Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our Training Concludes

We're having a really hard time coming to grips with the fact that our missionary training here in Holland is coming to a close tomorrow. The time has flown. We've felt so many emotions while being here ~ anxious, excited, uncertain, thrilled, drained, overwhelmed and overjoyed. God has really grown us in the past two weeks.

The highlight of the conference for me (Jennifer) has definitely been being able to get to know and befriend people from so many cultures. There are 37 different cultures represented at this training. We've befriended people from Jamaica, Trinidad, South Korea, England, France, and Greece. So cool. I'm really looking forward to continuing to learn about different cultures. I feel like in this short time, my eyes have already been so opened. We've loved being able to worship each morning and evening with people from so many different cultures. I think this is how heaven will be.

We wanted to let all of you know that were just informed last night that after Friday, we probably won't have internet access for a month! We're leaving early Saturday morning for our pre-ship training in Denmark for two weeks and we won't have any internet access there. From the pre-ship training, we'll be joining the ship. We can hardly wait. We've been told that once we get to the ship, it might be another week or so before we can access the internet. We wanted to let all of you know so you don't think we dropped off the face of the earth! :) We look forward to being in touch at the end of September. Please keep us in your prayers during our pre-ship training. The time will be spend mostly on ship safety training as we become certified sea-faring crew, so please pray for energy and a learning spirit! Love to all of you.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fun Facts about the Netherlands

Here are some fun facts we've learned about the Netherlands:
  • "the Netherlands" and "Holland" are used to describe the same country
  • although the Netherlands has only 0.008% of the world's area, they are the world's third largest agricultural exporter
  • the Netherlands has over 9,000 miles of bicycle tracks
  • the Netherlands has about 1,000 traditional working windmills
  • the Dutch are the tallest people in Europe
  • there are twice as many bikes as cars in the Netherlands
Learn something new? :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Our First Adventure

We had our first free afternoon on Sunday, so decided to take advantage of the time off and go exploring. We borrowed bikes from the conference center and took off to see the surrounding sites. Dalfsen is about an 1 1/2 hour drive East from Amsterdam. The town has a population of 26,000 and is mostly made up of pastures and fields. As you read in the fun facts, there are miles and miles of bike paths all through the country, so we decided to check them out. We had a wonderful time riding through the gorgeous countryside. We passed by many cows, horses, pigs, and sheep. We rode by miles and miles of corn fields. This is the rainy season in the Netherlands, so everything is very green and lovely. There are beautiful wild flowers everywhere and all the homes have splendid gardens. Isn't the pink flower shown above gorgeous? We passed by several windmills (yes, they really are everywhere!) and they are breathtaking. We finally reached another small village called Ommen. We very much enjoyed exploring the "downtown" and enjoyed a wonderful coffee or "koffie" at a local cafe. As you can see from the photo above, with koffie came with wonderful trimmings... whole cream, sugar crystals, fresh whipped cream, cookies and even gumdrops. What a wonderful afternoon.

Our first week of training

Our first week of training has been fantastic.
We've had a very full week! We've been learning about diversity, culture, safety, security, creativity, and prayer... just to name a few of the areas of study! We've also been able to learn more about OM as an organization and all their work throughout the world. We've had a chance to meet several experienced missionaries and hear about all the amazing work God is doing. We've also done quite a bit of "practical" missionary training such as making balloon animals and other fun games to interact with the children we'll be meeting along the way.

We've also included a few pictures of our conference center. As you can see from the pictures, the center is very modern. The conference center is located in the midst of many pastures and meadows and is right on a river, so it's really quite a lovely setting. The location is a great place to "get away from it all" and focus on what God has planned for us in the coming two years. Although we are very much enjoying our training and learning quite a bit, we are getting very anxious to board the ship! :) And as you can see from the first photo, I'm very much enjoying all the wonderful European cafe au laits!

Pictures from the end of our USA adventure

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Remainder of our Road Trip

After leaving Indy, we headed out for the East Coast. Our first stop was State College, PA, where we visited Jennifer’s college friend Missy and her husband Marcus. Missy is working on her PhD at Penn State University. We had a wonderful time catching up and enjoying beautiful Pennsylvania. Then we headed due north for the Niagara Falls! We crossed the border into Canada and had a wonderful time visit seeing the falls. The falls are truly breathtaking. Then we headed to the Boston area and stayed with Jennifer’s cousin Susan and her husband Erik in Salem. We had a fabulous time touring all over the greater Boston area. Highlights were eating lobster, visiting Glouster (where the Perfect Storm was filmed), eating pasta and drinking lattes in the Italian district, and touring through the House of Seven Gables. Then we made a quick stop in NYC for the afternoon and saw the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Fabulous. Then we ventured on to Philadelphia and saw the wonderful historical sites ~ Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross’s home, etc. What an incredible city. Our next stop was Annapolis where we stayed overnight with Jennifer’s cousins. Then we headed down to Savannah, Georgia. Jennifer had always wanted to spend time in Savannah, so she enjoyed it very much. The city is America’s first “planned” city, so it’s beautifully constructed and very quaint and charming. Our last stop on the road trip was Bonita Springs, Florida. Jennifer’s parents have a vacation condo there, so we spent the last week of our road trip enjoying the fabulous Florida sun and finishing getting ready for our trip. We had a grand time visiting with Jennifer’s parents one last time before taking off for our journey.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

We Arrived in Amsterdam!

We’ve made it to Amsterdam! Hard to believe after thinking, praying and planning about this journey for so long, it’s finally here! Our flight out of Miami last night left on time (thank God as they are experiencing hurricane weather!) and we were able to sleep most of the flight. We met the OM representative easily at the airport and made our way to the Mooirivier Congreshotel in Dalfen, Holland for our training. It’s a very clean, well kept, modern conference center. Our room is small and simple, but very clean so I’m happy! Guess it’s good to start preparing ourselves for our small room on the ship! We'll be here for 10 days and then will take a bus up to Denmark on the 30th for our pre-ship training. We’re off to our first dinner soon, so that’ll all for now. Please keep us in your prayers this week! I'll blog more soon about the rest of our road trip, etc. and add pictures too.