Maybe the most important thing that took place was the encounter with each other and discover how much we matter to God! "I am especially fond of you" is the phrase that sticks in our hearts the most. Forty from over 5 different nations came together to listen and be encouraged by what Paul had to say. His honesty about his own life was especially striking. All of this was framed beautifully with spontaneously created compositions by Frank van Essen and Ardie Son, Their instrumentals with violin and cello were deeply appreciated by all those who attended.
We live in beautiful surroundings, the buildings that comprise the Gutshof have been beautifully restored, and beyond the marvelous stone walls, are fields where wheat & grain grows, many lovely woods & paths to walk…in the summer, wild raspberries, & blackberries grow in abundance..Going for walks with Bubbles is a pleasure…watching her bound along always brings a smile to our faces..
The Gutshof Akademie began in its new surrounds officially in September, & we began to invite the Course participants to enjoy a delicious home cooked meal…in our beautiful kitchen....years ago I felt God say that he has put us here…’to bring out God colours and God flavours in the earth’…and that’s what we attempt to do with each meal that we make..That our senses would come fully alive when enjoying a meal…thru ambiance, colour, flavour & taste.
We thoroughly enjoy doing what we do, and it’s especially lovely welcoming participants back who are returning for another Course..to see their faces light up, a warm hug & a cheery hello..
I have to say, it has been a real privilege to see the Guest House appear before our eyes..we were here when the foundation was laid..and as it developed, the excitement & anticipation of things to come only increased…(we just had to deal with the frustrations of the delays)..smile..
I’ve always loved ‘the process’…what is involved in behind the scenes…what is all involved in seeing something come to ‘fruition’…just two days ago, we were upstairs in our apartment, and they were about to lay the floorboards, when I saw the guy spreading the glue…it formed such an intricate pattern..’and the thought flashed thru my mind’…’He makes everything beautiful in it’s time' ..such beauty underneath the floor boards…and I got to see what was underneath.
It made me think…isn’t that just how God sees things..He takes all of life’s happenings, desires & dreams & even disappointments & forms it into ‘substance/glue if you will’, something beautiful..something that will hold together & support that which is to come..
We all had expected the Guest House to be completed and to move into our apartment by the beginning of September, that’s when the Official Opening & 300 year Birthday Celebration of the Gutshof was being held…but it became apparent already in August…that date was not going to be…countless delays & set backs followed…and it is now 6 months further & although it is nearing completion…not yet. The date for the rooms is the last week in February…and for our apartment the 1st April.
Peter’s Father was thrilled that we were finally closer & living in Europe…his excitement at this move, and his desire to come and see it for himself was contagious…However it was not to be…Papa Helms passed away in the beginning of June 2017. We miss Papa greatly, he was a father & grand-father & great-grandfather that was interested in his family & all that was going on in the world..He prayed for us daily, and with each visit we were always greeted with enthusiasm, a kiss & a cross on our foreheads when we left…He was a man of grace, forgiveness & love.
April came, and it was time to board the plane & fly back towards Europe…I sat by the window, watching the spectacular coastline with it’s brilliant blue sea disappear as the bird soared towards Europe…Wonderful things awaited us there though…the fact that we are much closer to our three children & their partners & our growing delightful seven grand girlies, as well as Peter’s family…It only takes 4.5hours to drive to be with them…we are much more accessible…and that brings great joy to our hearts.. In the beginning of May we flew to Chicago, where we stayed with some friends who had a Labradoodle dog..on seeing Zoe, we realized just how much we were going to miss ‘our boys’..and so we asked about Zoe…a Allergy friendly wonderful friendly breed of dogs, not aggressive in anyway…Just the kind of dog that would fit into a Community! So we began to read about Labradoodle’s, and check out sites in Germany…but oh the price…we didn’t have that amount.. However…a couple of days after sending our ‘thought prayers heavenwards’…I was scrolling thru Facebook when I saw a nest of puppies had been born…on closer look, they appeared to me to be Labradoodle’s…so I wrote and asked…were they Labradoodle’s…were all nine spoken for..was there one available for us.. What was the price…? I didn’t have to wait five minutes before a reply came back…Yes, they were Australian Labradoodle’s..and yes there was one available…and YES we could HAVE one..They wrote saying that both Peter & I had meant quite a lot in their lives over the years, thru the women’s conferences in the Netherlands & thru Peter’s worship cd’s..We were gifted with a delightful tiny puppy…and could pick up this puppy after we returned from overseas!! Perfect timing…I cannot begin to tell you what an absolute joy & delight this puppy that we named Bubbles has been to us! Bubbles (as in the bubbles that are released when the champagne cork is removed…overflowing, unstoppable joy)..!! Bubbles is now a vivacious doggy of 8.5months…a shaggy carpet of bouncing energy & fun!
Peter & I had said to each other, some months before that..’Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could have a Guest House, do the hospitality, cook & do the things we love & as well be able to have a place where we could hold Seminars' etc…this offer was almost exactly that...
So back to our African paradise we went.. to talk together, to pray & see if this is what we REALLY felt God was directing us to, as our next steps…Both Peter & I, & Rainer and Ilona felt God was saying "YES"…and so the sorting out & packing in earnest began.Everything fell remarkably into place, as most of our stuff was already in storage…we only had to pack what we had in our ‘little house’ & find homes for our two doggies & sell the car..Wonderful homes for Freckles & Harry were found…and the car sold on the very last day we were in George…You can imagine though, I think…roller coaster emotions..the excitement of what is before us…& the letting go of ‘what has been’…I knew I would miss the stunning beauty of our surrounds, the wildlife, the myriads of different birds, the monkeys & our four tortoises that lived on the property…not forgetting the beaches & our friends…and the warmth, the colour of sunlight & the smell of the hot sun hitting the earth!
My flip flopped, or bare feet were in for a big change!
As I look out the window, I see soft snow flakes gently falling, rooftops are white,
the ground slowing being carpeted with snow..Oh my goodness..it’s cold outside…!!
Another world to this time last year…!! What a roller coaster ride it has been. Let’s imagine we have just seated ourselves in the roller-coaster, we are strapped in..Instead of it going forwards…it goes backwards…
Looking back…almost exactly one year ago on the 16th January 2017, Peter & I drove to the little village of Grossropperhausen, about 45 minutes drive south from Kassel…There was a Gutshof (a 300 year old traditional German farm property)..Our purpose for going was to meet Rainer & Ilona Waelde…who had recently moved there. This Gutshof was the place that they had dreamed of, for over 10 years…To have a Gutshof Akademie, to equip young entrepeneurs,& people from all walks of life, thru the many diverse Courses & Seminars that they hold each year. It was also their deep desire to have a Community based on Celtic Christian Tradition, a Guest House, where the Course attendees could stay, where Retreats could be held, a place where people could come & find rest & peace & experience the presence of God…....Rainer & Ilona, in their search for a couple to be the Hospitality Hosts for the Guest House, & also to run the kitchen, had heard of us, thru a mutual friend..We’d already talked several times on the telephone & attempts at Skype…but this would be the first time that we would ‘really meet’ & talk face to face about the possibility of us ‘being that couple’…
We were excited to meet them, and to hear their vision..and to see if their hearts & our’s would click.. It was a wonderful time of sharing hearts & listening to their vision and they to ours..and when we left…we both agreed ‘lets seek God on this’...A ‘loop’ on the rollercoaster & we are going forward…As most of you know, we are now living here..at the Gutshof, and have been here since the beginning of June…The roller coaster hasn’t stopped…it is still moving…