in april, derek and i celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary with a trip to belgium. we got a lot of “why belgium?” questions, so here’s the back story:
so a long time ago, derek and i both worked at muskoka baptist conference (now called muskoka bible centre). we went to summit college and stayed on as full time staff. through mbc, derek and i became friends with a strange european boy with long hair and skinny jeans (before they were cool). we quickly became a trio of friends, with stephan leaving every few months to head back home to belgium.
it was during one of stephan’s belgian stints that derek and i both separately began exploring the idea of going on a belgian stint of our own. when we found out that the other had been thinking the same thing, it pretty much locked the idea in for us.
so in march of 1999, we said goodbye to our families and boarded a plane for a 3 month adventure. cell phone technology was very new, and staying in touch with my family would be limited to writing letters, and hoping that the calling card i carried with me would work from across the ocean. my first time viewing the ocean was from a plane window.
stephan’s family was tied to the mission organization Operation Mobilisation, and our belgian adventure was mostly with the purpose of serving God in europe. we definitely made time for sightseeing, but the focus was working 5 days/week at the OM base doing maintenance.
it was perfect, but a lot of places in this world are. so why did we want to go back to belgium?
when derek and i were friends, we declared that we wanted to marry each other. not because we were in love, but because we didn’t want to live our lives without our best friend. so we decided to start praying that we would fall in love. at that point our friendship transitioned into courtship (derek even asked my daddy’s permission!)
the bible shows us how to love all over the place, with the most famous passage being in 1 corinthians 13. it tells us all of the things that love is, and is not. so we decided to use that passage as an instruction manual.
all of that happened before we went to belgium. but it was IN belgium when God answered our prayers. a lot of people ask “how do i know he’s the one?” or “what if he’s my soulmate?” and there’s a lot of uncertainty there. i believe that yes, God has a match for you, but i also believe that love is an act, and something that we can choose. when we choose to love, the uncertainty is gone. there was definitely a moment when i looked across the mission’s base at derek and knew without a doubt, that i wasn’t just “trying” to love him, but that i had fallen in love with him.
this story is more sappy that the stories that i usually like to share, but it’s a story that honours God, and so it should be shared. it’s also the story that explains why we went back to belgium.
the photos are either of my journal, or drawings from my journal. i wrote in it almost every day for 3 months, and reading it again tonight brought back some great memories. wish i still had that discipline! i’ll try to get back on here soon to share some pics and write a little something about our 2015 trip.