The Project Can

MaddyChristine Hope Photography-0754.LThere are things in life I want.  When when I say things, I mean THINGS.  Like a coffee at Starbucks, not to mention that awesome new mug they now sell.  Like a bike.  A better tennis racket.  A coffee maker.  That awesome Nikon 85mm 1.4 lens. Cowboy boots.  Bird feeders for the yard.  A big dining room table and chairs to go with it.  I can go on and on.  
But we’re in the mission field… and we so clearly see what we have, and others don’t.  We see the things we want, and we see how mothers can’t feed their families, we see children running around naked because there are no clothes, we see men working their land with a spoon, a spoon people?!
As of now, us doing non profit work brings with it financial limitations for ourselves.  And yet Tim and I feel we are still able to buy things when we want it.  And we want to be more conscious. More conscious of our spending, more conscious of our wants, more conscious of what others do not have, more conscious how we can help out in that, and we certainly want the things we buy to be a very conscious choice.  
And so, we started our ‘Project Can’.

Ever since I got to the Sates, I have really missed having a bike.  I miss being able to jump on my bike for a errand.  I would so love for us to ride bikes together, for fun and as a way of transportation (I know, not very American like).  It was time to make it happen.  It was time to start making choices.  If we want one thing in life, we may have to pass on the other.  And that is what we did.  We decided to turn my Dutch can, given to me by my grandmother, into our ‘Bike fund’.  Every time we wanted to do something like go to a Union game, or get a Starbucks for it was convenient, or a dinner out for that matter but we decided not to do it, the money we would have spend would go into our ‘bike fund’. MaddyChristine Hope Photography-0768 It was very interesting how many things we could pass on for something better, for a bigger purpose.  We also started to sell stuff we had around the house but could do without.  I sold clothes.  And soon enough we had the money to buy our first bike.  I had the first pick.  I picked a bike that is similar to the bikes we ride in Holland, and I am trying to pimp it up with Dutch things like a bag and bell (Can someone tell me why bikes in the States do not come with a bell? Instead of a bell people yell :” On your left, on your left”.  It really does not make sense to me.)   In any case, having this bike has such worth to me for we had to save for it, we had to leave other things out for it.  We are on to saving for bike number two…

I found Sarah’s blog today.  Her family is in a 3 month trial to be intentional about their spendings, all for the goal to give away.  They feel blessed with what they have, they longed to give away but felt they could give away if they would just have a little more first.  Well the little more came, and yet their spendings stayed within the family.  Until Sarah awaked.  They are blessed with financial stability, they want to bless others with what they have been given.  Her two posts about this are awesome.  It didn’t just change her way of thinking, but even her little girls are making conscious choices.  If you feel God blessed you with much, and you want to share with those who have little, certainly go over to read her post!  It really is encouraging!

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The Differences

101_2883Last week I was corresponding with someone from my church in Holland.  An American that is.  I was drawn to her because we both went through moving across the ocean.  Accept, she (an American) married a Dutchy and immigrated to Holland.  I (a Dutchy) married an American and immigrated to the States.  My motivation to write was the fact that I am in Holland soon and I wanted to bring her some American goodies, goodies I am sure she is missing just like I am missing Dutch goodies.  It was so nice to connect with someone who understands!  Erin understands that there is a big difference between Holland and the States.  She understands that building new friendships takes effort and patience because we are no longer in college when that was pretty much a smooth ride.  She understands that humor is the first thing that goes out the door when moving to a different country.

391252_421036337937468_1222130717_nDon’t get me wrong.  I think my transition to the States was an easy one.  Very smooth.  I was happy to move!!!!  There are just some things that happen when you make a big move like that, there will be things to miss like typical holidays, family and friends, products and cultural normalities.

God was so good when He gave me the desires of my heart, not only in marriage but also with me living in the States again.  God was so faithful and good in the details too.  10 minutes west of me I have my best friend Melissa, 10 minutes east of me I have my best friend Sharron.  I am blessed and my start wasn’t as raw as Erin’s for sure.  She moved to a country she had probably never visited before.  Dutch is a very difficult language to learn while English is a wide spread language that has overtaken the Dutch TV channels and even the Dutch language is infiltrated by English words.  So I reckon my move across the ocean was a bit easier for me than it was for Erin.


IMG_0034And still… there are things I miss.  I didn’t realize something till last October.  I was in Holland for a brief visit and me and mom were getting together with family friends.  I grew up with this family and I was as much their child as my moms 😉 . First of all, we went into this bar type place, kind of like a brown cafe in a historical building and we spent time ‘ borrelen ‘.  Now there you have a miss.  In Holland there’s this things called ‘ borrelen ‘ and nothing in the States is like it.  You just sit in one place for hours and talk and laugh.  No one grabs your empty plate when you are done, you are not rushed out of the door.  You can take the table for as long as you’d like without people eyeing you out.  And you order these typical Dutch snacks, thus the name ‘ borrelen ‘.  We were having so much fun and we were laughing… and very specifically, they were laughing because of me.  And all of a sudden I realized that these people get me.  These people get me like no one (accept Tim) in the States gets me.  We share the same humor.  Described by Tim as dry, quirky, a little cynical at times and over the top.

Just this weekend Tim and I had a bunch of friends over. The main goal of the weekend was to have a fun sleepover and playing a game called ‘ Cards against humanity’.  When I read about this game I knew right away this wasn’t a game for me.  Although I am pretty fluent in English, I am just not good at word games.  There’s still too much I don’t get.  And my humor is so different, I simply don’t get American humor.  And to be the center of attention while finishing sentences and it needing to be fun… I was just nervous and insecure.  Erin was describing how she cracks joke after joke in Holland but people are just not realizing how funny she really is 😉 .

Another conflict I run into is that I am your typical Dutch: loud, don’t beat around the bush kind of person, what I think is what I say.  I sometimes see some shocked faces when conversing with people.  They think I am rude 😉 .  So it takes some getting used to, namely for the people 😉 .  I wonder if I should work real hard to change, on the other hand this is so who I am.  So, good friends are getting used to me and new people I kind of warn up front.

History… I miss having history with people.  I have friends that have people around them who they’ve known for years, they share a history.  I don’t really share history with people, I am building history.  So at times I can feel left out, especially when there is talk about the good old days. When hanging out in October I just loved that these dear friends knew me so well.  Even in giving advice… there’s a certain wisdom that comes from history.

Other differences, challenges and opportunities:

~ Adjusting recipes because I can’t find ‘my’ ingredients.
~ Food is SO expensive here.  That is hard to get over.
~ I miss the easiness of being able to buy a good fresh bread at he bakery.  Bakeries are rare and when I find one I am just not willing to spend $ 6 – $ 10 on a bread.  Now I just make my own bread.
~ Our licorice that is not the same as your red licorice.  True licorice doesn’t come in red, trust me.
~ Americans dye flowers, that is CRAZY to me.  Please let flowers just be flowers.
~ I miss riding my bike everywhere.  Where we live it is very hilly.  I went to get milk by bike once… not a success… For one, my husband made me wear a helmet and two, when I wasn’t home after an hour and a half he got worried.  It wasn’t a quick errand like in Holland, the hill was tougher than I thought it would be 😉 .
~ I always loved everything being so big here.  In Holland, while missing the States, I filled my kitchen with big American mugs and all.   But now here I miss ‘schoteltjes’ (VERY small desert plates) for a piece of cake.  You eat desert or cake off a regular plate, really?


These are just little facts of what happens to a person when she moves into a different culture.  I am not complaining.  Let me say again, the ‘ love’s ‘  out way the ‘ misses ‘ big time:


~ Tim!!!!
~ An American husband who leads his wife so very well. In Holland we tend to not focus on the roles between husband and wives, and precisely the leading role the husband can carry out so well.
~ An American husband who takes providing for his family very seriously.
~ My new life in being married.
~ I married into a believing family!
~ I love church in America.
~ The space everywhere.
~ The weather.  Even in the winter the sun shines daily.
~ Snow in the winter.
~ Being able to exercise outside all the time.
~ The gym only costs 7 dollars a month, unlimited excess.
~ Starbucks.
~ The coffee flavors.
~ Coffee to go.
~ Bank Drive Through.
~ Bed Bath and Beyond.
~ Bath and Body works.
~ Chocolate chips.
~ Stores are open 24/7.
~ The whole 24/7 concept is pretty cool.
~ Flavors and scents in everything (I love the lotions here).
~ Having an accountability partner.  It is hard to find in Holland, people are not used to ‘systems’ like this.
~ Amazing and big fabric stores.
~ Very cute coffee shops (and coffee shop actually means COFFEE shop).

~ Growing in creativity and self sufficiency.  Ok, so I can’t find my Dutch All Spice here.  Well… why don’t I make my own spice then.   I get more creative all the time and figure out how to make things myself.

Did you ever experience moving into a different culture?  What were your ‘ loves ‘ and ‘ misses ‘ ?
I love that you are here and I certainly love to hear from you.  To leave a comment go HERE!