathize together about. It turns out that neither he nor his wife have been in excellent health lately but the Lord has preserved them.

We put them up in the spare room (the "studio") and spent the week taking care of them and showing them around at whatever they wanted to see. We spent a day seeing over the castle at Amboise and then visited a market in Tours. Another day we went to the D-day beaches (especially "Juno" where the Canadians fell) and the war memorials there, then on to Bayeux to see the famous tapestry. Always there was coffee on sunny terraces afterwards.

On Wednesday they accompanied Sarah and Camille as they took all the children to the lake for swimming and a picnic. Ken taught the younger ones some card games and got along with everyone so well.

Later on there was time to see another castle at Bessé-sur-Braye and have a picnic at the troglodyte village of Troo. Finally, this morning we got up early to visit the gorgeous cathedral in Chartres. I don't think I've ever seen a cathedral so monumentally impressive by the sheer superlative quality of everything about it. The hundreds of stained-glass windows have to be seen to be appreciated.

While there we took a mini-bus ride around the town—and followed on with a visit to an international centre of stained-glass windows giving us all the details and techniques used over the years. Chartres is surely a delightful town!

After much lingering around town we took him and his wife Barbara to the train station and bid them goodbye. I told Ken we really shouldn't let so much time go by before getting together again. Here's a parting shot of them both:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Goodbye Uncle John

I haven't even told you about our trip to Champagne (Reims and Epernay) and Lorraine (Verdun, Metz and Nancy) — we were only gone a week but things sure piled up for us when we got back!

One thing I missed was an exchange of emails announcing the death of John Hallifax, my mother's older brother whose name in memory she passed on to me as a second (middle) name. I've not been close to him over the years but do know him as a very active, energetic and kind man.

He passed away last Tuesday at the ripe age of 90 having recently fallen quite ill. I first read this news and the announcements of his funeral Saturday morning. Since his sister was in England they decided to have the services of remembrance on Monday the 19th so I didn't have long to decide what to do.

I felt the Lord would have us go as kind of a representative of our scattered side of the family who obviously could not attend at such short notice. I called up and booked Sarah and I tickets on the midnight boat sailing from Caen to Portsmouth Sunday night.

This put us in England in time for breakfast. I know the trip well by now having perfected it for years when I was taking care of Aunty. Since the service didn't start till the afternoon we decided to go and see Aunty's marker. We found it, after two years, in much need of some cleaning so decided to come back this fall better prepared with some supplies to do it properly.

After lunch we got to the crematorium at about one o'clock and joined everyone filing into the chapel for the "committal" — a new word for us, we came to think it was coined to replace the word burial. Neither of us can understand the modern craze—even among sincere believers—for cremation rather than burial. Fifty years ago it would have been unheard of.

I remember talking it over with Aunty many times and she, having spent time in India, viewed cremation with a degree of loathing, associating it, as she did quite rightly, with Hinduism and paganism. I guess I'm out of step with the church again (sigh).

Still, I don't judge another man's servant and let everyone be fully persuaded in his own mind. You can be sure that I am.

The service was very nice and meaningful and very tastefully done, we thought, and a vast improvement on the only other cremation service we've been to in England.

After an opening welcome and prayer we started with Great is Thy Faithfulness a grand old hymn we love. Then followed (for those who care to know all this) a scripture reading from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 which was followed by a lovely rendition of I'd Rather Have Jesus sung by John's brother Pat and quietly accompanied on a guitar by my cousin Ken.

Then followed some prayers, an "address" by someone called John Balchim (can't remember but I think he is a former minister at Above Bar Church in Southampton) and finally we sang the last hymn which was I Cannot Tell. Now you're going to find this hard to believe but neither of us had heard this hymn before. It is sung to Londonderry Air or as we know it O Danny Boy and the words are powerful with this melody.

Afterwards we went to the "Thanksgiving Service" at Above Bar which started at 3 o'clock. At the refreshments which were served at the end we really got to meet all the family members and have some good fellowship with them. Most we hadn't seen for five years, at least. For some it had been ten. For two people in particular (my cousins Diane and Faith who thought they'd never met me) it was about fifty. Unknown to them (they were not two years old at the time) I had met them when their parents visited our family in the west of Canada in 1959. I have some good memories of them then as they came, fresh out of Pakistan as missionaries, and sat on our back lawn and sung some native songs.

All in all, we were very pleased I had made the right decision to go. It was a good testimony and made many glad we had come and we were able to renew many ties. It's funny that it must take a funeral to bring about so much good and lasting happiness.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


What a lovely couple! Twenty-five years ago today, the 20th of July 1985. In this day of marriage & divorce which seem to go hand in hand it is heart-warming to see a couple who have loved through thick and thin, good times and bad, and who, I'm quite sure, are just as dedicated today as they were back in that New Jersey garden.

Congratulations and may God bless you both!

And what is the secret of their matrimonial longevity? Could it be because the bride didn't marry the best-man but rather the Best Man! :-)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Another "One"

This is the week we were doubly blessed: first Amos, then seven days later little Ruben! Here he is now, one year later.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

David and Mary

Here's a little shot taken by Raphaël this morning—I thought it was so cute!

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Little Amos turned one year old today. We are thankful for this little one that warms our hearts.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Second Coming of Christ Misunderstood

For some time now I've been following a blog by someone called Babu G. Ranganathan who is an Indian writer on science and religion. Though born and raised in a Hindu family he came to know Jesus through the preaching of Billy Graham and has since gone on to study theology at Bob Jones University and has done quite a bit of writing. (His blog is here.)

An article that he has recently published on his site is called Second Coming of Christ Misunderstood. As I was reading it through I thought it might be a nice way to announce the subject gently to everyone reading this.

I suggest you take a few minutes and read it through because if you can receive it, it will completely change your world-view and liberate you as only the truth can. I like his writing style and he really presents things well. (The book he mentions by John Bray is worth reading, too!)

By the way, you may remember that we had Don K. Preston come over here back in 2007 to share their vision with us—and what a glorious time we had! Well, they're coming back to do it again, Lord willing, this coming October and we're greatly anticipating the time we'll have together.

Much more on this subject as the summer wears on but this is advanced notice: if you're interested in attending this conference with us and Don please get in touch. Think about it! We'd love to see you.

Thursday, July 01, 2010