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.