My name is Tine and I am an international student in Leiden. I’m originally from Germany and – thanks to Corona – that´s also where I’m currently residing. The past months have been absoutely crazy and the perfect hashtag for my year so far is #surprises if we wanna be positive, or more accurate #nothingworksout. Everything is unpredictable at the moment so to everybody here who is feeling frustrated with the current situation, who is asking God what is going on and who is disappointed: I get you. We’re in this together!
I had big plans for this year. I had taken extra courses last year so I could do the last semester of my Bachelors in Canada with a low work load and then spend a long summer exploring the Americas. This would be my year full of adventures!
Then, in December, just 3 weeks before my exchange semester started, my Grandpa got the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and we were told he had only few weeks left. I had to cancel the exchange last minute. I was disappointed but I prayed that God would still use my free time over summer and lead me to a place where I can grow and serve him, and luckily God provided (I thought) when I was offered a really cool summer volunteer job in Colorado. My disappointment vanished and was expectant and looking forward to an amazing time in the Colorado Rockies – until Corona happened few weeks later and Trump announced that the US-borders will be closed for EU-citizens. Okay, so that apparently wasn´t God´s plan for my summer then.. I looked for plan C, D, and E in Europe but by now everything in Germany, as in many other countries, is shut down. I finished my Bachelors 2 weeks ago and I am back home – in my old bed room at my parent´s house, having nothing to do until fall.
This is so not what I thought my summer would look like. But I prayed I would end up where God wanted to use me. And here I am, at home in Germany. I struggled with my own frustration and I still do. But I also believe that our God is the God who turns ashes into beauty. I want to use this time allowing him to dictate my day and practicing an attitude of gratitude by paying attention to the good things in every day. By enjoying the intense time I have with my family now and which I probably won´t have again like that, sitting in my Grandparents’ garden 5m away from them and having conversations with my Grandpa who recovered from cancer, being thankful for the sunshine, going for long walks, starting to write postcards again, call a good friend I haven´t talked to in a while. The next weeks I want to listen to the teachings that Capernwray Hall, a bible school in England, put online for free.
There´s so many ways to become aware of little blessings that so easily get lost in our busy lives. At least for me this time has already been a blessing by reminding me how dependant I am on God. I love planning and realizing there is absolutely nothing I can plan at the moment is extremely unsatisfying, but it also reveals one of the deepest truths: I need God so desperately. Every day, in every second, to take care of my health, to provide for me financially, and to give me a joyful heart when complaining seems so much easier than rejoicing. And of course, that’s easier to say for me who is just frustrated because my plans for this year did not work out. I know it´s a whole different level for people who are losing loved ones or who are working in the Health Care System and are constantly surrounded by great suffering. But his truth is the same for all of us. He takes care of us (Philippians 4:19), he does not want us to worry (1 Peter 5:7) but to rejoice always in every situation, even in times like these (1 Thessalonians 5:16).
You bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
– Isaiah 61: 3