Thursday, July 29, 2010

Final Spurt

August is approaching, and this is the prime holiday time for most Eurocrats here in Brussels. My hierarchy is busy finishing up things before leaving on their well-deserved vacation. Today, my head of unit proudly drew my attention to his desk, which indeed looks very clean now! I still don't like it that he keeps piling things up until last, but what can I do. However, as of next week we will be taking it easy here :-)

Last week, I decided to send a message to our new General Conference President, Ted Wilson. I thought he might remember our talk at the GYC in Kentucky last winter, and I just wanted to send him my best wishes and let him know that I'm praying for him. I didn't really expect a reply from his side, since I assumed that GC Presidents have other things to do than responding to e-mails of individual church members. Well, this is what he replied to me still the same day:

"Greetings, Daniela. Thank you so much for your encouraging email.  What a privilege to serve the Lord at this time in earth's history as part of the mighty Advent movement.  Certainly the unfolding of the Great Controversy Theme is coming to a climax.  Jesus' return is imminent.  Let us humbly submit ourselves to Christ and seek revival and reformation through the power of the Holy Spirit so that the Lord can pour out the latter rain and Jesus can come.  Let us proclaim God's grace and the three angels' messages that focus on Christ and His righteousness.  This precious Seventh-day Adventist message, empowered by the Holy Spirit, is to turn people back to the true worship of God.  The Lord will bless your special efforts for Him.  Let us work together through the power of the Holy Spirit as we fulfill God's unique evangelistic mission entrusted to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  May God bless your special work in Brussels for Him as you lift up Jesus and proclaim His soon coming!  Regards.  Ted."

This was very encouraging to me and motivating to go forward doing the work the Lord is entrusting me here in Brussels. It looks like things are falling into place for a possible evangelistic series with Amazing Facts, as I was able to arrange for the Hargreaves' to come here the first weekend of September. They will be in Europe anyway around this time, and thus the church members will be able to meet them and hopefully get motivated. It seems that the Lord is opening one door after the other.

This bible verse has been an encouragement to me lately:
"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you." (John 15:16)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Baptismal anniversary

This past Friday was kind of a special day for me, as it was exactly 15 years ago that I got baptized into the Seventh-Day-Adventist Church. Well, that's quite a number, and I'm very thankful for God's leading in my life.

It was already in 1990 when I gave my heart to Jesus, in a group of sincere Christians within the German YMCA. However, I wasn't really part of a church, yet I was searching and praying. Then, in the beginning of 1994, I was invited on the street to attend a youth meeting at the local SDA Church. From then on, I started coming to church more and more, followed by my decision to get baptized and the break-up with my boyfriend.

My baptism took place in a beautiful lake near my home city. I always like to look at these old pictures.

At this occasion, I have been reminiscing a bit, and my heart is filled with gratitude for all the wonderful people the Lord has placed into my path since I joined this church - here in Europe, over in the US, as well as in other places. People who blessed me with their love, friendship, and time. It's impossible to name them all, but if you are one of them, please feel hugged today!




There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Immanuel's veins;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains

The dying thief rejoiced to see
that fountain in his day;
and there may I, though vile as he,
wash all my sins away




"...there is joy in in the presence
of the holy angels of God
over one sinner that repenteth"
Luke 15:10


Thursday, July 22, 2010

July 21

Yesterday was the national holiday in Belgium. Since in the past I've always been out of the country on that day, and given the fact that we don't really have such kind of spectacles in Germany, I decided to go and see the military parade that was taking place around the King's Palace. I only know that Belgium celebrates having a democracy since 1945, so this was actually the 65th anniversary. Many people came to cheer, but it was quite a long wait until it started. Only one ambassador after the other passed by in their fancy cars, as they were all special guests to the Royal family for this event. But then they started the procession with military horsemen trotting in large groups, which was followed by a short intervention of the street cleaning vehicles (since all the other military groups were following on foot, so they didn't have to walk on the horse droppings!) Below you can see a few impressions in pictures and little video clips.

Anyway, it was good to have the day off. Being back at work today, I thought I would finally hear about my potential new post, but still no news. They are keeping me on hold, and so I'm just trying to put up with it!


Military on horses

The marine corps

The parachutists
I think those inflatable crowns sold very well that day!
Passing by in front of a government building - I couldn't get near the King's Palace,
as this area was reserved for special guests 



video video
People lining up at the street

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Patience

My job search is still keeping me in suspense. I only got another negative reply for one of the posts that were not on top of my list. The head of unit even called me to tell me that I had been their second choice out of 15, and he gave me a tip how to do things better next time. I found this very thoughtful of him. So in principle, things have been going according to the plan. However, I thought I would know by Friday whether I would get the post I'm interested in, but I was told that they had two more candidates to interview on Monday, and that they would call me back afterwards. So there is nothing I can do now but wait. I know that the Lord can make things happen. The One who can move a King's heart can also impress this man to hire me if this is where He wants me.

Interestingly, the pastor of the French speaking church preached about patience today. This motivated me to do a word study on this topic. The Bible clearly points out patience as one of God's characteristics (Romans 15:5, Revelation 3:10), but there are a lot of references on the importance of it in our lives. According to Romans 5:4 and James 1:3 patience is the fruit of our trials and tribulations, which was also true for Abraham, who obtained the promise after he had patiently endured (Hebrewes 6:14). It's a characteristic that we should definitely strive for (Colossians 1:11; 1 Timothy 6:11). But is this easy to accomplish nowadays? Well, I guess it has never been easy for human beings to be patient, but today we are living in a society where we can have everything immediately. There are fast-food chains, high-speed trains and airplanes, high-speed internet; and if we send out an e-mail to somebody we could get an instant response. However, the problem is that life doesn't give us always immediate answers. Sometimes we have to wait for just a little while, sometimes it may take longer. I don't know if I can say this at my relatively young age, but I guess that life is actually a chain of situations where we are in uncertainty of something, eagerly wait for a prayer to be answered or a desire to be fulfilled. Nevertheless, we have a God who loves us and who wants to come through to us in all these trials; and I'm sure He can reveal Himself to each of us in a special way if we only let Him.

Some of the French hymns really touch my heart, like the one we sung today. It doesn't sound nearly as good in English, but underneath is my feeble effort to translate it:

Trop souvent je murmure
Quand la route est obscure:
"Oh! Ma foi faiblira"
"Oh! Ma foi faiblira"
Et pourtant, la promesse
Est là pour ma faiblesse:
"L'Eternel pourvoira."
"L'Eternel pourvoira."

Si mon impatience
Demande avec instance
D'oú le secours viendra? 
D'oú le secours viendra?
Par ta parole sainte
Tu réponds à ma plainte:
"L'Eternel pourvoira."
"L'Eternel pourvoira."

"Too often I murmur, when the journey is dark. Oh, my faith gets weak. And yet, your promise is there for my weakness: The Almighty will provide, the Almighty will provide. If my impatience asks with pleading, where does my help come from? By your Holy Word you answer my groaning: The Almighty will provide, the Almighty will provide."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Aching muscles

Yesterday, I attended a "Pilates" class. This is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by a German named Joseph Pilates. The program focuses on the core postural muscles which help keep the body balanced and which are essential to providing support for the spine. My chiropractor warmly recommended this to me, so I have been trying to regularly follow a class, usually at my gym. But given the fact that they suspended the evening Pilates class there for the summer time, I decided to invest in one of the classes offered for the EU officials at the European quarter. Of course being trained as an exercise physiologist, I could also establish an individual program for myself to do at home, but I found that this doesn't work for me. I don't know how people can be so disciplined and torture themselves while nobody is forcing them to do so. It's pretty hard work, and my shoulders and legs are hurting today.

My job search is still keeping me in suspense. Today, I got a negative reply of one of the posts that I wasn't really interested in anyway, so everything is working out so far. I hope by the end of this week I will know if I will get the one on top of my list.

Since the soccer world cup spectacle is over by now and my favorite German channel is aired again via satellite, I've been able to watch news again. But I don't know if this is good news, as there are lots of bad news anyway. This morning, I learned that a trial for two 18-year old German boys had just opened. It happened last year in a suburban train around Munich when they pressed a group of young teenagers for money. They wanted 15 Euros from them, but a man got in between, protecting the youngsters. However, the perpetrators decided to punish him for this and they beat him very hard, so the man later died. So was his life worth 15 Euros? This makes me think of the passage in Romans 1 this morning, which was part of the weekly Sabbath School lesson:
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting, being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, coveteousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventers of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only to do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1: 28-31)
Indeed, history repeats itself over and over. There is nothing new under the sun!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hot Summer Days

Brussels has been a hot place lately. It went up to the mid-90's in the last few days, and then it usually doesn't cool down at night properly. On Friday night, there were about 85 degrees in my apartment, so I couldn't sleep very well. Waking up the next morning, I felt like somebody had knocked me over. Thus, I was contemplating if it wouldn't be better to transfer my bed into the bathtub or in front of the open refrigerator! Yesterday, we had some strong thunderstorms with hail in the afternoon, which brought some relief. Today, it has been hot again. However, since it's hard for me to abstain from my favorite domestic activity, I added to the heat in my apartment by making pizza. Afterwards, I was dripping!  These are the moments when I'm rather back in the US with air-conditioned houses. Usually, such high temperatures don't last very long in this country, but we are not even in the middle of July yet, and this worries me a bit. Well, last month at this time it was actually too cold for the season, so you never know what will happen.

I've been trying to find another post within the European Commission. I finally came to the conclusion that I can't work with my current boss in the long run. His setting of priorities is just unacceptable to me. We get so many inquiries and complaints from individual consumers in our unit, which we normally would have to reply to within 15 working days. However, they keep piling up on his desk without him anything doing about them for months and months. I'm fed up with this procrastination, as there is not much I can do to improve the situation (I've tried hard, but of course I cannot change him). I think it's time anyway that I move on to another sector. Thus, I recently had three job interviews, two of which took place at our Directorate-General for External Relations. I've always been intrigued with this policy area, and one of the posts is of particular interest to me. The interview went well, and the head of unit, a German, was very nice. He said they would let me know by the end of this week, so I'm waiting and praying that the Lord will make it plain and clear if this is where He wants me. I only want to be where I can serve Him best.

Like in many other places, Brussels is crazy about the soccer world cup taking place in South Africa. Since this city is so cosmopolitan, you will certainly find a group of people supporting each of the teams. They also make it obvious from the outside world for whom they are cheering (see picture below taken out of my balcony). Since I'm not the least bit interested in soccer, I usually learn about the results from my colleagues or on the internet. Currently, I can't even watch the news, as I receive the two main German public channels via satellite (and not cable, since I mainly watch 3ABN), and for the duration of the cup they don't air via satellite because of the broadcasting rights. But I must say I haven't missed watching news at all!

One of them could be utterly disappointed after the grand finale tonight...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Knights in Shining Armour

When I went to the church meetings last week, I noticed something unusual happening around the big square nearby. They literally transformed this place into a medieval village. I found out later that they are doing this every year at this time, and it's a revival of the glorious and majestic procession of Emperor Charles V, which took place in Brussels in 1549. I'm wondering why some people would want to resuscitate those events of the past, but no doubt such happenings give a special touch to the city life.

I think the emperor was supposed to be in this carriage

The women walking without a man are supposed to be the "ladies in waiting" 

Tournaments... 

with the knights in shining armour

There were several groups of people gathered - all in different costumes

















video
I was only able to capture this procession for a few seconds, as a bus was approaching which would have taken the view

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Clearest Gospel of All

I mentioned in my last blog that Pastor Jack Sequeira from the US would come to our church for a special program. This week of spiritual emphasis just ended today and it was very well received. He talked about the book of Romans, which he considers the clearest gospel of all. He expounded on quite a few hot topics, like legalism and cheap grace, and I liked the way he presented it. Did you know that Romans 5:1-11 explains why we are saved, and Romans 5:12-21 how we are saved? I realized how important this book is and indeed how clearly the gospel is presented here. I also enjoyed Sequeira's numerous stories from his almost 20-year long mission service in different African countries. The attendance was much better than I had anticipated. Our brothers and sisters from Ruanda, who form their own group here in Brussels, were also invited and the messages were interpreted into their language. This of course stretched the program, but on the other hand it made it easier to absorb the message.

Coming home this afternoon, I was still able to watch Ted Wilson's sermon at the GC session in Atlanta. I really liked his clear message, pointing to the nitty-gritty in the current situation of our Advent movement. I remember talking to him at the last "Generation of Youth for Christ" conference in Kentucky, and I think he is a very humble man and a leader appointed by the Lord.

Indeed, we are facing interesting times, and I really appreciated Jack Sequeira praying over and over again for our "little church" here in Brussels, that we may turn around this country and share the gospel with a dying world. I still have no idea how this is going to happen - in Belgium, Germany, or any other place in this world. I only know that I have a deep heart desire to do my part to accomplish this, yet I often feel so weak and powerless. I can't help thinking that something supernatural needs to happen to finish the work on this earth, but it's so hard to imagine. Well, I'm open to whatever the Lord has in store for us, and I pray that He may clearly show each one of us which role He wants us to play in these final events of earth's history!


Pastor Sequiera preaching