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