Nov 18, 2011

like, scary good

Do you have any idea the kind of crazy to-do lists you get when you're planning an emigration? It's consuming my life at the moment. In a scary good kind of way. Scary because I am sometimes so preoccupied I forget to shower, and good because... hmm.. how shall I put this. It's just kind of cathartic getting rid of most of your earthly posessions, packing up only that which matters most, and finding that you don't actually need that much to be happy.

We had our final interviews last week and got approved! Again it was like a guardian angel came along and made sure everything went as smoothly as possible. The guy working our case at the consulate even said 'Oh, I saw that you guys were coming in today so I prepared all the paperwork last night to make sure you and the kids wouldn't have to be here too long'. And we weren't. It took less than an hour to get the good news that all our hard work and all the money we've already spent on this hasn't been for nothing. Then upon coming home and getting ready to actually book the flight we had another nice surprise: The ticket prices had gone down with 160 EUR per ticket! 

Now, I just want to say something on my little platform here. I know there are some who are upset and sad about us leaving. Some are worried for us and some just think we are certifiably insane. Some have made up their minds as to our reasons for leaving and some have come to the wrong conclusions. I'm sure there's talk and that that talk is divided between good thoughts and well-wishing, and gossip and lies (let's hope it's very unevenly!). 

I just want to say how grateful I am to everybody who shows their love to us in any way - whether that is through excitement and being happy for us, or by being sad to see us go, or by worrying for us. We appreciate our friends and family and all other loved ones so much. It makes us not want to leave when we think about all of you. If there's anything we can do for anyone, before or after we move, please let us know. 

It's comforting to us to know we have many wonderful friends and family waiting for us 'on the other side'(the dark side, as I'm sure some would call it! ha) in the USA. I hope that can be a comfort to those of you who worry for us. I hope it will also be comforting to know that we know this is the right thing for us to be doing. Ever since we made the decision to do this it has been like the entire universe has moved to open the path for us to go. Miracles have taken place. It has been a very humbling experience for us, one that I am beyond grateful for. Another thing I am beyond grateful for is a strong marriage. After 10 years it feels like Sander and I are closer than ever. Because of that certainty we are hopeful instead of scared and positive instead of pessimistic. We'll be okay because of that alone.

Well! With all of that said, I thought I'd share some of my recent 'likes' on Youtube with you .

1. Charlene Soraia - Bike

2. Winter Coats - Windmill

3. Fanfarlo - The Walls Are Coming Down

4. Sleighbells - Riot Rhythm

5. I Break Horses - Wired

6. Steve Mason - All Come Down

Nov 14, 2011

150 years

That's how much time has passed since the first Dutch people were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Friesland (pronounced 'Freezelund')- cause for a celebration and a road trip. Lindsey and I loaded the three oldest kids into the car along with plenty of snacks, drinks and music, and set the TomTom to an address I had never heard of, let alone ever been to. You'd think that living in such a small country as Holland, and having Fries blood (my grandmother was from Sneek) would have ensured many visits up north. But it hasn't. The only other time I really remember going up to Friesland was for a 4-day camp held in Appelscha when I was 16ish.

I wish I'd gone more.
The drive was absolutely gorgeous, as was the weather. We made a stop on the afsluitdijk to see what it was all about and stretch our legs. The kids would have been happy if that had been our only destination. But we got back in the car, drove on, and as time ticked on the views became greener and quainter. The best part was when I took a few wrong turns TomTom messed up, and we got to enjoy the extra scenic route.
The site where the monument is situated is a humble one. Set between two small farms it is separated from the quiet asphalt road by a narrow ditch. The windmill behind it and the grassy pastured that surround it give it a perfect Dutch feel, and I must admit that my patriotic side came alive a little as I listened to the mayor speak of the history of the place. It also made me feel proud of my Mormon heritage, and the kind of people we are generally viewed to be by anyone who has taken the time to get to know us just the smallest bit.
 After a few speeches a choir of missionaries sang, and everyone was given the opportunity to get a picture with the monument. Balloons were let up, and we all gathered at the neighboring farm where we were graciously welcomed with cake and drinks. As I looked around for a place to sit I noticed an elevated patio that looked quiet and cosy, so I headed over there. The only other person sitting there was an elderly man who motioned me to come sit next to him. He turned out to be the original owner of the farm, though his son and daughter-in-law now ran it for him. He told me all about what the area looked like when he was little, and asked many questions about my faith. He told me lots about his and we were happy to find many things we had in common. He reminded me of my grandfather, and talking to him was my personal highlight of the entire trip. Either that, or how soundly the kids slept during the drive back...

Nov 7, 2011

death and Jesus

It's a theme when you have my genes. This of course goes for the most obvious interpretation of that: everyone in my family eventually dies, and many of us believe in Jesus.... but that's not what I'm getting at. I think it all began with my brother Mike, back when his voice was still high and we called him Mikey-boy (I stopped calling him that around the time he learned to kill a human in 7 different ways using only his small toe and a paperclip). 

On Mondays we would somewhat regularly have Family Home Evenings at our house. For those of you not familiar with the concept, here is an overview of what such an evening looked like:

1. Your dad gets out his recorder and makes you sing along to him playing it.
2. The family prays together (this is often when the younger family members try to make their escape since mom&dad are supposed to have their eyes closed. Never worked for me.)
3. The serious part. This can either consist of a small presentation/lesson prepared by any one of the family members on a subject they deem worthy of discussion, or it's a 'family council' where a new idea is proposed, discussed and voted on.
4. Game/activity time.
5. Refreshments.

Sometimes these evenings were were so torturesome I had to find my inner happy place to make it through, but most of the time it was a lot of fun spending time together as a family, learning from eachother, and building memories. The funnest part about these evenings was that everyone played an important part in them. Everyone would be in charge of one or more of the items listed above, and they responsibilities rotated so that you did something different each week. 


One week it was Mike's turn to take care of the serious part of the evening. I think he must have been around 8 or 9 at the time. He came up with the idea to teach us all about Christ's sacrifice for us and what we can learn from it. He worked hard at it: had visual aids, scriptural references, and a clear story outline. He even made a beautiful title board with a picture of Jesus on it and the title of his lesson. The title he gave his lesson was:

Jesus died from Michael.

Example two: Only a short while later, when we had the missionaries over for dinner one night, one of the elders was talking about his family at home and told us that he had one brother. My sister Marissa, without a second's hesitation, turned her head, looked him in the eye and asked: 'Is he dead??'.

Fast forward to present day and a little boy named Max. We took Max to get his medical examination in Amsterdam last week. Part of that exam was an eye check. The doctor made Max focus on a person in a photograph he had hanging on his wall. This person was walking in a field, surrounded by trees, holding a rifle and wearing a rain coat. When the check was finished and Max' vision was pronounced perfect, the doctor asked him 'Who is that person in the picture?', to which Max answered 'He has a gun. It's Jesus.' 

When I put Max down for his nap I always tuck him in tight, give him a kiss and a cuddle, and softly whisper into his ear that I love him. This always makes him smile, and want to whisper in my ear as well. Instead of whispering 'I love you mommy', he says 'I KILL YOU!', and happily rolls over to his side, signalling that I may now leave his room.

Then there is one final example. An example that was no doubt fueled by recent Halloween celebrations (see pictures below). Last night I took Max and Elliot up to their room, got their diapers on, and tucked them into their beds. A quick kiss for Elliot did the trick. Max needed a little more because he had become very worried that there were ghosts hiding in his room. We checked the room together to make sure there were no ghostly stow-aways, but still I could tell he wasn't quite reassured of his own safety. Suddenly his face lit up and he shared his idea with me. He asked for his toy gun and added the following words: 'If a ghost comes, I will just ask Jesus to come, and then I'll shoot Jesus dead with my gun, and the ghost will be so scared that it will stay away!'. 
I suppose it's my own fault for teaching my kids to use Jesus as an example.

Do you see what I'm talking about? Death and Jesus - it's a theme.

Anyway, here are the Halloween pictures. We had a great night baking sugar cookies, dressing up, going trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, and watching scary movies.
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