Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Beautiful Last Day

What to do on our last day in the Netherlands?
Eat pannekoeken.

Drink Chocomel.  Think chocolate milk blended until it's as thick as pudding!

Bike to church.

Go for a Sunday drive.
Past the tulip fields.

Past the football stadium (the kind they play with the round black and white ball.)

Drive halfway across the country--that's about 90 minutes.
And walk the beach.

YES!  The beach.  Marina Lanting assured us that we didn't want to leave Holland without going to the sea.  She was right!  We had a beautiful sunny day--still cold and windy enough for coats and scarves, but sunshine and sand.

Share a drink.

Have a little more hot Chocomel with a lot of slagroom!

We tested the water...

and decided it was okay to put our feet in the sea.

We came back to Nijkerk in time for a special birthday dinner of pannekoeken--choose your fillings: cheese, ham, bacon, peppers, mushrooms, spinach or apple and syrup.

We celebrated Annemarie's Birthday with the Lanting family.  That's Annemarie in front in the grey sweater.

We were surprised that some of our new friends in Nijkerk were also invited so we could say goodbye.  That's Mia talking to Jurjen, Xan's daddy.  Xan and Mia were probably the only 2 Chinese kids in Nijkerk and guess what Jurjen's last name is... yup--Engelsman.
2 Chinese kids in the Netherlands named "Englishman"  I'm not making this stuff up!

Share a late night glass of wine with friends whom we will miss very much!
With Marike and Thijs Blok.  Marike is the warm-hearted friend who first invited us to Nijkerk.

With Marina and Jan Lanting who opened their home and hearts to us for these five weeks.

We closed the night with a prayer of thanks that God has brought us together in his own creative and wonderful way.  We hope and pray that this is not "good-bye", but just "tot ziens"  or "see you again!"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ana's Essay on Corrie tenBoom

Here is Ana's report on Corrie tenBoom along with pictures of our visit to the tenBoom home in Haarlem a few weeks ago.

Last Sunday, April 15 was the anniversary of Corrie ten Boom’s birthday--which also happened to be the day she died.  Corrie ten Boom was born in 1892 in Haarlem, The Netherlands and died in 1983 in California.  Casper ten Boom, Corrie’s father, owned a watch shop in Haarlem.  He and his wife were loving Christians who often gathered people in their house for prayer.  They passed this faith and loving nature on to their children: Willem, Nollie, Betsie and Corrie. 

On May 10, 1940 the Nazis invaded Holland and began to occupy the country.  Hitler was trying to get rid of all the Jews so he made lots of anti-Jewish laws like making them wear a yellow star and not letting them have bikes or own a business or meet with Christians.  
The tenBoom family worked with the Dutch Underground to hide Jews from the Nazis.  They helped to hide Jewish people and move them on to safer places.  They also helped to get extra ration cards and hid these cards in their staircase.  

In order to hide the people, they built a compartment in Corrie’s bedroom.  It was small--about 8 feet long and 2 feet wide.  When we visited the house, I went into the “hiding place” with five other people and it was very crowded.  I could not imagine staying there for very long.

The tenBooms had a warning system in place to warn everybody who was hiding in their house about the Gestapo who often raided houses looking for Jews.  It took many practice runs to get everybody into the hiding place in about a minute.  To distract the Gestapo, someone would stall them so the Jews could hide.  
On February 28, 1944 the Gestapo came.  The tenBooms had been betrayed! Betsie pushed the alarm button.  Corrie was sick in bed in her room.  Suddenly, six people came running in and quickly crawled through a small opening in the closet into the hiding place.  They were four Jews and two Dutch underground workers. 
Meanwhile, on the floor below Corrie’s room, the Nazis had interrupted a prayer meeting.  There was a small sign in the window that said “Alpina.”  When the sign was in the window it was a signal to other Dutch Underground workers that it was safe to come inside.  Betsie knocked it out of the window, but one of the Germans put it back for her.  She didn’t dare move it after that.  Because the sign was still in the window, 16 more Underground workers entered the house that day and were arrested. 
Everyone in the house was arrested and taken to the local prison.  Casper was 84 years old.  He died 10 days later.
Corrie and her sister Betsie were taken to the gruesome concentration camp in Ravensbruck, Germany.  They were put to work in a factory.  Betsie became sick soon after being put in that concentration camp.  Corrie and Betsie heard that lots of their family had been released.  But Betsie became so sick she had to be in the hospital.  She still had to work--this time she had to do knitting.  She died in the camp.
A few weeks later, Corrie was released and found her way back to Holland.  Later she found out that one week after she left the camp, all the women her age and older had been sent to the gas chamber.  
The six people in the hiding place had to stay in that small space for 2 days before being rescued.  They all got out safely.  One of the Jews was later arrested and died in a concentration camp, but three of them survived the war.  One of the Underground workers became a minister, the other one died in other resistance work. 
Corrie tenBoom travelled the word to talk about the experience and about her Christian faith.  
I learned about Corrie tenBoom through her book, The Hiding Place and by visiting her house.  I am amazed that Corrie survived the concentration camp because so many people died there. I am happy that her life was spared so that she could spread the word of forgiveness to many countries and people.  Here are two of her favorite quotes: 
There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.
God will enable you to forgive your enemies.
A plaque inside the Hiding Place


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Gulliver's view of the Netherlands

Yesterday we visited Madurodam--a miniature version of famous Dutch sites all made to scale.  It's a tourist attraction that my parents took me and my sisters to visit when we were girls, now I got to take my mom and my girls to see the new and improved version.  After months of re-construction, it has re-opened to the public.

Here's a sample of the miniature sites and some of the actual buildings that we've seen in full size:

Train station and moving trains--it's how we are getting all over Holland.
Schipol Airport--with baggage carts and KLM planes
Utrecht's famous Dom Tower
with 465 steps to the top!
Madurodam's version of the Dom Tower
A row of canal houses at Madurodam

Actual canal houses in Utrecht
The cheese market in Gouda
Madurodam's version of the Gouda Town Hall
Actual "Stadhuis" in Gouda--one of the oldest in Holland
Who's miniature now?! That's Ana and Mia waving from the front of the Stadhuis to give a perspective of how impressive it really is!  
 We even met Rembrandt--one of the many famous Dutch artists!

Another Yummy night

On Saturday we learned yet another delicious way to spend an evening.  Actually, it resembled a unique combination form of cooking forms from both China and Botswana.

In China we enjoyed the "hot pot"--an electric kettle in the middle of a table with a bubbling spicy stew.  We threw raw meat and veggies into the liquid to cook it.
In Botswana, we loved the "braai"--meat, meat and more meat piled on the BBQ!
Put together the ideas of cooking at the table and having all sorts of meat and you have "creuset gourmet."  (sp??)
A plate full of meat ready for grilling
Our new friends, Lisette and Willem Jan Noordzij taught us how to use the mini creusett gourmet pans to grill our own food.

We ordered the tray of various meats from the butcher the day ahead.  On Saturday we all helped prepare the meal by making setting the table with salad, bread and sauces, making pancake batter and by dicing up the veggies.

We heated up the table-top burners-- then grilled and ate our way through the evening.  It's a traditional meal for Christmas--popular in part because it requires those gathered to have patience and take time talking with one another as you wait for your food to good.

After you've had your fill of meat, --or when the meat is all gone--
you can make an omelet or a pancake in the little pan before pushing back from the table.

What a great way to spend a night!

Being Tourists

Last week, when we picked up my mom from the airport, we had a few hours to kill while she fought off jet lag, so we took the train up to a tourist area called Zaanse Schans (pronouced "Skaans").  There are homes (now shops) set up like an old village and some re-positioned windmills that demonstrate the variety of mills in Holland.
It was cold and dreary when we started out and we were lugging mom's luggage and carrying our own backpack from our overnight trip to Haarlem the night before.   But we pressed on.

We've been enjoying a unique perspective of Holland thus far--we are visitors, but not really tourists.  We are living among people in a village that has a regular daily life and rhythm.  Oh, I have no doubt that we still stick out here--anyone who has heard my broken Dutch or watched us try to lock our bikes, or seen us eyeing the butcher counter with curiosity knows that we're not locals.  They are just too polite to let on.

But in this wonderful arrangement of finding a "home in Holland" we get to go our own way--on our own time.  We aren't herded in and out on the tour busses.   And we shop where we want for what we want--we aren't guided toward the kitschy tourist stuff.

But for this morning, we were tourists.  We learned how to make cheese and then we were tempted into the cheese shop to take some home with us.  Lucky for me--there's a cheese shop down the block and around the corner in Nijkerk.

We visited one of the specialized mills--the only remaining mill in the world that crushes chalk stone to be used for making art paints (among other things.)  Many of Europe's famous painters got their paint powder from this mill.

We saw a museum of wooden shoes--some beautiful, some funny...
Sunday Klompen
Wedding Klompen
Roller Klompen
Then watched as someone demonstrated how to make wooden shoes--

And then we were ushered into the show room where we could buy a pair--or not.  We all liked the same pair!!

The best part of the day was lunch at the pannenkoeken house.  Yum.
(I seem to be saying "yum" a lot lately!)

It was worth the trip out there to see a few of the traditional things and to get us all walking for the day, but we were glad to come "home."  And so very thankful that we have a place to call our "home" for these days.

After playing the role of Tourist for the day, I was doubly thankful for the hospitality of the Lantings, who are making it possible for us to truly live in Holland--if only for a speck of time.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

It is TRUE!

Around the world, Christians greet the Easter dawn with words of celebration... "Happy Easter!"  "He lives!"  In many cultures, the greeting requires a response.  In English-speaking congregations, the declaration of "He is risen!" is met with a firm "He is Risen indeed!!"

This morning, I learned from our hosts that the Moldavian Easter greeting is translated:
"Christ is Risen!"
"Yes! IT IS TRUE!!"

What a great way to start this day on which the Western Christian church (our Eastern Orthodox friends will celebrate Easter next week) celebrates the most important truth of our faith:  Christ is risen!  Death is conquered!  Life is ours!

My mom, Ana, Mia and I will remember this Easter for a long time.  We biked to church--listening to the church bells pealing--, first stopping off at the home of Marike and Thijs Blok for an Easter breakfast--the table set with happy yellow tulips, eggs, bread, Dutch cheese and dark coffee.

For devotions, we heard 1 Peter 1:3 read in three different languages:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! 
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope 
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...

Then we participated in a worship service with the joy of Easter songs, psalms and the Lord's Supper, followed by the bike ride home and lunch with the Lantings and several families from the church.

Earlier this weekend we visited the local baker and picked up a "haansbroodje"--a "rooster bread" for Good Friday to recall the betrayal of Peter.  Mom remembers a bigger version that was on a stick, but these breads were just as yummy.

It was a full weekend

Old traditions, new friends.

Ancient action (the Son of God dying and rising)--Eternal truth (God's love --the same yesterday, today and forever!.)