Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Making the Connections Day 6: Dutch Treat

Sunday was a different Dutch treat from the Ecumenical Community of “Het Brandpunt.” At 9am, a group of volunteers drove us (in different cars to fit the 21 individuals from various regional offices) to the said community from the PKN Guesthouse, Utrecht to Amersfoort (about 1 hour drive). We got English translations (printed and verbal from our seatmates) of the Dutch church service with a wedding to boot. We were officially welcomed through morning greetings in our national languages. A woman “elder” from the community presided over the service, and a woman pastor gave the sermon and blessed the wedding couple (not a gay pair). The children even had an active part in the “mass”. The choir had an energetic conductor and the English songs were upbeat, with an electric guitar accompaniment which made me feel like dancing. We almost missed the song called “Better Together” due to a technical glitch. It’s not only a romantic song for the wedding, I thought it’s also a good reminder for advocates (watch here).

After the ceremony, we had warm drinks (coffee and tea) while having chitchat with the community members and our individual host families for the day. I never removed my 2-layer jacket throughout the morning since the chairs felt cold on my behind (my phone apps said it was 6°C). It helped that my host family liked sweets (e.g. waffles with cherries and cream) which gave me energy until midnight. In the afternoon, I joined the 2-hour walk, laugh, reflecting in the rain with other colleagues and host families. The walk was part of the pilgrim hosted by one of the parents of the Dutch youth volunteering to Rome (during their school break) to assist the homeless and learn something invaluable in return. It was a good excuse as well as a good exercise for us beyond the conference rooms for the past week. I saw a lake full of ducks and birds I haven’t seen before. We walked through some kind of mini-forest littered with oaks, big trees and colorful plants. After which we had warm drinks and cookies to end the pilgrim in the host’s welcoming home. In between traditional Dutch food (e.g. cheese, potatoes, pudding called “bitter cookies”), our hosts also asked us about the geographic location of and weather in Manila and Bangkok. Uncannily, their daughter was like me when I was a child years ago. She has a rabbit as a pet (hers was black, I had white), and she’s allergic to milk (she was taking soya, and I grew up with soya). Her brother is part too of the volunteering youth to Rome. We had group photos to mark the different highlights of the day. Unfortunately, my host family is not into FB (facebook) but we can at least keep in touch through email and the worldwide web of volunteers.

Romina “Beng” Sta.Clara, 9 Oct 2011

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