The purpose of our trip was to help renovate the Youth With a Mission building in Amsterdam. Lots of sanding, painting, wallpapering, and general clean-up. Rather than riding the bus to the YWAM building each morning, several of us decided to walk the mile or so from the Zeemanshuis (where we were staying). Jaap was part of that group. He and I hit it off right away and had some good talks on the way, and yes, I must admit, I thought he was pretty cute.
Three weeks later, after promising that we would write to each other, I was on a plane back to the United States. To be honest, I didn’t think much would come of it. There were too many complications for an actual relationship as far as I could discern. One main thing being that we only lived a mere continent and ocean apart. But, I was surprised to get a phone call the next morning from my new Dutch friend, “Terrie, I was serious about keeping in contact with you,” he told me.
We did write to each other at least 2 or 3 times per week. And, that was before e-mail. It meant taking a piece of paper, finding a pen, writing words on said piece of paper, inserting it into an addressed and stamped envelope, and walking out to the mailbox knowing that it would take 4 to 5 days (days!) for the letter to reach its destination. We also phoned each other once in a while, but mostly it was the letters.
I returned to Holland about a half-year later as a volunteer for Youth With A Mission. For about six months, I worked in their main office during the week, took part in several of their urban outreach efforts, served coffee in the Samaritan’s Inn (also part of their evangelistic outreach), developed a friendship with one of the “window girls” in the Red Light District (attempting to share the Gospel with her) and as if all of that was not exciting enough, I was able to spend time with my future husband and his family each week-end. Before I returned to the States, Jaap and I decided we would be married.
And so we were, February 16, 1985.
Now, I know this is getting to be a long post, so I am skipping many, many details just to say this:
I thank the Lord for my husband.
I’m thankful that he came to the United States carrying a backpack filled with his worldly possessions to make a life for himself. I’m thankful that he included me in that life. I’m thankful for our marriage and the privilege of raising three children together. I am grateful for a husband who is a man of integrity, a man who thinks before he speaks, a hard-working man, an honest man. I’m thankful for a man who is intelligent and kind, handsome, handy, a romantic, and a man who plays a mean game of Scrabble.
But most of all, I’m thankful that my husband is a man who loves God and loves others and who generously extends much grace to me.
I thought it was impossible that a long-distance relationship like ours would ever work. But here we are, married for almost twenty-seven years! We once figured out that we were actually in the same space and time for only one and a half months before our wedding day. It’s obvious that God knew better than I did.
Jaap and I get up early every day and spend time together reading our Bibles. We pray together each morning, too. (It wasn’t always like that, when the children were little those mornings were few and far between.) Several mornings ago, my husband prayed for me and his prayer expressed each and every concern I had been carrying in my heart.
As I listened to my husband’s petitions to God for his wife, I realized that it was no great mystery how Jaap knew just what to pray. My husband knows me. He listens to me. We share a life together. Two have become one.
Meet my best friend.
By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel