Whilst the countdown to my return to Japan continues (5 months to go!), the return to my ‘capital of the EU’ home in Brussels was less of a wait. Shortly before I left Brussels in August, I found out that the pastor and his family (the Goens) at my LifePoint church would be returning indefinitely to Smyrna, Tennessee in early December. Unexpectedly, I ended up returning to the UK in August whilst they were on holiday so I wasn’t able to say goodbye. This gave me the perfect excuse to justify an almost-urgent return to Brussels before the end of the year. Continuing the LifePoint theme, I visited Bettina, a friend who had also worshipped at LifePoint and had moved on to do an internship in Salzburg, Austria. I’m all about making the most of other people’s exciting locations and of course, for other people to make the most of mine (come to Scotland any time!).
The week in which I chose to make my LifePoint tour could not have been more perfectly timed. Two weeks before my visit, I received an e-mail from Chloé who, together with a team from the church, was organising a surprise party for the Goens on the very Saturday evening that I arrived in Brussels. Shut up! I know, it was too cool. I jumped on a bus at Brussels airport and 30 minutes later, jumped off at the church building which just happens to be on the airport route. Rocking up at LifePoint, knowing that so many people whom I loved were waiting inside, was extremely exciting and the hugs and embraces that followed instantly made the mad journey to get there worthwhile.
After a couple of hours of catching up, taking ridiculous photos and generally enjoying the buzz of being back, I ventured on to Le Pantin, a quirky, second-hand-style bar which sits just off the square at Flagey. Here I met up with friends from Scotland House, the building in which I had worked whilst living in Brussels. Although I was exhausted (4 countries later), it was really good to see the group again and hear about their world that is still very familiar to me.
Too little sleep later, I awoke, took the metro to my beloved Schuman and then continuing the theme of holiday extravagance, took a taxi in order to arrive at church on time. Continuing the theme of continuing themes and the theme of perfect timing, it was the last time that Kyle, the pastor, would preach before he headed back to the States. Being back at LifePoint felt much the same as my entire trip to Brussels felt: completely normal. After church, myself and my good friend Lisa headed to the Grand Place for some obligatory frites and general wowing at the always-impressive centre.
From there, we headed to Café de la Presse, situated on Avenue Louise, which I had heard so much about but never visited. Here we met up with Eleanor, a friend from my previous work at Scotland Europa, and I watched on as my two friends bonded and I nursed my lack-of-voice with a malteser latte, nyum. It was so nice to chill out at a café with friends whom I love, and rarely see, and with whom I had to make no effort, which was just as well with my lack of vocals.
Before we left the café, Veronika, a friend whom I have known since my Utrecht days, came to meet us and join Lisa and I as we headed to the second-in-history LifePoint Brussels baptism service. Yes, you may have noticed it was quite the LifePoint-packed weekend. God’s perfect timing. We watched on as three couples professed their faith and were baptised by Kyle. It was such an uplifting hour and special time to share with my LifePoint family. The weekend came to the perfect close as I headed back to the Goens to stay in their house for a final night of hearty food and fellowship. At the far too early time of 5.45am the following morning, I woke up, exited into the darkness of a Brussels morning and made the long journey home. That is, to another home. Until we meet again Brussels.