We arrived in the Netherlands in the beginning of October. The day after our 10 days in quarantine  the Netherlands went into a lockdown. The restrictions related to Corona virus changed our plans for the time we had in Europe. For example, we would have liked to give presentations in different churches. We were also really looking forward to seeing Vikki’s family in England and former colleagues of Diospi Suyana in Germany. These plans all fell through. But looking back at the time we spent in the Netherlands we certainly have many things to be thankful for. Leah and Olivia were warmly welcomed in the primary school Immanuel where Steven used to go as a little boy. The girls very much enjoyed finally having contact with other school children and have learnt a lot. For Leah these were her first lessons learning to read in Dutch! Because other plans fell through we have been able to enjoy much more time with our family than we had originally thought would be the case. Steven has now made a good start with his masters International Affairs and Diplomacy which started in October. It was a period in which we could really let go of our work and life in Peru (which had been had been quite intensive before leaving to the Netherlands) and tighten family bonds with family and friends. The highlight was being around for the birth of our niece Aliva Hope, born to Vikki’s sister Elsa and her husband Robert. 

In this time away we have realized how many people support us in different ways. Without this support the work we do in Peru would be impossible for sure! To give you an idea of what we are talking about we want to mention a few people and organizations that support us. We receive monthly financial support of lots of people via de Bron Eindhoven and Stichting Nehemia in the Netherlands, and also the Foreign Missionary Fund in England. During the time of our furlough we lived for months in the house of Steven’s parents and also a period of time with Vikki’s. We drove around in a car we were able to rent at low cost from Stichting Hand foundation (who by the way are desperately in need of mechanics). Thanks to Van Hardeveld Optician Vikki and Leah have good glasses once again! Ontrack has been able to save our family pictures of the last 10 years after our hard drive died, of which we had no backup (oops!). This list could go on. It goes to show how our work here in Peru is a team effort. We want to once again thank those people that support us in practical ways and those who pray for our family! 

Our flight back scheduled for March 12 was cancelled. We were able to leave on a flight 5 days later. Fully equipped with mouth masks and face shields, test results, sworn statements and certificates we left the Netherlands last Wednesday. We were very thankful to be on a direct flight from Amsterdam to Lima. However, 12,5 hours in one flight is still quite long. After a good night sleep in the guest house of Diospi Suyana we flew from Lima to Cusco. We were very grateful for this flight since on the way to Lima we had had to take an 18 hour bus ride to arrive in Lima. Once in Cusco a taxi driver was waiting for us. We were disappointed to see that the arranged taxi bus in which we would be sitting for a few hours of dangerous roads did not have safety belts, but the joy of arriving soon in Curahasi overshadowed the dissapointment.

A few days before our journey there had been strikes of drivers protesting against the high petrol prices. Strikes in Peru often come with road blocks on important roads. From Curahuasi we had seen photos of stones on the roads and burning tires.We hoped to arrive in Curahuasi after a 2,5 hour drive and not be blocked. Unfortunately we came to a halt in Ancahuasi. Protestors had blocked the roads with lorries. The local police was witing for reinforcement from Cusco to be able to open the road but this could take hours of waiting.Thankfully our taxidriver knew a small d-tour. We drove off the main road onto a small muddy path. It was a risk since protestors could also block these alternative routes and are not happy if you try to avoid the blockage on the main road. They can even get aggressive. Thankfully this was not the case. The mud path became more and more muddy and a few times we almost got stuck. At some point a car came from the opposite direction. With no place to turn arround both that car and us were stuck in the mud facing eachother. With thanks to the local comunity we were able to free the bus and get back onto the main road behind the main blockage. We arrived 1,5 hours later than planned but once we got here we could rest and enjoy a nice meal prepared for us.  

We are still fighting the jetlag but for the rest we are doing well. Steven will resume work in the hospital this week while Vikki will help get homeschooling going again. The schools here in Peru have been closed  for over a year due to the pandemic and it is not certain when they will reopen. Vikki hopes to resume her work in the hospital as from the 30th of March.