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Mike and Anita James

Reaching Children – Training Leaders

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Nov '12

Sint Maarten, Sint Maarten

Yesterday, 11 November, was Sint Maartensdag (Saint Martin’s Day).  We were told about this holiday when we first moved to The Netherlands.  Children make paper lanterns attached to a stick and go door-to-door singing songs about Saint Martin and then get candy.  When we were told about it, we thought that it was a bit like Halloween.  Our first Halloween in The Netherlands, we actually had kids show up to trick-or-treat.  They scared me because we had our window open and saw these painted, gory faces looking in at us.  They had heard that we were Americans and knew that we would have candy for them.  Sint Maartensdag showed up, and we didn’t have any kids come by…for 7 years.

Then, we moved to Hoofddorp. On Halloween, we had no children at all.  We thought that we might since people know that we’re Americans.  We had some chocolate coins and various American candy.  No one came.  So, we didn’t get any more candy since we assumed that no kids would come for Sint Maarten.  We were wrong.

When the bell first rang, Mike said, “It’s Sint Maartensdag!”  He and Grace ran over to her candy stash and pulled out what we had.  The bell kept ringing and kept ringing.  We live in a neighborhood full of young children.  When all the candy was given away, we switched to homemade brownies leftover from church.  I put each one in a snack size Ziploc bag.  When larger groups started coming, I realized that we would have to get something else.  We were definitely scrambling!  I ran out to our freezer outside where I had some cookie dough that I was saving to make for church next week.  Fortunately, I had rolled the dough into balls before freezing it, so I dumped all the balls of dough onto a cookie sheet and threw it into the oven.  Then, I had to wait about 15 minutes before they were done.  Kids kept coming, and my cookies weren’t done yet.  Mike grabbed an opened bag of Dutch cookies and let the kids get some from the bag.  I said that it wouldn’t have been taken if we were in America.

Finally my cookies were done, and I took them out to cool.  They weren’t totally cooled when I bagged them up. When Mike came to get some of those, I heard the people say, “Wow!  These are still warm!”  I just hope the kids who pulled cookies out of an open bag don’t talk to the kids who got cookies hot out of the oven. We had 10 cookies left, and I was really worried.  After that, I was going to grab some oranges to give out.  We made jokes about sending Grace out with a flashlight so she could get something to bring back for us to then give out.

I decided to google and see how long kids normally go around for Sint Maarten.  What I found said that they go around 6:00 – 7:00 pm.  I was holding my breath and hoping that we had enough to make it that long.  We counted up how much we had given out and realized that about 40 kids came by.  We have 10 cookies left over.  Grace is happy since she had to give up her brownies.  I think I’ll be hearing the “Sint Maarten, Sint Maarten” song in my head for quite a while.  All in all, it turned out really well, and we all had fun.  We definitely made a family memory and will be ready the next time 11 November rolls around!

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