Sunday, December 21, 2014

Thankful Post AKA Christmas Letter 2014

Niagara Glen - One of my favourite memories of the summer. An un-posed photo capturing the real,soaking wet, us. We are standing on Canadian ground with the USA in the background, how cool is that?

Dear Friends and Family!

First of all, a couple of things, I'm not a huge fan of Christmas letters, on what you have achieved this year etc BUT I do like being part of peoples lives. So I'm faced with a dilemma, to write or not to write or to write something in between. Well here is my attempted version!

Since most of you read my blog posts, I'm not going to rehash everything that we've done this year. I'm just going to give you a few of the ways God has blessed us and has been faithful to us this year. So it's going to be a kind of Thankful edition instead of a bragging letter. 

I'm very thankful for the following things, in no particular order:

  • Our support network. This encompasses so many people, family, friends, strangers (to us), churches, financial donors, students, seminary etc. I don't like to name people for fear of missing someone out! Needless to say we can't be here or pursue Albert's call to the ministry without our support group. It's is VERY humbling to receive while being unable to give in return, at least financially. Hence the above verse is printed on our thank you cards!
  • Internships - WOW this just about makes me speechless. What an AWESOME experience! It is such a privilege to be able to part of people's lives. It is so encouraging to see on how God works through out all our lives especially when we are faced with trials. 
  • True Woman Conference run by Revive Our Hearts. What an fantastic experience to learn more about God and worship with 8000+ other women! The company was also fantastic.
  • Thankful for our Sonlight curriculum. It really saves my sanity for someone who has not got the teaching gift! Grateful for the option but thankful that the Bible leaves us room as to how we teach our children. 
  • Travel. I do love to travel and so I am grateful that we have had the opportunity to be able to see and do lots. 
  • Ladies Bible Study. We are studying Nancy Guthrie's series on Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament. It is very encouraging.
  • Watching the girls grow in wisdom and character is a joy.
  • Albert's parents to come and visit and experience some of our world! We miss family!
Since Albert has started another year, lasts haven been happening. Our last seminary retreat, last USA Thanksgiving, last USA birthdays, etc. This makes me sad as our seminary journey is coming to an end. I'm looking forward to being reunited with our families and introduced to some of our new family members! 2015 will be bittersweet with plenty of tears no doubt! 

So in ending, a simple Thank you to all of you. We are soooo undeserving to be chosen by God to be part of HIS family! I hope you are part of HIS family also! Remember there is hope for ALL of us through God's Grace! You are ALL in our prayers!

Much love
Hanneke, Albert, Michaela, Grace, Kate and Zara

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Our Romantic Get Away

Albert's parents insisted that Albert and I take the opportunity to go away for a few days! My Mom had paid for us the year before and this year Albert's parents graciously paid for us to get a away for a few days. 

I'm not sure if you know but riding rollercoasters was on Albert's bucket list. So while we were discussing on where we should go for a few days, we talked about various options. Last year we stayed one night in the central city which we really enjoyed. We wanted to do something different this year. Since there was a roller coaster park about 1 hour drive away we thought it a logical conclusion. We didn't think this was something the girls would enjoy, not only the scary rides but also the waiting and not to mention the cost for our whole family. I had already been to quite a few fun parks thanks to my Dad's work in Holland in my teenage years. So off to Six Flags Great America  we went. A new ride had opened that season, Goliath! Here is the description from the website:
Six Flags Great America annihilates all other wooden-coaster records this year with the introduction of Goliath, shattering not one but three world records and becoming the most extreme wooden coaster on the planet. Goliath takes you up a 165-foot lift hill super structure then plunges you down a record-setting 180-foot, near vertical 85-degree drop. Experience record-breaking speeds of up to 72 mph and blast into jaw-dropping tricks including three over-banked turns and two upside-down maneuvers — a 180-degree Zero-G roll into an inverted drop and an inverted Zero-G stall.

Just wanted to tell you about it in order to let you know how much I love Albert. I'm not a high thrill seeker but promised that I would go on this with him. I'm glad we did this first as the drop was VERY scary, it makes going up side down easy in comparison! We waited 1 1/2 hours in the queue (or line if you are an American!) so I was determined to kind of enjoy it, wouldn't do it again in a hurry though. I really don't like going up, don't mind the speed but going up well it is just scary! 

Here is a look at the ride:Goliath

It's a big structure
Going up.........
Almost there, see that drop?

Next we did X-Flight, see link here: X-Flight. This was as scary as Goliath but after this I decided that I needed a break from the rollercoasters. Albert continued trying to go on all the rollercoasters before the park closed. This might sound easy but since the waiting times were HUGE this was a challenge in itself. While I was waiting for Albert to do his thing I went on some of the more tame rides. Albert went on Batman and Superman (i.e. flying superman style around the rollercoaster) to name a few. Towards the end of the day we went on the American Eagle together. Although this wooden roller coaster didn't go upside down, it was still rather scary, especially the wooden rattle as you go up!

Selfie in front of the park

We stayed at a Resort close to Six Flags which turned out to be a great deal. The Resort had a package deal which included Six Flags admission and also a free shuttle. The Resort also had an indoor water park included with it. Although this Resort was aimed mainly at families with little children, we still had a blast. Our room was very nice, although we didn't spend much time in it. The next day we had a luxurious break fast. It was so nice to be able to have several cups of tea with Albert as company with no pressure to be any where! A real luxury! We did some swimming, rode plenty of slides, did some more eating and also did some shopping. I know shopping is not my thing normally but I thought foolishly let's have a look at the local mall. Well, I don't think we saw all of it and we spend several hours browsing around. It is an outlet mall and it seemed that just about every American store was represented there. I have never seen anything like it! 

View from the top of the slide tower
Notice the 'Vortex' on the right, my favorite waterslide!
Me on the Vortex (or toilet bowl as I affectionately call it!)

For our last dinner, my good friend & family in NZ
 bought me a Cheesecake Factory dinner voucher!
Happy Couple!
Yummy Salmon!
What a great couple of days away. Thank you Pake and Beppe for making this possible. 

PS All was well on our return home :). Not sure who had more fun, we or the girls with the grandparents!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pake and Beppe - Lincoln Park Zoo

We took Pake and Beppe to Lincoln Park Zoo one day. We hadn't been there in the summer so it was a nice treat to see all the animals out. The girls in particular enjoyed the farm animals and gardens. (We did pay for parking this time :).

Seals waiting for their carer
Grace, Beppe and Pake waiting for the Seal Show
Z is for Zebra oh Zara!
Posing for photos with Chicago in the background.

Family Photo
Vegetable Garden.
The girls enjoyed trying different veggies including Orca
Zara with a huge capsicum
Taking turns devouring the capsicum!
Praying Mantis 
Beppe and the girls
Did you know this type of sheep existed? I didn't

Oh I DO know about this cow, thanks to our Canadian experience :).
Was thinking of our Canadian friends, hence the photo!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pake and Beppe - Chicago Air and Water Show

One thing on Albert's wishlist was to attend the Chicago Air and Water Show. For various reason we haven't attended previous years and since Pake is a big fan also, it seemed the perfect time to go! I had asked for advice on where to park etc. seeing that there were going to be a lot of people going to the airshow, especially since the Blue Angels were performing this year. One of our church members told us about a parking lot but upon arriving we discovered that it was going to be about $40 per day (and that was the early bird fee!!). Ouch! We thought that we would just drive around and low and behold Beppe found us a park in the neighborhood! We 'squeezed' our car in the space and left for the day hoping that the car would be alright! At the end of the day, our car was still in the same spot (very obedient car, well trained!) and NO parking ticket! Free parking, that made my day!

The day was pretty awesome. We arrived early for which I'm thankful and managed to get a reasonable spot close to the shore. This stupid Mum thought that the website said that you couldn't swim in the lake but when we got there, there were heaps of people in the water. So the girls just went swimming in their clothes, it was warm enough! At least they were VERY modest which is not something that could be said from a lot of people, a downer on the day unfortunately.

One of my favorite displays was the plane/helicopter Marine MV-22 Osprey Helicopter! Flying backwards is pretty cool! The Blue Angels are pretty cool also, so were the parachutes!  
Marking our spot! (didn't look like this at the end of the day!)
Water attracts kids!
A heart just for me Albert?
Planes in formation
Zara enjoying the water
Coast guard display with Zara and Kate in the foreground
Parachute Team
Blue Angels
(It's quite a feat to capture them, they are VERY fast!!)
Father and Son
More Blue Angels
Pake and Beppe taking Selfies!
(Made me laugh!)
Trying out free toothpaste!
Free Parking is THE best!
Girls decorated Eeyore for the occasion!
Flying backwards is PRETTY cool!