Monday, May 30, 2016


This past weekend (Memorial Day in the US) we drove down to Muscatine, Iowa, to spend time with God’s family there. We weren’t aware of it, but this congregation has been supporting us faithfully for 20 years! And there is a lot to remember here.
The family in Muscatine has our picture up on a board (right next to Sue Foster!). So when we come back every three years or so, people know who we are. But they also know our names. The first morning here we went out to breakfast with the seniors and it was the ladies who asked Shirley – “So how are your two boys?” They ask about them by name.
We remember being here one year during Vacation Bible School when Scott got to play Jesus and Shirley was Salome at the resurrection. We remember sharing a barbecue behind the church building, playing discgolf on a local course or basketball on a court down by the river, learning about the city from Connie or Lloyd or Janet. It is always coming home, here. We even Skype in a Sunday with this family to be able to worship together.
This year we have been able to make new memories, staying in a different place with people we already knew. And we were able to renew our friendships and family ties with the Schellekens family. Although we had not counted on this being a holiday weekend – Memorial Day – it worked out that we were able to see so many people who we may not have seen otherwise (and them all grown up!). 
It is not always easy to remember names. This weekend we met new people: Arthur from Liberia, Lilian from Ukraine, Jeff (MayCastle if you translate his name), Ethan (who is off to Birmingham in June to tell people about Jesus) and many more. And although we may not remember all the names we would like to remember, we will keep trying. God knows our name. God knows every hair on our head. He knows what each one of us is experiencing and how difficult it can be.
One of the questions the congregation in Muscatine has asked is: What can we do to help you more? Our answer: Help us to know that you are praying for and with us. Prayer and thanksgiving are powerful tools that are only in the hands of God’s children. We can use them mightily. We are so thankful for congregations like Muscatine who love God so much, work daily to be an example of His grace in what they do, and encourage us and so many others in serving God faithfully!
Check out the pictures here.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. Brothers and sisters, pray for us.                          1 Thessalonians 5:16-25

Monday, May 23, 2016

Make every effort

After a much longer flight than planned – but everything went well – we finally arrived on the first leg of our Home Assignment: Minnesota. The wonderful family at Woodbury made sure that we had a hotel to stay on that first night. That way we did not have to try to stay awake while we were only yearning for sleep, and no one had to wait up long to take care of us (we finally got in after midnight).
The next day we had time to figure out some necessary purchases (a phone for while in the US, maps for the gps, ibuprofen for possible headaches while traveling) before being welcomed at our first stay. For the 8 days we are in Minnesota, two families we know opened their homes for us: the Fraziers and the Davidsons. The Frazier’s daughter had studied in Maastricht and they stopped in to visit with us when picking her up. The Davidson’s have been our hosts almost every time we have stopped through, so we have watched their family gropw and change throughout the years. What a blessing to experience the welcome both families extend!
In between church family activities – Wednesday night cafe, men’s prayer breakfasts, ladies lunch with Shirley, life group dinners – we have been able to shoot some hoops, share good conversations, do a bit of shopping, or play with lego’s. Everyone asks if there is anything we would like to do, but are willing to leave time to just chill as well. We were treated to a special date night dinner theater show – Beauty and the Beast – wow! (amazing how long one can remember those songs). Above all, everyone is willing to share time and talk about themselves. It is so good to get to know people and see how we are family.
We have enjoyed getting to know the life groups and meeting new people – although we will more than likely forget many of the names. The faces, however, remain. I was reminded of this on Sunday morning after a wonderful time of worship when Butch (who had to remind me of his name) let me know that he remembers us specifically and regularly in his prayers. I let him know that I remember him and specifically that he had let me know this (about his prayers) the last time we had seen each other (in 2012) and that this has been one of the big encouragements in times of struggle. We know that he is praying!
We also worshipped with the Urban Ministry group in the evening - mostly a group of Hmong families – and spent time praying and studying with the men (at prayer breakfast) and ladies (at lunch). It is exciting to be part of so many people wanting to live their faith and encourage one another. We are reminded of how large and deep the family of Christ is. We are so thankful for every effort that has been made to make us feel at home, at ease and encouraged. What a blessing it is to be a member of the family of God!

You can see a few pictures already of our time in Minnesota – here. And I will be adding to the pictures as we continue this week here. Middle of the week we will be driving on to Muscatine, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska. More to come next week. Thanks for stopping in!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

On our way

Tuesday morning, early in the morning (5am), Marc Carlens will be driving us over to Dusseldorf to start our trips. By midnight on Tuesday we should be in Minnesota. From then on, we will be following this schedule and look forward to seeing you.
Click on the map for an enlarged view. The red line shows the travels for Scott en Shirley, the blue line is Sean, Wouter and Marc and the purple line is when we are traveling all together.
We are looking forward to seeing family in Nebraska, Colorado and Indiana. It will be so good to share fellowship with church family in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Texas, Indiana and California. We really want to see you while we have the chance, so if we have not yet set up a date to get together, please drop us a line and let's get that figured out.
Above all, please keep us in your prayers as we are traveling, that we will be safe, but more importantly that we can be an encouragement as we are traveling.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The tie that binds

There are all sorts of reasons to get together. The last weekend of April saw me in Switzerland with people from all over Europe. We were kicking around a ball in a gym and trying to make conversation in whatever language (or parts of) that we could muster. But Remco Dijkstra hit the nail on the head on Sunday morning when he pointed out that the real reason we were there was because we understood the value that God had given us.
We are so valuable to God that He was willing to leave everything and die for us. He was willing to die for people who didn’t even know Him and certainly did not want Him in their lives (at that time). And because He considered us so valuable, we consider each other to be so valuable. We drive hundreds of kilometers, put up with sleeping on a gym floor (or trying to sleep as well as one can through some super snoring) and sore muscles, struggle to make ourselves understood in various languages because we know that we are Family.
Some haven’t been added to the Family yet. It was exciting to hear a story of new life from one of the young men from Marseille. And it was great to see people praying for one another, taking care of one another even in competition. Because it is about how much we are worth, not how well we play (although it was awfully nice to see Geneva and Paris fight it out in the final). You can find more photo's by clicking on the photo above or going here
A weekend later and I was down at Ardennen Bijbelkamp where, once again, a wonderful patchwork of folks had gathered to get dirty and sweaty. This time everyone was from all around Belgium and the Netherlands and we were fixing up camp, getting things ready for the summer. But it was all for the same reason – we understand how valuable we are to God and therefore to one another. We are Family.
We got a whole lot done because everyone was willing to chip in wherever they could. The funds that were needed showed up, the people who showed up were needed in all sorts of jobs, and we all had a great time together. Mowing, weeding, cleaning, building, digging, cooking, assembling. Camp is from all of us (and many of you who also helped out with the funds and encouragement). There are more pictures of this work camp by others here and on Facebook. 
A weekend later and we were walking around Maastricht with Stephan’s in-laws - Natalie’s parents and sister - who took the time in their quick visit to Europe to check out Belgium and environs - and spend time with us! We enjoyed good food – Belgian chocolate, waffles and much more – and good conversation. We celebrated our life in Christ together on Sunday morning and friendships on Sunday evening.
In another week we will be in Minnesota and soon in various other places in the US. We will be visiting family and Family all over. It is so good to know and experience how valuable YOU are. We are so thankful for the love of the Father who has taught us what it is to truly love and be loved!

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.  Colossians 1:3-6