Thursday, December 28, 2006

Early Christmas

Early Christmas
Originally uploaded by sraabs.
We received some special presents from Yayoi and "Mama", Ken Yamashita's sister and mother. We met them this past summer before Ken's wedding. It was a wonderful time of new relationships and challenging conversations (we don't speak Japanese and "Mama" doesn't speak English). These beautiful cups and some delicious Japanese candy made a great start to the Christmas day. Now we just have to translate the letter we also received - and we're looking forward to it!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Learn Dutch!

Just ran into this over on Joel Muller's site. Amazing! If you want to learn Dutch, here are all the makings. Go here and have fun.

End-of-year summary

Click here to download a pdf version of our end-of-year letter with pictures. You can also simply read it here on the site and click on the pictures to view more of our pictures.

Listen Up! spent most of the year trying to finish up recording their second CD.
They spent 14 trips to the studio to record 12 songs with 5 voices.
In the meantime they also performed 3 times during the year.

Are we confused yet?

Sean visited the physical therapist, the hospital, the doctor and the orthodontist more than 20 times this year. Of course most of those were his trip to the physical therapist. Sean’s leg started growing faster than the rest of his body which gave him a bit of pain. Now his body has caught up!
His soccer injuries were definitely not to be ignored either. He had to have a finger x-rayed and a sonogram for his leg after being kicked inappropriately. Mind you, we were VERY HAPPY that we were able to get him into soccer at all. He is now recovered from his most recent injury to his ribs. We’ll see what comes next.

The number of young people in total who were present at the 7 youth weekends, 5 camp weeks or weekends, and 6 youth days.
These young people came from at least 10 different cities from all around Belgium and the Netherlands.
The weekends were held in four different cities and organized by the various local congregations and a ‘youth team’ which Scott helps with.

Kickstart weekend

Bridegrooms and brides were also part of our year in 2006. We are far from celebrating any of this for our own children (at least, that’s what we hope!), but our family is broader than our blood relatives. We were pleased to take part in or celebrate in a special way 3 very special weddings this year.
Björn and Stephanie were students in Maastricht when they were part of the church here. We are so pleased to be able to see them continuing to grow in the Lord and together. Ken Yamashita is our Dutch-Japanese brother. He married his Dutch sweetheart, Elizabeth, and we were able to meet his mother and sister in the weekend of the ceremony. Paul and Iva married in Prague, but Listen Up! was pleased to be able to sing for their reception when they returned to the Netherlands.
Ken and Elizabeth's wedding

LESSons were a major part of the year, as with each year. Lessons for the Wednesday evening studies with the congregation, for youth weekends, for camp weeks, for studies with international students for the PEL and for outreach.

In this year we spent at least 88 hours reading and studying the Bible in English. Scott and Shirley both take time to meet regularly with people who are interested in bettering their English using the Bible. Scott also volunteers teaching a beginning English course at the Red Cross center for asylum seekers (refugees).

23 The number of meetings in which Scott has taken part as member, secretary or chair. Some are more interesting than others, of course. There are meetings to decide how the Bible camp will be run and better used. There are organizations where Scott takes part in the local community (school and local newspaper). And there are meetings with the brothers to help decide where we are going.

We distributed 5000 FLYers in the neighborhood of our meeting place while we enjoyed the company of three Canadian students and their supervisor. From these cards we had 7 good visitors to our course on “Getting to know the Bible.” We will be repeating this course in 2007, so keep this in your prayers.

But numbers only tell a part of the story, as you all know.

year was pretty much dominated by the struggle around playing soccer. Early in 2006 his body was protesting against all the growing going on. His legs and knees were always hurting and Sean worried that he might never get to play soccer. After working with a physical therapist to loosen up his joints, things were looking up, until the Fall when we realized that his team in Belgium would be playing games on Sunday mornings. But in the end, we were able to find a team in Maastricht - the Dutch teams play on Saturdays. This hasn’t stopped the pain (see “Ouch” on the other page), but has increased the pleasure of being able to play.

This year for Stephan has pretty much been a year of new and old, growing up and still having fun (yes, those two go together!)

Familie BBQ

Stephan continued being the gracious, loving young man that he has always been - making friends among the adults as well as being a good friend in his own circles. He has tested himself with basketball, training his body and trying to persevere. He too, like Sean, has had to make some difficult decisions, since his team plays all their home games on Sunday mornings. But he knows where his priorities lie. He has built on his frinedships through sport, camp, weekends and everyday evenings together.

Shirley was able to travel a bit this year. As usual she was blessed by the Ladies retreat in Germany in March, but she also spent some time traveling at other times through the year. She went to Paris with her neighbor/friend, to Amsterdam and Haarlem with the ladies from the church and to the west of Belgium with Scott. This year has been a time of finding new boundaries as she has also discovered the internet. She was able to plan the special few days she and Scott spent together as well as the end of year break with the whole family.

This has been a challenging year with blessings for Scott. His teaching continued as normal with lessons for the camp weeks, youth weekends and studies both international and otherwise. Getting the CD ready with Listen Up! and starting some new activities in the neighborhood (like working with a local newspaper) were real challenges. The moments of peace with Shirley and the boys were very welcome. This was also the first year in the last five that Listen Up! did not do any concerts around the holidays so that the families could spend time together.

We have been VERY blessed (again!) this year. Isn’t it great how God takes care of that each and every day! As we grow together, getting to know each other better each day, we are so thankful for the grace that God shows us. And we are thankful for how broad our family is. This year we enjoyed so many times with our Christian family (Family Day at camp, a ‘family reunion’, bbq’s) as well as the times we spent together. We have such a wonderful God!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

October-November Newsletter

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


So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 1 Peter 4:19

Dear brothers and sisters, family and friends,
It is wonderful, exciting, a bit scary and amazing to see how God can and wants to use us every day!

Familie BBQ
- Stephan, Willemien and Ruud -

There are so many things that have been done these past two months and I could list them all, but instead I want to tell you about our colleagues, Ruud and Karla Verheijen. You prayed for Ruud last year after the summer camp season - he had a car accident which landed him in the hospital for quite some time with a broken hip. He now knows that he also has severe rheumatism, five hernias and the broken hip wjhich is not healing because of the rheumatism. In the meantime, bills continue, their four girls continue growing up, and the church is a daily desire in their lives. So what do you do when you can’t or shouldn’t be doing so much?
When Fall camp arrived at the end of October, Ruud made sure that all the young peopl who wanted to go had a ride. His car can seat seven people, so whether he drove or not, his car took kids down to camp. At the end of November when the next youth weekend was held, he and Karla encouraged their daughters to go. They don’t do this because they have to, but because they love God with all that they are and want thier children to know that love as well. It is their ideas and encouragement that gets the youth activities in Maastricht going and continuing. Because of their example, their daughters regularly invite their own friends to activities also.
When we hosted a group of students from Alberta Bible College at the beginning of November, Ruud knew that he wouldn’t be able to walk the neighborhood distributing the flyers we had made to invite people to our “Getting to know the Bible” course. But he was praying and he asked how things went. He and Karla made sure that their chidlren could spend time with these students so that they could see some young adults who love the Lord. When the class began, their oldest daughter, Shareya, was ready for the lessons, but was also ready to help in any way. She has a good example in her parents. And again, they are the ones praying for the contacts we have made, asking what we should do to help more, considering new ideas on how to reach more people in our neighborhood with this wonderful news.
Ruud is the one in the church who glues the mebers together. He is always issuing some good challenges, pushing the members to stretch themselves in their faith. And he is the first one to call, email or just talk to someone to make sure they are doing okay.
They are both just as excited as I am with the studies with LJ, who is weekly asking who God is and what it means to follow Jesus. They know when my studies are and are praying for me. They know the othe rpeople we study with and take every opportunity to get to know them better and tell them about God.
So a month full of pains, a house full of teenage girls and the cares that come with them, a table full of bills that need to be paid - these are all challenges to see the mighty and loving hand of God in their life. They don’t always have a smile on their face and are sometimes just plain tired, but they keep on holding on because they know who God is.
We are so thankful that we have co-workers like Ruud and Karla. This is what it means to lead a life with Christ. Every child of Christ is a member of the body - and this body of Christ is ACTIVE and able, with His might, to do amazing things!
We want to thank so many of you, who also share in this work through all that you do. It is so good to see God’s hand working in our lives and the lives of the people here.

Please keep the following in your prayers.
- Pray for Ruud and Karla as they struggle with Ruud’s health issues. They are such an example of faith - to us and those around them.
- Continue to pray for “LJ” from China who is studying the Bible and hearing the story of Jesus in its entirety for the first time. Pray for her heart and the Holy Spirit working in her.
- Praise God for our outreach in October and November. We were able to reach a few people this time and look forward to the next time we hold this class. Keep this in your prayers as we continue to talk with those who followed the course.

There are so many ways to communicate. Talking, body language, looks that can kill. But there is also technology to help with communication. These days you can email, MSN, sms, chat, or even write a letter.
Sean and Stephan both have friends from the youth weekends they chat with. Sean has a cell phone, but since he can’t use it at school and the time costs too much, it has basically become a fancy toy.
As you have been able to read here, they both also put up videos. Sean keeps a blog and they like keeping in touch. But neither of them ever really writes a letter.
What communication methods do you use most? Do you ever write letters? Communicate with us!
e-mail Stephan at:
e-mail Sean at:

October and November flew by - and we aren’t even really in Fall yet! The weather here has been extremely mild for the year. They have even been talking about heat waves (for this time of year). Mind you, our visitor from Ghana didn’t find it to be much of a heat wave. But we have enjoyed the soft weather and the things we could do.
Sean has been enjoying his soccer team and enduring school. He does well with both, but it is obvious which one is his favorite (which is no surprise). He has had to put up with some pretty hard beatings recently, though. In October he was kicked from behind and had to be taken off the field with a calf injury. We had a sonogram done just to be sure that nothing really bad was done, but the pain lasted a good week and a half. In November he was injured again - again while making a goal. This time the goalie slid into him with his feet held high. He ran straight into Sean’s chest, putting holes in his shirt and bruising a rib. Sean was carried off again. His greatest pain however was that they didn’t allow his goal and even gave the other team a free kick. Thankfully his team is on a winter stop right now so he has plenty of time to recover (and it is going quite well). And you thought American football was rough!
In the meantime Sean continues to make crazy videos when he gets a chance. Most recently he was asked by the webmaster of the Genk soccer team (professional team that Sean supports) if Sean could take videos of the games. He had seen a video that Sean had made of one of the matches and liked what he saw. So Sean’s desire to become the next Peter Jackson or such is well on its way. MOst importantly, he enjoys himself with these things and it lets his creativity out.
October was of course also the time for Stephan’s birthday. He had two friends over for a games and video evening. It is amazing to think that he is now 17! Where has the time all gone? But it is so thrilling to see how he is growing up (and at times thoroughly frightening trying to let go). Stephan has, with typical dizzying speed, gone through several different interests and rediscovered old ones again. He took a PSAT test in preparation for the SAT coming up in the Spring. There are no firm plans, but we want to have all avenues open. Interestingly enough, language was the hardest part of the test - not reading or such, but simply understanding the terms in a math question. We are working on that.
Shirley struggled with some recurring pain in the neck and heel. We checked out the possibility of rheumatism and found that she needed some special soles in any case. These have helped to take the heel pain away. Thankfully, this was not enough to stop Scott and Shirley from spending a day together in Utrecht. We were able to hear some great music, visit some nice shops and spend some good time together.
We also enjoyed the visit from ‘our Canadians’ at the end of October, beginning of November. Eric Nyrose, who worked with Scott 20+ years ag0, brought a three of his students for a few days work in Maastricht. We enjoyed catching up on the years gone by as well.

- For your responses on the blog, your cards and calls and your encouragement
- For your prayers for the work here, we really need your support.

What’s coming up?
Youth and family activities
Youth weekend
Camp meeting
“Get to know the Bible” course
International studies

We pray that these days have been a blessing to you as you experience God each and every day.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Rescue 9-1-1

This past weekend we had a youth weekend in Eindhoven with the theme "Rescue 9-1-1". We wanted to not only let the young people see the need for being rescued, but also that we can be part of the rescue team. It was a pleasure to be able to be with this group again - helping teach, laughing, learning new things. Almost all of the things we did in the weekend had some connection with the theme.

We went swimming and were confronted with 'rescuers' (which is what the lifeguards are called in Dutch), although thankfully no one needed it (other than being told not to run along the edge of the pool!) Back at the building we heard from a woman about refugees and how they are helped, what their situation is. The we also put together some shoeboxes for kids who don't get any presents. The young people had used their own money or had collected their own things to put in these boxes. It was encouraging to see their willingness to share in this way. That evening we watched Tom Hanks in "The Terminal".

Dozen vullen
- filling boxes of shared goodies -

But even back in Maastricht I was struck by this theme as we finished off the "Get to know the BIble" series. The people who attended really don't know their situation (even though they say they do) and how close rescue really is. It has been encouraging to meet and study with the Chinese woman who is really quite interested and willing to hear. On Sunday our visiting brother from Ghana (Donkor has been studying in Maastricht for the last three months) also talked about the need to realize that Maastricht was dying. We need rescue and the Rescuer is ready. He wants us to help out and see the urgency!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A song in our heart


This past weekend was a singing one - and we enjoyed it tremendously! On Saturday we had a Family day organized by the congregation in Antwerp. The theme was "Sing with the Lord" and they had planned some singing and some listening to a group from Paris. Unfortunately, the group from Paris couldn't make it (we hope to hear from them in the future) because of car trouble. But that meant that we had lots more time to sing!


Paul Brazle had asked Johan Huyghebaert and me to prepare one of our favorite songs and share that. Later, because we had extra time, we were able to let others also share their favorite songs and why they meant so much. And then we sang! It is amazing what God has given us in song - simply the ability to mix emotion with understanding, heart with head, is so fulfilling. It was a great day of fellowship.


The next day Karla Verheijen had a concert with her choir from the village they live in. Mozart and (Michael) Hadyn enlivened the afternoon. Wonderful soloists and a great choir. Afterwards we went to the community center to spend some time together. Several members of the church came to the concert to support Karla that day. Some came from three hours away! It is great to be a part of this family.


Oh and by the way, I have even gotten started on that novel! Probably won't make the 50,000 before the end of the month, but who knows.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Getting to know you

The past few weeks have been really busy, but good. Let me quickly update you on what has been going on (since I haven't done that yet!).

Campaign- "Our" Canadians-

At the end of October/beginning of November we had a group of students from ABC (Alberta Bible College) visit to help us out and take part in a ministry experience. What that meant for us in Maastricht was that they helped us distribute some new cards in our neighborhood, talked to our young people, and played some discgolf while I talked to people along the way. It was great getting to know them and we are so thankful for what they were able to do.

- after distributing -

To be honest, distributing has never been one of my favorite methods. When I first came on campaigns (way back in the early 80's) with a group from York, we distributed thousands (over 70,000 if I remember right) folders in all sorts of places. You remember a lot of stairs and doors, but don't meet a lot of people. Of course, when you can't speak the language, there isn't much else to do about that.

Still, getting several thousand folders out into a neighborhood is still a good way to let people know that you are there. We passed out a card that looked like a favorite sticker on many of the mailboxes here. The real sticker says "NO - I don't want any unaddressed advertisements / YES - I want the weekly newspapers". Our card said "NO - I don't want an eternal search / YES - I want real life in Jesus". On the back of the card we list the various activities of the congregation.

Along with this card we also distributed a card inviting them to a course we designed to "Get to know the Bible". When I went around the neighborhood to invite people personally and see if they remembered the cards, I was actually surprised by the results. Almost no one remembered the sticker-like card (which was designed to be remarkable). But several people remebered the invitation. That was also why they let me know quite quickly that they were not interested - but the had seen it.

I also had some good reactions to the card / invitation from the editorial team of the neighborhood newspaper I work with. They had all seen it and I was able to talk with them about it on a trip we all took together. But the best reaction so far has been from a woman who got the card from her mother. She saw that we haev a ladies club and was interested. I let her know that we were beginning a course on getting to know the Bible. She came to that, went to the ladies club two days later and completed the three-day course that evening. We are looking forward to getting to know her better. Please keep this in your prayers.

Pray also for the continuation of the course. I repeat the first three lessons next week and then move on to lessons 4-6 for those who are really interested in finding out what is in the Bible. Thanks for stopping by and for your continued support and encouragement! It is great getting to know so many people and seeing how wonderful our God truly is.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


For those of you who don't know what that is (and that could be quite a few!) - National Novel Writing Month is in November (and isn't really "National", since I can take part). In the month of NOvember there are a bunch of crazies who try to write at least 50,000 words before the end of the month.
I have wanted to get back into writing for some time. At the end of the summer I tried my hand at some "flash" writing (2500 words a day, 10 days in a row). This is different cake - especially since I haven't even gotten started yet!
Fortunately, it sounds like I am not the only one. Unfortunately I am not the only one who can say that I am really busy (I am - especially this month!), or that I have lots of rquirements for my time. In any case, you may not hear from me here for a little while (suprise, surprise for those of you who check in every day and are terribly disappointed to find the same post - still!)
But I may let you read my novel when it gets done.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Discgolf and time together

This weekend the boys are off to Fall Camp and for the first time in a long time I am not responsible for anything during this weekend. That means that Shirley and I can spend some good time together, alone. We are looking forward to it.

In the meantime, check out this video I put together on the discgolfing we are trying to get started here in Maastricht. We hope to be able to use this also to meet people and connect them. The text is in Dutch (I will be using it for a newspaper article as well) but I think you can get the gist of things :-)

Time to go be alone together now.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

BBQ fun

Familie BBQ

This past week we had a great get together with the church at Shadira's house. Shadira is a single mother trying to make it in a difficult situation. Most of her family lives more than 2 hours away and are not christians. It would be easy to come with excuses to stay away from activities with the church. She doesn't have a car, and if she wants to come on the scooter, she has to leave one of her girls at home alone - or have them go alone on the bus. But she has made a grand effort recently because she said she knows how important it is for her real life and for her girls.

To make sure that she is able to take part in the Bible study at least once a month, we hold the study out at her house. This past week we held a bbq along with a time of prayer. It was not only great fun, it was a great family time. The young people came out to the barbecue and jumped pogo stick or just sat and talked. The adults sat inside and shared time together. At the end of the evening we sat together and talked about our burdens and our blessings (thanks Luk and Holly!). We are so glad to be part of this family and to see how God is using family to strengthen his children.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A unique opportunity

I mentioned recently in our newsletter that our colleagues, Ruud and Karla, were presented with a unique opportunity. Karla had been painting their garage doors and receiving all sorts of commentary from passersby (they live along a busy road), when a man from her village approached her with a question. He was a member of a committee in the local Catholic church that organizes the activites and teaching for the cnofirmation service of the young people in the village and wondered if Karla would be willing to give some Bible lessons to the young people.

(Confirmation is when a young person – typically 12 years old – accepts as their own the faith their parents have chosen for them when they were babies. This ceremony is a confirmation of their baptism as babies. At least, that is the theory for spiritual Catholics. As most people are simply traditional Catholics, this ceremony, along with first Communion at age 6, are stepping stones in life and an opportunity to have a party.)

It was obvious that the members of the village knew who Ruud and Karla were and their desire to know and live what they find in the Bible. When Karla mentioned that she of course could not do anything that would not be biblical, the man had no problem. He himself did not even believe in God. The other members on the committee (two women) did, but had very little Bible knowledge. They were more than willing to let Karla teach the young people about what the Bible is.

So Karla will be presented with the opportunity to really let these young people see what God’s word is. In addition, the members of the committee want to visit the congregation where Ruud and Karla attend – to see what kind of people these are who are simply Christians.

God can be so amazing!

Friday, October 06, 2006

September Newsletter

LIGHT in the Lowlands
Reaching out to the people of Belgium and the Netherlands
September 2006

Be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another withut grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to sevre others. 1 Peter 4:7-10

Dear brothers and sisters, family and friends,
God continues to amaze us with how He does things, things we would never expect. This month has given us plenty of surprises and blessings.
Since school starts up again in September and since it has usually been at least two months since the young people have gotten together at summer camp, we usually plan a youth weekend in September. We call it a Kickstart because we want to get things going again. This year we decided to organize one in Maastricht again. It has been about four years since we last organized a weekend here.
You have to understand that, although we have a room we meet in on Sundays, it is not suitable for hosting a group of young people all weekend long. But we figured that we could spread out the kids between our house and the Kok family (just down the street from us). We had specifically chosen this month because the weather is still good and if we needed to we could do things outside. Besides, we figured, most of the time there aren’t more than 20 kids. The Friday the weekend was to start I was still getting calls of young people who were planning on coming. We ended up with 31 - a real surprise and blessing!
We were able to take care of the numbers (the Kok’s attic was one big mattress for the girls, the boys stayed at our house and the older girls over at the Verheijen’s) and it was just great to see how happy everyone was to see one another again. We spent a day in an open air museum called Bokrijk where we took the kids back in time about 100 years. Our theme this weekend was: “Jesus - now?! “ We wanted to look at how Jesus is still just as current today as 2000 years ago, if we stick to Jesus and not what has been made of him.
It was a fantastic weekend. The Sunday morning was as full as we have ever had it and the meal afterwards was great because all of the members were more than willing to help. It was great to see how everyone worked together, just like we had experienced at the end of the summer with the Family Day at camp.
On a separate note, the catholic church in Karla Verheijen’s village knew of Ruud and Karla’s knowledge of the Bible and desire to tell others and approached them to help teach the catechism. This is a unique opportunity. Karla explained that she could not teach anything that was not from the Bible an that there were probably major differences between what she believed and the catholic church. This means that she will be able to present a lesson on what the Bible is to the young people of this village, but also that she has piqued the interest of the people on this committee as to what the Bible is! Keep this in your prayers!
September also brought the international students back to the university and the weekly Bible studies have begun. The first evening I met “LJ” from China who was very interested in Christianity, simply to know what it is. We made an appointment and meet now regularly to read the gospel of John and talk about who God is, who Jesus is and what this means for LJ. It has been exciting to share the beauty of God and see the same excitement in LJ. What a wonderful God we have!
Planning ahead
We hope to start a new course in the neighborhood about “Getting to know the Bible”. Most people here have never really read the Bible. Pray for these efforts. We look forward to what our awesome God is going to do.

Please keep the following in your prayers.
- Praise God for His blessings during the youth weekend. Keep the young people here (10 in our congregation) in your prayers that they continue to grow in faith.
- Pray for Karla and the lesson she will present as well as the discussions she has with the catechism committee. They also want to visit the congregation - what an opportunity!
- Pray for “LJ” from China who is studying the Bible and hearing the story of Jesus in its entirety for the first time. Pray for her heart and the Holy Spirit working in her.
- Pray for our outreach in October and November. We hope our neighborhood will also get to know God with a course on getting to know the Bible.

My room
Not everyone has their own room. When Stephan and Sean were younger, they shared a room. It was barely big enough to turn around in, but they only slept there. Now they each have their own room.
Stephan’s room is kind of Japanese. He has a metal high bed, some Chinese tables and a Japanese futon underneath the bed, bamboe mats and such. Sean’s room is mostly blue and white (Genk’s colors) and has wooden furniture. He has a big poster from Pirates of the Carribean and little posters from Racing Genk (prof soccer team).
What is your room like? Do you have your own room? How is it decorated? Let us know.
e-mail Stephan at:
e-mail Sean at:

September is always marked by the beginning of school. But after the first week or so of newness, most people get stuck in and get down to business. The boys are no different.
Sean was pleased to see his friends again (some of them leave for the whole summer) and has been able to adapt to the new schedule and homework this year. He gets home, goes up to his room and finshes his homework. Then he has plenty of time to play, make movies etc. He even asked if we could change his room around to make it more conducive to getting his homework done. So one Saturday we got together, shuffled bed, desk, dresser and couch around and voila - a new room. He has been very happy with it so far.
Sean has also been very pleased with his new team. As I mentioned last month, he was looking at not being able to play soccer since in Belgium they play on Sunday morning. But we found a team in Maastricht (the Netherlands) and he was immediately accepted with open arms. As a matter of fact, he has already scored several goals. The team is doing well and he is enjoying himself, so that has been great. In between school and soccer, Sean has kept plenty busy making movies (about soccer of course). If you haven’t seen them yet, go to Youtube and search “Sean Raab”. His latest crazy vid is called “Soccer Battle”.

Stephan has started the school year with typical quietness. Things just happen, as they should. “How was your day?” “Mmm,” he answers. But after a bit more questioning and listening you hear the whole day and the good and not so good. He is having a good time learning more about cooking as well as the other normal things like Dutch, French, English, Math, Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics), music and PE (the best part of the Friday!). It has been great to see him doing some of the cooking at home. Scott continues to encourage him in this since he hardly ever cooks and wouldn’t know how to do much more than a good omelet.
Stephan is also still very busy with his basketball team and has already scored. Unfortunately we are not always able to be there, but we have seen one of his games already and look forward to seeing more. IN the meantime, Stephan continues with his myriad interests including guitar, bmx, Japanese (comics) and most recently, free running. You can see some of the things he has been doing on Youtube by seraching under “lovedoctersar”.

And the parents have been enjoying the amazing things their children can do! We were very pleased to have a bunch of kids in the house for the youth weekend and are looking forward to some visitors at the beginning of November. More about that in next month’s newsletter. Shirley and the ladies from the church went to Amsterdam together for a wonderful day. We don’t have any videos to show you (other than the one on the blog:, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t alive! And loving every minute of it.

- For your emails and comments on the blog. It is good to hear from you!
- For your prayers for the work here, we really need your support.
What’s coming up?
Youth activities
Family activities
Fall camp
Outreach and new course
Youth days


It is great to see how each day can be a new experience, something challenging and exciting. Enjoy each day as it comes, knowing that it’s God’s day .
Love in Him,
Scott, Shirley,
Stephan and Sean Raab

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Last year was terrible. Our walnut tree in the backyard hardly let fall a nut all Fall (sorry, couldn’t resist). Whereas other years gave us plenty of crunch underfoot whenever we walked out toward the canal, last year only presented us with rotten nuts in the pod. So I wasn’t really prepared for this year’s crop.

Yesterday I went out with a box to pick up the few nuts I figured would be under the tree. I had seen a few as I went out that way to take Snuffles for a walk. But I wasn’t prepared for what I found – nuts everywhere! Grass doesn’t really grow underneath the walnut tree, but there is plenty of moss and other ground cover. The more I looked, the more I found. Nuts hiding under every little leaf. I would clear a section, move on to the next, and when I turned around found even more in the section I just cleared. I felt like Hammy from “Over the Hedge” – “I found my nuts!”

Now we just have to make sure they get dried. We are hanging them in sacks in three different areas around the house, trying to fighure out which is the best place to dry them: in the boiler room, in my office (which always has the window open) and upstairs in the attic. We’ll see what we get out of it. Come on by if you want some walnuts – we’ve got plenty.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Who is this Jesus?

As I have mentioned in our newsletters I am blessed to be able to take part in a weekly Bible study with international students from the university here in Maastricht. It is always interesting and exciting to meet people from different countries and to see people who want to know more about Jesus. The university here has tried in the last few years to increase its international group and China has been more than willing to send students. Most are post-graduate students studying medicine, economics or law and government.

Recently I met LJ from China at one of these Bible studies. She asked if we could meet regularly so that she can understand more about christianity. We have met twice and it has been exciting to see her desire to know more and her openness to understand. She says that she believes that God exists, but doesn’t really undersatand christianity. So we are reading the Bible together, on a journey of discovery.

Sometimes LJ says she has a stupid question. She says, “I don’t know about these things, so this may be a stupid question.” But her questions are the questions we all ask and all should ask as we discover who God is and how we can develop a relationship with Him. We will be reading the gospel of John and discussing any questions at all that she has along the way. I am so thankful for her desire to know more and for this opportunity. Keep LJ and me in your prayers.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Kickstart weekend

- The Kickstart group -

Last weekend was what we call a "Kickstart" weekend for the youth activities in Belgium and the Netherlands. After the summer camps and school starting, the young people look forward to seeing their friends again. This past weekend was organized by the church in Maastricht - our congregation. But since we don't have a building that can really be used for something like this we used our homes - it was kind of scary, but great!

Our house and the Kok family's house are on the same street in the little village in Belgium where we live. So we planned to have the girls down at the Kok's while the boys would stay with us. No problem as long as we were counting on 20 young people at the most. When more than 30 showed up, we wondered how everything would work out. But everyone was very flexible and it all worked out great.

On Saturday we headed out to an open air museum where we learned about how life was 100 years ago - from actors who played the part in villages set up in that time period. It was great to see and hear what it must have been like. And it got us all thinking - our theme for the weekend was: "Jesus: Now!?" We wanted to look at what Jesus would look like today. Can we still follow his ideas and teachings? Or is it all just out of date?

- Going to school -

Besides the teaching and thinking it was just great to be able to see friends again from the summer. As some of the young people put it, "I don't know what I would do if we didn't have these weekends! Chatting just isn't enough. It is so good to be able to see each other again." We have already had several questions about when the next weekend is planned. What a great opportuntiy to see how important we are to one another.

- fun!-

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Summer fun

We did all sorts of things this summer. One of them was when we visited friends in Aarschot for an annual light festival. Check out these dancing lights.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

July-August Newsletter

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

July-August 2006

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:3-6

Dear brothers and sisters, family and friends,
It has been a while since we have written. That usually means we have been too swamped to get on the computer. Let me update you on what God has been doing in our lives the past two months.
Summer Camp
Those two things always go together in our work here. As you have been able to follow through the years, we are always involved in at least one camp week in the summer. It is great how God is using this small place to touch so many lives! This year, once again, we have had four weeks of camp with over 150 people in total taking advantage of the opportunity to learn more about God in a beautiful place.

Shirley and Scott worked this year on Benjamin Camp - the camp for young people from 8-11 years old. As a matter of fact, Stephan and Sean were helping out as well - Stephan as a counselor and Sean in the kitchen. This year we had a special group. One of Scott’s colleagues from Listen Up! works with children who are trying to integrate in the country. He was able to send five of these children to camp. Where we usually have kids from church families, these kids not only had never been to camp, two of them were moslim. We had some wonderful conversations and they asked some good questions. It was great to see that our theme this week - Finding Jesus - was just what was needed, for all the kids.

In August we also took part in Family Camp. The last few years this camp has been a little less stressful than the others we work with. Scott usually presents several of the lessons, but otherwise, we are there as campers. And it is great to see God working with the idea of ‘family’. At the end of Family Camp the church in Maastricht organized the yearly ‘Family Day’. We had a beautifully sunshiny day sandwiched between two weeks of rain - one day to get together and not only learn about praising the Lord, but take part as a family. It was great!

In between these two camps Scott and Shirley also were blessed to attend the Pan European Lectureships (PEL) for the first time. This year it was held in Brussels - our backyard, you could say. Scott presented one of the lessons on ‘Reenewal’ and both he and Shirley were blessed by the people they were able to meet and talk to. We have said it before and we say it again - whenever you have the chance, take the opportunity to meet your brothers and sisters from other places! God is so good to have placed us in HIS family and wants us to see how good it is.
Family News
In June I mentioned that Willemien would be operated on her knee. In the meantime she has recovered and is already back to normal (or better than normal). The doctors were completely amazed at her recovery. We had rented some crutches, according to instructions, and a rollator as well, according to instructions, but the doctors never let her use the crutches. She progressed too quickly for them. The rollator was used the first two weeks of recovery and has now been retired. Thank you for your prayers!
Planning ahead

We have painted the building together and are looking forward to the activities planned for the coming months as we reach out to the neighborhood. In September we will host a youth weekend in Maastricht and we are expecting quite a few young people. We also hope several visitors come. Later in the year we will be talking to our neighbors directly, looking for those who are looking for God.
Keep your family here in your prayers and praise your Father for His mighty work in all of us!

Please keep the following in your prayers.
- Praise God for Willemien and her very quick recovery. The doctors have been surprised at how well she has done. She never even needed the crutches and barely used the rollator. Now she is once again enjoying her walks with her dog.
- We had some great visits with the people we study with. Pray for our continued contact in the coming months.
- Pray for our outreach in the coming months. We hope to meet more people in the neighborhood and have some good opportunities for Bible studies.
- Pray for the youth weekend in September here.

First days
Everybody has to go to school - even adults did it at some time. But those first days of school are not always easy, even if you are returning to your old school. This is Sean’s second year at his school and Stephan’s sixth (this is a junior and senior high school together).
Sean dreads the beginning of school because it means the end of choosing what you want to do in the day. But he looks forward to seeing his friends who he doesn’t wlays see in the summer. Stephan takes everything in stride, although the first days can be really boring.
What do you like about the begin of school? What do you dread? What was different for you this year going to school?
e-mail Stephan at:
e-mail Sean at:


Summer is a great time to enjoy the out of doors. We almost always do plenty of that during our camp weeks. Stephan attended ‘Youth Camp’ (for 15+ yrs-old) as well as helping with Benjamin Camp and Family Camp (see the news side), while Sean had planned on going to Teen Camp. That didn’t work out. He was sick after Benjamin camp and tired (yeah, but not sick and tired!) before needing to come to Family Camp. Still there was plenty of time outside with friends and family. Outside of camp weeks Sean spent time at the field with his friends and Stephan would head out to the basketball court in the evening.
But outside activities and camp do not make a whole summer! Don’t know if we could make it through a whole summer of camp. This summer we were thrilled to be able to take part in several weddings. Two of our former students in the church msrried and we were pleased that they wanted us present. It was interesting to see two Germans with so many international friends! But that is what you get when you travel all around the world while studying. Scott also sang with Listen Up! at a wedding reception in Eindhoven for Paul and Iva Rambags. Iva is from Prague, where they actually married, but Paul knew that not everyone had been able to get there and planned a reception back in the Netherlands. And then there was Ken and Elizabeth Yamashita’s wedding. Ken, who had been a member here in Maastricht, was married in the Netherlands (he and Elizabeth live in Leiden) in a ceremony in English, Japanese and Dutch. Now that was something!
In between Benjamin Camp and Family Camp Shirley and Scott were able to go to the Pan European Lectureships (PEL) in Brussels. Not only was it a chance to ride a train (getting their in the car is possible, but at that time of day it’s murder), it was a great time to meet people and see old friends. We were especially glad to see Dottie Schulz while there. Shirley met some old schoolmates unexpectedly, we both met some wonderful and dedicated servants of the Lord and in all were greatly blessed by the time there. Next summer we hope to be in the States, but if God gives us another summer here in Europe, then we hope to make it to another PEL.
After camp, things take a turn towards school (Oh my!). Sean struggles greatly with what it means to follow God as soon as the new soccer season started. In Belgium, the youth clubs at his age now all play on Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. This meant of course that he could not play with the club that he had planned all summer on playing with. His best friend is on the club. Sean hoped to find his way to professional soccer through being scouted at this club. If he doesn’t play, he can’t be scouted. So we talked about it, prayed about it, cried about it and looked around. Thankfully, we were able to find a Dutch club (remember, we live on the border) in Maastricht was more than willing to have him on their team. They play on Saturday mornings. So that worked out very well. For Stephan the choice is still hard, since he sometimes plays on a Sunday. He knows that he will not be able to make those games - but he has already played in one game on a Saturday.

What’s coming up?
Listen Up! recording
Youth weekend
New outreach
Youth activities
Family activities
Fall camp

- For your continued prayers for us and the work here. We so need God’s continued strength and your continued involvement!
- For your emails and comments on the blog.
- For your prayers for the work here

We pray that you enjoyed the crazy days of summer and are prepared for everything coming your way this month. We are so glad that God is our strength - every day! Love in Him,
Scott, Shirley,
Stephan and Sean Raab

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

That’s family

Family Camp is actually a week for all of us to get together who want to know God better. This year, as in past years, the group is made up of families, singles, grandparents and even some kids without their parents. I love seeing how God sees family.

Our lessons this year came from 1 Thessalonians, and one of the things mentioned by one of the teachers this week, Blair Roberts, was that we don’t choose who is in our family – God does the choosing. Our responsibility is to live with each other and help one another to grow. And I know that plenty of people could see and feel that we wanted to do just that. This year included a family from Bulgaria (the girls had been to Benjamin and Teen camp already), an avowed atheist who keeps coming back, and some helpers in the kitchen who really enjoyed the fellowship as well.

What does your family look like? When I became a christian, I gained a whole new family, leaving my physical family behind (for a while). Living overseas, with physical family far away, we have always been aware of the blessing of God’s family. We don’t choose ‘em and it isn’t always easy to live with ‘em (or with us, I am sure), but it is soooo good to have this family God has given us. What a blessing!

Thursday, August 17, 2006


The week between Benjamin Camp and Family Camp this year was filled with some unexpected meetings and encouragements. The Pan European Lectureships were held this year in Brussels. This is a gathering of people, mostly American, who are concerned with reaching the lost in Europe. Those Europeans who can make it (time-wise and financially) are able to report on the situation where they are and meet others who are working in Europe.
Until this year we have not been able to go. It has previously been held in Athens, Rome, Estonia, Poland and several other places, usually quite far from us. It is also usually in the middle of our camp season – as with this year. But this year it was in Brussels, our backyard. Besides which, Dottie Schulz was going to be there! Dottie and Tom Schulz are one of the reasons we are in the Netherlands and Belgium now, so we definitely wanted to see her.
But we were also pleasantly surprised at the spirit and desire of all the people we met and saw and heard during the mornings that we could be present in Brussels. Hearing about people who have struggled to remain faithful in all that they do is always a wonderful encouragement. And that is exactly what we received from people like S.F. Timmerman, Clyde Antwine and others. What was so encouraging was seeing how struggle is not something that goes away – it is something through which God carries you, with His strength.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that those old people in your church are boring or stodgy. Take time to sit down an dlisten to their stories and how God is blessing them NOW. What a blessing God has given us by placing us in His family!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Benjamin Camp

Every year the churches in Belgium and the Netherlands organize four weeks of Bible camp down in the beauty of the Ardennes mountains. This site which was wisely purchased more than 40 years ago still serves the church well. Through the years it has been adapted, built up and thankfully used by the Dutch-speaking and French-speaking congregations here. And as I have mentioned so often before, this has been a very important tool here for the kingdom. We are so thankful for those who have gone before and those who are willing to put in a week of heat, or mud, or less sleep in order to make sure that the young people here are built up in their faith, or introduced to God.

This year Shirley and I were camp leader and head cook for the Benjamins. This should be 8-10 year-olds, but this year was a little different. Thanks to the initiative of a brother in Haarlem who works with children in difficult situations, we had five kids who had never been to Bible camp before. As a matter of fact, two of them were moslim. So our week’s theme: “Searching for Jesus Christ” was very appropriate. We had some really great discussions and questions.

Blair Roberts has been visiting this summer from Canada and was able to bring the lessons (with a good Antwerp accent even!) as well as help drive the kids around. Stephan helped as the boys’ counselor and Sean helped out in the kitchen along with our sister, Geesie. We were especially surprised with a girls’ counselor who usually has other responsibilities. Gilda Amssoms is over 60 years old and usually runs the kitchen for a different week, but since we hadn’t been able to find a counselor, she offered her services. What a blessing! It is so great how God fills our needs and surprises us at the same time!

Our 15 campers had a great week learning, playing and being challenged by the activities, the weather and the relationships we formed together. We are so glad that God has given us this opportunity! Keep these kids in your prayers as they continue to grow in knowledge and faith.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

What an example!

Today we went to visit Willemien again. She has been in a care home for the last week and a half after receiving a new knee. This woman amzes me and thrills me every time we meet. She and her husband, Cor (who passed away six years ago) came to the congregation here in 1992, when we had just started meeting. They talked about how they had been searching all their lives for the church. They were both brought up communist, had survived the 2nd World War (Cor in a camp) and had searched through all kinds of groups before coming to us. Willemien was 70 then. Their courage and desire to do what was right, to really follow God and let Him lead – after more than 70 years of doing their own leading – was such an example for us all.

Now Willemien is 84 and probably the healthiest of us all. When the hospital was checking her out to see if she was a good candidate for this new knee, they couldn’t find anything in which she wasn’t healthy. The young man who was questioning her said, “So, besides your knee, you really don’t have any problems, do you?” The operation itself is done in a few hours and the group that undergoes the operation takes the rest of the week learning new exercises, doing therapy, getting the new knee going. Willemien was already walking too well the first day to use the planned walking canes or walker, she just walked!

But her resilience in this situation is part and parcel of her attitude in general. She tells us that she used to be quite depressed, before she had us (the church) as a family (she and Cor had no children and they have no siblings). I can hardly believe it. She is so willing to continue, to move on. Pick up your feet and step on ahead. That is what her attitude seems to be. I think immediately of Isaiah 40:28-31
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

I am so thankful for the example that God has given us in Willemien!

Friday, July 14, 2006

June Newsletter

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

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentlesness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever greivances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

Dear brothers and sisters, family and friends,
Sometimes the month just flies by and all of a sudden you are in the next month. Let me bring you up to date on what happened in June in our work and our lives.
Church life
One of the things that thrills me in the church here is how we all differ so strongly in age and yet are able to work together. One of our main emphases in the church is on our youth. Half of the congregation is made up of our teenagers. This is also why we are so involved in the youth work in the Netherlands and Belgium. Scott works together with two or three other brothers in congregations from around the Dutch-speaking work so that we can have a continued good influence on the youth here.
June brought our last youth weekend for the season (since our season runs during the school year - the summer camp weeks cover the summer). The last few years we have tried to have a youth weekend in Haarlem on the Pentecost weekend. There is always a flower market in the middle of the night on that weekend which the young people love to visit (especially since they get to stay up quite late). We had a good group with several visitors as well.

- another great weekend together -

The weekend continued on into the yearly Spring Fellowship of the Dutch-speaking churches, which was held in The Hague, as usual on the 2nd day of Pentecost. This is such a good time to encourage one another and to be challenged. This year the church in the Hague had the Ashford’s from England teach us about Islam and how we can deal with our neighbor - in the Hague a mosque has been built right next to the church building. This brings some unique challenges to the church there and some good opportunities to talk with the young people about what their faith means.
But not everything is about the young people. That is what is so exciting. While the church in Maastricht has quite a large youth contingent, we also have 10% above retirement age - and they are very active! One of the things we wanted to emphasize was how important it is for us to learn from what others have learned in their journey to faith.
To emphasize this we had a sort of Family Reunion where we invited Jim and Ruth Krumrei from the church in Haarlem to come tell us about their lives and struggles. This was a great, relaxed time of listening and learning. But it was also a time of sharing with one another, learning from each other. It was great to see some of the young people really listening and taking in all that wisdom. It is great that God has placed us in a family.

- Listening to wisdom -

Planning ahead
Because we know how important this family life is, we as a church are trying to take advantage of every opportunity. We of course are encouraging our young people to attend the summer Bible camp sessions. But we are also doing all we can to get the shole congregation to a few days of Family camp as well. The last day of Family camp is the “Family Day” which is oprganized this year by our congregation. We will be talking about and emphasizing how and why we praise the Lord.
Working up to these activities, Scott is preparing lessons for Benjamin camp, for Family camp and for a lesson at the Pan European Lectureship (PEL) which is being held in Brussels this year.

Please keep the following in your prayers.
- Pray for a good recovery for Willemien, our 84-year-old sister. She gets a new knee in July and will be recovering most of the month. She hopes to be home fairly quickly.
- In July we will be visiting all of the people we study with regularly. Pray that we can deepen our relationship with them and help them to do the same in their relationship with God.
- Pray for our brother and sister Tim and Jane, both of whom are struggling with a depression, and continue to pray for Roger and Yvonne who are both considering giving their lives to Christ.

Look at us!
Sean has always said that he wants to become a movie director. Recently he and Stephan got the chance to do just that. They went outside with the digital camera (which also takes video, took some shots of Stephan skating and Sean playing ball, and then put them together on the computer. You can see Sean’s at:
and search under Sean Raab

What are you up to this summer so far? Is it worth showing on a video? What kind of movie would you like to make? What kind of movies to you like to watch?
e-mail Stephan at:
e-mail Sean at:

Last month I told you about our teeth adventures. Those have finally cleared up. Shirley has found a good dentist and has had her tooth completely fixed. As a matter of fact, Scott has also moved to this dentist. His filling fell out again - the last straw.
Enough about teeth - you are probably gritting yours having to read something like that. With the end of June came the beginning of summer. Actually, the boys were already started before the end of the month. They had exams (the first year for Sean) which meant that they were finished each day at lunch time - if you can call it finished. Once they were home they had to start studying for the next group of exams. But they made it through all of that and both of them are on their way to the next year in their studies. And more importantly, they can get moving on summer!
Stephan has always had lots of different interest and now he has plenty of time to indulge almost all of them. He has several different groups of friends: bmx’ers, skateboarders, basketballers, gamers and those who like manga and draw cartoons. Stephan kind of rotates between all these activities. Since it has been so warm, he plays basketball from 8 - 10 p.m. It is amazing to see how everyone finally comes out to the village square after 10 p.m., when it is finally a bit cooler. We have been told that we have already had a heat wave here in Belgium. That means two days above 30 degrees C (86 degrees F). We are surviving just fine.
Sean has been out to ‘the field’ more than enough with his friends. ‘The field’ is where they play soccer together. He had to get enough playing in before July started because several of his friends are heading off on vacation for the summer. He is looking forward to the end of the summer when he will begin in a league again.
But while he was waiting he had the World Cup to watch and enjoy. At one point we all went to Antwerp to watch one of the games on a large screen with the members of the church from Ghana (the USA-Ghana match). Unfortunately the game was not televised by anyone, so we had to watch Italy play. But we did have a great evening of fellowship.

- Who said ladies don't watch soccer?-

Sean went from euphoria when England did well in the group phase to abject depression when Portugal knocked them out. Playing with friends helps take care of most of that. And he has started making videos of all sorts of things (he has for the past three years said that he plans to be a movie director when he grows up).
We have all enjoyed the beauty of the season as well. Scott’s walks with Snuffles in the evening include choruses of bullfrogs and plovers (a type of bird), the flowers and trees in the garden are all blooming, spreading their perfume everywhere, and we are able to sit out in the garden for lunch or coffee.
It has been nice to have more time to do things as a family. The other night Stephan decided to look in his baby book, which led to an evening of reminiscing on the couch. Snuffles even caught the spirit and wanted to be a part, coming closer and sitting at our feet. It is so good to be together.
- Reminiscing -

What’s coming up?
Benjamin Camp
PEL in Brussels
Family Camp
Family Day organized by Maastricht
Listen Up! recording
- For the care package from Sue Foster’s kids in Wisconsin
- For your emails and comments on the blog.
- For your prayers for the work here

Enjoy the family you are part of - in all ways!
Love in Him,
Scott, Shirley,
Stephan and Sean Raab

check out the blog for text and pictures:

Raab Family
Kasteelstraat 10
3620 Lanaken, Belgium
reply to:

Sunday, June 25, 2006

"Heerlijk" and "Lekker"

I won’t bore you with the pronunciation, but “heerlijk” = delicious and “lekker” = yummy. The German speakers will recognize the latter and may even know about the Dutch and their wierd use of the word. You see, the Dutch can say almost anything is “lekker”. Before going to bed you say to one another, “Sleep ‘lekker’.” If you hit the tennis ball or baseball in just the right way, then you have hit it ‘lekker’. And still, a meal can also be ‘lekker’.

- a 'lekker' nap -

‘Heerlijk’ is a step up from ‘lekker’, just as delicious is a step up from yummy. And just as with ‘lekker’, you can use it for almost anything. When I took Nel and Willemien home after our Saturday “Family Reunion” – which was a time to be together as a Christian family and learn from each other’s expreriences in life – they both said it had been a ‘heerlijk’ day. Mind you, the weather had been ‘heerlijk’ as well, but they meant the fellowship. We spent time listening to Jim and Ruth Krumrei, long-tme missionaries in Haarlem (and Karl Verheijen’ parents, and Scott’s previous supervisors when he spent two years as an apprentice in the Netherlands), as they answered some questions about how God has influenced their lives. It was ‘heerlijk’ to hear their stories and to learn from their wisdom.

- enjoying wisdom -

This morning at the beginning of our worship time together, Nel said that she had slept so ‘lekker’ after such a wonderful time. She enjoys being able to eat with so many people, instead of being alone. We had a ‘heerlijk’ barbecue. Isn’t it great how God puts us into a family! Just like most families it’s not always perfect – how would we ever learn if everything were always perfect – but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. As a matter of fact, my family is everywhere in the world! That is a ‘heerlijk’ thought!

- Nel enjoying the 'heerlijk' pictures -

Friday, June 23, 2006

World Cup Exchange

Well, we’re out. We went to Antwerp last night to watch the Ghana-USA game with the brothers in the church who are from Ghana. There was actually quite a crowd of Americans as well. We had a projector (a beamer) to watch the game in a big way. Only problem was that none of the channels were showing the game. Not any of the Flemish or Dutch channels, not the Germans, not the French-speaking Belgians or the French, not even the Spanish. Granted, the Italian channel was expected to show the other game (Italy-Czech Republic). So we had to watch Italy beat up on the Czech Republic and hope for an update at half time on the other game. By then it was already 2-1 for Ghana.

Admittedly this was a difficult one anyway. Ghana was the last chance for Africa, and we love our Ghanese brothers and sisters. So we were very happy for them. Especially since Ghana won the game with good play (and a free penalty from the ref – but the Ghanese didn’t have anything to do with that). But that leaves us a dilemma now – who do we root for?

Of course this has never been a dilemma for Sean. He has always said that those idiots back in 1776 ruined our chances for any good football team when they fought for independance. He is still rooting for England. And since we work in the Netherlands and most of our contacts are Dutch, we still have that option. As a matter of fact, we can’t very well get away from all of the orange. Can you imagine orange mayonnaise (which they put on their french fries), orange milk, orange everything you can imagine that usually isn’t orange.

So we are still holding out hope. The Belgians didn’t even get to go this time. You can hardly find anything in any of the Belgian stores that reminds you of the World Cup. It’s like they want to forget that it is happening since they didn’t get to come. Many of them have adopted the Australians – who did well last night. Now all they have to do is beat Brazil.

But it is a great opportunity to meet new people. We had a great time in Antwerp and look forward to the time we will have during some of the other games. Any excuse to get together (who needs and excuse?). And England or the Netherlands could still make it all the way. It could happen.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Two times a dad

I have the pleasure, or privilege, or luck to be able to celebrate Father’s Day twice. In Belgium they celebrate on the second Sunday, while in the US and the Netherlands they celebrate it on the third Sunday. So when I am proudly displaying the homemade tie or memo pad or special thing that my sons made (when they were in elementary school), most of the Dutch people we have contact with just shake their heads and make some comment (those Belgians – always different!). But the next week, I receive all the congratulations from the Dutch people.

I have to admit, I have always felt a bit ambiguous about this holiday. It is extremely commercial, and I don’t like that at all. But I also wonder what it really means. Is being a father simply being able to sire children. I don’t think so. There are plenty of men who have sown their seed and never waited around for the wonderful moment of birth, let alone hang around to help raise the children and let them know what it really means to be a man.

I remember both the birth of Stephan and Sean. I do have to admit that I agree with Bill Cosby when it comes to these beautiful creatures. To me and Shirley, those screaming blood-covered, slimy things were the most beautiful beings in the world. Thankfully, most people are willing to lie politely to you when you mention that to them. I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to see as clearly as that when my sons were born.

I remember still how very special and strange it was when we welcomed Stephan into the world. He was born on Halloween, so when I turned proudly to see those waiting to see my wonderful son all I saw were a bunch of people in strange costumes and masks! Sean on the other hand couldn’t wait to get out and gave Shirley early labor signs. When he finally arrived it was with gusto. His ‘big’ brother Stephan held him and didn’t worry about the blood still on his head.

Today I am so proud to be a father of these wonderful boys who are growing each and every day in the love of God. I am so thankful for the little bit of time that I have to spend with them – borrowing them as it were. Stephan is still so full of love. Sean is still wanting to grow up quickly and has a heart of gold. That’s being a father – taking the daunting responsibility of doing your best to show them what is good, what it really means to be a man. I am thankful for my dad, who taught me and four other boys (and my sister!) some wonderful things.

And I get to celebrate this twice! How blessed can you get?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

25 years and going strong

It's wasn't our anniversary - or at least not that one. But it WAS 25 years ago (on May 31) that we first kissed - on the steps of the church building in The Hague!

That wasn't the beginning of our relationship. I have always been glad of that. Shirley and I were best friends. We spent hours sitting talking to each other about all sorts of things. We knew and appreciated each other. So when we both went on that summer campaign to the Netherlands, it was because we had grown in a wonderful relationship with the Lord and with each other. And it was, and still very much is this relationship that we have with the Lord that brought us together.

Yeah, it was that day that we became a "couple", with that simple kiss (and I still remember it well). It would be another three and a half years before we married. In fact, we didn't see each other for about two years in that time. But we kept growing closer. So May 31 is a day to remember for us.

To surprise me, Shirley set up a whole getaway thing (with the help of the boys). We spent a few days alone in Brughe, along the Belgian coast, in the city of Lille, France, and at a spa. It was all terribly romantic and we enjoyed it tremendously. We were even able to forget about the boys for a part of it (they did great!).

We are so looking forward to the next 25 years - each day at a time. God is so good and gracious and we are so glad to know HIS love.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Communication is great until it breaks down! I have not been able to get on blogger for several weeks and then my internet went out (along with my phone!). Made for some nice quiet days, but I am sorry that I haven't been in touch. Hopefully things are fixed now (or soon).

April - May Newsletter

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

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. ... The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 14:8,12

Dear brothers and sisters, family and friends,
It is always so good to be able to sit and talk with you all. I am sorry that it has taken so long to get another letter sent out - especially since there have been so many good things going on. Let me tell you quickly about as many as I have space for.
Outreach and church life
As we try more and more to get to know our neighborhood better, we are excited about the possibilities. As mentioned in the last newsletter, Scott is now working on the local neighborhood newspaper. Not only is this an opportunity to get to know people better, Scott has already had some opportunities to write some articles as well. In May we had some flyers printed up to pass out in the neighborhood and are looking forward to the contacts this will bring through the summer and Fall.
Our youth activities each month continue to be good times of fellowship and good fun for the young people and the parents. This has been a good chance to have family time and reach out to the friends we have as well. We have consistently had children at these activities who are not regular church-goers, and their parents come as well. Pray for these opportunities. We had two youth activites and a youth weekend in these past two months. The youth weekend in Antwerp focused on how we worship God.
In addition to these types of outreach activities, we are enjoying a good family life as well in the church. We have gotten together for lunch or dinner, held the weekly Bible study at a family home, gone shopping together and basically just kept building on the family bond we have. We are so thankful for the family that God has placed us in! He knows how much we all need each other in so many ways (even some ways we don’t like but which are good for us - like learning patience, love or bearing with one another).
Another great opportunity recently has been a Ladies Day held in Antwerp. Almost all of our ladies attended this day of fellowship and study together. It was great to see and hear our sister Nel after this Saturday. She usually cannot make it to these events, but was already wanting to plan the next one when she got back to Maastricht. Fellowship is contagious: get infected whenever you get the chance!
Regular activities
Scott continues to be involved weekly with teaching English through the Bible, teaching English to asylum-seekers at the Red Cross center, working with the local school, Bible studies with International students from the university and working with the local newspaper. These are efforts, some more direct than others, to influence people’s lives with the love and goodness of the only true King.

- some of the international students -

Our efforts also continue regularly with Bible camp. In May a work camp was held to fix and prepare the camp for the summer weeks. We will lead the Benjamin week and Scott will teach at Family camp. The group that administers camp (Scott is the vice-chairman) is working on plans for a long needed renovation as well.
Listen Up!
May saw the beginning of recording sessions for Listen Up! We are so thankful for this opportunity to sing! The songs have been ready for some time and still it can be a wonderful struggle to let them speak. We are especially thankful to be able to work with Kjell, the studio owner. Good conversations about life with God intersperse the moments of singing. Hopefully this second CD will be ready by September.

Please keep the following in your prayers.
- Thank God for the further contact we are able to build up through the local newspaper and the efforts from the past few months. Please continue to pray for this contact in the neighborhood.
- Our studies with Angelique, Mieke, Cor and Titia, and Gerard continue. Please keep them in your prayers.
- Pray for oiur brother and sister Tim and Jane, both of whom are struggling with a depression, and continue to pray for Roger and Yvonne who are both considering giving their lives to Christ.

It seems that teeth have taken over the last few months. Everyone needs ‘em, and boy does your face look strange without ‘em, but when they are hurting it can be a real pain (obviously!). Sean has had regular visits to the orthodontist for braces. At the end of May he finally got the braces for the lower part of his teeth. We had been waiting for a ‘baby’ tooth to fall out. In the end we just had to have it pulled. So now Sean has braces on all of his teeth - or almost. Actually, his lower teeth were so crooked, and there was such a gap from the pulled tooth, that the orthodontist only put blocks on the front lower teeth to pull them in line. In June she will look at going further.
But this wasn’t most of the fun for Sean in the past few months. He has spent most of his time with the physical therapist. We thought that this all came from an injury with soccer - and maybe that helped (if you can put it that way), but it turns out that Sean was just growing too quickly. Once he finished with working on the achilles tendon on his left leg, it started up on his right leg. Thankfully it has now all finished. For those of you who have been following this soap opera - Sean finally got to put on his new soccer kit and go out to play with his new ball (JOY!!). He is looking forward to starting back up with a real team in the Fall.
Stephan finished off his braces a while back, but at a regular check-up the dentist pointed out that his wisdom teeth (Stephan’s, not the dentist’s) were already pushing in and would ruin all that good work if we didn’t do something about it. So we made an appointment to have his wisdom teeth pulled. Since he has teeth like Scott’s (who had his wisdom teeth out a few years back) they would need to be surgically removed. Thankfully he recovered quite quickly. In fact, two days after the operation he went off on the train with Sean to visit some freinds in the Netherlands for a birthday party. Nothing could keep him from playing some basketball with his friends. He is looking forward to getting back into a regular league in the Fall.
So then we come to Shirley and Scott. Scott simply had a filling fall out and a cavity needed filling. But Shirley was struggling with major pain. We thought it might be a sinus infection or something wrong with her jaw. The dentist had assured us that there was nothing wrong with her tooth. When we finally got a second opinion, we found a cracked tooth with a damaged nerve needing urgent attention. Thankfully we have a better dentist now who took care of the problem until it can be completely cared for (beginning of June).
All of this could not dampen our enjoyment of the days together and the good things we are offered each and every day. God is so giving! Shirley surprised Scott (with willing help from the boys) with a trip to celebrate their getting together 25 years ago (on the steps of the church building in The Hague!). While the boys stayed home, Scott and Shirley headed off to Brughe, the coast, Lille and a spa for a couple days. We are so thankful for such good young men who take good care of each other (and the house).

Come on summer!
Spring hasn’t even really arrived, but we are looking forward to the summer. Sean is of course looking forward to the World Cup - the matches are being played not far from here. But summer for him also means lots of time outside playing soccer with his friends.
Stephan has returned to playing basketball quite regularly and will look forward to doing more of that in the summer as well. Mostly summer for him means no school, camp - where he can see his friends, and enjoying any and all free time. This summer he might be getting a summer job.
What does summer mean to you? What will you be doing this summer? Let us know.
e-mail Stephan at:
e-mail Sean at:

What’s coming up?
Youth activity
Church study day
Camp weeks
PEL in Brussels
Family Day organized by Maastricht
- For the continued support from the church in Brughe and Roeselare
- For your emails and comments on the blog. It is great to know that you are following what is happening in our lives.
- For your prayers for the work here

Enjoy all that God has given you - today!
Love in Him,
Scott, Shirley,
Stephan and Sean Raab