The Netherlands – April 2010

The spring outreach for Lifework Forum began at what might be called the entry port of Europe. Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam is a major transfer point for flights all over the world. Sandra made a brief but ministry-packed stopover there on her way to three other destinations. She counted it all joy as she met with families, spoke to gatherings of ladies, consulted with parents, and enjoyed their children.

The journey began at Logan Airport in Boston when Curt and Sandra excitedly met up with Russell and Laurie Warren. Laurie was God’s provision to assist Sandra with academic testing in Budapest. Her husband was her chauffeur and the point person for her family good-byes. He was also a great help in muscling the ladies’ baggage through the check-in process and up to the security line. (Thank you, Russell.)

After Sandra and Laurie bid farewell to their husbands and passed through security, it was time to get to work. The ladies went over the testing materials, sorted out the grade levels and considered groupings, and even set a tentative schedule. Even the delay of over an hour for takeoff due to a volcanic ash cloud spreading from Iceland toward Europe didn’t dampen their excitement.

Thankfully the Air France flight attendant didn’t turn Sandra in for the extra heavy carry-on bag that he helped put into the overhead compartment. Sandra enjoyed the brief conversations she was able to have with various members of the flight crew. She was happy to discover she could understand some of the announcements that came over the speakers.

All flights in and out of Paris were delayed, nevertheless the ladies still missed their connecting flight. They immediately turned to the Lord to find a way to get to Amsterdam in the midst of a chaotic setting. It took stops at two different counters, a very determined airline assistant, and about an hour’s time to make new arrangements. Then the ladies were whisked down the concourse to get on the plane at the last call before closing. God certainly knows how to keep things interesting and then pull the perfect solution out of the hat.

A dead cell phone battery wouldn’t allow us to notify anyone about our arrival being almost two hours late. Nevertheless Hosper Mulder, our Dutch host, was right outside the door when we came through Customs. Hallelujah! God is good. Amen Hosper and Mirjam and their delightful children opened their lovely home to us with a warm welcome and a delicious snack.

Sandra learned that she was invited to dinner with a family in Haarlem. Laurie stayed behind to settle in a bit and begin adjusting to the time change. Sandra had a delightful evening renewing relationships, sharing concerns, and learning about the pending Queen’s Day festivities. It was a wonderful way to get back into the European world.

The next day’s schedule was jumbled up as Leah’s flight from Washington, DC was delayed several hours. Mirjam dashed me to the airport when we learned she had landed and God had us find each other in the almost endless halls of Schiphol – yet another divine rendez-vous. The poor girl had barely enough time to catch her breath and re-pack a small bag before the ladies were shuttled to a village an hour or so away. Another precious Dutch family welcomed us into their home. Joan, Gerdine and their son provided warm fellowship around the dinner table followed by a prayer session with the parents.

Then the ladies were off with yet another driver to another location. The Schouw home was a perfect setting for a ladies meeting – warm, welcoming and with plenty of healthy and delicious snacks. It was not surprising to learn that Yvonne, the lady of the house, enjoys hospitality. The gathering was well attended with married and single ladies, young and old, with a couple of babies to boot.

Sandra shared on the topic of God’s design for women. The title of her talk was “God, Creation and Gender”. A lovely discussion followed, and time for a few individual conversations was wrapped in. After the other ladies departed and her assistants went to bed, Sandra spent time some heart-felt ministry time with some translation assistance of a mutual friend. The Lord has a gracious way of weaving lives together for His infinite and intimate purposes.

The next day began with a hearty and healthy family-sized breakfast. The Schouw daughters were a lovely addition to the adults as we learned about their activities and interests, including their pet rabbit. The ladies had miles to go before they slept so they bid a fond farewell and headed out to yet another village. This time the event was a support group meeting for Dutch and expat homeschool families.

Barry and Myra Wells’ home was packed to the roof with parents and children of all ages. It was a delight to be invited to join them. Children enjoyed a bible-based science lesson that included a walking field trip. Moms received sound teaching and encouragement through a Bible study. A joyous lunch time was followed by rehearsal for a multi-age musical. Leah was given some time to share about the ministry of HSLDA and its benefits to international families. The parents were appreciative of her input and happily received the various materials she distributed.

Sandra, Laurie and Leah were shuttled back to Badhoevedorp where they settled into a B&B for the night. It was a thoughtful provision and quiet respite arranged by the Mulders. The Lord used the setting to grant Leah an opportunity to go for a run, one of her favorite passtimes, and for the ladies to hold a meeting about their upcoming time in Hungary. This blessed unifying time was followed by a much-needed good night’s rest.

The last day in Amsterdam was another ladies event. Over morning tea and coffee Sandra offered a presentation titled “Guidance in Titus 2”. Her talk received a warm reception and the ladies responded with meaningful questions and a valuable discussion. The lunch break provided an opportunity to get to know each other better. Laurie and Leah took the opportunity to go for a walk to a canal nearby with a windmill and to do a bit of shopping in the village.

The afternoon session was titled “Insights from Ephesians 5”. The topics of authority, submission, and respect opened up another round of important discussions. One of the single ladies brought out several important points by which every lady was challenged. She remarked that she would be making changes in her life as a result of our time together. God is amazing the way He blesses His people through His Word.

The waning conversations were the clue that it was time to close in prayer and prepare to leave. A change of clothes, a bit of repacking, some hearty good-byes signaled the ladies’ departure. They offered their heartfelt thanks, their joyful blessings, and their ongoing prayers to Hosper, Mirjam, Michelle, Josephine, and Julian. The ladies’ baggage reorganization and check-in at Schiphol went smoothly. They enjoyed a slow-paced dinner in the airport before heading to their gate. By God’s grace their flight to Budapest left on time.

The first stop in Lifework Forum’s month-long ministry adventure began with much joy and peace, activity and ministry. God solidified His team for Budapest and granted Please pray for each contact that was made and ask the Lord to care for each heart in His perfect, sovereign and loving providence. Thank you.

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