Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

From the Kattenbergs

Written by Nico and Lia Kattenberg
Dear Fellow Believers and Supporters:

The following biographical sketches of our lives are given upon request. The thought behind this is to allow those of you who have never met us and who are supporting the mission work to get to know us a little. So please follow along as we will lead you along the paths that our lives have taken.

My name is Lia Kattenberg-Kuijt. I was born as the youngest child in a family of five to Dutch parents in Angguruk, on the island of Irian Jaya, Indonesia, on December 3, 1975, where my parents were missionaries for twenty-nine years among the cannibals who lived in the jungles of Irian Jaya. I spent the first fourteen years of my life there. I went to an American boarding school on the coast and lived in a dorm for two years. For health reasons, my mom had to live in a mild climate for two years, so two of these fourteen years were spent in Germany. These years were some of the best years of my life. I have many wonderful memories of my years in Irian, and also have a great appreciation for the way I grew up.

After retiring from the mission field, my parents decided to move to Canada where there was a school operated by our church. Another deciding factor was that we all had attended an American Christian school, so moving to the Netherlands would have been difficult because of the language and culture. So in 1990, we moved to Chilliwack, British Columbia.

Looking back, my first three years in Chilliwack were hard! I found it difficult to get used to certain things, but also in my last year of high school I became sick. For a long time doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me. I was tired all the time and slept whenever I could. After several months of tests the doctors finally figured out the problem. I was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease. The doctors were excited, since it was apparently one of the most curable forms of cancer. Naturally, I was not too thrilled, since all I heard was the big ÒCÓ word. I underwent eight months of chemotherapy. My last treatment was in April of 1994.

Although this time in my life was difficult, being so sick from not only the cancer but also the medications, it was a time in which my faith was really strengthened and my trust in the Lord was renewed. During my battle with cancer one of my favorite passages was Philippians 1, especially these two verses: ...that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ, and for to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

After almost losing my life, it seemed that I was given my life back. But what was I to do with it? I was so overwhelmed with feeling well again! I ended up traveling for half a year with my dad, going to the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, and finally the island of Bali, Indonesia where my dad was starting a work among the Balinese.

After traveling, I felt it necessary to settle in one place for a while, and also to take some classes at Trinity Western University. It was there that I met and started dating Nico, and at this point I will turn you over to the story of NicoÕs life.

My name is Nico Kattenberg. I was born second oldest in Zwolle, the Netherlands on February 22, 1976. Shortly after that, my parents moved to the island of Curacao, the Dutch West Indies, situated in the Carribean Sea, off the coast of Venezuela. My parents were both teachers, although my mom only worked a few times a year as a substitute.

I have a lot of fond memories of Curacao. Swimming in the sea, collecting shells, and playing in the mangrove trees. My parents were in charge of taking several marines from the army base to church. As a result, they often came over for meals and other things. I guess my parents were ÒparentsÓ for these often homesick young men who were stationed so far away from home.

Some of the things that I remember always enjoying were hearing my mom read to us from church history books after supper and catechism class. The church history stories were always so fascinating, of how God miraculously spared some of His people, and of course, the heroic stories of those who died bravely as martyrs for the faith. The catechism class was held during the week at the church. I was one of the younger ones there and the question that was always mine to answer was what the name ÒBethelÓ meant. ÒHouse of GodÓ was the correct answer that I would give.

After seven years in Curacao my dad obtained a job in Canada. Going to Canada always had been a dream or desire of his. So we left Curacao for Holland to process the immigration papers. Since this always takes some time we were placed in a school in Kampen. I had finished grade one in Curacao and started my second grade in the new school in Holland. I also have many fond memories of our time in Holland.

In December of 1983 we moved to Smithers, British Columbia. It was thirty below zero when the plane touched down at the airport in Smithers. Thankfully, we were warmly bundled up. We were placed in the Ebenezer Canadian Reformed School where my dad had secured a job. It was a little difficult at first, having to finish a school year in a different language. But children adapt quickly and soon we were speaking English. Again, my time in Smithers was pleasant. I loved the outdoors, going fishing, and playing baseball and hockey with the neighbour kids and my brothers.

I also enjoyed going to the mission evenings in the basement of the church when missionaries came from Irian Jaya and Papua New Guinea. I also enjoyed the youth choir. However, along with the good memories is one memory that has stayed with me and my family and will stay with us forever. June 23, 1984 was the date that has been etched into our hearts forever, which is the day that our beloved little brother and son drowned at the age of four on one of our fishing trips. I jumped in the river after him but the current had taken him away. My dad also looked in vain, but he had to give up. I sometimes try to imagine what it must have been like for him to have to knowingly leaving behind a beloved son. And of course, the agony of having to break the news to my mom. I hope it is something that I will never have to go through.

After five years in Smithers, my parents decided to move to Chilliwack. It was there that my parents came into contact with Rev. Bilkes and the church of Aldergrove, now Abbotsford. We started attending the Aldergrove Free Reformed Church and when the Chilliwack FRC was started, joined there. I was president for several years of the combined Abbotsford and Chilliwack Senior YPS and helped with leading the Junior YPS for several years. It was also here that I think my interest in missions was cultivated. I remember one of the deacons asking me once what I wanted to do when I graduated. I responded that I was interested in mission work. He said that if this is GodÕs desire for me He would open the doors. As a result in March of 1994, in my final year of high school, I visited Cubulco for two weeks.

After graduating I received scholarships to go on and further my studies. Like most young people who just finish graduating, I did not want to go back to school just yet, but wanted to work for a while and do some traveling. My dad urged me to go to school and at least use up my scholarships. As a result, I attended Northwest Bible College on the campus of Trinity Western University where I enrolled in the Bachelors of Religious Education program with my major being in Missions and Cross-cultural studies. In my second year I met Lia, not for the first time, since we had gone to the same high school. In my second year I also went along as a chaperone on a short term mission trip to Mexico with some students of my former high school.

After finishing my second year I switched to Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford. I really enjoyed it there since it was cheaper, shorter distance to commute, it had sports teams, and the campus lay-out was more favourable. It always had been a wish of mine to play sports on a more competitive level. One of the things I enjoyed was that we had to play as witnesses since we played against non-Christians. The result was that we won the favour and respect of not only the other teams, but also the referees who loved to referee our games. I graduated from CBC in 1998, although I still needed to complete a three-month practicum which I ended up completing here in Cubulco. It was also during my last year of college that I was accepted by the mission committee for the position of mission worker in Cubulco.

After coming back from Guatemala in early December of 1998, Lia and I were married on December 29. We spent four months in Chilliwack taking Spanish courses and courses on Latin America at the local university. In April, we left for Costa Rica to begin our language studies. Here we became involved as leaders and organizers for student outings. After two semesters we returned to Canada to prepare for our work in Guatemala. In January of 2000 we arrived in Cubulco.

Our first year here has been bitter-sweet. With so many changes in a short period of time it took a while to adjust. Also, it took a while to find our place in the work. We also were sick a lot with sore throats and other things. Mixed with this was the concern about the declining health of LiaÕs dad, Rev. Gerrit Kuijt. Lia went to back to Canada twice to spend some time with him. The second time, the same day as she arrived, he was hospitalized and three days later her dad passed away. The mission committee graciously granted me a three-week leave to be with Lia and the family.This time together was very special.

The last day before leaving to go back to Guatemala, I found a big bump in my groin area, which at first caused no discomfort. Eventually I could hardly walk anymore because of the pain and when treatment did not help, a surgeon came from the United States and performed a biopsy with local anaesthetic which did not seem to work too well. While the operation was very painful, I have had little discomfort since.

These are basically the paths that our lives have taken leading up to today. We do not know where these paths will lead us in the future, but we can leave that in the hands of God. We want to take this opportunity now to thank you for supporting this work here in Guatemala and ask you to continue supporting the work, not only financially, but most of all with your prayers.

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