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Europe, UK, Ireland and Scotland
2 500 km
Amsterdam, Belgium, UK, Ireland 2 - 28 May 2016
The First Five Days
Unforgettable first 5 days!
Left my house in Amsterdam at 07:30, Monday, May 2nd, excited to at last start with the cycle
tour of about 3 500km that will total the year since June 1, 2015 to 10 000 km. Tired of cycling
around Amsterdam like a homing pigeon - now I needed to go!
But I forgot that The Netherlands is like a big city, you never get out of the city into the open.
Continues traffic lights, people, cars slowed me down. And then the wind: full in my face for
171 kms! I only had two 15 minute breaks. Was to meet a regional newspaper reporter at 16:00.
Arrived 16:30, interview 60 minutes, a quick shower and a bite to eat and 15 minutes late for the 18:00 talk to about 90 Mercy Ship donors and supporters. The Flemish language is so close to Afrikaans that I could give my whole talk in Afrikaans! Beautiful response after the talk and off to our host family where we arrived at 22:30. Thanks so much, Graham and Tharien!
But it all started with a talk at the Reformed Church, Protestantse Wijkgemeente Utrecht on
Sunday morning, May 1, and on my way there God gave me the words; "Words aptly spoken are like apples of gold in settings of silver." from Proverbs 25:11 and a prayer; Father, today I ask You to be truly the Lord of my tongue and my speaking. In the multitude of words which I will probably speak today please give me specially chosen apt words for the situations in which I find myself; words that will be precious and beautiful and bring Your life to those who need a unique personal touch from You today. I pray this in Jesus’ mighty name.
I see this as a prayer to accompany me in the next 3 weeks.
Spoke a few words to the children and then to the congregation. (On mobile devices the pictures are at the bottom of the page)
On Monday night we stayed with wonderful friends in Zoersel, Belgium, Graham and Tharien as mentioned. Radio interview the next morning at 09:00. And then another two interviews the afternoon with newspapers. From there we drove to Knokke-Heist, one of the richest towns in Belgium. Our guest family was Bert van Dijk, Mercy Ships director, Belgium, and his wife Huguette.
The next morning we were received by the deputy mayor of Knokke-Heist, Piet De Groote, even with the South African flag hoisted on the pole in front of the city council buildings and a South African poem, written by one of the most well known Afrikaans poets, read out to me by Jan De Groote, communication officer of the city. That the love of the city will go with me on the bike tour.
Allerliefste, Ek Stuur Vir Jou ‘n Rooiborsduif
Allerliefste, Tertius, ek stuur vir jou ‘n rooiborsduif
want niemand sal ‘n boodskap wat rooi is skiet nie.
Ek gooi my rooiborsduif hoog in die lug en ek
weet al die jagters sal dink dis die son.
Kyk, my duif kom op en my duif gaan onder
en waar hy vlieg daar skitter oseane
en bome word groen
en hy kleur my boodskap so bruin oor jou vel
Want my liefde reis met jou mee,
my liefde moet soos ‘n engel by jou bly,
soos vlerke, wit soos ‘n engel.
Jy moet van my liefde bly weet
soos van vlerke waarmee jy nie kan vlieg nie
die laatste zin doet het in dit gedicht.
soos van vlerke waarmee jy nie kan vlieg nie
(a poem really about unanswered, impossible love, a message through a red breasted dove; onbeantwoorde liefde, misschien wel. maar ik denk eerder aan een onmogelijke liefde.
But with God everything is possible)
Deeply touched I left Knokke-Heist with about 15 cyclists cycling with me to the Belgium/Dutch border. Escorted by Belgium police on bikes! And four cycled further with me to Bredske, Tony, Mark, Aniek and Pieter.
A beautiful four days in Belgium came to an end.
Today the 5th of April we are with good friends in Terneuzen, Holland: Charles and Ilse Reyneke. A TV interview at 10:30 And off to Calais in France tomorrow, traveling though Belgium, 185km, to catch the ferry to Dover tomorrow late afternoon.
Blessed by God!
Thanks so much to Mercy Ships Belgium, the Direkteur Bert van Dijk and everyone at the
The Television interview this morning: Omroep Zeeland
(the text is in Dutch but on the video, I speak in English)
5 - 17 May, 2016. Holland, Belgium, France, UK, Wales and Ireland!
I left Terneuzen, the home of long-known friends Charles and Ilse, early in the morning of May 6 Brugge in Belgium where Ilae was taking Miranda to catch the Euroline bus to London. From Brugge I cycle to France and with a good wind in my back made it to Calais 185 km in good time for the ferry leaving 17:00 to Dover
Another 3-kilometer cycling from the ferry to the guest house, found a meal in town and off the next morning 123 km on a cycle path to London .... really challenging, beautiful country roads but mountain biking .... up and down, narrow paths, unpaved, rocks, mud .... and eventually decided not to follow the GPS but go on a highway as it was going far too slow. Once on the highway and the wind from behind I was flying and reached Atillio and Karin's house late afternoon. Then to the YWAM base at Harpenen and treated by Diane Richart of Mercy Ships for an evening meal.
The next morning I spoke at an Arikaans church in Guidford organised by an old schoolfriend of mine who now lives in the UK.
The afternoon cycling was from Atillio and Karin's house in the southeast of London to Ana and Kryz, a wonderful Polish family in the southwest of London, Putney. An interesting cycling experience through the city centre of London - good that it was a Sunday afternoon!
Wonderful and blessed with all the new friendships along the way! Kryz an anaesthetist and Ana a surgeon - hope to see you on the ship sooner than later!
We reached Alton the next day and booked into a real English Country Inn again after challenging roads on the sides of canals with the cycling lane not wider than a couple of inches and this is where my front wheel got caught and I landed on my back in a bramble bush. Was really difficult to get up ... wherever I put my hand down to push me up in was on thorns but at the end just had to take it - I could not sit there forever!
Then two days of cycling in the rain. As Ed Sheffield of Bristol said the difference between summer and winter in Bristol is that in summer the rain is a bit warmer.
Arriving in Bristol we went straight to the hospital, a quick shower, and change from the cycling clothes to more appropriate clothing and a talk at 17:30. Ed and his wife Ruth took us out for a meal. Ed has been involved with Mercy Ships for many many years as the pathologist. The ship would send the specimens to him and in his off time he would process and report on the specimens - an unsung hero! And we'll see you on the ship in Benin in September!
At 07:00 the next morning a talk at a Rotary meeting and soon after left by bike for Cardiff in Wales - Ed cycled the first 40 kilometers with me and we had a good English Fish and Chips before he turned back and I continued in the rain to Cardiff.
We overnight at Anette's place in Cardiff, anesthetist who has served on the ship at least 6 times. She cycled with me out of Cardiff the next morning - always easier with someone who knows the area to get out of the big cities. She sent me an old Celtic blessing at we were traveling Ireland;
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the rain fall soft upon your field.
And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand
Indeed Anette, we have cycled most of our journey through Ireland now and in all the directions I have cycled we have had the wind from behind! In fact, since that first day from Amsterdam to Antwerp, we have only had the wind in my back!
We were forced to travel the last bit to the ferry at Fish Gaurd by car to make it in time - it also was a 3 1/2 hour ferry crossing that made the day impossible short.
The Republic of Ireland
We overnight in Waterford where Michael Dockery put us up in a wonderful hotel and took us out for an Irish dinner in an Irish bar with live Irish music.
Early the next morning a talk at University Hospital, Waterford where Michael is an anaesthetist - he has served on Mercy Ships 7 times!
And in the afternoon a meeting with the press and the major of Waterford who was very interested in the work of Mercy Ships.
At 17:00 I was on the bike and did the first 50 km towards Galway to meet up with Miranda in Clonmel but we lost internet connection and for two hours we were in the same town but could not connect. Eventually made contact and booked into the hotel at 22:00.
Left early the next morning towards Tipperary, Limerick, and Galway 173 km but in good time to meet our guest family Ray and Denise Clarke who took us on a lovely walk in late evening sunshine - a beautiful windless evening.
The next morning I spoke at their church in Galway - almost 30 nationalities attend this church. I had another speaking engagement that evening with an Indian Church in Dublin which was 200 km away and had no choice but get into the car. But it is always more important for us to speak than to cycle but still frustrating if I cannot get on the bike.
A wonderfully blessed evening with this small church community in the heart of Dublin. God's presence all over.
Eby, in the striped shirt, anaesthetist who has often worked on the Mercy Ship, kindly set us up in a hotel in Dublin for the night.
The next morning a radio interview with Spirit radio, a national Christian radio station in Ireland, and on the bike off to Rostrevor, YWAM base in Nothern Ireland 121 km where I spoke at their meeting and the talk was podcasted life on the internet. Today we have a day of rest in these wonderful surroundings. Tomorrow off to Belfast.
Belfast, Scotland and back to Amsterdam. 18-27 May 2016
Good safe cycling without incident from the YWAM base at Rostrevor to Templepatrick just north of Belfast welcomed by Michael McBrien and his wife Irene. I have worked several times with Michael, an anaesthetist, on the Africa Mercy and he was once with his wife, a pharmacist, on the ship. And when I was still working in Ireland I was often invited to their home for tea (that is dinner in Irish terms!) at the end of the day before I would travel the 3 hours to Mullingar to operate there the next morning. A warm shower to get ready for a talk that evening in their church. And what a friend! As I got warm and dressed Michael had a warm bucket of water washing my bike!!!
A wonderful evening at church with maybe about 80-100 people and at least 9 Mercyshippers, many of whom I knew!
A very blessed time in Ireland, a country that had been very good to me as I worked there at the time I funded my own mission for 7 years till I felt God wanted me to go on full support totally dependant on Him from May 2012 and my life changed again dramatically - none different from what He called me to but just much more intense in every way.
But His blessings never left me reminiscent of the years; we had sunshine every day in Ireland and the wind in my back no matter what direction I was cycling in!
Up at 05:00 the next morning to catch the ferry to Cairnryan just south of Glasgow, Scotland. While I was cycling Miranda drove to Glasgow airport to pick up Ellis that was our photographer for three weeks through the States last year - Ellis often said she wished she had her bike with her and now she was indeed joining me on her bike all the way back to Holland!
Out of Ireland and it was raining and cold again, and the first puncture .... , and my cell phone died. I found a bus stop shelter. Got my laptop out my back-pack, that I would sometimes have with me (and this day as the car would have been parked at the airport and I was worried about my passport, etc and rather kept it with me) and started up my phone. By now Ellis was picked up and left at our host's house while Miranda had to find my in the southern parts od Glasgow city - like a needle in a haystack! It was 17:00 rush hour. We had to be at a Rotary meeting at 18:00. Claire Walters of Rotary was so gracious and kept on saying they will wait for us. A quick shower, my talk's final preparations in the car and we arrived at 20:30 with yet another wonderful evening with wonderful people! And a warm meal after the meeting specially for the 3 of us! And that after I dropped a glass of water on the president of the club's foot! Sorry again Claire!
We stayed with Ian whom we have never met before and he could not be at his home that evening. We only met him the next morning. He had prepared a wonderful breakfast for us and how did it delight my heart when he asked to pray before we would start eating and could hear his love and close relationship with God just deep from his heart. We always pray before we start cycling in the morning (also in the States last year).
As we were about to leave we asked Ian to pray with us. (we did not know this picture was taken till a few days ago)
Ellis joined on the bike and on her first day we had 3 punctures between us, were 12 hours on the bike, had to visit a bike shop, but a nice lunch in Dunkeld, and after 195 km we made it to Glentruim at 21:00 with some snow on the mountains. Some light rain and very few pictures. Still a wonderful day and beautiful surroundings where we stayed
We left the next morning for Aberdeen via Aviemore - in the rain! Another 194 km and on this day, May 21 we reached the most northern point of our cycle journey - Craigellachie (Gaelic: Creag Eileachaidh, "rocky hill" ) where we had lunch after cycling 4 hours in bitter cold rain with hands and feet feeling like 4 blocks of ice. We had lunch in a Scottish pub - and being a Saturday afternoon there were several wedding guests on their way to a wedding - all the men dressed in their Scottish kilts.
Some years ago in the icy winds high on the mountains near Aviemore, here in the North of Scotland, where I cycled this day, I picked up the smallest of Dutch coins (10c) under very special circumstances with a feeling in my heart that it had some real significant meaning. Joel 2: 30 was in my mind ‘I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth’ That night as I pondered the meaning of the coin He gave me ‘I saw two baskets of figs’ from Jeremiah 24:1, confirming the symbolism of the coin and as I understood that, then ‘My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.’ John 10:27. One of the many many signs and confirmation of His leading of me to Amsterdam. And then the paradigm shift through a dime (10c) symbolic and one of the many leadings of the subsequent major step in my journey with Him.
From the area, more or less as much have changed, where I picked up the coin, the weather cleared, sunshine, and wind in my back for the rest of the day.
I reached the hotel in Aberdeen at about 20:00, so I thought, but there were two hotels with the same name. Tired and looking forward to a warm shower and something to eat I realised I was still 6 km away from the actual hotel! And had to get back on the bike!
Sandra and her husband Jim (Sandra has been on the Africa Mercy several times as a nurse) set us up in a hotel for two nights. Took us out for a wonderful meal, crayfish and more, at 01:00 in bed, the next morning a Mercy Ships breakfast at their church followed by the church service where I spoke - approximately 4 000 pounds were raised for Mercy Ships. We had lunch with the pastor and his wife and a restful evening.
By now I was emotionally totally drained - I need a lot of alone time and the busy schedule caught up on me, but after a good night and alone in the hotel, I was good again! With the winds in our backs and sunshine Ellis and I left the next morning for Edinburgh. A pleasant day of cycling.
In Edinburgh, we were hosted by YWAM and stayed in a very old church with accommodation quarters. Had a lovely meal at Alexander Graham Bell Scottish pub. A Rotary talk early the next morning with breakfast and off to Newcastle upon Tyne. This was the last talk during the tour (4 more to go in The Netherlands). In the last 25 days, I had the privilege to speak at 11 different venues, with 5 newspaper journalists, 4 radio stations, 2 magazines, and 1 tv station.
We were hosted in Newcastle upon Tyne by a wonderful Christian family Steve, an orthopaedic surgeon and keen cyclist, his wife Clare and daughters Emily and Lottie. Steve prepared the most wonderful meal for us and the next morning Clare took me into the city to get a cycle rain jacket as I left mine behind the previous night. We had such a good talk about the love and reality of God.
Because of the late start, we had to drive a little to get through the city that always takes hours and with the rain makes it almost impossible to see Google Maps on my phone and find the roads. So we were 3 people with our luggage and two bikes in a Peugeot 308!
We cycled for about 50 km but got totally stuck in the rain. Bikes were not allowed in this area on the highways and we were forced through the villages but could not see the maps on my phone in the rain. It slowed us down so much and we got bitterly cold with hands and feet ice blocks again. Eventually just looked for a Costa Coffee and phoned Miranda to pick us up! An unplanned stop. The first day since I started with the cycle tours that we had to stop and not reach the goal of the day. This is where I picked up the smallest UK silver coin (5p) under my chair just before we moved to a more comfortable table and chairs.
That evening we were hosted by an extended family of Miranda, a Dutch/UK couple Dave and Reina Bullen, whose daughter got married a few days earlier. We were hosted by so many wonderful loving Christian family that could not do enough for us - we were so blessed
Off to Days Inn, Peterborough. No rain! and good winds! Made a good 160 km on the last cycling day in the UK and truly enjoyed it.
Near the end of the day, we stopped on a little bridge to admire the river, the beautiful surroundings, and sunset. Someone on a bicycle passed us and I asked him to take a picture of Ellis and I. He did and went off. He soon returned pushing his bike. 'I'm new on a bike and am really tired now' Not knowing how to respond at that moment we smiled friendly and said nothing about the 100 miles we just did.
Found the hotel just before my phone's battery power would run out and leave us directionless.
Up at 04:00 the next morning to catch the ferry at Harwich to Hoek van Holland where we arrived at 17:00 and then my last leg of cycling to my house in Amsterdam, 82 km, where I arrived at 22:15 against a strong headwind but clear warm weather. And a wonderful bowl of pea soup and mackerel pasta from my neighbor and member of our foundation in Holland, Gerienne!
The end of the cycling for now; (though SA tour planned from 2 - 12 November!)
UK Ireland Tour 2 426 kilometers
1 June 2015, start of the USA tour to 27 May 2016 11 890 km
To spread the message of the plight of the poor
Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)
8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
5 Billion People have no access to Essential, Safe, Timely, Affordable
One Heart One Goal: To put Smiles on Hearts and Faces
Thank you for having supported us in the previous cycle tours and the longest 6 510 km /4 068 mile cycle tour over 58 days (11 rest and 47 cycling days) from Times Square, New York in two big smiles to Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, June 3 to July 29, 2015, as we care for the less fortunate and take essential surgical care where it is most needed