Thursday, June 26, 2008

Goodbye Holland (for now)!!!

the families at L'Abri have invited Jade and I back for the fall term tobe helpers here in the netherlands! i will be making coffee and tea daily for our three "high tea" times, and helping to make meals, tend to the gardening and goats, as well as doing laundry and welcoming guests as they come by preparing their room and such. jade will be helping renovate a few new apartments, tending to the landscaping of the property (everyone has commented on how the grass and hedges have never looked better--thanks to Jade!!!) and learning (from Henk) how to work with electricity and how to repair bikes, cars and lawn mowers : ) we will both be spending time with the 6 children here as their parents work around their busy, busy schedules. and, of course, we will still have time to study!

i am so excited to learn many new skills and to be used in service for this wonderful place with my husband! we won't have to pay rent, and we will even receive a small stipend each month for miscellaneous expenses. we will be staying in a room further away from the other students to have more privacy, and they will even put together a full bed they have in storage so that we can sleep in the same one! (sleeping on two twin beds of different heights, pushed together is just OK...not our "ideal" : )
i don't think it could get any better.

but today we are saying "goodbye". we're taking an overnight train to chateau-d'oex switzerland, and we will be travelling about the western half of the country for 6 days with my mom and dan.

God is GOOD!


This is from Jade

As Erin and I get set to depart from Labri (only temperary since they have asked us to come back and help in the fall), I start to ponder what things were important to me before coming and what things are important to me now. I see that there truly have been changes in my life since coming here back in mid May. Some of which are temperary like me having long hair and a beard (I have not had a hair cut since March or shaved since mid-May), and some are more permanent such as the way I view and respond to liberal thoughts. Dont worry I have not sold my Republican membership, but I do not have the desire to approach liberal ideas with hostility any longer. Though there has been so many changes that have taken place I believe something that will also stick with me is how somethings remain constant no matter where I (we) go.

The first constant I see in our travel is God's beauty. No matter if I am in Eck en Wiel, Holland or Omaha, Nebraska I have found that the beauty of the creator exist no matter where we go. There is a jogging route that Erin and I have come to enjoy that takes us on the dyke of the Rhine River (not sure on Spelling of Rine or dyke but spell check is not working :). The views of the river bottom is absolutely spectacular. There flowers upon flowers here also. So much beauty that the eyes almost become sore from needing to use all of their senses continually to take in the beauty. I have learned that we are created in God's image and as mankind we attempt to create beauty to imitate God. The Dutch have apparently worked hard at this with their beautiful landscaping, windmills, and churches.

The next constant is that family still matters. I see the joy and simplicity in Gido's (Rob and Crista's 9 month old son) smile when his mother or father walks in. He knows that he is loved by his father and mother and does not question whether or not he will be safe and cared for. I see two families open sharing life together and openning up their arms to strangers. I see how we should be as a Christian family of brothers and sisters. Loving one another first but always willing to let someone else in. To let someone who does not know the love of our caring Father, come in and be fed and loved on. Why should I hoared what has freely been given to me? I should give as I have been given.

Finally the constant that remains wherever we roam is love. I thank God for the love and support of our families. I know that it there has to be some difficulties to let us stay away so long (we will not return until 12/16/08 now). Love is present wherever we go because the Father first loved us through His Son. All we have to do is express that love in return to Him and others.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


About a week after arriving at L'Abri, Jade and I were heading out for a morning run and a man with a cane stumbled up the gravel drive towards us. His hair was long and unruly, salt and pepper, and his beard had not been cleaned up in awhile. He wore a black leather jacket, crooked glasses, and jeans with white paint splattered all over them. He held his cane in one hand and a rolled cigarette in the other--a pouch of loose tobacco peaking out from under his jacket. As if his appearance weren't interesting enough, it got better as soon as he opened his mouth. His voice was hoarse, as if he had lost it from long conversations at the pub or a few too many cigarettes over the years. But a scar on his neck caught my attention and it remained an unanswered question until a few fdays later.

Over the course of the last month we have come to know Scott well. We assumed he was around 50 years old, but he is only 40. We assumed he was a homeless hobo without a place to go, but he is one of the most intellectual people we have ever met. After awhile, almost every single one of my assumptions about Scott has been wrong, and I have been put in my place about judging a person by their outward appearance. At first, every time Republicans or America was mentioned, Scott flared up and called anyone having anything to do with either of these labels "an idiot!" (He is American, but has been travelling through Europe for over two years, without a place to call home...and he likes it that way. He wants to revoke his American citizenship just so that he doesn't have to be called "american." Yes, I know, if you are an American Republican reading this, you are probably already getting frustrated with this man...and this is how Jade was the first few weeks too : ) (Everything the two of them talked about ended in a heated argument or debate.) Scott, in different ways on different days, referred also to Jade as an idiot and often asked Henk (the leader here) if he would translate Scott's arguments for Jade and I so that we could understand them. (Good times!)

But we got past the emotions of being called ignorant, and realized that Scott is just a really cool guy who has also had his long string of misfortune. He's been pronounced dead twice (once at 27 when he got stabbed 27 times on the roof of his San Francisco apartment while reading a book title "Razor Sharp". This is why his voice is hoarse...because he lost a vocal cord in the stabbing and now only has one left.) His first wife was his sweetheart from Kindergarten and also his first kiss. She was killed in a car accident. His second marriage ended in divorce. It seems that he is estranged from his father. He says his mother is an "evil" woman, and was not a part of his life. He has been travelling around to various communities in Europe to just live among the people for awhile and learn all sorts of different things. He is a free lance writer, and sends his articles to various magazines for publication. He is a genius jazz pianist and can play any music you put in front of him (he's great!!!) He dated James Dobson's dauther and Frank Sinatra's grand-daughter (or neice?) He is above genius level with an IQ of 198, a devout Catholic and a raving Liberal (as are most Europeans we've met)...and the list goes on, and on, and on.

Now that we've gotten to know him, Scott is one of my favorite people in the world. Not because I think everything he says about himself and the world is 100% true (did I mention he reads a book a least?! I think fact and fiction lines may have been blurring.....?) But he is a great guy and I learn more just talking to him than I think I learned from years in school. In a week we may never see Scott again, but I'm really glad to know him now.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Responsibility and Goats

This is Erin writing:

one thing i have become more and more aware of since our arrival to l'abri is my inability to just take on "small tasks". i have believed, somehow, that the bigger my responsibility in any given situation...the more of a "leadership role" i am taking...the closer i am to God. suddenly i am seeing the flaw in this framework of thinking and i am saddened by the undue pressure i have put on myself to perform and to reach "the mark" or high standard i have for myself...and believe God has set for me. always achieving (i MUST have a master's degree! IMUST run a marathon), always working towards something (I MUST teach a class at church and be the director of a full-time ministry!)and finding it very hard to rest for fear of being scolded as "selfish" or "lazy"...these are some of the burdens i have bourne. as far back as i can remember, i have felt ashamed when all of my time is not being used "productively."

there are three mother goats here at l'abri. each are fat, and the kind of smelly, unattractive kind you would find at the petting zoo in omaha. but in the last few weeks they have each birthed one or two kids! and these goats are so beautiful!!! just seeing them cuddled up next to each other, one resting his head on the back of another; their bodies all twisted up in a pretzel of coziness...just BEING around them has brought me great joy.

while wrestling with my disobedience of God's invitation to "rest in me" and admiring these new goats, i have been doing some reading that confronts my issues of shame and identity. one such reading was a sermon preached by francis shaeffer called "no little people, no little places." some of my favorite quotes from his sermon:

...that which is me must become the me of God. then,, I can become useful in God's hands...
...much can come form the little if the little is consecrated to God... be wholly committed to God in the place where God wants him--this is the creature glorified...
...God does not say that size and spiritual power go together--he reverses this (ep. inthe teachings of Jesus) and tells is to be deliberately careful not to choose a place too big for us...
...we all tend to emphasize big works and big places, but all such emphasis is of the flesh--to think in such terms in simply to hearken back to the old, unconverted, egoist, self-centered me. a dangerous practice to want bigger...we all want to be be in have the word of power over our fellows...
...there are no christian gurus--minister is not a title of power, but of servanthood...
...we are tempted to think: 'I will take the largest place because it will give me more influence for Jesus Christ'... [this is backwards] a lower place it is easier to be quiet before the face of the Lord (not easy, just easier)...

and the clincher for me:

"we should consiously take to lowest place unless the Lord himself extrudes* us into a greater one" (of more responsibility and authority) be extruded is to be forced out under pressure into a desired shape...

for me, this was a wake up call. i have been ashamed the last year for working at whole foods and crane coffee, only part-time--and quitting my full-time job (which used my training from a college education.) i have been ashamed because i was thinking that God required greater things from me...and i was letting him down. and i didn't even realize i was thinking this! i have also been challenged to think about who my heros in life are since arriving here. Mother Teresa is always a women who comes to my mind. Billy Graham and Elisabeth Elliot and Martin Luther King come to mind. without realizing is, the "models" i have been trying to emulate are people with power and somewhat of a "world platform." but that's what is championed in our culture isn't it?? the bigger the better? but then i began thinking about people who are my everyday heros...women and men in my daily life who are neither famous nor looking to be. and about the more famous they must have started out just being involved in what they loved to do. just living daily lives and by doing this with courage and faith! now i realize...this is who i want to be! living life, in the moment, and working hard, through joys and pain, to find my full rest in God.

now back to the goats... : ) it has been somewhat of a challenge for me to be here in someways, because a lot of what we do here is eat, study, drink tea and sleep. sometimes i get antsy, and i want a bit more responsibility to keep me on my toes. but without seeking it out, the leader of l'abri, Wim Reitsma (in holland) noticed my strong loving feelings towards the goats...and he asked me kindly if i would mind being in charge of feeding and looking after them on a daily basis throughout our stay.

without asking for "more work" to do...a leader noticed something i enjoyed, and decided to impart a piece of the responsibility to me! of course i would like that! if he would have asked me to clean all the toilets, everyday...maybe i wouldn't be so excited...but he is asking me to do something i already love and enjoy doing anyway! in my mind, this is exactly how i would like to live out my life! finding rest in God, and finding enjoyment in the interests HE has given me, i pray that i can trust that He will enlarge my territory and bless me indeed.

because even without the blessing (the power, the recognition, the responsibility), i am realizing (slowly), that HE is enough!