Wednesday, May 30, 2012

An Update from Albert

As promised, here is an update from Albert, as to what he is up to.

Albert here, I have hijacked this blog post at the request of my beautiful wife. I hope to be able to provide you with some regular updates along the way as to how my studies are going, to help keep you informed, and to help you know some specific prayer requests with regard to my studies.

Where am I studying?

I am studying at Mid America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana, which is about 40 minutes drive from Chicago City. The Seminary web address is

I am studying for a Masters in Divinity. This is a 3 year course.

Here is a list of my subjects in my first year:
·        Hebrew
·        Ancient Church History
·        Introduction to Apologetics
·        Theological Foundations
·        Church Education
·        Preaching and Public Worship
·        New Testament Greek
·        Sermon Types
·        Old Testament Canon/ Interpretation
·        Old Testament History: Pre Monarchy
·        New Testament Canon/ Environment/ Interpretation
·        Theology and Anthropology
·        Pastoral Care and Counselling
·        Applied Sermon

Phew! That sounds like a lot, and I am sure that it will be a challenge! Your prayers would be much appreciated!

So why Mid America Reformed Seminary?

We looked at a number of institutions, and did so in conjunction with friends, family, and our Session. In the end we chose Mid America for the following reasons:
  • Solidly Reformed
  • 3 year course, which means that we will be able to return to New Zealand to serve sooner.
  • The quality of past graduates that have come from Mid America
  • Their Ministerial Apprenticeship Programme that they run.
As we added the above reasons, and others, together, we felt that Mid America would be the best fit for us. This is not to look down on any way on any other institution; it was the place where on the balance of things we felt was the best one to attend.


At the moment I am working hard on my Greek Studies. I am aiming to test out of part of the Summer Greek course. The aim will be to start my studies with the second half of a Greek Intensive (Yes it does sound intense!), which starts toward the end of July. To do that I will need to test out of the first half of the Greek intensive course. To be honest, I am finding it difficult to balance my Greek Study, Family, Wife, and moving preparations at the moment. (Not in that order!). Something tells me that its an introduction to the balance that I will have to find when my studies begin proper!

I would appreciate your prayers as we go through this time of preparation. Firstly: that I will be able to get the study/ life balance right. I have been reading plenty of blogs with regard to the importance of wife and family in seminary training. It is not always easy to put that in practice! Secondly, that my final preparations for my Greek exam will go well, and that I may test out of the first half of Summer Greek.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Passports and Visas Part 1

I promised a whole post dedicated to Passports and Visas! Well here it is. It was no small feat both in time, travel and money! 

Six Dutch Passports
Dutch Passports
Both Albert and I have Dutch passports and so we decided early on to get Dutch passports for the girls as well. You never know when the Dutch decide to change the rules with regard to their eligibility for the girls. As it turns out, thanks to the very nice man at the Embassy, the girls have until they are 28 to get their Dutch passport as at least one of their parents has a Dutch passport. I'm not sure if anyone has applied for children's Dutch passports recently but it requires a big paper trail. Along the way I learned some new words, do you know what an Apostille is? Well here is a link to tell you all about it. All you need to know is that it is another way of taking our money :( and a very nice sticker on my official papers. Also how many of you have got current (as in the last 6 months) birth certificates of all your children including a marriage certificate? I DO! (again had to part with money). 

At least now I can recite as well as produce my children's full names and birthday dates under stress/duress! Funnily enough apart from all the paperwork and passport photo's the actual Dutch passport were quite a bit cheaper than the New Zealand passport. HUH? Some things do not make sense to me.

(Just for those of you who don't know, you have to present in person at the Dutch Embassy in Wellington including the children. So we combined a sporting event with a visit to the Dutch Embassy as they are only open on certain dates and certain times. The girls thought it was pretty funny that we were going to Dutch soil even though we are in New Zealand!)

This deserves a heading all on it's own! I thought that I was clever and ring up the Dutch official photographer (The Dutch government is soooo fussy that it is not worth going anywhere else) and ask to see whether he could take/print out New Zealand passport photo's at the same time. Not only did he print me out two sets of everyone (bar me as I only have one passport) ie. one NZ set and one Dutch set, he also, being the nice man that he is, gave me a $10 discount per person. I was quite pleased with my self. 
Albert starting working on the American visas! He discovered that in order to apply for the American visas online, they had to have a different digital passport photo of each of us! ARGGGH. Off we went to the local Kodak store and got our photo's taken AGAIN at a cost of $20 each which only took about 5 minutes. The nice man in the store asked whether we wanted to have the photo's printed as well for an extra cost, ahem no thank you. (got plenty of passport photo's thank-you-very-much). I can send you a signed one if you like ;)

Five NZ passports!

New Zealand Passports
A piece of cake (albeit quite expensive per passport), you just mail them in! WOW what a change compared to the Dutch ones. Very nice looking passports too. (Albert is a NZ citizen also and so can have dual passports.)

Albert and the girls are using their New Zealand passports as their main travel documents. These passports are also the ones who have the American Visa in them. I travel on a Dutch passport which is OK apart from the fact that I have to travel on my maiden name as my passport is in my maiden name. So my ticket is in my maiden name, air points, American Visa, my permanent resident sticker. Once I get back to NZ I will seriously consider applying to become a NZ citizen, it will make life so much easier and cheaper in the long run. The only reason I haven't become a citizen yet is the cost. 

American Visas 
I will dedicate another blog post to this as it was quite a long process, but worth while. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Grace's Speech!

Grace, Big Jules, Grace's little Jules and Natalia and Natalia's Jules!


Did you know that teddies could talk? Well I have a teddy that talks. 

Julia is a doll with a red hat and her hair is braided in two plaits. She wears a dress that had red and white stripes all over it. The red has faded to pink because she has been washed so many times. She wears green shoes and she has a white body. 

I first got Julia as a new-born baby at the hospital. I was the new born baby not Julia because she is a doll. At first her clothes and body were all bright but slowly she faded because she got washed so many times. In my whole lifetime mum has bought 3 Julia's because they go threadbare and I can't use them. Julia is my favourite doll. I have a bigger Julia that is as tall as my waist. She is exactly the same but only bigger than the other Julia. I got her for my 5th birthday.

Every night before I go to sleep my mum comes into my room to give me a cuddle. I ask her to make Julia talk. She usally says yes. Sometimes she talks about Julia smelling bad. I reckon she smells bad after she has been in the washing Machine but Mum disagrees. When I went to the dentist I took Julia with me because I was a little worried about getting a filling. Thankfully I didn't need one then. When I got home mum made Julia talk. She said, "why did I not get my teeth checked?" I said you do not have teeth Julia. 

Now you know that teddies can talk, try it out!

Note from a very biased mother!
I'm so proud of Grace of getting up in front of her class to do her speech and then making the top four in her class. This meant that she now had to perform her speech in front of the school. So proud of Grace for getting up there and being able to hear her from the back. Grace didn't place in the  junior section of the speeches but she did soo well. Well done Grace for giving it a go!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Michaela's Speech


Tabby speaking: 
I'm starving, I'm starving, I haven't had food for two minutes, I could almost eat my paws. I want some food now. Even the poorest cats don't have to starve for two minutes, let alone me the king. 

Michaela speaking:
That is what I wake up to hear every morning, yep every morning our cat, called Tabby is starving. Even though we give Tabby food he still thinks he's the most poorly fed cat on the earth. I think he is just the greediest cat in the universe. 

Tabby Speaking:
I need my food bowl here and right now. I shouldn't have to wait I'm the most powerful cat on earth because I am in charge of my food bowl. Now give me my food bowl or you will be sorry. 

Michaela Speaking:
Yep that's Tabby and yep he thinks he's too kingly to even walk to his food bowl.  You may want to ask what excercise he gets. WElllllllllllll I have to say the only excercise he gets is walking to his food bowl if we have not already brought it to him. 

Tabby Speaking:
Come here right now and look me in the eye. Give me new biscuits this minute. I do not like the ones I have. I'm the king you give me what I want now. 

Michaela Speaking:
Yes Tabby is a very fussy cat and he does not like certain things. Usually we just give in but sometimes we don't and then he is really angry. 

Tabby Speaking:
Come here right now you big fluffy furry thing that goes woof woof. I want to take revenge on you for ever entering my property without asking. 

Michaela Speaking:
You may already know that we have a dog who barks at everything that moves and Tabby absolutely hates our dog. 

Tabby Speaking:

You guys if you understand humans please tell me how because I cannot understand a word they say. But now it's time for a sleep after a hard days' worth of starving!

Notes from a very proud and very biased mother!
Michaela wrote this herself. She acted the two parts of her speech ie the Tabby part and then the Michaela part. Unfortunately for me I forgot to push the record button on the camera and so I have only half of her speech on video. OOPPS!

On Monday she competed in the junior section (year 4-6) at school and came first! She was chosen then to participate in the West Country School's Junior Speech Competition (in which about 5 schools competed). The competition was tough and the Toast Masters did the judging. To our surprise (well Michaela's! I think she was the best, told you that I'm biased!) she got second! Well done Michaela. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Some more questions answered

Here is an update of some of the questions that I said I would answer in this post
  • Albert is going to do a post on where he studying, what he is going to study, why he is studying in America and how he is going with learning Greek. 
  • Pets - Only Tabby is left now and I'm not sure how to read him. I thought he would have been over joyed at seeing the back of Pesto but now he's got no-one to eat his stale biscuits and they just stay in his container and stay and stay until.... (the owners give in!). Also on the biscuit front they are not his favourite so that could also have something to do with it.
    Josh and Monique have very kindly offered to adopt Tabby. If Tabby thought having a dog free life is good at the moment, he doesn't know what is coming, a puppy! hahaha. At least at his new home there is a sunny window seat which I'm sure will become his favourite. I'm also grateful that family have adopted Tabby as I think Michaela will have a hard time letting go of Tabby and so now Tabby will be able to Skype Michaela! (hint, hint Monique!)
  • Schooling for the girls - We have no choice really but to homeschool the girls as public school is not an option and Christian Schools are Private which is outside our budget. We are looking at a whole curriculum package called Sonlight. I have read good reviews but haven't met anyone in person who has used it so if you are reading this and have used it or know someone who has please contact me.
    I'm not going to start until the new school year in America and will wait with ordering the curriculum until we get there. Our aim is to homeschool the girls for 3 possibly 4 years and then hopefully slot them back into the Christian school environment when we get back. 
Paperwork update
  • We've got all our passports (11 of them!) and the required visa's. This is worth a blog post in it self :).
  • Plane tickets booked and paid for.
  • Travel insurance researched, chosen and paid for. 
  • Albert has applied for scholarships at MARS

Monday, May 14, 2012


It was a bitter sweet day on Saturday :(. We dropped Pesto off at her new home. Pesto didn't really know what was going on but she was very excited to be going somewhere with at least one of us, that's always good!

Again, God provided her with a home. Here is the short story :). 

I had two people interested in Pesto through word of mouth. Both people for their own reasons were unable to have her. I have appreciated the honesty of these people as having a dog, let alone someone else's, is a big commitment. 

I texted Albert once both had fallen through and told him that God must have a plan B for Pesto, HE just hasn't revealed it to me yet. I was not worried about it as God had looked after everything else and so re-homing the dog seemed pretty insignificant. When people inquired how we were doing etc., I would answer, only the dog is left!

One day Albert was home late from work and when I opened the door for him, both him and the police dog handler were at our door. I was surprised as I'm sure most people would be to have the police at your door! As it turned out, Albert knew him and got talking to him on the way home from work. As a offside comment, Albert asked him, did he know someone who wanted a dog? He said he would ask around. A couple of days later he texted us that he had found someone. (WOW, a big WOW!). I didn't want to get my hopes up but after some more information gathering (on both sides) and meeting with the potential new owners, it was all go! At the meeting, she wowed them with her tricks and affection. Even better the new owners love running and exercise which is just perfect for her. She will get the attention she needs as well as the exercise she needs, what more could I have prayed for? 

We dropped her off at her new house on Saturday and she seems to be settling in well. She discovered the cat biscuits very quickly, marked her territory , met the two resident cats and enjoyed the attention! 

I will miss her, I love her, she is the best running buddy but very grateful for an excellent home for her. 

Here is a YouTube video we made for one of the potential owners. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Opa's handi work!

When you have toy dogs, you need dog kennels right? Who better to ask than Opa?

The unpainted dog kennel

Kate's dog kennel, I wonder why the kennel is being painted red?

This can only be Zara, painting her kennel green. 

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Affco Tri Feb 2011

(Again a draft post in the making for umm a wee while now, never mind better late than never I suppose)

My first ever sprint Triathlon with my best friend Albert and my best training buddy Brydie.

His and hers bike, ah so romantic

Waiting for our briefing 

Who's that handsome man to the right of the photo?

Me and Brydie in the transition area from swim to bike

Coming in from the bike

Leaving for the hard part, the run

Again that handsome man again, going superfast!

I'm managing to run for the camera (thankfully the camera wasn't there on the hill otherwise they would have caught me walking some parts of the run ;) )


Our support crew, thanks heaps Papa and Mama and Brydie's husband Garth! You can't do events without a support crew!

A happy couple

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PS there is bound to be a picture post coming from the AFFCO Tri this year!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sleeping Habits?

Here is another post that was in my draft folder. (I have good intentions, the execution is not always as good :) )

Here are some photo's of Zara while she is sleeping in funny positions. (I suppose it is still cute when you are little, probably not so cute when you are a teenager!)

Aren't dogs supposed to sleep in the dog kennel? (instead on your hand?)
This is not Zara, but a funny sleeping position nonetheless!


I can see a hand...

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Kate the big school girl

This post was sitting in my draft folder and even though it is almost a year ago, it is a pretty big milestone  to have your first day at school. So here is Kate in Mrs Lewis class. She is showing Clifford for news. 

In her school uniform, doesn't she look smart?
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Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Grace reading bedtime stories to a different set of cousins. 

Well, where to start? 

First thing first. 
In order for us to go to America a number of steps/hurdles had to be overcome. Here are the two main steps:
  • Enough money to cover us for three years in the States. Albert on his student visa is unable to work and I'm a dependant only getting in the country because I'm married to him. This was our biggest hurdle, a significant amount of money needed to be raised and we were only able to come up with a small contribution and even that was subject to us selling our house.

    I won't go into all the details here on the blog but suffice to say that God answered our prayer and the prayer of many that HE has supplied all that we need. Within about 3 weeks, Steffen our deacon had fund raised the whole amount. Steffen did a lot of work, writing letters to churches, friends and committees. What people thought was just about impossible IS possible with God. We are VERY humbled by people's generosity.
  • Sale of our house. This was a big concern to us as the housing market is very depressed at the moment in Wanganui and there are a LOT of houses for sale in our potential price bracket. 

Sale of our house
Then there was also the small matters of getting our house ready for sale which meant a lot of painting. A new stove surround, a new fireplace surround, washing the house, painting the front porch, tidying up the garden, waterblasting the concrete, weeding the garden, and making the front entrance look attractive. 

Our church had a working bee at our house and we managed to wash the outside of the house, do the garden, wash the windows and waterblast the concrete, front porch and deck. 

We met with a real estate agent in March to get an idea of how much our house is worth in the current market. We were not unhappy with the figure he came up with but very apprehensive of the extensive marketing package he proposed (about a $1000 worth). Basically we were doing well to break even on our house especially with the real estate fee should we chose to list. 

We decided to continue with the renovations and then list it with the real estate agent but GOD had other plans. Albert while at work, mentioned to one of his clients that his house was for sale and one thing leads to another and the client is keen to have a look. Albert arranges a viewing on a Wednesday night. 

On Monday and Tuesday of that week, we are renovating flat tack, putting the final coats on our bedroom, undercoat and one topcoat in the hall way. I would like to paint you a picture of what our house looked like. All I have been doing for those last weeks was painting and so apart from eating and laundry, the housework has been neglected. All our bedroom furniture is in the lounge (which is a huge mess), we were sleeping in the family room on the spare bed, the girls bedrooms are a mess (don't tell me that your kids rooms are spotless!), bathroom is dusty, laundry room is full of our painting stuff. Anyway you get the picture. :) 

While we were busy putting the final touches to the house the phone rings. Albert answered and then told me the good news, the clients would like to visit today and the bad news, they are a couple of minutes away!! ARGGGH. Albert warned them about the mess which they said was no problem. 

They arrive and Albert shows them through our house ofcourse pointing all the lovely features (hoping that they will ignore the pigsty). I'm in the kitchen cooking dinner for the girls, who have been very patiently waiting as it is late by now. Halfway through the showing of the house, Steffan comes by for a visit (which was a huge blessing to us). Once Albert gives them the tour and as they are about to leave, the clients look at each other and are instantly in love with the house.

Once they leave and it is just us, we are blown away by God's timing, WOW. We're speechless. 

It gets better, the next day they confirm their interest, the next week we sign a conditional sale and purchase agreement with an agreed purchase price. The settlement date is not until we leave the country and to top it all off they are cash buyers with no house to sell! The agreement has gone unconditional this past Monday with all conditions met and the professional valuation is in the buyers favour, win/win all around!

I have always believed that things happen for a purpose and that God is in control of ALL things but have never experienced this so powerfully in my own life. This is the kind of stuff that happens to other people not ordinary people like us. I read a bible verse the other day that sums this all up: 

Eph 3:20 "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,"

PS this is not where the providence story stops, there is the cat, dog, visas, passports, paperwork, oh and our new house! another installment will be here soon.