Can you believe we're ending week two and rounding on to week three? I can't. It's a surreal feeling, moving internationally. It's like a dream that makes you really happy and really sad, and waking up leaves you with a confused but peaceful feeling. I've met some wonderfully kind women and men that will be a part of our lives for the next year or three. The little community created by the school is made up of a sweet, refreshing, diverse group of people who show the heart of God in such a unique way. I've been incredibly encouraged by the generosity of the community. We've been offered shopping trips, translation, bikes, food, appliances, a shoulder to cry on, ears to listen, a car to borrow, and open doors to grow friendships. God has set up such a special place here in this little corner of Holland.
Leaving my family has been hard. I've missed my sisters and my parents more than I thought I could. I miss laughing with my niece Evelyn and snuggling my niece Alesia. I've missed the company of friends who know me and that I can feel completely at ease around. I've missed the homecoming of my friend as she moved back to Greenville after living for three years in China. I've missed the familiarity of knowing exactly where I am and how to get where i want to go. I've missed spontaneity and the ability decide to go to the mountains or the beach for a day if I want. I've missed easy access to my own transportation. I miss familiar foods and knowing what i'm buying when I'm shopping in the grocery store. I miss the heat of the southern summers (yes, even that).
Even with all that I miss though, I love life here. I've been asked if life is simpler here, as it seems like it would be based on pictures or brief vacations. Life here is different. I don't know if it's simpler necessarily, but it's definitely different. I think living here is like moving to the beach if you've only lived in the desert or moving to the mountains if you've only lived by an ocean. It's wonderful and new and the experiences are strange and exciting, but eventually you realize that it's nothing like the vacations you've taken in the past. Life goes on here the same as it does anywhere else. People go to their jobs, go to the grocery store, have kids, go to school, fight, cry, have to ride on buses with crappy drivers, listen to loud music, grill out, have parties, and sip tea on their front lawn or coffee on their balcony.
There are differences and some of them are good while some are more frustrating. We have to buy groceries more frequently simply because food doesn't contain as many preservatives, so our food goes bad very quickly. Grocery trips tend to be taken once every other day unless I cook everything the day I buy it. I don't mind as the grocery store is a nice distance for an easy bike ride and food is much fresher, so I kind of consider this a good thing. Eating out is a fun experience but terrifying for our wallets. Food is much more expensive here, and even ordering water will leave you appalled at the price. If you do try and order a water, they usually only bring you a large water bottle, offer no refills, and charge you 3.5 euros (roughly $4-5) (we learned very quickly to save the water bottles and just bring our own tap water).
Our suburb is mostly middle-upper class families wanting a quieter life than the middle of Amsterdam offers. There are soccer courts (not basketball courts) on most street corners and they are usually occupied. Kids are always playing outside together and everything closes relatively early (even compared to greenville...there's no 24 hour shops that i'm aware of) so families tend to spend more time together.
So is life simpler here: no. Is life different and enjoyable here: yes. As with each post, I try and end with as many pictures as possible. The past two weeks i've really been consciously soaking in our surroundings and have decided to intentionally not carry my camera. I want to live in the moments we've had together. I want those moments to be mostly held in my memory, not on my computer. Next week however I will be taking my camera with me into Amsterdam. I will hopefully have a fun post filled with better, more professional looking pictures next Saturday. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to add them to the link or put them in the comments section below!
On to week three...