by Steve Apirana

That the tour happened was amazing in itself as medical problems had to be immediately addressed delaying our departure by 6-8 weeks which for tours of this nature is unworkable as most ministry dates are locked in and almost impossible to re-schedule in the limited time that remained. However John agreed to re-plan and as I recovered from my operation a more sparse program was arranged which meant lots of down time or time for spur of the moment events so it was with an air of uncertainty but lots of anticipation and excitement that we arrived on Friday August 25th ready for what the next two months had in store for us.
First things first- A plan to meet every weekday morning for prayer, planning and fellowship with other residents of the Vierslag.

In the first three weeks we visited Youth Centres, Over-60s Clubs, Drug Rehab Centres, Churches and Private Residences to share our songs and stories with people from all walks of life.

After a 10 day interlude when we attended our youngest sons wedding in Italy we embarked on a 21-day Eastern tour visiting Muhlberg, Dresden, Liberec, Slany, Most, Knovic, Leipzig, Schwarzborn and Wezep performing in Schools, Churches, Homes and Gardens while catching up with dear friends from previous tours which was always a welcome if somewhat too brief experience for us.

Back to Kruiningen and the Vierslag- familiar surroundings for the final 20 days which included guerilla type ministry like an impromptu concert at a Youth Centre in Antwerp, crashing a birthday party in Capelle and dropping in on a youth sports outreach.

A quick 4 day visit to Amsterdam to sing on a canal boat tour of the city, a lunchtime concert at the YWAM base and a concert at the Look Up Cafe.
After a day off tour of the city and a hasty visit to The Hague we were on the train back to Kruiningen for the last 6 days and although we were somewhat fatigued from our adventures we were starting to experience The End Of Tour Blues.

However it was also a lovely time of ” Family” fellowship as we finished up the engagements and revisited and debriefed from the last nine weeks and doing it over a few days as opposed to a single meeting was perhaps the most meaningful part of it all as we met up for coffees, shared meals and had times of worship and celebration together. Unforgettable.

On our last day John and Donna took us on a sightseeing tour which included lunch in a very fine restaurant and took us to the airport making sure everything was in order with documents/ luggage/ flight details etc. and saw us to the customs gate where we bid a sad but satisfied farewell.

It was a tour like no other where numbers were not as important as recognizing and meeting on the needs of those who were present.

Our prayer/ planning sessions became much anticipated and vital to the ongoing running of things giving us more of a family/ colleague identity than a management/ employee one which we enjoyed very much and often commented on it.

Everywhere we went whether it was The Nederlands, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic there was always a warm welcome from the local workers and ministers as well as a sense of sadness that a lack of interest and belief has crept into this very important section ( Youth ) of our society and like many other great endeavors could be phased out as an outmoded ideal.

Having said that we have encountered much enthusiasm, not just at ground level but mostly, to invest in these people who, because there is so much commercial and academic attention thrust upon them it would seem their needs are taken care of completely.

But not enough attention is given to their immediate social and spiritual needs.
There are those who would suggest that much is placed on their future and not enough on their Now.
Ainsley and I would love to see a more steady flow of resources and finances directed to this area of need and we know that there is much willingness and ability in society to deal with it.

Having worked closely with Atlantic Bridge over the last 28 years we believe strongly in their philosophy ideals and work ethic and would be very willing to work alongside them in the future.

Steve and Ainsley Apirana.
Queensland. Australia.

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