Guest Post – Random France Facts

France is different.  I often joke with the team: “ohhhh les Français sont bizarre”.  Here are some weird stories/facts:

  • “Culte” means “the Christian church service”.  “Secte” means “cult”
  • If you’re a guy and don’t want to be picked out as a tourist: don’t wear shorts.
  • I grabbed curry on the run and was eating it on the metro in favour of sitting on a bench and missing a train.  I got some REALLY weird looks.  When I asked a friend why this was, she responded “wow.. eating on the run is really not something the French do.  We sit and relax while we eat.”  Turns out this is the case even when it means missing a train and waiting an extra half hour.
  • People are LESS likely to smile at you while walking past them on the street than people in Ottawa.  People are suspicious when you do.
  • People are far more likely to offer you a place to sit if you have a baby or are old.  Ashley almost always gets a seat regardless of how busy the train is.  In Ottawa, I’ve witnessed a good number of old ladies stand while Mr. shirt-and-tie sat looking on as if she didn’t exist.
  • Years ago it was common place for the French to take 2 hour lunch breaks. Now, 1 or 1.5 hours are common.  However, work hours are often lengthened to compensate.  They work 35 hour weeks.
  • All kids get EVERY WEDNESDAY OFF from school.  I still have yet to figure out how this works with day care and working parents.  Kids do have a shorter summer and a longer school day.
  • Markets are AMAZING.  There is a ton of energy and lots of fresh, inexpensive food to be had.  They usually happen once a week in various neighborhoods and towns.  They cane literally go for miles.  As the day goes on, the deals get better and better as the vendors don’t want to have to lug their food and wares back home.

The market starting at the Metro Belleville, close to the Sans Logis I’m helping with


Guest Post – “Is Canada More Rich Than America?”

All the sans logis longingly ask about Canada. “Are their jobs there?” and “Is it more rich than America?” top the list of frequently asked questions.

Of the people I’ve talked to here, they seem very interested in working but after trying for a long awhile, they simply give up. “Even for someone bilingual like me, there are 5 people in line for restaurant jobs here in Paris” said an Algerian man I met this morning. True or not, he simply didn’t have any leads on how to get a job.

Me: “What about something you can do over the Internet. That way you can work for anyone in the world, just limited to someone in Paris”
His eyes lit up.. “what do you mean?”
Well my life is learning French from someone over Skype. She’s a teacher but makes $20 for an hour long class. That’s just an example. Wow… I hadn’t thought of that. That’s a great idea!

A Bangladeshi guy later in the morning jokingly thinks all French people are “mental” despite him being very grateful for having been granted French citizenship. Everyday he stays with a friend, comes here for breakfast, looks for work then plays cricket for the rest of the day. He seems frustrated with this routine. He too got excited about working on the Internet.

Does anyone have ideas of things these guys could do on the Internet for people? Some stuff I thought of:
– odesk/elance

Forest Fire Fighters / an example of US and Canadian Cooperation

News reports were full of stories about fiveforest fires raging in Ontario and Quebec.  We could see evidence of the fire long before we reached The Caughnawana Fishing Camp. While we were having breakfast in Deep River the waitress suggested that we call ahead to make sure we could even get through. The fire had been burning for days and once we were alerted to this possibility, our real concern turned to whether we might get stuck in the woods with the fire cutting us off from any means of escape. There was only one road in and one road out. Fortunately there was a BIG lake we could all jump into, boats and islands if things got too close and hot.

Once we were settled on Monday afternoon, we began to hear helicopters overhead and a small pontoon plane skidding on to the water in front of us. Soon guys (okay there was one girl) in smudged clothing and yellow helmets began to come on to the wharf loaded down with gear.

While the others in my group politely wondered where these teams came from, how things were going on the front and where they were headed. I did what the others wanted to do. I went over and asked them. The team I spoke to were on loan from New Hampshire. Basically, they had already been fighting the fire for five days and were assigned to this fire for another sixteen or until the fire was extinguished. I said, “That seems like a long time to me.”  Perhaps all forest fire workers are skimpy talkers as none of them seemed to be lavish communicators. One waited on the other to respond until after a long pause and eyes flashing around to see who would take the lead, one of them said, “We have to do more than bring the fire under control. It takes a lot of extra time to trouble shoot by putting dead-out anything that might have the potential to flare up again.” I then learned that the fire had basically been licked as long as it didn’t turn windy and with a possibility of heavy rain the main problem seemed pretty much over. That was good news for everyone. I thought, Jake (my grandson) would love this work.

Sunday, May 27th in Smith’s Falls

The old Smith’s Falls Free Methodist Church on McGill Street

Thirty years ago (1980) I was taken on as an Associate Pastor in charge of evangelism and church growth at Smith’s Falls Free Methodist Church southwest of Ottawa some forty-five miles. This was my first time-serving in a real church. In those days there were about one hundred forty people in the small church building on McGill Street. The church is now located four miles south of town on Highway 29.

It was fun to pull into the parking lot where now nearly three-hundred-fifty people meet in this town of 10,000 plus people. It was like “Old Home Week” when many of those who were there in our early days are still active though much older. Fortunately, they have held out and now there is  sanctuary full of young faces ready to take their places in leadership.

I have known the pastor, Angel Valentin for all of this time. He is a good friend and  instrumental in the conversion of my oldest son, Schuyler in 1990. Angel was the speaker at a Men’s Fellowship meeting the Saturday morning Sky responded to the gospel. In some ways we are indebted to each other and build on one another’s’ foundations. A number of those in Angel’s congregation turn out to be those converted under my preaching between 1975 and 85.

Pat, Barb and Jeanne

There were two services so I preached two different messages. At the better attended 9:30 hour I preached on “The Second Experience.” It was Pentecost Sunday so I spoke on the need to move beyond “presence” and on to “power” and “purity” and these were found in the additional and ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. I won’t preach the message over but I used John 19, where Jesus comes through the wall on the very night of the resurrection, breathes on them and says, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit.” It was then that they were born again and not before. Even after this he tells them to wait for “the Promise of the Father, not many days hence.” Fifty days later the same people were filled with the Holy Spirit while they waited in Jerusalem. I went on to prove my case from Philip in Samaria (Acts 8) and Paul on Straight Street when Ananias came in and laid hands on him and he was subsequently filled with the Holy Spirit and boldness. This promise remains for us, our off spring and to as many as God the Father will call.

In the second message I preached one of my favorite gospel messages entitled, “Like Jumping to Capri,” where I used Romans 10:1-4 and 4:16 as my texts.

Lori and Lilly

After all of this Barb Smail, a gal I led to the Lord in 1980, took us to lunch at Gerbo’s Restaurant where I first met her in 1976. Barb was one tough convert! She brought with her to lunch, her daughter Lori and grand-daughter Lilly. Our friend and hers, Pat Saunders who also became a Christian under my ministry in 1977 came along. Both remain Jeanne’s close friends.

After a good, long lunch we parted company and went on to Stittsville and spent some time on their deck with our friends Randy and Tracy Haw. Randy and Tracy are ACCI missionaries in the Ottawa area and primarily work with people who have addictive backgrounds.

Not bad, $3,000 and about 250 attendees.

The North Street Band Fund Raiser

We relied heavily on free social media like Facebook and MailChimp for getting our crowd so we had no idea how things would turn out. One of the guys thought he’d be happy not to be “skunked.” Thirty would have been his idea of success.

The Carleton Place Arena

Putting the event into the Carleton Place Arena seemed like it made sense when our crowd would be drawn from thirty miles in four different directions, Perth, Almonte, Merrickville, Smith’s Falls and Ottawa. With people having to add a rather lengthy drive no one could read how things might go. When at 7:30, the start-up time came, it looked pretty ominous – as ominous as the threatening weather outside. The day had been sultry and now the wind had kicked up with perilous “tornado-belt” skies and warnings all around us. We were sunk.

Still, with the first lick of the guitars the room started to fill up and at its peak about two-hundred fifty friends and well-wishers filled out the crowd.

Joel Williams

The band was terrific! They were much better than anyone had thought they might be especially since lead guitarist and vocalist, Fred Williams had run a wood chisel through two very important “fret” fingers which considerably limited practice time in the weeks leading up to the concert.  It all turned out to be a rousing success wit a mix of popular cover tunes and composed Christian tunes written by father and son  Fred and Joel.

The party atmosphere was evident and the crowd was some noisy at the back since so many people were renewing old friendships. Somehow my warning them not to have such a good time went over and after the second break it became less like a coffee house and more like a concert.

With Asher on the double bass and Dave the drums the music filled in to make a terrific sound causing a great deal of well-deserved applause. Later Joel’s two sisters, Meriam and Emma stood up to sing one of Meriam’s compositions. Incredibly, the siblings bluegrass harmonies gave us something akin to Emilou Harris or Nancy Griffith. This was a delightful surprise for everyone even the two girls.

People stepped up in a big way to help out by donating almost $3,000 for the ministry trip to Europe in September. In all they’ll need about $12,000 but this was a good start with another gift coming in for $500. In all they are half way there and three more months to go.

Thanks to everyone who came and gave to the project!

On the way to the Concert

On Friday, May 25th we started off early for the North Street Band Fund Raising Concert in Carleton Place later that evening. Leaving our side of town at 2:30 we wanted to allow for two stops along the way.

Brody, Kelsey and Addison…

Jeanne, Addison and Kelsey

Almost ten months ago we stopped in to see Brody and Kelsey at the invitation of Kelsey’s mother, Lynn McDiarmid. When I pastored Chapel Ridge, Kelsey was just a little kid running around the church.

Brody and Kelsey were longing to have a baby and it is our joy to pray for couples to conceive. In so doing, we have seen more than twenty-five babies show up out of thirty we have prayed for. We can’t figure it all out but we just do it from obedience and frankly experience and apparent success plays a big part in our confidence for this ministry. Shortly after our first visit we learned that they were pregnant, Yeah!!! So, we stopped in to see the latest a cute little girl by the name of Addison who came almost exactly nine months from our last visit.

On to Carleton Place for more baby praying…

It turns out that when people get wind of this they send word to have us come over and this is what we did. We didn’t know them at all but had made contact by email during the week. They were a lovely young Christian couple and so after getting acquainted we prayed for them as well. We make no promises but do believe that God has answered prayer in the past and will do so over and over again.

More food at the Parker’s

About twenty-five years ago we met the Parker family. Nick a veterinarian surgeon and Janet his wife lived some (63 kms) forty or more miles from our church but they would load up in the car and come all the all way from Rockland, Ontario to our church in Stittsville. After awhile they bought land near us in the country and built a house where they raised their four kids. All of them are grown now and away from home.

They now have moved again and we wound up staying in a house only a mile from where they now live. On our first day we went to the grocery store and while rounding the aisle there was Janet. After a quick visit in front of the potato chips we decided to get together for dinner. On Wednesday evening we got around to their place and had a terrific meal with them, their daughter, Megan and guests, close friends of a lifetime, Larry and Leslie Brune. As usual Janet in the kitchen and Nick on the grill produced a scrumptious supper.

The amazing story of Liam Michael Cordell

Raina telling her story

Many people know that about thirty years ago Jeanne and I began praying for couples who could not (for whatever reason) conceive.  In those years we have seen more than twenty-five couples end up with babies.

One couple that we were involved in wound up with three kids in all and two of them were “rough-housing” boys that nearly drove their mother mad. She continued to love us but didn’t want us touching her ever again. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but partly true. We’ve all made a joke out of the experience.

Truthfully, however, we must say that we have been a part of some incredible stories. Now, we don’t have a 1,000 batting average but it would be fair to say that we are at the .750 mark. I don’t know why some have not managed to conceive. Almost always, I have no idea how things work out as they do. It doesn’t make sense, and I always feel sorry for these folks when prayers don’t seem to be answered. We have come to rest in God on this one and just act in obedience when asked.

The news got out and so Janet and Mike Brown, who attend Chapel Ridge Free Methodist Church, told their daughter Raina and son-in-law David in Wilmington, North Carolina that we did this sort of thing. So one day my Inbox had a message from Raina. I called her and she told us her story (I wish you could hear her story). She asked if they could drive down to Charlotte and have us pray for them. In human terms – if we listened to doctors – her case would seem impossible, and it was. Yet, one Thursday a couple of years ago we met at The Billy Graham Center for lunch (where Jeanne was working at the time) and prayed for them. They went on their way and we didn’t hear from them until they wrote to tell us they were expecting. Along with many others, we prayed throughout the pregnancy that she would be able to carry the baby and that he would be healthy. The neat part of the story is this: We were here in Ottawa at the exact time when Raina and David were dedicating this miracle baby, Liam, to the Lord and we got to be a part of that. God’s timing is amazing!

By the way, when we were here in Ottawa nine months ago, we also prayed for another couple and she and Raina had their babies in the same week. Pretty neat, eh?

We love being a part of what God is doing … all the glory is His!

Gustavo and Elvira / the best Italian food in the city


Questa cena d’sera era incredible!


Lucky us! Gustavo from Calabria (my Italian barber – Planet Hair, Kanata) and Elvira from Sicily invited us over for supper on Saturday night and there we met their friends Cordon Bleu trained baker Charles and his wife Sharon. Gustavo is also a painter of Italian urban and village scenes.

After some “getting to know you” appetizers of pate and caviar, we sat down to five courses (count ’em!). First came beautiful plates of Antipasti arrayed with Gustavo’s homemade salamis along with artichokes, olives, mixed salad with cheese, prosciutto, and  melone. Elvira’s homemade bread and Gustavo’s homemade wine complemented everything throughout the meal.

The next round was the prima piatta of linguine in authentic tomato sauce cooked to perfection by Elvira. Then, secondo arriviato con (with) asparagus, leafy salad and chicken Parmigiano, all excellent as well. Next came dolce, three different ones – the first was a light almond torte with pears (made by Charles) and another plain almond cake with raspberry sauce! Elvira had made a marvelous cheesecake with a cherry topping and graham cracker crust as well! Just when we thought we were done, out came a plate of fresh fruit made up of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and grapes.

Frankly, we would have liked to have stayed longer into the night but with church in the morning we needed to get back across town, organized and to bed.

A Dutch Gift / The Canadian Tulip Festival, Ottawa

Tulips! Tulips! Tulips!

Queen Beatrix

During World War II Princess Juliana of Holland was sent to Canada for refuge and safety with her two daughters. Here she lived with two-year-old Beatrix, now Queen of The Netherlands, until its liberation by Canadian troops.

Since that time Canada and Holland have had a close bond. As a way of expressing its gratitude, Holland continues to send millions of brilliantly colored tulips to Canada each year.

They line the Parkway around Dow’s Lake, where our dear friends Bud and Deb Narraway took us for a walk after a lunch of enchiladas at The Lone Star Cafe. Though we came around at the very end of the tulip season, there remained many different varieties in every possible color and combination. Bud and Debbie became Christians around the same time as we did, and our lives have been intertwined ever since. We had lots to catch up on and much to rejoice in as we remembered God’s faithfulness to us, our children, and grandchildren.