Around Amsterdam

Amsterdam - Day 6

The Dutch National Soccer Team won its World Cup match again today. My boys and I watched their first game, against Spain, from our family room in Kent. Elliot and I watched their second game, against Australia, from a cafe terrace in the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam. And today for Team Oranje’s third and final match of the World Cup’s Group Phase, against Chile, our whole family watched the game from the home of old friends in Amsterdam Oost. Such a progression! We’ve traveled from our Ohio home… to Amsterdam’s picturesque tourist territory… to more out-of-the-way, more personal corners of the city… Our experience of this year’s World Cup has mirrored our general experience in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam - Day 6Our family’s return to Amsterdam has been delightful. Occasionally overwhelming, but mostly enjoyable.

This evening’s World Cup experience was preceded by a lovely day at the beach with our dear old friends Marco and Claudia (along with their beautiful boy Benjamin). We flew a kite. We built sand castles. We ate kibbeling from a beachside fish cart. We talked. In some ways it felt like our first real “vacation day.”

Yesterday, though, had its own adventures: catching up with friends, some of whom have gotten married and had babies since we last lived here… worshiping together with our former community… visiting the home of friends who moved out of Amsterdam Oost to Duivendrecht… our kids playing with former classmates…

Amsterdam

The day before that we got to meet up with our friend Adrienne, from Kent, and go see the renovated Rijksmuseum (which had been under construction for the entirety of our decade in Amsterdam!)… We got to eat ice cream with the van Dijk Family, who we once came to know as our own spiritual family through participating in a small group together, and then who we later came to know as fellow cross-cultural missionaries, and then who we still later came to know as fellow returners from cross-cultural missions…

Amsterdam - Rijksmuseum Portrait

Amsterdam - Hard Rock with LindaAnd the day before that, we got to spend the better part of the day with one of our favorite people in the world: Linda Kitchen — who never ceases to amaze us with her warmth of fellowship, her generosity of spirit, and her over-the-top thoughtfulness. Renewing relationships such as our relationship with Linda has not just been a “friendship” activity. It’s been genuine family time!

Beyond these interactions, we’ve found ways to fit in time for walking around our old neighborhood… playing on favorite old playgrounds… drinking some of the best coffee in the world… reading books… and sleeping (though the latter has perhaps been the most challenging of all our vacation activities up to this point). I write it all out, and I’m amazed at what we’ve managed to fit into our first six days in Amsterdam. I write it all out just to make sure that I take notice of the wealth of experience we’ve already been able to accumulate.

Amsterdam - Johann Cruijff Court

It really is the littlest things that bring the most joy: licking off the orange smears of chocolate remaining on my fingers after a specialty slagroom soesje… hearing the click of Marco’s camera again… kicking a soccer ball around a neighborhood playground… enjoying the enthusiastic embrace of friends and family…

I’ve had my doubts about this trip from inception to arrival. But stepping back and gaining some perspective on the experience, I’m really glad that we came.

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