As many of you know, I left Africa almost two months ago to take a 3 1/2 month course at the Institute for Tropical Medicine. I am taking the certificate course for nurses and midwives. So after 7 weeks, I would like to share some thoughts about Antwerp. First of all, it's a very "international" city. People from all over the world come here to work or go to school. On any bus or tram ride you can hear 4 or 5 languages being spoken. The students at my school are from all over Europe, Africa, Asia and a few from America. I am the only student in the Nursing course who is from the states (out of 80 students). I have enjoyed getting to know a lot of different people. I am thankful that the Lord has given me two French friends that I can do social things with, like going out for a meal, or visiting a museum. He has also given me some Vietnamese friends who live here in my building.
What is my life like here? Mostly taking classes and studying. I know it may look "romantic" to get to travel the world, but most of my time here has been spent at my desk in my small dorm room. Thankfully, I have gotten to see a little of this part of the world. The first month I was here our school took us on an outing to the city of Brugge. What a quaint, old, beautiful city! I would love to spend days there, just wandering up and down the small streets and quaint shops. Yesterday, our school took us on another trip to Amsterdam and a small farm/museum outside of the city. We were only in Amsterdam for 4 hours, so not a lot of time to see things. We all took a boat trip through the waterways of the city. That was really fun, and we got to see the house boats that are so famous, and the beautiful architecture. Then we had time for a quick lunch, and some shopping, or whatever we wanted to do. I tried to find the Ann Frank house, but got lost several times, even after asking my way. I finally decided to give up on that, and do some shopping (always a fun 2nd choice!). I hung around most of the day with my Vietnamese friends, because my french friends didn't make the trip. The farm/museum was a beautiful way to learn about Holland. Everything from touring real windmills, to watching them make cheese, and wooden shoes. It was definitely a tourist place, but I enjoyed it very much. I have become involved in an international church here, and even go to a small group on Tuesday evenings. This group is a perfect example of how international this city is; two of us from the U.S., two from France, one from India, two from Africa, and one Dutch. Again, I have found that if we know Christ, we feel at home with anyone who is also part of the body of Christ.
1) we have our first big exam tomorrow. I have studied the material well, but the test will be in french, so that makes it even more difficult.
2) that I will have a spiritual impact here. Overall, like most of Europe, Antwerp is a "Godless" city. Most Europeans have turned their back on God. Pray that I will have boldness as I talk to those in my circle here.
3) that I will have the stamina to make it through this difficult Medical french course. I am learning a lot and speaking better french everyday, and for that I am thankful.
4) for comfort as I am always missing my family back home. It is definitely a spiritual battle at times to stay positive. I wrote about this in my last blog, and I am thankful it is becoming easier to take those thoughts captive and be in a place of thanksgiving.
5) health for my knee, which is still giving me troubles. I have to walk everywhere, unless I am going somewhere very far, and then I take the bus or tram. But it is often painful, and a source of frustration!
Signing off from Antwerp! I appreciate your prayers, Sandie