November 07, 2007

Back from the Netherlands!

Hello all! Sorry that the last (or next) post is only posted today, though written last month, but be sure to read it too, it really tells what has been constant for us since we moved to Ithaca.

This past week and a bit we have been traveling all over the Netherlands with my parents. What a great time we had! It was amazing, I even forgot that David was a student. I don’t think that he ever did, but he had a good relaxing time too I think.

We spent three days in Houten staying with my Dad’s sister and brother-in-law. The first day there we took a drive with Oom Tom to see castles and windmills and dykes. Just for David :) The second day Dad took us to see where he grew up and to visit the MerewOord building which used to be VanOord’s main offices. The third day we took the train to Utrecht to do some sight seeing and shopping :) Tante Polien went with us. It was a really nice morning. In the afternoon we went to visit Tante Rie, Dad’s aunt, before heading to Gieterveen to visit Mom’s side of the family.

Tante Anny is a joy! I would love to live with her for a year and learn dutch, (she suggested it ;)) it would be a pleasant time, but I won’t leave David for that long for sure! Wednesday Dad took us to the North of Holland to see Delfzijl and the North Sea and some old mansions. Thursday, David and I spent some time walking together and learning the bus system in Holland. In the afternoon Dad and Mom brought us to Veendam where we spent some time walking and shopping. Found David a really nice shirt for the family weekend. :) Thursday night we visited Oom Pete in the hospital and brought his wife back home for the night. Tante Jo was waiting for us at Tante Anny’s so we spent the evening with them :)

Friday we headed to the Family VanOord weekend. We stopped by Emmen to go to the market on the way. We also drove by the town that hosts an Iams factory that David worked with when he worked at Intestates. That was kind of fun :)

So, what do I day about the family weekend? How about starting with “it wasn’t long enough”? It was a bit overwhelming, so many people (89 I think?) and most everything in Dutch. The people were really welcoming to us, to David especially. We appreciated that. Despite the language issue, we had a number of great conversations with a few people. That makes it all worth while (the spoke english for us ;)) We met a lot of people we had only heard of before. We learned more about what it means to be part of the VanOord family. That is good.

If you want to know the truth about the weekend from my point a view, it was a very up and down weekend. I was a little nervous about what to expect, not knowing who to talk to or how to start a conversation. The first evening was good, people came up to us and welcomed us, that was good. We are both kind of shy people. I’m used to walking behind Debbie, my sister, at events like this. When she paves that way to friendships and conversation, I can fall into line and join them. Well, I didn’t have anyone to pave the way, and David isn’t the kind of person to talk to strangers very quickly either. We have had conversations about this over and over again when we talked about trying to welcome new people at church. I expected David to be good at it, but in reality, we would both rather hide and stay with people we know. So, being torn between wanting to get to know people and have a few good conversations with family, and not knowing how to start it ourselves, we found ourselves not knowing what to do. We make very good wall flowers :)

After a bit of internal struggle with this, and a few attempts to start good conversations ourselves, only to fall flat one way or another, I finally decided I wouldn’t fight it any more. We planted ourselves somewhere and let what would happen happen. God blessed us, we did have a few great conversations and we did learn more about the vanOord family.

We learned a number of great things about our family, and some things the family could work on. It also started some questions on how can we really be part of the family when we live in Canada or the USA? Honestly, I don’t know that we can as things stand now. I hate it, but I learned loud and clear that if we do want to be involved, we do need to learn Dutch. Why do I hate it? maybe because it’s hard work I don’t want to do and it goes against my pride. Maybe it was the way I had to come to that conclusion, because it hurt. I felt inferior and stupid for not knowing Dutch. Excuses were made for my husband by others, but I felt looked down upon. I would love to know Dutch. I wish my parents taught us when we were younger. I did try to learn in college too. I am glad for the little I do know, even if it is very little. But alas, I do not know Dutch as of right now, not enough to really be apart of the family.

I have some heart work to do yet still, so I don’t become angry when I think about how I felt this past weekend. But God is very good, and the anger may have it’s purpose. There is a lady I knew in Iowa who would often say “Sometimes it helps to become good and angry” and I think she is right. Until we become passionate about something, we don’t take any steps to do anything. Lord willing this anger will be turned into good and the next time we go to Holland, whenever that will be, we will be able to better communicate with our family and really become part of the family, rather than flowers by the wall.

All that said, I just want to add a note of extreme thanks to Annelike (did I spell your name right?) who took the time to translate the meetings for David and I, without whom we would be even more lost. Annelike, you are wonderful! :D Thank you!

All in all, we had a fantastic trip to the Netherlands. It was great to see so much of Holland and to meet so much family. God blessed us with a few great conversations too, which is like water for our thirsty souls. David and I thrive on finding people who love God as we do and will talk to us about Him. That was good. (Or anyone who will talk to us more about things other than surface topics really.)

But now I am late in running my errands. So I am off! Love you all, thank you for faithfully looking at our website, even if we don’t update it quite often enough.

Two prayer items, First, prayer for David to be able to catch up in school, and secondly that God will work out the details to this job I am hoping for still.

In Christ who is God eternal!

Rita (and David)

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An update written last month… (But only posted today)

Well, I am sorry for those of you who do read our web page and come up empty as of late. Even now I hardly know what to write, so I’ll write what ever comes to my head. :)

I don’t know that I would use busyness as an excuse, but we have found our days to be very full, with still more to do when we get to bed. David spends the day at school working in his office or going to class. He comes home for supper and then usually does homework for another couple of hours in the evening. I am trying hard to start this spoon carving business and try to spend three full days minimum carving. It had been successful, but after my parents’ visit last week, I’ve been having a hard time getting back into it. Both because of so many other things to do and because I wasn’t feeling well for two days.

David is taking 3 classes, and has his midterm exams this week,(10/17/07) as well as last week. They don’t call them midterms here though. I think they call them preliminaries or something. I never did ask for sure. Those three classes keep him busy! On Friday’s he has a class that he has to go to, they feed him and give him a grade for attending :) Then in the afternoon, we try to spend together a bit if it works. Saturday is usually spend doing more homework or things around the house. Like mowing the lawn, or cleaning and sealing windows, as we did this past weekend. Sundays we have church and David doesn’t do any homework, but often we have been found to be doing other kinds of work because we don’t have time the rest of the week to get it done.

It has been stressful for him especially. He is tired and worn out, but his wife is oh so very proud of him! He is working hard to do what needs to be done and he is doing quite well at it, in my opinion. He doesn’t get much of a break and is often exhausted, but God is very good and is giving him and me strength. David is also working on finding an adviser to work under, as well as looking into grad fellowships for extra cash. Or he would like to be, but doesn’t have the time right now with exams and all.

To add to all that stress, we are going to the Netherlands next Friday and are there for just over a week. I’m kind of excited, it’s coming quickly, but it sure adds to David’s stress right now!

As I said earlier, I am trying hard to carve, and am loving it still! We are looking into getting me a band saw, but I don’t need it quite yet. I have a few people calling and asking for orders too, that is exciting. I hope to become a member of the Handworks co-op, but I have to look up the requirements yet. I am also looking into a part time job. Right now I have it limited to one place, because I really hope to get in there. But if there is no good news when we get back from Holland in two weeks or so, then I will start looking elsewhere.

Because I am trying hard to spend a lot of time carving, I’m a lot busier in general too. The house is the usual mess that we live in. Not outrageous most of the time, but too messy to find the table or couch often ;) I am trying hard to keep up better with dishes so my evenings are quite busy after my day of carving.

We both love it here. That has not changed. We love Ithaca, we like Cornell, we like being out east again. The trees are beautiful, there is an abundance of rain, thunderstorms are just as exciting as in Iowa, and water is everywhere. We really do love it here. Church is good. We really enjoy the Sunday school we are in. Talking about religion, politics, ethics, schools, and how they all interact. We are part of the Christian grad group on campus, and enjoy bible study on Thursday evenings with other grad students. I would like to get to know the college students (called “undergrads” here) some, but it’s been hard to want to join something else when church and grad fellowship takes up all the spare time we have to give. That is ok, maybe we will get into it later.

We are doing well. God is amazing! I liked Sioux Center well enough, but I am learning so much that I could never have learned in Sioux Center without a lot of effort that I was willing to put into it then. Learning how to live for God every day, especially being in a town where it is easier to assume that every is not a Christian rather than that they are. It is a good change, and a needed boost for us both in our journey with God. I am also learning how to praise God for real, and learning what it means to live a surrendered life to him. Changes are happening slowly, but changes are happening. David and I are both proud of each other for the changes we see in each other and I think we are looking forward to the changes that will come yet.

We would love your continued prayers and patience ;) I am getting a little better at letter writing, because I find it nice to write letters while I am waiting for the bus, but we only have dial up at home, so it makes it a little annoying to try to update the web page. Our apologizes to that :)

Love you all! In Christ Rita (And David, since he won’t be able to update himself yet)

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