(Wondering why I'm being so presumptuous as to publish my own emails? Read this.)
This will be my last letter from Amsterdam - my final letter to my prayer team back home. Aren't you sad? I enjoyed looking back 10 years ago to an experience that impacted my friends and I so deeply. Now nearly all of my friends have moved home, with the exception of three woman. All three married or got engaged to Dutch men, including my roommate Naomi. That must have been the way to go! (I married a Dutch man...I just got confused and married a Dutch American man.) The church that we started, now called Amsterdam50, has had its ups and downs, but is still being used by God to share Christ's message in the Netherlands. If you want to learn more, you can check it out here. Thank you for going on this journey with me!
1181 BD Amstelveen
January 20, 2003
Dear Friends and Family,
The time I've spent during the past five months in the Netherlands has been one of the most enlightening and exciting experiences in my life. I've met many incredible people and been part of an amazing church from its beginning.
For the past several months, I've been reevaluating my presence here in Amsterdam due to several different reasons. When I first started thinking about moving to the Netherlands, I wasn't sure how long I would stay. I remained neutral, saying, "indefinitely." Then I met a boy. You can probably guess the rest from here. My relationship with Mike took my "indefinitely" to "definitely coming back." Since I knew I was coming home eventually, the question was just how soon. Having a serious relationship with someone in the States has proven very difficult in conjunction with attempting to put all of my heart into being a part of the church here - it's hard to have your heart in two places.
In addition, after completing one semester of the master's degree program I am attending here in the Netherlands, I realize that the degree they offer will probably not prove helpful to me in securing a teaching job in the States. I am living and attending school completely on student loans - a lot of money to spend on something that will not serve in the end.
I sought the advice of our Amsterdam pastor, many Amsterdam team members and my family back home. I believe the team here is healthy and will not be affected negatively by my going. After much consideration of my future place in the Amsterdam church, my schooling, and my relationship with Mike, I realize that my life is moving in a different direction than I thought it was one year ago. I've decided that it's time for me to come home to Colorado on January 31. I will spend a week in Denver and then move to Ft. Collins, hoping to find a job quickly. I have applied to CSU's English grad program for the fall.
Being a part of the Amsterdam team is an experience that has honestly changed my life. The friendships I've made, the things we've learned, the experiences we've had together have all enlightened me and enhanced my life. I have been so blessed to be able to help out with the church in its beginning stages. From what I've seen, I know God is going to greatly bless many people through this church and I am so lucky to have been a part of it.
I know that this is a long letter, but it still seems like I didn't say half of what I could. If you have any questions, I'd love to talk to you. Thank you for all the love and support you've given me!
P.S. Following are some updates and prayer requests for the church in Amsterdam. If you would like to continue receiving updates from someone on the Amsterdam team, please let me know and I can set that up.
- Several of the neighbors we befriended have been attending church meetings with us. They have shown a lot of interest in spiritual topics and we have gotten to have great conversations with them. Recently, one of them asked Naomi and Lesley, "How do I become a Christian?" They explained to her God's forgiveness and she accepted Christ as her personal Lord and Savior. She has been coming to church meetings with us and making many new friends with the team. Please pray that God would continue moving in the hearts of our neighbors and using my roommates to reach out to them.
- We are in the process of organizing small groups whose purpose for the church will be to be a source of encouragement, fellowship and accountability. Please pray that these would be set up in a way to be culturally comfortable and that new visitors would feel welcome.
- Three team members are still in need of jobs. Pray for perseverance and jobs!
- In the last several months, many visitors have really started showing an interest in becoming part of our church. We have had help from Navigators and YWAM in making decisions about how the church should function. Praise God for all the support we have received from fellow ministries and all the people who have become a part of the church.