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
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