As the first day was drawing to a close, most had either gone home or drifted off the bed, Brendan received notification that the Atlanta Airport would be closing on Monday. We were scheduled to fly through Atlanta on Monday to Amsterdam. They had 2 seats left for Sunday morning, and if we had any hopes to get to the Netherlands we needed to be on it.
I had been sitting in the meeting hall talking with my mother, Aunt, brother-in-law and Sr. Sony, when Brendan entered to deliver the news. We discussed it for a while and I was overcome with sadness about the change of plans. I was going to miss the next day of convention. I was going to miss spending time with my mother and aunt who traveled a thousand miles to be there. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to everyone else. “I”, “I”, “I”.
Besides that we were not packed. I had suitcases out and clothes in them, but there was still more to do. We were an hour away from home without a car and were now leaving first thing in the morning. So, mother-in-law came to get us and brother-in-law drove us to meet her at a convenient spot. We got home at 11pm and started to pack.
It was after 1am before I went to bed and not sure when Brendan followed. Then I was up at 6 to prep for Sheena (our most amazing farm hand). Got the milk squared away, she left and then we left. Our flights were smooth and uneventful. I was rather amazed how quiet the flights were. No one really talked to anyone. All absorbed in their own world. I did however chat a little with the stewardess who was working the other side of the plane when I heard her tell a passenger in front of me that she was from Boaz, Alabama. She has an 11 acre farm in the Snead area and has chickens. Not many, but the only breed she could remember was Domeneker, and she lives next door to her mother who has cattle on the property. She was also a mother. Small world as we were both in the air on our way to Amsterdam.
Then there was Ken. We didn’t talk until the last twenty minutes of the seven and half our flight, except for the brief conversation when I dumped my cup of water all over him. Way, to go—he was very gracious. He was extremely glad that it was just water. He was from Charlottesville, but had an apartment on the coast of Florida that concerned him. He was married for 35 years and traveled a lot these past few years and did not like being away from his wife so much as he could be gone for weeks at a time.
Then there was the party animals in front of us. Two elderly women and their daughter (who was older than me). I don’t know their names, Brendan struck up a conversation with them as we waited in line in Atlanta to board. They were from Jacksonville Florida and “they had their own evacuation plan”—go party it up in Amsterdam. Brendan commented on their painted toes and flipflops. The younger old person was telling us how they were going to Amsterdam to party—she gave a slight look of disgust when I told her I was going to a Bible Convention in Germany while Brendan was working as a “booth babe” as he liked to describe it at the big convention center. The purpose of his trip was the gigantic trade show where he and his partner would be talking about their different film scanners and data storage. I came because I could. When my friend, Sr. Dorchen from Germany found out that I was going, she informed me of the German/French convention that would be happening the weekend I was there.
I am a person controlled by fear as I think most people are. Fear dictates what we will and will not venture to do. I am struggling with it and struggling to overcome it. When she told me about the convention I wanted to go, but fear reminded me that Brendan would not be joining me and that I would have to manage the trip in a foreign country by myself.
For some reason, the Lord has been using Sr. Dorchen to help me overcome my fears this summer. In July, we were debating back and forth as to whether we would go to a certain convention. I had told her cousin Br. Sven that I was going, but after that, we had talked ourselves out of it. I had not talked to Sven in a very long time. He sent me an e-mail on some thoughts on Revelation and I told him of our plans and also that our next Prophetic Study Weekend would be on Revelation. Next thing I get a message from Sr. Dorchen that she would be at that convention and was wanting to see me. I told Brendan and so now we were going. The Lord’s workings, through Dorchen, were even far deeper than me, as Sr. Maria told me she had decided not to go to the convention because it was too hard with Sarah’s stroller (Sarah is 11 and has cerebral palsy and had a cumbersome walker that was hard for Maria to cart around, besides getting her into the van and all that comes with that. I had not told her that we were going to that convention and was hoping to surprise her and the kids. So, I had to tell her and so they came, but she didn’t tell Nysaia that we were coming. (Nyasia is 16 now, but spent 6 weeks of last summer on our farm, where I had permission to annoy and embarrass her besides put her to work—before that we had not seen her since she was 6). Nyasia cried when she saw her Farm Mom and Dad.
The Lord works in mysterious ways and in our lives, He was working through Sr. Dorchen. Sometimes we need a push to do the right thing. A push to get past the encumbrances that fear lays upon us to prevent us from doing this or that. I had been reading about fear and was brought to the scripture that “God is made strong in our weakness.” I acknowledged to God that I was weak in this area—about going to the General Convention in July and the German Convention coming up. I told Him that I was weak and that I needed His strength and was relying on it. In both cases, once I made the decision that I was going to move forward in spite of my fears, the fear went away. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
The other fear that keeps me back is one on one interaction when it comes to talking about God. I am fine at a fair, because the people who come up to you are there because they want to talk about God. But “cold contacts” as it is called is a far scarier proposition. But I recently came across the scripture about “redeeming the time” and saw it an a whole new light. We have generally applied that scripture to guard against wasting time in a general sense. But when you read it in context it is very specific about what it is referring. When we are with unbelievers we are not to be wasting our time, but to choose our words carefully and hold their interest as we witness to them. The whole context is about witnessing, and just before that Paul asks the brethren to remember him in prayer that he can explain the Truth clearly and that God would open up a way for him to proclaim the Truth. That scripture hit me and showed me my failures, my fears.
I do witness, but most of it is sitting behind a computer in the comfort of my own home, or my stealth tactics of putting tracts out here and there. No personal interaction, no risk of rejection. So, the other day I was with my mother in Walmart and I determinedly handed the checkout girl one of my tracts.
I am still working on “choosing my words carefully”—because I don’t have that worked out yet, I fumble on what to say. When we checked our bag in Huntsville, I handed one of my tracts to the lady behind the counter and she thanked me.
I have also struggled to find a tract that I identity with. They are kind of like greeting cards—I generally hate them all (greeting cards that is) because they say sappy things that would never come out of my mouth. So, I solve that problem by writing long scriptures that have made an impression on me and making postcards so I don’t have to write a lot of my own thoughts on them. So, with the tracts, I made my own for this trip. It is about the “faith to move mountains” I had recently shared this gem with my friends on line and decided that is what I wanted to share with those I came across. I printed them out last night while we were packing, so they are a little hokey, but send a message that has encouraged me these past few months. There is contact information on the back if they found it a blessing.
I think I should state that my goal in witnessing is not necessarily sowing seeds for the kingdom as we like to say, but looking for my brethren who are out there and encouraging them as I try to encourage the ones that I already know.
I wanted to give my little tract to the stewardess on the plane as I left. I figured she would be standing there as we disembarked, and I had it ready to give, but she wasn’t there. Sadly I left the plane with it still in my hand.
We arrived in Amsterdam at 5am. Neither of us had slept because it was still normal time for us, but we were tired from the travel and stiff. We breezed through the airport and customs. They basically just looked at our passport and stamped it—never asked a single question. It was more difficult to get into Canada than the Netherlands. We picked up our checked bags and walked out into the street.
I found the airport to be very dirty. I had to use the facilities and there were paper towels all over the floor toilet paper as well. Unclaimed bags were strewn all over the place instead of being in one place where someone could go if they were missing it.
It was 5am.
With our change of schedule, that meant our Air BNB also had to be updated. For those not familiar with Air bnb—you are staying at people’s houses. Sometimes it’s just a room in their house or a whole apartment all to yourselves, and usually cheaper than a hotel. We found this last year when Brendan began all his traveling and we love it. I find hotel rooms claustrophobic if you need to stay in them for very long.
There was another booking in the apartment and we could not get in till after noon. Brendan found on line that the Sheraton hotel next to the airport has massages for about $20.00 (so I thought). We got there at 6 when they opened their doors, but the massage lady would have to be called and scheduled and that took place at 9am. But they put our luggage up and let us into the spa till then. They had lounge chairs with thin cushions on them—I managed to get some sleep, waking periodically to see the sun rise over the traffic control towers that were the scene outside the gigantic window. Brendan got no sleep.
I dreamed the lady came into massage, but she did a very shabby job as I remember almost none of it and she didn’t do my feet. I went looking for Brendan and Nipsie (our dog was helping me)—that was my clue it was a dream, but when I awoke, I asked Brendan if I had gotten a massage and he said no. Good thing, because now my neck hurt from the hard wooden bench I was sleeping on.
9am came and I went for my massage. I gave her permission to give the massage hard, and things hurt that I never knew would hurt, but I toughed it out. Brendan was next and then when we were finishing up with Gabriel, I handed her my tract. She told us that she went to church and that she was raised a Catholic, but is now an Anglican and went to small Bible studies. She is a very sweet lady and the Lord favored me with that conversation to encourage me to continue and to give me courage.
The Base of Operations
The Netherlands is not a Christian nation, there are a lot of atheists and even Muslims who live in this country. I was not sure of the background of our Uber driver to took us to the apartment, but he graciously took my tract as well.
Patricia met us at the door of our apartment and showed us around and gave us the rules of staying there. She lives next door, but is not the owner. She informed us there was no partying allowed. We assured her that we were not partiers and that I was going to be going to a Bible Convention in Germany during our stay. I would hazard a guess she was an atheist by the look on her face when I said it. I didn’t give her a tract.
The apartment is really cute. Its on three levels. On the entry is the toilet and laundry room, you go down 8 steps to the living room and kitchen and then up some steps to their “garden” as she called it. I really cute but tiny back yard. Then from the entrance you go upstairs to the bedroom and bathroom. The bathroom is the bathroom in the full sense of the word as it is only for taking a bath or shower, the toilet is in its own closet down the landing.
I took a nap on the bed and then came down to write this. It is now after 5pm and Brendan is just waking up from much needed sleep. It is after 10am back home and I am getting hungry.
First Time Out and About
We got ourselves together and noticed that we did not pack converter plugs, so our computer and phones were running low. We put that on the list of things to get while we were out.
We met Patricia just as we were leaving and she said she had a plug converter for us to use and would leave it on our door. She was very pleasant and told us where some places such as grocery stores to go. She would be the last pleasant face we saw as we walked.
It’s not that the Netherlandians are not pleasant, I guess, but that is just who they are on a national level. We walked all over trying to find a certain restaurant we settled on--The Volt. The two of us trying to follow the GPS is right out of a scene on “Galaxy Quest” as they searched for the Beryllium Sphere. We actually quoted the line from that movie several times as we kept having to turn around.
As we walked, I made it a point to say hello to those we passed. They walk down the street looking through everyone else as if they were not there, or as if they did not matter. Most never heard me say, Hello, or got some weird looks as they passed by. Many also had their ears wired into their phones so that anything in the real world would not interfere with their walk. Brendan would laugh and keep telling me would not say hello back. I proved him wrong as it was getting dark on our return home and we passed a lady who was a bit startled by my friendly gesture, but she cracked a smile and said hello as we passed.
Amsterdam is a city of bicycles. Bike lanes are a part of the road system and there are probably more bikes than cars running the city. They are not only running on parts of the road but the sidewalk as well. Brendan warned don’t get in their way, they will run you down.
In what turned out to be a rainy night, we were glad when we finally found “The Volt” and had a delightful meal. Our next stop was to the grocery store where we would get drinks, yogurt, cheese, tissues (because there were none at the house), and of course I found some great looking ice cream that I had to have. We loaded up our groceries and ran through the checkout only to find that they do not take credit cards—yikes. Loaded everything back up and I sat with the stuff while Brendan went to an ATM to get some Euros. Today we must get to a bank and trade in some of our cash for Euros as we found a few places that only take cash.
I did not give anyone my special tracts last night, but did leave some cards out. There was no special connection or conversation with anyone that evening. The staff in The Volt were very nice and accommodating, but they were about the only ones. The Zombies that passed us on the street were not interested in the world around them. They walked looking straight ahead seemingly unaware of the beauty or people around them. I used to be like them, except I always looked down so as not to make eye contact with anyone because they might want to talk. What a sad existence. The Lord brought about that change in me when He brought me Brendan who talks to everyone at any time. What opportunities are missed when you shut people out as a rule of life. Certainly it is not the way of the Christian, because if that is how you operate, there is no opportunity to share the Gospel. There is no “love of the World” as God has, who gave His darling son for the world. I have learned, and I am still learning because it is not in my nature, to engage with those around me. At least smile and say hello.