Brussels

Posted by & filed under day in the life.

Brussels, I arrived yesterday at one thirty or so. I walked around the city a bit and ate at a restaurant I read about in my travel book. I wasn’t crazy about the restaurant, but the city was nice. The West and South of the city have a lot of Arab immigrants. The North has a lot of corporate offices and the East is dominated by the European Quarter. Offices for the European Union are there. 85% of the people speak French and 15% speak Dutch.

I was very impressed with the EU and spent most of the afternoon at an outdoor exhibition about the EU and European Quarter. It caused me to consider how we yankees ought to keep our act together if we are going to keep rolling. They call Brussels the capital of Europe.

There are plaques at most significant buildings. I read and walked a lot. I also stepped inside a couple cathedrals. My time inside them was very cool. In the last three days the story of Elijah under the broom tree has been referenced once each day. The sermon on Sunday was based on it and the story of Peter on the roof, calling us to consider what things God is doing in the amidst of our preoccupation. Monday there was an amazing pulpit intricately carved depicting Elijah and the angle that came to him, and this morning Paul referenced Elijah’s story in Romans where he writes that God maintained a remnant. So, we could spend our lives discounting coincidences or ask what stuff like this is about.

My mother called last night to check up on me. She emailed and got my cell phone number from Paul at Total Identity. Not having kept close enough contact with ones mother so as to keep her from resorting to such measures was a little embarrassing. I was really good to visit with here. From the United States you can call me at 011 31 6 702 8586. It may cost you an arm or a leg but it won’t cost me anything.

ALSO: send me your addresses I’d love to send some postcards.

Thanks for reading.

Posted by & filed under day in the life.

Today (Saturday) was, in many ways, the most amazing day thus far. Today I say the greatest swings in my emotion / focus / ability to do what needed to be done. There are two Christian Hostels in town that afford certain qualities I really appreciate. I had been in the Shelter Jordan to the west until today. I’d been booking nights a day or two in advance, but Jordan had turned up full. Fortunately, the Shelter City the other Christian hostel to the east had room.

To say the least it was an entirely new set of people. Jordan had come to be a home to me in the last week, but it was time to go. I checked in at City and proceeded to try to make plans to travel to Brussels with no success. They were playing some American Christian music in the hostel at the time of the sort that tends to tie my guts in knots also. Somehow it was defeating as thing are from time to time in a way beyond what they should be.

I tried to go out in order to purchase a Hosteling International membership for discounts on lodging etc., but I got out the door and had to come back in. I felt it was time to take a nap. It was as close to tears as I have been through this whole fiasco.

Three hours later I got up. I was able to get the membership, purchase a few postcards, book a hostel in Brussels, and ask a few questions about purchasing a EuroRail pass. All of which had seemed impossible just a few hours before.

I returned to the Shelter City for their evening Bible discussion which I have found to be instrumental in getting to know hostel staff and remaining in community. From there I was able to talk to a manager about my housing situation, and he was very receptive.

So, as I sit and write I look back and see yet another day where much good progress was made but only enough to sustain me. Such has become the story of my time here. It is absolutely amazing how situation and circumstance continue to direct me in a way that they are not able to in the United States because of the freedom afforded me by cell phones, familiarity, freeways, and family.

I have a bit more reading and writing to do this evening. Tomorrow I will do at least one local church, meet with Jackie Wise (a friend who is also originally from Northwest Ohio) for the first time, and hopefully make some progress toward booking a ride to and from Brussels. Perhaps things have leveled off enough my writing could possibly become more regular.

Thanks for reading.

Soon, I should be able to write more often.

Posted by & filed under day in the life.

First: The balance of the weekend. I started walking after my last post. As I made my way into Heemskirk I discovered an ‘Aldi’ store, like the budget groceries in the US. I checked out the food but ended up buying an English to Dutch dictionary. From there I went to the center of the city where there was a very old church with a small cemetery around it.

The streets around here are interesting various lanes for bikes, pedestrians, cars, bus, and trams weaving in and out. In the United States sidewalks always give-way to streets, but in less heavily trafficked areas driving lanes go up and across sidewalks, not to mention the dynamic of having lanes for trams (street cars) and buses.

From the center of town I wondered over toward a very large church, noticing the architecture, soil (yeah that’s just me), people, and neighborhood as I went. The church was cool, and I continued wondering, this time making a larger swath through town. I did have a map. I eventually ended up southwest of town when I had been trying to go northwest toward another castle. It wasn’t a very good map ;-). I walked up the west side of town and saw the castle, and had dinner back in town and retired for the evening.

The next day I had breakfast with Steve from California and a couple french film makers. Steve and I walked back through town and checked out a few things. Then he headed back toward the train station. I when on through the 3 or 4 km of farms between town and the nature preserve with the beach beyond. I didn’t have a map of the preserve/park but tried to take a picture of one posted near the entrance. That didn’t quite work. I ended up walking 6 or so km south by southwest rather than strait to the beach. It made for a very happy arrival.

It was an overcast day just warm enough not to be cool in a tee-shirt and pants. There were large grassed dunes several stories high a few hundred ft from the water. I found the tallest one I could find within reasonable walking distance and sat down. About an hour later I woke from a nap and did some reading and writing.

From there I ventured down to the beach, collected some shells, eventually took off my shoes, shot some pictures, and got nearly knee deep in it. I continued wondering as I’d done most of the weekend north, hoping there would be a break in the wall of grass covered dunes. eventually there was. It was the path I would have taken had I been more direct to begin with. In the end I got to see a lot of the space. I couldn’t have planned it better.

I did a local italian pizzeria that evening and ran into a designer from another firm in Amsterdam. It was good to visit with her a bit. English is pretty propionate. Imagine if on the scale of good grammar and education in the United States finishing high-school would equate to being able to speak at least a little english here. The more educated and tourism focused definitely do a better job with it.

Monday I walked to the train station, long walk. Upon arriving in Amsterdam I looked up some information on housing and when that trail lead to the edge of town I decided to work on getting my dutch social security number so I can work instead. It was only a few blocks away.

I was to go to the town hall, or so I thought. The location I was directed to was five blocks wrong. After talking with four people I finally found a civic worker who gave me a better map and told me I needed to go to an office on the edge of town. After a 20 minute tram ride the officer at that front desk told me that the office closes daily at 1:00. It was 1:10.

From there I went to the check out the lead I’d had on housing. It was a university housing office and there where apartments posted, but nothing that looks promising. They let me use the phone and I called the Total Identity. From there I had to check in at the Shelter Jordan Youth Hostel. The trains took a long time, but eventually I made it to Total Identity. They had a housing lead that didn’t pan out.

Tuesday I waited most of the morning at the office that had been closed Monday. They gave me two stamps in my passport, one for living and one for working in the Netherlands. From there I was to go to another office some distance away to actually get my dutch social security number. Upon arriving was told I needed an appointment which was to be made by phone and usually take two to three weeks to get.

I then went to Total Identity and we worked the phones a bit to no avail. In fact, those with whom we talked told us there was more involved and that it would take even longer. Not having a phone had become a bear so it was decided I should get a cell phone.

The next day the first thing I did was get a phone and call to try to make an appointment to get my number. It rained a good bit that day (Wednesday). I was able to schedule an appointment for the 4th of October. That was to be as soon as I could work (I’d planned to start on the 19th of September.) because I have to have a number to work. This is the sort of thing I have been working with. I’d made no headway on a place to live, not even living in the hostel. I called to let Paul (the guy I’m working with/for) to let him know.

I spend the next few hours organizing and planning. Paul called back and said he’d gotten my appointment bumped to next Thursdays the 22nd. It was really good news.

Thursday I spent at Total Identity trying to plan my travels around Europe, and my phone charger turned out to be a dud.

Friday I got a new charger, walked around some (imagine little European streets that have been converted to outdoor malls.), bought a travel book, walked around some more, visited the US consulate, walked home by way of a pub where I had dinner.

I’ve been spending evenings at the hostel. I took a walk around the neighborhood the other evening. It’s nice. For now I’m living in the hostels. It’s okay and would be fine for the duration of my stay if there could be some accommodations made for me due to the fact I’m not just passing through, but those accommodations don’t seem to be possible.

Do pray.