In at the deep end…

It all started last Monday morning. Around 40 students, supervisors and guests from countries across the globe descended on the Baptist House in Amsterdam for 10 days of discussions, presentations, seminars, meetings, library time, shared lunches, laughter, endless coffee and much more. This is the annual IBTS Centre colloquium, when all the doctoral students come together to talk about their own and each other’s work and to


Stuart Blythe (Rector of IBTS Centre) addresses the students and supervisors gathered for the colloquium

meet with their supervisors to get guidance for the next year’s work. I looked around during one session and saw people (many of them church planters, mission workers, church or seminary leaders) from Australia, USA, Canada, UK, Netherlands, Norway, Czech Republic, Romania, Nigeria, Lebanon, Ghana, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, Philippines and Colombia. Quite a gathering! Our roles during the Colloquium are mainly practical – shopping, preparing and serving food, setting up rooms, meeting guests at Schiphol Airport etc. – but we also have the chance to join in sessions, hear speakers and chat with the other students. bagpipes

It’s not all work: on Saturday night we held a Burns Night celebration (the IBTS Centre rector is a bagpipe-playing Scot). The menu included real haggis (piped in by the rector), with neeps and tatties, followed by traditional Scottish poetry and other party pieces from around the world, including a rendering by David of The Diagonal Steamtrap! Much interpretation was needed at every level but lots of fun was had by all. Today it was back to the classroom – two more days and it will all be over.

Living in a Windmill

… in Old Amsterdam. There are more than 1000 windmills left in the Netherlands today and about 150 of those are used as homes. Thankfully, we don’t live in one – I imagine it would be fairly draughty on a January windmill reducednight! Instead we are settling into our little house in the New West area of Amsterdam, just five minutes’ walk from the Baptist House, where we will be working. We packed up Monti 2 in Bicester on Tuesday and drove to Harwich to catch the overnight crossing to Hook of Holland. Our prayers for a smooth crossing (so Dot could travel without a Stugeron fix) were fully answered and, after a great night’s sleep, we emerged from the ferry into a new country on a dark winter morning. When we reached our house, we were greeted by Stuart, the rector (principal) of IBTS Centre, who had brought us flowers, some food essentials and a really warm welcome! The house is fully furnished, so we didn’t need to bring too much with us at this stage – many boxes remain in Bicester for moving later when we get longer-term accommodation. So, here we are – one year on from the initial conversation at a meeting (in Amsterdam) that led to us moving here. In the words of the famous Beatles’ song, it’s been a ‘long and winding road’.

(PS – Stugeron, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, are anti-sickness tablets!)


You did it Granny!

So here I am, the tired babysitter taking refuge in children’s TV, standing in the middle of my daughter’s living room, simultaneously pressing the buttons on three different remote controls, while my wise and experienced grandsons (Joel aged four and Luke aged two years) sit on the sofa issuing instructions: Not that one, granny; do the other one first; my mummy doesn’t use that one; my daddy does it a different way; the blue light should be pink (or was it the pink light should be blue?)… The instructions become increasingly exasperated: CBeebies is on now, granny; you could get your phone and ask my daddy; where is Grandpa Dave? Like some desperate fruit machine addict, I keep stabbing at the buttons until – miraculously – the screen comes alive and Nelly and Nora are chattering away in their lovely Irish accents. boys on sofa Dec15 Joel and Luke are jumping up and down, punching the air: You did it, granny! they shout. For one split second I feel offended by their amazement – but then I sink, exhausted, onto the sofa between the boys and decide that, as soon as the next programme is over, I will teach them to say (and maybe, even, to spell) what is definitely a word they need to know for the future – TECHNOPHOBE! How I will miss the boys when we leave for Amsterdam next week, but then there will be lots of opportunities to Skype … help!!