Netherlands

The Netherlands and back again…

It has been three days since I arrived home from my trip to Amsterdam and I am still feeling the effects of jet-lag and time change that somehow mess with your biological clock (although I’m not all too sure how that works). Even in light of my current state though, I can positively say that my first trip to Amsterdam is an adventure that I will never forget.

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We had an awesome team of people for this trip. I think some of my favorite moments with this group of people was when we went through times of difficulty together. Whether it was the frustration (and laughter) that from trying to accomplish a simple task like recycling or being discouraged by our attempts at ministry, I think that in any and all of these moments God was able to show his strength. For me, my best friends are people that I have gone through difficult times with and they remain the good friends that they are because they have seen our relationship through even in the midst of challenges. I’m thankful for the triumphs that this team had, but in some ways, I cherish the difficulties even more because in some paradoxical way, I feel that God’s strength was shown in those moments.

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Besides the difficult moments that our team had in seeking to understand a new culture and a new city, we had plenty moments of celebration too. One of my favorite moments during the week was when we went to a city in the north called Groningen. It is a University city and personally, it was my highlight. Here we got into conversations with a number of students, got connected with local ministries and churches, and even got to meet a member of parliament in the building above. It was a wonderful city and our time there was quite rich for only being there for an overnight. Attheend of our stay there’s felt affirmation from God in my plans to continue in university ministry. I felt just as connected with those Groningen students as I did with students here in Kent. It was surprising but consoling.

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The main intent for our trip to Groningen was to discover another city in the Netherlands and the possibilities and/or need for a church plant there someday. What we found through all of our conversations and connections was incredibly encouraging.

Our team did great work, and I was so glad to witness what God did in our hearts and to have had the opportunity to plant more seeds in both cities and fervently pray for growth. While our team did some great things in that city, I think some of my greatest encouragement last week came from our sister church, Amsterdam50.

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The first day that we arrived in the city, our team took a walk with some of the staff of Amsterdam50 through memorable places in the ten year history of this churches existence. It was great to hear the stories of this church and all that God has done in and through it. I remember taking that walk and thanking God for the ecumenical church. It is evident oto me that while what our team did was valuable, in the end it was only one week. I’m thankful for the world-wide church and their love for Jesus and this world. Among many other things, God opened my eyes to this reality over the course of this trip. Thanks Amsterdam50!

On to Amsterdam

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Yes, I along with 10 others are leaving for Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in just a few hours. How do I feel? Excited yet tranquil, and expectant yet completely uncertain. This is my first time in Europe, and I am unashamedly excited simply for that reality. I hardly know Dutch, but I have attempted to learn some about the history and culture of Amsterdam (although that attempt has not been as fruitful as I had hoped). I have since grown a respect and appreciation for the city, but I am sure that will evolve and morph once I begin to actually experience the people and the city as opposed to merely reading about it.

I’m excited for our team (FYI it’s a stellar group of people who I feel blessed to call friends) to experience this together. I hope for unforgettable stories and continued learning. I love the bond that is created on mission trips in a foreign area. For me, there is nothing that compares to that type of shared experience. In past experiences on mission trips I have found that as I move myself into uncomfortable territory God awakens me to his His presence and his movement among his people. In my everyday life it is not that he is not moving, but sometimes I need to be rejuvenated from experiences that revive the heart to see and be aware of Gods movement. Maybe that doesn’t make sense, but I hope this for my team.

I was reading Romans this morning and in the beginning Paul writes that through Christ we have been given grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all nations. He has given us grace. So thankful for that, and I need that! Even now as I await this plane ride to Amsterdam. And he has given us apostleship, which is this idea of being sent. He has given us a sent-ness. This to I am thankful for and pray that it would arise out of the grace that is given. I need to know that these two ideas are not separate entities. Pray for us!