Monday, 11 May 2015

Heritage Hunt USA

written by John Oostdyk

Dutch Bridgebuilders discover faith in America

Heritage Hunt USA
With a big THANKS for all those who helped make this trip so special. A list of helping hands is at the end.

Dutch Bridgebuilders experienced America in a different way looking for the spiritual heart of this great land

From April 25 till May 9, 2015, a team of eleven Bridgebuilders in the age between 13 and 23 years old, came to the USA to be hosted by friends and churches in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvaina. Most of them had not been on an airplane before. It became an adventure of many impressions to be remembered and cherished.

If you put it all together, this trip could be written up in a book. The many different experiences all have a deeper background worthy of explaining. Adding it all up creates an inspiring vision. We limit this news, however, to the four most mentioned highlights in the evaluation so far.

It all starts in Sussex NJ at the Christian Reformed Church and at the Holland American Bakery on Route 23 where you can still get a cup of coffee for 25 cents.


Hospitality in Sussex

Our first exposure was to the hospitality of the American people and churches. We experienced this in Sussex where we spent five days in homes of families with young people of the Sussex Christian Reformed Church. We noticed they do not ride bicycles, but when they are sixteen they get a pick-up truck. At one time we saw the church parking lot filled with these vehicles. In these five days already existing as well as new friendships were forged for life. The point of focus was the Holland America Bakery on Route 23 where the Valkema family has built a reputation of love and care for people working the bakery all day and sometimes all night. And their Dutch Sinterklaas cookies made by original outdated machinery are the best in the world. The loving hospitality shown by the families of this church will remain the first highlight of this trip. This has already been one of the outcomes of the evaluation of this trip (which is not finished yet).


A day among the Amish

Driving three hours from Sussex to Lancaster brings us right into the backyard of the Amish, the next step in the discovery of this land of Penn which author John den Hartog called the Peaceable Kingdom. Remarkable how you can keep a fervent faith in the midst of ever increasing technological advances at arms length.

Our team was overwhelmed by the openness, sincerity and friendliness as they talked with children, students and teacher Rebecca, only 18 years old, in the Amish classroom, as we saw them play really good softball, as we shared a meal in their home and as we sang songs of faith together. What a remarkable day it was! Out of respect for their way of life, we did not take any pictures of them so these words, the hats and Mariella and Marcel in front of the class will have to do.


Black Gospel in Brooklyn

The Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn has three services on Sunday and each service seats near to 4000 people. On Tuesday night they have a Prayer Service which fit our schedule better. We were welcomed in the late afternoon by Reggie, one of the leaders in the church. Reggie was in Europe working with Atlantic Bridge some 17 years ago and, together with the Nubian Gents, started the mission of stepdance in Europe. Reggie introduced us to some of his young steppers and our team actually did a stepdance with them. After Pizza and a tour of the church they set our whole team in the front row of the Prayer Service so we could feel every note and chord of a half hour of music by a top quality choir that took us to another world, the world of black gospel.


Ziplines and Yankees

Thursday May 7 was a day we all looked forward to. To see the Yankees play at Yankee Stadium. Before we got there, we also had a full day of activities that started in Chester NJ with a devotional of pastor Rob of Grace Bible Chapel. No pain no gain was the message. If your faith costs you nothing, you won't get anywhere in your journey with God. Then the team was driven to Shilo Bible Camp in West Milford for two hours of new adventures in ziplining and climbing walls after which we started our journey to Yankee Stadium. To be there was enough, to be up there on the top level where you could hardly see the ball, was also good enough but to be able to get these tickets at 5 dollars per person was the effort of the folks from Ringwood Community, especially Karen, who managed this. It was our final night in the USA and a great one at that!


Meeting unique Americans

What made this trip really special was meeting so many different inspiring Americans. The list is very long but we list just a few.

Owen, Jennifer and Anya as representing many others in Sussex opened up their home, their pool and their lives to us, showing the makings of a caring family where loving God and others is a priority. Pastor Ben has been pastor of the small community church in Ringwood for 33 years and shared one morning what makes his mission to minister to people so joyful but also so sad. Pastor Bob of the Household of Faith in the Bronx has been in the same place for 40 years as a missionary to the community and now is seeing results of his labours. Pastor Kirk has a small church in the Village where he serves the changing population in this place of very expensive rent. Boris, our Nyack College student driver, shared his story with us coming from a difficult place in the Bronx to serve God and study at Nyack College. And there are so many others that inspired us......



* to the many drivers who took us from place to place: folks from Sussex CRC, Sam and Dotty, Nancy (took us to the Amish), Doctor John for bringing us inside the Amish culture, John and Alice for taking us to Shiloh, David and Josh for taking us to New Providence and Chester NJ, Joanne for driving us to Chester and sharing the history of the Circuit Riders with us. Annemieke for picking us up in Asbury and preparing part of the Dutch dinner, Ruud and Loura also for the poffertjes and the Dutch dinner, Joan for loaning us her car for five days, Michelle, pastor Rick and friends from Grace Bible for hosting the Holland-America evening and arranging housing, John and Nancy and Karen for taking us to the Yankees, to Boris for driving us all to the city.

Chuck for hosting us so graciously at the Nyack YMCA and housing us at the convent in Nyack, the Nyack College staff of David, Michelle, Earl with help from Qian for the welcome, lunch and meeting with us, also for allowing us to use a Van for the New York City day, for Reggie for hosting, pizza and stepping,for John and Outi for providing lunch, for Jackie and Clint for housing us and arranging guest homes, for John and Rick at Shiloh for showing us the ropes in climbing to greater heights, and for many others we forgot to mention. What a great help you have been in this most memorable trip.