July 10th, 2012
It felt weird to leave our ground-floor apartment completely empty. To step out into the early-morning quiet of our neighborhood in Amsterdam Oost. To drive through the city for one last journey as Amsterdammers. A group of friends met us at Schiphol Airport for the purpose of “uitzwaaien” (waving good-bye), as our family made one of the biggest transitions we’ve ever made. It was hard. We were bidding farewell to the city in which two of us were born, where we really became a family. We had peace about our decision to conclude our decade of ministry in the Netherlands and move back to Ohio. But it was not an easy decision, nor was it an easy process. In some ways that process, that transition, still continues. And it still brings a lot of complicated emotions.
It’s actually kind of hard to believe that it’s been ten years since we moved from Amsterdam to Kent. That period of our lives keeps getting smaller and smaller in the rear-view mirror. And that feels unsettling, since it was such a foundational place for our family. But July 10th, 2012 was also significant for our family because that was the day we landed in Northeast Ohio and started a new volume in our family’s anthology. A different group of friends met us at Hopkins International Airport to make us feel welcome. And even though many of the people from that baggage claim curbside photograph have since moved on from Kent, we are ever-thankful for the way that they helped to get us settled into a new place. A place that we’ve grown to love, just as we loved (and still love) Amsterdam.
July 10th, 2022
There have been a lot of different emotions throughout the last decade, but the most dominant emotion on this tenth anniversary of our move to Northeast Ohio is gratitude. We’ve landed in a good spot. We’ve settled in a pleasant valley. And my greatest hope these days is to faithfully “farm” the “forty acres” I’ve been given for another decade, or two, or three.
I love the cafes of Amsterdam (and the mountains of Colorado, for that matter). But I also love the Cuyahoga River Valley. I love its lush, leafy forests and crooked, winding rivers. I love its towns and cities, its farms and factories. We love its proximity to so many people, especially college students. And we love the personal relationships that we have in Northeast Ohio: our family, our church, our neighbors, our network.
I used to wonder if Kent might just be a temporary base of operations, a staging point for further cross-cultural missions. I dreamed about following our kids off to college in some far-flung place, working together to start a new church in a new city. But now we’re right in the middle of that phase of life, and we’re all doubling down on Kent and Kent State University. Our parents’ aging process cements this connection even further. But I’m not upset about that.
We’re glad to call Northeast Ohio home.