Rotterdam: The Beginning of Us

celebrating engagement

Our story began in The Netherlands. It officially began in the city of Rotterdam.

I was 18. In September of 1992, I boarded a jet plane to visit missionaries in Delft, The Netherlands. I had felt called to missions ever since I was a young child. The jungles of Africa scared me to death. That was my stereotypical view of missions. Jungles. Beasts. Creepy Crawlies. Dirt. Monkey brains. For many, that is the reality. Respect. I just couldn’t.

At the age of 16, a visiting missionary based in Ireland spoke at our church. His name was Kyle Holland. He spoke passionately about the need for the gospel in Europe, an increasingly post-Christian society. As he shared, my heart awakened. I felt the pull. And I thought, “Europe. I could do that. Yeah, I think I could do that. No cobras.”

So, fast forward two years. I knew I didn’t want to go to college. It’s not that I couldn’t. I was a Top 20, National Honor Society, straight A student. It simply wasn’t my passion. My passion was missions. Travel. Spreading my wings. Kyle heard about this and invited me to come for a couple of months to be a part of their new church plant in Delft. Yes. This was right. However, when I boarded that plane in Raleigh, I was shaking from head to toe. I gripped the arm rests of my chair to keep myself from bolting off the plane. What was I doing? Could I really do this? Travel alone? Go overseas? It’s the story of my life. Wanting something but then being so scared of it…yet forcing myself to do it anyway.

As my plane cruised over the Atlantic, little did I know what awaited me. Or did I? I remember looking out my plane window and somehow knowing, feeling, “What if he’s been here the whole time?”

He was.

There are so many components to our story, so many little details reserved for a possible book of our love story. Suffice it to say, from the moment we met, we had a connection. For two months, we danced around one another….neither quite sure what the other was thinking. Finally, a week before I returned to the States, Anton offered to show me Rotterdam, his favorite city. He worked there at the time and it was (is) also the home of his soccer team, Feyenoord. I wondered if this was a date or just a friendly offer. However, as my train pulled into the station and the doors opened, there he stood, his face lit up with a smile that sent my heart into overdrive. That smile told me this was more than just a friendly thing. We walked in the rain to a quaint Italian restaurant. As we ate, he said, “I have a story to tell you.” I thought, “Oh good, this will take up some time and help me relax.” Then he said, “Actually this story is about you.” Um, OK. Gulp. Again, my heart began to race and my stomach flipped. However, on the outside I was cool as a cucumber. I didn’t know how this “story” was going to end. Did he just want to be friends? Or…?

His story was long, well told and then…he looked at me, smiled and told me, “So, basically I want you to know I love you and I’d like to date you with the goal of marriage.” I dropped my fork. My cool as a cucumber look dissolved into the brightest smile and eyes that sparkled. He was so relieved. I’d been just a little too “cool” for his taste and he was so nervous I didn’t feel the same as he did.

So, right there in rainy Rotterdam, our love story became official.

Twenty two years later, we were back in this city.

It’s a cool mix of modern mixed with the old. Rotterdam was severely bombed in WWII so that paved the way for modern architecture. So, I decided to edit these photos with an edgier, modern feel to convey the atmosphere of this place.

Downtown Rotterdam skyscrapers. Clouds reflected in Rotterdam buildings. Business buildings in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

 

Rotterdam Central Station

Rotterdam Central Station in the Netherlands.

 

Judah living the dream…visiting his team’s fan shop at Central Station!

Visiting the Feyenoord shop in Rotterdam. Feyenoord is the team of Rotterdam. View of Rotterdam from Central Station. Walking the streets of Rotterdam. rotterdam-netherlands_0009 WWII memorial in Rotterdam.

 

Coolsingel….where Feyenoord and their fans celebrate championships!

Coolsingel in Rotterdam where Feyenoord celebraties championship wins. WWII memorial in Rotterdam II.

 

The amazing Markthal (Market Hall) in Rotterdam!

Inside of Markthal (market hall) in Rotterdam. View from inside the Markthal in Rotterdam. Rotterdam views. Buildings in Rotterdam.

 

The new favorite place for patat (fries)!

Best patat (fries) in Holland. Patat and ice cream in Rotterdam. Look at all the cheese in the Market Hall, Rotterdam. Nut stand in the Markthal in Rotterdam. Ceiling of Markthal.

 

I’ve always been fascinated by these crazy, cube houses! Yes, people really live there.

Unique cube houses located in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

 

And, the goal of our trip…photos of my husband’s favorite sight. The Erasmusbrug!

View of Erasmusbrug from Willemsbrug in Rotterdam. Beautiful view of Erasmusbrug in Rotterdam. Erasmusbrug and downtown Rotterdam. Cruise ship docked near the Erasmusbrug.

 

Our love is stronger than ever!

Kissing my love next to Rotterdam Harbor. My husband Another view of the Erasmusbrug located in Rotterdam. Rotterdam view.

All images ©Blink of an Eye Photography/Marie Janssen. Do not use without permission.

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