19-12 1999: first kiss;-)
Highligth of this day;-)
Visits from and to friends and family
Jelle went with Femke to the Netherlands in March to celebrate the 70th birthday of his father. My parents came early March and later on my sisters and cousins. Friends payed us a visit and it all was a very enjoyable time. Marijke and Judith took the next step into young adulthood by flying to the Netherlands by themselves for a Summer job. Marijke got a little job and worked with her granddad in the archives of the Free University of Amsterdam and Judith worked at a Blue Berry farm. Mid October brought new friends to our kitchen table. Late October was Laurens and my turn to bring a visit to my parents: I love you, grandma!
Work among the Roma
Two projects among the Roma that really got a push are a small church plant in a small village 70 km away from Osijek and theological training for Roma in Leskovac. This Summer we also had a group of young Americans helping in village ministry. It was a precious time to work together with them.
Hosting a few silent retreats was definitely a new area for me, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Lovely responses and questions for this year are already coming in. In January I hope to be in the Netherlands for 7 single silent days. I feel honoured that there is trust to let me be the host!
At some point this year I wrote: I often wondered why I have this amount of energy and love for organizing things, creating something new, making a home, and yet a desire for solitude and silence and writing. It is a bit of an odd, bipolar combination. In organizing these weekends, I started to understand the answer.
I love creativity, the simple life, local food, and beauty. And, it all has a place within the retreats. It is very satisfying to see people go home so thankful—as if the Creator is giving His stamp and blessing over it all as we do His will.
In the meantime, I do a bit of mothering. Fanny with whom I hosted one of the retreats asked me a few questions about motherhood and writing. Just last week I wrote about the agony and beauty of language learning as it is also a daily issue. We said goodbye to our teacher and are back into homeschooling for the girls. Laurens attends the local Croatian school. With that, we entered into a new season and a new rhythm.
The careful reader could sense a bit of the emotional rollercoaster which we faced as a family. It has been a very intense year financially. In September we expected our first big school fee and we were just not able to pay it. This caused a lot of questions. What is the right balance? When is the time to make radical, rational decisions? When do we just trust and hang in there? Somebody suggested that we would write a letter to the Dutch Minister of Education. So I did. (sorry, it is in Dutch;-) I even got a response from one of the political parties on my question if they would consider free education for all Dutch Kids where ever they live in the world. Who knows what will be the outcome! Maybe not for us now, but maybe for the future.
All in all, this period definitely gave some depth. In trusting, taking action, being humble and acknowledging our situation, voice it to people around us. And the beautiful outcome: We are able to pay the fee till the end of this school year! Next year is a different story, but we are very, very much encouraged by this journey on this so far. Many of you responded very generously. Big or small gifts, we are so glad that the Lord touched hearts and showed us that He is King over all the details of our lives. We were tested, but we got strengthened and refined throughout this period. But it was intense, for sure!
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ” Rom. 8: 28
So, once again, thank you very much for journeying with us on this rocky road! Thank you for support, for friendly words and e-mails, for encouragements and last but not least: for trust.
May God bless you in return and the God of Peace let His face shine upon you. We hope that 2019 will be a year of calm and reasonable peace for all of us! A good 2019.
Femke, Janneke, Jelle, Judith, Marijke in front: Laurens holding his head;-) After all, you never know what happens if you don’t.