The birds are still singing at 9pm and the sun won’t set until after 10pm. We have had some hot days, and call ourselves lucky to live so close to the beach… not an Australian beach, but still one of our favorite go-to-places. Since we have landed in the small town called Dirksland, two months ago, we cannot say we are totally settled, but we are very grateful for all the things that have fallen into place in such a short time.
Three days before we left to the Netherlands we received word from Hannah’s previous employer that they were wanting to offer her a year contract. This was the opportunity we had been praying for, a huge reassurance that lifted a burden of our shoulders.
The first two weeks were filled with paperwork, signing in, organizing passports and private insurance (there is no Medicare in the Netherlands) and searching for a suitable car. Two weeks after we arrived, Hannah drove with our new car (a hybrid Toyota Prius that we could buy for a very friendly price) to her workplace which is still very familiar, but an hour away.
We have applied for Tonn’s residence permit which can take up to 3 months before it comes through. Needless to say this is a challenge for Tonn, being in a time of transition. He is now house dad in the home of his in laws. During the 2.5 days Hannah is at work, he doesn’t have a car, luckily we can borrow opa and oma’s bike. He has applied for a job/training in the local hospital, so we wait and see where that will lead. Of course we hope he can start work sooner than later. He has volunteered gardening at a house that was recently bought by the local church. This house, the old village library, has been renovated by volunteers into an op-shop/coffee house. It is a little meeting place and is located only 10 meters of Hannah’s parents’ house.
Meanwhile we have been living with Hannah’s parents. They have offered to move their bedroom to their garage, so we have the whole second floor to ourselves. This has made the stay very pleasant and we have been able to live together in the one house without too many blow-ups. Another answer to prayer. A big hurray for extended hospitality in cosy homes. The boys are growing and using more Dutch words every day. Samuel and Jonah are fond of their oma and opa, and the love is returned in double portions.
A friend in Tasmania had prayed for us while we were there for holidays, she had “seen” that after three weeks someone would offer us a house to live in. Curious to see what would happen, Hannah wondered if her friend had seen that correctly when the third Tuesday in Dirksland arrived. While she was at the hairdressers, two ladies told her that she had been offered a house, she only hadn’t heard it herself yet…this is one of the joys of living in a small Dutch village, sometimes the neighbors know more about your circumstances than you do. Funny enough in the evening a card fell on the doorstep and a couple that was going on holidays had offered their home to us for 10 days. This put a huge smile on our faces.
Our arrival and plan to stay in Dirksland has met mixed reactions. Some people admire our lifestyle of trust and can identify with it, trusting that we will bring and receive exactly what is needed. Others find it strange and wonder why we wanted to leave Australia in the first place, they think Australia is preferable over the Netherlands and we have lost our minds.
Being back at the church where Hannah was baptized as a baby is special. It is a building from the early 15th century and has a special history and architecture. And every Sunday a group of all ages meets there, on an average day counting over 600 people, new believers, old believers, older people with a newly found faith and people who have been there all their lives and have been tested by the times. The organ plays with a glorious strength and all the 600 people sing along from their toes. It is difficult to explain the beauty of this, but it is a true delight. There is also a band and a choir and Hannah has been asked to give a solo performance in song while her dad presents some of his art work as part of a so called ‘welcoming service’ for seekers.
The day we arrived a friend had decorated my parent’s house, there were postcards, people dropping in to greet us and even people embracing us in the shops. The sense of community and church come together in a Dutch village like Dirksland, and that has been a true blessing. Over the last week Hannah has been offered two more psychology jobs, closer to home. She has applied for her own business number on her birthday and will start seeing people in a local practice from a psychologist from her church. The opportunities are almost overwhelming, and we feel blessed and reassured, even though Tonn has no idea what is going to be next for him.
Last week we stayed at l’Abri for a few nights. The place where Tonn and Hannah met, a lovely old homestead in an apple and cherry growing area. We call this place a crossing between a monastery, backpackers hostel and Bible college. We might live in and volunteer there for a couple of weeks, a place where we could network and the boys can run freely during summer. And a place that was a birthplace for our life together and our shared dreams.
Thank you all for your prayers and love. We miss our Australian friends and family and hope you will visit us soon.
Tonn, Hannah and the boys.
ps. Tonn has given Samuel his old camera. We have enjoyed seeing the world through his lens, and apart from numerous images of legs, stones, toys and floors there are a few gems in his portfolio… enjoy..