Thursday, 2 June 2016

The last week

Monday. The core members go shopping as every Monday and work in the Rainbow. We stay at home because we will do the big washing up after the benefit concert. 

Tuesday. Today we are helping around the house together with one of the core members who sometimes stays home doing little works to have some calm time. In the evening everyone is very excited because tomorrow we are going all together to a big sport event. In the closing prayer they pray for a good day.

Wednesday. Groups of disabled people from all over Belgium come together to have a Sport day with a lot of different activities. You can choose four different sport activities which take part over the whole day. We leave Bruges in the morning with all the core members from both houses in two big busses. When we arrive we divide into two groups. One of us and one assistant is going with each group.
In the morning the activities are a
horse carriage ride and playing the drums with wooden sticks on big gymnastic balls. For Lunch we have a small picknick we brought from home and in the afternoon we play minigolf and paintball. That was pretty cool! Everyone is so joyful today that is nice to see. On the way home after a long exciting day we fell asleep in the car, tired but happy!

 Thursday. Today we are helping in the garden again. One of us in Moerkerke and the other one in the Rainbow.

Friday. Official cleaning day. Everyone cleans his own room and also the bath room, corridor, living room and other things. We help a bit assisting the core members when there is something they have difficulties with. After a quiet afternoon we are going to the prayer around the cross. In connection to the prayer Caroline one of the woman who is organizing it, invites us and the other visitors to join her at her home for a drink and some snacks.
We have a good time of talking with this entire people who have a lot of interesting things to share.

 Saturday. It is a relaxed morning for everyone. Time to leave is coming closer and we feel we want to experience so much more the less days we have so we go to have the best ice-cream of Bruges in the afternoon which we wanted to do for so long already.

In the Evening we have a big Taizé prayer with all the community members together in Moerkerke. Gerrit and István are playing the piano and violin and we do the English readings we choose before together with the songs
Afterwards we eat all together. It was nice to share this moment with the whole big group.

Sunday. Today we spend all day out. Going to the Vigil for Peace in Poelkapelle-Langemark with Gerrit. Here we attend a conference offered by Bleri Lleshi. He presents his new book “Love in times of fear”. A good subject for us as love is the most important thing we experienced in our time with the l´arche community. In the afternoon listen to a lot of other interesting people who contribute their bit for a better world, where all religions can live in peace together. Between the speeches there was a nice choir singing beautiful songs of peace.

Monday. Today is our last day in this beautiful community.
After the morning prayer in the Rainbow we say good bye to the core members and some assistants from De Barke in Moerkerke.
This evening we will have farewell feast with a delicious typical Belgium meal and crema catalane for dessert.

Tuesday. The last breakfast and then it is time to leave. We are so grateful for everything we experienced during our stay together with all this wonderful people we met!

Your God is with you. God will quiet you with his love and dance with joy for you. (Zephaniah 3:14-18a)

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The third week

Wednesday. Today we went to visit the beach from Cadzand in the Netherlands just across the Belgian border. Together with one of the assistants we took a day off and we walked and drank coffee together.

Thursday We went to the Rainbow to help a bit to accomplish some gardening in Moerkerke at De Barke, the other house of the community. We planted some beautiful flowers which will hopefully grow in August.
In the evening we went to a place called Soepcafé. They get things from the supermarket which is almost expired but still good and they cook with it. So almost every Thursday De Moerbei goes there to eat. The food was good, especially the dessert.

Friday. In the morning we went with both houses to a church  to prepare and practice for the benefit concert which will be tomorrow.
Later that day, Gerrit who is taking accordion lessons, has an exam, but at the same time it was a concert we could go to and listen to. They played 3 pieces with the accordion class and one piece (Danse Macabre) together with the saxophone class. The core members have a lot of fun as they know a lot of people and enjoy music a lot.

Saturday. The big day. Everyone is kind of nervous so we will not have any program until the concert in the evening. In the afternoon when most take a good rest we went for a small walk and had a little coffee with two of the core members who got bored staying home all day long.
And then the concert. With a short Program of the l’Arche community in the beginning. Some of the core members were talking and we saw a short part from a movie about the community where Jean Vanier was talking about his ideals.
Then the main concert. Sigiswald Kuijken, a famous classical musician, played the violoncello and the violin. It was amazing to have the possibility to see such a great artist. After we had some drinks together with all the people who were there we went home, tired and happy!

Sunday. We are really tired, it was a long night. Everyone stays at home watching movies and relax. We are invited to visit the Salesians in Oostende to see their work and help a bit.

The Salesians of Don Bosco, Province of St. Philip the Apostle, are part of an international community of consecrated religious, both brothers and priests, founded by Saint John Bosco. Their mission is to evangelize and educate young people, especially those who are poor and at risk, in the style of Don Bosco, to be signs and bearers of God's love for young people.

In Oostende they created a place for young people from difficult background mostly immigrants and refugees where they can spend the day. For young people from 12-26 they offer a place to stay in the afternoon/evenings and when they have a break at school. It’s a place where they can have nonalcoholic drinks, snacks, computers to use, and to play games like billiard table tennis or just hang around…

We played with some of the guys, helped with the cleaning and joined the 4 brothers who live there for their evening meal and prayer. And it became a really good day!

“I think that sharing our limitations and difficulties helps others more than to talk about our qualities and achievements.
In a community we are called to love people for who they are, with their wounds and their talents and not for what we want them to be.
We need places where we can be ourselves.
We cannot solve the big problems of the world, but we can change it - heart by heart.”
Jean Vanier

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The second week

Monday. At 9h in the morning the l’Arche Community bus is coming to take us to the Rainbow (the place where the core members of both houses meet each other to work). Here they have a small morning prayer together before starting their different jobs.
Every Monday is shopping day. With a big group of some of the core members, Gerrit and Thijs we go to the supermarket to do the shopping for the week. They all like to go there a lot because you get a coffee for free and there is a lot of things to taste in this shop.

After lunch in Moerbei, we went  by bike to visit Damme, a beautiful town next to Brugge.  

Tuesday. We are going to the Rainbow with the core members by bus to join the workshop today. After the morning prayer they organize the jobs: making candles, fire lighters, cooking,…
One of us will help to prepare the lunch and the other one stays in the Rainbow joining the workshops.
For lunch everyone is coming together and in the afternoon the workshops continue. We went to buy flowers today to make the flowerpots in front of the windows pretty for summer.

Wednesday. We have done a small and calm morning prayer together with Gerrit who played the piano for us.
After lunch we went to the Rainbow by bike, but there is nobody! We decided to arrive to Moerkerke in case the core members are there. Nothing. After visiting a little the small town we came back to the Rainbow and there they were!
On Wednesday they do some sports and they all went for a walk or did some exercises.
After drinking coffee together it is time to play UNO with everyone. It's taken very serious here and we had no chance to win against the guys.

Thursday.  Today we are going to visit Gerrit’s family in Geraardsbergen.
His parents are so kind to welcome us with a delicious lunch and Filip (Gerrit’s brother) showed us the small town they are living in where we drank coffee. In Belgium they really love to drink coffee! 
In  the evening Gerrit is playing the piano in a theater play with actor Ignace. It is a one man show telling a story about the First World War. Unfortunately for us it is in Dutch so we couldn’t understand that much but
nevertheless we enjoyed it, especially because everyone around us was so touched and the actor performed very well. With this theater play they are collecting money for  L’Arche Moerkerke-Brugge.

 Friday. This weekend is the long weekend of Pentecost. Special about that, everyone is leaving today to visit family, friends or other communities of L'Arche (they do this one weekend a month, it is called "big weekend"). Everyone except for us. After the cleaning of the rooms in De Moerbei (like every Friday) they went to the workshop for the afternoon. Afterwards they came back to De Moerbei for a short time. By 6pm everybody had left the house. We accompanied Istvan (one of the assistants) to bring Roland (one of the members) to another community of L'Arche near Ghent.  
In the evening we went to the Taizé prayer around the cross like last week. This time Gerrit doesn’t come with us because he is in Stockholm visiting friends. 

Saturday. In the morning we went to the mass at the English Convent. The sisters are living next to us (in fact they offered the community of L'Arche the building we are living in now).  Mass there is in French, English or Dutch (depends on the day). We could see that they were really happy to have young people in the Eucharist! We will try to join them more often from now on.

 In the afternoon we went to MENSA, that is the house of the Don Bosco sisters in Brugge. They take care of women in difficulties. We were baking pancakes with one of the sisters and served them for a nice community supper.
A priest who is there on a visit invites us for the mass in the church right next to the sisters' place. (Just in the city center they have around 40 religious buildings, isn't that crazy? And 99 in the bigger area of Bruges)
After Mass (where we met for the first time a lot of young people) we were sitting together and had some nice cake. In a house of the parish where they have something like a little bar with a room to play billiard.  They invited us to come again as they have mass every Wednesday and Saturday or to pass by just to sit in the beautiful garden. 

Sunday. The first day without any Program. We enjoy to do nothing. Cook together and watch DvD. Everyone needs a lazy day from time to time…

Monday. Tonight the core members will come back. We are very happy about that as it was really quiet and also boring in the house without them.
For lunch we went to the house De Barke in Moerkerke. The core members were home as their "big weekend" is always one week earlier than the one from De Moerbei. We had a nice afternoon getting to know all of them a bit better as we normally only meet them in the Rainbow because the houses are separated. We also meet another young girl, Mary, who is a volunteer here for one year.
When we came back in the evening everyone arrived home and the house is back as we like it. With a lot of people, joy and craziness.

Jesus, our peace, by your Holy Spirit you continue to be for us today what you were for your disciples on earth. In your Gospel, you assure us: “I will never leave you alone; I will send you the Holy Spirit as a support and a comfort, to remain with you forever.”
(5. John 14:16, 26; 16:7)

Monday, 9 May 2016

The first week

The Temporary Small Communities propose the opportunity to live an experience of community life in Christian communities in various parts of Europe keep up regular prayer and share the joy of Christ with the community members.

Our Journey begins…

One week of preparation for our coming adventure we spend together at Taizé. From there we travelled through France to Belgium, where we finally reached Bruges in the province of West Flanders, after a tiring journey. Here we will spend the next month as a temporary community.
We got this wonderful warm welcome at the train station. All the members of the L’Arche Community which we are joining for our stay here were there with a banner and music.
Thank you to all of them&

L'Arche, sharing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.
L'Arche community which was founded by Jean Vanier in 1964 in France offers everyday community life for intellectualy disabled people who are living together and working to encourage all the potential in form of art, cooking, gardening and much more...

In the house (De Moerbei) in Bruges live seven core members with intellectual disabilities together with Gerrit as a live-in assistant. Int he other house (De Barke) in Moerkerke live 8 core members and two live-in assistants, Mary and Istvan. Together with the external assistants, the responsibles, the administration and the many friends/volunteers they form the L'Arche community Moerkerke-Brugge. All of them share the daily life and work as one big family.


Wednesday. After a good rest and some time to relax, we had a whole day together with the assistants and responsibles to do some works around the house and in the garden.

Thursday. The day of Ascension was a Feast Day, so everyone was free to go together to a common event. The Procession of the Holy Blood (
Dutch: Heilig Bloedprocessie). It is a large religious catholic procession, dating back to the Middle Ages, which takes place each Ascension Day in Bruges, Belgium. We went together with the whole Community and even got seats in the first row.

Friday. That’s the official room cleaning day in the house but as we had a long free weekend we started very relaxed into work after a good breakfast. The rest of the day we were free and enjoyed walking around to discover a bit of the city we are living in for now.
In the evening we joined the prayer of a group of people who are organizing every Friday evening a prayer around the cross with songs from Taizé. Since 1980 already! This is so amazing! We are happy that they invite us to join their prayer as long as we stay in Bruges.

Saturday. Gerrit asked us to join him for a confirmation that has been celebrated in another town Deinze. So we went there together and  met some very nice people from around and joined a traditional event.
In the evening we all, the whole Moerbei, went to an open air concert in town and we had a lot of fun dancing together to salsa rhythm. What a joyful Saturday! 

Sunday. Our day started with a protestant service in the city center,  where the people were welcoming like everywhere, we went for now. And then in the afternoon, a great barbecue together in the garden to enjoy the amazing weather as much as possible.

  Some coffee in the pretty windmill park in the afternoon and our first week passed by so fast that we can hardly believe it.
We are extremely grateful to be guests of this wonderful community here, for the many many sunny days and great meetings all around! We feel so blessed!

Jesus prayed for his disciples, saying: Father, may they all be one, just as you are in me and I am in you, so that they may also be in us and the world may believe that you sent me.
(John 17:11-21)