Sunday, December 25, 2005

Snuffle market

There are no garage sales in Belgium and the Netherlands. For one thing, most people don’t have garages. As a matter of fact, I remember when we lived in Antwerp (when we first arrived) seeing garages for rent. But they do have “snuffelmarkten” – what we might call flea markets. Mostly these are inside, but the idea is the same – sniff around and see what treasures you can find. Sometimes you can really find a good deal for something very special.

- home -

Well we have made a good deal. “Snuffles” was taken in by the humane society and we were looking for a dog. We actually were looking at another dog, but this one fit the bill – at least once we met her. She is 5 years old, knows all the regular commands (for which we don’t have to do any work) and is very obedient. Some people might have thought she was a bad deal (we thought the same at first) because she is “blind”. Actually she is not blind (we figured that out very quickly – you can’t fool her very easily), but she does have tunnel vision, which she has had since birth. She doesn’t know this is a ‘handicap’ (good lesson for us) and acts like any other dog.
- how Snuffles sees us -

Those of you who know us know that we have always wanted a dog (especially the boys), but it was not practical, due to our working schedule (lots of days gone, some summers completely in the States) and cost. We are in a different situation now (boys older, well able to stay home with the dog) and decided before the summer to start looking. We are glad that we found this treasure. We called her “Snuffles” because that is what she does all the time – and she has also found us. A good deal all around.
- Snuffles doing what she does best -

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Making the most of the season

One of the nice things about this season is the time that we can share with one another in creative ways.

- spending time together -
For several years now the ladies of the congregation get together to make holiday pieces (not used just for Christmas – I noticed recently that there is some kind of discussion about this in the States). They invite their friends and neighbors, we plunder our backyard and the container park (the place where everyone takes their trash, but also their cuttings from their yard – free green stuff!), and everyone brings some creaitive stuff (you know- glue, glitter, ribbons and rhymes) and they spend a morning together talking, being creative and getting to know one another. They end the day with a prayer together.

- backyard plunder -

- fun and friendship -

At home we have a tradition of making Christmas cookies as our Christmas cards. We don’t do cards (you will have noticed that through the years) mostly because of the cost in the beginning (and our monthly newsletter took the place of many people’s year-end news). But for the people we know in the village or in Maastricht we like to let them know that we are thinking about them. So we make cookies, wrap them special and bring them around. Most people are not used to home-baked cookies for one, and the gesture is especially appreciated. This year Sean had his friend Wouter over after the last day of exams – so Wouter helped out too.

- cookie cards -
I would be interested in any traditions you have in your house that involve creativity (doesn’t have to be Christmas).


Tuesday, December 20, 2005


- hard at work -
In most students’ eyes exams are a period of really hard work, no fun, no friends until it is over. This is about the same for me except that I like the exam periods sometimes. You study a subject on Monday for Tuesday and you’re home on Tuesday by the afternoon. This actually gives you a lot of time to study for the next day, which means you have a lot of time for yourself to read a book or play on the xbox, ps2 ...

- extracurriculur study helps -

I don’t know how exam periods are in the States, but I guess they’re about the same as here. Most Belgian high schools have three exam periods a year: 1) around Christmas 2) around Easter and 3) around the end of the school year. But my school is a little different. We only have exams twice a year (1 and 3).

- the dangers of studying "in the season" -
If your exam period is different and you would like to tell us about it, you can always write and email to us!


Sunday, December 18, 2005


December 11th was a Sunday like any other day except it happened to be my birthday. My 45th birthday at that. Now I am middle-aged, at least by the world’s standards – maybe I’ve been that for years. Strange, I don’t feel middle-aged.

- attitude -
Maybe because it is not an age but an attitude and I am not quite ready to settle for that. Maybe no one is ever ready for it. The years do seem to go by so quickly – maybe that’s just a metaphysical thing. If things go fast enough you don’t age inside, like in space?

But I am looking forward to the years still to come with my family and those I love. And maybe someday I will be ready for middle-age.

- In her prime -

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Christmas Easter

It’s Tuesday morning and I have had a day to recover from the weekend of singing (which is more than the others have had – I have a flexible schedule, they all have to go right back to work!). It was great to sing for so many different people (350+) in the various cities. We always want to touch people with the GREAT news of life in Jesus with these concerts as well as give the churches an opportunity to let God use them in reaching out to their friends and family.

- getting ready -
A few impressions from the various concerts:
- The Hague was a dress rehearsal and no one was quite sure who would show up. Over 60 people show up on a freezing night - some of the church members, but also people who have no idea who the church is. Two women came early and sat in the back corner (don’t know what kind of group this is after all), but listening eyes and open conversation in the coffee break.
- Haarlem had its largest group yet. Rob invited so many from his work (a school where he teaches and parents from the after-school daycare). They enthousiastically discuss the concert during the coffee break and afterwards. The volunteer caretaker of the church building (a Catholic building in downtown Haarlem) who stays to pray with us as we get ready to leave after packing everything in.

- concert in Maastricht -
- Maastricht is held in a church building in the middle of the town square which is now VERY busy with a “Winterland” including a skating rink and ferris wheel. The building fills with a varied group of students, tourists and friends of the members. Stephan and Sean’s first grade teacher arrives with her husband and sister. Marjon brings an 80-year-old woman she cares for who thoroughly enjoys the song. Ruud’s parents, who continue to hold God at arms length, drive all the way down to be at the concert. The caretaker of this church building joins our prayer as we leave. “I will come by your church in January. I really want to see what kind of group you are.”

- good news in Maastricht -
- The concert in Antwerp is held in a LARGE, modern cathedral. After the concert a man in his 70’s explains how touched he was. “That you mixed the two stories – Christmas and Easter. Yes, of course they belong together, but this is the first time that I have heard them put together. And suddenly I realized – of course they belong together. Wonderful!”

- concert in Antwerp -
It was great in Maastricht to see how the whole church got together to make sure that everything went well. We decorated, prepared, and set up the building before the concert. During the concert the young people helped out where needed and talked to the visitors. Everyone kicked in on this cold Saturday evening. On Sunday morning several of the visitors to the concert were present in our worship to the Lord. We all pray that God will continue to use us as He wants here.

- Joël and Sean help set up in Maastricht -
This coming weekend we have two more concerts coming up. Both places in the past have brought people who are seriously searching for God. We look forward to what God will be doing on those days (Friday evening and Sunday afternoon).

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Concert rush

This weekend Listen Up! (the singing group I sing with to preach the gospel) starts its Christmas concerts. It's Saturday and we have already finished two concerts - one in The Hague and one in Haarlem. By the end of next week we will have sung 6 times and covered most of Belgium and the Netherlands. While it is extremely stressing to get everything ready, it is so good to see how such a concert can help touch people's hearts!
We originally planned these concerts to let people see (and hear) that this season, when we hear a lot about Jesus, is about more than a little baby. So we sing about "CHRIST" always - about his birth, his life, his death and his resurrection. So many of the people we know in our various cities (the five members of the group come from four different cities) would not usually come to listen to someone speak about Jesus. But they will come to hear us sing. And you can see and hear how the message touches them.
Tonight we will sing in Maastricht - our home turf. Please keep this in your prayers. I'll come back with some pictures and more news in a few days - after I have had a chance to sleep a little bit (glad I can talk to you like this without having to use my voice!)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

November Newsletter

Light in the Lowlands
Reaching out to the people of Belgium and the Netherlands

November 2005

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:8-10

Dear brothers and sisters, family and friends,
For “current” news
Those of you who have a computer and would like to keep up on what’s happening we have begun a blog at: I am trying to update this at least once a week and it often includes pictures. We look forward to “seeing” you there. For those without computers, I am so sorry that we cannot be closer, but we so enjoy all of the contact we are able to have through your letters, cards and phone calls.
Preaching and teaching

We are so thankful for the opportunities that God continues to give us to talk about how great He is. I have mentioned before that I have never considered myself a preacher. I am trained as a teacher and enjoy that type of contact and interaction. But God has been able to use me here as a preacher as well! I always have to think of Mozes and his reluctance to speak. God said that He, God, had made Mozes’ mouth and knew whether he could talk or not. This month I trusted God once again as I spoke at “home” in Maastricht as well as one Sunday in The Hague. I am not often gone on a Sunday, but it was good to see the members in the Hague once again and be encouraged by their faith as well.
In Maastricht my studies with Gerard, Cor and Titia and Mieke continued as did the Wednesday studies with the members and regular visits to the Bible study with the international students. It has been exciting to see how the young people are growing in knowledge and faith during our Wednesday studies. This month has also been a time of prayer - it is sooo good to hear young people pray when they know what is going on. Please include them in your needs! God has taught me so much through them.
Church news

You have also been praying for Ruud and Karla. Ruud was finally able to come home after about a month in the hospital. He now has several more pieces of metal in his hips and may be getting more soon. Continue to pray as he continues to struggle with the pain and the desire to do more - which he cannot do.
And still, it is this family’s love for God that has continued to shine. Ruud knows his priorities and doesn’t want to miss any time with God’s family. So he is present, even if it takes some extra effort. His daughters realize that it is now time for them to lend their strength as well (and that they have strength!) None of us would say that we want adversity, but it is so amazing to see what God can do with it.
It was also exciting to see how Nel used her birthday as an opportunity to show people God’s love and grace. She invited friends and family to worship with the church here. We sang, prayed, worshipped, drank coffe and tea, had a great lunch together and shared as a family does. This continues to touch the people in Nel’s life who do not know God.

- Nel's birthday -

Most of the month has been spent in preparation for the concert on the 10th of December. We have five other concerts in addition to the one in Maastricht, but this one is of course special for us.

It has been especially exciting because we know that several of our neighbors will be attending. This is a real opportunity to speak of the good news. We pray that this will continue into the new year as well. Continue to pray that we will speak as God gives us opportunity, not only in word but in all that we do.

Please keep the following in your prayers.
- Continue to pray for: Cor and Titia, Mali and Desiree, Mieke, Gerard and Angelique. Yvonne and Roger continue to come regulalry. Pray that they can seriously consider putting their trust in God who continues to help them. Pray also for Noël and Anita.

- Cor and Titia -

- Continue to pray for Ruud and Karla. Ruud had back surgery but is struggling with the rehabilitation. He may need some more pins put in. We thank God for the strength that they are to us and the church here.
- Pray for the contacts that will be made during the concert on December 10. Many of our friends and neighbors will be present and will hear the gospel in song. Pray that we can continue to present this good news.

Hit it!
Both Sean and Stephan are in a ping-pong club (‘table tennis’ to be formal). They practice twice a week and started competitions this Fall. Both of the guys are non-ranked players. The next rank up is an E6. When the guys go to a competition, it may be with kids their own age, but it could just as well be with adults (who are either non-ranked or Esomethings).
In the most recent competition Stephan was able to win all of his games. He even won two against two E6’s., so he is pretty happy. Sean has also started winning and is enjoying the competitions.
What sports do you play in a club? What sports do you like to play at home? Lte us know.
e-mail Stephan at:
e-mail Sean at:

On the family side . . .

It didn’t seem possible, but some of November was better, weather-wise, than the summer months. We were all walking around with short sleeves and enjoying the beauty of the Fall colors at the same time. But this is Belgium and it is November, so of course we finally landed in Fall (and almost fell directly into Winter ;-). We have also watched anxiously as the weather has hit some of you quite hard and have prayed for your safety and strength. It is so encouraging to see how children of the King reach out quickly and completely - thanks for the example!
This month Scott got an opportunity once again to read a book at the community library. He is one of several “readers” who on special days read book sout loud for children who come to the library. This time he chose a book about the Fall and one about givng. Since ‘Sinter Klaas’ was just around the corner (St. Nicolas’ birthday is December 6 and is celebrated as the day to give gifts to children), a book about real giving was fun. Don’t know if it is in English, but the story was called “The red package” and was great fun to read for the kids.
Stephan regularly visits the library and gets some books on any new topic that has taken his fancy. Recently he has renewed his interest in chess once again. He watched “Searching for Bobby Fischer” (great movie if you’ve never seen it). borrowed a computer chess player fromRuud,and got out the chessboard to play with Sean. Not that he has much time right now. Both he and Sean are rounding up and getting ready for exams in December. Lots of homework and studying. Still, one has to take a break every once in a while.

- study time -

When Sean takes a break it is to play soccer. We have always beenthankful for our livingroom. It is actually two rooms which, since we have our furniture in such a way as to create a long section, is perfect for simple soccer games. Of course a real ball is of limits, but a little, soft ball only helps develop your dribbling skills. So whenever he gets a chance (and Papa can make the time) he shoots a few goals or plays a quick game. He is still planning on becoming a professional soccer player. At the moment, however, he is enjoying livingroom soccer (don’t try this at home unless you have your parents’ permission!)

- home soccer -

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 was 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 have learned how good it is to have family all over the world. That is an amazing gift and we are going to enjoy it tremendously – even after Thanksgiving!

- For the comments and emails on the blog
- For your prayers encouragement
- For your continued support without which we could not continue!

What’s coming up?
Christmas concerts
Church family get-together
Concert follow-up
Youth weekend in Haarlem
Camp meeting