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  • Writer's pictureSarah Varley

Astonished by kindness

On Tuesday morning the boys and I left Catford with our six suitcases and boarded the train to London to catch the Eurostar to Rotterdam. It was hard to wrap my brain around the fact that we weren’t going on holiday but were in fact moving country.

Don’t worry, Phil will be joining me in a couple of weeks; he just has a few bits and bobs to finish off in London including taking our daughter to university.

This week we have had to quarantine and, as there was very little to unpack, I have had a lot of time to play games with the boys*, start on the list of admin tasks that come your way when you move to a new country. (I’m sure they’ll be more on this later).

There has also been time to reflect on the last couple of weeks and months.

My overriding thoughts are of gratefulness for people’s kindness towards us and the way that we can see how God has tenaciously pursued us with his goodness and kindness in so many tangible ways throughout this whole journey.

We are so grateful to family who drove to London to see us to say goodbye, for the many people at King's Church London who took the time to write cards with words of thankfulness and encouragement, to kind friends who gave us some money for a takeaway so we didn’t have to cook on one of the busy days leading up to us leaving. For people who took stuff to the charity shop for us and came and collected rubbish because our bins were already full. To people who hosted leaving moments for us, including the team of people at King's who worked for several hours to set up and provide food for a farewell barbecue with precious friends.

We are also so grateful for friends in the Netherlands who picked us up from the station and drove us to our new home and provided us with a meal for our first evening. Also for all the help we have received from some wonderful people at Redeemer International Church in navigating the move to a new country.

We are so very grateful!

The kindness of strangers has also blown us away. Our new neighbours in the Netherlands offered to lend us a bike to use until ours arrive and have been so welcoming. I have even made it onto the street WhatsApp group.

There have been many more expressions of kindness and Phil and I want to say a MASSIVE thank you – you have blessed us more than you can know! Kindness is so precious and such a beautiful reflection of God's heart.

I was listening to a life and leadership podcast this week from the New Ground family of churches (which we are now a part of 😊) where Natalie Williams talks openly and honestly about her life. She is an inspiring lady who loves Jesus, and you will be encouraged and blessed by taking the time to have a listen.

Natalie talks about how in the Gospel of Mark chapter 7 it says that those who were around Jesus were astonished beyond measure. She says how, in so many ways this describes her – that she is astonished beyond measure. This totally resonated with me. In this season I really have been utterly astonished by God’s goodness to us and so grateful for the way he has led us in kindness and peace and how he has so wonderfully provided for us.

Just a month ago we didn’t even know where we would be living when we arrived in the Netherlands. We needed to get here pretty quickly so that the boys could start school, but we were not able to get a rental agreement until we have a Dutch income, and not able to get an income until we have a Visa. (Ours is in process – prayers appreciated.)

God graciously stepped in and provided – a family here in the Netherlands have moved to Namibia to live with extended family for a year. They have a stunning house with a beautiful garden which they are kindly entrusting to us for these first six months.

God has again shown his wonderful kindness to us by providing a spacious home with enough bedrooms to host guests, a beautiful garden to enjoy, and storage space that makes me very happy!

Throughout this season Phil and I have experienced being tenaciously pursued by God’s goodness and kindness. We have known the loving, kind heart of our heavenly Father whose goodness, kindness, love and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives and we are astonished and so very grateful.

*BTW, I’m sure you all want to know that I am the current reigning table tennis, Pass the Pigs, Settlers of Catan and Risk champion.

Psalms 23:6 Surely goodness and loving kindness shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the LORD’s house forever

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