30 May 2006

moving to Amsterdam in 60 lbs or less

i finally got around to looking seriously into flights into Amsterdam. i'd been checking out quotes from the cheap flight equivalents online, and it hadn't been pretty. so i hunted down a travel agent recommended to me by one of my profs.

i had put it off for so long partly because i'm not entirely sure when i'm leaving (i think right after Labour Day family camping because i don't want to miss it again! but the program i haven't yet officially been accepted into might start Labour Day - which means i'll be behind, but as i'm jumping into a program in its second year, i'll be behind anyway.)
but more so because i have very little idea of when i'm returning next summer. i had a tentative date for return, but turns out it doesn't matter. a return flight (one-year open-ended) is at least $1500 Canadian. ouch. from Detroit or Toronto.

and turns out that the cheapest flights are charter. from Toronto straight to Amsterdam (and they're not booking yet for summer 2007 - so it's a one-way - and being Dutch i can legally do that). and the travel agent found one for $500 Canadian.
just one tiny little problem. weight restrictions: 50 lbs in luggage and 10 lbs in carry-on (even with my little laptop, that's pushing it!)

but since it's the cheapest by over $200 (usd), i'm debating about being crazy enough to do it. extra weight is $7 a kilo - a little pricey. but shipping 40 lbs from Grand Rapids is only $50. and there's another prof here who asked for my help around the Free University library when he visits the Netherlands in September. i'm hoping he might be convinced to take (and have space for) a few (or a lot) of my books...

we'll see. i'm Dutch - so where i come from that means i'm stubborn and cheap. so you should know which direction i'm leaning. and i've got all summer to be resourceful (and i'm sure the packing process will make for some funny stories). besides, several hundred bucks is a huge deal - it means i can spend it on a trip when i'm in Amsterdam..

25 May 2006


after five years of Seminary, i've finally graduated. at least with the first degree. the plans are to graduate with the second degree next year (although i would have loved to graduate with both of them at the same time, there's rules against that, so i gave up even trying).

it was a good day. my 'worlds' collided. the academic world of words with at least three syllables, relating to each other super-politely and long conversations about how to parse verbs met the small-town world of bluntness, slightly crass topics of conversation, and dressing down as quickly as possible. exact it's not quite that distinct: my family dresses up well when necessary, is capable of being appropriate during special events (although i wouldn't have been too surprised - nor embarassed - if they had been a bit rowdier during the graduation ceremony), and has lots of thoughtful conversations. and my Sem world has plenty of moments of off-the-wall slightly crass conversations, partying, and caring for one another. and each of them captures part of who i am - someone who loves school and studying, but also loves the fact that i'm from a small town working-class family, full of non-academics: people who make sure that my head is not in the clouds, but are very proud of me for how far i've come.

i am deeply thankful that i could have shared my friends and colleagues with my family and vice-versa. so, yeah, graduation was good - but i've got a few more yet to go, so no point in getting too excited about that. i'd rather get excited about how much God is yet going to teach me about appreciating both of my worlds - and other areas of life from and in which i can grow.

06 May 2006


today i was reminded again of the brokenness of the world. And the sad reality that none of us are the people that we should be - that we don't listen well, that we don't care about others well, that we speak when we shouldn't and don't when we should, and even as much as we do wish to love our neighbour as ourselves, we can too easily talk/think ourselves out of acting that love out.

and so i cried for awhile. and then a friend stopped by to borrow something. and the world didn't stop being any less messed up, but my perspective changed. a caring hug, a listening ear, and random laughter reminded me that as much as the world is broken, God is not any less concerned with and working in it. so even if the sadness lingers for awhile, i rest in the comfort of God's love (his hesed).

and the brokenness and hesed were intermingled elsewhere today as a professor went out of his way to introduce me to someone visiting from the Netherlands. who just so happens to know the director of Oudezijds 100! (i think, God, i'm getting the point about Your hand in my going there). and his words to me contained both a reassurance and a warning. i am moving to a place where this a lot of brokenness. but i am also being allowed to join a community that is working hard to practice God's love to others in reaching out to that brokenness.

and as i acknowledge all of this brokenness, i pray for grace both to remember God's love and to act it out in my own life.

01 May 2006


i think i'm feeling homesick. the problem is that i'm not entirely sure. i figure that's cause i'm not entirely sure where home is. i've lived in too many places. and i've learned so much in and from each place (about family, hospitality, friendship, myself, God, and more). and if i claim where i am now to be home, i feel like i'm rejecting my other 'homes' that i've loved and been welcomed. but Grand Rapids, too, has become one of the homes that i've loved and learned from. and i'll miss it and the the people here.

and as i start figuring out moving details, i hope to retain the good things that i've learned here. that they become part of the 'accent' of who I am. and that, just as the way i talk has retained a bit of an accent from each place I live, i retain some of the good things i've learned from each place as i move forward.

and i look forward to what new things i have to learn. i'm excited about Amsterdam and moving (back) to Europe. it helps that i've found somewhere to live. i discovered it online. i was searching for some kind of Christian community to live in. and through some random clicking (and obviously God's grace), i found Oudezijds 100. and knew that this is where i wanted to be. i'd get to participate in inner city ministry and be attached to a monastic community. just what i would have looked for before i even knew exactly what i was looking for. and the fact that the community is connected to a Frisian farm is just God's sense of humour. i guess i'm still amazed that they've said i can come live there. and i'm already homesick for it :)

so that's why no one ever commented!?!

awhile ago I adjusted blogger so that I could modify comments on my blog (it's a control thing). unfortunately, i missed the little detail that i was supposed to check blogger online to approve them or have them sent to a specified email address. i never specified the email address. and well, i never checked online. i've now (i think) figured out the system, so it should be fixed (and comments will be posted in a much more timely manner).

sorry for the excessively delayed response to previous comments.