It’s been a pleasant surprise to return to the Netherlands and find that Dutch has come back. I’m by no means fluent and I sound very English, but I can stumble my way through conversations and can even knock out a Dutch presentation or two.
This weekend we were invited to one of our supporting churches in the Netherlands to give a bit of an update and speak to the youth. The church booked us a little holiday cottage for the weekend and it turned into a mini-break.
The cabin we stayed at was on a farm and was really cozy. The five of us slept in the same room, and that went really well! We enjoyed spending time with friends who have also worked in PNG for several years. There’s a special connection with those who also have PNG in the blood and we enjoyed spending time with them. Alas with small children we always feel so limited as we’re always on a timer. Either there’s a nap coming up or patience with adult conversation is running thin and everyone’s unsettled as we’re traveling. But our friends took amazing care of us and we got to enjoy lots of nice chats and a freezing cold walk in the forest (sorry babies).
On Sunday morning we were called on to give a little testimony. The church was mostly online due to the covid restrictions. So it was mostly speaking to a camera – but that’s a bonus as it means I can script what I want to say a bit resulting in fewer “foutjes” (mistakes).
I can’t help myself though and I launched off script a few times to get halfway through a sentence only to realize I didn’t know how to finish it in Dutch! It’s a good thing Dutch people tend to be so proficient in English 🙂 They let me get away with using a couple of English words here and there to dig myself out of the language hole I’d dug.
Chatting with people from the church afterward can’t be scripted of course 😀 Then I just make do the best I can. It was nice to meet people who have been supporting us. It was a real encouragement and whenever we get to speak about PNG our desire to get back there grows. (No news on the entry permit front!)
The highlight of the trip was getting to speak to the youth in the evening. We shared a bit about what we were up to the last years in Kovol and some of the challenges we face. Language is of course one of the big challenges and so I shared a little Kovol language problem with them which the group really, really enjoyed. It’s available below for those who want to have a go at it.
The group spent 20 minutes or so puzzling things out and we went through it afterward. Clever lot they were: they got the right answer… Well, they got the expected answer. It turns out one of the verbs is irregular 😀
We appreciate the prayers and support of this church, but the most exciting thing for us is to try and plant the idea in people’s minds that they also could become goers.
Just this week our coworkers in Kovol received another visit from a neighbouring people group asking for their own missionaries. The doors are so wide open in PNG and people want missionaries. There are open invites all over the country and not enough missionaries to send.
Now I know that in the real world those invitations aren’t as straightforward as that – Who’s asking? For what? Whatever do they think it means to have a missionary? Why do they want a missionary? Why hasn’t anyone gone before? Are there not national believers who could go?
The real world is messy – but it still stands that there’s a wide-open door to share the gospel with needy people.
And now that’s it. Our ‘official’ visits are done; not more presentations to do. We hope to squeeze in visiting more of our friends here, but we’ve also left our calendar empty so we can concentrate on getting ready to go to PNG. Unfortunately, our entry permit hasn’t made any progress and so it’s looking more likely than not that we’ll need to return to the UK to continue waiting. Soon I’ll be outstaying my welcome here in the Netherlands (thanks Brexit). We don’t have any solid plans on how we’ll get to the UK, where we’ll stay, what we’ll do or how long we’ll need to wait. We’re still hoping we can leave for PNG from the Netherlands but as the days tick by it’s looking less likely that we’ll be able to get everything ready if our entry permit arrives tomorrow. What’s the cut-off date? We’re not sure, we might have to create one and start making plans for the UK.