Ok! So this post has been an incredible work in progress. I’ve written and rewritten and postponed and procrastinated. Every time I think I have time to sit down and write I either fall asleep or get distracted. I don’t have any real excuse except that I AM IN AMSTERDAM! Sitting and writing about all the incredible things around me isn’t on the top of my to-do list. I’m more of the adventuring type so I’ve been jumping at opportunities to wander and explore. But I suppose that I should let you all know some of the amazing things that I’ve been able to do and see.
I’m sitting here drinking coffee (I needed a bit of an extra boost this morning that tea would just not give me.) and being entirely astounded about what I’ve done in the six days. God has been so faithful and generous with me and I have never felt this blessed before. Only three weeks ago was I told that I had the opportunity to travel to Amsterdam and take part in a YWAM international gathering. It is shocking when I think of how trustworthy God has been in getting me here and providing not only funds to get here, but to be able to treat myself. He has shown me what it really means to be a true daughter of the almighty, limitless and perfect King.
I haven’t been in the northern hemisphere for a while and I guess you could say I’m not used to cooler weather any longer. I am thoroughly enjoying the crispness in the air and rosiness that has rushes to my cheeks when I step out the door. Spring here in Holland has made me feel very at home. Everything about this country has warmed my heart so much. The people are incredibly kind and hospitable, the food is hot and delicious, the tea is wonderfully warming, and the scenery/architecture is beyond breathtaking. From the moment we stepped out of the airport, I have seemed to fall in love with this place more and more everyday.
I am traveling with a lovely friend/coworker of mine and we have been having an absolute blast! The plane rides from Sydney to Abu Dhabi and then on to Amsterdam were all smooth and filled with much movie watching and fitful rest. We touched down here on Thursday afternoon and immediately hopped on the train bound for Assen, where we would be staying with the parents of a fellow YWAM Newcastle staff member. We received an extremely warm welcome and were taken to out hosts’ home to warm our hands and tummies with tea. After showering and layering up we settled down for an evening filled with delicious food, more tea, and some incredible conversation. Due to jet lag we called it a night fairly early and were glad to curl up in cozy beds.
We began Friday with more lovely company over a delightful breakfast of breads and cheese and tea. Once again we bundled up before we set out to see some of the city of Groningen. After parking near the center of the town, we set out to meander down streets and peruse through shops. Around every corner people were bustling on bikes or on foot, all outfitted in woolen clothes. The marketplace was filled with shops overflowing with cheeses, breads, meats, sweets, and knick-knacks. As we wandered around the city, I just couldn’t help but give my heart away to this country. Soon enough our noses were running and our fingers were numb, so we decided it was time to head home and warm up and eat some lunch. Stomachs filled with sandwiches and tea, it was time to relax.
Saturday was also spent out and about exploring the villages of Rolde and Orvelte. All the brick streets and buildings have a very fairy tale-like feel to them; walking about the country was very enchanting and romantic. In the evening we were fed a traditional Dutch dinner of chips and these fried sausage-like things; it was super tasty. Plenty of tea drinking and book reading ensued and it was perfectly relaxing.
On Sunday morning we said farewell to the lovely couple that had become so dear to our hearts and hopped on the train bound for Amsterdam. Rushing through the Dutch countryside, I was again completely blown away by the fact that God has brought me here and he has blessed me so much. Being in the place feels so surreal. Once we arrived in Amsterdam we wandered around looking for the Metro station and slowly made our way to the suite we would be staying in for the following few days. Due to some miscommunication, we waited for about an hour for the keys to our suite, but eventually we got he keys and made our way inside to defrost our frozen fingers. We relaxed a bit in the afternoon and waited for the rest of the people from our party to arrive. In the evening we walked to one of the YWAM Amsterdam locations for our welcome dinner and to meet all the other people that had come to the meeting (YWAM Presidents Gathering/UofN Web Training). It was so amazing to put faces to the names that I have heard so often; a lot of base leaders from other locations and some of the foundational members of YWAM are all here. It is such an honor to share tables with some of these incredible people. It has been so easy to make myself feel rather small in comparison to the people present at this gathering, but I’ve been constantly reminded that I was invited to come here with the rest of them; we’re all on the same playing field here. The evening closed with a walk back to the suites and a nice cuppa before bed. What an unimaginably incredible day.
Yesterday, Monday, was the official start of our meetings. We all gathered for worship in the morning and also shared some great discussion and prayer time after a word was brought by Peter Warren. Later on we talked about the future of the University of the Nations (UofN) and what directions we want to be headed in. It was so exciting to hear about where God is taking us and how much her building upon the steadfast foundation that he has placed beneath us. I’m amazed that I get the privilege to be apart of such an innovative and impacting organization. We took a break for lunch and I got to meet some awesome leaders from around the world and share about what I do in Newcastle and compare systems and methods; I’m totally frothing over being able to meet with fellow registrar people. It’s so incredible that God pulls us together from around the world to be with like-minded people that we can bounce ideas off and build up our own communities through. In the evening, I was super blessed to meet a new friend and spend a few hours wandering around downtown Amsterdam. We saw shops and restaurants and ate some delicious Dutch food. It was so fun to be able to explore the city with someone who is so similar to me in both age and calling.
Today marked day two of our UofN conference and it was filled with some awesome training this morning. We got to learn and work with some of the new software that has been put together specifically for our use. It is so wonderful to have such an amazing team working with us to provide us with tools that are so valuable. This afternoon I got another opportunity to go out into the city and see some of the sights. My friend and I visited the Anne Frank House and ate our fill of Dutch pastries. It was so amazing to take a step back into the past and see second-hand the things that happened during the Holocaust. I left the museum with a rather heavy heart, but stepping out onto the busy street filled me with hope that, even after such devastation, new life can grow.
So I wrote the majority of this post this morning and throughout the day I was wondering how I would finish it off. I had new adventures from today to tell you about and I was just falling more and more in love with this city and I could barely wait to share it. However, something this evening has changed my disposition quite greatly.
About ten minutes ago I walked back in the door after paying a visit to the world renown Amsterdam Red Light District. My heart may have been heavy earlier, but now it is all but shattered. I read through what I wrote earlier, and I am glad that I’ve had so much blessing and joy on this trip, but I was hit with such a deep truth: None of it matters. All the sightseeing and food-eating, it’s all for naught. As long as there are girls in the world that are behind those windows selling themselves for the sake of their own lives, nothing else matters. I can’t even begin to describe the urgency that I feel now. This city may seem beautiful, and I believe that God has intended it to be beautiful, but under the demonic glow of those neon red lights, there is such a darkness that looms over this place.
So I thank God for the joy that he has blessed me with, but I ask that he takes it and gives it to those who need it so much more than I do. I don’t want to be so full of my own adventures and plans that I am blinded to the brokenness of the world all around me. Please stand with me and pray for Amsterdam and all those caught in the sex industry. Whether they are selling themselves, or buying others, they need Jesus so desperately.