September and October Update
So, given that we are a long way into October we thought it was time to write a bit of an update of where things are at with us.
We have been in the Netherlands for 7 weeks and so far things have gone really well. We are enjoying meeting new people and living in a city which has nature and open green spaces right on our doorstep. This photo was taken a 5-minute walk away from our house.
The advance party (Sarah, Joel and Ben) arrived at our new home in The Hague on the 7th September. The house is fully furnished, has everything we could possibly need and comes with the added bonus of lovely neighbours. It has been a real gift to us and it will be our home for the next few months. We are so grateful for God’s provision and reminded of his ability and kindness in opening doors.
After quarantine the boys started at their new schools and they have both shown real resilience and settled in so well. On day 2 of school (even though they couldn’t pronounce the names of our street or the train stations) they both wanted to make the 45 minute trip from Leidschendam (in The Hague) to Blijdorp ( in Rotterdam) on their own. We continue to be impressed and proud!
School here is quite different. To start with there is no uniform – which both boys are very pleased about. Then there is the fact that everyday starts and finishes at different times. Some days they start by 8.30, on other not until 11.15. This has taken a little getting use to.
Whilst the boys have been at school Sarah has been meeting up with new friends and getting to know the area by bike which she is really enjoying. She has started the New Ground Academy (a course that equips and resources churches to raise up leaders who make disciples) and is thoroughly enjoying the teaching. She also enjoyed zooming in to the Pioneer Europe Conference.
New Ground Academy day
Whilst some of us were settling into The Hague, Phil was still back in the UK, spending hours either decorating, doing admin, doing admin whilst decorating and putting lots of things in boxes – basically living his best life! Amongst it all, he took Indianna off to York University, which in his own words was both a privilege and a bit of a brutal experience for an emotional dad.
The 4 of us are now altogether in the Netherlands , and whilst we hugely miss our older 2 children we are super grateful for the people we are meeting here and the opportunities that God is bringing into our lives.
We have had a weekend away in Belgium with the New Ground church planters in the Netherlands and Belgium. We loved meeting them all and were so glad that we had a chance to connect with them right at the start of the year.
We also had a little Sunday lunch time gathering of our Rotterdam team which was great – we are currently small in number (6 adults, 5 kids and a dog!), but we feel so blessed by the people who are with us. They are quality people, up for the adventure of church planting, and it feels like we have known them for much longer than we actually have.
Church wise, we are going to Redeemer Church in The Hague and there are all sorts of potential opportunities to get involved.
So in summary, whilst we are missing our family and friends, it's been a good start. We are enjoying the new challenges and opportunities this season is bringing, as well as making new friends, exploring a new area, we love the cycling (not so keen on all the rain, it rains a lot!), and we are excited to see what God wants to do in us and through us.
We would love it if you can continue to pray for us and our family that we continue to settle well and make friends.
Please pray for our visa to be granted (it is currently being processed). We know getting visas can be tricky, so please pray that there will be no issues. We would love to have that sorted by mid-November ideally.
Please pray for a house for us to move into in Rotterdam. The housing market is moving very fast here, so finding somewhere is not straightforward. Our aim is to move sometime in the first half of 2022, so please pray that God leads us to the right place.
Please pray that as we now start to talk in different contexts about the church plant, that God will draw many people who want step in and be involved.
BIG Love from Phil and Sarah