“You look like a real Bible smuggler, Jelle!” Nina said when he unpacked the books out of all corners of the car. He had spread them everywhere: under the chairs and in between our food and clothes just to please the border police. We do not live in communistic times anymore, but the shipping of boxes is still frowned upon.
We feel very honored to be here and literally bring the Good News to the Roma in far-away mountain villages. This children’s bible turned out beautifully, and as often with a big task, it has been a shared project. So many different people have worked on it: Todd, Elvira, Slobodan, Bob, Nancy, and many others, last but not least: all who prayed and support financially.
Last week, when I was preparing for the trip, I ended up cleaning out our house, and in the midst of that, we found old letters. Over the years, so many of you have sent encouraging cards. We could not save all of them, but this particular letter made it through all the moves. Marijke found it and said, “Mam, read this letter!”
This letter is written by Maria Hammond, also well-known as the Wycliffe Mama. She helped me a lot with adjusting in England and was always ready for a hug, a laugh, or a prayer. She would laugh heartily when I called our three little girls: “Come on, little piglets!“
Late Summer 2010.
We moved that Summer to Toronto with the three girls. Laurens was not born yet, I was not yet pregnant.
“I had a dream,” Maria writes.
Okay, let’s hear it. Come on, tell me more. (Me, reserved)
“I see Jelle, and I watch your baby boy, while Jelle is going into the slums to bring the Good News to the people in the slums.”
Baby boy? No way…it would be very nice, but do not get my hopes up!
And Jelle in the slums? No way! It would be nice, but he is more the thinking, studying, teaching sort of man.
“I dreamed that Jelle and you are getting a baby boy and that Jelle will go into the slums to bring the Gospel to the people. And you, Janneke, are a happy mother of your children.”
Happy mother? Fine, you can dream that.
Late Summer, 2017
Here we are. We reread the old letter, relived the old dream.
Jelle is unloading the Bibles in the car and handing them out to the others. Our baby boy Laurens is a little chap of six years old now. He is watching it all.
And I? I stand there, speechless and in amazement.
A dream came true, and it is my dream job.
Jelle drove home with Judith and Laurens. He arrived safely back in Osijek.
And, in my mind came this:
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion
Your God reigns.”
Our God reigns, indeed.
Tomorrow: Day 3: More about a church under the ground, and Lots of Balkanfood brought by a tractor.