The Bell - Fall 2019

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A Publication of Zeeland Christian School

Page 4 Z CS & Rid g e Point Nature Pre s ch o o l

Pa g e 6 Tea c h e r S p o t l i g ht s Jen Leenstra & Rachel Damstra


FALL 2019



Notes from Leadership


Nature School


Teachers Spotlight


Maximize Giving


Travel - Mongolia

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What does it take to be a Foster Parent? Celebrating 50 years

Lov e Res c u ed Me! “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families” Psalm 68:5-6

There were many reasons I felt drawn to Zeeland Christian when I was in the interview process nearly three years ago. Chief among these reasons was learning of this community’s commitment to inclusion, foster care, and adoption. Our adoption story began while my wife April and I were serving as missionaries in Taiwan. Much of the ministry of the churches in Taiwan at the time was happening secretly in China, and many of our missionary friends were involved in some way. As a newlywed couple, we weren’t thinking of having children yet, but we started to take notice as many of our friends were either in the process of adopting a child from China or were considering it. Slowly, during our time in Taiwan, God began to break our heart for the orphan and those without families. Verses like Psalm 68:5-6, James 1:27, Matthew 25:40, and others began jumping off the pages of our Bible. We listened intently to the firsthand accounts of our friends, and by the time we left Taiwan, we decided that when we were ready to have children we would pursue international adoption from China. I thought we were the rescuers, but on December 2, 2003, love rescued me when our daughter was placed into our waiting arms, and I became “Daddy.” On that day I finally understood what it means to not live life for myself. While I wish it had happened sooner, I thank God He continued to give me the opportunity to be rescued.

2019-2020 THEME:


“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” – Isaiah 6:8.

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This is our adoption story. I’ve heard many of yours, and each one has encouraged and challenged me. Thank you, Zeeland Christian family, for opening your homes, school, and hearts to all children.

Tim McAboy, Head of School


Another avenue of growth the Board is thrilled to share is the news of a Zeeland Christian Nature Preschool at Ridge Point Community Church! Through a synergistic partnership with Ridge Point, we will offer excellent, Christ-centered preschool education to families at ZCS and primarily in a natural environment at Ridge Point Church beginning in the fall of 2020. Look for more information to be shared soon!

Betsy Koop, Board President Greetings on behalf of the ZCS Board of Trustees! It is a joy to be a part of this Spirit-led community that prioritizes God, kids, and learning, in that order. As trustees, we are grateful for the unique ways each of you contributes to help the Zeeland Christian community live out its mission daily. A Board priority this fall has been to discern action steps and key initiatives, through the Spirit’s prompting, to most effectively advance His work in and through Zeeland Christian. Through long-range strategic planning designed to promote and advance the mission upon which ZCS was founded, and execution of key initiatives to ensure relevance for years to come, there is significant momentum!

After both reviewing historic board documents and learning of recent legacy gifts left by Harvey and Jennie Jongekrijg and Joan Bruins at a recent board meeting, we paused to remember and celebrate those who laid the foundation for this institution before us by dedicating their time, energy, and finances for missional impact through the vehicle of excellent, Christ-centered education. We were also reminded that we, all members of the Society of ZCS, are the shoulders on which the next generation will stand. Thank you for the many ways you advance the mission of the school through your prayers and support. Whether sharing about students’ project-based learning experiences in the community, attending an all-school chapel, participating in the annual auction, greeting a teacher in an immersion language, or committing to pray for students, faculty and staff, you are a key participant in the work God is doing to propel ZCS towards its mission: Love God, Love Kids, Love Learning. In exactly that order. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Betsy Koop ZCS Board President

Zeeland Christian is a growing and dynamic organization. Out of a posture of stewardship before the Lord, the Board of Trustees identified the need to “Get our House in Order” by ensuring that key guiding documents and organizational design both honor our history and are relevant for Zeeland Christian today and in the future. A newly formed Policy Committee of the Board is delving deeply into the guiding documents and we invite your prayers as we seek discernment in the process. We will share more in the months to come. Fall 2019 | 3


ZCS and Ridge Point Community Church Partner to We are excited to announce a new ZCS partnership with Ridge Point Community Church. We will be bringing nature preschool classes from a Christian perspective to the Holland/Zeeland area, hopefully starting Fall 2020. This past spring, Ridge Point reached out to Zeeland Christian asking us to come alongside a vision they had for the future of their church and the 160 acres of property nestled along 104th Avenue. Kevin Pike, Senior Pastor at Ridge Point, said, “As a church, we desire to connect and add value to our community. God has given us a beautiful property and using it as a tool to teach children about Jesus, through nature, is one of our goals for the property. Pike went on to say, “As we look at making enhancements to our outdoor space, we realize that offering nature preschool classes would be a great way to invite young families to our property to enjoy and experience the outdoors. A partnership with Zeeland Christian is perfect. Our mission at Ridge Point is to Follow Jesus and Fearlessly Make Him Known, connecting families with Jesus through nature teaching is a wonderful fit. We are excited about working with the team at Zeeland Christian and offering this opportunity to our Holland/Zeeland communities.” “We have already been exploring outdoor education and how to connect our students with nature,” said Preschool Director Nancy Pyle. “We have read the research and know that it’s essential for kids to have enough time outside. Our staff 4 | The Bell

received training from Ottawa County Parks’ staff in January and from the Outdoor Discovery Center in May and August. The idea of running nature preschool classes at Ridge Point fell right in line with the work we were already doing with our early childhood team.” Our school board quickly realized that a partnership with Ridge Point would be beneficial for both communities. “We have been looking for ways to adjust our outdoor environment to make it more natural for kids when they learn and play outside,” School Board President, Betsy Koop, said. “But the natural property that exists at Ridge Point is one-of-a-kind. We look forward to incorporating outdoor education into our Central Ave. campus, but the possibilities are so much greater through a partnership with Ridge Point.” Besides that, we are out of classrooms. With enrollment growing each year, space is at a premium. “We currently use seven classrooms for preschool. If we shift a few of those classes to Ridge Point, we can then use those classrooms for our elementary and middle school classes,” said Tim McAboy, Head of School. “We hope to start with four classes at Ridge Point, but then allow that capacity to grow as we continue to partner together.” Zeeland Christian Preschool will now be in three locations: Ridge Point, Central Ave. and at Drenthe Christian Reformed Church. “We are already making plans of how we are going to stay connected and work together as one


Offer Nature Preschool Classes preschool,” said Pyle. “Each site brings a unique facility, but we will be offering a Zeeland Christian Preschool experience at each site.” “We are excited for what the future holds for this partnership,” said McAboy. “We are already seeing God working through the details, and we are eager to see how he blesses the families in our community as we work together.” Finally, we continue to look towards teacher training and playground changes here in Zeeland to encourage our teachers to take learning outside. We’re already seeing our preschool, young 5s, and kindergarten teachers changing the way they teach in response to professional development they’re receiving from the Outdoor Discovery Center, and we look forward to more of this in the future. We look forward to incorporating outdoor education into our Central Ave. campus, but the possibilities are so much greater through a partnership with Ridge Point.”

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Teac h e r Spotli g h t Jen Leenstra

feeling of intention, paired with the freedom to be who you are and share your individual gifts as a teacher are just a few of the many things Jen admires about ZCS. Jen makes it a priority to get to know each student year after year. Understanding their unique talents and personalities helps her build a strong foundation in her classroom, which results in gaining more effective teaching methods. This all plays into assisting different students to learn in different ways that are most beneficial to them. Overall, Jen recognizes the importance of celebrating her students’ achievements. Whether they are big or small, a child overcoming an obstacle or accomplishing something in the classroom never fails to amaze her. Jen strives to create a classroom environment that is encouraging, inspiring, and most important, filled with the love of God.

When it comes to Jen Leenstra, everyday pencil and paperwork doesn’t begin to scratch the surface in her style of teaching. Hands-on experiments, building projects, and getting out into nature are just some of the methods she uses in allowing her class to dive deeper into their creativity and learn from it. Along with her husband Greg and two boys, Jake and Aiden, there is never a lack of projects going on at home. Be it home improvements, working in the flower garden, tending beehives, or tapping maple syrup from the maple trees on her Grandfather’s farm, Jen is never at a shortage of incorporating these adventures into fun learning opportunities to share with her students. Jen grew up in Holland, attending Holland Christian School. Vividly remembering the enthusiasm and love for teaching her elementary teachers had, she already knew by about 4th grade that teaching was in her future. In the meantime, Jen had many influences in growing her faith and desire to truly know God. By the time college rolled around, Jen had found herself enrolled in the teaching program at Calvin College. Jen started her journey at Zeeland Christian School, working with a student in the inclusion program for a little over three years. She is now in her 8th year teaching 3rd grade, with her main focus being social studies, science, and reading. The overall 6 | The Bell


Rachel Damstra’s story at Zeeland Christian school started long before her teaching days began. Having once walked the halls of this school as a student herself, she has first-hand experience of God’s amazing work in this school and community. Growing up, attending ZCS played a significant part in her faith walk and journey to knowing and loving God. Regularly attending church, she made her profession of faith around 14 years old. But it wasn’t until a few years later that she went on a mission trip with a friend that ignited her true passion of faith. Rachel’s love for mission work continued with trips to Romania, Mexico, New Orleans, and more. She developed a deep desire to serve God and others through the dedication of her time and hard work.

One of Rachel’s greatest joys in teaching has been getting to witness the student-led support of one another. Seeing how the kids share, help, and come together never fails to amaze her. Having never thought she would end up teaching, Rachel couldn’t envision herself doing anything else. She may have had to travel across the world for God to show her this, but coming home to Zeeland Christian School made her journey that much more special.

Rachel Damstra

Later, Rachel found herself being called toward social work while attending college in Chicago. Due to a lack of openings in the program, she found herself faced with an opportunity to participate in a mission to South Africa. The trip was with an organization called Youth With a Mission, YWAM. During this six-month life-changing journey, Rachel had a specific event occur that would alter her entire path in life. The song, “Oh How He Loves,” by David Crowder had always been particularly meaningful to Rachel. This song deeply resonates with her, but it was also something she had never shared with anyone. While attending an event, a speaker singled her out of a crowd and felt compelled to play this song. It was evident that God was at work, speaking His truth into her heart. She realized she was on a journey of seeing the magnificent ways that our powerful God works when He shuts doors but opens others. It was during this time that Rachel believed God was leading her heart toward teaching. Upon returning to the United States, Rachel enrolled in the teaching program at Calvin. When the time came to start her career, God opened another door, allowing herself back where her journey began all those years ago, at ZCS. Rachel is now in her 4th year teaching. She taught 4th grade for three years and is currently teaching 3rd grade. Rachel has been married for three years to her husband Ben and has a beautiful one-year-old daughter, Aliyah. Fall 2019 | 7


Four Fantastic Ways to Maximize your giving Peter Jenkins - Dir. of Advancement Every gift matters at Zeeland Christian. Every dollar plays a part in minds, hearts, and souls that are influenced and developed here for Christ every day. This year-end, I want to share four fantastic, and maybe new to you, ways to maximize your giving.

1. Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD) »» If you are 70 ½ (who said half birthdays don’t matter?!), you can gift up to $100,000/yr of your traditional or inherited IRA distribution to Zeeland Christian School and pay no taxes on it. All Jesus, no Uncle Sam. »» With the standard deduction for married couples now at $24,000, QCDs are a great way to benefit from your charitable giving even if you do not itemize because it decreases your Adjusted Gross Income(AGI). »» Example: You are 72, married, and your baseline income is $50,000. You are required to take a minimum distribution(RMD) of $15,000 from your IRA. Your taxable income would be $65,000 before taking

the standard deduction and AGI is $41,000. »» But, if you give that $15,000 to ZCS, your AGI stays at the $50,000 and after the standard deduction you are paying taxes on $26,000. All Jesus, less Uncle Sam. 2. Appreciated Securities »» If you donate the capital gains from your sale of stock, you do not pay any taxes on those capital gains. If you bought 1,000 shares of Herman Miller stock at $20/share, and sell it at $44.94 (Oct. 7), your profit of $24,940 can be donated to ZCS. 3. Donor-Advised Fund »» This is a great way to maximize your giving under the new standard deduction levels. If the total amount you plan on giving over the next two years allows you to itemize this year, you can set aside that amount in a Donor Advised Fund. Then, over the course of the next two years, you can give out of this fund. Once funds are in a DAF, they must be given to a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. Our friends at Barnabas are fantastic to work with when it comes to

DAFs. 4. Beneficiary Designations »» Did you know that you can name Zeeland Christian as the beneficiary of your IRA, retirement plan, annuity, or even an HSA?! This is a fantastic way to maximize your legacy and lower your taxable amount when you go home to Jesus. You can also split these accounts by naming two beneficiaries if you want to designate these funds to your church and ZCS. I hope these four ways to maximize your giving have helped you or sparked your interest in learning more. I am happy to chat over the phone or coffee about which scenario is best for you to achieve All Jesus and no Uncle Sam. “We love giving to ZCS and we look forward to giving more!” This quote wasn’t from me. It was from a donor who loves being an active part of what God is doing at Zeeland Christian School. I hope this year-end you will consider what role you will play in developing a child’s identity in Christ through their heart, mind, and soul.

C r eat ion . In s ta l l a ti o n . Ma int e na nce . 616-399-1734 | | A Bakker Family business since 1968. COMPLETE SITE DESIGN

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Audrey Williams - 8th Grade Teacher I love to travel. There is something about the planning and anticipation of the trip, the packing of a bag, and the arrival into a place that is new and exciting. In exploring different parts of God’s creation, whether it be stateside or across the globe, travel enables us to experience and appreciate the diversity of God’s handiwork. Travel enables us to try exotic foods, hear unique accents and languages, and interact with new people. It was largely due to this love of travel and experiencing new places that there was no hesitation on my part when my church announced they wanted to send a group to the country of Mongolia to encourage and assist a missionary family in their work there.

ing for the Mongolian church community, its outreach, and its challenges as it continues to grow. As I reflect on this trip, I can’t help but think of this year’s school theme of, “Send Me.” While God sent me to travel miles away this summer, I also know that this school year, God has sent me closer to home for another year teaching at ZCS. I know that God calls us to experience and appreciate Him in both places near and far, each equally rewarding. Wherever you may be, I pray that you too take the time to listen to God’s voice and follow where it is that He may send you, whether it’s down the street, or miles away. Allow yourself to say, “Here I am, Lord. Send me!”

Mongolia is a landlocked country nestled between Russia and China. Although Mongolia is not small (about one-sixth the size of the United States), it has a relatively small population, roughly three million people as opposed to the United States’ nearly 330 million. And, of that population, about half live in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar while much of the other half still follow a nomadic lifestyle, traveling the steppe with livestock. While in Mongolia, our group spent most of our time with the missionary team and the local church leaders in Ulaanbaatar. They were gracious hosts and were excited to share Mongolian culture with us. We learned that it was rude to turn down food that is offered to you, that showing the bottom of your foot to someone is offensive, and that a Prius is the Mongolian car of choice. In addition to these cultural lessons, our group was able to do activities such as ride camels, sample every form of dairy product imaginable, and even climb the Great Wall of China (thanks to a long layover in Beijing!). The main purpose of our trip was to lead an English-learning camp for Mongolian children, hosted through a local church branch as an outreach. Not only were these children eager to learn English, a language that opens the door to future opportunities, but about 1/3 of them were previously un-churched. The church leaders we worked with are incredible Believers, and we were challenged and encouraged to continue pray-

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Over the course of 3 weeks in August, my 11 and 8 year old sons were invited to visit the homes and families of nearly 25 strangers who happen to live on the other side of the world. These invitations were sincere and heartfelt and surprising and awkward. These invitations made me proud of my boys and ZCS. When Anders (6th grade) and Soren (3rd grade) started in the Mandarin Immersion program, I thought of the journey as the beginning of an academic challenge, an opportunity for incredible brain growth, and a fantastic chance to give them the gift of a second language. I was very correct and I was very wrong. My rationale for pursuing Mandarin Immersion was correct, but I never dreamed of the extent of actual connections and relationships that would form because of Mandarin Immersion. Investing in God’s people and growing hearts are the truest reasons for Immersion Education. Sydney, Australia has a large Mandarin speaking population and attracts many Mandarin speaking tourists. While there in August, Anders and Soren had a great time using their Mandarin. Whenever they saw a group of Mandarin speaking people trying to take a group picture, Anders would approach them and politely offer to take their photo. Inevitably, they would gawk at Anders’ caucasian skin, reddish brown hair, and freckled nose and, ironically, exclaim, “Do you speak Mandarin?” Anders would reply that he does and immediately a group of Mandarin speaking tourists would crowd around Anders and start rapid-firing questions: “How do you know Mandarin? How old are you? Where are you from? Where to you go to school? Why do you know Mandarin? Do you like Mandarin? Have you been to China?” Anders and Soren would tag team answering the questions. The conversations would last approximately 10 -15 minutes and, without exception, they then insisted that Anders and Soren be included in their group photograph. After the photo, Anders and Soren were repeatedly invited to come visit them at their homes in China. Sometimes we knew the name of their hometown, sometimes we didn’t. Each time that Anders and Soren used their Mandarin, the people to whom they spoke went from strangers in Sydney to friends who invited our family to their homes in China. Through Mandarin, Anders and Soren were able to turn strangers to friends in a matter of minutes. 10 | The Bell

By: Carrie Traver, Parent

On one particular morning we were in line to catch a ferry boat. Anders said “hello” to a woman in Mandarin. They proceeded to strike up a conversation. They talked about China and the United States, sports, food and recipes. Anders learned how to make an authentic Chinese stirfry on an Australian ferry. At the end of the day, we took the return ferry home and the same woman was, again, on our ferry. As soon as she spotted Anders and Soren, she enthusiastically invited them to come sit by her and simply smiled and waved at me. I watched Anders and Soren share stories and laugh with this women who was a stranger in a ferry line this morning, but became a friend through stories, recipes and jokes shared in Mandarin. The ferry ride ended with photos of the boys with their new friend and, amazingly, an incredibly sincere invitation to visit her home in a Chinese coastal town on the third street from the beach. She even told Anders and Soren what she would cook for them when they arrived. Mandarin Immersion has strengthened and stretched my boys’ brains, but, more importantly, it has grown their hearts. Anders and Soren were perplexed why people want to take the time to speak to them in Mandarin. Soren commented, “When I say something to people in Mandarin, they just answer with 100 questions and all start talking at once.” I simply explained, “they are excited to know that you care enough about them to learn their language.” Mandarin Immersion has given Anders and Soren the ability to connect with people who never expect freckle-faced, brown- haired, American boys to be able to relate to them or take interest in them. Our new Mandarin speaking friends, meanwhile, have taught me that I need to work on my gift of hospitality and include everyone in our family photos.


What It Takes To Be a Great Foster Parent Have you wondered what it takes to be a great foster parent? The five protective factors below will help guide your readiness and planning to become a foster parent at Bethany!

What makes a great foster parent? 1. Parental resilience – This is your ability to bounce back from all types of challenges. Think about a time when your family experienced a challenge. How did you bounce back? Were you able to solve problems and build relationships with your family in the process? Did you seek help when necessary? If you answered yes to these questions, you’re one step closer! 2. Social connections – Your social connections (friends, family, faith community, etc.) can provide emotional support and good parenting advice. Does this sound like your community of support? Do you want to “give back” to a parent facing a crisis? Want to help a parent overcome feelings of isolation by helping them build positive relationships? If you answered yes to these questions, you’re two steps closer! 3. Concrete support in times of need – Surprise! You have new guests in your home! Thriving families have “their people” they can count on for help on a moment’s notice. Do you have a network of support that can help you meet some basic needs on short notice? Someone to bring you a meal or take your child to the doctor if you can’t get off work? Someone who can babysit? If you answered yes to these questions, you’re three steps closer!

Family changes everything

By: Tim Nolan, Branch Director Bethany Christian Services

4. Knowledge of parenting and child development – Every child’s development is unique, and expectations for children’s behavior at various stages is essential for healthy development. Children in foster care require customized developmental support because of the challenges they’ve faced. Do you have a basic understanding of child development? Are you and your family willing to learn trauma-informed and trauma-healthy ways to support a child who has been abused or neglected? If you answered yes to these questions, you are almost to the finish line! Even better, we’ll give you customized trauma-informed training on how to meet the individualized needs of a child in your home! 5. Social and emotional competence of children – A child’s ability to self-regulate, interact positively with others, and positively communicate their feelings helps them build positive relationships with their family and friends. Are you able to pick up on a child’s behavior cues and triggers? Can you redirect a child’s emotions to healthy communication? Or are you willing to learn how? If you answered yes, you’ve made it to the finish line! Congratulations, you’d be a terrific foster parent, and we’d love to talk with you about how you can provide a safe, loving home for a child. Thanks for taking a moment to review these five protective factors. Fostering children is a marathon, not a sprint! Whether you are an experienced parent or just starting out, it’s essential to have someone you can count on for encouragement and support along the way.

For more than 75 years, our faith has inspired us to stand for children close to home and around the world. We believe every child deserves to be loved, connected, and safe.


11335 JAMES ST HOLLAND, MI 49424 BETHANY.ORG/HOLLAND (616) 396-0623

© 2019 Bethany Christian Services


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School Mosaic Mosaic was started to empower those stepping into the lives of foster, adoptive, and vulnerable children through authentic community, mentoring, education, wrap-around support and encouragement. Each year Mosaic hosts multiple family nights, movie nights, caregiver outings, playdates, trainings, and a special event on orphan Sunday.

God has greatly blessed the growth of Mosaic to several local churches. Last year, Mosaic was introduced in its first school setting through a group at Zeeland Christian (ZCS). ZCS Mosaic was started by a few adoptive moms who shared a desire to build community among the growing group of ZCS families that have chosen to foster/adopt or serve as kinship/safe families. Being adoptive parents themselves, they knew the complexity of emotions often faced with bringing home a child not biologically their own. The heart and intent of this group is to develop community and create a safe space for expressing concerns, asking questions, sharing resources; providing resourceful and relevant training; supporting each other through prayer; and making space for kids to connect with other kids who understand their life journey. Additionally, this group was formed to advocate for adoptive/foster/safe family children, while celebrating their unique backgrounds, experi-

ences, cultures, and races. Moreover, ZCS Mosaic has tried to come alongside the families who have followed this calling, by providing help with meals,

carpooling, laundry assistance, babysitting, prayer, and anything else that may help families. ZCS Mosaic’s first event was held at the gym and it was a great night for parents to connect, share stories, solicit advice, and lift one another up in prayer. Subsequent events have included a pizza party at thee school of adopted/foster/kinship students and their friends, caregiver coffee break, and an end of the year park party. This year, the group plans to host similar events that will also include a couple’s respite night, cultural celebration, and a special family night to celebrate adoption month. The theme for this school year is “Here I am Lord, send me!” from Isaiah 6:8. Over 45 ZCS families have been “sent”, in a less traditional sense, to open their homes and lives to some of the vulnerable and orphaned children of our world, both internationally from Columbia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, China, South Korea, etc.; and domestically. Each family’s journey is different and can be fairly difficult with the various obstacles, setbacks, disappointments and loss that each child’s situation brings. However,

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by answering His call, hope is restored, families are expanded and strengthened, Christ is shared, and a greater understanding for others is gained. The decision to be “sent” has forever changed them, as well as the lives of their children and other various family members. Things may not always go “as planned,” but by following the call to be sent, God’s providence for these families has been fulfilled and some of the most beautiful, interesting, and diverse families have been created! Becoming a foster family, deciding to adopt, or providing respite care are not a calling for every family; however, there are several tangible and significant ways you can get involved and help the Mosaic families at ZCS. Mosaic has developed a “Send Me” list, as a way to support some of our families, who may benefit from some extra love and support. If you’re interested in helping, please email with the subject “send me” and let them know how you would be willing to be “sent.” Blessings, Janine Osterink, Jill Emmick & Kara Koster ZCS School Coordinators

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our ZCS story

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our ZCS story

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Our Story

Foster Care and Adoption Journeys challenging and the whole family has learned more about the of ZCS Parents effects of trauma but we would not change it for the world.

We consider these two babies as a part of our forever family as well. They just went back to their birth mom at the end of August but we still get to see them. Adoption or Foster Care? In our opinion, we feel you need to decide what you would like for your family right now. For us, twelve years ago, we wanted a child to be in our forever family. Now, we are willing to adopt but we are in the fostering process and would like to just walk alongside birth families the best way we can. *If you’d like to read about our adoption journey you can go to

The Sills Family Kreg and I started our adoption journey about 12 years ago when we realized that having another baby was not really an option for our family. We hadn’t thought that adoption was part of our “life plan” at the time. However, we were pleasantly surprised that our numerous prayers were not answered in the way that we had hoped. This embodies the theme for this year at ZCS, which is “Here I am, Send Me.” The “big guy” had other plans for us. We sat down with Bethany Christian Services and decided to adopt from Ethiopia. We had many ups and downs through the adoption process but it’s a process we would never change. Our son, Hagirsa, is the best thing that we never expected! Besides being such a blessing to our family, we have been blessed in so many ways through adoption: meeting new forever families, learning about a new culture, traveling to Ethiopia (and hoping to go again this summer), meeting and learning his birth mom’s story, meeting potential adoptive families, and just stepping out of our comfort zone that we so cherish. After starting an adoption/foster care group at Harderwyk Ministries called “GIFT” (God’s Intended Future Treasures), we decided to practice what we’ve been preaching because the need is so high for foster families. It took about 5 months to get our license and we got a call the very next day to take in two children under the age of two. The path of foster care is 16 | The Bell

The Ambrosi Family After many years of infertility struggles, we burst through the door of adoption with nothing but an idea and the deepest desire to start our family. We quickly learned how much we did not know. Questions like… domestic or international… open or closed… agency one or agency two… infant, toddler, or child… special needs or no special needs. It became quite an introspective look into our hearts and souls when beginning to ponder questions such as these. After a crash course in everything adoption, we felt the right path for us was the route of infant, domestic, open adoption through Bethany Christian Services. Once the decision was made, we never looked back or had one minute of second-guessing. Five months. Start to finish for each of our three children that came to our family through adoption. We read all of the stories of families who waited for years and journeyed thousands of miles to bring home their babies. Three times in a row, much to our amazement, that was not to be our story. Mia joined our family in 2006, Luca in 2007, and fi-

Our Story

nally Giselle “Elle” in 2009. Our family was complete, and we happily (albeit tiredly!) entered into the throws of our new, beautifully messy life with three kids under the age of three! Surprise, surprise… three years after our family of five “completion” and we exited the baby stage of life, God had other plans. Gianna joined our family as our first (and last!) biological baby in 2013. One thing we have found as we journey through this life as a family is that people who have no personal connection to adoption, often offer unsolicited and unintentionally hurtful comments. We soon realized our new role as ambassadors for the education of lay folks on adoption protocol, vocabulary, and frankly, manners. We often encounter common mistakes including questions and comments like: Who are her real parents? Answer: We are her (their) real parents, legally, forever and ever. Their BIRTHparents are a different, and very personal story. When our kids or any other adoptees are willing to share that part of their story, then and only then is when it is appropriate to ask questions. Why did his birthmother give him up? Answer: This is a tough one because it is rooted in the very traditional, and often negative portrayal of adoption. Think about it… in the past, girls and women were whisked away to give birth in private or hiding, never being allowed to see their baby, and then sent home to pretend the whole experience never happened. The reality is that the decision to make an adoption plan (hint: this is the correct way to say it!) is the greatest demonstration of selfless love and sacrifice that a mother can show her child. When a birthmother makes an adoption plan, she makes a choice to put the needs of her child before her own needs, feelings, or desires. Many times this happens without the support of her family which can make the decision much more difficult and complicated. The bottom line is, don’t assume the negative. The three strongest women I know are those that birthed my first three children. We know so many families that adopt and then get pregnant. How great that you get to experience pregnancy and have one of your own. Answer: While the first part of the statement itself might be true… you may know families in which that has happened, sometimes it feels as though the sentiment assumes that the goal of adoption is to eventually get pregnant. In our case, after five years of battling through infertility, we were overjoyed to close that door and open up our adoption journey. I promise you that I did not need pregnancy to become a mother. While we will always be grateful for each individual way that our children joined our family, none of them is more “our own” than the other…

though each subsequent child made us a little more crazy in the head! :) It can be exhausting as an adoptive family always having to “tell your story” or remind people that we are their real parents or why it is not always appropriate to ask very personal questions of our children regarding their birth families. However, even with those challenging aspects, beautiful moments also arise when we have windows into the souls of other families considering adoption or walking through the muddy waters of infertility. Sharing our own stories helps them feel a little less of the isolation that in one way or another, many of us felt at different points in our adoption journey. We are grateful for the ability to connect with others whose families have come together in similar and different fashions but all with common roots in adoption. One final thought with regards to the ZCS theme for 20192020, Send me. We can’t begin to know all of the places big and small, far and near, that God will send us. Sometimes, we are ‘sent’ to simply sit with a friend, listen to his/her story, empathize and show love. Just because someone has a different story from us, does not require us to fit it into our own story in order for it to make sense. When we are sent we are sent to show empathy and to meet people where they are. Especially in the sacred space of adoption, you cannot know unless you have walked through it on an intimate level. When we as humans are sent, we don’t always have a common experience with the one to whom we are sent. It is ok. Simply learning, listening, and being present can be the best way to show up and share God’s love.

Fall 2019 | 17


Thank you to all of our donors for your generous support to Zeeland Christian School! [May - September] Jason and Laurie Adams Shaun and Abby Allen Tim and Dena Apotheker Alden and Marilyn Arendsen Alden Arendsen Arlyn and Kerri Arendsen Earl and Lou Arendsen Gene and Mariann Arendsen Mike and Krista Arendsen Maxine Arens Douglas and Joan Aukeman Mary Baars Mark and Katie Baker Brian and Lauri Bartels Doug and Jan Becksford Lloyd and Dianne Bierma David and Kimberly Blaker Alvin and Arlene Blauwkamp Marie Blauwkamp Andrew and Eileen Boatright Lyle and Ruth Boerman Terry Boetsma Jon and Lori Boeve Chris and Nancy Bos Ken and Lois Bosch Laverne and Mary Bosch Ken and Linda Bosma Marcia Bosma Steve and Vicki Bouman Tom and Teresa Bouwens Rob and Gwen Brandt Gerald Braun Geoffrey and Erin Bremer Joyce Brinkman Mark and Rebecca Brinks Rudy and Diane Broekhuis Jeff and Amanda Brouwer Mike and Lori Brower Todd and Jennifer Brower Ralf and Donna Brown James and Cheryl Buist John and Barbara Buteyn Ron and Joyce Buursma Bill and Debbie Bytwork Brian and Chris Cannon 18 | The Bell

David and Ruth Capestany Chuck and Michelle Commeret Virginia Conklin Christopher and Brooke Cook Joel and Amanda Cooper J and Lisa Costen Mark and Kim Dahmer Robert and Mary Dannenberg Joyce Dark Robb and Jodi Dawson Richard and Janice De Boer Gary and Clarissa De Haan Eric and Nakisha De Jong John and Mary De Kievit Bill and Bonnie De Kleine Brian and Jan De Kock Carol De Korte Jim and Barb De Kruyter Paul and Kristine De Kruyter Dave and Barb De Vries Steve and Melissa De Witt Kenneth and Mary DeGraaf Jeffrey and Ashley Dekker Herp and Loie DeRoo Drew and Deb Deters Dustin and Stacy Deters Clayton and Kathy DeVries Corey and Heather DeVries Aaron and Rachael DeWitt Jason and Martha DeWitt Jo DeYoung John and Rhonda DeYoung Jeff and Kathy Disher Del and Vicki Dornbos Steven and Melanie Downing Howard and Evonne Driesenga Peter and Andrea Driesenga Fermin and Hilda Duran Emily Dyk Ed and Normalea Dykema Kevin and Lisa Dykgraaf Joseph and Heather Dykhuis Arlene Dykstra Delwyn and Donna Dykstra Steve and Deb Dykstra

Jim and Stacy Edewaard Robert and Ruth Eekhoff Todd and Allison Elders Doug and Gail Elenbaas Randall and Erin Elenbaas Dann and Deb Elzinga Robert and Lisa England Bernie and Cheryl Feenstra Chad and Leah Geenen Brian and Marlys Geerlings David and Linda Geerlings Mike and Mary Geerlings Steve and Lois Gerritsma Derel Glashower Richard and Judy Gofredo Eric and Brenda Goodale Waleed Gosaynie Russell and Maribeth Grant John and Lavonne Gras Robert and Alma Grassmid Brent and Monica Gravenhof Dan and Jane Gritter Eric and Deb Gritter John and Lynn Groothuis Robert Grover Kathryn Gruppen Toby and Michelle Gruppen George and Mary Heerema Bradley and Sara Heeres Brent and Holly Heeres Jim and Linda Heeres Linda Hemmeke Ann Henriksen Ashley and Domingo Hernandez Marvin and Cristine Hinga Marlene Holstine Phil and Sandy Holtrop John and Sara Holwerda James and Barbara Hoogeboom Frank and Deb Hoogland Lester Hoogland Tom and Jenny Hoort Bryan and Stacy Huffman Donald and Ruth Huisenga Derrick and Lisa Huizenga


Robert Huizenga Ryan and Amy Hulsman Ross and Laura Hunderman Jack and Cindy Ippel Brad and Lindsey Iverson Doug and Mary-Jo Iverson Jeffrey and Julia Jenkins Peter and Beth Jenkins Howard and Marian Johnson John and Joanne Joliat Kama Jongerius Tom and Laurie Joustra Brandon and Rebecca Kaiser Gladys Kalkman Paul and Linda Kalkman Kevin Kammeraad Ben and Sarah Kapenga Jonathan and Stacey Karel Nate and Lisa Karsten Tony and Cara Karsten Camille Kass Sandra Keating Dave and Linda Keen Madilynn Kerber Rex and Mary Kiekintveld Ryan and Ashley Kiekintveld Scott and Sally Kiekintveld David and Kathryn Klamer John and Shirley Klingenberg Dan and Maria Klompmaker Brad and Jill Koning Stan and Jayne Konynenbelt Steve and Joanne Kooi Brian and Cathy Koop Dan and Michelle Koop Jonathan and Betsy Koop Steve and Rebecca Kraal Daniel and Sarah Kuiper David and Victory Kwekel Doug and Pat Laarman Sherwyn and Melanie Lamer Steve and Kathy Langeland David and Dianne Langworthy Matt and Deb Lappenga Mike and Cara Larsen Greg and Kristine Leegwater Jeff and Marcie Leegwater Greg and Jen Leenstra Tim and Bev Leep Jeff and Shelly Leys

Eugene and Shirley Los Fred and Kathy Louis Howard and Judy Lubbers Matthew and Michelle Lubbers Henry Luten Jeff and Beth Maat David Machiela Thomas and Bonnie Mannes Curt and Jean Mans Kelly and Valerie Markoski Tim and April McAboy Carolyn and Larry McKeever Arlen and Cathie Meeuwsen Dan and Christa Meeuwsen David and Kelli Meyer Randy and Lynae Meyers Russ and Helene Michmerhuizen Mindy Miller Randy and Dana Moeller Mike and Karyl Morin Calvin and Terrie Morrow Dale and Susan Mulder Paul and Heather Mulder Robert and Sheryl Mulder Ryan and Kim Mulder Dave and Leanne Muma Jack and Carol Naber Gordon Nagelkirk Marc and Tracy Nelesen Barry and Barb Newman John and Robin Nicely Jon and Lisa Novakowski Mark and Amanda Nyhof Philip and Kim Nykamp Terry and Kim Nyland Ryan and Sarah O’Donnell Jared and Rhonda Ortiz Craig and Betsy Oosterhouse Steven and Janine Osterink Jim and Jennifer Overway Jeffrey and Deborah Overweg Seth and Kami Palmer Doug and Carrie Papay Scott and Stephanie Parrott Andrew and Mari-Joy Peerbolt Gloria Pelon Joel and Julie Phillips Chad and Jodi Pierce Brian and Katie Postma Paul and Nancy Pyle

Joel and Joy Pyper Timothy and Stacey Rank Gordon Raterink Angie Rees James and Nancy Roelofs Doug and Jackie Roskamp Linda Rottschafer Loren and Sandy Sall Pat and Jennifer Schafer Josh and Laurie Schnakenberg Leah Schnakenberg Kevin and Sharon Schonewill Ken and Mary Schreur Bruce Schrotenboer Jeff and Becky Schrotenboer Kenneth and Myra Schuiteman Travis and Corah Senik Vic and Janelle Sharda Jared and Janelle Sievert Brian and Haley Slagh Ed and Ruth Slenk Charles and Susan Sloop Eric and Emily Sloterbeek Ben and Heather Smith Brandon and Megan Smith Todd and Tami Sneller Erwin and Linda South Elizabeth Spaans Andy and Jenna Spears Gary and Shanda Sprick Michael Sprick Cornelia Steenwyk Joseph and Jennifer Stevens Bruce and Nicole Stewart Dennis and Ruth Stilley Doug and Melissa Stob Cathy Stoel Sherrie Stuursma Mark and Kelli Ten Haken Mark and Cheryl Ter Haar Matt and Arlene Ter Haar Brenda Ter Horst Michael Ter Horst Judy Terpstra Nick and Sarah Terpstra Pete and Ruth Terpstra Ron and Sherri Tibbe Arlene Timmer Donna Timmer James Timmer Fall 2019 | 19


Jim and Sue Timmer Lou and Lisa Timmer Dave and Wendy Timmerman John and Tara Toner Mike and Carrie Traver Karl and Von Tubergan Duane and Gaylene Tucker Erik and Olivia Van Appledorn Richard and Robin Van Bragt Bill and Mary Ellen Van Dyk Bryan and Kaylin Van Dyke Daryl and Brenda Van Dyke John and Rose Van Haitsma Todd and Karen Van Haitsma Steve Van Heck Lisa Van Houten Marilyn Van Houten Nick and Brittany Van Huis Rita Van Maanen Norm and Luanne Van Solkema Roger and Faith Vanden Berg Mark and Sara Vanden Bosch Bill and Lyn Vanden Bosch Jr. Brian and Tammy Vanden Brink Dennis and Angeline Vanden Heuvel Luke and Sarah Vander Kooy Ray and Esther Vander Laan Martin Vander Meulen Pamela Vander Molen Andy and Elizabeth Vander Zwaag Brad and Jenny Vander Zwaag Gregg and Monica Vander Zwaag Melvin and Loie Vander Zwaag David and Bonnie VanderKooi Joel and Lynda Veenstra Jonathan and Kerrie Verlee Ron and Ruth Verwys Cheryl Visscher Marvin and LaVonne Visser Glenn and Terri Voisin Steve and Laurel Von Dobschutz Adrian and Corrine Vredeveld Travis and Anna Vruggink Joan Walcott Jerry and Gay Wallinga Lou and Ethel Wallinga Nicholas Walters Randy Walters Robert and Ellen Walters Gertrude Dolly Warner 20 | The Bell

Jake and Linda Weeda Jerry and Gretchen Weesies Doug and Evonne Wesseldyke Marilyn Westenbroek Mark and Tonya Westerbeke Wendi Whitaker Ben and Cara Wickstra Chris and Laurie Wierda Ken Wierda Jake and Betsy Wiersema Wayne Wildschut Donald and Jackie Windemuller Dave and Kris Wolbert Eleanor Wolters Keith and Erin Wolters Tony and Ann Worthington Glenn Wyngarden Scott and Carla Zastrow Gary and Greta Zuverink David and Judy Zwiep Edward and Joyce Zylstra James and Marty Zylstra

RG Delivery LLC Smith Gas Liquids Company Walters Gardens Inc. Wells Fargo Westside Service Center Geskus Photography Ditto Resale Lorence and Vander Zwart Julie and Kirk Cousins Foundation Beaverdam Christian Reformed Church First Christian Reformed Church Haven Christian Reformed Church North Street Christian Reformed Church Noordeloos Christian Reformed Church

Estate Gifts John and Esther Hoogland Harvey and Jen Jongekrijg John and Florence Masselink Joan Bruins John and Arelyne De Boer Companies and Churches Autumn Ridge Stone & Landscaping Supplies Carpet Bonanza Esstee Inc. GE Foundation Geenen Family Foundation Grassmid Transport Haworth, Inc. Helmholdt and Company LLP Heyboer Transformers Hungry Horse Campground Hutt Trucking Company Pfizer Foundation Matching Gifts Program Premier Freight Management Prince Foundation Quality Sheet Metal


Ruth Schuiteman

(Foster) Ken Wiersema

Gerald Braun Jo DeYoung Sandra Keating Eleanor Wolters Kevin Kammeraad Doug and Melissa Stob Jody Lamar Nancy Westrate Joe and Carol Schut Ellie Krikke Marci Hoezee Nicki Breber Sally Vruggink Carol Breoker Edward and Donna Wolters Gordon Raterink Robert Grover Gertrude Dolly Warner Gordon and Sally DeVries Lester Hoogland Doug and Sandra DeKock

Roger and Faith Vanden Berg Mike and Mary Geerlings Maxine Arens Lyle and Ruth Boerman Linda Rottschafer Kevin Kammeraad Judy Terpstra Joan Walcott Edward and Joyce Zylstra Doug and Jan Becksford Curt and Jean Mans Cornelia Steenwyk Andrew and Eileen Boatright

Paul Treffers

Mary Baars Kenneth and Myra Schuiteman Cheryl Visscher Lou and Ethel Wallinga

Gord Klunder

Russ and Helene Michmerhuizen

Ethel Scholten

Kathryn Gruppen John and Shirley Klingenberg Jack and Carol Naber Dennis and Angeline Vanden Heuvel Wayne Wildschut

Mary Brink

Esstee Chris and Nancy Bos Brian and Jan De Kock Delwyn and Donna Dykstra Jim and Stacy Edewaard Ann Henriksen Gladys Kalkman Vic and Janelle Sharda Erwin and Linda South Melvin and Loie Vander Zwaag David and Bonnie VanderKooi Robert and Ellen Walters James and Marty Zylstra Anonymous

Gary Rotman Hannah Gosaynie Waleed Gosaynie


Helmholdt and Company J and Lisa Costen Mark and Kim Dahmer Bill and Bonnie De Kleine Frank and Deb Hoogland Lester Hoogland Doug and Mary-Jo Iverson Brian and Katie Postma Doug and Melissa Stob Lou and Lisa Timmer Adrian and Corrine Vredeveld Glenn Wyngarden

Gordon Sissing

Mildred Geurink Lois Wagner


Esther Hoogland

Fall 2019 | 21


Celebrating 50 Years

Renewing old friendships and sharing memories was the goal of the Class of 1969 as they met to celebrate 50 years since graduation. The 30 classmates, of a graduating class of 58, and several spouses met on Saturday, Oct 5 in the Media Center at Zeeland Christian for a light supper and reminiscing. Peter Jenkins gave the attendees a tour of the school of which many had not been at Zeeland Christian since their graduation. The classmates have had many changes in their lives since graduation night that was held at First CRC but one thing that remains constant is God’s faithfulness.


22 | The Bell

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Fall 2019 | 23




Mark your calendars for The 1st Annual Legacy Event 6 PM at the Holland Civic Center



Zeeland Christian School 334 W Central Ave Zeeland, MI 49464 P 616.772.2609

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