I’ve written a lot about our travels and how much we love The Netherlands. We feel so blessed to experience this adventure and we’ve learned so much. We are very thankful and content! But I feel like I’m not being entirely honest if I don’t share the downsides. It’s not all so wonderfully rosey, you see.
My job, the whole reason we’re here, has not lived up to my expectations. I don’t feel comfortable saying much about it in print, just suffice it to say that it hasn’t exactly been professionally enriching. The saving grace of it is that I have good co-workers and I’ve learned a lot from them. I’ve also learned a lot about how NATO and the military function. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting people from all over North America and Europe and my understanding of the world has expanded immensely. This is going to have a lasting impact on me.
When we made the decision to relocate, we hoped that Dick would be able to find work here. That has not been the case so far. Freelance work is difficult to come by and networking takes a lot of time to develop (he was having the same problem in the States). He interviewed for a NATO related job last month, but for a puzzling reason was not selected. It was a graphic design job that he was more than qualified for, so it was a big disappointment for us. Our prayer is that he will be able to connect with some work in the coming year. In the meantime, he’s keeping up with his current US clients.
Our social life is kinda nonexistent since we haven’t really made any friends. Military families are well connected and as civilians we fall outside their networks. We haven’t found inroads with the Dutch living around us either. This is somewhat hampered by my inability to speak the language, but it’s also an aspect of the Dutch culture. They are generally very friendly, but have close inner circles socially. I’ve heard expats remark that they haven’t been invited to Dutch homes even after years of acquaintance. We go to chapel (though somewhat irregularly), take language classes and try to attend the JFC social events. Dick attends a weekly men’s group and is slowly making connections there. It’s been a good outlet for him since he’s home alone a lot. I keep having scheduling conflicts with a monthly women’s meeting and have yet to attend one. There’s been an attempt to gather together women on the base during the work day, but it’s not been terribly successful so far.
Dick and I have both experienced a spiritual lull (I’m rebelling against Christian lingo these days). It’s something we discuss often and we pray about it together. There are some things that I need to think through and sort out. I will probably write an entire post on this topic at some point.
We continue to have conflict with Kathryn’s mother and it can be very stressful. We invited Kathryn to spend her spring vacation with us, but her mother refused to let her come. We had encouraged Kathryn to do a missions trip in Rhode Island during this break, but she passed on the opportunity. Since she evidently had no other plans (and still doesn’t as far as we know), we thought it would be great for her to come and enjoy springtime abloom in NL. The time would have also overlapped with a visit from Jenna. Oh well. Our summer time with her last year was shortened from 30 to 25 days because her mother insisted they wouldn’t have enough vacation time with her. Kathryn isn’t attending bible camp this year, which freed up a week, so Dick asked that she come for 30 days this year. This also was declined with no other reason than 30 days is too long. So noted. This is still being hashed out and it’s a sensitive issue, so enough said.
There is also an ongoing communication issue with Kathryn. I’ve been asked to delete this part of my story.
Given what we’ve both been through in the past, the ‘downsides’ of our life here are minor. I’m not complaining; I’m just trying to keep it real!