Good things have been done!

I’m writing this on Friday. I think it will get published on Sunday.

Good Thing #1: I made some scones which I took across to Friend M. I made her a card a couple of weeks back, to encourage her while she was in rehab, and she came back home on Wednesday. We went to see her, and her partner, M, and it was such a pleasure to see her looking so much better. She looked brighter and cheerier, and explained a little about what she had been through. And she said firmly “Now I’m drinking nothing but water!” Good for her. We are hoping to re-start our card evenings, where we try to teach them cribbage and they try to teach us Tarot. (Don’t worry – it’s NOT reading tarot cards. It’s just the name of a card game.)

Here are the scones. I may have put one or two in the freezer for us!!

Good Thing #2: M, her partner, said he was driving down to Clermont today with someone from the village, to take clothes and shoes to a centre for refugees and migrants in Place 1ere Mai. I had already sorted out a bag of various bits and bobs, as I changed my wardrobe over yesterday…Autumn draws on and I’m thinking about fleeces! But Mr FD’s wardrobe is a mess.

Here’s a photo of the camp that is starting to grow in Clermont Ferrand

So I encouraged him to first go through the mountain of discarded shoes at the bottom of the coat wardrobe in the downstairs room. Some were too badly damaged to be given away, but there were five pairs that, although they were a bit battered, or rubbed Mr FD’s feet, were certainly good for a season’s wear. The really horrid ones have been set aside to go to the tip. Then he emptied his wardrobe upstairs and went through a pile of jumpers and tops that he doesn’t wear – they’re too short, or too small, or he doesn’t wear them…There were a few I was tempted to appropriate, until I remembered I had loads of clothes and these were going to people who were going to struggle to get through the winter. We took five bags of stuff across to M for him to take – including some hats and scarves which we don’t wear now.

Good Thing #3: While we were there M gave us an orange box full of peaches and one full of apples. To be honest, I think he was glad to be getting rid of them! So I skinned, chopped and sorted out the bruised bits from all the peaches, and made several freezer boxes full of peach compote/purée. Then Mr FD peeled and cored about half the apples – the other half were too damaged and bruised to be used. We could have gone through and picked and chopped the good bits but we already have boxes of stewed apple in the freezer and there’s a limit to how much one needs. But the leftovers are at least going to the composting bin at the tip.

Good Thing #4: I’ve prepared dinner for the Poor Cats. I fed them on Wednesday, and I’m due to feed them today as well. I used up some refused food from our Not-So-Poor Cats, plus a couple of tins of fairly cheap cat food. This gets mixed with hot water and a load of biscuits, which then makes a good mash for them to eat. Over the weekend I hope to also use some polystyrene sheets that Friend Richard gave me, to insulate their shed. I’m going to Emmaus with Friends Richard & Cathy, so I’ll see if I can pick up some cheap duvets/ blankets to help make the shed warmer for the winter.

Even though I didn’t get to do my ironing as I had hoped to do, we both feel that we’ve done Good and Useful Things today!


Act N°15 (2017): Influence & N°16: Beyond

Hello everyone. This is a catch up of the last two days’ Acts.


The prompt reads: We all have influence, even if we’re not aware of it. It’s not something reserved for limelight seekers. Influence is simply the impact we have on others that changes how they feel or act. Think about the areas of your life where you have a voice that’s listened to. You might be naturally sociable and have a wide network of friends, or have a close group of those who trust you. Wherever your influence is, use it wisely and generously today.

And the challenges were:

Not sure you have much influence in other people’s lives? Think about who you interact with on a daily, or weekly basis. How do you behave around them or on social media? Are there things you need to change? Could you make more of a conscious effort to engage with others more meaningfully?

It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of large scale injustice or to switch off when it comes to national or international events. But you have influence that reaches much further than just those in your day-to-day. Take stock of what you feel passionate about. Can you write a letter, add your name to a campaign, share something on social media? Don’t file it away for later – do it now.

If you really want to go all out, publicise your cause/charity with an event. It may not happen today or this week, but you can get the ball rolling with inviting a speaker, and researching a venue. Make a big noise, and create some community memories to boot.

And you can read the whole meditation over here


I didn’t really have time to think about this yesterday, and even now, having given it a bit of thought, I am not sure quite what to make of it. I am aware of the influence I have – especially as a Lay Reader/Worship Leader and a teacher, and as a blogger – but I’m not quite sure about what that might mean in terms of interaction…I may need to unpack that a little more.

However, I have discovered that I am eligible to sign online petitions (or so it seems) with Amnestry International. When we moved to France AI told me I could no longer be a member of AI UK, & would have to join the French AI…which I never did. However, following a link from FB, I discovered several online petitions I could sign. So I did.

The other thing worth thinking about is the crowdfunding project for today. The “blurb” reads:16 million people in East Africa are on the brink of starvation and urgently need food, water and medical treatment. Today, we can all influence how this story unfolds.

The Disasters Emergency Committee launched their East African Crisis appeal on Wednesday. Their member charities are already delivering life-saving assistance in all affected countries. But, they need more money to help reduce the scale and severity of the crisis. When disaster strikes, Stewardship givers are often some of the first to respond.

Yes, I will donate here too. This is the influence that I have.


The prompt today read: Jesus didn’t settle for ‘just enough’ or the wine at the wedding would have been drinkable rather than top quality. So today, scale it up! Don’t measure out the generosity – go large.

The challenges were:

Has someone done you a good turn lately? Go out of your way to thank them with an extra twist of appreciation. Tell someone what a great job they’re doing – just because. Your turn for the washing up? Do the drying up too.

What does today hold for you? Watch out for generous opportunities and then knock it out the park for good measure. Find a way to bless someone over and above.

What’s the most extravagant present you’ve ever been given? If you went the whole hog, no expense spared, what similar thing could you do today for someone you know? This doesn’t have to be financial – use your imagination to be extravagant – but think creatively with whatever resources you have.

You can read the whole mediation over here.

So – what did I get up to?

Well, here’s a clue:

Mr FD is in Germany at the moment, celebrating his Uncle’s 85th Birthday. This past week, despite not working, and saying he’d do some cleaning  Mr FD didn’t, and the house has been looking a bit yucky, so I had been planning to do the cleaning today. But, oh, boy, was I resentful about it…?! Grumble, grumble, he should do it, it’s not fair etc.

But, with this challenge in mind, and Rend Collective on the CD player, I found that my mood changed and lifted. Instead of being grumpy, and thinking “Mr FD should be doing this” I became glad to be doing it so that he wouldn’t have to. (I do hope he notices & says thank you, though!!) I also did more than I’d been planning to do. It had been going to be a lick and a promise… (…that Mr FD would bloody well do it when he got home) but in fact I got right down to it. Three Rend Collective CDs later, the big downstairs room, the kitchen, dining room and sitting room are clean & tidy, and the first staircase cleared of fluff. Oh boy, the fluff!!!

Tomorrow I’ll be doing the second staircase, the landing, the cat trays and the bedroom & study. But my back is really rather painful, so I can’t do anymore now. Hot water bottle and a painkiller are – I hope! – working their magic.

I also want to thank M. Khodri, at ILS, for helping me feel a lot less panic stricken about a piece of bureaucracy and a nasty form to fill in. He was very kind, and helpful. I’m not sure what I can do – probably I will write a Thank You card – but I really appreciate what he did.

Lend With Care – help me choose!

For a couple of years I have been interested in this charity, but never done anything about it! A blogging acquaintance who lives quite near us, Keith, has even written a guest post about it during 40 Acts in 2014.

Here I reproduce his words, so you know what the charity does:

I spent a couple of years during the early 1980s living and working in Africa, specifically in Nigeria in the west and Tanzania in the east. I recently saw a comment from one of my on-line friends, who told of his decision to become involved in a micro-financing initiative with Care International. I looked at the web site ( and immediately found that I could make a difference to a family in Africa – shades of bicycle fundi. If you ask me really nicely, I shall go into what that means and, more particularly, what it means to me, at a later date.

When in Nigeria, I was often overwhelmed by the number of beggars in the streets. Clearly, I couldn’t help all of them. Were I to give one cent to each of a hundred beggars, it would have had no impact, but if I gave a Naira to one man, it would have enabled him to buy a meal. That would have made a difference, and that is part of the reason I support Lendwithcare.

For a small investment, which will be repaid, provided the business doesn’t fail, we can contribute to the success of a small entrepreneur in Africa (or Asia, or South America) and help that person to lift a family out of poverty. When the loan is repaid, it can immediately be applied to another applicant. This arrangement appeals to me on two levels:

  1. This is not buying a man a fish, this is not even teaching a man to fish; this is lending a man the money to buy fishing tackle – he already knows how to fish, and
  2. We know whom it is helping.

When you sign up with Lendwithcare, you have access to a list of people who need funding. Behind each individual or group is a story, explaining what the person or group is aiming to do, how much cash they need to do it, and what the prospective outcome is. That makes it personal, and that’s good.

Loan amounts start at only £15. You will be told when the loan you are helping to provide is fully funded and there will be a repayment schedule. Repayments will be made to your account with Lendwithcare, from where you can use it to make another loan, donate it to Lendwithcare to help with their running costs, or transfer it back to your own bank.

We are, so far, helping three people: two men in Togo, one of whom wishes to grow his small vehicle spares business, the other needs to repair his truck so he can get back to work and provide for his family; and a lady in Ecuador, who wishes to expand her small grocery store to include a restaurant. When those three repay, that money can be re-circulated back to three new entrepreneurs – it just keeps on working.

Although we applaud, and support, other charities, none gives us quite the personal involvement that this one does. It goes beyond “your money will help people like Jim”, and says “your money will help Jim”. I commend it to anyone who will listen.

Every year, Keith and his wife Clare, offer some gift vouchers for people to take part in supporting an entrepreneur. I was lucky enough to receive one this year, & pledged that I would match it. So I have two lots of £15 to invest, and I’d like my readers to be involved.

I have chosen 6 possible people to invest in – I’d like people to help me choose by saying who they think I should support.


Mr. Sokhom is 38 years old.  He is married and has two children, 9 and 11 years old.  They are at school. Sokhom lives in Kamrieng District of Battambang Province and grows ed cassava on ten hectares. In ten months he will get a yield of 30 tons per hectare. He has been farming cassava for the last 10 years and he knows there is ongoing demand. He hires around 30 villagers to assist him on planting and chopping the cassava root and each of them earns $5 a day.  Sokhom is applying for a loan to purchase commercial fertilizer, pesticide, weed killer, ploughing costs (one hectare costs $100) and to pay wages of the 30 villagers he hires.



Gloria Angamarca lives in the community of La Esperanza, Cantón Ibarra. She is married and has two adult daughters who have families of their own now as well. Gloria has been making roof tiles for houses for 20 years now, with her husband as her business partner. Now, she is applying for a loan in order to start making special roof tiles with a special finish that are in high demand. She needs the loan in order to buy firewood as fuel for the oven and to hire two people who will help her daily. Gloria has managed over the years to build up and keep a large and varied client base who go to her with their needs, as other artisans don’t produce the same kind of tiles as her. Gloria is committed to paying back this loan in 18 months.



Pedro Ochoa lives in the neighbourhood of Santa Bertha in the Imbabura region. He lives with his wife and their 4 children. He is employed by a company as a bird feeder, but his salary is minimal, so he decided to start raising pigs as an additional income.
Pedro has requested a loan to be repaid over 18 months. He will invest $900 buying 16 piglets and $600 in feed for the animals. In 4 months they will be ready to sell, which will be a significant income for him. Pedro saw an opportunity to raise animals, and a few months ago built a trough for them. He hopes to continue raising them, expand the pig pen and save more capital.  What he wants is that his children can have a more promising future, and this is why he supports them in their studies.



Favour is a large group with 19 members, based in the Katete district of Eastern Zambia.  The average size loan for the women of this group is $205 USD.  They run small scale businesses like salaula (second hands clothes), selling shoes and grocery stalls. They started their businesses mainly to provide for their families including the provision of food and payment of school fees for their children. In most cases, the women care for orphans from deceased relatives or members of the community. (Malaria and HIV are the main causes of mortality in the region.) The group has accessed three loans from the MicroLoan Foundation and this will be their fourth loan. One of these women is Rachel Banda. She is 38 years old and has five children who go to school. She runs a grocery stall selling bathing soap, washing soap, sugar, assorted biscuits and assorted drinks. She would like this loan to top up on her business capital and order more stock for her grocery stall. She has found the MicroLoan Foundation training useful, in particular the section on setting savings goal. She believes it will help her achieve what she wants for her business. From the profits she hopes to build a house for her children.  the loan will be repaid in 6 months,



Abakorerahamwe CARE Group which can translate “Those who work together” is a voluntary savings and loan group created by Care Rwanda in 2012. The group is made of 25 members: 15 women and 10 men. The group needs this loan in order to buy more sheep and goats for resell, this way, the group members will have money to pay school fees for their children, and they will also buy seeds to do good farming. On average, the group members have five children.  Mrs Martha Uwizeyimana, a group member, (3rd lady from left to right in the picture, green dress with large flowers) explains that they came together after seeing positive change from her neighbours who had joined CARE Rwanda. She attended CARE’s financial literacy program and there, she met other actual group members. They started saving as small as $0.25/week. In the future, they would like to be a registered cooperative, and they would like the members to continue their income generating activities and pay health insurance and school fees for their children. They will repay the loan in six months



Ameer Hamza is 20 years of age and runs a tandoor (an oven usually made of bricks or clay, common in South Asian and Middle Eastern countries). He makes and sells naans and chapattis – locally eaten flat-breads – at the tandoori. He works from a shop that he owns and has been running the tandoori for almost two years. His monthly income is 17,000 Rupees ($162), on average. Ameer Hamza is single and lives with his parents and four siblings.  Two brothers and two sisters. Only his youngest sister is receiving education currently. His older brother also works with him at the naan shop. With the responsibility to provide for his parents and siblings, his monthly earnings are extremely insufficient to provide for them adequately. Hamza wants to expand his business by increasing his production of naans. However, he lacks an appropriate capital to invest in his business and has therefore requested a loan. He needs to buy additional quantities of all-purpose flour and other materials to increase his production of naans and chapattis. He is confident that he can manage to increase his sales and consequently his profits after improving his output. He promises to repay the loan in 17 installments.


So, I ask my readers to help me choose… If you’d like to name two of the candidates, that you think I should support in the comments section below, I will count up the “nominations” at the end of the month and I’ll invest in the most popular two. So please DON’T JUST “LIKE” THIS BLOGPOST: MAKE A COMMENT TOO!

Thank you for your help!

Down in the Jungle…

My niece Rose, and her husband Dave, came to stay with us for 5 days. It was lovely to see them, even though they spent quite a long time catching up on their sleep, as they have spent their honeymoon in the Jungle at Calais. After 6 weeks there, they were having a week’s break, before heading back to help some more.

I was leading the service yesterday, and so invited them to church to talk about what they have been doing, and to maybe raise a little money through a collection. Their words touched the wonderful congregation at Christ Church, who responded with an amazing donation of 315€!!!

I wanted to share with you what they said, and maybe convince my readers to find out more about what they can do.

Refugees have been trying to get to the UK from Calais for many years. The Sangatte refugee camp opened in Calais in 1999 and was home to thousands of people fleeing war and persecution. Sangatte was later closed down but an unofficial camp, named the ‘Jungle’ by the residents, has since formed. According to the September census, the camp is now home to 10,188 people which is an increase of 12% from the previous month. Research suggests that the camp is made up of people fleeing corrupt governments and/or war with the majority of refugees from Afghanistan, Sudan and Eritrea. There are also people from Ethiopia, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, amongst others.

According to the census, there are 1,179 minors currently in the jungle; 1,022 of them are unaccompanied. On average 11 children arrive each day. The youngest unaccompanied minor is only eight years old. Most of them are desperate to get to the UK. You may have heard that in the early hours of the 16th September, a 14 year old boy from Afghanistan died falling out of a lorry. He had the legal right to be reunited with his family in the UK but had lost hope given the length of time the process was taking. He tried to get into a lorry to the UK, slipped, and was killed in a hit and run. This was a 14 year child.

We have been working with Auberge des Migrants since 20 August. We had originally intended to volunteer for two weeks before beginning our honeymoon but the situation is such that, to date, we have felt unable to leave. Auberge des Migrants has been operating since 2009. They assist refugees in Calais and Dunkirk with food, material support, legal advice, and language lessons. They also work in Boulogne and Marquise to help people seeking asylum in France. The charity has a big operation – the warehouse volunteers receive and sort donations and make food ready for the camp teams to take in and distribute. The total number of volunteers at any one time fluctuates but there is a core team of approximately 70 long-term volunteers.

We have been based in the Welcome Caravan in the Jungle. Originally it was formed as the initial point of contact for refugees arriving into camp, providing tents, bedding and hygiene products, and sign-posting people to vital services. It has now evolved to carry out shelter repairs, and identify vulnerable people.

One of the most difficult parts of our job is saying no to people because of the lack of resources. This was particularly difficult after heavy rain a few weeks ago. A large proportion of the camp was flooded, with some parts of the camp knee deep in water. Tents and belongings were submerged. People, who had so little before, had now lost everything. We did what we could to support those who had lost their tents – finding them space with their friends or in the camp’s makeshift mosques and churches – but it did not feel like enough. It rarely does.

It is difficult seeing the conditions that people are living in, even when the weather holds out. One of the many heartbreaking stories I can share with you is of Khalid. He was one of four unaccompanied  children occupying a two man tent, which was torn all over and the zips no longer functioned. Given their age, I was able to replace their tent with a new, larger tent. After pitching the tent, Khalid turned to me, almost in disbelief, as he said ‘now we can all sleep at the same time.’ It turned out that the kids had been forced to sleep in shifts. As he entered his tent for the first time, my heart melted as he said under his breath ‘Hello new home’.

The situation seems to be worsening. Our limited resources are under-strain as we prepare for the threatened eviction. Hollande has suggested that the camp will be dismantled by January 2017 but unofficial reports suggest that it will happen as early as the 17 October. Some refugees will go to the accommodation centres that the government has promised to provide. However experience suggests that many people will not. In the last eviction, 129 children went missing and you can imagine what might have happened to them. Auberge des Migrants is now working hard to ensure that the refugees are prepared for the next eviction, that they know their rights, and that the eviction happens in a safe manner with support for all vulnerable people.

We are returning to the camp this week to support in Auberge’s efforts. A collection will be taken during the final hymn if you would like to donate to Auberge des Migrants. We will ensure that this money is spent on the items that are most urgently needed as people prepare for the eviction such as rucksacks, sleeping bags and tents for those refugees who are being forced to leave their makeshift homes just as winter is approaching. Alternatively, you can donate material goods or volunteer your time – just google Auberge des Migrants. There is a facebook page where you can provide phone credit to refugees – it is important for refugees to be able to keep in contact with their families and it is essential for children to be able to contact service providers. You can also see what is happening in your local area. After the evictions, many refugees will be dispersed across France. Groups are forming now to help welcome them wherever they end up.

Auberge des Migrants  (website in French) has been supporting all migrants, but Rose & David have been particularly concerned with the unaccompanied minors – that is to say youngsters under 16 who are there with no member of their extended family. They may have latched onto someone else, but there is no-one from their family with them. The youngest of these is 8 years old. Can you imagine what that child must be going through?

If you feel you can do anything to help, please do.

I was a stranger and you invited me in

I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

I just signed the petition, “United Nations, Leaders of all Nations: International humanitarian help and asylum to those fleeing the Syrian War.”

I think this is important. Will you sign it too?

Here’s the link:

or there’s this one:

God knows this is a terrible situation and I cannot imagine what world leaders can do. But there must be something. I cannot imagine what I can do – I don’t think I could offer my home to a refugee, but at least I can sign petitions, I can write to the Prime Minister, I can donate money… Here is a Facebook page which gives other ideas (or search on FB for “Refugees Welcome UK)

In my daily devotions book, Celtic Daily Prayer, there is this meditation by Rowan Williams:

The Cry to God as “Father”

in the New Testament

is not a calm acknowledgement

of a universal truth about

God’s abstract fatherhood.

It is the Child’s cry

out of a nightmare.

It is the cry of outrage,

fear, shrinking away,

when faced with the horror

of “the world”

-yet not simply or exclusively

protest, but trust as well,

Abba, Father

all things are possible to Thee….

I feel like a child who doesn’t understand why her toy is broken, but is handing to her Dad and saying “Mend it, please”. She doesn’t know how he can mend it, she doesn’t know what it needs to be mended, but she trusts that he can mend it.

In my prayers I don’t pretend to know how this horrific, terrible, desperate situation can be mended…but I hand it to my Father, and say “Mend it, Daddy,please.”

But I need to be aware that my Daddy may well ask me to help him to mend it.