MUSINGS OF AN “OLDER” MAN”. Nr.192

Standard

Nr.191 ended with, “We had no idea that several miracles were about to happen………….!”(See richardandmarina.net).

Marina opened the door and greeted the lady standing there who said that they had heard from our neighbor that our house may be up for sale? Marina was quite surprised and answered her that I was not home, could she come back later? The lady said she would come back with her husband as they were interested in our house. Later on that day they returned, he was the police commissioner for southern Ghent. Their unmarried daughter was also with the police and they were looking to buy a house for her. We showed the whole house, garage and yard and they said they were definitely interested and could come back the next morning to meet our realtor. After they left I phoned him and told him that we had some folk who were interested in our house. When I told him their name, he laughed and said not to expect much, as he had shown them a number of houses already and every time they were interested, but then changed their minds.

The next morning the couple returned and also the realtor. He went through the whole house with them, left them upstairs, came down to us and asked us again how much we wanted for the house. I told him that he knew that already and that we were sticking to that price. He frowned and went back upstairs, and a little later the three of them came down with a smile on their faces, yes, they wanted the house and agreed to the price, unbelievable! Not only that, but I had a list of some 23 things that needed to be done to the house before we could sell it. The policeman told us not to do anything whatsoever, as they themselves would fix up the house the way they wanted it. He had also studied to be an architect and loved to fix up old buildings. What a relief, as I was quite worried about all the work that needed to be done and how I would get it all done.Talk about a miracle, the realtor was so impressed that he and his wife took us out for a very expensive dinner and we had a great opportunity to witness to them.

Miracle number two: together with the buyers we went to a lawyer to get all the legal paperwork done. She was a very nice and friendly lady who had a young man, her secretary present too. She had a list of fourteen things that needed to be looked into and checked. I was asked about mortgages and I answered that we didn’t have any. She looked surprised and asked how we were able to buy the house. When I told her what had happened, she was absolutely amazed………..! (Go to Musings).

 

MUSINGS OF AN “OLDER” MAN”. Nr.190

Standard

Nr.189 ended with, “We arrived at the large hotel where the conference was held and the organizers showed us a quiet room at the end of the hallway, at least they thought it was quiet! We arrived quite late and went straight to bed, but then……..! (See richardandmarina.net).

All of a sudden there was a tremendous noise from below us, musical instruments and loud singing and shouting. What we didn’t know, and I don’t think the organizer knew either, was, that there was another floor below us with a ballroom. The noise was so overwhelming that Marina’s heart started acting up. I left our room to see what was going on and discovered that a group of handicapped young people were there to make music, dance and have a ball. The rock and roll music was very, very loud and it came right up into our room. I’ll let Marina tell you in her own words how she felt, “It started with the feeling of a train’s wheels going through my body, starting at the stomach through the heart and ending up in my throat. I tried to sing and pray, but it kept on and on. We read in the Bible, “The troubles of my heart are enlarged, O Lord, bring me out of my distress”, this was my inner cry. Richard prayed with me, and finally the music and noise stopped and there was blessed quietness.”

I went looking in the hallway for some help, but it was late and everyone was asleep, besides, we didn’t know where “our” people were as there were other guests in the hotel too. And since I do not speak French, I didn’t want to talk to someone at the desk. It took quite some time yet for Marina’s heart to be at ease and beat normal again. We did sleep for some hours, but were up early and decided to go home as we felt the busyness of the meetings, meals and discussions would be too much for Marina, who needed quietness. We arrived home and called our cardiologist and had an appointment made. He had Marina do a stress test and he said everything seemed to be all right, but Marina knew it wasn’t.

A week or so later Marina was not feeling good again and we returned to the cardiologist who put a monitor on her for a week. The day after we returned it, he called and asked me to come and see him as soon as possible. In his office he told me that they had found something irregular and gave me some special medication for Marina and also told me that if anything abnormal were to happen, to go to emergency immediately. Saturday night at 11.45 pm Marina felt miserable again and I took her blood pressure which was 83/33 (normal = 120/80) and her pulse 22 (normal = 70)……………! (Go to Musings).

 

MUSINGS OF AN “OLDER” MAN”. Nr.189

Standard

Nr.188 ended with, “Thinking I had another heart attack, she (Marina) jumped up and cried out, “My husband is dead………..!” (See richardandmarina.net).

No, I wasn’t dead. After a few moments I opened my eyes, lifted up my head and saw a lot of people standing around me. I asked, “Was I away for a bit?” They nodded their heads. I felt very weak and was trembling. Someone brought a glass of water and I slowly got to my feet, shaking quite a bit. Most of the people had gone downstairs for coffee and after a bit I went down too, with someone helping me. I realized that I wasn’t up to preaching and the folk told me to go to the hospital and get checked. I was still feeling pretty miserable, and so, Marina and I drove to the hospital in Listowel where a doctor examined me, concluding that it had not been a heart attack, I had fainted, likely due to overtiredness and the warm weather. The last 6 weeks had been very busy, first in Belgium getting everything arranged for the time we would be away. Then coming to Canada, and after settling in, having our 40th wedding feast with our family and Marina’s relatives living in Ontario. Our assembly also had a come and go tea for friends and others. The doctor had wanted to keep me in the hospital overnight, but I refused. Marina drove us home where I went to bed.

The next day I still felt very weak and tired and we realized that it was not possible to make the long trip out West now. So we phoned and emailed all our contacts and new dates were set. We were able to stay in a house in Gorrie, On. belonging to missionaries who were on the mission field right then. It was a very quiet place and we were able to get rested up and after I got my strength back, we started out for the West. We had a good trip, wonderful meetings and great times with family and friends. We returned to Elmira and after spending time with Rosa we flew back to Belgium.

We continued to help the assembly in Mariakerke, Ghent, while I also gave Bible studies and messages in other churches. Time was spent in meeting with men who were or would become elders in the churches. Marina was on the phone a lot encouraging people and she also spent much time writing cards and letters. Towards the end of August 2004, we drove to France to attend the yearly Foreign Workers Conference. We arrived at the large hotel where the conference was held and the organizers showed us a quiet room at the end of the hallway, at least they thought it was quiet! We arrived quite late and went straight to bed, but then…………..! (Go to Musings).

MUSINGS OF AN “OLDER” MAN”. Nr.188

Standard

Nr.187 ended with, “I doubt whether this man had ever heard the gospel, but he sure did that afternoon as I did not beat around the bush, but as I was speaking I sure wondered what his response was going to be…………….!” (See richardandmarina.net).

A reception was held after the meeting and the Mayor came to me and thanked me for my words, he was very positive, incredible! His wife was really enthusiastic and thanked me several times, telling me how much she had enjoyed everything, especially my speech. I asked her whether she had a Bible, which she didn’t, so she went home with one. She told me that a few times while ironing clothes, she had watched the Evangelical Broadcast from Holland. The seed has been sown, eternity will reveal what has happened to it. In the entrance hall a plaque is on the wall with the words: “On May 5, 2000, this building of the Evangelical Christian Church was officially opened by Mr. Frank Beke, Mayor of the city of Ghent.” We praised God for this. And so, rejoicing in the Lord we went on with the work of the Lord.

When one is busy and has much to do, time just flies and two years were gone in no time. In August 2002 we went back to Canada for our 40th wedding anniversary. This time we had our second daughter Lily and her husband, Bart, plus their three daughters come over too, this was the first time for them. Our youngest daughter Rini was living in Israel at the time and was not able to come. Rosa, who was still fairly well at that time, together with Carol, Marina’s youngest sister, who lived in Chatham, ON, planned the whole party. It was such a wonderful time in every way and we all thanked God for His blessings.

While Lily, Bart and the three girls returned to Belgium, Marina and I stayed to speak in different assemblies in Ontario and then drive west, holding meetings along the way in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, while also visiting family. The meetings and visits were all lined up and we were going to be starting out shortly after September 15, our wedding date. On that day we drove to an assembly in Ethel about 45 minutes from us. I was to speak there that morning. We started with the Lord’s Supper and different ones took part. Then the bread and cup were shared to remember the Lord Jesus. After that the collection plate was passed around to receive gifts of thanksgiving. Marina looked at me and saw that my head was down, my eyes were closed and my face was as white as a sheet and when she touched my arm, it felt as cold as ice. Thinking I had another heart attack, she jumped up and cried out, “My husband is dead……………!” (Go to Musings).

 

MUSINGS OF AN “OLDER” MAN”. Nr.187.

Standard

MUSINGS OF AN “OLDER” MAN”. Nr.187

Nr.186 ended with, “The building would not be officially opened until the next year and then there would be another totally different surprise……….!” (See richardandmarina.net).

While in Canada for several months, Marina and I were able to stay in the home of Allan and Helena Hoffman, who were going out of the country on a mission trip. They even let us use their car. We thanked God for them and for another one of His provisions. We had a precious time with our daughter Rosa and also with our home church and other people and churches that supported us. I was speaking in a different assembly every Sunday and at some week night meetings.

And then, as many of you will probably remember, came New Year’s Eve of 1999 and the Y2K bug, also called Year 2000 bug or Millennium Bug, a problem in the coding of computerized systems that was projected to create havoc in computers and computer networks around the world at the beginning of the year 2000. Quite a few people, especially in North America had taken precautions as they were afraid of power failures and all other kind of things happening. So some bought generators, stocked up on groceries and other items. I didn’t believe much of this, but to be honest, I did take the car out of the garage, in case the power failed and we wouldn’t be able to get the garage door open. That night we sat watching TV and saw how there were New Year’s parties in Australia, while nothing had happened. And nothing happened here either, ha!

We flew to Belgium the beginning of January and were glad to be back and able to continue with our ministry there. The new building wasn’t finished yet as there were many little things to be done. After painting the whole place we were able to start using it, which was a real joy. We had also planned an official opening where we could invite the neighbors and other folk. We talked about inviting the Mayor of Ghent, but someone laughed and said that he would never come as he is a real socialist and never, really never enters a church building, not even when the King visits Ghent.

However, one of our church members, a doctor, was a city councilor and he talked to the Mayor, who accepted the invitation. So, as the building was filling up with Christians and non Christians, we really wondered whether he would keep his word. And sure enough, there he came, with his wife! What an unbelievable surprise, who would have ever thought that! We had a wonderful meeting with singing, speeches and also having the Mayor speak, after which I spoke, or rather preached. I doubt whether this man had ever heard the gospel, but he sure did that afternoon as I did not beat around the bush, but as I was speaking I sure wondered what his response was going to be…………….! (Go to Musings).

 

MUSINGS OF AN “OLDER” MAN”. Nr.186.

Standard

Nr.185 ended with, “The deal was made and now the renovations began, but there was one problem, we were pretty well out of money, so now what? We would soon find out that the Lord had a couple surprises for us………….!” (See richardandmarina.net).

The first surprise was four men coming from the UK organization Brass Tacks, an organization with the following mission: “Our mission is to relieve missionaries and full-time Christian workers of their maintenance, mechanical and building work. We build new or renovate existing buildings.” The four men helped us for two weeks free of charge. They did a tremendous amount of work and really knew what they were doing. I don’t know how we ever could have gotten things done without them, it was a real provision from the Lord.

The second surprise was almost unbelievable. These men encouraged me to write to another Christian organization in the UK which goal was to give financial support. Seeing that I had spoken in several churches and at a couple conferences in the UK, I was no stranger to them. I wrote them and told them very honestly what was going on and how that we had come to the end of our finances. Within a week or so I received a very, very large cheque, enough to cover almost all of the renovations. The Christians in Ghent were so surprised and amazed that people in England would send money to people they had never met. It was indeed the Lord providing for His children through His children. It was wonderful, but that’s how the body of Christ, the family of God works.

So, very much encouraged we carried on with the renovations, and a lot of work needed to be done. New floors, new ceilings, new roof, new toilets, new sewage, new electrical wiring and lights, etc. etc. I could write a book about it all. And all the work was done by our own people, except for the four men from England. Marina and I were planning a trip to Canada as it had already again been three years since the last time. We would be leaving in September and returning toward the end of the year or the beginning of next year. By the end of August the large hall was ready enough to hold a meeting there and so we did. For one Sunday morning we did not meet in the old building in Gentbrugge but in the new building and what a joyful meeting it was. The main work was done but there were so many smaller things still to be done, and very often they take the most time. The building would not be official opened until the next year and then there would be another totally different surprise……….! (Go to Musings).

MUSINGS OF AN “OLDER” MAN”. Nr.185.

Standard

Nr.184 ended with, “We are at nr.184 now and I am thinking of stopping at nr.200. So I will tell you yet about some of the high lights of the following years and how the Lord led us, saved Marina and provided for us, very interesting, just wait…….!” (See richardandmarina.net).

One of those high lights was how we experienced the Lord providing for His children through His children in such wonderful ways. God had called us to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ and plant churches. According to the Bible, a church is not a building, but a group of believers. However, when such a group becomes too large, a building is needed. When we began in Belgium all meetings were held in living rooms, but when people became Christians and were baptized, a church needed to be started. That was done in our home several times, until we outgrew our house and had to look for some kind of building. The first time was in Antwerp, where we fixed up an old store and started meeting there on Sundays. We discovered that besides preaching and teaching, we also were in the building business. In total I worked on 7 buildings, some for a few months, others much longer. The last one and the biggest job, in Ghent.

There were two assemblies in that city, one in the south end, in Gentbrugge, and one in the north, in Mariakerke. But as mentioned before, the one in Mariakerke had to change buildings a number of times. And now they had to again move out of the building which they were using. There was no other place to go and it was decided that for the time being the two churches would meet together on Sunday morning. But of course, this was not a satisfying solution and so after much prayer and discussion, it was decided to have the two churches buy a building together, as one alone could not afford that.

But we needed to know how everyone thought about this and how much money we could count on. So we made up a letter to give to all the believers and some in other assemblies, asking whether they could give a onetime gift and/or an interest free loan. The results were amazing, enough money was promised for us to start looking for a suitable building to buy. It was clear that the Lord was in this and we praised Him. I can’t go into all the details, suffice to say that we found a building, a house with a large hall behind it which used to be a print shop. The deal was made and now the renovations began, but there was one problem, we were pretty well out of money, so now what? We would soon find out that the Lord had a couple surprises for us………….! (Go to Musings).

 

MUSINGS OF AN “OLDER” MAN”. Nr.184.

Standard

Nr.183 ended with, “Jesus was building His church in Belgium, step by step, and that, right then, without me, wonderful………..!” (See richardandmarina.net).

The Lord had added several new workers to our team. In 1990, Rosario and Anita Anastasi became very active in Limburg. In 1991, Eric and Lut Rutten came from Limburg to help in West Flanders, doing a great work, teaching Bible studies, preaching and counseling. Eric Schrapen and his wife joined us in 1992 for 5 years, being active in evangelism and teaching mainly in Limburg. And more would follow later. We were very thankful for all these, especially after my two heart attacks and back operation, as I noticed that I did not have the same energy as before. It took quite some time to get some strength back.

That fall, of ’94, a small group of believers left the assembly in the south of Ghent over doctrinal differences, it was very painful as those folk were very dear to us. But these things happen, even two great apostles, Paul and Barnabas differed on something and went their separate ways.

It was so good to have Pete and Joanna Gifford working with us in Ghent. They were mainly involved in the Gentbrugge assembly, while Marina and I were helping in the Mariakerke church. Pete was very active in youth work, youth weekends and camp work too. Marina was also for many years very much involved in camp work, both in the children’s camp as well as the youth camps. Of course, her accordion always went along and not only did she often play for the singing, but some of the children and youth used to enjoy playing with it too.

In 1996 we went back to Canada for a home assignment from April until July. It was wonderful to see Rosa again after almost 3 years, and also spent time with our home church and other supporting churches and friends. It was always so good to be able to tell them what the Lord was doing in Belgium through their prayers and financial help, so encouraging for them.

Some time ago I wrote the following, “The original purpose of “Musings” was not so much to write a story about the work, but rather about our personal lives, which of course includes the work. It is “our” story on how we experienced the reality of the living God, His presence, His guidance, His provisions, His protection, His faithfulness and His blessings.” We are at nr.184 now and I am thinking of stopping at nr.200. So I will tell you yet about some of the high lights of the following years and how the Lord led us, saved Marina and provided for us, very interesting, just wait………………..!

 

MUSINGS OF AN “OLDER” MAN”. Nr.183.

Standard

Nr.182 ended with, “After ten days I was allowed to go home, but not for long, we didn’t know then that I would soon be back here…………..!” (See richardandmarina.net).

My cardiologist had told me that I had lost 20% of my heart and needed to rest a lot and take it easy. It was very difficult for me to have to cancel a whole lot of Bible studies and speaking engagements. My dear wife Marina, sure looked after me well. One afternoon I was pulling some weeds from our lawn and while bent over I turned a bit and heard a pop in my lower back and as I straightened out it started hurting, but it wasn’t too bad and I could sit and bear it while we had company from Antwerp.

But when I got up the next morning and was putting on a sock, something popped again, and this time it really hurt. When I stood up I could not get my left foot down to the floor. It was really bad. Marina phoned the doctor who came and gave me a needle for the pain. He looked at me and said, “I have never seen anyone so white.” For a whole week I lay in bed with my legs high up on pillows, but it did not improve and so the doctor called an ambulance which took me back to the hospital. I was there for a week while they did some tests and came to the conclusion that I had a herniated disc in my lower back and I needed surgery. The day after the operation, in the evening, an alarm sounded and the nurse quickly turned the end of my bed up so that my head was lowered and my feet up. Blood was taken and soon the news came that I had a second heart attack. So back to intensive care. After about ten days I was allowed to go home but had to stay in bed. And to keep the story short, altogether I was flat on my back for 55 days. “God never promised us an easy journey, but He has promised a safe arrival.” 🙂

However, while I was laid up, the work of the Lord continued, people were still being saved and added to the churches. But things were changing, the first 20 or so years had been the pioneers phase when many came to the Lord and many assemblies were started, but now we entered into the stabilizing phase. More structure was needed, leaders had to be trained and believers needed to grow. As exciting as the conversion of many people had been, this phase, seeing people mature and becoming active in Sunday school work, camp activities, leadership in the church and other activities was just as rewarding. Jesus was building His church in Belgium, step by step, and that, right then, without me, wonderful…………….! (Go to Musings).

 

MUSINGS OF AN “OLDER” MAN”. Nr.182.

Standard

Nr.181 ended with, “He (the doctor) said to lie down and call him in an hour if things did not improve. And things did not improve, so he came back, wrote a note and told us to go to emergency…………..!” (See richardandmarina.net).

When we arrived at the hospital I gave the doctor’s note to a nurse who read it, grabbed a stretcher and told me to lie down. I had a smile on my face and she looked at me and said, “Mr. Haverkamp, you’re having a heart attack and that’s no joke.” I think I smiled even more and told her, “Don’t worry, if anything happens, I’m ready to go and I know where I am going.” She looked at me very surprised and said, “Well, we have never heard those words here before.” I was taken to the intensive care unit and hooked up to all kinds of things. The second night, I woke up in the middle of the night, tore off everything that was attached to me and got out of bed. Of course, the alarm went off right away and a nurse came running and asked me what I was doing. I said that I was going to take a bath. “You can’t do that” she said. “Oh yes, I can” I answered, “I’m old enough to make my own decisions.” (I didn’t realize that I was hallucinating).

Another nurse came walking in and said, “Mr. Haverkamp, we have the authority here in the hospital.” That word ‘authority’ struck me and I thought, “Oh yes, the Bible says we are to submit to authority.” So I said, “OK” and turned around and got into bed again. The next morning I remembered everything and apologized to the nurses, but they laughed and told me that this happens quite often, it’s the medication that does it. So we all had a good laugh together.

Thank God, Marina had been able to get her Belgian drivers license when we had returned from Canada and for a brief period were living in the church building in Eeklo. Right across the road was the drivers school and she had gone there and done both her written as well as her driver’s test and passed. A friend who was an instructor had told me that Marina would never make it because of her age and her language problems, as the questions are very tricky. But she made it and testifies that the Lord helped her through this. And what a blessing now as she could get around and also come and visit me in the hospital.

After ten days I was allowed to go home, but not for long, we didn’t know then that I would soon be back here…………..! (Go to Musings).