LIGHT in the Lowlands
Reaching out to the people of Belgium and the Netherlands
Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:43-45
Dear brothers and sisters, family and friends,
As it has turned to Fall, so our activities change. The young people all go back to school, but the youth activities continue. Church members are back from vacation and we can meet and plan more regularly. All of Scott’s regular studies start up once again and some are added. These past two months have been no different.
It has been exciting to see how all sorts of activites can be used to let people know how good it is to be a child of God, to have God fully in our lives. Our annual street barbecue was such an opportunity. Our neighbors know that Scott is a sort of “priest” and are now also willing to listen to some of what he has to say. Church members invite their friends and family to birthday celebrations, but they also invite their spiritual family. This always brings up some interesting questions. At a concert for Karla Verheijen’s choir, she introduced Shirley and Scott as her brother and sister. This immediately led to a good discussion of what family means in the church. Several of the members of this choir have been watching Karla for some time, wondering about her faith. It is great to see how God uses his children, even when they are not aware of it.
It has also been great to see the church growing closer and encouraging one another through some difficult but exciting times. In September we all got together down at camp (in the Ardennes) for an afternoon of good fellowship. The weather started out fantastic and ended up in rain, but everyone concluded that it was definitely worth repeating. Our Wednesday evening Bible study has gotten fuller as the young people attend. Recently we decided to meet in two of our sister’s homes so that they are also able to take part. The first Wednesday “away” brought a very full livingroom to Geesie.
- water rats -
- enjoying time together -
You have also been praying for Ruud and Karla. In October, after having sent Ruud home with instructions to exercise and walk, the doctors discovered that his injury from the accident was worse than thought and that he shouldn’t have been walking and exercising! Thankfully, this has now been corrected with an operation to his hip and spine. Please continue to pray for a quick recovery.
I would like to take just a little space to tell you a little about Ruud and Karla. As mentioned above, Karla sings with a local choir. They know that she is different because when they sing for the local mass, she does not. In their village, everyone knows the troubles they have had with Ruud’s health. And still Ruud and Karla are positive, faithful people. This is something that is confounding some who know them and convicting others.
It is so important for us to continue being the children we are, to continue serving in all we do, no matter what is happening. We thank God for the opportunity to work with such examples of trust and faith in the face of such difficulties.
A few quick moments that typify the past two months:
- Stephan and Shareya, our “teen” members who have gotten 5 young people (their friends) to attend the upcoming Fall Camp on “Real Answers for Real Questions” (most of them have no church background)
- The young people asking good questions during the Wednesday study and offering good answers
- Gerard, one of Scott’s English studies, struggling with the idea of who he belongs to
- Singing with Listen Up! for a benefit concert where we were the only group to present the gospel - and seeing joy, frustration and confrontation in the audience.
Please keep the following in your prayers.
- Continue to pray for: Cor and Titia, Mali and Desiree, Mieke, Gerard and Angelique. Yvonne has been coming regularly - also to the ladies studies. Roger is struggling with his job situation. Pray as Ruud and Scott visit with him.
- Continue to pray for Ruud and Karla, our co-workers, as they struggle with Ruud’s rheumatism and pain. Ruud had a back operation in October and is recuperating. We thank God for the strength that they are to us and the church here.
- Praise God that our sister Shadira has found a school for her daughter, Camby. Now Shadira is also looking for a better job to help support her family.
Is this it?
Changing school can be pretty stressful, especially when you are moving up a notch. Both Sean and Stephan have had to shift into another gear in school this Fall. Sean is now in High School, studying Latin, Dutch, French and English alongside maths, sciences and history. Every once in a while he gets some P.E. At one point at the beginning of October he cried out, “Is this it? What’s the point to my life?” Stephan is in 10th grade, which adds a good bit of homework to the other years. Both have been able to settle into the routine just in time to enjoy the Fall holiday.
Have you just changed schools or classes? What difficulties have you experienced? What helps you make it through? Share your thoughts.
e-mail Stephan at: firstname.lastname@example.org
e-mail Sean at: email@example.com
ON THE FAMILY SIDE . . .
September and October are usually very busy months with all sorts of activities with the church, youth, camp and neighborhood. But we still find time to enjoy the beuaty of the season as well. At the same time we are struck with the images of what many of you are enduring. We are glad that we don’t have to experience that, but we hurt for what is happening to you. Still, we see the amazing love and strength that you have as well, helping one another as you recover from these disasters. It is so easy to become a bit immune to some of the images (especially this year with so many different disasters), but we don’t want that to happen. We try to make sure that we, as a family, do not forget that we can help, or how much we really have (while we sometimes complain).
Stephan is glad to finally have his braces off (yes, it has already been two years!). The first couple of times that we saw him smile we were absolutely shocked - he has teeth! His smile has always been absolutely wonderful (Scott has a song about him as a baby with a “slimy smile”, still wonderful) and it is great to be able to see it again. As usual he is interested in lots of different things including: anything Japanese, breakdancing, guitar, bmx bikes, samurai swords and computers. His teacher at school even gave him a cd-rom to learn Japanese. He has tried out some moves for breakdancing and is working out almost every day tobeef up. His guitar playing has already progressed pretty well (as he is teaching himself, learning from Scott, from friends and from the internet ) and he can play some 12 chords.
Sean started out the school year with braces and a really tough time (see Kid’s Korner). He still needs to have four more teeth pulled before his mouth is completely ready for the braces, but he has already started on the top. He is still crazy about soccer and uses every opportunity to play. Most recently he has really become interested in being the goalie. When he plays with his school friends at “the field” (a field in the neighborhood with some goals), none of his friends can get a goal past him. Even when he plays Scott in the backyard (as if that were more difficult!), he dives into the air to stop ever shot. We have stopped being surprised by the color of his knees when he returns from “the field”.
Both boys are continuing their ping-pong. Stephan has had several tournaments already and is progressing up the rankings. Sean has had fewer opportunities, but is also doing quite well. They are both still bothered that they are “non-classified”, but their time will come.
Scott and Shirley have also been keepng themselves healthy. They walk five kilometers every morning together along the canal behind their house. They now know every boat that usually travels those waters, as well as aal the bikes that usually pass them while walking. They have even helped a fisherman twice to photograph a huge fish (32 kg.) he had caught in the night. More importantly, they also get some good exercise. This is nothing new for Shirley, who has always walked, but it has helped Scott quite a bit (who usually sits: behind the computer, with people in a study, in the car on the way somewhere etc).
What’s coming up?
Preparation for Listen Up! concert
- For the communion cups - we have been able to use the traveling set when visiting Ruud in the hospital
- For your prayers and emails to encourage us in our work here.
It is VERY good to be healthy and in such a beautiful place. Please look at and enjoy all the fantastic blessings you have in your life, no matter how small they may seem.
Love in Him,
Stephan and Sean Raab