Sailing in Amsterdam harbor on Theo's boat
(Wondering why I'm being so presumptuous to publish my own emails? Read this.)
To: My Parents
Sent: Wednesday, September 18, 2002 4:54 a.m.
Following is a message steve sent. I thought you might find it interesting. And just so you know (because I know you'll ask), the girl robbed was Steph. She was in a bad part of town (she didn't know it was a bad part of town) late at night and she and her friends were robbed - they just took cell phones and stuff like that.
I love you! Amber
From: Steve [the pastor of our church plant, published with his permission]
Sent: Wednesday, September 18, 2002
We have resurfaced.
Since May 1, we've lived out of suitcases, staying with friends and family, saying goodbyes and raising financial support. Now we're living in the center of Amsterdam. We've been living temporarily on a boat behind Central Station. And we're definitely "not in Kansas anymore."
In four weeks, we've repaired twelve flat bicycle tires.
Alex's bicycle was stolen last week.
Ali's bike was stolen the day before yesterday.
Our dog Keesha fell off the boat into the water and almost drowned.
Although classes started a month ago, two of our girls are still not in school.
I've had some good conversations with my kids about why some men dress like women.
A woman on our team was robbed at knife point Saturday night.
A man on our team was offered "candy" by a friend. When he put it in his mouth another friend warned him it was crack.
We moved into an apartment 5 days ago and we still don't have any hot water.
The apartment is unfurnished and I'm sitting on the floor right now as I write this.
For this brief moment in time, this is what it means for our family to obey God. Is this what Jesus meant by denying ourselves, taking our cross and following Him? Is this what Paul meant when he talked about being "crucified with Christ"?
Not even close.
We've met so many friends since coming here. So many Dutch friends have helped us and encouraged us and protected us. Friends like Theo and Wilmy and their family, Otto and Daisy, Lotja and the guy at the bicycle shop who cut me a break.
We have several more new Dutch friends join the Amsterdam team and we expect more to come. We've sailed together with Theo's family on the Ijselmeer and swam in the cool water. We've sat and watched hundreds of boats and ships pass by the harbor in Amsterdam.
We've enjoyed some of the best cheese, wine, flowers and chocolate we've ever had.
We've rented space for the ministry and for our families in a building that was build in 1886. It's a national monument and one of the most famous buildings in all the Netherlands.
We've had numerous spiritual conversations with some of our new friends. More and more people are showing genuine interest in what we're beginning here.
A local group of church leaders in Amsterdam has welcome us and invited us into their prayer group.
Thirteen Americans from our team have already joined us in Amsterdam and two more arrived just this morning.
This year has become one of the most difficult years in our lives. At the same time, we've never felt so free and so clearly in the center of God's will then we feel right now. This is very hard...very, very hard. No one should ever do something like this unless God clearly leads them to do it.
And therein is my sermon for this year...
You see, in my "normal" life, the one we left in the U.S., we could live about 97% of our day to existence without God's help at all. I mean, we didn't really need God's help to do anything. But of course, you really need God's help if you're going to do anything really "big" or "significant" for God.
Here, that's all different. Here, we need God's help every day just to do daily life, just to have a good attitude at all. We've moved past needing God for the big stuff. We really, really need God for all the little stuff.
And that's the way life and faith is really supposed to be, isn't it?
Being in Amsterdam is much less about what we have to offer this city or what we have all figured out. It's a lot more about what we have to learn and how we have to grow. And maybe, out of those lessons of faith, there will be something in our lives this city finds attractive.
Thank you so much for remembering us. Thank you for praying for us and for your generous support for this project. If it weren't for you, this new ministry would not be possible at all. Thank you for being patient with our lack of communication. it has been very difficult just to stay in communication. Even right now, I'm sending this e-mail wirelessly with my laptop and my cellphone. But, we're getting settled in now and it will be much easier to stay in touch.