Monthly Archives: May 2011

Things that probably won’t make it into the prayer letter.

The day started out fairly normally: eat breakfast, shower,  drive into town to find free wifi, pass a 20 year old girl and her mother in the street examining the sex toys in the window of the local ‘high-class’ sex shop, hear said 20 year old girl share with mother which one she particularly enjoys…  You know, just the usual.

But it all got a little bit weird around lunchtime when I had to phone Orange to sort out my broken down internet connection.  Apparently calling customer service here is not just a matter of waiting in line, but actually it is a test of your French pronunciation and a battle of wits.  Orange France do not have your average ‘If you want such-and-such, press 1, or if you need so-and-so, press 2’ – oh no! – Orange France have gone down the ‘If you wish to speak to a customer service advisor, say : “Service clientèle” ‘ route.  Hmmm… ok, I’ll try!

So, I made it past the pronunciation stage (yesss!) and then I am presented with the following : “Please state the nature of your problem”.  Now, generally the automated-speaking-lady in these sorts of things is programmed to understand certain words and phrases.  So that when you top up your electricity with NIE, and automated-speaking-lady asks you to confirm your customer service number, she reads you the number you’ve just typed and says: “To confirm, say ‘yes'”.  Simple enough.  But not Orange France!  Noooooo… they want you to just hazard a guess at the key words automated-speaking-lady going to compute.  Errmmm… “L’internet ne fonctionne pas?”  or “Internet Orange est un pile de poo?”… I guess that’s maybe easier to work out if French happens to be your first language, but its not exactly conducive to getting things done for a foreigner!

But you’ll be glad to hear that I passed that test too.  Eventually…

By this next stage, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve been set up by some kind of Krypton Factor slash Candid Camera type thing, because a few minutes later, the lady (a real one this time) is telling me to take a knife prise open 6 metallic strips on the filter which was plugged into my phone socket.

“I’m sorry, what?  A knife??” (thinking my French ears must’ve gone on holiday)

Oui, Madame, un couteau.

Sérieux??

Oui, Madame, sérieux.

So, there I am, my mobile phone on loudspeaker on the table, hacking away at these metallic strips with a kitchen knife.  Which, by the way, did not go so well as the other tasks – Krypton Factor Girl I am Not.  After 5 minutes of me muttering and hacking and wondering if they’ll accept liability should I chop off a fingertip in the process, and during which time I’m sure the lady (the real one) is fiddling away with some things on Orange’s end to resolve the real problem, she finally tells me it doesn’t matter and to just plug the freakin thing back into the wall!  And lo and behold, she tells me there’s a fault on the line.

No shizz, Sherlock.

Lucky for you, it got sorted and I can update you on these things, eh?

Dinner was on the balcony over discussing some bible reading I hadn’t done, not praying and generally feeling pretty grumpy and pissed off.  And then the evening was topped off drinking cider out of a plastic cup down by the river in the dark.

That was my day today.

Just so you know.

That was my day.

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Filed under France/French, grrrr..., random, story

Step into the Light

When does one actually step into the light?

I mean, its not like I hadn’t already realised that becoming a Christian was a process and especially in Western Europe where most people are now growing up in secularism.  Even my own ‘conversion’ feels less like an experience than a growing into – and that is in the Northern Irish Evangelical context where sinner’s prayers are flung left right and centre.

So for example, a guy starts coming along to bible study – he buys a bible and excitedly shares that every time he picks it up he learns something new.  He explains how he’s started praying every night before going to sleep.  During the group he prays out loud to thank God for drawing him closer to knowing Him and asks Him to help in the path.

Alongside this, he talks about not really believing in eternal life.  Or he claims to have bought a book about angels as well as having bought a bible.

I guess ultimately I believe that only God really knows whether there’s a specific moment in someone’s life where they enter ‘the light’.  But also that (she typed, thinking ‘out loud’), perhaps starting to walk in the light is less a lightswitch (as the Calvinists might claim?) and more a chosen direction.  So, if I turn away from my own way and start walking towards God, then I’m walking in the direction of the Light and the path is therefore lit, whereas before I was walking away from the light and was therefore in darkness, you know?

So this friend of mine seems to be walking in the direction of the Light and that’s exciting.  He could change his mind at some point and dander off the other way, as could I.

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It’ll be all right in the end

It could be the wine, but, you know what?  I think everything is going to be okay.

(I’m not going to admit how many times I had to use the ‘delete’ button for that sentence… yowzers – time for some coffee…)

Seriously, though.  I think it might turn out all right.

A while ago I wrote about a tiny miracle as to how I found this apartment and here I am on the balcony (LOGGIA actually, but more about that in a minute.), looking out on a storm that’s been brewing for several hours :

I’ve cosied up with wine, salad, cheese, my journal and Eva Cassidy and now I’m on the chocolate and coffee.  I’ve been listing reasons I’m thankful – a much better pursuit than the intended rant and self-pity sesh.  And here’s why I think it might all just be okay…

God knows better than I do what the desires of my heart are.

It was the small fact that the apartment I accidentally ended up renting has a loggia rather than a balcony that excited this epiphany.  I had spent some time expostulating about how I’d REALLY like an apartment with a balcony, please, Lord.  And I thought he’d found me one.  But no.  He found me one with a Loggia.

You see a balcony, according to Wiki, is “a platform projecting from the wall of a building, supported by columns or console brackets, and enclosed with a balustrade.” and therefore might look like this :

Whereas a loggia, according to Wiki, is “mostly described as a recessed portico, or an internal room, with pierced walls and open to the elements.” and might, for example, look something like this :

The crucial difference being that is has a roof and sides.  Therefore I can sit quite comfortably with my Mac and coffee while the rain pours down outside.  Now, who’d have thought to pray for that???

“Now to Him who is able to do more than we ask or imagine…to Him be glory…!”

I figure that if God cares about that, then he might care about the other stuff I care about and have asked him for.  He seems to know more about what I really want than I do, so I reckon it all might just be ok.

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Filed under beauty, France/French, God, gospel, happiness is