As the first storms of the autumn were pounding the country, I spent, together with my wife, my sister from Canada and her husband, a few days in Friesland (Frisia), one of the northern provinces of the Netherlands. For our short family trip we had chosen an attractive arrangement in a hotel in Makkum, one of the smaller of the eleven Frisian cities. From there we explored the area. Friesland has lots of small, cozy villages and towns and offers a rich collection of small, and not so small, historic churches and a wide choice of museums, while there is no shortage of café’s and restaurants. So, all together the perfect recipe for a few nice days, in spite of wind and rain.
Every visit to Friesland inevitably awakens plenty of nostalgic feelings. This is where, in 1966, I began my career as a pastor, with responsibility for a small group of believers in Sneek, that assembled every week in a small rented room in the center of town. I also assisted the pastor in nearby Leeuwarden, who had temporarily been incapacitated because of a fall from his roof. On my moped I sped from place to place through the wide open Frisian terrain to visit the members who lived all over the province and to check on the students of the Bible correspondence courses. It did not take long before I discovered that this can be a very unpleasant process in the midst of winter. So, I borrowed 1.600 guilders (about 750 euros) from the local bank to buy my first car: a second hand Renault Dauphine. It had already gone some 70,000 kilometers (quite a respectable amount of mileage in those days). I paid 2,000 guilders, while my salary at the time amounted to a meagre monthly sum of 600 guilders (gross).
These are the kind of nostalgic sentiments that arise whenever I visit the area of my first parish.
Having come home last night (Thursday evening), we are now, on this Friday morning, preparing for a little trip to Belgium. Tomorrow a ‘spiritual congress’ is to be held in Brussels, where Adventist church members from all over the country will meet for a day of fellowship. It will be a pleasant occasion where I will meet many people whom I got to know during my recent period of activities in Belgium.
I look forward to a good sermon tomorrow morning by Jean-Claude Verrecchia, a Frenchman, who teaches theology at Newbold College in England. In the afternoon I will present one of the workshops. My topic will be the role of doctrines. Why do we have them? How do they develop and how might they change over time? How many do we need? And: are all doctrines equally important? Fortunately, I had already prepared this presentation a few weeks ago. This leaves me today without worries.
We will stay for a few days with friends in Belgium. My readers will understand that this morning I had but little time for writing a new blog. It has therefore remained rather short. Next week there will, I hope, be a blog of ‘normal’ length—and with a little more depth.