I arrived in Holland last week on Sunday 1 December - I flew with Doris my Brompton all packed up from Heathrow Terminal 5 (British Airways) to Schipol in Amsterdam. I was a little worried since when Doris is packed in the B Bag with all of my clothes and toiletries she weighs in at around 27kg's and the BA baggage allowance is only 20kg's (a maximum of 23kg). Normally the extra weight is no problem because I am a Voyager (Star alliance) member with a 'few' airmiles - so I get to travel with 30kg. But BA is not part of Star Alliance.
I said a little prayer, packed as well as I could, and headed to the airport at 5am (thanks Craig and Kath! You guys are AWESOME!) Thankfully my prayers were answered - the check in staff didn't even bat an eyelid. I put Doris on the conveyer belt and off she went! Sadly because it was so early in the morning the bag wrapping service was not yet operating - so for the first time my Bromtpon B Bag went into the hold without any plastic wrapping. However, it was a short flight (and very empty as well). When I collected Doris at Schipol she was perfect! No damage, no problems. So, I put the B Bag onto my luggage trolley (I take this with since it is easier to wheel than the wheels on the B Bag) and went to Schipol station for the 2 hour train ride through to beautiful Nijmegen.
The train ride was relaxing - with only one changeover at Utrecht where I literally walked from one side of the platform to the other. On the first part of the trip I sat with an elderly Dutch couple who had just returned from a few weeks of holiday in Southern Africa - Cape Town, Kruger National Park and Victoria falls (and they did it all by train!) amazing. They spoke very enthusiastically about the beauty of South Africa.
When I arrived in Nijmegen I fired up my 9292 app on my iPhone and saw which bus would take me to Platolaan near the Erasmusgebou of the University. The guesthouse (gastehuis) is right across the road. While it is called a guesthouse it is actually just a large block of flats. I have stayed here before. It is very comfortable and such beautiful views. Last year I overlooked the Brakenstein woods, this year my view was of the Astro turf hockey fields and the main University building.
By the way, it snowed here on Friday! I couldn't believe it! It wasn't very heavy snow, but it left a beautiful white covering on the ground for a few hours. It was absolutely FREEZING!
I was very pleased to be in my flat in Nijmegen - I unpacked my clothes and Doris, pumped up her wheels and then headed to the Coop shop in the town center which is open later on a Sunday for some supplies. It was wonderful to be on the beautiful cycle paths, quite a change from London where every ride is like taking your life in your hands! Here cyclists seem to have more rights than motorists - special cycle lanes, special traffic signals, and of course thousands of fellow cyclists! It makes a real difference!
When I got back home I set up my laptop and connected to the VERY fast broadband connection (wired via ethernet - thankful there was an ethernet cable in the room since I forgot mine at home!) And then set up internet sharing on my Mac so that I could use my iPhone and iPad for Facetime. I immediately called Megie, Courts and Liam - by this time it was already dark. I miss them so much, I can't tell you. There is an emptiness in my heart, a dull ache all day. I can't wait to get home next week! We had a great chat. It is such a blessing to be able to 'call home' for free and just chat to them for as long as we want with crisp, clear, video.
On Sunday evening I had a wonderful dinner with Professor Jan van der Watt and his wife Shireen and a fellow PhD student Alexander from St Petersburg in Russia (Alexander's wife and son were also with us - it was great to have a little guy around the place. It made me thing of Liam).
On Monday my work began big time! Sadly this year has been so busy with EXPOSED - Shining a light on corruption and Unashamedly Ethical work and travel that I have done very little on my second PhD. I have done some reading, but had not had much time to convert my thoughts and ideas into text. So, with my first deadline looming on Monday afternoon I worked from late Sunday evening, early Monday morning until I met with Prof Chris Hermans - my co-supervisor who is helping me with Practice Oriented Research methodology (since I am doing some qualitative empirical work in my current study). I managed to send him something worthwhile, and then I started working towards my deadline for Professor van der Watt - I am working on the text of forgiveness with him.
I had BibleWorks 9 fired up on my Mac (in Parallels of course) and was digging deeply into the Greek text to do a thorough Exegesis.
On Tuesday I had to spend the afternoon on a conference call with the other directors of TEE College, for which I am a director. We did our final business for the year, of which a part was to receive the final results for the 2013 examinations. So the students should be getting their results very soon!
Then, I had two further deadlines, a Wednesday and Thursday meeting with Prof Chris, and a Friday meeting with Prof Jan. So, every moment was spent behind my keyboard, reading and writing.
I also had a wonderful opportunity to meet with a friend Johan who lives in Holland - he connected with me via the internet. He follows my blog and saw that I was in Holland. It was great to spend some time with him talking about his work, ministry and research. He used to be a community health worker here in Nijmegen (actually he taught health care at the University - he has a PhD in epidemiology). Now he is studying theology and serving an international Church in his city. I was so inspired by his commitment and service!
On Saturday I took a few hours for exercise - other than walking to the main University building and cycling a few km a day for supplies, I have not been as active as I am back home. So, I set out in WET and COLD weather for a 30km ride along the Waaldijk. It ended up being 43km because I got a little lost on the way back (road works meant that I couldnt' get back along the road that I knew). It was awesome to be out! The scenery is beautiful, and it felt great to stretch my legs, open my lungs and just be quiet and reflective.
There were lots of other cyclists out - the group which seemed to be part of a cycling team were excited to see a guy on a Brompton! ha ha! I say if you can't fold it you shouldn't ride it!
By the time I took this photo I was rather soaked and a little hungry. Ha ha. Still, lots of fun.
On Saturday and Sunday I spent the 'off time' working on some editing I am doing for the Sentinel Group on Transformation materials. It was a nice change of pace and I found it inspiring and also very encouraging to be able to 'tick off' a few projects. Achievement is an important part of the human psyche - to be able to work hard during the week, cycle well on Saturday, and do good work over the weekend left me feeling content and blessed. I am very thankful for all of the opportunities that I have.
It was also wonderful to spend some time on Facetime during the week, and a few hours over the weekend, chatting with Megie, Courtney and Liam. I cannot tell you how much I love them!! I look forward to being home in a week's time! Family, sunshine, and mountainbiking!