The Travel Blog
Finally, through the extensive help of this fellow named Yahp, I was able to connect to the wireless on campus. I also thank Shawn for loaning me his pass code. In short, I arrived safe and more-or-less sound.
Monday 15 aug 11:58am Wash,D.C.
Jeff dropped me off at Reagan without much trouble. I was able to check my bag and pass through security without delay. My flight leaves in about an hour. Right now, I'm preoccupied with a nasty head-cold which developed last night. Runny nose and wicked sore throat. Very, very annoying... but I guess it could be worse. I'm just praying it doesn't last. I don't want to spend my first week under the weather.
Monday 15 aug 5:18pm New York
The flight from DC to New York was delayed. When I finally got to JFK, I jumped on the wrong train and had to loop all the way back around to get to the correct terminal. Thankfully, the layover was long enough to keep me from missing the flight to Shannon. Now they're saying this plane is also delayed. Looks like we're due to depart at 7:30-ish. That will probably put me in Ireland around 7am tomorrow morning. Can't breathe through my nose. I feel slightly dizzy and chilled. Wish I could have a smoke.
Tuesday 16 aug 9:13am Shannon
Somehow the flight arrived in Ireland on the original schedule (6:10am). The cramped seats were terrible, and I'm only feeling worse. But I've managed to avoid fainting. I'm now on the bus to Cork. There is painful pressure in my ears that I can't alleviate and I'm virtually deaf. Anyway the bus ticket was 15euro. I hope Gary answers his phone when I call him in Cork. At least it's not very cold as all my jackets are packed away.
Thursday 18 aug 6:08am Cork
I'm feeling much better now. Gary picked me up at the bus station with no problems. I took a hot shower, had something to eat, took some pseudoephed, and gradually my hearing returned, and my cold began to weaken. The past two days were very enjoyable. I met several of my brother's friends and we had a good time going about town and listening to music in a pub on Tuesday. All of Gary's friends were very hospitable and we stayed up til 5am. Wednesday was more subdued. Now I'm at the airport just about to board for the Netherlands.
Wednesday 24 aug 11:27pm Amsterdam
After arriving at the Amsterdam airport on the 18th at 9:30-ish, I took a taxi to the housing-campus in Amstelveen, which is a 5 minute tram ride south of the University. After dropping off my bags at my apartment, I went to the VU and checked in with the department secretary. I met a theology student from Canada and his Texan-born wife, and a computer science student from California who is my upstairs neighbor. That evening the four of us went downtown for dinner. Since then I've met several more international theology students, and other neighbors, but no one from my program yet. I think my cold is now passed. Thank the Lord. Today I bought a European plug for my computer. I'm expecting to hear from my director soon, then I will register and get a university internet pass code. Unfortunately, there is no wireless in the dorms. Until orientation starts we are simply getting settled, adjusting and familiarizing ourselves with the city. I can't wait for classes to begin.
The Church Search
Sunday 28 aug 5:19pm
Last Lordsday I visited a liberal Dutch protestant church which used to be reformed. Surprisingly enough I thought I understood the crux of the sermon and it seemed quite good... but perhaps it was only my imagined translation. This morning I visited the historic English Reformed Church in Amsterdam, and the sermon --in plain English-- was awful. The congregation was established in 1607 and many of my Pilgrim Fathers worshiped here during their sojourn. Today the church has relations with the liberal Church of Scotland. In any case, I intend to call the Vrijgemaakt (liberated) reformed church (related to the Can/Am Reformed in North America) and the Christelijke (or Afscheiding: secession) reformed church (related to the Free Reformed in North America) and ask if they have any services in English. As far as I understand, these are the remaining orthodox Calvinist churches here in the NL. If they don't have any English services, I will probably be attending services in Dutch, and "house-churching" in the evenings with any other confessionally reformed English-speaking students I can find.
Thursday 1 sept 1:17pm
I discovered that the Vrijgemaakt churches are somewhat liberal in this area. That is, they have non-regulative / "unliturgical" worship. I was told that there is a splinter group from the Vrijgemaakt called the Nederlands reformed, but I could not ascertain whether they are really more orthodox (I'm not sure if this has any connection to Joel Beeke's church). I was also told that within the liberal protestant church, there remains an orthodox faction called the Bond and that I might find theological kinship there. But in my "sectarian" mindset, I can't see the prudence of orthodox congregations remaining in a liberal church. Anyway, I met a girl from the Afscheiding church, and I may attend her congregation this next Lordsday.
Yesterday afternoon we had an introductory meeting for our program. There are several Dutch students in the program. The only other international students who arrived are one guy and one girl from China. At least two others, one from Romania and the other from India, have yet to arrive. There may also be another American coming. The Chinese fellow, who we call Frank, is a 76th generation descendant of Confucius, and an avid Go player, which I'm very happy about. He was humored by my fondness for Li Po (which he says is properly pronounced 'bay,' not 'po'). Anyway, I'm only more excited about my studies here, and can't wait for classes to start on Monday. I have been somewhat discouraged with the amount of bureaucracy, however. There is an extensive re-organization taking place in the University, and no one seems to know what is going on or what I need to do to actually register for classes. I've been to a dozen different administrative offices. But I was assured by my professors that this will not prevent me from beginning the course. It does prevent me from getting my university computer pass code, which is why I have been unable to post these entries on my blog. Happily, I did obtain a temporary library card.