Friday, November 30, 2007


This past week we held our "WoW" course - Getting to know the Bible (which in Dutch works out to WoW for "Wiser along the Way"). Shirley and I went flyering in the neighborhood the week before and I knocked doors after that to personally invite people to the classes. This time we had no visitors for the classes. We did have our two new members attend (Leon and Mariette). They were also the ones who suggested that we advertise the course in Belgium as well. We will try that next time (probably in March).

What was exciting was to hear from so many of the members (and the kids) how they were praying for the course and for those who were attending. I know that many of you were doing the same thing. Thank you! We continue to try to find all sorts of ways to let people know how good it is to live with God. Thank you for your faithfulness.

Which brings me to our Thanksgiving as a family. We like to fancy up the table and have a nice dinner together - so we did on Thursday. This Sunday we are celebrating with other Americans, but on the day itself we celebrated together.

All of the little leaves on the table (in the middle under the runner) were "thank you's" that we wrote each other. It was fun sharing those with each other. I enjoy good food, but being part of a wonderful family is great! Thank you for being part of that too.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

- for a warm house on a rainy winter day as well as a cooling rain during a smeltering summer day
- for people who not only read about what happens in far away places, but who pray, write and do
- for sons who infect a whole house with their laughter
- for congregations who are so patient with us and faithful in their daily lives with God
- for a car that runs well
- for a blind dog who loves unequivocally and unconditionally (or at least when you feed her nice things)
- for family members in places all over, some who I still haven't met!
- for a Hawaiian wedding reception, a flour war, pool-ball, sheet-wars, discgolfing and just plain fun in the summer
- for challenges that continue to force me to my knees and into the mighty hands of God, who alone can do what needs done
- for a computer - could I live without email?
- for a wife who is a teammate, a miracle worker at times and a bombshell even in her sweats
- for a Christian family here which is ready to continue struggling and depend on God's grace
- for a home with a future - wouldn't it be great if the travel rush to get to that home was as busy as this traveling season!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A day of detours

Have you ever had a day like that before? I got up 10 minutes earlier than usual so that Sean would be on time and so that, when I walk the dog I don't run into (literally sometimes - do you know how dark it is at 7 am?) anyone on the way. Instead we ran into the usual suspects on the walk and had to adapt - and everything was just fine.
On the way to my study with Mr. W. I dropped Shirley off at the shopping center - a bit out of the way, but we knew that we wouldn't be home until dinner that evening. At Mr. W. I was planning on talking about choices, but he had some other questions - about Jewish food customs and why Jesus didn't say anything about it (and I showed him that Jesus did say something about it) and how God would react to those who reject Jesus. And so we ended up talking about choices and how people react to the message of Jesus.
Leaving Mr. W. I had to take a detour that took me way out of my way and made me late to pick up Shirley. But she was waiting patiently and we went on to our visit and study with Willemien. Our time together was wonderful, even though we had to cut our visit there short because we had made a special appointment with LJ at the library in Maastricht.
Arriving at the library I had to find a parking place and we couldn't get the room we wanted at first. But the young man in 'our' room was willing to move for a little bit (we were shooting a video), we got everything done in plenty of time and Shirley and I got home earlier than Sean had expected. "What are you guys doing home already?" (But he was happy!)
After a quick dinner, Sean and I were off to his practice, back in Maastricht. While he was practicing, I got some work done and took the dog for her evening walk. The fields were quite muddy, so we had to change our usual walk. But the evening was dry and warm (I could almost walk with my jacket open) and Snuffles enjoyed it immensely.
After taking Sean back home I drove back in to Maastricht (this is a 20 minute drive) to get together for about 40 minutes with the university students who were looking at Hebrews 6 that evening (don't get stuck in the elementary teachings - move on to a relationship that is worth working on!). I couldn't stay as long as I might have liked. Stephan gets out of his basketball practice at 9:30 in Maasmechelen (about 20 minutes the other side of our house). It is so good to see how he is growing.
Back home I figured I would finally take off my shoes, put up my feet and chill a bit. Sean got ready for bed and came over to give me a hug ("You look like you need a hug"). When I went up to put Sean to bed (I love that they still allow me to do this - they are my little boys and I love them so much), he asked wisely why I didn't just go to bed - so I did.
Not exactly what I had planned at the beginning of the day - but when I leave things in God's hands and focus on what is being done, it all works out just fine.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Servant hearts

Versieren / decorating
Originally uploaded by sraabs.
This past weekend we headed up to Eindhoven for a youth weekend on "Sharing, Serving and Giving". At this weekend we want the young people to learn about giving and serving, so we take part in 'Operation Shoebox'. This is an opportunity to put together shoeboxes filled with gifts for kids in orphanages and refugee camps around the world. When the boxes are presented, the kids also get a book telling about Jesus - the greatest gift.
At this weekend we challenged the young people to bring their own money to buy the gifts. We walked into town (cold, but beautifully sunny!) to buy the gifts for in the boxes. Interestingly, this was also the day that Sinter Klaas came to Eindhoven. Sinter Klaas is celebrated on December 6 and is when kids GET gifts. Our kids were out getting gifts to give away.
Back at the building we heard from Ivo about how important it is to make good choices and how others generosity helps so much. Ivo struggled with his own bad choices and could speak from experience about the prodigal son. It was great to have him there!
Then we all got down to business and made our shoeboxes as beautiful as they could be. We had seen in a video earlier in the day how excited the kids are who receive the boxes. We knew that we could add to that joy with what we were doing. It was neat to see that several of the young people had bought things in bulk that then could be shared in several of the boxes. Sharing in practice!
Scott brought a lesson after dinner about what sharing and serving is all about. Everyone got to practice a little bit - bringing someone some water, bringing some food to the table, or even washing feet! And then the challenge to keep serving one another in little ways every day.
A challenging movie (Pay it forward - sad ending, good challenge) finished the day before everyone went to sleep (or went home) after a busy day.
Sunday morning brought another good challenge from Remco. It is exciting to see how these young people are being challenged by young people (now grown up) who were challenged by young people. God teaches us to serve, to share and to keep giving - because HE has done and continues to do just that. What a wonderful God we have!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Two weeks ago Stephan turned 18. I still remember the evening that he was born - it isn't difficult to remember, it was Halloween. But he was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen in our lives. Along the way we have seen him in braces for his feet and braces for his teeth. He has always been someone who climbs - either in trees, up walls and rocks, or in his life as he strives to know God. And all along the way his smile has lit the way, bringing joy in our lives.

Amazing to us to think that he is already at this point in his life. This is his last year in school here. Next year he will probably be in the States, making new friends. But it is also so exciting to see how he is growing. He still has so much fun and can be a real goof-off, but he is also a serious young man who takes his responsibilities seriously. He is a good friend to those around him and a good example as well. We are so thankful that God gave us this responsibility and blessing!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

October Newsletter

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

October 2007

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:2

Dear brothers and sisters, family and friends,
October was a busy, exciting month full of challenges, hard work, exciting moments and times to grow. It continues to amaze me how God can do so much in such a little time!

Preach the news, in season and out, take every opportunity to tell the good news. That is what we want to do and are trying to do in our life here in the Netherlands and Belgium. For October that meant getting ready to sing. As many of you know, Scott sings with an a cappella singing group called Listen Up! Many of you have prayed for them in the past, followed their efforts and have supported them.
The churches in Switzerland had also heard of how they preach using their song and wanted to use them in reaching out to their own cities, so a tour was planned (with Swiss precision) for five German-speaking cities in Switserland. This meant that Listen Up! had to find a week they could all get free, which turned out to be the Dutch school break. The Swiss churches found venues for the concerts and planned activites around the concerts to better reach people with Good news. By the middle of October, everything was ready and Listen Up!, together with Remco (Vero’s husband) and Shirley headed out for Bern.

Our experience in the next 8 days was amazing. It was so encouraging to see how these brothers and sisters put themselves into making these concerts a chance to talk to people. Many of the members had to do things they were not used to, but they did them, trusting in God’s strength. We were witnesses of this beauty and might – God is truly amazing in what He can do!
It was thrilling for us also to hear how the members were so pleased with how the word was preached. One preacher from the church in Switzerland let us know that he had never heard a singing group preach the word as we had. He had heard groups sing about Jesus, but we preached. That is exactly what we wanted to be able to do and we are so glad that God was able to use us in that way.
Of course we also saw wonderful places and gawked at the beauty all around us in the beautiful Swiss mountains and lakes. But it came home even more because we were shown the same majestic beauty in God’s creation of His family, the church in the various places we stayed. We stayed in the homes of members who spoiled us with love. We saw congregations who were very small stretching to do what they could and simply being faithful in living for God. As we hope their faith grew and was stretched, ours definitely was.

Back at home we were also able to continue some good studies and encouraging contacts. Scott hadn’t seen Lj since before the summer. When they finally got together, LJ mentioned that an hour a week was not going to be enough if she were to really learn what she wants. She is interested in the Old Testament and the new. “Could we meet for a longer time?” So now we are meeting for two hours a week and reading in Genesis and in Acts! This is exciting!
Mr. W. Is growing with each meeting. When we first met, he mentioned that he had read the New Testament before. This month he exclaimed that it was surprising how little you retain after one reading. He was glad we were going over things again. And it is a challenge for him – we are reading in Matthew, where, according to his feeling, Jesus makes some pretty difficult statements. And some of the things we are looking at directly challenge what he thought was in the Bible. It can be frustrating to see that things are not what you thought. But Mr. W. Is willing to look at this and discuss it. He wants to be more than simply someone who says they are Christian but doesn’t really do anything about it.
In November we will offer the 'Wijzer op Weg' course (Getting to know the Bible – abbreviated for the Dutch as WOW) again. It was this course that brought Mr. W. to us for the study we are following now. We hope that we will be able to reach a few more people in November and in the Spring when we offer the course again.
In addition to these efforts we continue our devo evenings with the men, which has been a real blessing for us as brothers in the church. The ladies try to get together every Thursday, but it is harder to get the guys together. This has worked out well so far – the men look forward to each meeting.
Please keep these efforts in your prayers. Pray for the churches in Switzerland as they continue with the contacts they made during the concerts. And pray for our efforts to continue reaching people as we preach in all different ways.

- LJ and Mr. W continue to ask good questions and be interested in what God is saying in His word. Keep praying!
- Pray for our outreach in November and December – WOW classes, flyering, questions in our neighborhood.
- Continue to pray for our young people in their growth – several of our young people are questioning what they want to do with their lives.
- V. is a girlfriend of one of our girls. She attends service regularly, having her father bring her on a Sunday morning, and goes to youth weekends and camp. Pray as she is considering what Jesus means to her.
- Pray for the Swiss churches’ outreach after the Listen Up! concerts in Bern, Thun, Luzern, Zurich and Schaffhausen.

Tidbits of information about Belgium and the Netherlands
Places that speak or spoke Dutch
The Netherlands, Flanders (northern part of Belgium), a section of north-western France, South Africa, Indonesia, Surinam, Aruba, Dutch Antilles, Curacao and New York (which used to be New Amsterdam).
Australia used to be called New Holland and New Zealand is named after a Dutch province (Nieuw Zeeland). So the Dutch have had an influence on all continents (except Antarctica).
Have you come across something typically Dutch or Belgian? What did you think of it? Let us know.

Our Swiss trip was a real experience for everyone this month. Usually Scott heads off with Listen Up! – without Shirley, but the boys have reached an age that they can handle themselves at home – alone. So Shirley was able to go along to Switzerland. What a blessing! There were such beautiful sites and wonderful relationships. Shirley makes girlfriends wherever she goes and Switzerland was no different. In Bern we were able to see and stay with old friends (Bill and DeeDee Bundy) and in Luzern and Schaffhausen she made new friends. It is wonderful how God has placed us in such a great family – everywhere we go!
Back in Belgium the boys were home alone. They didn’t have school break – that would come the week after we returned from Switzerland. So they had to make sure the dog was walked before they went off to school in the morning and after they got home. They had to take care of their own food (except for the two times they ate at Leon and Mariette’s house – a real treat!). And they had to take care of the house and themselves.
Sean had to bike to his soccer game on Saturday – 40 minutes there, play a full game, 40 minutes biking home. To have the dog eat your sandwiches off the table at that point did not make him happy. But he and Snuffles figured it out (and she didn’t steal any more food after that!).
While we were gone, the brothers devo was planned for our house. Stephan prepared the lesson and Sean picked and lead the songs. They also made sure the house was clean, got tea and coffee ready and offered snacks. Talk about good hosts – it was great to hear about the things they did.
Of course, when we arrived home a few hours early, Sean was quite clear that we were not yet allowed in the house – he hadn’t cleaned up yet! It was so good to know that they were not only able to handle themselves well while we were gone, but were able to grow from it as well.
The end of the month was a whirlwind of different activites. The boys had a vacation and went off to a games day with Joël. The first weekend of the vacation Stephan went early in the morning to Brussels to take the ACT in preparation for next year and the possibility of studying in the States. He also went down to camp for Fall camp and some lessons on what it was like in Jesus’ day.
In the middle of the week he turned 18 (can you believe it!!). We had the church over for some singing and good fellowship. Next weekend Stephan will have some friends down and go swimming all day. By mid-week Sean was convinced that the vacation was already over and he hadn’t done anything with it.

- Special notes from the church in Woodbury – it was a WONDERFUL packet of encouragement, just reading all of your notes and prayers.
- Hospitality of the churches in Switzerland
- Your prayers for all that is happening here and in Europe

What’s coming up?
WoW course
Youth weekend
Flyering in Maastricht
Listen Up! singing in Utrecht
Bible study in Lanaken