Spring has sprung in Holland… I had the pleasure of riding around the flower fields about a month ago with some ministry partners who were visiting from America…. the tulips were in full bloom and I’m so glad Tracy and Neil were able to see and experience such an amazingly beautiful part of the Netherlands!

Trip in America

It’s been a few months since you’ve heard from me. My trip to America in late Feb/early March was wonderful!! My drive from Indiana to Arizona was safe and along the way I was able to stop and visit with some very special people. The open country and sunshine in central/west Texas, southern New Mexico and Arizona was simply delightful and my heart was filled with peace! While in the US I was able to see all of my immediate family including my parents who are now living in Arizona.

Photo: L to R - sister-in-law Paula, niece Jessica, sister Lisa, sister Marlene and me in front of Cloud Gate, also known as “the Bean” in Millennium Park, Chicago.

I also had a fabulous time with my sisters during our Chicago weekend… lots of laughs, good food and just plain fun! What a treasure of enjoyment to be together once a year.

Dutch Exams

Upon my return to Amsterdam I picked up my studies of the Dutch language and took the 4 exams a few weeks later. The results recently came in the mail and sadly I only passed the “reading” portion of the exam. Naturally, I’m disappointed. During the two days of the exams I was extremely sick, but had to press on regardless. That’s not to say I have an excuse, but only to remind myself I did my absolute best under the circumstances. I’m not quite sure of the grading system, but I needed at least a 500 to pass each portion.

Unfortunately, I missed passing the “listening” by 4 points, “speaking” by 11points and “writing” by 19 points — which means I needed an additional 6.8% of the answers correct in order to have received my diploma. Oh well. I’ve completed the requirement of taking the Staatsexamen and I’m not sure yet if it is necessary for me to pass everything since I’m not interested in achieving citizenship status for a Dutch passport.

Europe Missionary Retreat

The Great Commission Missionaries who are currently serving the Lord on this continent gathered together in early April for a 5 day retreat in Bled, Slovenia for interaction, prayer, building into one another’s lives, rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. It was a blessed time, needless to say! I’m so glad to be “in the fight” together with so many amazing warriors.

Photo: Missionaries serving in Germany, Holland, Italy, Poland, Spain, and Ukraine along with the child care team from the US and the GCE Co- Director and GCM Executive Director and his family.

Legal Documents

Over the past 6 months I’ve been in the process of filing for an extension of my resident permit and work visa. Thankfully, both of them were renewed (from March 31, 2009- March 31, 2012). With these new documents the government allows me to remain the Netherlands to work with Stichting GCM Netherlands. Thank you for your prayers.

Healthy Church Ministry

In April I participated as a Facilitator for the Listening Seminar, which was taught this time by a Dutch woman, Marie Christine Roeleveld (left photo), and Patricia (GCM missionary). The seminar was rewritten and edited to be more culturally relevant and all the materials were translated into Dutch. A job well done for those involved with the editing, translating, etc.!

We had a group of 21 participants join us from 3 different churches. After a day and a half, the powerful skill of reflective listening once again shed light into people’s relationships and everyone gained a deeper understanding for how to better live out building genuine trust and openness through warmth, empathy and respect. - Romans 12:9-18

On June 5th-6th the Zolder50 Healthy Church Ministry team will be offering another seminar (materials from Equipping Ministries International), called Embracing God’s Grace. I will be co-teaching with Heidi, Jen and Patricia. This seminar goes deeper than the other seminars.  Basically, this seminar is about getting before the throne of grace and doing business with God through the simple, but not easy, step of bringing our struggles directly to God in prayer.

During the Listening Seminar Jen and I role playing how to encourage carrying our own load by not taking personal responsibility away from another and placing it on yourself, it’s a monkey. - Galatians 6:4-5

We have a ‘great high priest’ who offers us peace, comfort, grace, wisdom and love, but often we don’t take him up on it.  This seminar is about how to overcome the things that block us from receiving and experiencing God’s grace, such as shame, guilt, rebellion and spiritual bondage, and about how to better understand, apply and live out the Gospel – the good news of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross.

We will look at how to receive God’s invitation back to Himself, how to live a life of forgiveness, how to be set free by truth, and how God’s power can help us overcome patterns of sin, addiction, bitterness, and other things that keep us from living the rich, full and joyful life that Jesus came to give us.

In the Embracing God’s Grace seminar, we will not only be looking at how to receive and apply these truths to our own lives, but we will also focus on growing in our skills and confidence in praying for others.  Too often we feel powerless to help a hurting friend.  Too seldom do we reach out and offer to battle for one another in prayer.  The church desperately needs more people who are willing and able to pray in faith, in the Spirit and according to God’s Word.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4.14-16)

Please pray with us that this seminar is a blessing and equips us to be more effective in prayer for one another.

A final goodbye to the Watkins Family

On the first day of May, one of our pastors Todd Watkins (along with his wife, Lindy, and their two children Amelie and Gabrian) departed for America.  The Watkins family served here with GCM for almost 7 years. In mid to late April our church had a number of special events to remember and celebrate all that they've done in Amsterdam.  Many of you read more of their story in the Great Commission Europe update, which I e-mailed out a week ago. Please keep them in your prayers, especially during early June as they explore the possibility for future ministry work in the Asheville, NC area.

 Also, please continue praying for Eric Asp (our remaining Pastor), Marc La Porte (pastor-in-training) and the other young leaders (Jeroen, Sokol, Niel, Marco, and Jurren) who are developing their skills as teachers of God’s Word. In the next few weeks the series on the Old Testament Kings will be finishing which has emphasized themes of leadership, transition, and depending on God.

Serve the City

As in previous years, during May there is a weekend devoted to serving people in Amsterdam. I will be leading a painting project on Saturday, May 30th for a friend from my Dutch class, who was widowed earlier this year. Prayers are appreciated.

Thank you, thank you to all who are a part of the work that is going on here in Amsterdam. It means a great deal to have a dedicated team of ministry partners throughout the world who are praying for and financially supporting this ministry.

God bless you,