December 26, 2010

‘T is the day after Christmas, or second Christmas Day in many parts of the world. We have a gentle light snow to beautify the view from our window. After enjoying a magnificent cantata last week Sunday, (Dec 18-19) we had a great Christmas evening service. My bride and our local children were participants, I “merely” enjoyed it in the audience. Yet, as one of our dear friends once explained: It really is GOD who is the audience; we, the congregation, are the “performers;” and the praise team, choir, or other “actors” up front, are in reality “prompters, - souffleurs in the language of the stage. Those who (softly) remind the performers of their lines. So, is it all right to applaud in church? The real question is, are we praising God, the audience, as we are prompted, or are we praising the perceived performer? It makes me think before I join in the applause for a great prompting job.

Thanksgiving, a traditional American holiday, was spend with our grandchildren and their parents. We had a blast of winter up in Minnesota, but we really enjoyed our time together. The traditional turkey meal with all the trimmings, was prepared and consumed in the Spirit of Thanks. We also made a quick trip to Missouri, to visit with our children there. We celebrated birthdays and great family time. Then we needed to be home for practices and preparation for all the events of December. We avoided most of the x-mas-rush but continued to focus on the Advent and the commemoration of the birth of the Savior, while we continue to wait for His return. Of course the house needed to be decorated for the winter rituals and the planned family gatherings.

November 18, 2010


During our last full week in the Netherlands we went on an excursion to Twente. This is a region in the north-east central part of this beautiful land. Located in the province Overijssel, this region has retained much of it’s former charm; quiet and laid back.
Small farms and beautiful villas dot the landscape. There are bike trails, walking paths, wooded areas and small cafes to stop at and have some coffee with pastry. We spend a glorious four days together with two siblings in this area. The hotel provided a full breakfast buffet, you could even fry your own eggs if you so desired. Also included in the price were three full dinners, although the wine was extra! All guests had access to nice new bicycles to ride in the countryside, all without additional charges. Although the fall weather prdominated, we were able to go for some bike rides and also took a long

morning walk one of the days we were there. We enjoyed the (small) swimming pool and spend some leisure time in the bar - lounge. There were many comfortable chairs and reading material was provided as well. Daily newspapers and a plethora of periodicals were available to all the guests. Coffee or tea with a small cookie was readily available at reasonable cost, as was a well-stocked bar.

On our way home we took a detour to Harderwijk, to visit the “dolfinarium” there. Although it was a cool and windy day, to see these animals really warmed our hearts. There were a variety of presentations and we were able to attend three major performances of varied sea mammals. The dolphin show was inside a large dome so we able to enjoy their antics in relative comfort.

e seals and the pirates show was of great delight to both young and old. We could enjoy it from inclosed and protected bleachers, although the show was on an open stage.
A few days later we boarded the train to go to the airport, so we could fly back to our home in the U.S., where we arrived safely after an uneventful trip.

November 7, 2010


The city crest depicts a Pelican feeding her young with her own blood

Although we are back in the U.S. at this time, we fondly remember our visit to our home town, Appingedam. This very old city is located in the esat center fo the province of Groningen; which is the northern-most province in the Netherlands. We had the privilege to stay in a house which was built in 1631.

My cousin had very graciously agreed to open her home to us. We were free to
come and go as we pleased and really enjoyed this freedom without “expectations.”
As a side note, I must share that it is uncommon in the Netherlands for relatives to spend any overnights with each other. The country is small and compact. A one hour automobile ride from the cente
r fo the country will get you to any of the borders. So, even from Amsterdam it is only about two hours to Groningen. This affords most people to travel to and from home for just about any visit. Because of this, many relatives may not share intimate conversations with each other. Once you have left the nest, you’re on your own and are expected to stay on your own. Most people make new friends later in life and usually are very close to those friends, often at the cost of close relationships with siblings.

Therefor we were really blessed by the ability to have an extended visit to the area where we grew up, from toddlers until emigration in early adulthood. My parents are buried there and we were able to refresh the silk flowers on their grave as we reflected on their lifes and the impact it still has on ours. We roamed the streets of the inner city reflecting on the experiences of our youth. We did some shopping and talked with old acquaintances. We drove around the area with my cousin, visiting relatives and revisiting old sites, sharing lunch and memories. We also made new friends and hope these friendships will grow over time in spite of the distance.

October 23, 2010

Visiting Holland (2)

In the north...

In my last blog, I mentioned Utrecht as one of the places we visited. I posted a few pictures of Haarlem, but we did spend a whole day in the old bishop town of Utrecht on October 1, under the knowledgeable guidance of my cousin. She has a vast knowledge of the history as well as the architecture of this ancient city. Needless to say, we walked quite a few miles. The weather was glorious and the sights were breathtaking. Listening to the carillon as we walked through the old city, we enjoyed visiting some of the many churches, all of which have a rich history.

After we went north again, we rented a car for about 10 days. This gave us the opportunity to do some local travel. We visited the hamlet of Moddergat (Mud-hole in English), one of many small fishing villages that are found along the northern coast of Friesland and Groningen. This was of interest to me, because I had read a story about this little town describing a great storm, which all but wiped out the entire local fishing fleet. This took place in the 1880s. The story was about a survivor, who was imprisoned under an overturned boat on the beach. I got the book when I was in second grade; it really made an impression on me at that time. I was glad to have the opportunity to visit the memorial of this devastating event on the dike near the village. There is also a museum here, with a small coffee shop, which we enjoyed for refreshments and small talk.

We spend most of the following weekend with my brother and his family in Veendam. Again, we enjoyed gorgeous warm weather. On Sunday we visited a nice wooded heather. There were many others enjoying the great summerlike fall weather also. Then we went to visit our niece and her family in Emmeloord, with a side trip to the fishing village Urk located on a previous Zuiderzee island.

This place has a long history of suffering also, as it was a small fishing island. Things have changed when the Afsluitdijk was completed and the island became part of the new land. It was really nice to
have the ability to get around independently.

After a visit to the capital, Groningen (and another picture of the great tower there) we went on to spend leisure week in our hometown of Appingedam. One of my cousins lives here and she graciously opened her house for an extended visit – but that come in the next installment.

October 7, 2010

Vacationing in Holland

My lovely bride and I celebrated 45 years of married bliss in the Netherlands. We are visiting with family and are seeing the sights. As this was our home-land for many years, we get around pretty well. We celebrated our anniversary with Joh's sister and her son in a nice restaurant in Zoutkamp.

The following weekend we met with the entire family in Emmen for a day at the zoo, with dinner following. All the kids had a wonderful time; do I need to say that we are all kids at heart?

evening in Amsterdam

Visiting Amsterdam we stayed at "De Poort," the old "seamen's home," which is part of the YWAM base in Amsterdam. We enjoyed revisiting many sights and people we knew form our previous visits and work activities here. We also had opportunity to visit Utrecht and Haarlem. Both very significant places in Dutch history.

St Bavo Church, Haarlem

September 13, 2010

She said; “So...?”

Yankton, 2001: view from our house

A lot of my pictures on the blog have water in it. I like water! We sailed Lewis and Clark lake, near Yankton SD, for twelve years. Whenever I was in the water, however; it was mainly by choice. I do remember an early sail, when I lost my sunglasses overboard and promptly dove in after them, leaving the boat under the command of two rookies... Fortunately there was very little wind and the boarding ladder was available for me to climb back on board. I must say, though, that I never did that again. (The plaque on the boat stated: “ I am the Captain of this boat and I have my Wife’s permission to say so.”) All kidding aside, she did make an excellent mate!
We also love visiting the ocean. In Hawaii on previous mission support trips we usually spent the weekends at a beach. Mostly every night we watched the sun set over the ocean whenever we were there. Vacations in Florida were very frequent as well, when we used available timeshare events. Again most of these times we got wet by choice, wearing appropriate attire.

On August 28 we were visiting with my bride’s relatives at the usual gathering place for this family reunion. There is a lake adjoining the back yard. The kids, grand-kids, and even great grand kids enjoyed the fun of playing in the water. As in previous years, there was some “horse-playing” by the adults; it is just great fun to dunk someone in the readily available lake. I thought that as an older person I would be safe, but when my daughter came to admire my watch and even asked me if she could hold it, I became “wiser.” I did say to her, “but I have my bill-fold in my back pocket.”
She said; “So...?” “I am also wearing my cell-phone,” I retorted. She said; “So...?” “But I am also carrying the camera on my belt.” She said; “So...?”
I did not take very long for me to dispense with these items, but I had one last hope: “But, I don’t have any dry clothes to change into.” She said; “So...?"

So! My brother-in-law, the one from Colorado, and his son carried me bodily to the lake and dunked me. They went down with me, I guess, it was to be sure that I would get really soaked. I’d like to think that I pulled them in with me, but they were wet already anyway. Next time I’ll bring a change of clothes, if I don’t forget in the meantime.

Iowa does not have many large bodies of water, at least not in our back yard. The rain tried hard this year, but we stayed dry. We do enjoy the weather when it is dry, so we can continue to enjoy riding our motor bike to local and distant sites.

We try to always find a winery and it is a lot of fun finding them and getting to know the vintners. There are many recent additions in Iowa, so we keep right on going.

August 13, 2010

Seeing Iowa

Celebrating the 65th Birthday of my bride, yesterday, August 12. I gave her a “renewed computer.” Her computer was confused; it had Windows XP twice, due to a previous attempt of restoration. Some of the applications were flip-flopping and some could not be reinstalled. With today’s memory hungry programs a 60 GB drive seems small and two full operating systems and some areas of the hard disk unaccessible, we were wasting space . But this computer has excellent speakers and a good screen. What’s even more, she likes it! So, we “killed” the hard-disk and completely overwrote it with 0s. Then we went on to a clean reinstall of only the system and programs she wanted. It moves great again and there is room to spare! We could have upgraded to Win7, with a new machine, but there are many older programs we like that work in XP or earlier only, so we went the restoration way. I like my 18.4 screen and Win7 works OK for me. And, I now also have access to some of the older utilities, on the other computer.

Some of you, who follow us on face-book, know that we went on a four day motorbike trip with our local children, Rick and Monique. We went to North East Iowa, because the roads there are more curvy and it is also more hilly. Even though the skies were threatening rain, we only experienced about 3 minutes of rain during our entire ride. There was some local flooding, but not as much as now.

During the last few days we had state wide torrential rains and many roads are now closed, even a part of the interstate just north of Des Moines. Ames is flooded, many small low-lying areas are dealing with feet of water and some residential areas are flooded.

During our trip we spend our nights in selected Bed and Breakfast locations
and tried to visit some wineries on during each day trip.

This gave us great
goals for each day and we also did some unplanned things. Like eating lunch in a “Schoolhouse Cafe,”on the way to Fredericksburg, where we spend our first night in the Farm House B&B.

The next day we visited the great little town of Spillville, to look at marvelous clocks carved by the Bily brothers and museum items regarding Antonin Dvorak.

We also stopped in Marquette, McGregor and Garnavillo, names which seem out of place in Iowa...

Let’s not forget the motorcycle museum in Anamosa which we visited after spending the night in Maquoketa.

We put over 700 miles on our bikes and saw a lot of the local small towns, the Mississippi river, Pike’s Peak (yes! In Iowa), and lots of corn fields as well.

When we got home late Sunday afternoon, we were all tired and relaxed, reliving this great trip.

Since then we both got a year older - both 65 now! So, after being retired for 10 years, we have now arrived at retirement age. We did ride our bicycles to breakfast in Adel on my birthday and went to Ruby Tuesday for dinner on my lovely wife’s birthday. It has been very hot and wet in the heartland, the wettest year on record. We have a lot of local flooding, but so far our area is dry, no water in the basement at all.

July 30, 2010


It has been nearly a month since my last entry. July has been a busy month. We celebrated Independence Day with all our friends, in our local community. Rain put a bit of a damper on most of the fire-works displays, but because of the long weekend some of the celebrations were on Thursday, already. We watched the downtown fireworks from a high point near our home. We were not quite in the spirit yet on July 1...

We came home from Glen Eyrie on June 2. We did the family camp the weekend of June 12, we attended one wedding, in Orange City, Iowa on June 19 and visited with friends in the Sioux City area. On June 25 we were in Mt. Sterling, Illinois for another wedding. Coming home on Sunday we were looking for a relatively quiet week, but the Independence day weekend started on Thursday already.

Although June may be for weddings, we also did some great family stuff. A weekend camp-out near Pella at Red Rock lake. The grand-children got washed in their sleeping bags by rain the first night, but we had a great time in spite of some not so perfect weather. Being together is so precious, even on rainy days. We rode our bikes on the beautiful lake side trails. We cooked most of our food over open fire and sometimes got smoked in the process. We ate smores and roasted marsh-mellows. We took shelter under a great tarp when the drops fell. We slept in comfort in the pop-up camper. Others were in nice tents, keeping dry most of the time. Families that accomplish things together in spite of some short comings, are special! We really appreciate our special family.

We celebrated a week with our two grand-sons. We did crafts on rainy days, we rode our bicycles all over Johnston, enjoyed ice cream, and rode the motor scooter too. The visit to the zoo on a beautiful sunshiny day, was a high-point of their visit.

Between volunteering at the local VA, these visits and trips we also needed to shop for groceries, wash and clean house. Oh, yeah, we continued to provide hospitality as a stop over for travelers using “Mennonite Your Way,” a great way to travel and enjoy Christian Fellowship as you go, or as you provide a room and hospitality for “total strangers.” Some of these strangers become new friends, and these friendships grow and grow.

Then the preparation for our wine-motorcycle tour started taking shape, but I plan to highlight that in the next blog.