Saturday, February 26, 2011

Seven Years Abroad

Do you sometimes have thoughts like what happened in your life x years ago at this time? I have been reminiscing lately about the amazing ways the Lord has been leading me ever since I left my home country. This month, it is exactly seven years ago that I first came to Brussels, and of course this meant a big change in my life.

After I had finished my training in 2000, I was indeed ready for an adventure - I had no intentions to stay in my home city, but none of my endeavors to go to another country (like working for the German embassies, the GC headquarters, the Euro-Africa-Division...) were fruitful. So I happened to become a temporary staff at a research center of the European Commission located in my home city, and the Lord kept me there for 3 1/2 years. In 2003, I succeeded in a staff competition in Brussels. This is an achievement envied by many people, as it means being placed on a so-called "reserve list". One has to be on such a list to be able to apply for a permanent position at the EU. The problem was that they couldn't offer me such a post in Germany at this time, so this meant I had to apply for a job at headquarters. However, I had already established my life in my home town now: I had my first own apartment, I was active at my local church, etc. Now I didn't want to leave anymore. Yes, I still wanted to go abroad sometime, but definitely not to Belgium! I was devastated. I remember coming back from my job interviews in Brussels, realizing that this relocation was inevitable. I went to bed that night and I just cried. It was indeed a difficult time, but there were indications that the Lord was leading me to go to Brussels. Thus, I not only came to accept it, but I also started looking forward to this new era in my life.

Of course, every beginning is difficult. I remember passing through a snowstorm when I drove my car to Brussels, which I found a bit scary. For the first few months, I had a furnished place in a rather shabby area of town where lots of people from Turkey and North Africa live. I don't have very pleasant memories of this. The first two weeks were the most difficult for me. I remember one day getting lost again in one of these Commission buildings. I felt like crying, but then I asked myself: "Hey, what is the problem?" I think this was some kind of a turning point. I was somehow fully adapted after this short time, and I felt like having lived in this town for quite a while already.

Being a permanent official of the EU, I was now granted the privilege of taking an unpaid leave from my job. This opened the door for my long-cherished desire to get some medical missionary training in the US. So off I went there after I had worked in Brussels for a little over two years. The Lord couldn't have orchestrated it in a better way, since I'm the only Adventist in my family, and they would have certainly decleared me insane if I had completely given up my job in order to go the States. But I could tell them that I'm only taking a prolonged leave from my work and that the door was open to go back there.

And finally, I'm still amazed how the Lord worked out my comeback to Europe. When the time of my planned return drew closer, I started to get worried about my living situation there. It had worked out that a young couple from the church in Brussels took over the lease for my apartment, but there was no guarantee that they would move out again upon my return. But "coincidentally", they happened to move exactly around the time when I came back. They had taken over most of my furniture and they even left some of their own stuff for me, so I didn't need much to get re-established. If this hadn't worked out, it would have been so much more difficult to settle back.

To sum it up, I'm really grateful about how God took care of me during these seven years. It makes me think of the quote in Life Sketches, p. 196:

"We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history."

Indeed, what shall I fear for the future?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Back Home

Yesterday evening, I returned from my trip to Southern Germany where the meetings with Walter Veith were held. It was and interesting experience, and it was good to see Walter again. I got acquainted with the Veith's a number of years ago while visiting the Neumann family in South Africa. Brian Neumann is a former rock musician who is also a speaker for Amazing Discoveries. The Neumann's and the Veith's are good friends, and so we would spend a lot of time with them. Walter is certainly an interesting person to be around with.

The meetings took place in a small place called Starnberg, about an hour from Munich, beautifully situated at a lake. The focus of the presentations was on revival, so it was mainly for church members. Only the very last one on Sunday evening was on creation/evoution and thus geared to the public. I was already gone when he gave this talk, but I hope they had a lot of visitors. The revival meetings were really interesting, although I always find that he puts too much information into his presentations and thus it's a bit challenging to absorb everything. But thanks to his German origin, he didn't need interpretation; otherwise it would have really been too long. He chose several bible characters from the OT (like Nehemia, Isaiah, Ruth) and pointed out the typology depicted in the experience of each of them, which show the condition of our church today. I was impressed with so many parallels. He also talked about the current happenings and the New World Order. This was another reminder that we really need to be aware of the developments and get ready for Jesus' soon return. There were also encouraging testimonies of some young people who recently joined the church - one of them by listening to a talk of Walter Veith on YouTube.

So this trip was a nice change of my everyday life here in Brussels, all the more I probably won't have any opportunities to get away here in the next few months. I also enjoyed this picturesque lake with the Alps in the background - a beautiful scenery as you can see on the pictures below.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Some Fresh Air Please!

We are having winter smog in Brussels these days. I learned that this can always be expected when beautiful weather persists during this time of the year, especially when the wind drops. Because of the lack of movement of air and temperature, the polluted air is not diluted and gets trapped in a cold layer of air just above the ground. So this happened after we had a nice sunny interlude this past weekend. Today, they made an announcement at the metro station thanking those who have chosen to use public transport. It's really looking grey and this doesn't make me feel like going outside during my lunch break at all. I just wish I could be somewhere in the mountains! But it's only level 1 - level 2 or 3 would be worse; and they say level 2 would only occur once every 2 or 3 years. Anyway, I'm hoping for a fast improvement of these conditions.

At work, things are going to be a bit different for me in the next few months. One of my colleagues who assists in the unit secretariat has requested to work only in the mornings until the summer. Thus, I've been asked to replace her in the afternoons, since it would be too difficult for my other colleague to handle it there by herself all the time. I can't say that I'm happy with this arrangement, since I like my office and I don't appreciate having two different work areas. At least my new head of unit doesn't require us to stay long hours, so I just hope the work load will be managable.

Next week, I'll be off for a little adventure. Professor Walter Veith is going to speak in two different places in Germany, and I'm going to attend his meetings near Munich - at least part of them. Our German ministry is going to have a booth there and I will be helping with this. It's going to be an interesting trip I guess.

By the way, it would be nice getting to know those reading my blog I'm not acquainted with. I only know about two followers in Colorado for example, but there are more hits from there. And what about the ones in Germany and South America? Maybe I even know you, but it would be nice if you could drop me a note!