Sunday, May 25, 2008


I wanted to take some time to write about the workers at the branch of L'Abri. they are great and their diversity is what makes this time with them so special:

Henk and Riana Reitsma (39 & 38), and their two daughters: Babette and Ariella (8 & 6) are from South Africa.Beautiful girls with long dark hair and big blue eyes! Actually, Henk grew up in The Netherlands, but them moved to South Africa where he met Riana and where their family lived for a number of years (15, i think). Henk has eight years of schooling afer college and is one of the smartest men in the widest range of topics I have ever known. But that knowledge is also coupled with an intense love and kindness about him...he has a great sense of humor, and he works as hard as my father in manual labor (which, for those of you who know my dad, know is HARD). he is a remarkable man, and he is Jade's mentor for the summer. His wife Riana, Henk told us over dinner one of the first nights we were here, should have a tatoo on her forehead which states "driven to serve." and he would be correct...she loves to serve and is one of the greatest cooks i've met. (which also, sadly, means that i don't do much cooking here and instead have been cleaning bathrooms and raking grass....but that's ok : ) Babette is a tomboy and Arielle is a little princess. Henk is somewhat of an expert in Theology all the way to Nano-physics (i still don't know what that means even after he explained it to me...something about studying the smallest particles in existence) and he's a strong advocate for life issues. Did I mention that All four of them are fluent in Dutch, English and Africanse...and HEnk could hold a very strong and steady conversation in French, German and a number of African dialects. Theyboth attended seminary , as well, in St. Louis at Covenant. Amazing.

Beryl is a single lady who lives in the same building structure as Rob and Christa. She is from England and is in her mid-50's. she just had her uterus removed because of cancer just days prior to us arriving. so she has been resting alot! but she is a kind, laid-back woman and worked in horticulture for years ans years so her apartment is stockful of beautiful plants and flowers...she is what you would call a woman with a "green thumb" to the extreme. and she knows everyting about plants, so it's neat to chat with her about these things. she recently found out that they removed all the cancer so she is not needed any more radiation or chemo! praiseGod Almighty for that!

Rob and Christa Ludwig are the other family who live on the grounds. Rob is American (and attended Wheaton for 2 years!) and Christa is Dutch. Thye met many many years ago at the Swiss L'Abri and then re-met in seminary in St. Louis (Covenant). Christa has her master's degree in Psychology. They moved to the Netherlands together to join Henk and Riana at the Dutch L'Abri about 10 years ago (they are 36 & 38). At that time, Rob started taking Dutch classes, and he is now fluent. They have 4 children...seriously could take the prize for "cutest collection of kids" EVER. emily and reuben are twins (5, i think) miriam is 3 and guido is 9 months. Guido is the happiest baby i hav ever seen and laughs a big, belly laugh that is the most joyous sound you have ever heard. miriam is a feisty on and says "mama" and "papa" at least 5,000 times a day...and it never gets annoying because she is so dang cute! Christa is a wonderful cook, too and i know i have already gained weight by the amount of bread we all eat at every meal (homeade bread, might i add!) and cheese...ah, the gouda cheese! and we even eat chocolate.hazelnet spread (nutella) and dark chocolate sprinkles on our toast in the morning. it's ridiculous. but henk says most of the women come here too skinny (he included me in this, which just goes to show what a weird and distorted concept i have of my size that i think i'm big), so it's good to put on a few pounds. i would have to agree with him...this food is too good not to eat!
anyways, rob and christa....oh yeah, rob is my mentor, and already i have been reading things and listening to tapes that are just what i need (more about that later). Christa's parents are in charge of another, smaller, branch of Dutch L'Abri in Utrecht, a larger city nearby. oh yes, and they have a dog named Zine. i don't seem to be allergic., and he is cute, so that's good.

Grace is a cute girl from Massachusetts who was here last term and is the "helper" for the summer. She is 18 and very sweet. other than her, we have been the longest guests here so far. a few people have come and gone. a girl named Verena was here from Munich, Germany for a week and has left. we will stay with her for a night when we go to germany. this weekend three guys have arrived: two younger from locally and an older man who seems to be homeless who came from germany but said he is originally from Northern California. i'm sure we'll be hearing moreof his story...

We are in "the sticks" and it takes a lot of effort to get we just bike places or stay here, because we are surrounded by apple orchards and rose plants and goats and GREENness. we like it here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


As we continue to seek God in the beautiful Netherlands, the one thing that keeps weighing on my mind is who am I. I know my name. I know I am a child of God. I know that I am loved. What perplexes me is how in the world I have ripened to the age of 32 without knowing what truly defines me. I have been studying David Keyes over the past week. He says that identity is made up of four parts. One is morality. What morals define me as a person. What do I consider to be right and wrong. The second is models. Who do I aspire to be like? Who is my hero? Is he/she someone I can become? So many kids make musicians and athletes their heros, only to fail to become this unattainable person. When that happens a sense of identity is lost. The third is Dominion. Being able to overcome and master things. Whether it be meeting goals or deadlines at work or learning how to skydive. This also gives us indentity. Finally love helps to define our identity. These are things that I ponder on now as I try to find out who I truly am. Erin and I seek to find the identity that defines us as a couple. We have peace here and love the people at Labri. They are helping us to seek God and one another with peace in our hearts. We miss all of you and pray all is well.
God Bless, Jade


we are getting into a rhythm now. we rode our bikes into town today (about 11 kilos from Eck Van Wiel, where we are staying) so that we could find a place to download our photos onto a disc, and then upload some onto our blog. this is not so easy! the library won't allow us to, and the computer at LÁbri is from the stoneage. Henk, one of our mentors, tells me to turn on the computer and then take a 10 minute walk while it boots up...he is a funny guy naturally, but for this he is not kidding : )

we also bought some paints and a few canvus's at the local "dollar store called '"Äction" because i am feeling a little bit creative....we shall see though!

thursday is our "day off" of studies and work, and this is a nice time to catch some of our local scenary. it is so unbelievably green here and is also very flat, which causes just about everyone to be on bikes or vespas. we love the dutch language...the sound of it and the intonations in the natives voicves as they speak. the kids of the lábri workers remind me of the little ones on Narnia with their english in a british/dutch/africanse accent (one of the families has also spent many years in south africa, so they speak 3 languages with their kids.)

mom and dad, i'm feeling a little jipped that i only know english!!! : ) just you!

more later....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Well, we have been in Europe for one week now! We have not had the opportunity to write anything and so I (Erin) will update you on our travels so far...

When we arrived to the airport last Monday, we quickly realized that our flight to Memphis hd been delayed for an hour, and then another hour... so Jade went and talked to the lady behind the NWairlines desk. Our first blessing was that she gave us another flight going through Minneapolis (only 1 1/2 hours later than planned!) But also, Jade asked her for some vouchers and so we received $40 for airport food (enough for our whole trip and some left over for our trip home!), 4,000 frequent flyer miles to add to our account, and also $100 towards our next flight! But this is the best part....when we boarded our "over the ocean" flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam, we were shocked to find out that we had been changed to "business class," which meant nothing to us until we boarded the plane and were in one of the first few rows...with reclining, HUGE seats, even our feet raised up! : ) personal t.v.s with all the free movies we wanted (and we could each choose and watch our own! a full salmon dinner with appetizers and desert. also, hot towels sporatically throughout the night. i basically got to lay down on this flight and sleep for at least 5 hours straight. THIS WAS WONDERFUL! too bad we have to go back to coach class from now on! : )

The first thing we saw when we arrived at the airport in Geneva, Switzerland was a huge poster of George Clooney's face advertising something...maybe a Swiss watch. this was funny to we expected to see something very "swiss" but instead saw this American icon. {now i'm rolling my eyes}

it didn';t take long to figure out that we were in another country when we tried to figure out, for the first time, how to get to the train, which one to take, and what time it left. these things are much more difficult than we anticipated, and we have already had to use teamwork in MANY situations to get where we want to go. thank goodness many people know at least some english...otherwise we would be...oh, what's the word? we would be screwed. : )

french is not an easy language to understand. those people use nearly no syllables in their words and leave all kinds of letters out. the whole time in paris we had to ask "how do you spell that?" if someone was giving us a street name or something important to remember.

when we arrived in geneva, we were late beacuse of our delays, and so we had to take the late train to paris. this meant that we left at almost dark and had to ride 3 1/2 hours by train, and reached paris close to midnight. from there we had to navigate our first streets in order to find our hostel! it makes me laught just thinking about what a sight we must have been! two americans, with huge backpacks and bloodhot eyes walking around in the dark with very large maps. turning down one street, then turning around to discover we were going the worng way (at least 3 times) before finally discovering our way. and then getting to our hostel room to realize that we were right across the street (and the streets are MUCH narrower than U.S. streets...almost as narrow as the Papio trail in some places with tall buildings on either side to make it feel like a tunnel) we were right across the street from a Bar with an "All Night Dancing and Drinking" sign out front. yay!!! we learned to adapt that week to sleeping with much noise.

The next two days were great. We walked about 20 miless and saw many of the famous sights.... the louvre museum (mona lisa is so small and isn't very impressive!). eiffel tower (at night it lights up and is blinking like a circus toy for awhile and is not what i expected!) and then we went to the top in the daytime which was beautiful we saw notre dame, museum d'orsay with monet and minet and van gogh paintings, including my favorite monet ever: "regatta at argentiel"! the second day we took advanteage of Paris's underground Metro system and were very pround of ourselves when we began navigating all by ourselves after many tries at it. there were even a few "indiana jonesesque" moments when we realized we were at the wrong train and we sprinted to the next one to hop on just as it was taking off. very exciting and got my adrenaline pumping!! we just took in the sights and sounds and had a wonderful time.

On Friday we arrived at L'Abri late in the afternoon and are finally settling into our rhythm here after taking a visit to Amsterdam and a famous tulip garden on Sunday. the people here are WONDERFUL (much friendlier overall in Holland than in France) and the workers and other guests at L'Abri are already becoming a special part of our lives.

it's "coffee time" now at 8:00 i'd better go! more in a few days about what we've been doing since our arrival at L'abri!

Jade and I send our love to you all.....leave a comment if you like!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Paris has been crazy and a lot of walking. :) Very Beautiful! I dont have many minutes left. Update soon.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Obtaining Vision

This is my (Jade's) first entry on here. Last night as Erin I sat on the floor of our nearly empty apartment praying, I began to grasp how little praying I do anymore. Oh, I say a prayer here and there and bless the food, but deep, heart fealt prayer does not flow from my lips as it once did. This morning Erin asked me to read My Upmost for His Highest passage for May 9th, and God confirmed in my heart what I already knew in my head. I had taken my eyes off of Him. I had lost sight of seeking and looking for God in each and every situation.
I remember when I got my first set of glasses. The clarity of each and every object sprang forth as if I were in the midst of a 3-D movie. I remember driving on a gravel road and marveling at how I could visually see each and every pebble on the road. As time went on though, I began to leave my glasses at home and just get by without them. My eyes were good enough that I could pass the eye exam for driving so I didn't really "need them." Besides they were a pain to wear, awkward and did not enhance how I looked. The same can be said of my spiritual journey. Growing up I was unaware of my flawed vision of God. I went to church each and every Sunday. I believed in God and His Son Jesus. What more could I see? Then my eyes were opened. God spoke to my heart for the first time in my life at the age of 22. It was like putting on my first spiritual glasses. Everything was fresh in my relationship with Him. I could understand His meaning clearly as I read the Bible. I saw Him everywhere I looked. But as time went on, I focussed a great deal on the legalistic part of religion. It became uncomfortable and difficult following God. The discomfort of knowing I was now different from the world gave me, a dynamic extrovert, an unease of being around nonbelievers. I found myself taking off my spirtually glasses because I could get by on my foundation in my faith. I could rely on my beliefs of right and wrong without seeking the face of God in each situation I faced. However, even my foundation was compromised as I lost sight of the Lord. My vision was blurred. All I could see was the grey of the road and not the clarity of each pebble that lay ahead. Fast forward to today. I have once again picked up my glasses and just like the first time I am amazed at how clearly God is speaking to my heart. I am looking forward, expecting God to show me the plans that He has for Erin and I this summer, and more importantly, beyond this summer.
Here is a segment of My Upmost that really spoke to my heart today. "Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint." Prov. 29:18 ".....When once we lose sight of God, we begin to be reckless, we cast off certain restraints, we cast off praying, we cast off the vision of God in little things, and begin to act on our own initiative. If we are eating what we have out of our own hand, doing things on our own initiative without expecting God to come in, we are on the downward path, we have lost the vision." One of the main reasons I took off my spiritual glasses is because I had everything I needed. I made enough money that I could provide for us without relying on anything from God. However, no matter what I could buy it never brought satisfaction. I make no money now (LOL) and now my eyes are openned again. Oswald Chambers finished the passage in this way, "Are we expecting God to do greater things than He has ever done? Is there a freshness and vigour in our spiritual outlook?" The answer for Erin and I is a definate YES!

Monday, May 5, 2008

4 Mustards

So we leave one week from today. ONE WEEK FROM TODAY! This must be what an out of body experience feels like. I also kind-of feel like I did right before high school I'm not sure what to expect, and I'm freaked out. But I'm mostly just really excited.

We have been packing our stuff up this past week. We rented a garage unit at our apartment complex for storage, and we are moving all of our belongings in there for the summer. It's a pretty sweet deal because we just carry our crap down the stairs and into the garage. No moving van or anything. Saturday we moved all of our furniture out. I'm glad we did, but now we don't have a bed and we are sleeping on our queen sized air mattress. Not quite the same, but it works...we're slowly changing our standard of living to ease our way into not having a "place to rest our heads" some nights in Europe, I guess.

I was carrying an end table down the stairs a few days ago and I forgot that the black marble top wasn't attached.....and it shattered down three flights of stairs and all over the cement and grass below...that was FUN to clean up!

We are also trying to eat all of the food we have left in the cabinets and in the refrigerator. The other night I came home from class and Jade had made Beef Noodles with canned salmon. It smelled/looked/tasted absolutely disgusting. But it was cute. He made it because I had set out the salmon to use for a salad.

We still have 4 mustards in our fridge. And a butt load of soy sauce. If you have any ideas for how I can use these things in one week, I am open to suggestions. I am anal retentive about not wasting food...I know, I know, this is getting a bit ridiculous, but it's kind-of like a game. We're having fun. Well, maybe Jade isn't...he'd probably rather I buy some "real food" for our final week here instead of eating mustard and soy sauce sardine tortillas. I really do have all of these things.

Jade us officially unemployed as of last Friday! I will be tomorrow. And I didn't get the job at UNO next Fall, so we literally have no idea what we are doing about money after tomorrow in a few months. At least we've been saving up for the past year. We knew this was coming, but now that it's here it's different! This is crazy!

But mainly just exciting.