Who am I, I am Emy Benjamins-Böning, married to Martin, a down to earth Dutchman.
We live in Norway, in Åndalsnes, a little town in the province of Møre og Romsdal at the west-fjord-coast.
We moved to Norway in March 2005, that was one of the biggest changes in my life so far, but only done, after a long time of preparation.
I was born in 1973 in Amsterdam, the main theme in my life is probably moving and starting again. We moved regularly as a family, and after I left home, I managed to move several times again. So you could say I have seen the Netherlands from my bedroom window. Now I really would like to settle somewhere. And well Norway is a beautiful country, Åndalsnes a wonderful place, so maybe it will be here? We shall see.
After my secondary school exams, I went to England as an Au Pair. This is something I can recomment to everyone who is fed up with school, but isn't sure what to do with the future. I lived with two lovely families, learned the language and ways of the British, and still have a regular longing to go over to England.
I finally decided I wanted to become a social worker and went to a Christian College in Ede. The Christian identity of the college wasn't a background thing, but very grounded in the whole education there. It helped me to establish my own identity as a Christian person, but also as a Christian socialworker.
I specialised in hospital social work and counseling, but the course was general enough that I could move into other kinds of social work.
After taking a side way of almost two years working as an international legal secretary with Shell, I went back to social work, I worked for almost 8 years in Social Security in The Hague and Zoetermeer. In between I spent a year with the immigration department, but that wasn't my kind of thing.
In august 1998 I met Martin. He had found my website on the internet and sent me an e-mail. We communicated over the internet for a while and at the end of October 1998 he came to visit me in the Hague, where I lived at the time.
Martin lived in the north of the country, a long way away, for Dutch standards.
It took a couple of months before we decided we wanted to be a couple, or maybe I should say, before we dared to admit to each other that we really really liked each other. We started planning our wedding and Martin found himself a job near The Hague in september.
On the 29th of October we signed the weddingpapers at the townhall in Hoogeveen and on the 30th of October 1999 we got received a marriageblessing in our Anglican Church in The Hague. A wonderful occasion!
We've now been married for 9 years and it is still as good to be together as it was the day we married, actually it is even better today then it was that day.
5 weeks after the wedding we moved to Zoetermeer. We exchanged our little bedsit for a spaceous highrise apartment.
Most of our married years we've been looking for ways to leave the Netherlands. Martin wanted to move to Norway, and I wanted to go back to England. In the end I fell for the beauty and culture of Norway as well, so we started our Norwegian lessons and prepared a plan to make an emigration a fact.
Our plan consisted of saving enough money, and learning the language as well as travelling around Norway to find the best place for us to live.
Martin changed his career in the mean time. He became a truckdriver. Something he had always wanted to be since he was a boy. Within a year he took all the driving lessons, theory and exams he needed, as well as working loads of overtime in his daytime job.
Martin and I started a course in Norwegian language at the Norwegian missions church in Rotterdam in 2001. It was fun to learn the language and it was a good activity to do together. It is my opinion that when you are married it is good to do an activity together, whether this is sports or a course, just something. We chose this course as well as our hobby photography! Now we are in Norway, we need to sort out our way of living all over again. Martin is making long hours in his truck and I have to find my way in working life here completely.
Finally at the end of 2004 we had everything ready, language, savings etc. So Martin started applying for jobs. We decided it was easier for him to find a job, then it would be for me. And I guess he is the one with the greatest courage ( or lack of fear.)
Early in february 2005 we took a short break in Norway. Martin had sent several open applications, and managed to arrange two interviews during our stay.
And he ended up with a job as a truck driver for Lars Kroken AS, one of the bigger transport companies in the area which we wanted to move to.
Within six weeks, we had handed in our notice at our jobs and packed the movingboxes. We moved Easter 2005.
We were glad to have friends that rented us a small cottage as an intermediate house in Gjerdsetbygda, a small hamlet between two fjords on the edge of a lovely lake. At the end of May 2005 we moved into permanent accomodation in Åndalsnes. A groundfloor rental in a nice house sheltered on the side of a mountainwall.
After two months at home, I found myself a job for the sommer, being responsible for a tourist kiosk on the top of Trollstigen, a very famous mountainroad with 11 hairpinbends, one of the steepest roads in Norway. It was quite an adventure to work there, seven days a week, with only two days free in 12 weeks. (with little pay I dare to add)
After the summer I started working part-time as a confirmationclassteacher for the Norwegian church. As a little extra I could start as an assistant at a daycarecentre for two little Dutch girls and at the primary school with the older sister of the girls.
We started going to the Norwegian church as soon as we arrived here. There wasn't such a big choice either and as the Norwegian church is in communion with the Anglican church, we felt this was the right choice. We were made very welcome by the priests here.
After three years we can say that we settled in the church here. As church life is very traditional here, and the age of churchgoers relatively high, worshipping became a different experience. We started looking for ways to meet other (and younger) Christians, which we have found in a small pentacostal church here in town. Wonderful welcoming people, with an open relationship with God. We meet with them regularly for Biblestudy.
I started Norwegian classes at the adultlearning centre as well, and took a test in advanced Norwegian in January 2006. At the same time I started driving lessons. Partly with a driving school in a geared car and partly in our own little automatic with Martin as teacher. In March I took the big test and now I am driving around the place like I have never done anything else.
I liked the driving so much that I took my truckdrivers license as well, little under a year later. That was quite a challenge, especially with so little driving experience. Unfortunately I got arthrosis in my knee and had to stop working as a truckdriver, but I really enjoyed it, and miss the driving.
I continued working for the church as a confirmationclass teacher and bit by bit I started doing more things there.
From januari 2008, I got permission to officiate at services, baptise, lead funerals and preside at communion. I have a long learning process ahead of me, but in faith I go on. I now work on 60% on a temporary contract. As I am not a priest, it will be difficult to find a longterm contract doing the work I am doing now.
Martin and I have built a life here in Norway. we bought a house in 2007 and were joined by two cats shortly after, that is our little family. I trust and pray that the Lord has given me a real soul mate for life in Martin. It is strange sometimes when I realise I am married to this wonderful man.
Maybe I am a dreamer, but I never thought this fairytale marriage could be mine. Of course it isn't always perfect, but no relationship will be. A good relationship is a working relationship, which is continually under construction on a basis of love and faith.
We have a number of friends here, and a lot of aquantances. Martin works long hours on the truck and I often work unsociable hours in the church, so socialising can be hard, but we try.
I have been given a digital camera by Martin when we just moved to Norway, so I have plenty of pictures to play around with, which you can notice on the photopage, and the link from our weblog. in 2006 we bought a digital SLR, which I now mostly use, as Martin takes the little digital to work each day. We both like to take pictures, though I have to admit that Martin is a lot better at it then I am.
My free time I either spend in books, or on the computer playing around with websites or photos.
I guess my most important hobby, doing things for God has become my job now. Do you want to know why I spend so much time with and for the Lord? My most favourite person in the world is Jesus Christ, I love Him and am looking forward to spending eternity with Him.
Although I have now been a Christian for sixteen years I feel that I still have a lot to learn, the Lord is teaching me everyday, through my Bible-reading, through the people around me and everything that happens in my life.
It is not always clear what the Lord wants from me, but I know that I can always trust Him and that in the end He always knows best!
© Benjamins 2008, 19th november