Holland-Belgium trip – Part 1
As I’m now traveling by train from Holland to Belgium, I can reflect back on my 4 days in Holland and quickly get excited about what’s happening there! The school that Volkert is leading in Bunschoten-Spakenburg is just beginning with a new group of students that will soon realize even more how a full view of God’s Kingdom will radically affect their lives and those around them. Although I’ve only been a part of P.I. for a short time, I am starting to see more clearly how supernatural our work is and how great it is to be a part of it.
My final evening in Holland was spent traveling to Lisse with Volkert to have two final informational meetings with people interested in attending the school that will begin there this coming Saturday. There is a great church there whose lead pastor and some key leadership members came to our meeting. One of the leaders, a local attorney, and his wife carry a full spirit of Kingdom life with them! It was obvious the moment we met – despite the language barrier. Another couple, Hinne and Sondra, came from Amsterdam and we instantly connected. They were born in South America and both spoke very good English. Hinne may have been the best English-speaking person I was with the whole 4 days! He actually volunteered to sit by me in the meeting and interpret everything so that Volkert could be free to lead the entire meeting in Dutch. As we wrapped up the two meetings, the attorney, his wife, Volkert, me, Hinne and his wife all agreed, very enthusiastically, that something incredible was about to happen in this school. There was obviously a lot of “pastoring” that will need to be done with the students there, but God has assembled a remarkable team of spirit-filled Believers who are ready to spread the Kingdom message and raise up a large group of equipped men and women to radically impact the nation of Holland! The six of us circled and prayed (thankfully in English) together and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to remain standing… the presence of the Lord was incredibly strong. I was overwhelmed with gratitude to be halfway around the world participating in that moment! I believe the Lisse school can become a “launching pad” for the Kingdom of God in Holland!
As a recap of my time… I arrived very sleepy on Friday morning and was picked up by Rinus, a longtime P.I. friend. He took me to his home in Utrecht where we had some coffee and cookies together by the river behind his home. It was a peaceful place where I could have spent a LOT of time! I showered and then Rinus drove me to Bunschoten-Spakenburg where we at lunch together before arriving at Volkert and Karoline’s home in Eemdijk. That afternoon we spent together at their home and I enjoyed a great home-cooked Dutch meal.
Saturday we went into the village and I taught 3 sessions of our Kingdom of God course at the local city arts center. It didn’t take me long to re-discover the challenge of teaching through an interpreter! I had done it before, but it had been quite a while since my last experience with that. I also quickly realized how much more I must rely on the Holy Spirit to lead me in those moments. It is so easy to get frustrated with what feels like the constant start-and-stop routine. I was blessed to be with them and see the excitement they have to begin the school together. Volkert hosts the school one Saturday a month and then follows up on Tuesday evenings with them. Following the school sessions, we spent some time enjoying the village together and taking in the sights and sounds of the annual traditional day. There was singing, cooking, traditional outfits, and of course, lots of beer around us! A true Dutch experience. Volkert and I then spent the evening enjoying a nice meal together at the same local restaurant (owned by Karoline’s cousin) where Rinus and I ate together the day before.
Sunday morning we attended the local small church where Volkert and his family go each week. It was a very laid back friendly group of people who truly do love the Lord and desire to see the hand of God work mightily in their village. We enjoyed lunch together as a family on the beautiful back porch of Volkert & Karoline’s home before Volkert & I, along with Volkert Jr. and their caretaker, Christiana, went for a long bike ride throughout their village and the surrounding area. Honestly it was more like the Tour de Holland! Seriously, I’m out of shape but wasn’t about to let them know that I was absolutely worn out! The terrain in Holland is mostly flat like Lubbock, but is set apart by the huge sea all around their village. Strangely enough, their village of Eemdijk is a few feet below sea level. They have very fertile land and a lot of Holstein cattle and dairy farms! Ahh… Sulphur Springs all over again. Anyway, despite the flat ground, I was not at all in bicycling shape. We then traveled to another nearby city to attend a church whose pastor knows one of Prepare’s top leaders in Poland. Their connection has led to Volkert meeting this pastor in hopes that a school can be launched in their city as well. It was a combined service that evening for 3 separate locations of the same church. Everything about it felt like Church on the Rock, so I was pretty excited. They even sang two songs in English!
Monday, Volkert and I traveled by train into Amsterdam. Whoa… how quickly the surroundings and people change in a short distance! From cattle and open fields to tall buildings filling the skies and the smell of marijuana filling the air. Amsterdam is well known for its party life and in the middle of this day, it felt like it. A melting pot of cultures, food, and sights. Because Volkert & Karoline often travel to Turkey, he wanted me to experience Turkish food so we ate at a place called Halal Food, meaning Holy Food (beef and chicken, no pork!). I likely would have never chosen this place on my own, but hey… when in Rome! Well, actually… when in Amsterdam! We also spent about an hour on a water tour through parts of the city. May of their buildings were erected in the 1500 and 1600’s so it was quite an education for me. It was definitely a great way to see a different side of Holland.
As I’m writing this, I have managed to successfully find my way through multiple train stations en route to Belgium. Undoubtedly, this part was what stressed me the most prior to my arrival, but it has been pretty stress-free! I know now that I can tackle a train schedule in a foreign language!
My time here is almost ½ over already. It has been great! Looking forward to my time in Belgium.