Monday, January 1, 2018

The Open Bookcase

A new year has begun. The good news about that is that we are another year closer to the second coming of our Lord and Saviour! Nobody knows what 2018 will bring, but it's good to know that our times are in God's hands and that He is still the Ruler of the universe.

Since December 31st, I'm with my parents in Germany. I will stay here for my father's birthday tomorrow and then head back to Brussels on Wednesday. It's always challenging to be with family, given the fact that their lifestyle and their beliefs are completely different from mine, but the Lord has been helping me. The temperatures have been moderate, not really like winter. I only wish it had been less cloudy and rainy, but I took advantage of every ray of sunshine.

Yesterday, there was a special year-end service at the local SDA church. After that, I walked to the little Lutheran church in the city center to meet with my family. There was an ensemble of professional musicians performing a classical concert. The one who played the harpsichord is the director of the lay orchestra my mother is part of, and that's why my folks go there every year. They performed pieces of three different composers, one of which was also part of the ensemble. But his compositions didn't speak to me at all. It was kind of jarring, high-pitched, and not melodious at all. Strange modern music I would say. However, I did enjoy the Bach pieces they played.

This morning, I went for a walk and passed by at a shopping center nearby. They have a nice little project there called "Open Bookcase". They turned an old telephone box into a place where people can either drop off or take books home. So I took the opportunity to leave some literature there. What I like about this way of sharing is, even though it's not very personal, you can be assured that those who take the books are definitely going to read them. So I pray that the Lord may water this seed.

The Open Bookcase

And here is a little snippet of the Bach performance last night:



I would like to close with a New Year's Day letter written by Ellen White to Dr. and Mrs. Kellogg on January 1, 1886. May the Lord help us all to draw closer to Him this year!

"I wish you a happy new year. The old year with its burden of record has passed into eternity. Now let every thought, every feeling be that of remembrance of God's love. Let us gather up one token after another. . . .

The evidence we have of God's care and love for us is expressed in the lessons Christ gave to His disciples upon the things in nature. . . . The eye is not to be fastened upon deformity, upon the curse, but upon the riches of the grace of Christ that has been provided so abundantly, that we may live in this world, and act our part in the great web of humanity, and yet not be of the world. As pilgrims, as strangers looking for the bright things of God, the joy that is set before us, seeking a city whose builder and maker is God, and by beholding the provisions made for us, the mansions Jesus has gone to prepare for us, talking of the blessed home, we forget the annoyances and the fretting cares of this life. We seem to breathe in the very atmosphere of that better, even the heavenly country. We are soothed, we are comforted; we are more than this, we are joyful in God.

We could not know that gracious purposes of God toward us, but for the promises, for it is from them alone we learn what He has prepared for those who love Him. As the flowers in God's wise economy are constantly drawing the properties from earth and air to develop into the pure and beautiful buds and flowers and give forth their fragrance to delight the senses, so shall it be with us.

We draw from God's promises all that peace, that comfort, that hope that will develop in us the fruits of peace, joy, and faith. And by bringing these promises into our own life we bring them always into the lives of others. Then let us appropriate these promises to ourselves. . . . They are like the precious flowers in the garden of God. They are to awaken our hope and expectation, and lead us to a firm faith and reliance upon God. They are to strengthen us in trouble and teach us precious lessons of trust in God. He in these precious promises draws back from eternity and gives us a glimpse of the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Let us then be quiet in God. Let us calmly trust in Him and praise Him that He has shown us such revelations of His will and purposes that we shall not build our hopes in this life but keep the eye upward to the inheritance of light and see and sense the amazing love of Jesus."

Published in The Upward Look, p. 15.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Divine Appointments

At the time of this writing, I’m on my way back from London to Brussels, where I spent a few very nice days with dear friends. I’m amazed on how the Lord can use me if I’m just open to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

So on Wednesday afternoon, I left my apartment as planned in good time to catch the 4 PM train to London. Beforehand, I had inquired with a British colleague of mine whether I would need my passport to enter the United Kingdom, or if my Belgian ID card would also be sufficient. He said the latter should be fine, as he had seen Belgians showing just their ID at border control. So since I don’t want to carry my passport around unnecessarily, I followed his advice.

Arrived at border control, I first encountered a very nice Belgian officer, who actually spoke German with me. He looked at my ID and asked me if I also had my passport with me. I said no and explained him why. He replied that I had obtained false information, because my special ID card was not a valid travel document. Indeed, I do have a “special ID card”, which is issued for EU officials only. It doesn’t mean that we are special in any way, or that we get any privileges when we have it, it’s just easier for me to get this one instead of a “real” national ID, as I just fill in some papers and send them to our administration by internal mail, instead of having to go to the authorities in my commune. The problem is that it’s really only an ID that gives me permission to stay in Belgium, and it’s not a valid travel document. I remember back in 2004, I took a plane from Brussels to Geneva, and I also just brought my special ID card. At the border control, the immigration officer explained to me the same, and he said I should bring my passport next time. However, I was not denied entry into Switzerland then. So somehow I concluded it couldn’t be a problem to get into the UK – they are even still in the EU, after all!

So I pleaded with the Belgian officer to let me at least give it a try. I didn’t want to miss my train after all. So he made an exception for me and let me go through. The next person I encountered was a very nice British immigration officer, who basically told me the same as the previous officer. I shared with him my experience in Switzerland, and he said that this was a different case, since Switzerland is not in the EU. Then I said "but you are in the EU!" But no way to get through. So he escorted me to a waiting area. We walked by the other people waiting there, and I said to them, laughingly: “I’m being abducted!” realizing that I should rather have said “deported”!

Then I received a paper from them saying that I was without valid travel documents, and that I would now be handed over to the Belgian police. Well, they didn’t go that far. They just asked one of the security officers at the luggage check to escort me back out. So now I had to act: I immediately called my flatmate Adina, asking her if she could quickly bring me my passport (thankfully, it’s less than half an hour by metro from my place to the railway station). If I had called 5 minutes later, she would have already left the house to give piano lessons, but now she was able to make herself on the way to the station. Then I had to buy another ticket for 165 Euros – that hurt! So that’s my “stupid tax”, I thought.

So I made it on the 5 PM train without any problems. At border control, I encountered the same British officer and even had a little talk with him about Reformation Day and Protestantism. I left our Luther brochure with him, which he gladly accepted. Wow, some people are just too nice to be immigration officers. Not even in the US have I ever encountered anybody like this!

About half an hour later, I knew why I had to go through all this trouble. I happened to have my seat assigned next to a young man from Bulgaria, who happens to be a colleague working for the same Directorate-General that I used to work for. We had a wonderful conversation – first about work, and then also about other things. I found out that he is interested in the Bible, and I ended up giving him also a Luther brochure, as well as a Glow tract on how to break addictions. We agreed to meet for lunch sometime J.

What followed these past few days was a chain of more Divine appointments – basically one after the other. I got rid of quite a bit of literature. My time with Sharon (former church member from Brussels who now works in the UK) and her two daughters was very blessed. At London Central Adventist church, I also saw Felicia (who used to live in Brussels as well), as well as Benjamin, one of our ministry team members from Germany who has been living there. And to my surprise, my friends Violeta and Sacha from Belgium were also there. I didn’t know that they would also spend the long weekend in London! We had a nice time together at church.


The weather was cloudy, cool and damp, for the most part. However this morning, when I was able to take a few more hours to stroll around in London, it was beautifully sunny. A pleasant ending of a very fulfilling visit. Thank you God!

The letter from border control...
The metro system in London is so much more complex...



...than it is in Brussels

Our ministry member Benjamin
with his fiancée Sarah

Big Ben doesn't look so good
right now!

Houses of Parliament

This lady was a bit cold in her
summer wedding dress!
They are headed to the changing of guards at Buckingham Palace



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October 31, 2017

On this history-charged morning of October 31, 2017, I would just like to thank the Lord for His goodness and mercy towards mankind, including me.

Today is the 500th anniversary of the day when Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses on that church door in Wittenberg. Last year in August, I had the privilege of standing in front of that door. It was a beautiful experience to walk in the footsteps of this wonderful man. I can't say that I wish I had lived at that time in history. However, if I had, I would probably have tried to listen to every sermon of Martin Luther - which of course would not have been so easy, as there was no Audioverse or YouTube and all these kind of tools around!

Anyway, I'm thankful that his message is still very much alive today; and I'm thankful that we can still hold up the spirit of Protestantism in this dark world - yes, even in this spiritually very poor country of Belgium!

Last Saturday, a group of my church went downtown Brussels, where a special service was held to celebrate this anniversary. Spiritual leaders from all kinds of denominations as well as even other religions were present. It was our intention to share some literature with the people who attended the service when they would come out. Later I learned that the beginning of this service was actually interrupted by a group of Catholics who protested against such kind of ecumenical service being held in a Catholic church. Even the police had to come to get them out. That's probably why it dragged so long. It was supposed to begin at 4 PM, and we only made it there after 5:30 PM. However, only a few people would come out - and they wouldn't let us in either.

Nevertheless, our distribution action was a very cheerful event. Of course not everybody accepted our literature, but most of those people definitely accepted our smiles! Indeed, the language barrier is an issue in Europe. There seemed to be a quite a few Italian tourists around, however we couldn't offer them neither the "Luther brochure" nor a Glow tract in Italian. However, some accepted the English versions. You never know where this literature will end up. Of course, some will be trampled on, but after all, we are told to spread these truths like the "leaves of autumn" - and what happens with autumn leaves? Indeed, some of them are being trampled on; however we still need to go forward and do the work the Lord has told us to do!

Tomorrow, I'll be headed to London. I'm going to visit some dear friends over there. I'm excited, as I haven't been to this island since 2004, when I went there for a business trip. Will share about that when I'm back...

The famous church door

Wartburg Castle

And finally the stone where Luther rested

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Potential Terrorist

Time flies. It's been almost two weeks that I'm back from Serbia. The juice fasting programme was great. Everything went well with the travels, although it was a bit adventurous to get around there by bus and taxi. It was great to see how things had developed at Crna Bara within two years. I don't have time to post pictures, but I have posted about this place back in 2015. If you are interested in current pictures, just go and check out my Facebook page.

So my first working day was on September 1. They had recommended me to make an appointment with the security office beforehand in order to get a service badge. Without such a badge you are regarded as a potential terrorist in every Commission building - especially after the attacks last year. Before the attacks, they would only x-ray your bags in the Berlaymont (main Commission building), but now it's in every building.

So I called in too late, and they didn't have an appointment for me anymore on that day, but I got one for the afternoon the day before. So I went there at the appointed time, however they figured it wasn't possible yet to issue a badge for me! So I had to go to my first working day as a visitor, which was ok.

The second attempt was on Monday, my second working day. Again, my bag was x-rayed. And again, they saw something suspicious in it (first time it was my nail clipper, and now it was my camera!). But it was ok at the end and I got my badge.

My old/new colleagues are all nice and I'm thankful to be back at the same unit. The work promises to be interesting. Haven't been able yet to get into it much, as I ended up being on sick leave last week. It's a long story: It all started that I ate some raw corn right after returning from Serbia. This messed up my digestive system and I consequently didn't get enough sleep. This again caused some neck and back pain, so I needed to see my chiropractor. Bottom line: I needed to rest! But now I'm thankful I'm back to normal - and eager to go back to the office tomorrow!

Madou Tower - my work place

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Great Blessings Even in the Challenges

It's a quiet Sabbat afternoon at my place in Brussels. The day temperatures have been about 19-21 degrees celsius (66-69 F), which doesn't feel like summer anymore, especially with the clouds and the rain that has come down. But I'm sure it will perk up again before the fall finally arrives.

This past week, I returned from our German camp meeting. Again, it was a blessing in many ways; with lives being changed and even the smallest children being blessed by the programme. Overall, we could see the Lord's leading and intervention in everything - even when one of our speakers, Bryan Gallant, had to leave the camp earlier because his family back in the US had been in a car accident (they are doing fine, by the way).

As for the logistics, I was challenged again, with our registration software still giving us trouble. But I'm amazed how we managed anyway, not being able to rely on this tool. I was so glad that a whole group of Uchee Piners could make it this time. As I had shared previously, Teresa and Kim Kodimer were invited as main speakers, and they were able to stop in Brussels before to give a seminar at my church here. They were a blessing, as well as the other Uchee Piners who conducted a workshop at the camp meeting. Our health message is so simple, but yet so powerful.

So this past week, I've mainly been resting; and I will continue to rest some more, as on Monday I will be flying out to Serbia. I'm going to take part at the juice fasting camp again in the very North of the country (last time, I posted about it here). It will be the first time that I'm able to participate for the whole ten days. I'm sure it won't be easy, but the fact that you are there with a whole group of people helps a lot. I'm only praying that I will get there without any problem, as I will have to take a bus from Belgrade to Subotica (3 1/2 hours), and from there a taxi to the camp. These are those situations when an interpreter comes in handy, but I was told that with English I would be fine. Well, let's see how this is going to play out!

I didn't get to take many pictures, but here are just a few snap shots:

Camp meeting audience

Daphne demonstrating a potato poultice

Andreas doing the Livestreaming

Waldemar managing the sound system

Hay balls

Alberto & Patricia with little Henoch

"I like this hat!"

Saturday, July 22, 2017

21st of July

Time is flying. I'm already back in Europe for over three weeks now. I still had a blessed few days with friends in and around Wildwood before I said good-bye to this country that I called my temporary home for 2 1/2 years. The Lord's ways are really interesting, as I had initially intended to help out at Uchee Pines only for a few months! But I'm thankful for all the experiences and the people I was able to fellowship with. I will certainly miss the spiritual atmosphere and the work with the lifestyle guests.

On Tuesday, I came back for a 8-day visit with my folks in Germany, which was nice. Now I'm getting ready for my visitors from the US, Teresa and Kim from Uchee Pines, as well as LydiaLaJewel, who used to work there until last year. Teresa and Kim will be part of our main speakers at our German camp meeting, but before that, they will give a seminar on True Education at my church here in Brussels. I really look forward to having them. It's such a beautiful message. And next Sunday, we will be heading to Germany. I expect another blessing for this year's camp meeting.

Yesterday, it was National Holiday in Belgium. My room mate Adina and I took the opportunity to go to the King's Palace to watch the military parade. As usual, it was quite a spectacle. First, the King and Queen drive up to the Palace, followed by the different military groups, all marching in step. At the end of the procession, not only the Police, Fire Brigade and Red Cross are driving up, but even the garbage collectors. And everybody cheers them on! In a way, I envy the Belgians (and the Norwegians, and the French, and many other nations for that matter), that they have this day that they celebrate in such a special way. It truly gives a sense of belonging. We don't have anything comparable in Germany. However, on the new earth, there will be only one citizenship, and the Lord is preparing a place for His people.
"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20)
 Indeed, this is our true citizenship! And there will be only one King and Saviour.
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God." (Ephesians 2:19)
Very comforting words for an expatriot like me! I won't be a stranger in a foreign land anymore. Everybody will just be one big family. What glorious prospect!

The parade just started

Every step exactly measured out


Many people waiting and watching

Police man checking his phone


The parachutists

The marine corps

Fancy hat coverings

The tanks are coming

Fire Brigade

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Health Expo, Health Club and Blueberries

It's been a while since I posted last. I've been back to Uchee Pines since April 19, and have been busy working in the Kitchen. We had two medium sized lifestyle sessions, and they didn't really need me as a counselor. However, this upcoming session, I'll be working with two ladies. It will be my very last session until I return to Europe for good.

A couple weeks ago, we went to Atlanta to do a Health Expo at an SDA church. It was a blessing working with the individuals who came. It's always fulfilling to reach out to people with the health message. Other than that, I've been helping with a health club in Phenix City. There is an evangelical lady who attended our Spring Seminar in March and who is on fire for the health message ever since. She has six foster children and has started a health club for obese women in her home. She asked my friend Amy to facilitate it, and Amy asked me to join her. It has been a blessing ministering to these ladies. The children are lovely.

Other than that, I've been enjoying the blueberries that are ripening now. Due to some cold weather back in March, the harvest is not so plentiful this year, nevertheless they are huge! I'm thankful that I can still get to experience them and other blessings from our farm, before I finally return to my mission field in Belgium.

My Dutch friend Daphne just recently left Uchee Pines. It's interesting: She arrived here exactly one day before I came back here beginning of 2015, and now she is going to return to Holland exactly the day before I leave the US! We had met each other at my church in Brussels, and I'm hoping to be able to continue working with her in Europe. I'm very thankful for all the connections I've been able to establish during my time here at Uchee, and I look forward to many blessed future medical-missionary outreach events as a result of that!

Chair Massages at the Health Expo

Lung capacity test

Even the littlest got involved

My latest endeavor in the Kitchen: Raw Pizza


Healing Power on the Farm: The chaste tree berries are blooming


The blueberries ripening



Our Health Club host Delaine (to the right) with my friend Amy
Time to say good-bye (at least for now) to my Dutch friend Daphne (in the middle)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Switzerland

It's another Sabbath and I'm back with my parents for a few more days. It's rather cloudy and rainy today, so I decided to stay at home this afternoon to enjoy some quiet time.

I just spent one week in Switzerland, mainly to conduct a Health Emphasis weekend at the Hispanic SDA Church in Zurich. The Pastor who gave me baptismal studies many years ago is now in charge of this congregation, and he had been wanting me to come for quite some time. So now it finally happened, and I can tell you I did not feel adequate for this task! Well, now I can only give God the glory, because it was a blessing in many ways. Although I was interpreted from English, I wasn't really confident because I had never given these presentations before. I just used the Spanish material I had from our Honduras trip. But the Lord did it through me, and I loved the people there. The church members and guests were very receptive, and I pray that the seed planted will bear fruit.

After that, I had a couple of days to visit my friend Heike, who lives with her family at the Lake Thun. It was a beautiful nature experience - and also a lively family experience with two rambunctious children (the daughter being 10 and the son 8 years old). I think some parents really need a double measure of wisdom and patience!

On Monday, I'll be heading to Brussels in order to prepare for my trip back to Uchee Pines this coming Wednesday. It will be my final two months of volunteering in this institution before I return to Europe for good.

I found a very interesting quote by Ellen White, which shows that she actually experienced feelings of inadequacy in her life:
"Now I must leave this subject so imperfectly presented that I fear you will misinterpret that which I feel so anxious to make plain. Oh, that God would quicken the understanding, for I am but a poor writer, and cannot with pen or voice express the great and deep mysteries of God. Oh, pray for yourselves, pray for me." (3 SM, p. 90)
This is an encouragement to me. I think if anybody knew how to talk and write about spiritual things, it was her. It makes plain that whoever shares the word of God needs fervent prayer, but also those who listen! May the Lord guide the sharing of His messages all over the world, and may He qualify the called.

Presenting at the Hispanic Church
Cooking School


Some impressions of the Lake Thun and surroundings