Most definitely, the sweetest time we had on our trip was in Bilzen, Belgium. It didn’t have the great monuments of the world, or museums or palaces like we had seen, but it has wonderful friends.
Years ago Scott and I traveled with a team of people from our church in Virginia to visit a church in Diepenbeek, Belgium. The church in Diepenbeek had been started by a missionary from our church, and was having a work week to repair, clean, and build on the church building that our team was helping with. During that time, we stayed with families from the church, in their homes. Scott and I were placed in Eddy and Gaby’s home, and within days we were bonded. Laughing, joking, studying, working, and praying together. Sharing our lives.
In the intervening years, our KatieRose battled Trigeminal Neuralgia. A long road culminating in two brain surgeries, Eddy and Gaby and their church prayed for us through that time, supporting us from afar. And we have pictures of them and their grandchildren on our mantle at home. Getting together is a highlight of the trip.
We have been looking forward to seeing Eddy and Gaby again since we left. We are especially eager to introduce them to our girls, and our girls to them, and to Belgium.
It was so much fun to share their table, Gaby’s wonderful cooking, Eddy’s special rabbit stew, and the different European treats for breakfasts and other meals. To see our girls trying new foods, saying something is really yummy, and ‘what is this?’ was a delight, and at times laughter inducing.
The girls also got to share a very European practice of riding bikes, with Eddy, to the grocery store and back to pick up the needed groceries. They played with family pets, ran around in the back yard, climbed the shed in the back of the yard (with permission!), and generally made themselves at home.
We also all went to Alden Bisen, a 16th century castle just minutes from the house. We walked around the castle, explored the footpaths surrounding it, and took silly pictures.
It was a different, more relaxed pace than the rest of our trip. A great chance to truly be in a home, seeing so many similarities – and a few differences – in a Belgian home. The only downside was wanting more time.
Of course, there’s no reason to mess with a wildly successful tradition, so our last evening featured a chocolate run. We successfully packed all the available nooks and crannies of our suitcases with all the chocolate we could!
But, all too soon, our time was up. We were packing up the suitcases, shifting things from one bag to another, ensuring the bags weren’t overweight, and that carry on bags were stocked the way we wanted for some long flights. We had one last breakfast. And we had to hug all around, multiple times, and load up the car. We were very thankful to have Eddy & Gaby’s son-in-law, Chananya, drive us to the airport. Parting is so sad, because none of us know when we might be able to visit one way or the other again.