Reflections from Holland

For the last 3 weeks Dirk and I have been living in Leeuwarden, Friesland, the Netherlands. Many of our ancestors came from Holland and it’s been fun getting to know the area. We like to ride bikes, so this is an excellent place for exploring via that mode of transportation.

We shop at an Albert Heijn grocery a few blocks from our rental. It’s located on a street with little shops on both sides–clothing, electronics, two toy stores, drug stores, a chocolate store, a butcher and a cheese store, and many more. The street bustles during the day–it seems like a throwback in the United States to maybe the 70s. The first time we walked it we were a little slack-jawed, thinking “Don’t they have Amazon? Costco? Home Depot?”

Two fast-food chains from the USA seem to dominate the area here–McDonald’s and Subway! We haven’t eaten at either one yet, but the billboards for McDonald’s show people dunking their fries in mayo. That is really big over here, but I’m not quite a fan of it yet!


There’s a thing they do here called open churches. During the summer many churches will open their doors to tourists who want to see what the inside is like. Many of these churches aren’t churches anymore–they don’t hold regular services, or have a pastor or congregation. They are relics of a bygone age.

I don’t know whether to mourn this or see it as the beginning of a new thing God is doing. There are evangelical churches in the area meeting in storefronts instead of cathedrals. I was walking downtown last week and saw a travel-trailer being set up with a banner that said “Jesus Saves!” (In English?!) So it’s not like the gospel isn’t being shared here, it’s just being done in a different way.

Yet we walk into an empty old church, sing the Lord’s Prayer or something similar, and enjoy the acoustics. Part of me grieves for the massive pipes organs that might not be played again in a worship service, choir lofts not filled with singers, dry baptismal fonts, and dusty Bibles. Change is always hard.

One of the missionaries MMOL supports is Grace Schmidt, who will be embarking on her missionary journey to London very soon. After being here for 3 weeks, we totally get it.

Be praying for all the workers who are out spreading the gospel, whether it be in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, the deserts of Africa, or the cobbled streets of Europe or the sprawling cities in the USA. Lord, bless and keep them, let your face shine upon them. Give them your strength, peace, and love. So be it.

Laurie Van Dyke
MMOL President