The days of Tante Tineke's trip to the United States flew by and before we knew it she flew home. She's now home in Zout Kamp with access to her children and her grand children and her brother's and so many others--of course--it's home. Of course she speaks pretty good English but it's helpful that she can speak her language here too--of course Mom and Dad H. speak Dutch backwards and forwards. I don't speak a lot of Dutch, I understand some. But Mom and Dad pop between English and Dutch quite often while she's here and Dad especially will get confused and speak English to Tante Tineke then turn to Monique and speak Dutch--it's pretty funny.
One has to return to normal life of course, but she's a natural here! We were so proud of her. This was her first over-seas trip since her Husband Eddy died of cancer. It takes a monumental effort to begin life again and even greater effort to engage in adventure again. She's been here before with Oom Eddy and so coming here had a sense of pain, a sense of pride that she had done this by herself, and a sense of nostalgia. We all laughed and cried and everything in between.
And boy did she engage in adventure. She got a manicure and a pedicure for the first time...I have a photo of her beautiful nails but I haven't loaded them onto the computer yet so you'll just have to believe me when I tell you that her feet and fingers looked better than ever. I asked her what she thought and she said it was fun but it tickled! That had us laughing, but she had a great time. It was the day Monique planned for her aunt--just her and Tante Tineke.
Mom and Dad and Monique and I took Tante Tineke to Ames, IA on the day that RAGBRAI came to that town. Last year Monique and I rode RAGBRAI in honor of Uncle Eddy. We got to tell his story quite a lot last year and we wanted to ride for him because his story inspires and creates drive and plants ideas in one's head that handicap doesn't hold us to the ground--our minds do. If you know you can't do something, or if you know you don't want to do something you won't. Three years ago I didn't want to make a long bike ride. But the moment I said I wanted to try it I also allowed myself to want to do it. I learned to love the bicycle and I loved telling Eddy's story, I loved telling my story, I loved getting fit, and I loved the euphoria of having done something. But now we start to look for stories. Jeff Nord comes to mind--it's rare to have met a man who in the face of strain and challenge, loved His God even more and strove even harder to be a servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know of Randy Pausch, another man who's cancer sapped him of physical life but the inspirational, mental side overcame physical obstacles and his enthusiasm for life, his family, for new adventure, for love and for generosity profoundly placed millions in his path and gave many a new outlook on life. There's the 70 year old man that trained to participate in the Ironman Triathalon because his cerebral palsy son--a man bound to a wheelchair wanted to do something great. Dad's everywhere should know, experience and be inspired by what it's like to give what that man did to his child.
I've heard so many times the reasons we shouldn't do something, but instead do only what we know we can do. Accomplishment isn't always easy or fun, but it does come with the delectable taste of satisfaction. We arrived in Ames and watched the riders boil into town and I think she was delighted by it. I still don't think she can believe that we were able to finish the ride--we told her there was no way that we wouldn't finish it. We got to talk about so many things which included our stories, but also included opportunities to talk about God, to talk about miracles to talk about Christianity... We might even inspire Tante Tineke to ride a day of Ragbrai...we want others to go with us too of course like my brother and sisters, like Mom and Dad H. and others...hopefully Mom and Dad Elgersma can swing their support crew hat in motion again too because that's also a feat that few can understand and they did such a good job with it. I learned the power of a team last year and if I can speak "Christianese" to you for a moment, the group acted like a body--hmm--I'm slowly becoming fully aware of what the body does for itself--it never acts independently from other parts of the body--neither did we. And man it's something to know out there with the wind and gears and food and fun and...I'll never describe it adequately. I simply want to stop you from finding so many reasons not to do something...some of you just won't make it out to RAGBRAI because of distance or whatever--but you should find something because I think that especially the children of God find great measures of endurance in those times. That isn't to take away from the routines of life. Raising children, keeping a house, going to church--all routines. Routine is good. But sometimes doing what you've always done simply because you can't see yourself in another situation belittles inspiration and creativity and accomplishment. You want to do what you've always done? Fine--you want to experience something talk to myself and Monique, talk to Jayne about the ministry her husband started not because he knew how, but because he simply knew it would be awesome, talk to Tante Tineka, talk to Randy Pausch, talk to the most iron of ironmen, talk to an adoptive parent, talk to my Mom about dealing with illness with profound integrity, talk to a hero of war who truly could not leave anyone behind, talk to...well just find them and make your own story. You'll find your selves running in the wiles of the extraordinary. It's the above stories that pushed Monique and I into the crazy notion that we could build something on a larger scale than a shelf. The deck looks pretty good. There's some adventure I've not had because I am afraid of it or the time isn't right or whatever...I'm in that boat part of the time too but I keep pluggin along.
Anyway, Tante Tineke is so loving and affectionate and she makes you want to be around her. She loves to laugh, and talk and learn and she loves to be. She loves to live life. She loves her family. She loves food and cool air, and she loves generosity. I'm writing about her because I love her story and they deserve to be in the list above. She's walked head-on into the life God gave her and she picked up her suit-cases and did something it takes other people a lot longer to do after they've suffered great loss...get a pedicure! Ha, I'm just kidding about that if ya didn't know already, but not only did she rally through airports, customs and security, she did things she had never done before here too...like she got on the motorcycle...she swore to us she wouldn't do that but she did eventually. She talked about God, about Eddy, she saw Living History Farms, she bicycled all over Des Moines (15-20 miles at a time!) and saw things in DM that few vacationers get to see. Anyway, She filled up her inspiration rain cloud and it rained down cool and fresh over all of us. We were proud of her and are honored to be around her.