So...if you read my post yesterday, you know that I had some serious business in Amsterdam. Our whole trip to Europe started as a joke when Jen found out that her dad, two sisters, and brother-in-law had a nine hour layover in Amsterdam on their way to Israel to meet up with her sister's inlaws. Jen said, "I don't think it's fair that my dad gets to see Holland before I do." Of course, that sent me to look up inexpensive fares to Holland for Jen and I. That led to my idea of meeting her dad, when after being away from her for three weeks, led to me to thinking I didn't ever want to be away from her, which led to me thinking that a trip to Holland to ask for her dad's blessing would be a pretty good idea.
So, as you may have figured out. He gave it. And he did it in a really cool way.
But first...it took awhile to find the family because they didn't leave the transit area, which is behind security, but we quickly fixed that and were able to make introductions. We made our way to the train ticket area and purchased tickets to downtown Amsterdam.
Once we made it to city center, we took a canal boat tour. Jen and her family really enjoyed the Dutch architecture and historical information spoken in English. (I enjoyed the Dutch, German and French versions, as well). Once the ride was complete, we walked around like tourists and did a little shopping. Of course, Jen was with us, so we made the obligatory stop at a bookstore where we found a Dutch children’s Bible and prayer book. My dad insisted on paying for them, which we thought was really cool because while I’ll use them to teach Jen Dutch now, it will also be our (God willing) child(ren)’s first Bible and prayer book from their Opa. I was able to spent some Euros however, by paying the toilet fees for Jen and her sisters when they didn’t realize you have to pay to use the restrooms!
During lunch we had a chance to record a digital version of our “how we met” story. Perhaps we’ll create a blog about that sometime. In the meantime, American readers can contact Jen’s dad, and European readers can contact my dad for the video. (Just checking to see if our dads are really reading this!)
After lunch, I ditched Jen so I could walk alone with her Dad. Like guys we kinda got down to business pretty quick. He had some idea where the conversation was heading so it made it a lot easier for me… ;-) He asked me what would be an appropriate gift, but that was obviously after he responded that he would gladly give Jen away… and yes, he meant it in the best possible way!! Several things came to mind, but I didn’t give the right answer so I had to wait.
With the serious business out of the way, we went back on tourist mode, heading to the Anne Frank house. Unfortunately, the long line put us in danger of not getting back to the airport in time, so we settled for walking to the Anne Frank house, where we took some pictures of the outside. All of us were humbled by the memories of what happened in that house.
Our day was slightly dampened by some unexpected rain and wind, but we were troopers and had a great time together anyway. It meant a lot to Jen that her dad and sisters (and Andy too) were able to meet me and that I was able to get her dad’s blessing face-to-face. Seeing how much it meant to Jen meant the most to me.
Time was running short so we took the train back to the airport. I had a rare directional alert when I thought I got us all on the wrong train, but alas, I was mistaken and we were on the right track. During the ride back, Jen’s family peppered me with questions from my favorite color to what do I like most about Jen (her sparkling eyes). Jen also entertained us all (and by all, I mean everyone on the train) by reading her Dutch prayer aloud with her own unique Dutch accent.
We decided to load up on a little caffeine before parting ways, so we found a private spot in one of the airport restaurants. Jen’s dad led the conversation by asking me if I remembered the question. I did, but wasn’t sure of his answer. So he pulled out a brown envelope with my name on it. The first thing he took out was a box of SweetHeart candies, little heart shaped confections with phrases on them. He told me that when Jen was young (not so long ago, of course), he would give those to her each Valentine’s day and she would paste the hearts on paper in order to make sentences. She must have played around with them a lot because she’s an amazing writer today. The next thing he gave me was completely unexpected, but really, really, cool, especially because Jen had recently shown me the journal her mom and dad kept while they were married. After her mom left, her dad continued to write in it, and his entries were directed toward God as he read his new daily Bible. The gift her dad gave me was that very worn, very used, very special Bible. Inside, he wrote a special message just for me. Jen’s sister Liz was bawling! Carisa’s well was flowing as well. I think Jen and I were both so shocked we didn’t know what to do. What an amazing, incredible gift. I can’t wait to fix it up a little (it needs some tape) and start the tradition myself.
We finished and took a few pictures before we left. One moment that will stay with me is seeing my mom hug Jen’s dad. That was when I understood how much the day meant to my parents. I know she was shedding tears of joy, but I know she had some sadness as well because I—sorry, we--live so far away.
We got Jen’s family back to the customs line and we headed off for some food before the drive back to Helmond where I started planning for our big day in Paris.