Sunday, November 27, 2005


Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Most holidays have been hijacked by merchandising (talk about terrorism!), but Thanksgiving doesn’t have that much to sell. How can you sell thankfulness? I wonder if Europe will soon try to do something with it. Lately Halloween has made its entry into holidays here in Belgium and the Netherlands. It’s a bit like Carnaval and you can sell costumes, gifts, books and food. Not that anyone pays attention to what the holiday is for – it is just an opportunity to sell or buy.

In the Netherlands and Belgium we celebrate “Sinter Klaas”, the birthday of St. Nicholas on 5 or 6 December. This is the time to give gifts to children. Or at least it always was. Christmas was not a time for gifts, but was purely a religious holiday (and two days worth!). Now the stores have adopted Santa Claus (although they politely wait until after December 6) and sell gifts from Halloween until Christmas. I know that most of you in the States have to put up with this on an even greater scale. At least we have Sinter Klaas to slow some of it down for a bit (am I sounding like a grumpy old man?).

Thanksgiving was always a time for family and good fellowship as I remember it. We would play badminton outside (Fall wind making it nigh to impossible, but still somehow fun) and visit with family and friends while sharing food and football. Since Europe doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, it takes some doing to get it done over here. We usually get together with Americans and Canadians (who also celebrate Thanksgiving, but on another day – even another month!) and anyone who likes the idea of Thanksgiving (which is a surprisingly? large group of people). Since most of us can’t get off on a Thursday, it is usually a weekend in the neighborhood of Thanksgiving – which usually ends up being in December. But this year it is only two days away from the “real” Thanksgiving.

Even more exciting for us is that we were able to visit with family on the very day. We called Scott’s sister where most of Scott’s family was congregated and talked a good while on the phone. We are very thankful for telephones, for houses where everyone can get together, for cars that get people to where they need to be – oh and for all that good food. We didn’t get to see (hear) everyone – Mike and Amy and the kids couldn’t make it due to sickness, we had to call at a “normal” time for us which was 10:30 p.m. and not everyone had arrived yet (only 2:30 p.m in CO) – but it was good to talk to some.

We have learned in our years together how good it is to have family all over the world. We will be spending time this year on Thanksgiving with our family as well, brothers and sisters. That is an amazing gift and we are going to enjoy it tremendously – even after Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Do you want to test your faith, test your relationship, test your bladder? Then have I got the thing for you. For many, the title of this article won’t mean quite the same as what it screams to anyone who speaks Dutch (or Flemish). You could call it “opportunity” if you were an optimist. Most people just call it frustrating.

On the way to a church get-together in Antwerp (a short hour’s drive away), which would be combined with a youth get-together and film before a sleepover, we experienced the wisdom of road works (this is the one thing that seems to work the same the world over – why can’t this kind of synchronicity be achieved for world hunger?). Those who can (and do) decide, decided to resurface a section of highway precisely where two highways merge. So traffic was cut from six lanes to one and we were offered a unique opportunity (wanting to be an optimist) to work on our faith and relationships (the bladder work was for free). The last 20 minutes of our journey took three and a half hours.

You know the thoughts:
“Who does that guy driving down the shoulder think he is?”
“Why doesn’t this guy in front of me move faster?” (followed by the question from the backseat, “Why aren’t we moving faster?”)
“Why are we stopped – what could they be doing?”
“Why didn’t I get in THAT lane?” (followed shortly by the question from the backseat, “Why don’t we get in that lane?” )
“So glad we stayed in THIS lane!” (approximately 5 minutes after the previous question)

And of course the various attempts to keep things going – games, conversations, music, jokes (What color is one white refrigerator? What about 5000 white refrigerators? And 50? And two? What does a cow drink? – GOTCHA!). And finally we start moving. At this point – as we are zooming past the other cars because we are able to exit - the comment comes, “I bet they all now wish they were going to church!”

We were glad to make it safely, together. Learned a lot too. (Next time stop at the toilet when you get a chance!).

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Daily blessings

We are so blessed! This morning as we went walking along the canal we were accompanied by a beautiful impressionistic sunrise welcoming the day. Within an hour the the clouds had covered up, the temperature dropped and the rain began to fall – all part of Autumn weather. That glimpse of sun, the peace and beauty along the canal, are like all the seemingly inconsequential glimpses of God in our lives that remind us that He is still there, still working and still making things beautiful and complete.

- Shirley and Mieke -

It is this realization that we try to share regularly with some of the people we study with as well. Scott and Shirley both offer English lessons reading the Bible. It is so exciting to see how God can speak through these simple words, the story of His life on earth.

- Cor and Titia at English lessons -

And it’s exciting to wonder how God is going to use us that day as we talk about the things we have read. We are not only sharing God’s word, we are also sharing our lives. It’s so good to know that God is mighty, because sometimes we feel so incomplete.

- Ladies study -

But at the end of the day we are able to enjoy the time we have together. Isn’t it amazing how good it can be to just eat dinner together? Sean can laugh up a storm and infect you with his giggle. We can share a bit of what is happening in the day and know that the next day is going to be good – because God will be there again. It’s just a day, just little things.

- 'Don't try this at home!' -

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Although blogs are for current news, this one wasn’t started until recently, so for this once we will give you some old news. Both the boys have had their birthdays and are enjoying the new year that God has blessed them with.

In September Sean turned 12. His birthday always falls on the first day of school and this year was no different. What was different was the school. Sean has left elementary things behind. He is now going to high school. (Here the middle school and high school are combined). He used to walk to school, now he bikes – in wind and weather, rain and sun. Thankfully he travels with some friends and we know that Stephan has survived this trip for the last four years.

- Off to school -

On his birthday Sean got his “gsm” (a mobile phone) that he had been wanting for a while. This one has a camera and ringtones and all those nice things. He is not allowed to use it while at school (from the school rules), but enjoys looking at it with his friends. He pays for the calls and is already aware of how quickly your bell credit can disappear.

- Sean's gsm -

In October Stephan celebrated his 16th birthday. Everyone who calls our home has long noticed his voice change. Recently one of our friends was wondering which strange man was calling for her daughter – but it was Stephan. His braces have come off and we are at times astonished by his brilliant smile.

- Stephan's guitar arrives! -

While Stephan has a variety of interests, he has most recently been working on learning to play guitar. One of his school friends plays electric guitar and Stephan wanted to get started. So with some birthday money and working hard he was able to get a guitar and amp for a great deal. It arrived after his birthday but still during the vacation (we have a week of vacation the first week of November). Although we all enjoy hearing him play, we are also glad that he can plug it into headphones to play – keep the neighbors happy.

- Jammin' -

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Fall Camp 2005

-The whole group-

The last weekend of October is always our Fall Camp weekend. We warn everyone coming that they will have to be prepared for some cold weather and wet conditions. This year we were treated to three days that were better than some that the summer camp weeks had! Beautiful temperatures and wonderful colors – and that all with a great group!

- enjoying wonderful weather -

The theme was “Real answers for real questions” and it was a real challenge to get things ready. It was so interesting to see what questions are really important to this group (all older than 12 years old). This weekend also brought us quite a few new faces. Some of them were familiar with the Bible, but others were completely unfamiliar. It has been exciting to see how our young people are also excited about bringing others along to their activities, learning about God together.

- getting to know one another -

Luk Brazle and I worked on the first major questions of “Why did God make me?” and “How can God exist in a world with so much suffering?”. Later Paul Brazle looked at where heaven and hell are and how to trust God with your worries. All good questions that touch a concern with the young people who were there.

In between questions and answers there was plenty of time to hang out, play some ping pong, take a walk in the woods or enjoy the fields. We spent some time getting to know each other (with toilet paper!), and a campfire was attempted and lasted for about 5 minutes. When I returned to pick up some of the young people I saw them rolling down a hill and simply enjoying the time together. We are so glad that we have this opportunity to work with our young people. God can do so much in seeking hearts.

- building on relationships -

Thanks for your prayers. Keep asking your questions and looking for the answers where they can really be found. Like we told the young people in these weekend: Don’t be afraid to follow the evidence and be honest.
In Him, Scott