20 September 2014

So what does my job look like?

Now that I've shared photos of my new house, it seems also appropriate to share a bit more about what my life looks like here. I have a real job now (with a paycheck even!), but as a lot of my work involves writing emails, thinking and praying, as well as talking to people over coffee, it might not seem that much like work. On top of that, I have a lot of freedom about how I spend my time and where I spend my time, which means that I could easily rearrange my time so I could be free for my dad's visit last week (although because of that I think he has the vague suspicion that I don't actually work that hard....)

Most of the time I truly love what I do. I get to share the good news: how loving God and following Him can be such an amazing blessing, not necessarily an easy one, but one full of joy and hope and fellowship. I also get to ask how one's academic discipline affects one's faith and vice versa. Or, as the person I was talking to this morning phrased it: we shouldn't have to park our academic selves at the door when we participate in church nor should we have to leave our faith at the entrance when we live our academic professional lives.

To give a concrete idea of what happens with the ministry, I often post stories and thoughts from our Bible studies on the website of Campus Edge Fellowship. This semester we're talking about the book of Amos in one study and sex, intimacy, singleness and relationships in the other. Your prayers for us, as well as your wisdom on these topics are appreciated!

18 September 2014

My schattige huisje

In Dutch, schattig means cute and huisje means little house. A friend of mine used the words to describe my new place, and it's an apt description. It's also the first time in my adult life that I've rented a house unattached from any other building. Although it's more than big enough for 2 people, it's still fairly compact, which contributes to it being cute. For those of you living in North America, it'll look like a pretty typical house, but for those living in the Netherlands, it's quite a bit different.

The following gives some pictures of the house so that you have some idea of what it looks like, at least until you can (hopefully) come visit in person. Half of the kitchen is missing (it was messy), as is the quite large (but dirty/dusty) basement. Furthermore, most of the living room is missing, as it's missing furniture. We'll be getting some eventually, but if you're more than welcome to help us with that, if you'd like :)

kitchen - theblue is a bit overwhelming

kitchen (2) - thanks to Bette and Diego for the table!

the covered front porch - opening immediately into the living room

The only shelving at the moment - in the future, it will hold the games and knick knacks, but now it's a book storage space.


bedroom - there's actually more than 10 inches between the bed and our clothes in this one!

Bedroom - the closet will be much more full when Matthijs and his stuff arrives

Bedroom  - note the cat window and a lovely dresser from Bonnie and Jim
Front bedroom, aka Matthijs study and/or the spare room. Thanks to Blythe and Pete for the lovely orange curtains! (and the other ones that you've seen previously)

And since we have all these lovely pictures, I thought I'd also include an extra one : Jerry meeting a squirel in front of the neighbour's house.

02 September 2014

Biking and Privilege

A fascinating blog entry comparing biking and white privilege has been passing around Facebook. Through comparing white privilege to the "privilege" that cars have on the road, it provides a helpful analogy. It's not that whites are oppressive to blacks or even necessarily racist, it's more that there are systems set up that benefit whites and make life more complicated for non-whites. It's worth reading to help one think more about the issues.

What makes the article more interesting for me is that the person writing it bikes in Lansing - my new city in which I also bike. Most fascinating to me is that his experience has not been mine. Perhaps it is because I have come from a place - Amsterdam - where the system is set up for bikers. It is there that I learned how to pay more attention to others on the road because even if the system was set up for me there would always be those who broke the rules, whether that be bikers running through red lights, tourists on bikes, or taxi drivers. That is not something that I had learned previously, making me realize that we North Americans have developed a system/attitude that is less safe for pedestrians and bikers. We have also not learned how to share the road well, whether that be with (other) bikers or even other cars (e.g., merging or letting others in). Because I have lived in a difficult culture, it is more obvious to me what we are missing in this culture. I expect the same to be true when it comes to white privilege and racial issues.

Reading his article has also reminded me that not everyone experiences white privilege (as a white or black) in the same way. Different from him, I have found that most cars have given me much room, erring on the side of the caution as their uncertainty of how to relate to me becomes apparent. I have found roads and areas that are bike friendly, even making their proximity a criteria for my new place. So even as I miss the bike culture of the Netherlands, I have felt safe and welcome here - a very different story from that of the other biker in Lansing. I think that is also what makes white privilege complicated to understand: because everyone has different stories and experiences, it is hard to see the difficulties clearly.