What a beautiful place we actually live in ❤️

Hi all, wishing you all a wonderful 2023! I always find it special, a new year, with new opportunities, challenges. At the turn last year (2021-2022) Evelyn, the children and I wrote on a paper where we expected to be in exactly one year. We then read these papers to each other last week to see who had the best foresight.

How far off we all were!

In Italy,” “on the road again with the camper“. Only Thijs was pretty accurate. He thought we would live in the discipleship house in Jaen, Spain that we were already working on in early 2022. We celebrated New Year’s Eve there – so we were actually there – but we
did not live there.

My conclusion is: we actually have no idea what will happen in the coming year. But we expected God to lead us on, and how it will all turn out we leave to Him. But we are full of hope and expectation.

I haven’t written for a while, so I’ll just mention some special events from the past period.

Our family & school

The past year has not been easy in many ways. It was the first time that we lived in another country for a full year, but also that we homeschooled for a full year. We really had to grow into that – both we as parents and the children. Also, being together 24/7 turned out to be quite a challenge.

We found that this took considerable time getting used to, especially with the oldest children. Both Thijs and Maarten generally did not find school a fun experience in the past. Therefore, anything they associate with “school” is stupid and annoying and, above all, dead boring. And then they began to protest at anything that tasted even slightly like school. Which did not always help the atmosphere at home ;).

It took quite some time to get them to look at it differently. That learning can actually be a lot of fun. One of the biggest breakthroughs we saw is that both Thijs and Maarten started to enjoy reading. That they read books for fun, enjoying it. For Thijs, this is truly a miracle because he has a diagnosis of “severe multiple dyslexia. So when we found ourselve sitting on a terrace somewhere in Spain with a cup of coffee and Thijs was engrossed in reading a thick book, we thought: wow, who would have thought this could ever be possble! Things are generally easier with the Ruben and Laurens and all of this comes more naturally for them. They enjoy the school assignments we give and generally enjoy doing them.

All in all, we are now very satisfied with how things are going. We have found our routine and the children are happy with it too.

Torben Sondergaard in prison

One shocking event was that Torben Sondergaard was imprisoned. Torben is a good friend and I have worked with him for many years. When I heard that he had been arrested and was in jail, I really thought that this misunderstanding would soon be resolved. He would be free after a few days. But we are now 200 days (!) on and he is still stuck.

Since I have a lot to write about this, I just made it a separate post so that this post would not become the long You can read it here:

Why was Torben Søndergaard imprisoned?

Rodrigo and Sophie

Last year we ran into Rodrigo in northern Spain. He moved on with us toward the south. In the far south by the sea, we met Sophie from Canada. Meanwhile, these two are engaged and getting married in 2 weeks! They asked me if I would lead their wedding service. Quite an honor! Both their parents come over from Canada and the Netherlands and further relatives from other countries (El Salvador). It’s going to be beautiful!

What a beautiful place we actually live in!

In the fall, my parents and 2 brothers Johan and Daniel visited (separately). Very cozy to have them with us for a while! A great time. Also nice that it makes you look differently at where you live. As we went on some outings together, we found out how beautiful the place actually is where we live. And how much we hadn’t seen yet.

Many Dutch people take their holiday in this region. But we came here to bring the gospel and make Jesus known – not as tourists. So we so far didn’t really care to explore the area. But over time we took many walks through the mountains, visited caves, museums. We were also often to be found in Malaga, Torremolinos and Marbella – very touristy places. The weather at Christmas and New Year’s was great: 20+ degrees. Warmest year ever in Spain in 100 years. We enjoyed everything immensely.

What a beautiful place we actually live in!

In conclusion

That was just another update from us. I have great expectations for the coming year. That God will continue to expand the work here in Spain (and worldwide). That more people will come to know Jesus and the Kingdom of God will continue to spread. It will not be without struggle, but step by step we will see progress.

God’s blessing!

Disciple House in Jaén province

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