Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I'm almost headed off to the prophecy seminar, just wanted to post a few pictures from our Christmas events. It was nice being with family again. Christmas eve, we spent at my grandmother's place, and the traditional Christmas lunch took place at our house. Now as I can't see my folks all year round anymore, I enjoy it even more when I see them at these rare occasions, even though I don't really appreciate the commercial aspect of Christmas, and therefore would rather spend it quietly somewhere with friends.

Anyway, we had a blast. My cousin played the accordion, and my younger brother the flute. Of course I had to provide for my own menu, but all in all it was a blessing.

Flori and Antje playing
My brother and sister-in-law captivated by their eye-phones - hilarious!
My aunt Renate and uncle Hermann
Antje checking out her gifts
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Caroling

The youth of our church had a special item on their programme this weekend. They went Christmas caroling at different homes of church members. Last year, they did this for the first time, and apparently it was a huge success. So this year, I decided to sign up as well. I actually considered it more an outreach event, and so I didn't expect them to only sing at my place. In fact, I sent out an e-mail to my neighbours inviting them to let me know if they are interested in having them sing. Only one lady replied saying that they would be glad to have them come to their house.

So all 20 participants (including children) arrived at my place and we had a great time. I think I've never had so many people in my living room, but it worked out well. They shared a few nice songs, munged on my cookies and pop corn, and then they went downstairs to also sing for my landlord. Then we went to the lady's house. They really liked their performance, and one of the men staying in that house also wanted them to sing for a friend of his who had his birthday. He only lived a few houses away, but the man figured that his friend was actually at the supermarket. So he ushered the whole crew to the store down the street, found his friend, and they started singing. It was good fun!

Our little intervention at the supermarket

And here is the little video I made.

And this is how my place looked like after the raid

So you never get bored with this church! The same evening, I also had a meeting with the responsibles of the other French speaking church concerning our Health Expo activities. After all, the training on children's Health Expo will already take place the second weekend of January; and then we need to find a place to do a public Expo (both for adults and children) somewhere in Brussels. I really hope it will work out. My biggest concern is the number of volunteers we will need. But the Lord will provide somehow, I'm sure.

Now I have to work only four more days and off I go to Germany. I'll be spending Christmas with my family, and then I'll be attending a one week prophecy seminar near Stuttgart. So my time in Germany will definitely not be boring. I would have wished to escape the winter again for a little while - just to get some warmth and sunshine in order to survive better until spring, but in February/March I'm going to spend a few weeks in the US, partly in California and Alabama, so this will probably be a nice compensation!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Madou Tower

I'm not supposed to write about my work on this blog, but I'm just going to share about the building in which I work, so I suppose that this is ok (hoping that they will let me know if there is a problem ;-).

Anyway, it's already four weeks ago that we moved to another building, but only now do I find the time to blog about it. The background is that our growing Directorate-General has been spread out to several buildings, and although all of them only on walking distance from each other, this was obviously not an ideal situation. Thus, it has been decided to move the whole DG into a 32 story tower about 15 minutes walking distance from the previous buildings; and the colleagues currently occupying the tower moving into our buildings instead.

Of course this cannot take place all at once, so the maneuver already started this past summer, and is supposed to be finished by the spring of 2013. So about half of our Directorate had to pack their moving boxes last month, including our little task force.

Although it now takes me about five minutes longer to get to my office, I must say I like the new work place. It's more modern, and even the neighborhood is not as bad as I had assumed. I thought the next park would be too far away to get some recreational time during lunch break, but if I take a shortcut, it's actually not that remote. So far, the office situation is not ideal for us, since half of our team looks into the inside of an artrium with almost no sunlight (I don't know what kind of architect had this bright idea), but this situation will be remedied soon, and we will all have outside windows. We are on the sixth floor only, but if I want to see a beautiful sunrise/sunset, I can always go to a higher level. I actually look forward to that!

So all in all, I'm happy with the new situation. It's important to have a pleasant work place; you spend a lot of time there after all!

There are some other things I wanted to share, but I'm still behind with everything. I hope I can catch up in the next few weeks!

Madou Tower - view from my old office building
This is how my office looked like on the day I moved in
And a couple of weeks later - at my little Thanksgiving reception

Monday, November 19, 2012

Time Is Flying

Indeed, only five more weeks until Christmas break - I can't believe it.

There were two big happenings in the past few weeks: The ASI meetings in Hanover, as well as the seminar with Restoration International at "Die Arche" in the north-east of Germany. Both events were very blessed.

Well, I should have rather gone somewhere to the beach or to the mountains in order to recover from all the stresses of the previous weeks, as well as from the bronchitis I had contracted in October. However, I didn't want to miss the ASI meetings, and I definitely don't regret having gone there. It was just not as relaxing as I had planned it to be. I was one of the volunteers helping with the interpretations into English for those who didn't understand German. That included my friend Violeta from Belgium, who actually took me there with her husband Sacha. They had registered already in the summer, and eventually I decided to join them.

Anyway, Walter Veith from South Africa was the main speaker, and it was very nice to see him again. But like last year in Bavaria, I didn't have much opportunity to talk to him. I hope to be able to travel to South Africa again at some point, because he is always so busy when he is traveling. This would also give me an opportunity to see his wife again, as well as some other friends. At least I have a nice picture with him :-).

It was actually the first ASI meeting I attended. So far, I had only followed the ASI meetings in North America via 3ABN, and I've always enjoyed them. I finally became a supporting member of this ministry, and they actually did an interview with me there - about my activities in Brussels (to be published in the German ASI news).

Walter and I

Fat ladies in Hanover

My stay at "Die Arche" was also very blessed. In fact, I would have wished to be able to just stay in Germany and then go to there right at the beginning of the seminar, but I had to go back to work as I didn't have enough annual leave left. I also had to finish some preparations for our upcoming office removal.

So I arrived there two days later, but I still had a very good time. It was so nice to see Tom and Alane Waters again. I had them in my home church in Germany in 2002, and ever since, I have only seen them a couple of times. The seminar was very interesting as usual, and the other people attending were very nice. Furthermore, I was kind of overwhelmed about the beauty and quietness of the country surroundings there, as well as how cosy this place is and how warm the people who are working there. All in all, it was a great experience.

I like how they interact which each other
Very photogenic - both of them

So here I am, back to the grind. It was a rather interesting week after I came back from Germany, as I had to get adapted to a new working environment. Well, I'm still in the process of getting adapted, but it's good for the brain to build some fresh neuropathways every now and then!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ixelles Cemetery

I guess it's time for another blog post!

Tomorrow, I'll be headed off to Hannover, Germany. The annual ASI convention will be held there, and Walter Veith will be the main speaker. I really look forward to it. I'm going to help with the interpretations into English, for those few attendees who don't understand German - including my friend Violeta from the Flemish part of Belgium, who will be attending together with her husband Sacha. They are actually going to give me a ride there.

My roommate Larissa is still staying with me, however her programme in Brussels is coming to an end tomorrow. Then she will be continuing in Tilburg, Netherlands, for the next part of her master's studies. It has been a real blessing having her at my place, and I hope she will be doing as well at the other places as she has been here.

On Sunday morning, we went to IKEA (I accidentally found out that they had an open Sunday), as I needed some items for the home (bedding, kitchen stuff, etc.). It was a wonderful sunny day, and in the afternoon, we took a walk to the nearby cemetery.

Well, normally it's unusual for me to visit a graveyard unless there is somebody resting there that I have known. I like to visit the local cemetery at my home town from time to time, since both my grandfather and great-grandmother are buried there. However, in this case, there is no close relative or friend of mine whose grave I was interested in visiting. In fact, I haven't even known them. It actually concerns twin girls who were born prematurely to a young lady of my church. She was only five months pregnant when there were sudden complications, and so she had to give birth. The little infants were alive, but they were not viable. Of course this brought a lot of grief into the family. Myself and some other people from church attended the funeral last April, which was very sad.

This is how the patch for the premature births looks 
like. Each child has this stone with a star on it. 

Some of the graves even bear a name

And some are even decorated with toys around

A visit to a cemetary is always interesting. For example, I saw a tomb of a woman who died a few years ago, at the age of 39. And this is what her mother wrote on that grave:

To my unique daughter
Pray for me that the Lord will help me
to overcome this grief of thirty nine years
Because by myself, I won't be able to do it
Know that the Lord will render you justice.
Your mommy who loves you so much

Well, if she meant that her daughter should pray for her, that sounds a bit weired to me. She is sleeping after all. Nevertheless, this text expresses a lot of pain and grief.

There was also a grave with a broken stone that nobody seemed to care about any longer. A man who died in 1944 was buried there - his wife followed in 1981. This made me think of my great grandmother, who was a widow even for longer than 37 years.

Of course it's always a time of grief and sadness if you loose a loved one, at whatever age. However, I think it's particularly tragic if somebody has to die who hasn't even had the chance to live! Well, the young mother of these twins will be able to raise them on the New Earth. There, she won't have any trouble disciplining them; she won't have any sleepless nights because of them - she will just be enjoying them! I think we have a great source of comfort here. I actually realized that I will have a sibling on the New Earth that I have never seen; as my mother also had a miscarriage in her life. Maybe it will be the sister that I had always wanted. This thought makes me smile indeed. What a wonderful hope we have!
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Revelation 21:4

Saturday, October 13, 2012

This and That

It's past 11 PM and I'm sitting in my living room. I woke up relatively shortly after falling asleep. I think I was lying on my right hand or something, and then there was this pain in my hand. Strange.

Anyway, I've been on sick leave. My chiropractor urged me to slow down. He is right. It has been impossible for me to fully recover from my pain, as I always went back to full-time work too quickly. Plus they haven't exchanged my office chair yet, which is giving me this pain. The foam is too hard for me, since I have no natural padding (i. e. body fat on my buttocks).

But nothing to worry about. In fact, I really look forward to part-time work this coming week (the doctor said I should work only half days, and then slowly increase). From December on, I will have every Friday afternoon off from work. Yes, I'm going to be on a 90% regime. I think this was the best decision I could have ever taken. Of course I will earn less money, but it will be so worth it. My health is more important than money after all.

On Friday, I saw my dentist. He relieved my tooth pain (just by removing some bacteria which got "trapped"), and then I ended up having an interesting conversation with him - about health and the NEWSTART concept.

On my way to his office, I went through a park.

That's a normal picture in Brussels. Actually, at this time of the year, you see them rather lingering at the metro stations, because it's warmer there.

Only about five minutes away from that bench is the Berlaymont building, the main Commission building, were all the Commissioners and their cabinets are housed, as well as the Legal Service and the Secretariat-General. My friend Agnieszka, an Adventist from Poland, works for the latter as an administrative assistant. On Thursday, I met her and two of the other "EU/SDA workers": Jana from Slovenia, who has been here for a little over a year; and Emma von Romania, who just arrived in June. She is a legal adviser at the EEAS (European External Action Service). This is the newly founded diplomatic service of the EU, headed by Barroness Ashton from the UK. On the picture below, she is the one left to President Barroso (front middle man). The one left from her is Vice President Almunia, the one who is in charge of competition matters. I still haven't met him, but I hope to be able to meet him soon.

Then I went to the metro. There was a group of controllers on the stroll. They look really scary. They always catch a lot of people without ticket. That's interesting, because in Germany they are always in ciwies when they control the passengers. Thus, nobody can flee from the bus or tram, because they don't notice that somebody is going to control them.

Anyway, I'm still not sleepy enough to go back to bed, but I hope I will be soon!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Little Friend

I'm on sick leave these days. It feels so good not having to push you to go to work. My back problem is getting better and better, and I'm confident that I can go to the office on Sunday - at least for a few hours. I really need to catch up.

Anyway, my roommate Larissa went on excursion again today. Her class already went to Antwerpen last week and today it's Bruges. Lucky them! As I have noted before, it's probably the most beautiful place in Belgium - at least amongst the "man-made" stuff here. Of course the hills in the Ardennes are much more beautiful. But after all, they are made by somebody much smarter then any human being.

I just noticed that there is a little spider coming down from my kitchen ceiling - one of these tiny ones. In the past, I would kill them. But since they are supposed to eat insects and other "false friends", I decided to save his life. Now I have a little friend in my house!

I'm heading off to the EU quarter now. The "EU/SDA workers" have a lunch appointment today. This means the five Adventist ladies who currently work for the EU institutions in Brussels: Agniezska, Jana, Ina, Emma, and myself. I really look forward to it, especially as Emma is our "newcomer", and she doesn't know Jana and Agniezska yet. She works as a legal adviser at the "European External Action Service", the newly established EU's diplomatic service, headed by Barroness Ashton from the UK. Before, it was our Directorate-General "RELEX" (external relations), and I've always wanted to work there. After all, they may send you on Delegation to Geneva, or to Washington, or to Iraq. However, this may not really be the place where I should be, so I gave up applying there.

My friend is getting closer (I mean the spider is coming down on me). I'm not sure if I really like it! But I guess I will have to overcome my phobias...

Thank you all for your prayers my dear friends!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Can't Sleep

For several reasons.

I will probably write about them later - I just wanted to share with you the two songs that I've been really appreciating to listen to these days:

The first one is sung by the Nebblett youth: "At the Crystal Sea"

The sescond one is sung by Emily Bond and Robbie Folkenberg: "Write them on my heart"

Just click and listen when you have a few moments. I'm so thankful for these songs. Thank you Chantée, Sean, Joshua and Natasha; thank you Emily and Robbie!

"The liberal soul (the soul of blessing) shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself." ~ Proverbs 11:25 ~

Monday, October 8, 2012

Catching Up

Ok, here comes the next chunk of information about the recent happenings in my life. I'm going to start with the latest:

Yesterday, we (our task force) were invited at the house of one of our colleagues who is going to leave our unit at the end of this month. He invited us over for a brunch. I was running a bit late, as I had a one-hour phone conversation in the morning, which threw me a bit off my schedule. I had also forgotten to recharge my GPS fully before leaving the house, and so after descending from the metro station, I had absolutely no idea where to go. Unfortunately, I hadn't written down Gunnar's phone number, but thank God I had the one of my boss on my cell phone. So I called him, but he was still on the way with his bicycle (plus three-year old son). However, he was able to give me Gunnar's landline number, and so I called him. He explained everything to me, and so I was able to find the way. So finally I arrived there half an hour late - however I was still the first guest!

The next one to arrive was my boss Philippe with his cute little son Aubery. Then little by little, the others showed up. The problem was that there was the annual "Brussels Marathon" and many streets in the city were blocked, which caused a lot of traffic jams. For me, this wasn't a problem, since I had taken public transport. Antonia wanted to come by taxi, but the driver was only able to drop her off near a metro station. Unfortunately, Kai was not able to come at all because of the traffic, which was a pity. This reminded me of last year at this time, when I gave a cooking class at my home. Quite a few were not able to come either, just because of the traffic.

Anyway, we had a blast. I supplemented the food choices by some home made granola and scrambled tofu. They really liked it, and my boss (and some other colleagues) said they wanted to place orders with me for monthly supplies of my granola. It's a recipe from Walter Veith, and it's really good - only sweetened with dates and bananas. I told Philippe that I would be happy to provide him with that if his wife could give me some music lessons in return (she is a voice teacher by profession). So maybe we could then prorate the lessons with the granola - we will see! My British music teacher recently left Brussels after all, so this seems to be a medium-term solution.

All in all, it was a very pleasant day. Gunnar and his wife have a 8-month old daughter, Lea. She is the cutest. She was so happy to see everybody - very social. Little Aubery was a bit shy at first, but then he started playing with all of my female colleagues - and really enjoyed it. I think he is going to that phase every child that age goes through - that they feel drawn to the parent of the opposite gender. Thus, he is very interested in spending quality time with women in general. Well, I left before he could try it with me! I already had an encounter with him earlier this year, when we were invited at Philippe's home. Indeed, he is also very social.

I gave Gunnar the book "Education" by Ellen White - one of my favorites. I'm sure they will be blessed by it.

I will probably post some pictures of the event later - I still need to ask my colleagues for permission. Not that I necessarily have to do that, but I decided to.

The weather yesterday was fantastic - an absolute contrast to Saturday weather, where it was raining almost constantly. Really strange weather patterns in this country!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Don't Know Where To Start

Please bear with me. I've been wanting to post for a while, but firstly, I just couldn't find a dull moment to write down any of my adventures, and secondly, things have been happening so fast that I can actually think of at least three different posts I could write, and I really don't know where to start.

Shall I write about what happened at my work place lately?

Shall I write about what happened at my church this weekend?

Shall I write about the political developments in Europe?

Well, one thing has been following another in quick succession. Right now, I still have Nadège from France visiting. We met at our camp meeting in Germany last month, and I spontaneously invited her to come to Brussels to share about her experience with "Congo Frontline Missions", an ASI-sponsored project, where she has been working as a full-time missionary. It has been such a blessing having her here. The church members were intrigued by her story.

So there have been three women in my house this weekend, since I have also Larissa staying with me. She is a student from Northern Germany, and she is completing a masters programme in "urban cultures". The first six weeks of the programme are happening in Belgium, and so she ended up staying at my place. It has been a blessing having her here. It's nice to have her company, and she is also a great help at home. And together with Nadège, we've had a blast! Today, Nadège and I did some sightseeing in Brussels, as she is traveling back to France only tomorrow. She came over to Europe to renew her visa, but very soon, she will be going back to her mission field.

I'm going to write more as soon as possible. Right now, I'm a bit under pressure, as I'm going to give another health talk at my work place this coming Wednesday: "How to strengthen the immune system." Well, I'd better make sure to really know what I'm talking about!

Police at the Grand Place in Brussels Center

In front of the Berlaymont - main Commission building

"Parc Cinquentennaire" - Jubilee Park
Nice view

Friday, September 21, 2012

Just A Few More Pictures on Aachen

One of the many sculptures in this city
A terraced shrub garden with a terraced water fall running through it 
It was warm - also for the dogs
I think this man played a lute
It was very nice to listen to

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Staying busy

This past Sunday, I came back from my weekend trip to the city of Aachen. As I had reported on my blog, I have been there already in the fall of 2010 for a seminar with Dr. Timothy Jennings. This time, they invited Ron Halvorsen and his wife from Florida. In fact, he is a very interesting speaker. He shared about "Prayer Walking" - a concept to prepare big cities for evangelism.

With Ron and Carroll Halvorsen

Of course it was also a blessing to see my friend Tanja and her husband Ilja again, since we haven't had the opportunity to get together since the last seminar there. Again, they did the video recordings, and they did an excellent job.

It wasn't easy going back to work on Monday, but I'm getting into it. The workload is slowly increasing, and it will definitely become more in the next few months. I'm thankful to be in this food task force, as it's getting more and more interesting. Food is something that concerns everybody in the world after all. And there is definitely lots of work to be done when it comes to competition/antitrust concerns in this field.

Anyway, I feel honored and privileged to be at this particular post right now. Of course, it gives you a lot of insights what's happening on EU level. And fact is that my Directorate-General has a lot of power. Furthermore, there are lots of interesting things happening right now on the political floor in Europe. President Barroso gave his famous "State of the Union speech" today. More on this on an upcoming post!

And here is an encouraging bible verse that somebody sent me today:

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Thursday, September 6, 2012

La Foresta

I thought before the next adventure comes, I should take the opportunity and share about our church retreat, which took place last weekend.

We were guests in a former monastery near Leuven, which is about 30 km outside Brussels in the Flemish part of Belgium. The venue was quite impressive. They have lots of guest rooms there, in which the monks used to live. However, there seems to be only one monk left in this place. I even met him, but couldn't communicate with him much, since I don't speak Dutch.

Anyway, we had beautiful weather and the spiritual meetings with our Pastor were really blessed. Only the food needed some improvement (to put it politely), but this can certainly be fixed for next time. There was also another group present while we were there. Interestingly, this turned out to be a weekend seminar on how to find God within yourself, or something like that. At least this is what I understood during the conversation I had with one of the participants. They didn't think that God can be found somewhere outside themselves, and thus, they endeavored to learn looking within. Very weired. I wanted to give this lady a GLOW tract on health, but she refused (the monk gladly accepted it though).

Anyway, I have lots of good memories from this weekend retreat, and I look forward to the next one!

The main entrance of "La Foresta"

Lunch time: French Fries (yuck)

family time

Discussion group

Relaxing outside
The meeting hall
Play time on Sunday morning
Can I hold the little doll?

On Saturday morning, somebody slipped a piece of paper under each door. It was a paper with a spiritual message. We were wondering whether somebody of our group had this bright idea, but we came to the conclusion that the monk of the monastery might have provided us with it. It said the following:

The Difference
I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day. I had so much to accomplish that I didn't have time to pray.
Problems just tumbled about me, and heavier came each task. "Why doesn't God help me?" I wondered. He answered, You didn't ask," 
I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on, gray and bleak. I wondered why God didn't show me. He said, "But you didn't seek."
I tried to come into God's presence. I used all my keys at the lock. God gently and lovingly chided, "My child, you didn't knock."
I woke up early this morning and paused before enter the day. I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray.

I guess every guest in this house receives such a flyer in their respective language. What a beautiful ministry. The monk might be "out of the loop" at this place, but he can definitely not be blamed for not doing the Lord's work.

On Sabbath after lunch, I took some time to stroll around a bit around this monastery. There is something special about this place, and I'm definitely planning to come back. But there was more that the Holy Spirit put on my mind when I was walking around this stately building, glancing through the beautiful and quiet surroundings. It's this burden that has become heavier and heavier on my heart lately. This burden for the ten million people in this little country, which is not bigger than the State of Maryland. I didn't say a long prayer while I was strolling there - I just said:
Lord - give me Belgium!

Saturday, August 25, 2012


As promised I'm going to post some impressions of the few days left I had with Sharon and Ann-Marie after our return from the camp meeting beginning of last week. As soon as we had arrived home on Monday and got settled back in, we went on our way to the European Parliament. They offer audio-guided tours there for tourists twice a day. So I dropped them off there and was able to run an errand in the meantime. Then I had to see my chiropractor. When we were sitting in the waiting room, there was another patient joining us, and Ann and Sharon struck up a conversation with him. It turned out that he was actually from Holland, but that he was the principal or teacher of a private school in Brussels. Sharon asked him: "So I assume you are married to a Belgian?" He said "No, I married Italian" or something like this. Anyway, at the moment I was called in for treatment, a man stepped into the room, and he introduced him to them as his husband! Needless to say that they were a bit irritated... (I've kind of gotten used to such situations here already :-).

Then we went downtown and looked for a Chinese restaurant, since they were craving for Chinese food. This is difficult in Brussels though. You find more easily a good Italian restaurant, and I couldn't be of much help, since I usually never eat out. Anyway, we found a Vietnamese place, and the food was actually quite delicious.

The next day was my last opportunity to do sightseeing with them. Since we had lost half a day on Monday, it turned out that we had to choose between a 2-hour audio-guided bus tour through the city of Brussels, or to drive about 1 1/2 hours to visit the city of Bruges north east of the country. Doing both didn't seem to be feasible, since we didn't head out early enough in the morning. We actually first passed by at my office to say hello to the people. As it was prime vacation time, there were not many colleagues around, but at least they got an impression of the cultural diversity of my work place. We met John from the UK, Antonia from Spain, and Thomas from Germany. Then we spontaneously decided to drop the city tour and drive to Bruges, which in my opinion is the most beautiful man-made place in Belgium (of course it doesn't top the God-made things in this country). It's a quaint little town, and we enjoyed strolling around, even though we had only a couple of hours. They were really impressed, and Sharon was finally able to get some souvenirs. For me, it was indeed a nice change to big city life (although Brussels still seems to be a village compared to places like London or Paris).

On Wednesday morning, I dropped them off at the airport. Sharon headed home to Delaware, and Ann-Marie continued her mission trip in Hungary. She is currently working there with Dr. Horsley and family, as well as Lehel, my former class mate of Uchee Pines. On 3 September, she will pass through Brussels again, but she will only stay one night here and then head back to the US.

On tour in the European quarter

In Bruges - they offer chariot rides there

The chariot is coming!

Bruges is beautifully situated with a river flowing through

There was a wedding taking place at the local town hall

So all in all, I had a great time with my American friends. It's also nice to have some quiet time again though.  For the last 10 days, I really needed to recover from our camp meeting. Ever since I'm back to work, I went home every lunch break to take a nap. Today was a day of rest indeed, and I really feel recuperated by now. So I'm ready for the upcoming events of the next few weeks: Our church retreat next weekend at a Monastery outside Brussels, and the following weekend a seminar with Ron Halvorsen in Aachen, Germany.

The Lord is good. I think I couldn't enjoy life more at the moment.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Finally an Update

Eventually I can pause and sit down and reflect after all the happenings of the past two weeks. I have been tremendously blessed, but also extraordinarily stressed. The German camp meeting was a real blessing to everyone involved. As mentioned before, it was the first time that we were at this particular venue, and of course there were a lot of unknowns. But we were so thankful that everything went so smoothly with the owners of the place. They are a lovely Christian family of some independent protestant denomination, who run this place by themselves (with some staff in addition of course). It was the very first time that they cooked vegan and they did an excellent job. The communication was very good, in spite of the different beliefs.

Everything went well with the arrival of Ann-Marie and Sharon during the week before the camp meeting. I also took them to my church on Sabbath, and Ann-Marie gave a health talk there. Our journey to Germany went very well. I had the best rental car ever - a Ford Focus. It was actually a great deal, since I paid for it as much as I would normally pay for a small car. This size was perfect for us, and the car was just great. I had never driven with 6 gears, which made it even more easy to speed up. I did know that Ann and Sharon had never been on the German Autobahn (were there is in principle no speed limit), but I wasn't really aware that they had probably never gone on a speed of 170 km (105 mi) per hour. I hope I didn't scare them too much!

Arrived at the venue, there were also some other team members who came already on Sunday (the meetings only started Monday evening), but unfortunately, the preliminary work did not turn out the way I would have wished. Thus, we only started Monday morning with the preparation of the name tags, and alas, I realized that about 50-60 names were missing on the word document our IT person had prepared for us. Until now, I have no idea how this could have happened. It really stressed me out, since I had to prepare all these missing tags manually. I did have people to help, but the main burden was on me at this moment. Plus there were many details concerning the registration of the participants that only I knew about, so when the crowd came, people would ask me one question after the other. The result was that I was totally wired that evening. My brain was like a PC that couldn't shut down, and eventually I didn't even get a wink that night. Unfortunately, the following nights didn't turn out much better (since once I'm out of balance, I really am, and it takes a little while to get back to normal), and thus, it was pretty hard for me to make it through the days. This strongly reminds me of last year, when I was in a similar situation. It was just after the death of Thomas, who had helped so much in the past, that we had to learn to make it without him. I had similar problems with sleep then, and thank God, somebody was able to take over with the interpretation of a seminar that I was in charge of. This year, I also had an "angel" filling in for me, so I was relieved not to put an additional burden on my team members. I realized that I just can't take up such a task if I'm in charge of registration, as this already fully consumes me. Anyway, we do have a solution for next year, as I will get more help, for which I'm very thankful.

So we had about 280 participants, which was a good number. We couldn't have handled many more in this situation. The speakers were all very blessed, especially the Meyer family had such a good influence on the people. When I considered sponsoring part of their travel costs, I didn't even imagine what an impact they could make on individuals. There was one Russian-German lady who went up to Joel Meyer at the end, sharing with him that the Lord had told her through him everything that she needed: Concerning her personal life, her marriage, and the upbringing of her children. They decided to home school and to move to the country. Wow! I couldn't hold back my tears.

All in all, I'm very thankful for this experience, although I would have really liked to enjoy more fellowship with the people I knew already as well as with the folks I hadn't met. Well, hopefully next year! But at least I had a blessed time with my American friends. The camp ended on Sunday morning, but we only drove back to Brussels on Monday. Until they left on Wednesday morning, we still had some time to do sightseeing in Belgium, which was quite an experience - but more about that later!

Uchee Pines Reunion picture - from left to right: Joella, Mark,
Joanna, Joel & Joyce Meyer, Ann-Marie Scott, me, Jana Meldt

"Always cheerful" sung in German

The children also had fun

Indeed a lot of fun
While the mothers were relaxing
A snapshot down in the village
The beautiful country surroundings
Above: Ann-Marie teaching - Below: Joel & Joyce Meyer speaking

The gym in which the main meetings took place
The venue