Sunday, December 29, 2013

Trying to catch up

Well, as several have pointed out, this site has gone to sleep for the past several weeks.  By thus doing we have shamelessly missed marking untold birthdays (at least six by my count), Christmas and Christmas-related concerts and other divers school-break activities, visits from friends and so on.

But what has finally jogged me out of this lethargy is Raphaël & Camille's newest arrival, little Paul Emmanuel Neve!  (Thus continuing, I must add, to the strange gender-alternance that others set in place before them : we now have an unbroken stream of thirteen births in this series—of which Raphaël himself is the first and his newest son the latest element!)

Paul was born yesterday in an easy and quick birth—Camille just got to the clinic in time—at about quarter past nine of the 28th!  He was a big baby (over four kilos) and is happy and healthy for which we give much thanks.  Camille is very happy, as you'd expect, and thankful for such mercies.

December is destined to be a busy month for the family in the future as we will have so many births to celebrate at year's end (starting with Raph and Mum at the end of November, followed by Jesus' birth, Olivier, and now Paul!

Here is our first picture of the little fellow with his proud dad :



In a note Raph sent me this morning under the subject-line of "Famous kids sayings" (by which I think he meant the second and third words to be associated together...) he shared this cute exchange he had with Amos:

"Raph : Well, Amos, who do you think your new brother looks like?

Amos : (after a long think) : Well, not too many people look like him!"

You've got to give him a point there!  :-)

Please join us in thanks to God for this wonderful gift!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dying To Have Known

For each of us eventually, whether we're ready or not, someday, it will come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten,will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame, and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or owed.  Your grudges,resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.  
So too your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do list will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won't matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived at the end.
It won't matter if you're beautiful or brilliant, even your genderand skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter?  How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built,not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage,or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered by whom, and for what.
A life lived that matters is not of circumstance, but of choice.
Steve Kroschel

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fifty Years Later


As Michael Hoffman, historian extraordinaire, has this to say in his excellent bi-monthly magazine, Revisionist History :

"Americans have never recovered from the post-traumatic stress brought on by the public slaughter of [their] President in Dallas — the two major symptoms of which are feeling numb and being afflicted with amnesia.

What little we do remember about the conspiracy to kill [Kennedy] leaves us feeling impotent.  Thousands of seductive delights and web sites compete for our gaze.  The colossal modern machine that has our daily lives ensconced in prsonal comfort and submerged 24/7 in Internet-TV-movies-video-games-stadium sports and those cathedrals of consummerism called shopping malls, allow us little time for deep reflcetion, but plendy of attention deficit.

The machine grinds on.  The rat race beckons.  The noise accelerates.  Tempus fugit.  The Cryptocracy knows all this and factors it into its planning for spectacular crimes, from King-Kill/33 to Sandy Hook/13.  They know there will be some investigation, some doubt about the official story and a few heroes who will step forth to risk their lives to pussue the peerpectrators.

The Cryptocracy counts on the apathy and amnesia which their ritual crimes hypnotically induce in the population to blunt the effects of what little opposition their unholy enterprise may encounter.


This special magazine-format edition of Revisionist History is intended as a truth serum antidote to that process.  The Bible tells us that the Lord commands us to "Be still and know that I am God."  Without quiet, without that stillness, we can't know God or His truth as He wants it revealed for the empowerment of His people.  We were not destined to be shackled to Satan on the road to the robot-reign of dead matter in a drone-ruled police state.  As sons and daughters of Jesus Christ we ought to strive for something higher and better, for ourselves and our posterity.  Nisi Dominus custodierit domum in vanum bigilant qui custodiunt eam.  ["Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain." (Psalm 127:1).  Famously quoted by Monsieur Myriel, Bisohop of Digne, in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.]

. . .

In a godly society, the perpetrators who killed Kennedy would have been found out, apprehended and, after a fair trial, publicly hanged in Dealey Plaza.  Much of the spiritual fog infusing our collective national soul ... would have dissipated as a result. 

. . .

We are made in the image and likeness of God, and it is by the decisions we make in our personal lives that this battle will be lost or won — in those profiles in courage, as President Kennedy termed them — where, at risk to our personal security and comfort, we refuse the blandishments and bribes of the rich and powerful in order to do what we know to be right.

For the Christian, life is an incandescent protest of the material world and of the reprobated majority, who, in their frivolous inconstancy, are beguiled by the world, particularly now, when poll-driven "majorities" determine morality (or its overthrow) by popular vote; as if the Ten Commandments could be decided by a plurality of Golden Calf worshippers.

Rest assured that there is a justice waiting to be discovered.  It resides in the deep seat of conscience, and faith in Him who is the sacrifice which makes all others superfluous."
 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Where There Is Injury Let Me Sow Pardon

I recently read this post onand felt I had to share it with you all.  It is so good, so Christian, so much what we all aspire to be like that I felt sure you will all benefit.  The article is taken from a chapter of a new book by Kent Nerburn called Make Me An Instrument of Your Peace.  I don't want to spoil the power of the article by saying another word. 

By Kent Nerburn

I once spoke with a man who had done hard time at a maximum security penitentiary.  I asked him what had been the single most significant lesson he had learned from being inside.  He looked at me with sad eyes and said, "You would not believe what lives inside the human heart.  There really is such a thing as evil."

I have never quite gotten over the chill that his words sent through me.  And as much as I would like to believe otherwise, the occurrences that take place in the world on a daily basis make his assertion almost impossible to deny.

What, then, are we to make of Francis's command to give pardon where there is injury?
Are we to believe that we are to forgive all manner of crimes and transgressions, no matter how monstrous?

Are we called to achieve some elevated state of spiritual enlightenment wherein we accept the evils of the world as somehow reflecting some higher divine purpose?  Or is this command of Francis's merely the blithe platitude of a man who lived unencumbered on the earth and never had to face such questions as what to do if a madman breaks into your home and murders your family?

These are questions that beset the earnest seeker who would try to walk Francis's path through a world of dark realities.  And they admit of no easy answers.  But I once had an experience that gave me insight into what some of those answers might be.

I was present in a courtroom where a young man was on trial for murdering a girl he had seen walking down the street.  He had not known her personally.  She had wronged him in no fashion whatsoever.  Here crime was simply being young and alive and in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He and a friend had dragged her into the woods, placed a gun behind her ear, and blown off the back of her head.

The prosecuting attorney described in grim detail the specifics of the murder and held up a bloody paper bag that contained the clothes of the young victim.  The horror was almost too much to bear.  Most in the courtroom averted their eyes.  But through it all the father of the murdered girl sat impassively, watching the trial, watching the boy.

After the trial was over, and the boy was found guilty, the father announced that he was going to visit that boy in jail and get to know him.

People were appalled.  Why would anyone who had suffered what this man was suffering undertake such a task?

But the father was adamant.  "That boy and I are forever bound" he said.  "We need to know each other.  I do not know if I can forgive him.  But perhaps if I know him I will not hate him.  This is about healing and reconciliation."

In that moment, the insight of Francis became clear to me. When he tells us to sow pardon, he is telling us to seek healing and reconciliation, not approval or even acceptance.  There was no way that the father of the murdered girl was ever going to give approval to the boy for what he had done.  It is not even clear that he could ever find it in his heart to accept the unthinkable event that occurred, though clearly he was trying to do so.  But he could seek to reconcile two men whose lives were forever linked through the person of a young woman and to bring forth some measure of understanding and, hopefully, creative growth in the aftermath of a horrible event.

This is a hard issue.  Most of us would not have the power to make such an effort.  I know that I do not have that greatness of spirit.  But I also know, in my heart of hearts, that the grieving father was making the correct choice.  He was trying to move the world forward from a point of horror and to turn a circumstance so dark that few can imagine it into a moment of healing and growth.

The key is in the word injury.  Francis did not say, "where there is wrongdoing, let me give pardon," or "where there have been crimes, let me offer pardon."  He said, "where there is injury, let me sow pardon."   And injury implies the possibility of healing.

Healing rises above the question of right and wrong, even good and evil.  It had to do with restoring a life to health.

If we are able to look upon pardon not just as forgiveness, but as doing what is necessary to restore health to the body or spirit, Francis's injunction suddenly seems less impossible and disconnected from our lives.  In fact, it seems like the wisest of counsel.

The father of the murdered girl cannot change what has occurred.  He may forever wonder why such an event had to take place and wrestle with a dark angel in his heart until the day he dies.  But he cannot change the fact that the event happened.

What Francis is telling us is that when such incomprehensible events occur, our goal should be to promote healing in any manner of which we are capable.  It is the only way that we can free ourselves from a frozen scream in time and fulfill our responsibilities as co-creators of meaning in this universe.

Once again, we must remember that Francis calls us only to "sow."  "Sowing" does not imply that something is fully grown, only that the seeds of possibility have been planted. Even if the father of the murdered girl cannot find the slightest possibility of forgiveness in his heart, be seeking reconciliation and healing on some level, he is sowing the seeds of the possibility of pardon and forgiveness at some future time.

Perhaps this will happen.  Perhaps it will not.  It is not up to him to say whether the seeds he plants will fall on fertile ground.  That is where faith in the goodness and mercy of God come in.  But even if he spends the remainder of his days gnashing his teeth, rending his garments, and shaking his fists at the heavens, he is leaning in the direction of hope.  He is saying that even though he doesn't understand, and can't understand, he is trying to heal. And in the intention lives the seed of a possible resolution.

There is a famous passage in the book of Exodus where Moses and Aaron ask the pharaoh to let their people leave Egypt.  Over and over the pharaoh refuses.  And each time, we are told, the pharaoh's heart was hardened.

This same hardening of the heart occurs in each of us when we do not lean in the direction of healing.  With each passing day, and each refusal to seek reconciliation, we become more callous and closed to the possibility of reconciliation.  And the wound caused by the injury becomes more and more a part of our being.

If we seek healing, it is true that the wound may still become an awful scar.  But at least life goes forward. When an injury is not allowed to heal, the wounded person dies.

This is what happens to us when we refuse to sow healing and reconciliation.  Our hearts and spirits die.  Perhaps this is what we want.  Perhaps this is our monument and testament to what we have lost.  But it is not the course that Francis would have us take.  He would have us sow the seeds of pardon, no matter how difficult that sowing might be.

Luckily, most of us, in our daily lives, are not confronted with such mortal injuries as the father who lost his daughter.  The Injuries we create, and the injuries we experience, are usually but small slights and affronts.  The labors required to begin the process of healing are not great. It is a constant measure of our humanity to rise above these injuries and to forgive those who cause them even as we forgive ourselves when we cause injury to others.

I often think of the way Dakotah Indians responded to a small wrong.  When for example, a young person walked between an elder and a fire—an act of profound impoliteness in their culture—the young person said, simply, "Mistake."  It was an honest acknowledgment of an error of judgment, devoid of any self-recrimination or self-diminution.  All present nodded in assent, and life went on.

How healthy such an attitude seems.  We all commit mistakes in judgment, and we all need forgiveness.  If we had the option of making a simple acknowledgment of our mistake and then going on with our affairs, how much clearer and gentler life would be.  And how much healthier would our own hearts be if we looked upon the injuries caused us by others as simply the mistakes of human beings who, like us, are struggling to get by in a complex and mysterious world.

Our lives brush clumsily against the lives of others.  A wrong word, a rash action—these are as much a part of our lives as the caring gesture and the loving touch.  We are all guilty of them; we all receive them.  There is no surprise when they come, issuing forth either from us against others or from others against us.  The only surprise is that we never cease to make such errors and that we have such difficulty forgiving them when they are committed against us by others.

It is our daily task in life to find a way to forgive these errors, in ourselves and in others, without ignoring or diminishing the wrong that has been done.  And if the crime is so great that we cannot find it in our hearts to offer forgiveness, at least we can make the first steps toward healing.  Perhaps, with time and the grace of God, forgiveness, too, will result.

What Francis is calling us to do is to live a life that stands for healing, however we are able to offer it.  Yes, we may confront evil in this world.  Yes, we may experience wrongs that defy our capacity for forgiveness.  But if, like the distraught father of the murdered girl, we take the first tentative steps toward healing, we are sowing the seeds of pardon.  And where the seed of pardon is planted, the flower of true forgiveness may someday bloom.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Our Debbie

Camille sent this picture to me yesterday and I wanted to share it with you all : a lovely picture of a lovely girl!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mysteries galore!

Some people are going to think by now that I am making this stuff up.  I'm going to prove to you (as best I can) that I'm not.

Today we continue in our proud tradition of one of the "found" mysteries — inexplicable objects, furs, postcards, letters, keys... you name it — that just "show up" around here without any apparent reason or context!

Today we have a book to show you.

A perfectly ordinary book.

Now, we buy books all the time.  Most are in French or English since these are our two languages of choice around the house.

But this book is in German.  All right, nothing so great about that, right (several of us speak German fluently)?  Yes, but it is a pretty, lavishly illustrated book of 143 pages describing in great detail some out-of-the-way corner of rural Germany, that, alas, remains entirely unknown to anyone here!

The book looks new but inside the front cover is written a cryptic sign and a date, viz :

 Lx 11.2.99

And this is the envelope used to ship it to us from the town of Idstein in Germany by DHL :


Suggestion, answers, clues, or questions in the comments section below.

(If the sender recognizes himself and his book in this post please accept our heartfelt thanks and gratitude for thinking of us in this way!  Why not drop us a line, too? :-)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nominated!

Our team is still in Paris at the Mobile IT expo 2013 but sent us this picture which says it all—looks good!  We'll have to await their return to find out a little more about the contest... and to find out who won it!


Jasmin, I should mention, is the name of our greatest and most intricate piece ofCRM software to date (CRM, another new buzz-word, stands for Customer Relations Management)).  It has taken us years to perfect and we've gained a lot of kudos locally for our work developing it.

It is a case of flat-out running just to keep up with modern computing!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Exposition



Just a note to tell you that Raphaël, Pascal, and Julie are up in Paris as participants of the Mobile IT 2013 exposition near the Porte de Versailles.

This is something they have been preparing for for a long time, with brochures, posters, and stand.  These affairs are expensive but in our business they are a necessary part of being seen and the only "advertising" we do.

Setting up and ready to go!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pressing the grapes

As I saw Raph (and little Amos) down in the chai (a wine shed, or other place above ground, used for storing casks and preparing the wine) this afternoon I told him he was doing what people have been doing for thousands of years—probably with the same equipment, too!


Raph's very pleased this time since last year was so bad it was a little discouraging.  This year we should get about three hectolitres (400 bottles) which will go a long way toward making it all worth while!

Cheers!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Vendages

The week we've been waiting for has come and gone!  The time for the vendages, or grape harvest, has to be judged just right if you're going to get a good harvest and all week we've seen neighbours out in the field with their tractors so we've been praying the Lord would give us good weather until Saturday!

Well, we got our nice weather and it was "all hands on deck!" as even the littlest ones lent a hand cutting (and eating) bunches of grapes then dumping the leftovers in the grape buckets.


Friday, October 11, 2013

A picture of the children

This morning Camille, doubtless going through an old box of photos and wanting to make room for new ones, found this cute one of the children in the backyard which she thoughtfully passed around. 

In the same spirit I share it with you.  Here are Christine, and Olivier holding David circa 2004.


Tomorrow I'll see if I can duplicate that photo, updating it by eight or nine years.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Birthdays

I am running hehind with a few birthday around here but I'll get to that as soon as I can.

Today at noon as we all ate together outside the children were clowning around and soon Christine showed up dressed up.  Raph caught a picture of her and sent it around calling it "Aunty Wendy's great niece — (May or may not be removed, not quite sure)"



Not quite sure what it was that reminded us of you, Wendy, but we hope you're having a happy birthday today!

God bless you all!

Friday, October 04, 2013

Inspiring Poem

I've been receiving this email letter from an organisation called PEERS: WantToKnow.info for quite some time.  It always makes me think about life and I like it very much.  Today they sent out some inspiring poetry under the title "Inspiring Poetry Calls Us to Our Greatness".  Well, I'm not a poetry buff but love a mastery of precision and enjoyed the following poem so decided to send it on to you.

Compassion
By WingMakers

Angels must be confused by war.
Both sides praying for protection,
yet someone always gets hurt.
Someone dies.
Someone cries so deep
they lose their watery state.

Angels must be confused by war.
Who can they help?
Who can they clarify?
Whose mercy do they cast to the merciless?
No modest scream can be heard.
No stainless pain can be felt.
All is clear to angels
except in war.

When I awoke to this truth,
it was from a dream I had last night.
I saw two angels conversing in a field
of children's spirits rising like silver smoke.
The angels were fighting among themselves
about which side was right,
and which was wrong.
Who started the conflict?

Suddenly, the angels stilled themselves
like a stalled pendulum,
and they shed their compassion
to the rising smoke
of souls who bore the watermark of war.
They turned to me with those eyes
from God's library,
and all the pieces fallen
were raised in unison,
intertwined like the breath
of flames in a holy furnace.

Nothing in war comes to destruction,
but the illusion of separateness.
I heard this spoken so clearly I could only
write it down like a forged signature.
I remember the compassion,
mountainous, proportioned for the universe.
I think a tiny fleck still sticks to me,
like gossamer threads
from a spider's web.

And now, when I think of war,
I flick these threads to all the universe,
hoping they stick on others as they did me.
Knitting angels and animals
to the filamental grace of compassion.
The reticulum of our skyward home. 
For more heart-opening, inspiring poems by the WingMakers, click here. For the intriguing website of the enigmatic WingMakers as it originally appeared, click here. And for a treasure trove of other highly inspiring stories, videos, news articles, and life resources, click here.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The salesman

Yesterday I showed you a picture of a bowl we bought when we visited Smyrna this spring.

We were agreeably surprised at the warmth and freindliness of the Turks that we met there and had a couple of memorable contacts with them there.  Sorting through our pictures and trying to make some order of them all, I came across this one—the man in the tourist shop wrapping our bowl we'd just chosen!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Our fruit bowl

Rebecca took this picture the other day and wanted me to post it for you with the comment that we bought the bowl in Turkey (Smyrna, in fact) and the market there.

Enjoy the memories if you were there!  Enjoy the picture, if you weren't. :-)



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Christian Soldiers of Serbia


For centuries the current provinces of Serbia have suffered violence from every side. Even worse, they have suffered inner division and violence that continually threatens to tear their country apart, just like all of Yugoslavia disintegrated twenty years ago.  Here a United Nations "peace-force" soldier stands guard on the boundary between the Serbian state of Kosovo (now virtually also an independent country) and the town of Raška (Рашка). Photo from REUTERS/Marko Djurica.

Much more could be said about armed action in Serbia over the years.  But another, infinitely more powerful force has challenged the country in a totally unexpected way.

This strange army not only calls young men to fight for its noble cause.  Even women, the old people and students busy in school gladly rise to defend it and carry it on.  But their weapons are not of this world.  For those of you who have not seen this story before, you may now read what happened with the . . .

Christian Soldiers of Serbia

based on the report of Gjorgje Nikolic
(German text translated and edited by Peter Hoover)

Gjorgje Nikolic wrote well. He loved to write, and with a job for a paper like Belgrade’s Politika, just after World War I, he had great opportunities.

With the opportunities came a deeply troubling experience. In the fall of 1926 the reporting manager of Politika sent him to observe a strange case before the Danube Division of the Serbian army in Vojvodina. Gjorgje wrote:

A prison car stops at nine a.m. before the building where a military court is in session.  The door is unlocked and seven men step out.  They wear the peasant clothes of Banat district.  It is the first of many groups of Nazarenes [Anabaptist believers] to be tried for the same offence. . . . Quietly, like sheep, they are led into the dark and narrow halls of the courthouse, surrounded by soldiers with rifles and bayonets glistening in the sun.

In a little while, on orders from the judge, one of them enters the courtroom.

“Are you Spira Matic?”

“That is my name.”

“Step up to the Holy Gospel.”

Spira steps to the place.

“You will be sentenced today for two offences: The first one, you have refused to take the oath at the military front on the 3’d of August as ordered by your superior, and you also refused to take up arms in accordance with the given command.  The second offence: Since 1907 you have been a member of the Nazarene sect, forbidden according to law.

Have you done this?”

“Yes.”

“Why did you not obey the officer who gave you the command, and who allowed you ten minutes for consideration?”

“What I believe did not allow me to obey that command.”

“Do you know that such an act is punished by imprisonment at hard labour?”

“Yes. I know it.”

“Then why did you do it?”

After a long interrogation Nikola Rasic comes in. His eyes are bright and his face betrays his nervousness.

“Why did you not obey your superiors?

“I am not permitted to do so.”

“By whom?”

“By the Holy Gospel.”

“Do you have children?”

“Yes, I have seven children.”

“Why did you accept the Nazarene religion?”

“God desired it.”

“In what way is your religion better than ours?”

“We are taught not to kill, not to steal, not to say lies. . . .”

“Who will support your children when you are sent to prison?”

“My wife . . . and God.”

Ziva Jevremov, Steva Uliki, Steva Popadic and the other men follow. Their trial is short.  They stand in a row when the sentence is read to them.  For the first offence--military disobedience--every one gets nine years in a hard labour camp.  For the second offence--belonging to a forbidden religion--everyone gets another year.

No one is surprised.  The men’s faces do not change.  The judge tells them to consider well what they have done and promises immediate remission of the sentence to anyone who changes his mind.
 
Ziva Jevremov shakes his head sadly but says with a smile: “We cannot do it. We thank you for the sentence.”

They lead the condemned, closely guarded, back into the prison car. Everyone is silent, earnest.  The face of the man with seven children is white.  He blinks hard.  Then the door is locked behind them and they disappear in direction of the military jail.1

Who were these people and what brought them to their remarkable position? The more Gjorgje learned of them the deeper his respect and involvement grew. 

From all over the Vojvodina and Obrenovcez districts they came.  Some towns, like Kisac and Kovacice, seemed to consist almost exclusively of “Nazarenes” (as they chose to call themselves because of Acts 24:5).  Authorities reported thousands more in Srem-Mitrovica, Petrovardin, Staribicej, Vincovce, Pancevo, Veliki-Bekerek . . . perhaps as many as twenty thousand of them and others suspected there were twice that many in Serbia, or more. 

The one thing certain was that Nazarenes would not obey the government’s orders to take up arms. 

In the villages they seemed like simple, harmless, people.  Their sect, it was said, had begun in Switzerland where people called them Anabaptists.  But these were Serbs and Magyars (Hungarians) who met for worship in unadorned meetinghouses, singing without instruments from a book called “Zion’s Harp.”  Their women wore head coverings and ample skirts.  Their large families grew up learning how to work . . . and now the prisons at Petrovardin and Veliki-Bekerek were full of them. 

Nothing frightened the Nazarenes into complying with government orders if they found them contrary to what they believed.  After the conscription laws tightened in 1924, military commanders fettered some of the men and marched them in chains through the villages.  That did not move them.  One officer told their neighbours: “Kill the Nazarenes, rob them of everything, burn down their houses, do not buy anything from them. If you do this, nothing will happen to you.”  But their neighbours liked them and the Nazarenes neither tried to defend themselves nor changed their minds. 

Serbian officials closed Nazarene meetinghouses and forbade them to hold services. Some took children by force from the villages and had them baptised into the Orthodox church.  All the Nazarenes did was apply for passports to emigrate.  A small percentage received them and found their way to Canada and Argentina.  Of the rest, 1400 were now in jail. 

In a second report for the Belgrade Politika, Gjorgje Nikolic wrote:

Nineteen men reporting for duty to the 34’th regiment of the Tisa division take their place in the courtyard at noon. Rifles are brought and the commander of the regiment addresses one of the recruits, Dusan Gruic:

“I have ordered you to report for military duty. Now you must take up arms and participate in military exercises.  Once you have fulfilled your obligations and served your time you may go home.  Consider carefully before you answer.   Put yourself into the position of those who depend on you, your parents, your wife and your children.”

Dusan answers: “Whoever binds himself to his weapon binds himself to do with it what weapons are for. But I cannot do that.”

“Who forbids you to do so?”

“God. God has given us his Holy Word so that we can shape our lives according to it.”

“But if you refuse to take up arms you will go to prison. Every capable citizen must serve in the army.”

The commander orders paragraph 47 of the military penal code read in a loud voice: “Whoever shows by word or deed or any other sign that he does not wish to carry out the orders of his superiors, and whoever does not comply with them, is to be punished for insubordination.  If the offence is committed in private he is to be punished with a minimum of one year in jail. But if it takes place before the assembled soldiers, with a minimum of five years.  However, if it happens before a military line, or if the order is given to take up arms and he refuses, he is to be punished with prison up to ten years.”

“Now consider,” the commander says, “This paragraph states directly, ‘up to ten years in prison.’”   Do you want to wear iron on your feet that long?”

Stevan Ivanic speaks up from one of lines: “I have this to say, Lieutenant Colonel, in regards to your mention of our children.  We abide by the words of Christ.  Christ said, ‘He who loves his father, his mother, his sister, or his wife more than he loves me, is not worthy of me.’ For his sake I am prepared to leave my wife and family.”

“Dusan Gruic, advance!” the commander shouts.  Turning to a soldier who holds a gun in his hands, he says, “Give him this gun.”

The soldier offers it to Dusan, saying: “Take it.”

“I can’t,” says the latter. “I am not permitted to bind myself to this gun!”

“Certainly you don’t need to marry the gun!” the commander exclaims.

“If I accept it, I will be married to it!”

“Does that mean you will not take the gun?”

“I am not permitted to do so.”

“Konstantin Naumovic!” The officer calls up another man who steps from the ranks.  The soldier holds out the gun to him and asks him to take it.

“Sirs, I am not permitted to do it,” he says, turning to the commanding officer.

“Are you not permitted or do you not want to?”

“I am not permitted to do it.  I live in the fear of God.”

“Paja Alarcic!” the commanding officer calls.  Paja steps forward but does not raise his hand to take the gun.

“Who prevents you from doing it?”

“I am not permitted by the Word of God.”

“Branko Purac . . .”

“I cannot accept it,” Branko answers with a smile. “If I would take the gun I would have to do with it what guns are for.  Guns are to kill people.”

“But we do not give you the gun to kill people now.  You are only to practise with it for a time, then you may go home,” the commanding officer assures him.

“To practise is to learn how to kill.”

“Stevo Stelovic!” The officer calls an exceptionally tall and strong Nazarene who shrugs his shoulders. “I cannot do it.”
“Of course you can,” the commanding officer shouts. “Just look at how big you are.”
“I am able to carry ten such guns or more,” Stevo answers, “but what I believe does not permit me to do it.”

Stevo Ivanic steps from the ranks.

“You take it,” the commanding officer says to him.

“I cannot do it,” he answers with a smile. “I have believed this way since I was a child. I have been imprisoned by the Magyars and I shall no doubt see prison again.  All this has passed over my head before, but ‘he who endures to the end of the struggle will be saved.’ What shall I do?  Christ said, ‘Love your enemies and those who hate you.’  He also said, ‘If a man smites you on one cheek, turn to him the other as well.  In the Old Testament it is written, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.  But I tell you, If someone tears out one of your eyes, offer him the other also.’  This is the issue, Sir.”

The recruit smiles again and returns to his place in the ranks.

A blond youth steps forward: Petar Hugyos.

“Are you Hungarian?” the commanding officer asks.

“No Sir, I am Russian.”

“Well, take the gun whatever the case,” the officer tells him.  “It would be a pity for you to go to jail.  You are so young.”

“I cannot do it.”

“How many years have you belonged to this sect?”

“I joined at the age of fifteen.”

“How old are you now?”

“Twenty-two.”

Paja Opra, another youth, advances calmly when called.  “Go ahead, take it Paja,” the officer says.

“Sir, I cannot do your military duty, so why should I take the gun?”

“You mean to tell me you will do no one’s duty but your own?”

Paja just smiles and returns to his place in the ranks.

The scene repeats itself over and over with Milan Naumov, Petar Svicav, Milos Bakalski, Danilo Stojkov, Sandor Popov, Vlada Kocanti, Milos Antic, Zdravko Tutin, Danilo Alardzic, Milorad Zoric, Kuzman Pavlovic. . . .
In a later report Gjorgji described the trial of Ljuba, the young son of the Nazarene leader Milan Duroslovac.  He described him as a “tall, friendly youth who looked calmly at everyone and smiled when someone joked about his appearance in court.”  Ljuba, according to his report, took the reading of his sentence calmly.  But much happened behind the scenes that Gjorgji knew nothing of. 

A commandant told the Nazarene recruit, Paja Tordaji, to take a gun.  When he refused, he struck him in the face and ordered ten rifles hung around his neck.  Then they forced him to stay standing, choking for air, in a storeroom at the military base. Other recruits they beat until bloody from head to foot.  They pricked the hands of some with bayonets and forced others to lie on nails.  But harrassed in the barracks or suffering in labour camps the brothers proved themselves good soldiers for Christ.  In a letter signed by 150 recruits in the prison at Petrovardin, they wrote to believers in Switzerland:

Beloved brothers and sisters,

As the almighty God, our heavenly Father, has preserved us from the beginning to the present time, we believe he will keep us in the future as well.

They arrested us on the third day after calling us to arms.  They did so because we could not carry guns nor swear oaths.  Then they locked us into a low, narrow, dirty room with a wet floor.  We wondered what will become of us, and were sad, until a brother began to sing:

We thank you faithful Saviour, that you have not forsaken us to wander,
Like unprotected orphans on unfamiliar paths,
Among strange people in strange lands,
Where our language is not known and our actions look foolish.
No, we do not stand like orphans!
You stand with us, and live in our midst!2

After this hymn, the word of the Saviour came to our minds: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  Then some officers came to us wondering why we sang and what kind of people we are.

Afterwards they brought us to Petrovardin into the prison, where they have kept us to this day.  As many as 34 men occupy one room.  At first we had to sleep on the bare boards, but now conditions have somewhat improved.

On the Lord’s Day we have meetings in the morning and in the afternoon, and during the week we meet three times--on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday evening, always in separate groups, Serbs and Magyars, because the room is not large enough. There in the meeting we go to the Living Fountain that quenches our thirst. There we find the living bread and know that he who eats of it will live forever.
What is it that makes us faithful unto death? It is love. The love of Jesus like we sing:
Jesus, you remain with me,
Nothing else compares with you!
I cannot be quiet about you. Loves drives me to [sing and speak].
Love that gives itself to you. Love that loves you only.
Love that binds itself to you, and finds its peace in you alone.3
Perhaps Gjorgji Nikolic wrote more about the Nazarenes’ struggle with military conscription in Serbia.  Perhaps he did not.  After Serbia became part of Yugoslavia under a royal dictatorship, and civil war broke out in 1929, a dark curtain fell on what had been the peaceful villages of the Nazarenes in Vojvodina and Obrenovcez.  The country fell to the Nazis and to Italy in World War II.  We know little of what took place in terrible fighting that followed between invading armies and Serbs, Croats, Bosnians and Slovenes who fought savagely among themselves. Gjorgji’s articles (that survived the war) are rare glimpses into the lives of people whose story on earth ended in bombing attacks, rolling clouds of smoke, and untold numbers in silent mass graves. 
 

But the peace of which they sang, lives on in the body of Christ. 

Main Source: Stäubli C., Die Nazarener in Jugoslavien, Pfäffikon-Zürich, 1928

1 Politika, Belgrade, Oct. 3, 1926

2 Zions Harfe, 204

3 Zions Harfe, 197
* * * * * * *

Peter and Susan Hoover

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How good to be home!

Sarah and I went up to Paris for a few days to meet with her sister Barbara who stopped by there on her way home from Italy.  You can probably guess what a good time we had, and very relaxing as we left most all of our important things to do at home!

We had three days together and wanted to do something a bit different than what we'd done before.  I think the highlight was walking the length of the Champs-Elysée from Concord to Etoile and then climbing the Arc de Triomphe.  Can't remember but I think it was 280+ stairs up that corkscrew shaft!  Yes, I counted the stairs going up.  I thought it would never end.

But what a view from the top!  Stunning, really!  Here, don't take my word for it:


The trip was memorable mostly though for the people we met and the discussions we had with them. We're not really good sight-seers.  We met a very nice Lebanese man in his restaurant just near where we were staying. I'd like to go back there for lunch just for his sake!


During the course of our stay we found no less than TWO identity cards!  One, just after we'd crossed the old Pont Alexandre III was tucked inside a thick black wallet which was garnished with odds and ends of personal papers as well as the owner's driver's licence.  Quite a loss, I would say.  I kept it for a day or two wanting to track the man myself but in the end I had no luck and simply did like everyone else would do; brought it to the local police station!

I saw the second National Identity Card being dropped on a cross-walk but when I called out and chased after the fellow he said it wasn't his and didn't know what I was referring to.  I could of sworn I saw him drop it!  But as I don't swear I'm hoping you'll understand the meaning.

So I handed it over to the boys in blue as well.

Finally, just for fun, here's a picture of the person I call my good girl.  Now she has proof!




Sunday, September 08, 2013

Five years ago

As we prepare for the back-to-school events (getting supplies and registering the children in extra-curricular activities, etc) it came to most of us that this Sunday, as we gathered together to eat after the meeting that not only was this Lily's 32nd birthday (happy birthday, if you're reading this!) but that this was now our fifth year without her.

I know she thinks she is doing the right thing (whether by rewarding us in some way or just teaching us a lesson) but it has been a hard five years that are impossible to retreive.

Raph somehow ran across a song by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot that I very much enjoyed when I was young.  A visit to amazon brought it all back to me as well as some of his most popular songs; Early Morning Rain,  Steel Rail Blues, Canadian Railroad Trilogy, and so many others.

Today all of us ate outside as our custom is on the Lord's day at noon.  Inevitably, today being the 8th of September, the conversation turned toward absent loved ones, both reminisces of good times spent together and questions, lots of questions.

It seems like today is a sort of "anniversary" — the fifth of a sudden departure and change in our midst.  But life goes on and the Lord provides his grace and his love for us to share with others — especially all the little ones he has provided for us to look after and to train.

Mum and I went down to the island to talk and try to learn from our experiences over the years and to plan, as best we can, for the future.

Jonathan & Debbie worked with us all to help all day yesterday butchering our pig and today there were odd jobs still remaining.  It's nice to have Mats with us to help and share his view of life.  At noon there were fresh rillettes to eat but since the consistency had not been what was expected Raph named them graillons du nord-ouest in memory of something we had eaten a year of two ago while in Languedoc which were called graillons du sud-ouest!

Here they are :  (yes, they were good!)


Saturday, September 07, 2013

A Young Fireman

Olivier decided (despite initial misgivings) to sign up for the four-year course of studies called "Jeune Sampers-Pompiers" in Château du Loir.  He's now twelve and at just the right age to register for the courses on first-aid and practical techniques that constitute the rigorous and demanding course of studies. 

When it came time to get his uniform I think the look on his face said it all!  Certainly his dad was proud of him.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Opening Ancient Wells

Several of you have asked us about the trip to Moravia, how it went and so on.  Others hoped we record our activities and impressions in the church in Moravia ... Well, of course, there is so much to say I hardly know where to start!  But here is how we spent the last two weeks! We were so honoured to be a part of this event!

To set the mood, here is a photo of a few of the participants.  We took on the last day after the final meeting and though everyone is not pictured, and it makes for a happy memory.

Briefly (left to right) you can see here Dean Taylor and his family from Elmendorf in America, Gertrude & Edouard from Austria (whom we first met years ago in Switzerland), Peter & Susan Hoover, with two of their boys, from Tasmania, Erol was there from London (via Cyprus and Turkey!), then there was a delegation from France next to Karel, our guest pastor, as well as many locals and friends, members of his congregation in Hustopece.


The entire event was planned and organized by Karel with great help from his family and friends in the church.  We've hosted enough events of this kind to know the intense activity involved and to appreciate the smoothness of the whole operation!  They had managed to get the help and support of the local Reformed Church in the town as well as use of the cinema for a couple of meetings!  This meant that the whole emphasis was wider and more ecumenical than it might otherwise have been and the weekend had wide-spread support beyond the mere boundaries of ethnic Hutterites.

Everywhere you went you saw the poster (click here to see it in a new window) in Czech with that lovely couple (newly-weds from Elmendorf, it turns out) smiling out at you.  I sat next to the mayor during the first meeting and noticed his enthusiasm for what was said.

Later on he invited us to a special meeting at the town hall at which time he gave a half-hour speech of welcome to us all as he presented us all with bottles of wine on behalf of the town of Hustopece.  We couldn't help noticing the irony of the moment as we were gathered to mark the four-hundredth and eightieth year of Jacob Hutter's departure from the town under rather less pleasant conditions!

We were graciously hosted by Karel's parents who kindly put us up in their own home and made us feel welcome.  I want to thank all who made the event so meaningful for us.  A special thanks also to Roman & Lenka and their family who invited us to their home.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Hope Fulfilled!

As documented in this book, the most persistent challenge by sceptics hostile to the Bible and Christianity is that Jesus did not return when He promised—within the lifetimes of his followers.

Indeed, there are over a hundred passages in the New Testament clearly declaring: (1) that the writers of the New Testament themselves were in the "last days," and (2) that Jesus would return while some of his disciples were still alive, in fulfilment of all that had been prophesied.

Were Jesus and the New Testament writers wrong?  Of course not!  But Christians too often gloss over the important prophetic time-statements!

As further documented in this book, otherwise reputable denominations are wilfully blind on eschatology.  But if Jesus and the writers of the New Testament were wrong, they could not have been inspired, and Jesus Himself was a false prophet.  This critical problem must be addressed by the church.

Could the "last days" be referring to the final days of the Old Covenant order rather than to the end of the physical universe?  Was the "time of the end" when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in AD 70—the date when the ancient covenantal system of temple sacrifices for sin ended forever?

Could many modern Christians have misunderstood what Jesus meant by his Parousia (his "Second Coming")—that it was to be a divine but non-visible "coming in judgement" against the Jews in AD 70—similar to God's coming in judgement against the Jews or their enemies on multiple occasions in the Old Testament?

Could the King James Version of the Bible have unwittingly misled English-speaking Christians for 400 years about certain critical details?

This book explores these possibilities, which if true, resolve the challenges to the accuracy of the Bible!  The author examines the growing view of Bible prophecy called "preterism" or "covenant eschatology."  This is the view that most if not all prophecy has been fulfilled, completely disarming the challenges by Christianity's opponents.

Before you dismiss this idea, you should test your presuppositions against what the Bible actually says.  The preterist view has been held by some Christians since the 1st century and is gaining adherents today as flaws in the popular theories are being critically examined and discredited.  Covenant eschatology restores Jesus as a true prophet and the Bible as reliable and authoritative.

The book is the product of over 10 years of research by the author along with input from seven contributors. The book critically examines all of the popular views of Bible prophecy, many of which are contradictory or are little more than fanciful speculations without biblical support. It is written in easy-to-follow language for the informed layman, and it clearly and definitively answers the objections to preterism.

If you have never studied Bible prophecy carefully, or if the various modern views of prophecy just do not make sense when you read your Bible, this book will give you increased confidence in God's Word.  It covers all of the eschatological topics including the New Heaven and New Earth, the Day of the Lord, the End of the Age, the Apocalypse, the Beast, the Great Tribulation, the Millennium, the Second Coming, the Kingdom of God, the Rapture, the Resurrection, and more. It brings extraordinary clarity to a difficult subject. Fear not to be challenged and changed.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Seen this weekend

Our sponsorship of the local chapter of the French Windsurfing Club at the Lac des Varennes.  It has been our policy since the beginning to take an active part in local clubs and events as much as possible.  Our logo is seen everywhere and this simple act engenders a lot of goodwill ... and business!


Monday, August 05, 2013

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Off to the beach!

With summer weather really and truly here and temperatures steadfastly into the thirties every day (well above mid-thirties most days!) we grasp any opportunity for some relief by taking a day-trip to the sea.

Jonathan & Debbie and family have joined Raphael & Camille and family for the week in Brittany (near some of Camille's family) in order to enjoy the beach.  As they were getting ready to leave "bright and early" on Saturday morning I suddenly got a similar idea... why not take our own children to our closest beach near Caen, just two hours away!


Since the idea came a bit late for an early start we didn't leave till past eleven but by one thirty the kids were in the sea at Riva Bella, Ouistreham — exactly two hours to get there!

The next day we got this shot from Raph as their crew headed out.


Unfortunately the sun was so strong I couldn't see what I was taking a picture of so I only got this one picture as a memory of the day for us: just a beach scene — but we sure had a good day out!


Monday, July 15, 2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Two times Four : The Birthweek

You've heard of birthdays before but these two cousins have what we call a birthweek around here!

Amos, the (elder of the two) was born the 11th of July and his younger (by a few days) cousin Ruben celebrates his birthday later that week; July 18th.

As you can imagine, we have a lot of fun with this but the routine that is falling in place is two cakes on successive Sundays each complete with Camille's inimitable red-fruit fromage frais "cake" (see below).


Here then, for your viewing pleasure are those two one-of-a-kind four-year-olds!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

A natural mystery

The other day Claire picked this up in the backyard under the lime tree.

A (very) simple question : what (on earth) is it?

Is it animal, vegetable, or mineral?  I find it impossible to say!

Here's all I can tell you; it's about 5 cm long, seems to be punctured at one end, and seems to be formed of tightly bound fibres.  It has no perceptible smell. We couldn't find any tree or bush it might have fallen from.


Monday, July 08, 2013

Time for another mystery

Eating lunch out at the stone table, Olly suddenly reached over and passed me a single key on a key ring wanting to know if it were mine.

The key is green.  The key-ring is from Lycée Gabriel Touchard -- Le Mans.  That is the place where Claire had to go (for the first time) a few weeks ago when she sat her French oral exam for the bac.  But what's that got to do with the key and why was it in our backyard?

Mother, Rebecca, and Claire, who were also there disclaimed all knowledge of the artifact and expressed downright astonishment at the idea of whose it was and where on earth it came from.

I told them it must be time for another mystery post on the blog, and they agreed!

Any takers?



Sunday, July 07, 2013

A Day at Chartres


One of the most spectaclular cathedrals of France since the twelfth century Chartres is the must-see building of the area if you appreciate stained-glass!

Wanting to give Claudia a little culture and taking advantage of Christopher and David's scout camp just nearby the Raphael & Camille and family decided to brave the elements (35 ° heat!) and make Sunday a wonderful day-out.

Here's Camille with little Susanna posing outside the edifice just to prove they made it!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Friday, July 05, 2013

Raph and Pascal at Vaas

During a business meeting this evening out at Vaas their host got a good shot of Pascal and Raphael, while they were exploring the new installation at the business park site.


No, it's not a hot-air balloon but the top of a water tower !)

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Seedless

I bought a watermelon the other day.

When I got it home and cut up, I remembered having seen a sign over the fruit that it was sans pépins — seedless.  Sure enough, the expected large black seeds had been replaced by small, lifeless, white pips.

I started musing on this and it occurred to me that this is what is being foisted on us, too, as people.

We have so neglected the life of God in us and despised our beautiful culture that was given that we are now everywhere agreeing to be neutered out of existence.

We don't want anything that will generate more life, do we?  Too much hassle.

As for "seedless fruit" I started to wonder if such fruit could even be food for us?  How could it sustain life, in the long run?

The verse in Genesis 1:29 came to mind.  And I wonder.  Whatever the nutritional value of such things I decided to make every effort to avoid buying into the "seedless" game being proposed to us.

Seedless grapes?  You can have them!  I'll take the fruit the way God made it for me, thank you!

Monday, July 01, 2013

Nine

Photo of a nine year old with his gosling