Interview with Cleaner Supervisor Marijn

The experience of a cleaner supervisor. Read the interview with Marijn Timmer!

How did you end up in the Shelter hostel?

I worked as a mechanic before this, quit my job, and I signed up to study Religion Education. But I had some time before I started and I knew about the Shelter from my church. So I decided to do something useful and serve God.

What were you expectations about the Shelter?

Working in the café and talking to people from all over the world about my beliefs and sharing the gospel.

So you didn’t know about the Cleaner supervisor task?

No, I didn’t know about it. When I was at the hostel I heard about it and thought it would be really interesting to work along with the Cleaners. After a while the managers asked me if I would like to do this and I was really excited. I thought, that’s exactly what I want to do. To work with non Christians for one month and build a relationship with them. Through this, it is so much easier to share your faith. I don’t talk about God all day, its more about how you do things. You are a living example.

Do the people who clean in our hostels come to find work in Amsterdam or are they just travellers? What are their stories?

They come to Amsterdam because they don’t have work in their own country. They are trying to find work here and we give them kind of a helping hand to start. They work few hours a day and get food and a place to sleep. We try not only to give them food and a bed, but also to let them feel at home, find rest and get spiritual food.

The cleaners who work in the hostels are non Christians right? So are they really open to the Gospel? 

They have some ideas about God and the gospel but they don’t have a relationship with God and also don’t know that it is possible. Therefore we have a time of devotion every morning.

What do you do for devotion? Are they interested in all this? 

They see so much in how we, as staff, live, talk, and treat each other. They ask themselves what is different about this place and they have a lot of questions. Yes, they are willing to know what we believe. I read the Bible with them in the devotion and talk about what they think about it.

For example, last time I read the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet and to make it clearer, I washed their feet as well. We talked about serving people. And not only serving others but also the fact that you need to give something to let other people serve you. I try to show them the meaning of Christianity.

Is there something that you learn out of being a cleaner supervisor ?

I think there is a lot that you learn through working with so many different cultures. I think one thing I can mention is that I learned to be a leader. To tell the cleaners what needs to be done and say things to the cleaner directly.

Is it hard for you to be a friend, example, and a supervisor for them at the same time?

At first I was more a friend until I got used to everything, but now I can be both. If there is a situation when a cleaner didn’t clean something well I have two options. I can just do it myself or I go to the person and show him/her how to it better, then we do it together. So I can mix leadership and friendship through teamwork.

There are two parts of the day where I play different roles. In the morning in the devotion time it’s for the cleaners and so I talk with them about their struggles and questions about life, faith, God… so during this time I’m the friend. And during the cleaning time I have to check if they do a good job, so there I’m the supervisor.