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BACK TO THE FUTURE: Mission House and the Taster Week-End. by Mission House, mei 28th, 2018

Already one year since I first came to the Mission House. I remember when I arrived, the first to welcome me on the diaconie stairs was our Dear Harold; since then Him & I have a very special link (it is probably me more than him, he is a VERY independent cat after all). I was really excited about coming for the taster week-end, meet everybody that I will share the year with and have the opportunity to meet the ones that are already experiencing it, have a sneak peak of the projects and enjoy the house and its beautiful garden. Back then, we had together our very first volleyball game, barbecue and of course boat trip through Amsterdam canals. It was the beginning of an amazing adventure. I left Amsterdam even more excited about coming to spend 10 months being part of the Mission House.

And here we go again, like a déjà vu my taster week-end 2.0, but this time from the other side. We welcomed this week-end the eight new lucky ones and their house leader for the coming year : Maren ( this name might also ring a bell to you, and that would be because you remember her from last year, isn’t it?). having them through the week-end made me rethink about all that time that now had passed since then. And I choose not to tell you directly about what happened this week-end but to write my thoughts about what had been/is Mission House for me, and this week-end had bring up in my mind.

I remember so clearly when the previous MHers said that we needed to make the most of our year from the beginning because the time flies, ten months goes as if it was last week. Now I really understand what they meant. Only one month left but September seems so close.

During our first week-end, we had to draw ourselves with a collage expressing our roots, our fears, our strengths, our dreams and what we love. Since then it has been hanging in my room and I have been looking at it from time to time and making/seeing the changes that happened. If I have to do it again today, I will be presenting myself from another perspective. It is strange how in this short but intense time things can change, how you grow as an individual. I have learn so much about myself but also about humanity and the meaning of life thanks and with all the people that I had the chance to meet in my projects, in our house, in Amsterdam itself. Some things that you believe are made in stone don’t last forever if you are willing to open your mind to the possibilities that surround you. Things that you see as granted might not be and will at some point challenge you, and be a key point in your life.

This winter, one of the attraction of the light festival was saying : “Be the change that you want to see in the world.’’. I am keeping this thought in my mind and try to act towards it in my daily life routine, even if it is not always that easy to see what could be change or to do so. One of my goals when I arrived was to be able to express my feelings more and to open myself to others. I made, I believe so, it is of course a life time process, enormous progress in this area by sharing more of what is in my mind, how I feel and what are my thoughts. By the way, isn’t what I am trying to do now? I will keep working on this but this year helped me make the first step.

These last months in Amsterdam have been incredibly intense for me, even if it was not the first time for me that I was living in another country or in a house with other people. But these year was not simply for me about sharing a house but about sharing our lives. It is not that easy to actually live together in the full extent of that concept. Being able to care about each other and take care of each other, by not only spend together or dealing with household duties, but by taking an active interest and role in each other journey in life, is an incredible step forward in growing up as a person. Having the possibility to experience this with my fellow MHers was/is amazing and it would not be the same and I can’t imagine doing it without one of them. Each one of us bring something so unique and special to our group that a piece would be missing in our crazy puzzle. Can you imagine that one year ago, those were complete strangers to me and now they occupy such an important place in time line?

I had also this week the opportunity to think about what choice I made this year and what bring me here. Kees-Jan joined us to share with us a zinmoment, which the topic was “sacrifice” and made me take a look back on all these crossroads moments in my life these last months how I reacted to them  and my state of mind. When did I stand up for myself, when did I put others needs first, what had been my priorities and how did I make them ? To all of these questions, the answer that I could give to myself make me even more confident in how beneficial this year had been for me.

Now, it is time for me to think about the future, what will be coming next for me but also to enjoy my last month in Mission House. These will be my last words and would like to finish by saying how grateful and glade I am of being part of Mission House Story.

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Thriving through Spring by Mission House, april 19th, 2018

Recently we had a lot of parents visiting while missing other flatmates.  Almost everyone’s getting out of their rooms to enjoy the sun, the blossom, parks or biking. Whether this is in Westerpark, in the Tropenmuseum at the Nairobi market, in Jordaan, at the Waterkant, in Keukenhof, in the Swing Dance practice in Vondelpark or at the Salsa in the Wereldhuis.

We hope the weather will stay faithful to springlike and we can have more dinners & barbecues in the garden!

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Art House! by Betina van Meter, februari 17th, 2018

Hi Everyone, sorry for the long silence!

Despite our lack of blogs, we have not been sitting still in the Mission House the last few months. The mouse vs Balint count is up to 7 vs 6 (the mice are winning, yikes!), and we have had to say goodbye to our beloved downstairs neighbors, the World House. Luckily, they are just next door now, so they aren’t really gone. Thanks to our EVS colleagues Martha and Tofol, the World House is offering a whole new program of activities meant to bring refugees and other Amsterdammers together. The activities include Yoga, African Dance, Drawing and best of all, Salsa lessons (which a number of Mission Housers have started faithfully attending every Monday). There are also regular karaoke nights, we are already looking forward to the next one!

Did you watch football on Superbowl Sunday? We did. And simultaneously celebrated Viola’s half-birthday (Half birthays are a Mission House tradition where we celebrate birthdays that fall outside of the MH year). Since Viola is a bigAmerican Football fan, and got to pick the day of her 1/2 B-day celebration, the date fell on superbowl sunday. For those of you who aren’t football fans (like most of us at the Mission House), the game doesn’t start untill midnight because of the time difference. So we had a two-part celebration, starting at 20:00 with apple pie and gifts, then everyone went to their rooms (some took naps), and reconvened at 00:00 for kick-off. Sandy and Viola were the only onese really watching the game, but it ended up being a very cozy evening, with everyone in their PJ’s, wrapped up in blankets, having tea, wine, cheese and crackers.  In short, even those not interested in football had a good time. Most of us wandered off to bed around half-time at 14:30, when Justin Timberlake performed the Half-Time show. But Viola and Sandy stuck it out until the end (4:30!), and were happy to see the underdogs, the Philladelphia Eagles, win. They didn’t even look too tired when they got up for their projects at 9:00 the next morning :)

For your amusement, I am attaching the results of our portrait-drawing and painting session. We had a really nice family time a few weeks back where we all ended up drawing eachother. The portraits are now hanging in the livingroom.

Thanks for reading, more updates soon(ish)!

Cheers,

Betina

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Thanksgiving! by Mission House, november 5th, 2017

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Hi Everyone,

For me, the highlight of this past week was our Thanksgiving-themed-Open Meal. I am attaching a few pictures, so you can get an idea, but they don’t do justice to our feast, which featured three roasted chickens, mashed sweet potatoes, boiled small potatoes, spiced carrots, green beans, corn bread pudding, stuffing, bread with garlic butter, spicy drumsticks, and pumpkin pie.

Twenty-one of us crowded into our living and dining rooms to enjoy this American tradition, to which no Americans other than my Dutch-American self were present. Instead, our group included two Hungarians, a Lithuanian, two Brits, two Spaniards, and 13 Germans.

A nice part of the Thanksgiving tradition is that we take a moment to reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives and in the past year. What I am very grateful for, is that I have the opportunity to be house leader of this Mission House group. An incredible group of very bright, caring and funny individuals who I have the delight of spending the year with :)

Thanks for reading, there should be a new post next week!

Cheers,

Betina

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Almond Blossoms by Mission House, november 2nd, 2017

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Heeeeellllooo!

Welcome back to the Mission House Blog! I have the honour to kick it off for this week, I know you have missed us!

We have been living here for two months now and it is getting really dangerous. The mice are taking over and several people have hurt themselves. That’s why you should always hope the other road-users are careful, that your cupboard doors are closed and that your fingers aren’t in the way while you are cutting!

Betina came back from Greece, Bektha left for England and Pirmin grabbed Sandy for the training in Arnhem. While nearly half of us were out of the house we had a great weekend with guests from Rijkswijk near Den Haag. Together we went to the “24h Noord” to spray our names on the wall. With a closer look to the bottom of our group photo you can see that we also immortalised “EVS”.

We had a great night at our neighbours from the Worldhouse on Saturday . Their Open Meal  was really fun again and immensely crowded!

After spending Saturday night in a bar we carried on celebrating Bálint’s birthday on Sunday. Our beautiful Bálint was really thrilled by the lovely apron we bought for him as a present, as the photo obviously shows.

 

Until next time & all the best!

Viola

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How your life can change from being a garbage person to being a Queen… by Agnieszka, mei 2nd, 2017

Once the time comes that you are the garbage person (the person that has to bring the garbage out), your life turns into a nightmare, you feel the garbage is starting to talk to you.

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Everything that’s been going on in the past few weeks by Maren, maart 22nd, 2017

Hey everybody!

It’s time for another blog! Sorry, there was no blog in quite some time; a lot of stuff has been going on in the Mission House. Here’s a little summary for you to catch up with everything that has happened:

As Elisa already told you in the last blog, in February we spent a wonderful mid-term weekend together with the volunteers from Oudezijds 100 and the World House. We went bowling and to play laser tag and even though not everybody was necessarily very good at it, we all had a lot of fun! Of course we also did some reflection on the months that we already spent here and Hanske made a lot of really amazing food for us. We had a really cool time there!

Also, the first weekend of March we went to Edinburgh while our two mum’s stayed at home. Besides me having the longest birthday of my life because of the one hour time difference between Amsterdam and Edinburgh we also had a really fun time exploring the city. On the first day we visited Edinburgh castle which turned out to be quite different than expected. Firstly, because we had to carry our suitcases and all of our stuff up there because we couldn’t pick up the keys for our apartment before 4p.m. and secondly, because normally you have a view over the entire city from the castle and it’s one of the nice things about it but of course on this day, it was so foggy that you could only see a white wall and nothing else. We couldn’t even tell there was something down there. So, after a rather quick walk through the rest of the castle we finally went to pick up our keys. The rest of the day we spent in our apartment that turned out to be quite nice. For dinner we found just enough motivation to go downstairs and get something at the kebab shop where a few hours earlier we picked up our keys. It was still a really nice day with a lot of funny moments and bus rides. It was really gezellig and I really liked it!

Luckily the next two days the weather was nicer and we walked up a hill from where we had quite a good overview over the city of Edinburgh and we also visited the Hollyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament which was both very interesting. Of course we also tried Scottish beer and gave our pence to a singer in the bar but decided to leave after the bartender told us to order another beer (at least we think that’s what he said) and spit in our faces while talking because he probably had a few beers too much.

After a night in the apartment without water, washing our faces while someone else was pouring water from a bottle over our hands and flushing the toilet with half of our five liter containers of drinking water, we left the next day for the airport. And because we have the best Mission Mum’s you could ever wish for we were greeted by a lot of pancakes and nutella when we came home (unfortunately also by Freddy but that’s a story for another blog).

All in all we had a really nice and fun time in Edinburgh and I think all of us really enjoyed our little holiday!

Also the past few days, the weather has been a lot nicer here (although as I’m writing this it’s raining). We went to play cards in Wertheimpark, finally tried the Hoftuin (the café in our garden), which was really nice by the way, walked around without jackets and got really in spring mood. Everybody in the house was so much happier because of the sun. Also the city is starting to be more colorful because of all the flowers that are starting to bloom.

I could tell you a whole lot more but I guess these were the most important things that happened in the past few weeks in our lovely home. I will leave you with a few pictures from things we got up to and probably the next person is going to tell you about the return of Mission Mouse and how some heroic Mission Houser’s got rid of Freddy 3.0.

But for now doei and tot de volgende keer!

 

 

 

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Winter in Amsterdam by Elisa, februari 16th, 2017

 

 

Hi everybody,

Some cold news from the « Mission House ». Indeed, winter is definitely here. It has been snowing this last two days and Amsterdam is now covered with snow. Sadly, the air is cold and dry but it’s really pretty to see. We saw a lot of frozen lakes and some kids built snowmen in the Hoftuin (our garden) and wherever it’s possible. Everybody outside wore their winter clothes and children their ski pants. I enjoyed the atmosphere!
We are very lucky and enjoy this wonderful weather as much as possible. So, no bikes this weekend but just a walk around the streets to admire the city changing under the seasons.

Speaking of changing, something does not: our flatmate Freddy the mouse.
If you have been following his adventures, you surely know that he was very quiet lately… Let me update you: Freddy is back! …Or probably his little sister or brother. We tried again and again to catch him but I think he is cleverer than we are and not ready to leave our friendly house so far. He’ll guarantee us stories for the future …

Let’s talk about the life in the Mission House and my lovely flatmates: This week was a little bit busy because some people visited the EVS-training, others went home and we had guests. But we, plus the volunteers from Oudezijds 100 and from The World House, are going to a “midterm weekend” upcoming weekend, so there we can all spend time together. I’m sure it’ll be really nice and a lot of fun! Probably the next person that writes the blog will tell you all about it.

 

Tot ziens!

 

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What we’ve been up to by Joost van Dijk, februari 6th, 2017

Hey guys!

It is high time we wrote a blog again! It’s like three birthday parties, one New Year’s Eve party, one New Year’s morning, three stolen bikes, several visits at the doctor and a whole bunch of happy moments ago, since we last wrote on this page. We are terribly sorry for that!

So, to catch you up: the mouse has been caught by Aga, but apparently, “the mouse” was “the mice” and they’re still around. I have the feeling they’re less active, though, so that is positive. Furthermore, the Mission Housers have learned the Dutch language quite well already! I often translate something from Dutch, to immediately hear an annoyed: “Yeah, we know that word already, come on!” We still should talk way more Dutch in the house, though, but for some reason making the switch is feels a little awkward.

Mirjam and Aga had their birthday parties together and we had a great time and I celebrated my birthday last week. I got a delicious cake and great presents!
I think it is finally a bit better now, but the past couple of weeks a lot of us have been catching colds and flus and other sicknesses and diseases. The house was filled with coughing and sniffing and sneezing… yum!
And yes, as I said earlier, three bikes have been stolen. Yay Amsterdam! Sometimes I wish mine got stolen, but nooow… they, of course, take the really nice ones with gears and a bell and all that fancy stuff.
Oh yes, the New Year’s Eve party! Almost forgot to mention that one! It was great. We were allowed to use the basement, which was perfect for the party. We invited quite some friends and decorated the place real nice. At twelve we stood on the bridge, where we could see all the fireworks light up our beautiful city.
Talking about lighting up the city, not long ago the Amsterdam Light Festival ended. I’m not that crazy about art, but most of the things they make for this festival are fantastic. One of the most awesome things, in my opinion, was right next to our house in a tunnel. Some people installed a system there with a bunch of lights, which lit up every time it caught noise. So all the people who came by started clapping their hands, shouting and whistling on their fingers. It was fun to watch and to hear!

Well, I think I could tell a whole lot more, but I guess this is enough for now. In general, we all are enjoying our time in Amsterdam. It’s strange how quick you become good friends with people you didn’t know before when you live with them. Fortunately, we still have a couple of months to go, so loads of parties, hopefully, no stolen bikes and doctor visits and for sure tons of happy moments!

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With a little help from Amsterdam by Mirjam Verbaan, december 12th, 2016

The content of the following text will be a bit different from the ones published until now. I hope you won’t mind this change of style. Greetings to you all! Nicole

 

When I first came to Amsterdam I felt this place was full of hope and promises for me. I decided that this place would have been the right choice to forget my past and learn to live again.

Some simple ideas motivated me: changing country can help you to start from zero; helping the others you also help yourself.

Then I came here in September. After some bright days, Autumn came, with its wonderful warm colours. And it also brought me the discover that I was totally wrong: my past is still with me, even more than the present, in the space of my room, in the hours of my sleepless nights… Helping the others I feel just exhausted, empty, with no energy and light to give to other people, nor for myself.

I guess the problem comes from my years of reclusion, which characterized all my childhood and part of my youth. Raised in a strict conservative catholic family, I had to spend most of my time at home, school and church, because going out with friends, having fun, was not allowed to a good catholic maid. Being often alone, and closed between four walls, I had to find my tactic to survive, to steel to life at least some of its colours. And I found this way. It was my secret, my way to breathe and to find sense in a sad existence. I just found out how to intensify every single experience I had the chance to live. I had to be satisfied with the crumbles that life could give me and I really did.

The colours of the trees, the nuances of the daylight, the flavours of spices, the perfume of flowers, were something so strong for me that I could live of these sensations feeling that I had a full and complete life.

This made me incredibly sensitive, too much sensitive and reactive to every new input I get from the world that surrounds me. I never considered this as a problem, until the day I left home. Then I realized I was different from other people: the sensations and emotions to which the others were completely used, were thousands times stronger than the ones that for me were striking. I was fragile and weird, unable to face life and its facts as normal people do. My vocabulary was not the vocabulary of other people, I didn’t put the same meaning in the same words.

Luckily, during the years of my university I had good friends around me, who helped me a lot to live without feeling too much isolated.

But now Amsterdam has made me face my weakness, my being different. Amsterdam had the power to make me feel completely alone, stabbed a knife in my heart, breaking my knees and throwing me down to the floor. Now in my life everything seems to have exploded.

I came to this city feeling exactly as a small fox would feel in a wild jungle. This jungle made me discover that weed is not always a pure and innocent thing, as I used to think; it destroyed all my faith in humankind making me discover that in this city freedom is so much important that they expose persons behind windows, as animals in cages. It made me know people who have no house, look into their eyes, touch their hands and link their sorrow to my own.

My pain became something extreme. I lost control of myself and of my tears or smiles. In the past I used to cry sometimes, when something seemed very beautiful to me. The beauty of life will always be something incredibly touching for me. But now every single image this city brings to me is full of meaning and pain, fills my eyes with cry.

Amsterdam for me is the face of all the visitors of our drop in centres. Amsterdam is also the beauty of its canals, sailed by ducks and swans, in which the sun shines as in mirrors. Amsterdam is the colour of the Asian eyes of a wise and beautiful twin, this city has made me find. Amsterdam sounds in all the clear and pure voices of the guys I met praying at the Taizé evenings. Amsterdam is the face of a person I desired to know, and that I have lost because of my present lack of balance, putting a river of senseless words between us.

Amsterdam broke me, with its mixture of beauty and cruelty, destroying me in many small pieces. Can we make of these pieces a person again? Now that I have touched the bottom, I have the chance to rise up and start again. It is a challenge, it is not going to be easy. I have to learn completely again how to live. But I can’t learn this alone. I need her to be with me, the city of Amsterdam, with all the things she represents to me. She broke me and destroyed me. She can rebuild me and make me complete again. If I will face this mirror of pain that Amsterdam has been for me until now. If I will resist the permanent temptation to run away. Will we manage to build me again? Who shall stay will see. Inshallah.

 

Nicole