Finally, for the first time since I’ve been here, this past weekend started off with hot humid days :) I’m loving the sunshine in the day and still being hot while it thunderstorms at night when I sit in my open window and dangle my feet outside watching the lighting from my room on the 3rd floor (apparently the Dutch don’t believe in window screens, which I totally agree with). I am continuing to go out with the homeless ministry team here on Monday’s and Fridays and have tea and coffee and chat with the men and women who come. Also this week I have been helping out with preparing flyers/posters for an Open Mic Night that is being put on by a couple YWAM staff at the Dwaze Zaken café (owned by YWAM) as an outreach for youth that happens once a month. This Sunday is when the actual event happens, so I will be helping set up and run that event, which is exciting.
Wednesday mornings I get to babysit for this adorable family, Desi and Lisa Freyling and their kids. The Freyling’s are a part of the Kompassion ministry here at YWAM Amsterdam, which focuses on reaching out to men and women living the gay lifestyle and those who struggle with same sex attractions. Lisa is actually my mentor while I am here as well, so we get to meet together once a week.
I don’t know if this was made clear to most of you reading this, but being able to work with the Lighthouse ladies ministry in the Red Light District was a HUGE exception that was made by the staff here. Volunteers that want to work with this ladies ministry have to make at least a 3 month commitment usually, since the emphasis on building relationships here with the ladies behind the windows is to crucial; so with me only being here 6 weeks, technically I shouldn’t have had the opportunity I do to go out with the team and meet the ladies. All that being said, I was SO excited to get the opportunity to go out and talk with the ladies for the first time on Wednesday. The way it works is that the team splits up into groups of 2 and with tea, coffee and cookies and each go to different sections of the RLD and go window to window offering tea or coffee. If they say yes, we try to get to know them and build that relationship by coming consistently and sharing the gospel and praying with them.
Wednesday I went out with Rebecca for the first half (who happens to be my neighbor in De Poort, an awesome lady from Mexico) and had a really great conversation (in Spanish, who knew I would be using that here right?!) with 3 transvestite men from Ecuador who were really open and honest and had some great questions about God and life, and their lifestyle. Rebecca is a straight up evangelist and seriously preached the gospel to these men and we were able to give them little devotional Bibles as well before we left. We also met this other sweet lady who is German, and boy was she a “talker.” She had us come in and sit and chat behind the window with her for literally half an hour about her issues with her mother. Although it was mainly her doing all the talking, we did get to pray over her before we left and while we were praying her body shook a couple of times and she said she felt something really weird and couldn’t explain what it was. I know that the Lord was at work in her.
The second half I switched partners and went out to two other sections with Annemeika (another Lighthouse volunteer). A lot of the younger, Dutch ladies were in these sections but we ran into someone that Annemeika knew who actually left the RLD about a year ago and went back to Romania, but sadly is back here now. Apparently she has a son now, who is back in Romania, and is only here to make the money she needs to pay off her house in Romania so she and her son can start a good life there. It’s so sad really, because she said she knows what she is doing is wrong, and she asks God to forgive her every night for the things that she does during the day at work, but she says it’s not possible to make enough money at home.
It was kind of surreal to finally be able to meet the women for whom I have been praying for so long now. Surreal, but heartbreaking. It’s not just a dream, it’s not just a statistic; these women are real people, living in bondage to the god of this world, and held by the chains of deception by the one who blinds them from the truth. I thank God though, that this is not my burden to bear. I know that our God is a God of compassion for the lost, and has the power to redeem those from the darkness. He knows each of these women by name and loves them more than any human ever could. “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.” –Psalm 68:19-20
On a different note, in my free time I have been biking all around the city, and adventuring around with some friends I have made who live in De Poort as well, in the pictures are Mirela and Alessandra.
My favorite part about biking are these cute little traffic lights for bikers haha.
I went to a music festival the other day in a huge park that had different stages with all different types of music set up everywhere. I also kind of happened upon another huge food festival the other day too, with lots of cheese, wine, ice cream, and fresh produce. Very cool.
Some people have been asking me lately "how's the food over there?" and I can't say that I have had a ton of Dutch food, since I buy groceries/cook for myself here, but I do make pancakes a lot (Dutch pancakes, that it-thinner, and not as sweet. Great with jams or nutella on them).
And this is just a picture of an awesome arugula salad I made with avocados, chile and lime...so good. Sorry, no exciting pictures of me eating anything that squirms or is still looking at me haha.
Oh ya, and I saw my first windmill here the other day! It was actually part of a brewery/café, but it didn’t matter, a windmill is a windmill, so I took a picture!
Other than the fact that I’m fighting a little bit of a cold, get headaches often because of being surrounded by the ridiculous amount of pot being smoked in some areas, and getting cursed at in Dutch for the first time today right after I almost got hit by a car on my bike….It’s great! I’m loving it here and God continues to show me His blessings every day.
Please continue to keep praying, especially for some of the things and people mentioned above. Knowing that I am being prayed over is such a huge encouragement, and I know that God is at work in this city.