When a loved one dies…….

“But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be an affliction, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace”. (Wisdom of Solomon chapter 3)

On June 21, 2022, we said to good-bye to Gerald (Gerrit – 1942 – 2022). He was the husband of my wife’s sister Jackie for 56 years. A son, a brother, a husband, a father, a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus, a man, a child of God. A first direct passing of the spouse of one of my wife’s siblings.

We had seen this day coming as that Multiple Myeloma (an incurable cancer that affects the blood cells in the bone marrow) was slowing taking control of his ability to move around. This magnified by the chemo treatments (which are supposed to help) sometimes made things worse.

We were not aware of this disease till we saw it close-up and looked on helplessly and noting at each visit, yes! it seems worse.

An important and well-known US journalist, reporter and TV commentator (NBC News) wrote a book about his journey with multiple myeloma. The book title ‘A Lucky Life Interrupted’ by Tom Brokaw, he writes about his denials, struggles, acceptance, turning points and courage, all emotions that affected him as he journeyed (from 2013) through the unknowns of this disease.

I would say that 2013 was about the time that Gerrit began to have pains in his knee and then more in his neck. Many were the doctor and chiropractic visits and then a neck operation at Juravinski Hospital, after which Gerrit was almost convinced that he would not walk again. As I visited with him he said that the hymns in the ‘Psalter Hymnal’ (he loved to sing and had a very large voice) had comforted him in his devotions and the hymns were his prayer book. Although he was doubtful about walking, the hospital therapy staff encouraged him and after many weeks of recuperation, he went home to Jackie. Soon a decision needed to be made about moving to a Senior Living space where the ‘house-keeping obligations’ for Jackie and him would be less and they could be surrounded by other Senior friends and acquaintances.

But after the move to ‘Wellingstone Christian Home’ Senior Apartments the journey was just starting. His diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma was scheduled into a cancer care regime at Juravinski Hospital. The chemo and the steroids started to make his life difficult. Sleep was erratic and the chemo affected his legs giving him neuropathy numbing his ability to feel his legs and gave way to weakness and he began using a walker for his mobility to get around. Not only that, but he also developed ‘shingles’ on his body which seemed to last for over a year. I remember seeing him at concerts (religious and classical music concerts were his passion) and other events bent over in the pew from the pain of the not only ever present cancer but also those ‘shingles’ (an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus – chickenpox) which somehow refused to go away.

He had given up his participation in the Brantford Choir ‘the Grand River Chorus’ as he was no longer able to stand up for periods of time. Instead his son in law provided him with a new music system (speakers and amplifier) so that he could access and play (and directing imaginary choirs with his hands) his favourite music usually Bach, and other early classical choral favourites.

Eventually he came to the understanding that he was not longer able to drive his car and Jackie became the designated chauffeur as they went on small outings, attended family gatherings and doctor appointments. The coming of the ‘Covid Pandemic’ in 2020 had already put a slow down on their going-outs and became a time of staying put with cautions as to visits, shopping etc.

Gerrit was a person of realities. Fast to express his distaste for certain practices or actions (‘that’s crap!’) and also quick to acknowledge easy to go (‘yes’) agreements to others was his style. So as the disease took hold he would often talk about his funeral as he realistically knew that this journey (‘disease’) would hasten his end. As time went by he started to think about what his funeral service would look like. For sure his and Jackie’s hymnal theme song ‘If you but Trust in God to Hide You – PH 446’ would be sung for sure.

In his last sermon preached in Mount Hope Community Christian Reformed Church in, I believe, October 201`9, his text was taking from 2 Corinthians 5 – We know that if our earthly house—a mere tent that can easily be taken down—is destroyed, we will then live in an eternal home in the heavens, a building crafted by divine—not human—hands…… The path we walk is charted by faith, not by what we see with our eyes. There is no doubt that we live with a daring passion, but in the end we prefer to be gone from this body so that we can be at home with the Lord. (Translation ‘The Voice’) Here he spoke that he will die, as we all will, a typical straight talking Gerrit about our life and human condition here and God’s promises to those who walk by faith in Jesus, for them transfer from an earthly tent to a home with Jesus, our (his) Lord. That was his way straight forward what we say ‘calling a spade a spade’!

Life was now getting tougher and as time progressed (2020-2021) through the Pandemic his mobility lessened. In the Fall and Winter of 2021 -22 there were several times Jackie had to get assistance to lift him up for bathroom breaks as the strength (and neuropathy) in his legs and his body were failing. And so in April/May of 2022 Covid (he had received all the shots available) also somehow invaded his body and in the week before he died, he made mention that it turned so bad where he had thought for sure he would die while lying on a hospital bed in his living room for more then a week deathly ill with the virus, with Jackie and family taking turns attending to him together with the help of the medical care available under the Ontario Home Care plan. It was a most trying time!

Hospice care was needed but because of Covid, acceptance to such facility was put off and delayed. The (timely) event (in May 2022) of him breaking his arm (as he was escorted to the bathroom) triggered an emergency hospital attendance which in turn led to a doctor finding him at place at St. Peter’s Hospital on Maplewood Ave for palliative care. Because of Covid, he was first isolated in a private room with only Jackie and family allowed to visit and later in the beginning of June transferred to a ward with 3 other palliative care patients. When he got trouble with his right eye, the resident doctor had noted that Gerrit’s life expectancy was now 2 weeks to 2 months, no more.

The last 2 weeks of his life allowed for other restricted visits by others and designated family, still with Covid masking. We attended him on June 5 and fed him his supper as he was unable to help himself due to his broken arm. He was in good spirits, listening to his favourite music and expressed the fact that ‘Ancaster CRC’ church building renovations would for sure be completed in time for his funeral. How typical Gerrit!

On Sunday June 12th Jackie called to arrange for us to come the next day for a lunch break and warned us that Gerrit’s condition had drastically changed. And yes it had. He was no longer able to eat anything or talk and needed to have his mouth and throat soothed with water. His hearing and listening abilities were strong and so we ministered as much as we could while relieving Jackie for lunch. This is hard work for anyone who attends the care of a loved one in their last days of life. The family was now present in shifts around the clock and the staff moved him to a private room. Jackie was given a comfortable chair so she could continually be with him during these last hours. Son Paul’s friend John Terpstra had written a contemporary version of the 23rd Psalm especially for Gerrit. When it was read to him He loved it. It is hard to minister to someone who can hear but no longer respond verbally. Holding his hand (his grip was strong) and reading from Scripture or just telling him that we thought him a brother, was for us, very moving and meaningful.

Yet the call on Friday was unexpected! Gerrit is home! He was now before the face of God, the One who he had dedicated his life’s work to. Always proclaiming the grace of God to people under his care. Repent and believe and enjoy with thanks, the good news of the Gospel.

Next comes the hard part for the living, those left behind. Taking care of Gerrit’s body, taking care through visitations and notices sent, and then the hard part; laying his body to rest in the earth.

On that morning at 10 o’clock on June 21 (the fist day of Summer) under a sweltering sun and its heat, we attended the burial, saying our last farewell to Gerrit. In St. George cemetery with the oriole singing in the trees and with drum and pine boughs and roses to lay on the simple casket, together we spoke our pastoral expressions of Gospel communal confessions and prayer, and led by Gerrit’s brother in the song: ‘Sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry me home, O, sweet chariot comin’ for to carry me home’, set his body at rest. “O death where is your string, O grave your victory!……..But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”. (Epistle to the Corinthians chapter 15)

The funeral service at Ancaster CRC followed at 1 PM. The remembrances of his children were on the theme of hands….Gerrit’s – Dad’s hands…. how they moved, held, molded and folded in and for their family life and experiences throughout the many years. The message from Scripture was on the Epistle to the Ephesians chapter 2 – it is by grace you have been saved – with a reference by the preacher that Gerrit (typical) in a conversation long ago said to him: that believing Jesus’ death on the cross took care of (his) our sins is: – like the flushing of our dirty mess down the toilet in one stroke and it is gone! and from Revelation chapter 21 – ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

We together sang the hymn – of course – ‘If you but suffer God to guide you’ and ‘Jesus lives, and so do we – PH 399’ – and so ended our spoken remembrances of Gerrit, but his presence ever with us. A life well lived with small pretenses but a very large hope. Hope for the good things God has promised to all who love him and keep his Gospel front and center!

My gratitude and love! Well done! Rest in peace, my brother!

Sing, pray, and keep his ways unswerving, offer your service faithfully,
and trust his word; though undeserving, you’ll find his promise true to be.
God never will forsake in need the soul that trusts in him indeed.

JS June 29, 2022

Upside-down-ness of the world God Created

Unbelievable! I received a phone call the other day that I have been selected for a price (as a reward for paying my bills on time in the last 5 years) of 2.5 million dollars and a Mercedes car. The caller asked: ‘Would you prefer a green, blue or red colour car? Of course I said a red one please, – it is my favourite colour for a car! Otherwise I prefer green. The caller then verified my address and name and asked whether I would prefer a ‘private’ or ‘public’ award presentation of the prize. I prefer ‘private’ that way no one will know I am about to be a multi-millionaire. The caller said that they would be right over to present the cheque and drive me to the bank to make the deposit in my account. I checked my watch and noticed that it was 5:30 PM and said: Sorry the Bank is closed, and proceeded to tell the caller that I considered this a scam call and hung up.

You ever have a call like this? I have, many times. Oh, they vary in format and presentation. Some are the SIN (social insurance number) calls whereby my SIN status is questioned and I should press 1 to get more info. Some are from Revenue Canada (CRA) notifying me that I need to pay a certain sum or else?……… The one I like the best is the Amazon credit card call where I am told that the Amazon Security Department has noticed suspicious activity and the attempted cashing of a ‘gift card’ on my account. My standard reply for this one is: ‘Oh, that must be my cousin cashing the gift I gave him. It is OK, just let it happen’, end of call. There are others with various scenarios like that.

The ones that are really annoying are the ‘duct cleaning’ calls. These happens again and again in series and then it is quiet for some weeks and then start again. Very annoying! In the beginning we would say did you say DUCKS? No, we only have geese not DUCKS! In the beginning it was new window and we would joke about having a place with no windows….etc.

Some people have had calls indicating a friend or family member (grand-child is the favourite) is in a tight spot and needs money right away or else……… so please go and buy a gift card or similar product, take a photo of the numbers and code on the back of the card and forward that by email to the caller and your friend etc will be very pleased and happy you could help them.

Or what about the Microsoft Technical Department call telling you that you have a virus (or bug) in your software that needs to be corrected and they are willing to help. Just go to your computer and follow their instructions to correct this problem. If you do this they will ask you to insert ‘code’ that will lock your computer and then they will offer to unlock you for a payment of hundreds of dollars………..

This all is crazy…….. and I have not even told you about the scamming emails and or the friendly guy at your local shopping center who can supply you with a cheap laptop (or whatever……..) show you the box and when you pay him and go home to use you new purchase, you find the box filled with pamphlets and other papers only.

There are a thousand different ways to scam and defraud us, the public.

The first time I was scammed by one was back in 1965 on my honey-moon at the New York World Exhibition. I was approached by a lady all dressed up with American flags and military dress sort-of and said she was campaigning for aid for war veterans, could I give a donation, and when I did was rewarded with a small paper US flag. I was had; and the funny thing was, after it happened (it was fast) I knew right-away I had been scammed. I felt used and stupid!

I know that was small potatoes but we read of these things all the time.

There are: The Romance scams. I love you sent me money I’m in trouble etc….. The Employment scam…The Rent an apartment or Vacation scam………The Overpayment scam……..The Phishing scam, asking for your info or response by clicking on LINK (don’t do it!) pretending they are someone familiar or there is a reward if you do….this is probably the oldest and most used scam since Emails and Texting messaging were invented…………. and so many more!!!!!

Best advice the experts give is: ‘hang-up’, if you do not recognized the caller put down the phone, ignore pressure tactics: like you need to do this right now or else…….. Don’t click on the LINK in your email or message you do not recognize the sender or have ever seen it before. Be smart usually a ‘gift’ could be a ‘ploy’ to scam you!

Even if you know all this, you could be scammed, impersonated or robbed as they say in broad daylight. The evil is out there and they are continually finding new ways to deceive us.

We read and hear of people whose identity was stolen and the trouble they had to right the wrong. This one may become very very serious. Protect yourself as much as you can, hold your personal identities (cards, info, credit, telephone access, computer passwords in a safe place) never assume that no-one is watching. Always be on your guard as much as you are able. Multiple verifications are now necessary to identify the rightful owner of a bank or purchase order type of account when using the internet and the phone. Single passwords access in some cases are now doubled password-ed or voice secured to protect the owner and how to access private and privileged information.

Other scams are more brazen and bizarre, there are photo-shop and video face trimmed events created to make you look bad or untruthful or where you are simply attacked (picked on) for easy prey. As was the news the other day, where a lady out shopping, was approached by two men who threatened her and then asked for her car keys. She complied not wanting to be on the receiving end of the threat and the two (young) men drove off (no, stole) her LAND ROVER in broad-daylight.

Well by now you get the drift that we are living in UPSIDE DOWN communities. The streets and even our homes are no longer a safe place. No front door should be unlocked anymore. People now do what they want. Truth and trust are lost. Lies and trickery is practiced and takes place even in the highest places of our land. Just think of ‘Make America Great Again’ lies and innuendos, the US election fraudulent statements, the Russian (Putin says he is ‘liberating’ the Ukrainians) denial of military actions in the Ukraine, denials of wrong doings even by our elected representatives. And should I dare to mention the ‘Freedom’ event we saw in Ottawa earlier this year! Misrepresentation of everyday facts and events! PROTECT YOURSELF!

The Psalmist also was already discouraged by the evil and lying done in his days: Book of Psalms number 14 *: A protest song – of David!

Wicked and foolish man truly believes there is no God. They are vile, their sinfulness nauseating to their Creator; their actions are soiled and repulsive; every deed is depraved; not one of them does good. The Eternal leans over from heaven to survey the sons of Adam. No one is missed, and no one can hide. He searches to see who understands true wisdom, who desires to know the True God.

 They all turn their backs, walking their own roads; they are rancid, leaving a trail of rotten footsteps behind them; not one of them does good, not even one. Do the wicked have no clue about what really matters? They devour my brothers and sisters the way a man eats his dinner. They ignore the Eternal and don’t call on Him, rejecting His reality and truth. They shall secretly tremble behind closed doors, hearts beating hard within their chests, knowing that God always avenges the upright. You laugh at the counsel of the poor, the needy, the troubled who put their trust in God. You try to take away their only hope, but the Eternal is a strong shelter in the heaviest storm.
 May a new day, a day of deliverance come for Israel, starting with Zion. When the Eternal breaks the chains of His oppressed people, the family of Jacob will rejoice, and Israel will be delighted.

And one of the earliest scams of all: Book of Genesis chapter # 27 – the story of Jacob scamming his father Isaac for the blessing of the first-born birthright. Oh, the misery that followed.

I am not downhearted or fearful, there are many good neighbours and friends and family members that I and you the reader know of. So be not discouraged always be careful. Living comes with many choices. And God is good!

JS June 11, 2022

Note *: Psalm translation: The Voice

The title picture by: an Unknown author is licensed under CC BY SA

HELL, TEARS and more tears!

Tears……………………..! Have you seen the pictures of mothers and wives in the Ukraine shedding tears for sons, fathers, husbands and children. It affects me with sadness, when I see those pictures on our screens of the aggressive cruelty that this war brings. The senselessness of the whole events. Why this was necessary and for what reason? Total ‘scorched earth’ blasting tactics by the Russians. Insane! It is beyond me.

Of course we hear what Putin is telling his people how the Russians are saving the Ukrainians from a much and terrible (Western Culture) danger. We are the Saviours, he tells his people. But………. from our side we see nothing but his denials, aggression and anger and the innocents deaths and destruction and many tears. Hell has come to the Ukraine!

After tracking over 100 days of fighting, I guess maybe also for others, I have gone from an eager view of war news, (sinking of the Moskva war ship – April 14, 2022) hoping the Ukrainians would teach the Russians a lesson and win the war, to a more mundane noting of war news progress each day. There have been times when the tanks pulled back from the capital Kyiv that I was hoping for a truce but with the flattening of Mariupol and the battle for the Steel Plant factory to the fighting in the Donbas region now in full swing, the full force of the Russian military superiority in numbers can now be seen to be gaining the upper hand in eastern Ukraine.

Pictures of tearful people mourning the death of loved ones and the destruction of their homes and neighbourhoods are hard to watch. The pictures and videos are plenty and extremely moving. Funeral services and the discovery of mass graves ran a chill over my body giving flash backs to the Yugoslavian (Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian) conflict of the 1990s where we heard stories of children asking their mothers: ‘Where is my daddy?’ and receiving the soft reply: ‘He has just gone into the woods for a while’. The song by Kurt Bestor “The prayer of the children” reflects the anguish of war on children but also on the whole of the afflicted communities. (listen for this sung by the Ambassadors Christian Male Chorus)

Putin says, if the US and others (NATO allies) supply Ukraine with more deadly weapons with longer range, it will force him also to use his more powerful deadly weapons with longer range. Already he is moving multiple rocket launchers thousands of miles across Siberia to boost its war effort. The Russian BM-27 Uragans can fire 16 rockets in 20 seconded up to 20 miles distances. And there is access to other terrible weapons! I sometimes fear the war is escalating into a large European conflict and I fear for its potential bad outcomes for our EU immigration home-lands and our extended families living there. Not only that, but what about the Ukrainian (food) grain harvests which feeds 15% or more of the world’s population especially those of African counties where famines are already taken hold in Somalia and other near areas. What is the use of winning when the spoils of war are death, destruction and blowing up every building in the conquered cities and towns leveling the territory gained to a flat contaminated disruptive wounded earth. The ‘scorched earth’ war tactics practiced by Russia on the Syrian city of Aleppo. Not only have the communities and its structures disappeared and disintegrated but also the natural environment has suffered with large bomb caters and unexploded missiles and rockets in roads, streets and fields with its chemicals and fire damaging pollutions of air and waterworks, streams and nesting habits of wild creatures have been disturbed and dislodged. The hearts and minds of those affected citizen who lived in and formed the targeted communities are in despair (imagine losing your home and possessions!) and many have had to flee to other more safe areas. What has Putin gained? Certainly no thanks! He has turned the world against himself. It is madness. The Intelligencer (March 23, 2022) states: ‘Putin has brought HELL to Mariupol!’ yes, and to all of the Ukraine!

Even now, as the war continues, for me it has become a more, ‘what can we do?’ and dare I say it? a normal reality check-in of our lives! It is a human nature’s acceptability of ………. Well, it is what it is! and that bothers me! Oh, I am not casual about these events or their dangerous consequences, but have almost come to accept the (daily) reality (tired) of it all. Selective support for donations for the Ukrainian people is something everyone can do!

Still a prayer for peace and deep sympathy and empathy for the people of Ukraine is my daily wish and practice. May God give those who lead wisdom to bring it all to a just close. May the Holy Spirit of Pentecost blow through the corridors of the world’s power groups and parliaments. The Russians need to stand down, face reality and tell the world ‘it is over!’ Putin needs to come to the peace table. PRAY FOR PEACE IN UKRAINE but also in other parts of the world!

May we show your compassion, Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

From the Book of Psalms # 120 – A prayer for help.

I cried to the Lord in my trouble, and He answered me. O Lord, save me from lying lips and a false tongue. What will be given to you and what more will be done to you, you false tongue? He will punish you with sharp arrows of the soldier, and with the hot fire of the broom tree.

It is bad for me, for I travel in Meshech * and live among the tents of Kedar! I have lived too long with those who hate peace. I am for peace. But when I speak, they are for war.

(Translation: from biblegateway.com New Life Version)

Note: * sometimes identified in the Bible as people from Japheth’s descendants living in Russian geographic areas.

JS June 9, 2022

Above picture from the Atlantic Council report May 24, 2022 entitled: Putin’s Mariupol Massacre is one of the 21st century’s worst war crimes.

June election thoughts.

I never thought I would hear the following statement uttered by my wife as we discussed the Provincial elections choices for this JUNE 2022 in Ontario.

My quiet opinionated wife, not voiced outside the home, says that we should not be voting for the PC’s (Progressive Conservatives Party) as they have given the FOR PROFIT Senior Long Term Care (LTC) home owners a wheel barrow to take their treasures to the Bank at the expense, she says, of the Seniors in Long Term Care, whose welfare will be in their keeping for the NEXT, would you believe it! – 30 YEARS. She says tax payers are on the hook for enriching corporations and their owners at the expense of the tax payers for a generation to come. Their gravy train has arrived! Stop the train, don’t vote for the PCs.

And so it now will happen! The PCs were elected with a majority in the legislature (83 seats) even though the voter turn out (40%) was said to be one of the lowest in the province’s history.

The LTC in Ontario is at least 52% owned by private for profit corporations and some of these were cited as the worst run facilities during the COVID pandemic. Many a family lost an older family member due to lax preventative health and cleanliness routines in the home. Provincial health inspections were few, irregular with a light evaluations of the practices at these homes. Supervision controls were not enforced according to regulations and staff protection and cautions were ignored. The province intervened in 35 of the homes hardest hit by COVID-19 outbreaks, and took over management of some. About 80% were for profit homes. (as reported by the Globe & Mail)

Not much was said by the PCs about the state of LTC in the province during the election (in fact many PC candidates never showed up for a local debate) except in their election rhetoric they promised more beds and facilities. But Doug Ford’s earnest plea as he rolled out the pandemic mandates, from a couple of years ago to keep our Seniors safe, has now taken second (fifth?) fiddle to highways and infrastructure etc building that the PCs proclaimed in election mandates to ‘get it done’.

But the PCs, now with such a majority, have the opportunity to give care workers a decent wage increase (rather then the present legislated 1% per year) which may also help to attract more qualified workers to this meaningful sector for our increasing populated group of Ontario citizen who need and are entitled to decent care in their elderly years. This is their opportunity to upgrade the LTC facilities and perhaps rewrite the rules for the For Profit licensees. Time to strengthen the health care mandates and management rules. Our mothers and fathers deserve every bid of comfort and attention, for they earned it in their working life-time as they helped build and contribute to the wealth in this beautiful province, Ontario.

Even though the number of LTC beds in the province is projected (promised) to rise to 110,000 in the next few years, will there be enough government muscle to get it done? Many promises to keep!

Here (https://ontariopc.ca/) were the PCs election slogans: Note there is a vague reference to LTC care but it is only #5 (last) on the list of promises. Just remember, we all get old!

P.S another party candidate got her vote!

JS June 5, 2022

75 years Remembered!

A good friend and fellow church member Bill Huinink wrote the following report to record and remember the journey for those who travelled on that very first post-war immigrant ship from the Netherlands to CANADA! check the passenger list here!

DE S.S. WATERMAN – 75 Years ago

On May 5, 1945 the Canadian Army finally drove the Nazi occupiers from the Netherlands. The occupation had produced economic ruin to the country. Many people lost their lives to repressive actions by the Nazi forces, but the worst had been the seizure of most food products from the Netherlands and sending them to Germany. The western part of the country saw the literal starvation of thousands of Dutch citizens during the ‘Hunger Winter’ of 1944/45. Following the euphoria of the Liberation, the country still suffered from a lack of basic necessities for living. Many industries, and particularly farming, had lost most of their equipment to the Nazi war effort, either for the equipment itself or for the need for steel in the armaments supply.

The following 2 years saw little relief from this loss with only a small amount of Importing equipment being possible due to all countries working to recover from the war losses. The other major problem of the time (pre and post war) was the lack of land for agricultural expansion and the Dutch government policies of strict control over passing on real estate within a family. The existing farms/industries seemed to offer little opportunity for young people in the foreseeable future. Many Dutch people were actively looking to other countries that appeared to be offering much more promise. Many thousands had made enquiries and registered for emigration to foreign countries including Australia, Canada, and the U.S. In the meantime, the Canadian economy was healthy and particularly the agricultural industry suffered from a labour shortage. In March 1947 the Canadian and Dutch authorities came to an agreement that Agriculturists willing to work as farm laborers would be admitted to Canada. A sponsor must be in place and this sponsor was obligated to pay the workers $75/month for family men, $45 for single men, plus free housing.

Notifications went out to many families who had registered, that the boat – the SS Waterman – had been pressed into service and would sail on June 17, 1947 from Rotterdam. In the space of about 10 weeks final decisions had to be made. Visas were dependent on health and security checks, businesses had to be transferred/closed down, employers notified and personal effects had to be packed, sold or given away and separation from families/friends all needed to be dealt with. Many were afraid that they would never see their loved ones again. (A number never did, for various reasons.)

On June 17, 1947 the ship was ‘ready’ for boarding. The previous day it had dropped off a load of Dutch soldiers returning from Indonesia. The decks had been hosed, garbage unloaded and the new crew was at the stations. Otherwise, it was still a troop ship – ill-suited to being a passenger liner. Sufficient good food and supplies were loaded. The boat was not docked, but anchored out in the harbour. A tender was used to ferry the passengers to the ship (50 people at a time) and a ships ladder was used for boarding. Families with young children struggled to carry babies and toddlers up the long steep stair that swayed to the movement of the water. Once on board, you can imagine the shock of seeing the accommodations. The men and older boys were sent to one section where the beds were cramped bunk beds stacked 4 high with thin pads as mattresses, a sheet, a single blanket and a small pillow. The women and girls along with the children under the age of 10 went to separate areas of the ship where conditions were similar to the men’s. Some of the families (minus the men) were lucky to be assigned to a cabin and some even shared a cabin. Boys over 10 were housed with the men while girls over 10 shared the bunk accommodations with the women who had no children. Approximately 70 single women – most of them, war brides – were on board. 160 single men came along to scout out the new land’s suitability for their parents and siblings, and prepare for them to come later. The families were on average a couple with 3 children but there was one family with 13 children and another with 11.

The Groenewegen family had 5 children and the Dam and Huinink family had four each. Tess’s parents (de Jong) had been married only shortly before the voyage, but were already expecting her (without their knowledge at the time). Coincidentally, the Groenewegen and Dam families were right beside each other in their quarters. Nellie Schuurman (Groenewegen) recalls that Mrs. Dam often looked after both family’s children while Mrs. Groenewegen had to get on deck for some fresh air, away from the cabin fever conditions in the barracks. The families soon found out that the troop ship conditions extended to the meals. Although there was plenty of good food, all passengers had to stand in line – cafeteria style – with a plate being handed to each, even the little ones. The plate had several divisions in it to keep the types of food separate – but on one plate. The food was to be eaten at long tables. This requirement was soon dispensed with.

As soon as the ship exited the English Channel it hit a storm on the open ocean. That evening many of the passengers became sea-sick and a good number of family members were confined to their beds. Those who were not sick would bring some basic food down to the barracks so that the bed-ridden ones might try to eat at least a little bit. Leda Vanderkruk (Dam) remembers helping here Dad carry food down the stairs into the lower sleeping quarters – a difficult task for a 4 year old on a swaying ship. With so many being sick, people were vomiting at very inconvenient places. Eventually open barrels were placed on the decks and they tried to aim the projectiled food into them. In the men’s quarters, the urinals were made of steel tanks cut in half and hung from the walls with drain pipes leading out to the open sea. They were a handy place to vomit into but a lot of food got stuck in the drains. The urinals started to fill up and with the swaying of the boat, the contents started sloshing from end to end and flooding over onto the floors. Needless to say, the sanitary conditions were far from ideal. The storm abated the following day but some people were sick for the duration of the crossing. Those who were not, started to wander on the open decks and many of the children spent hours playing with their siblings or finding new friends. Older siblings looked after younger ones while their mothers were busy with babies or even confined to beds because of sea-sickness. Nellie Schuurman (Groenewegen) recalls that her 6 year old brother (Ted) would push the younger 2 ½ year old brother (John) around the deck in a folded high chair that had wheels on it. She noted another activity that fascinated her. Her Dad would lift her up to look out the porthole and watch the waves surging by during the storm.

During the day, fathers were allowed into the women’s quarters to help their wives with the chores of dressing and feeding the little ones. One day, as they were approaching land, someone spotted an iceberg. Anyone who could, got on deck to watch the new phenomenon. One of the passengers, while standing at the railing, saw an object floating at some distance from the boat. He recognized it as a sea Mine – a remnant from the war 2 years earlier. He could see that the boat was in no danger of hitting it, so he did not draw attention to it in case it might cause a panic. Then land came into sight. Newfoundland on the left and Labrador on the right. As they passed between they could observe green hills, even low mountains. This was their new country. The next blessing was the calm waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence (no more sea-sickness) and plenty of sunshine. The voyage now became a pleasant adventure for almost everyone on board. But surprise, surprise – they sailed a whole day and were told it would be another day before they would reach Quebec City.

At Quebec City the boat was held up for a number of hours while immigration officials boarded and other affairs were taken care of. Late afternoon they sailed again and at about 10:00 AM on the morning of June 26, 1947 the ship docked in Montreal. The whole harbor appeared to be aware of the special arrival. There was a cacophony of ships horns from all over to welcome the newcomers to Canada. On the dock stood the Dutch ambassador to Canada and a Canadian official in charge of immigration. Speeches of welcome were made by both to the waiting crowds on the deck. It took most of the day to unload the travelers and transport them all to the Central Station – several blocks north – in the city. Red Cross workers were on hand, both at the dock and the Station with food and drink and other treats. Most of the passengers knew where they were going already, but some just got to know this as they came to the station. A special train was making the run to Toronto (5 – 6 hours away). The coaches had been assembled specifically for the migrants and turned out to be the oldest, most dilapidated cars that could be in service. The ride was hot – 30/31deg. C – and stifling. Some tried to open the windows but the soot from the steam engine would be sucked into the coaches. The view though, was exciting; there were lots of trees and green farm fields for most of the trip. A few families – hired by sponsors in Eastern Ontario – were dropped off along the way. In Toronto’s Union Station there was much chaos. Due to language problems a number of families were
sent to the wrong trains.

Nellie recalls that the Groenewegen’s were supposed to go to Bradford but ended up being put on a train to Brantford. During the stop in Hamilton where a good number were being sent, they happened to talk with Peter Spoelstra who was assisting the ones coming to Hamilton.

Part of Hamilton Spector front page news of Immigrants arriving at the CNR Station, Hamilton in June 1947

He helped them in arranging a train passage back to Toronto and on to Bradford. The Huinink’s were to go to Thamesford and when they got off there, their sponsor was nowhere to be found. The stationmaster got to thinking – many people coming to Thamesford would take the train to Woodstock (different rail line) and arrange to be picked up there. He got on the telegraph to the Woodstock station and, sure enough, their sponsor was waiting there and wondering where his migrant family was. He then drove the 25 km back to Thamesford, only 6 km from his home, and picked them up there.

Many sponsors were fair and well intentioned to the immigrants. Among our 4 families there were no major problem or abuse of the workers. There were, however, many stories of families being housed in chicken coops or other dilapidated structures with no reasonable sanitary facilities; stories of wind howling through the wood siding while trying to keep a young family warm; outhouses to be used in freezing weather; lack of windows for ventilation in one of the hottest summers on record – it was not easy for them. The minimum wage left little for saving to cover the transition from the sponsor farm to other employment. It was a difficult time for most and we can’t go into much detail on that, but definitely the majority of immigrants, having already gone through a depression and the WWII occupation, were thrifty enough and had the determination and FAITH to get through this as well. 75 years later, we are ‘celebrating’ the fact that our families have done well – even extremely well – in the years that have gone by.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!!


Bill Huinink’s NOTE: I acknowledge the information gleaned from the book ‘To All Our Children’ by Albert Vandermey, the passenger list for the boat, the diary of Tryn Snyder (one of the passengers on De Waterman), inputs by Nellie Schuurman and Leda Vanderkruk (Dam), and word of mouth comments by my own parents and other passengers I have met over the years.
W. (Bill) Huinink – June 12, 2022

______________________________________________________________________________________

So on that 17th day of June 1947 the S.S. Waterman slipped out of the Rotterdam harbour into the Nieuwe Waterweg, and so out to the North Sea, headed for Montreal, PQ Canada with 1,100 Dutch immigrants on board who were full of excitement for the new adventures that would await them. They all had visions of a new starts and prosperity for them and their families; to a bright future in a welcoming land. O Canada!

Many of these pioneers have now passed away and their children and grand-children and great grand children are remembering the joys and the hardships of their parents bold venture, so many years ago from a war-torn Netherlands, to a new country full of future hope and new beginnings.

Here is a poem written by J. Bergwerff, living in Rozenburg, at the occasion of the Cor & Sjaan Groenewegen family’s departure to Canada via the S.S. Waterman. (Translated in 2005 by Mrs. Benna Nicholai)

Immigration
As the ship comes sailing by, and we, filled with sadness, with a sigh 
Stare at the fading silhouette; we know a full stop has been set.

The tie with Holland has been cut, you'll travel another country but
Our poor little Nederland is it no longer your fatherland?

Our country's little, that is true yet you earned your living, didn't you?
We're wondering and we'd like to know what possessed you to decide to go.

Couldn't your children and your wife prevent this sad parting in your life?
Didn't you think of your mother dear, who now must carry this sorrow year after year?

Or were you thinking of your children's welfare? to oppose, in this we would not dare.
In this battle how did you fight? We trust that you did pray for light.

That you didn't stand alone, of course, you know. What thoughts and questions through your mind did go?
Were you careful to bend your knees to pray, as every possibility you did weigh?

There's still something I truly want to know. You won't forget our Holland when you go?
That little spot of treasured ground where years ago your cradle was found!

O Nederlands, your best sons and daughters no longer want to live within your borders.
To unfold their talents is their wish, strong and sure, in this place they no longer can endure.

They'll spread their wings in a land so wide, far from here on the other side.
Here they cannot build a future and grow. Should we then hinder them and say, "Don't go?"

There goes the ship. It's done you see. How endless the distances will be.
O Lord, what pain.........  there goes my child, to each one give Your comfort so mild.

Long ago a mother stood by the cross, her son was going home. To her it seemed a loss.
Dear Mother and Father remember always, that Son our Eternal Great Shepherd will stay.

After we travel our tiresome earthly road, we'll arrive with joy in our heavenly abode.
Whether in Canada or in the Nederlands, we're all on our way to our eternal homeland. 

June 26, 1947 – Netherlands Ambassador Dr. J.H. van Roijin and Mrs. van Roijin greeting Dutch immigrants arriving by ship in Montreal. Photo by George Hunter: National Film Board of Canada

Was your FAMILY ON-BOARD? check the passenger list here!

for more info about Immigration, ships etc see: goDutch.com

Blood on the Doorposts

As I opened my iPad, there it was, shocking, a picture of senseless destruction and chaos, a family man, perhaps a husband/father/son, lying tossed like garbage along the side of the road, degrading him of human dignity. Yet, a (his) dog is keeping watch. Perhaps he was getting food for his family and hurrying back to the safety of his shelter. Gunned down without mercy. O Lord, why? But see, there were more pictures of sadness: More bodies in the streets and in the bombed out buildings. Blood on the sidewalk and blood on the doors and hallways.

They are the terrible scenes we are able to be part of, as we peek in on our iPhones and tablets every morning. Ukraine is on fire, this is war gone wild, insanity and total destruction of people, neighbourhoods and civilization. Explosions, fire and the burning of homes, buildings, cars and machinery. Battle weapons scarred and destroyed; rusting in the streets and roads. People coming out of their building/homes and finding hiding places in basements and shelters, while columns of smoke and explosions are seen on the horizons everywhere. Faces edged with fright and fear. Children crying and wives carrying small children, weeping as they say good-bye to their husbands. Seniors and grandmothers helped by soldiers across make shift bridges and cooking their meager meals outdoors. Make-shift graves along the side of the road or in the local park/playground. Mothers/wives weeping for their soldier husbands/sons as their caskets are carried out of the church through the streets. Bombed buildings and war junk lying everywhere. Flames and destructions in every direction. Imagine the noise as the missiles hit and explode! with shrapnel flying in all directions finding their targets in flesh and surrounding materials. It is a war of crime (criminal)!

The above photo is the telling summation of all the ‘what for!!’ insanity of this war.

See here is barbarity in full action and view. A citizen of Bucha * lying on the curb shot dead while gathering groceries for his family. For no reason. For ‘in spite of’ and because they can. A scene that grips me and will not let go. O God have mercy!

Soon it will be Easter (2022) again when we remember the blood on the doors posts to free a people locked down in slavery. When the avenging angel of God passed by those who had the sign of redemption on their doorposts. It is the time again to remember the blood on the tree of Golgotha. The blood of the LAMB (JESUS) slain for the salvation of many, proclaiming God’s peace to all peoples and nations. This is the blood that “was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”. Gospel of Matthew chapter 26 verse 8

May Easter – this 2022 Easter – speak to you and me more loudly and clearly with conviction as we contemplate the Lamb slain for all to give us peace with God. A peace that was given, and we must pass on and practice, among us and to others. As the angels sang on that new morning in Bethlehem: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” Gospel of Luke, chapter 2

JS APRIL 11, 2022

(Book of Common Prayer) A PRAYER FOR OUR UKRAINIAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS ON THE BATTLE FIELD: O God, who seest that in this warfare we are seeking to serve thee, and yet in the waging of it must needs do many things that are an offence against thy love; Accept we pray thee, our imperfect offering. Arm us with thy Spirit that our warfare may further the victory of thy justice and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Psalm 3 (all verses); a psalm asking God for deliverance:

verse 1: O Lord, how swiftly grows, the number of my foes, who wantonly oppress me!
Yea, multiplied are they that rise to my dismay, and day by day distress me.
Though heavy my despair, they scornfully declare, to my humiliation,
That Thou, O God, no more, canst help me as before or come to my salvation
.

verse 3: I laid me down and slept; I waked, for I was kept, in His divine protection;
The Lord was at my side, my succor He supplied, whatever my affliction.
Defended by His hand, I shall undaunted stand, While thousands surge about me;
Though furious foemen wage their war with mighty rage, I know they shall not rout me.

Note: * A dog sits next to the body of a civilian, who according to residents was killed by Russian soldiers, in Bucha, in Kyiv region, Ukraine, April 3, 2022. Photo REUTERS/Stringer

Resurrection Gate and Putin War Rally

Soon we will celebrate Easter again!

At the entrance of the Red Square in Moscow, one must pass through the Resurrection (Iberian) Gate and with its Iberian Chapel. The Resurrection Gate has an icon on its wall which is a picture of the Risen Christ. In this picture the Risen Christ emerges victorious from a dark pit of dark despair, chains and destructive death elements. For Russians this is a symbolic picture promise of Mother Russia rising from the despair and shame of it past history.

The Resurrection Gate was re- established (rebuilt) in 1995 and is one of the most holy symbols for the Russian people. The Iberian Chapel contains an icon depicting the Mother of God, a symbol of the protector of Russia. In all Russian Cathedrals at Easter the Orthodox priest will shout out “Christ is Risen” and the congregants will answer “He is Risen indeed”. In the Russian mind there is no difference between Christ’s rising and the promise of a renewal risen Russia. That also includes Ukraine.

Religious passion and desire for seeing the ‘Empire’ restored is what drives Putin to do what he has done, even if the things that are now underway in the Ukraine are terrible, destructive of life and limb. This is a (national) holy war.

The leader of the dominant Russian Orthodox Church is Patriarch Kirill, a close friend of Putin. Kirill has described the invasion war in the Ukraine( according to AP report) – a conflict struggle against sin and pressure from liberal foreigners to hold “gay parades” justifying the war. The Ukrainians, he said, are exterminating Russians. He has refrained from criticizing the invasion and the bombardment of civilians. Ukraine must be cleansed. This has led to alienating many in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Meantime the voice of the Church worldwide is being heard. Many are praying for the people of the Ukraine and for the war to stop and peace to come soon. Letters signed by many leaders from various churches worldwide including the Reformed, Evangelical and World Wide Council of Churches have asked Kirill to mediate an immediate peace, and received this polite reply: “I pray unceasingly that by His power, the Lord help establish the lasting and justice-based peace as soon as possible…and that the religious world leaders will maintain an unbiased platform……” – (oikoumene.org) Does he know people or being killed and cities are blasted with missiles and bombs? That Ukrainian refugees (up to 2 million, women and children) are leaving all behind for the safety of other countries?

On March the 18th, a rally was held at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow (seating 80,000) where a flag waving crowd listened to a ‘near Biblical’ speech by Putin: “The military action is to liberate the people from the genocide and sufferings. This is the goal, I recollect the words from Holy Scripture: ‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends’. Shoulder to shoulder, they help and support each other,” the Russian president said of the Kremlin’s forces in a rare public appearance since the start of the war. “We have not had unity like this for a long time,” he added to cheers from the crowd. (AP & NBCnews report) Meantime destruction and bombs are raining and pounding on civilian building and military installations and Russian young men are paying a deadly price.

We have seen through the media, discontent in Russia over this war but it is small and overwhelmed by the ‘holy war’ gospel and the misinformation being speud out of the Communist propaganda media machine.

Make no mistake, this is a Holy War, this has to do with the soul of Mother Russia’s revival and honor. This is religion with politics which is a religion.

Does the secular political ‘West’ understand this? Some of our church leader are talking that this may be the ‘end of times’ and so in a round about way almost legitimizing Putin role as the hand of God. Oh, how foolish, Jesus – when others speculated when the last days might come -, he said : ‘But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.‘ (Gospel Matthew, Chapter 24)

Can Putin be stopped, can the war end, can peace come, …….honorably?

Maybe it is time again for the ‘West’ to put into practice President’s Theodore Roosevelt’s (1904) advice: “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” (a West African proverb)

Pray for Truth to be told and above all, pray for Peace.

JS March 18, 2020

War, mothers and iPhones.

There is war again in Europe of all places. A cruel assault on a peaceful nation by their closest neighbour Russia. Ukraine has been attacked by the BEAR!

We are used to wars but not this close to home or even in our ‘Western’ world’s neighbourhood communities. A lot of immigrant Canadians have connections with the Ukraine. It is estimated that 1.3 million persons of Ukrainian origin are citizens of Canada. They make up the 11th largest ethnic group in our country.

The Ukraine already for years (as I was taught in primary school) has been the bread-basket of Europe. It is a country that emerged out of the disintegrated Soviet Union empire and struggled to gain it own independence with a forward looking mission hoping someday to be part of the NATO alliance. A nation of welcoming people and looking for a prosperous and democratic future.

All of these hopes and aspirations have now be dashed by their near friends and neighbour’s attack, at the behest of the President of Russia. He says he is afraid that the NATO influence on Ukraine will turn the heads of their citizens to look to Europe for nation building wisdom, rather than to him and Russia, a dictatorship. This is considered a threat!

So Ukraine was invaded 13 days ago (February 24th) by 200,000 fully armed Russian soldiers, with tanks and missiles, who are now encircling their cities. The Russian soldiers, through months of ‘propaganda’ have been sent – were told – to liberate the Ukrainians so as ‘to demilitarize and de-nazify Ukraine, as well as bring to trial those who perpetrated numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including against citizens of the Russian Federation.’ (report by NPR news) On an earlier attempt (2014), Russia had already annexed and occupied the Crimea and Donetsk regions on the eastern Ukraine border. However now, the continuing Liberation (read- ‘Occupation’) was met with strong resistance and was going slow. People are defending their homes! imagine that!

Many Ukrainian citizens are now escaping the bombing and killings and leaving the country (men aged 18-60 are ordered to stay and defend their homeland) fleeing to Poland, and other Ukraine western border nations. The estimate is that about 2 million (mostly women & children) have left.

At the present date (March 8, 2022) of writing there are some things that we can see that are different about this war:

NATO and allies are rallying around and forming a strong block with measures to hamper and damage the economic structures of the Russia regime by stopping and blocking Bank transactions, seizing assets belonging to the Russian president and his close advisers and oligarchs. (Bank accounts, boats, real estate, business assets etc; McDonalds, Starbucks and IBM and the major gas companies (Shell) are closing their businesses in Russia, Russia has also been banned from the SWIFT banking services.)

Russia travel and air traffic is banned from the NATO and NA skies.

Supplies of of all types of weapons (Stinger anti-aircraft defense systems and anti-tank missiles, small arms and ammunition, body armour (there are attempts to supply them even with warplanes) are being shipped to the Ukraine battle fields, even Germany for the first time has contributed weapons.

The Ukraine president spoke, via internet video, to a session of the UK parliament. He spoke of the Ukrainian people’s determination ‘to fight in the forests, to fight in the streets, to fight on the shores’. An expression that echoes the famous Churchill address during WW2.

Russian mothers (Russian prisoners are allowed to use iPhones and call home) are hearing news from their soldier sons that the propaganda about Ukraine is false and the mothers are asking ‘where can I go to get my son home, whose door can I knock on?’

This war will be the most recorded (videoed) and instant playback of events since the invention of war in history. Those iPhones the ‘prisoners’ are using are recording the willful destruction, wounding and killing and of everyday citizens and their homes by the invading forces. The iPhones are used to record and spread the news via internet and phone connections without limit to Europe and the rest of the world.

A solid block of support and unity is forming in the western world, marches, humanitarian fundraisers are springing up, unseen since the second world war. (1940 – 1945)

Support and medical supplies are coming from everywhere and the people of the western nations and good folk anywhere are watching on their ‘iPhones’, computers and TVs and seeing the unfairness and cruelty of this unnecessary and awful event.

There is the long lines of human traffic out of the country but there are also those who are going back to help and fight supporting the present Ukrainian freedom fighters.

The next few days and weeks will tell the tale of this unprovoked attack!

Awake, Awake! There is a BEAR in the glorious sunny garden! Rooting among the sunflowers and the grains of wheat. Quick! Gather the neighbours and let’s chase him out. Forever banished to the frozen winter fields of ice!

WAR IS HELL!

Lord have mercy!

……….for all those who habitually draw the sword will die by the sword. (Gospel of Matthew – Chapter 25 verse 52: Jesus’ warning to Peter who tried to defend Jesus, with his sword, from capture by the Temple soldiers)

JS March 8, 2022

Header Picture: channel4.com

The ‘Groenies’

Celebrating 75 years (1947-2022)

There are many stories of immigrants who have found blessings and success in Canada, (the True North Strong and Free). THIS IS ONE OF THEM.

20 Limeridge Road East

The Cor & Sjaan Groenewegen family lived in a big house (actually it was a barn with massive limestone walls – there used to be a limestone kiln on the property) owned originally by the Dr. Bethune family, at Upper James and Limeridge Road. The barn and property was bought by Cor and Sjaan in 1951 for about $5,000.


‘De Hoop’ windmill (1887) in Rozenburg

The Groenies were a large family, orignally from the island of Rozenburg, just southwest and across the river from (Maassluis) near Rotterdam. Teunis Zent Groenewegen was a farmer, who it was told, never had a good farming year. He was always changing his crop growing plans but then the weather would turn bad again, so his success at farming was modest. He was married to Jaapje Kleiwegt, daughter of Piet Kleijwegt. (one of the builders of the windmill ‘De Hoop’)

Together they had 14 children. (6 sons and 8 daughters) Their son Cornelis born March 7, 1914 (7th child)  helped out on the farm but seeing his dad struggles in making a living decided to strike out on his own. He courted the local shoemaker’s daughter Sjaan (Adriana) Voorberg, born April 5, 1913, and they were married in February 1939 while Cor was already busy setting up a wholesale/retail produce business in De Hague. Cor had wanted to go to America already before the war but Sjaan had said, ‘if that is what you want to do, I will not marry you’. She wanted to stay close to her family in Rozenburg (4 sisters and 3 brothers).

All during the war years, Sjaan and Cor – after being discharged just before the War from the Dutch army – (he had earned a citation as ‘sharpshooter’) lived at 86 Bilthovenselaan [2] in De Hague running and growing his produce business, eager to better his sales [3].

But the urge to go to America stayed fresh in his mind. So at the first opportunity to leave, Cor applied in early 1947, for immigration to Canada [7] which gave the family only weeks to get ready. As Sjaan was now married her final response was ‘Cor, je doet maar wat je wilt’. (Cor, if this is what you want, then go do it!) and then resigned herself to going wherever he was going. (By this time they had 5 children from 6 years old down, the youngest Marian, was a couple of months old.)

Cor waving ‘goodbye’ Arrival in Montreal

The family arrived in Montreal [4] on June 26, 1947 on the SS Waterman [5] (the 2nd immigrant ship after the War) and at first settled in as farmer’s help in Bradford [6] then on to Queenston Heights and eventually settled in Hamilton. They were Article 31 (Vrijgemaakt) (Canadian Reformed) people and at first attended the Christian Reformed Church in St. Catharines, ON under the pastoral care of Rev. Persenaire. Eventually the family grew to 7 children, 3 boys and 4 girls of which my future wife Nellie was the oldest girl. (Ted, Nellie, Jackie, Marian, John, Louisa and Earl)

Cor Groenewegen having had experience with produce wholesale/retail in Holland, noticed, while driving to attend the Canadian Reformed Church on Catharine Street in Hamilton, ON, via Upper James, an empty stone barn at Limeridge Road, and made inquiries. It was perfect for what he had in mind, potato storage. He made an offer and purchased the old barn on the Bethune property at 20 Limeridge Road.

The family moved into the empty barn and Cor set up his retail/wholesale potato business which he had started while still at the Queenston Heights Larkin farm. [8] The Limeridge Road barn had a natural storage space ideal for potato storage during the winter. So Cor would buy in the fall in Leamington, Ancaster and Orangeville areas and store all winter. For over 20 years, he would run as a ‘huckster’, a Saturday morning operation from the Welland market to supply individuals and restaurants with potatoes and other seasonal produce.

The family prospered as the barn was transformed into their living quarters by Mr. Boot who was a carpenter. They became a well-respected family in the community, often the receivers of new immigrants as they landed in Hamilton from the Netherlands. Cor Groenewegen served his community well as member of local Church council and was a foundational supporter of the (Calvin) Christian School on West 5th starting in 1951 and serving as it chair for a number of years in the 1950s and 60s. Many times he would act as bus driver taking time off from his work to transport kids to and from school. Sjaan as ever was his loving wife and faithful helper in all things.

The Groenie’s place was a great gathering place for young people on Sunday nights. The family was popular with the boys of the Dutch immigrant community, as after all, they had four daughters.

Cor’s business expanded from potatoes, apples and vegetables, to the gathering of used produce crates and fruit baskets and reselling them to farmers and other produce marketers. He also got involved in the transportation of produce and fruits with tractor trailer units through connections with a transport firm in the Niagara area.

As the children grew older, the younger ones from Nellie down all went to college (Calvin College, Grand Rapids & Trinity College in Chicago) Ted worked for the business (he loved driving those tractor trailers) and Nellie stayed at home to help out and then took a Practical Nursing Course at St. Joseph Hospital in Hamilton. In 1966 Cor and Sjaan took a trip to Florida and from then on spent quite a (every) few winters in Florida or Arizona. Eventually by the early 70s they purchased a home in St. Petersburg, Florida and stayed all year around. Having obtained ‘Green Cards’ they worked part-time, Cor driving a delivery truck and later a small bus for senior citizens and Sjaan worked mending and adjusting clothing at the local dry cleaner.

Cor & Sjaan’s garden on Blind Line

In 1977 the 20 Limeridge Road property was expropriated [9] by the City of Hamilton and a new residence was bought on Blind Line in North Burlington. Cor took up hobby gardening on the property and they continued to spent winters in Florida.

By 1992 the Florida property was sold. Cor passed away (at Mount Nemo Nursing Home) in August 1994 from cancer which had lodged in his face and jaw.

Oma Sjaan (her family now totaled over 45 children & grandchildren) sold the Blind Line property in the Fall of 1994 and lived with daughter Nellie and her husband John in Burlington till her death in December 2002.

JS March 2, 2022


[2] During the war years Cor continued to increase his business but the German occupation caused numerous problems and instabilities. One which has been recited often is the time a ‘Razzia’ (round up of men for labour in Germany) took place and Cor hid under the floor in a hiding space in a cupboard; and while there for some time, left behind a spoon (no matter what; he had to have his dinner) which was returned to him sometime after his immigration while on a trip to Holland, by the then occupants of the house.

[3] He had a special sales promotion deal: 1 pound of potatoes for 5 cents and a kilo for 10 cents (a pound is ½ a kilo) as told to us in 1992 at DeSoto beach (St. Petersburg, Florida) with a chuckle and a smile.

[4] In the history of the national Dutch-American and Dutch-Canadian communities there are a number of dates and occasions important for everyone to know. High on the list ought to be June 17, 1947, when the Dutch troop transport ship Waterman made a special trip to Canada with the first party of 1,100 post-WWII Dutch immigrants. On June 26, 1947 newspapers across the country echoed the Montreal Star headline “1,100 Happy, Cheering Hollanders Arrive Enroute To New Canadian Farm Homes.” Note from the  Windmill Newspaper. (godutch.com)

[5] The Waterman was a ‘Military Troop Transport’ ship, freshly returned from the Dutch conflict with Indonesia and had not been renovated for transporting families. So the men and the women with children were housed in separate parts of the ship. Not easy for the wives with large families. Sjaan’s youngest daughter was just 6 weeks old.

[6] This farmer was an earlier Dutch immigrant but did not treat Cor fairly, so Cor travelled to St. Catherines to get his immigration contact (Mr. John vander Vliet) to find him another employer. There is a picture that shows the family on front page of the Hamilton Spectator (June 27, 1947) having been routed by train to Brantford instead of Bradford. This was probably due to Cor’s poor enunciation of the name ‘Bradford’.

[7] After the war was over, pre-war Dutch immigrants living in Canada (ON) encouraged the Canadian government to set up a program to sponsor farm-workers. Canada sent an immigration officer to the Netherlands in late 1946 to prepare for its immigration program – and cope with the immediate issue of resettling the fiancees and dependents of Canadian soldiers. So Canada passed new immigration regulations for the admission of sponsored farm workers on January 30, 1947. On April 30, 1947 the Christian Reformed Church congregations in Sarnia & Hamilton created a Committee to lay the groundwork for an anticipated Dutch immigrant influx into Ontario. (info from godutch.com) Cor no doubt knew this and seized his chance.

[8] John D. Larkin, a successful industrialist from Buffalo, started buying land in Niagara in 1900. He purchased Glencairn near Queenston and developed three farming communities in the township with over 1,700 acres of land. One group was built on “Upper” or “Mountain farm”, these were all flooded after the hydro dam was constructed in 1948. Another grouping was called “Middle Farm” about a mile north of Queenston heights. The third group or “Lower Farm” was later owned by Harry Larkin and became famous as a fruit and cattle farm.

[9] The planning of the Red Hill/Lincoln Expressway, already in the works in the late 1950’s created a long drawn-out legal battle with the City of Hamilton to ensure that the Limeridge Road property was being fairly evaluated for expropriation. Eventually this resulted in a settlement in 1977 of approx. half a million. The barn and the stately home on the property (which were unique in design including the square limestone (rounded inside) silo) were quickly torn down after the sale and is now the location of the Linc’s off-ramp to Upper James North. The Red Hill Creek eastern portion of this planned roadway became a long battle with property owners, Indigenous natives and Environmental groups and was finally opened in 2007.

Belligerent……

The Oxford dictionary defines this word as meaning that a person/or (nation) is; aggressive, assaultive, combative, contentious, defiant, hostile, threatening, antagonistic, bull-necked, quarrelsome, hot tempered, battling, scrappy, warlike, militant, mean, fierce, having a bone to pick or having a chip on their shoulder…. anyway you get the picture.

There have been many instances like this in the past. Let’s name a few: the Pharaoh of Egypt when the Israelites asked for permission to leave; Goliath and David; King Ahab for Nabot’s vineyard; King Herod with the little children of Bethlehem; Rome expanding their Empire; the Spanish Armada threating the English; the US army war against the Native people (Seminole) of Florida; Napoleon’s wars against anyone; Hitler against Europe; America in Iraq; tragic power failures in Afghanistan; ISIS in Syria, Putin and the Ukraine crisis, and many others. All are examples of instances of belligerence. (the act of being belligerent)

All these were either personal or national in scope, for power (authority) and revenge or aggrandization couched in political or religious reasons. Usually a mix-up of both for politics and control (authoritarianism) is as religion is to faith.

And so we are there again, like the times of the ‘Munich agreement’: arguing , pleading, disputing, taking liberty with facts and history, refusing to accept the present status, pleading for peace, showing the fallacies of re-visioning the historic past to legitimize the new future. Followed by the usual responses of no, we are not interested in war, we are peaceful, we just want justice and freedom. But the telling and showing are not in sync, for in the meantime: I will show (off) to you what it takes to get my way: men and might; overwhelming numbers; guns; threatening of lives and lively-hoods, jail and taking away one’s freedom: destruction, war! and political slavery.

A little bit of that (belligerent) spirit we saw recently with the truckers convoy movement here in Canada. Ordinary people came together because they were upset with health (safety) concern mandates coupled with Government actions necessary to protect citizens from the deadly virus that was tearing through our neighbourhoods and communities. No one thought or felt this was (a lark) nice….. certainly all of us were frustrated, upset, scared, angry at times and very, very sad when this death virus brushed into our lives, family and friends. It turned our world upside down! What could we collectively do to stem the march of this unholy guest?

Well, use the smarts and knowledge we had at hand: keep our distance and if needed isolate, get medical help (develop vaccines) use stats to pin point the hives of outbreaks and use whatever protection necessary, communicate and inform, make life possible by economic assistance and if you are religious pray for the healing of our people and land.

In order to do all this you will need to disrupt (crack) the status quo, people and organizations will get hurt, curtailed in doing their business, loss of income with mental and bodily fatigue. Some (students) lost part of their usual social well-being. Lives were interrupted and accomplishments postponed or failed. Many dug into their life savings to survive and we all were affected. Not one of us escaped. You know the slogan: We are in this together!

So some of your freedom was curtailed and now you started to mope and blame the government, for what? manufacturing the VIRUS? mandating ways that perhaps could keep us all functioning by doing new things differently? Come on, get it straight! Are we now against the Canadian democratic system that we are so proud off. Did it slip? Well yes, a little out of necessity to get us where we are today, almost free of the severity of the disease! Have we licked it yet? No, but the effort has been unrelenting, would you not agree? Did we get it right and fine tuned from the beginning? No, but none of us have ever experienced this before. The Sars scare was maybe a river, the Asian flu like a creek but this was Niagara Falls 10 times over.

Be thankful your country took on the hard lifting (and was not indifferent) to keep you and your loved ones healthy and safe.

We are free (no war is threatening) and living in a jewel of a country envied by many in the world. Let’s rebuild even stronger! Hands together and held tightly. The world is watching!

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.” –Mother Teresa

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” —Susan Jenkins

JS February 23, 2022

Also for another view on Truckers Convoy and Vaccinations see www blog.reformedjournal.com/A Reality Check by Elbert Donkersgoed

Clouds like Mountains

When it get -15 C or more we have noticed these early morning scenes. It is fascinating to see. This always reminds me of these Biblical instances.

@ Second book of Kings chapter 6: Then he (the King of Aram) sent horses and chariots and a strong force to Samaria. They went by night and surrounded the city. 15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. 16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

@ Book of Psalms number 125 verse 2: As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.

@ the Book of Hebrews chapter 12 verse 1:  Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

Burlington Bay in winter when the temperature is -15 C or more

JS February 17, 2022

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread…..

There is a petition in the Lord’s Prayer (Gospel of Matthew chapter 6) that Jesus taught us to pray for our daily food & living needs. This petition is the fourth and sits between the third: that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven and the fifth: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespassed against us. Interesting that our Lord Jesus when he taught this prayer squeezed this petition between God’s will be done and us forgiving others so we can be forgiven by God for the sins we commit against God’s will on earth.

So why this thought today?

Well, we have some of our Food & Goods Suppliers transporters trucks occupying (blocking) the streets of our Capital Ottawa, other cities and important intersections of our highways through Canada. They are a small part (some say maybe 10% or less) of the larger Truck drivers industry but they are loud and noisy. They say, they are there for their (our) Freedom and the freedom of fellow Canadians. Many more are travelling to our Capital (Ottawa is bitterly cold) and other places with 1,000s cheering them on along the way. ‘No more mandates’ they shout and blare their truck horns to draw attention as they vow not to leave till the Government of Canada lifts all Covid restrictions. What are those restrictions?

Access to public places (locations determined by local authorities) is now restricted (as determined by medical community statistics and sickness intervention evidence) to those who have evidence of the following:

  • Vaccination evidence against the Covid-19; preferably 3 jabs.
  • Wearing masks in all public settings.

These 2 demands seem reasonable in light of the facts, as we now know (and that will continue to reveal to us as this Covid virus is still with us) that since the virus appeared in our country January 2020, 33,000 Canadians have died after catching this disease and that at this time Ontario alone is averaging 3 deaths per hour everyday for the last 3 weeks or more. And that there is proof that vaccinations has lessened the impact of this virus in many lives saved. However, at present our Emerg ICU services and medical care-givers are strained (drained) and almost half or more of these deaths are with unvaccinated people. The world (at least the Western world populations) have been reeling from the viciousness of this disease. We are now touching the 4th wave of variants of this virus and it has been devastating! judging by the death totals records; USA has 900,000 and almost 5,000,000 worldwide. Almost 400,000,000 people have been affected and many will be dealing with ‘long-term’ effects. There is sorrow and regret in many families.

When you add this up and then take note of the reason for all of these truckers to block roads in cities and towns, you say to yourself: This is not reasonable. The science by now has proven that vaccination lessens the severity of the virus and so protect you and your family. So come on, don’t be a chicken! get your shot! What! are you afraid of a little jab in the arm? But wait there is more…..

‘Nobody is going to tell me what to do’ …. ‘Mon corpse; mon ame’…’my body; my choice’. So this has to do with Freedom of choice and they do not want to be told.

The police and the authorities are pulling their hairs as they do not know what to do. The water is over dam. They are in the streets. Levy fines? against parking? Tow the huge tractors off the streets? The Freedom truckers and their supporters say they are not moving until the Mandates are lifted. Meantime the situation has become an ‘Occupation’ and neighbourhoods, businesses and neighbours are being held hostage by diesel fumes and loud honking of truck-horns and in some cases: destruction of property and just being a public nuisance by a fringe hooligans’ element which has joined in with the Freedom crowd. The 10 million dollars collected on ‘GoFundMe’ are in dispute, frozen. (see bottom note) The Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Covid quarantine and has refused so far to speak to the protesters. Will he need to do as his father did, in the 1970 FLQ crisis insurrection, a ‘Pierre Trudeau’ – “Just watch me” action? How ironic would that be!

So how will it all end?

I think that this Freedom action (Covid fed-ups) restlessness, already smoldering for the last 2 months or so, has now burst into full flame. And not only in Canada but also in the USA as their Covid restrictions now also concerns the cross-border traffic for US truck drivers. The rules are now the same in both countries: you want to cross the border with your goods? get vaccinated!

But now people have had enough and are done with Covid. For 2 years authorities, who have been trying to use, as they saw fit, strategic methods of public protection techniques (mandates) that have hurt many with economic and mental stress issues and concerns. Businesses have failed and individuals have lost jobs. Let’s face it, it has not been good! and all emergency funding (as good as it is) do not make the virus and the BLAHS go away!

Are we being told what to do, yes! but this has not been punishment but rather a benevolence! A maybe bumbling, mumbling, stumbling attempt to limit a very bad disease from killing our neighbours, fathers, mothers, children and grand-parents. But we (authorities) are hopefully gaining wisdom and learning. As my mother-in-law used to say about unknown life events: “You learn from every deal!”

Now to get back to what I said at the beginning. The Lord’s prayer petitions before we get to ask #4’s ‘Give us this day our daily bread’; God tells us to make our communities as Jesus said; like his heavenly Kingdom on earth #3; then you may (ask) work to supply your daily (food) meal and living comforts #4; after that again in perfect order God tells us to petition in #5; to be thankful and tell each other, as you enjoy your meal, that you forgive and love your neighbours. Hard to do when we are all charged up with our own interests & ideas? YOU BET! But give it a try…….In the words of John Lennon- ‘Give Peace a Chance!’

And for Canada my petition is: “Under the king’s hand: May this land (Canada) of mountains and hills know peace and experience justice for all the people”. Book of Psalms #72 verse 3.

JS Pax vobiscum February 5, 2022

Note: Funds are instead being raised through the U.S.-based GiveSendGo, which describes itself as a “Free Christian Crowdfunding” website. CTV report.

Note: Bible text on Parliament building also quotes Psalm 72 verse 8 ‘He shall have dominion from sea to sea’.

No One Would Have Believed…….

No one would have believed…..’ Richard Burton voice is heard on Jeff Wayne’s ‘War of the World’ musical that I used to play on the 8 track in my Hornet American Motors car, whenever I took my kids out for a drive. Yes, no-one would have believed that 2 years after the first occurrence of Covid-19  (SARS-COV-2) (previously known as “2019 novel coronavirus”) in Ontario we would still be dealing with this terrible scourge that has affected everyone in the world today.

January 25th, 2020 was the recorded date (I noted) here in Ontario but already we had heard of it appearing in China, Europe and other parts of the world with devastating news. People dying everywhere. A Pandemic!

How did it start? There is much controversy about that and that is where all the misinformation, suspicions and conspiracy theories start. No one has been able to put these ideas to rest and many are still mesmerised by inflated tales and false news since the beginning. We have seen people who have denied the reports of sickness and death among those who have been affected as hoax and manipulations of the news media. No matter how many deaths we see reported (and also hear first-hand) among our friends and relatives, many are stubbornly resisting the evidence before their very eyes.

When the news broke out my choir practices were stopped (we have not yet restarted) church services were stopped, stores, restaurant, places of recreation, events and gathering were all forbidden. Governments locally and nationally issued health warning and asked us to follow policies that would minimize contact spreading. Signs appeared: practice the 6 ft rules; social distancing became a new word; classrooms were closed and students and teachers were thrown into a new media world of ‘zoom’ education. Businesses, especially the small entrepreneurs were heavily hit by mandated closures. People, especially service-industry workers, were laid-off from their jobs and had no income. We were on (that dreaded word) LOCKDOWN!

Your doctor would curtail office visits and you could talk about your illness symptoms over the phone or you went straight to the ER which was filling up with especially the vulnerable Seniors from Nursing Homes and Retirement centres rushing the medical doctors and nurses off their feet, taking up sparce IC beds, to save as many as possible from the dreaded Covid-19 virus that would plug up their lungs and slowly squeezed the breath out of them. Pictures on TV and newspapers showed cemeteries with ready dug burial sites for the next victims and barely keeping up. Respirator machines were in short supply and medical masks were depleted and hard to obtain.

Soon fake info news would rise up in our communities about who to blame and what would cure the and protect us from the virus. Some even suggested ‘horse medicine’ (Ivermectin) and other solutions (Hydroxychloroquine) could be the cure.

Although late on the uptake of realizing the devastation with economic rip-ups of our communities, Government bodies (our people’s representatives) swung into action to remediate the damage by making available grants, loans and income assistance to personal and businesses alike to keep us all in tack and stop the fall out as much as they could determine where the needs were.

While all of this was going on the medical community also sprung into action analyzing the virus and trying to get a handle on what type of preventive action could be considered to help stem the severity of this illness in people. Tests and research and history (think: insulin, small-pox, polio, measles, diphtheria, yellow fever, etc.) indicated vaccines might be the answer. Although this required much late-night laboratory efforts with short intensive guided trials, it was not long before some had at least developed a vaccine that could lessen the punch of this disease if administered in at least 2 doses. So Pfizer and Moderna and other pharmaceuticals created vaccines sprung to the foreground as medical helps to end this fast moving disease by getting it freely into human arms thereby quickly coming to a ‘herd’ immunity status in our neighbourhoods and giving the ‘bug’ nowhere else to grow. We breathed a sigh of relief and thought, I think we got it! This nightmare might just end by Spring/Summer 2021! News flash (January 17, 2022): A new pill Paxlovid by Pfizer which when administered within the first 5 days of contracting Covid may curtail the effects of the disease.

In the meantime, there were many who scoffed at the promised effects of the vaccines citing various claims and ‘expert’ inside knowledge and (conspiracy) theories that the stuff in the vaccine would harm you or your future children’s DNA. Crowds formed around hospitals demonstrating against hard working, sometimes sacrificing (dying) nurses and doctors busy saving lives in the crowded ICUs of our hospitals. Political figures and other notables fanned the flames of the anti-vaxxers rhetoric. Calling on ‘human rights’; ‘my body my choice’; and the BIG one ‘no government is going to tell me what to do’. Sadly many sincere people were led ‘around the bush’ by these tactics including some of my people in the Reformed Christian communities. (see letter to the editor The Hamilton Spectator – December 14, 2021)

Although we all thought by September 2021 we had seen the end of this pandemic and even after noting a variant ‘Delta’ had evolved prompting from a 3rd booster shot, we were again confronted with a new variant labelled Omicron. Very contagious and spreading rapidly around the world.

So two years in and we are still in LOCKDOWN hiding from the new variant Omicron. Already I have noticed there are scares (rumours) of another variant ‘DeltaCrom’?

So here we are then, at home in lockdown mode. Sparce visits with family in the last 2 years. Economic hardships for many. Children and students taking the brunt of the social pains. Limited community interactions for our teens and older seniors. Educators on edge. Cultural events scrapped or reduced. Controversies about treatment and prevention. Medical staff at their wits end. Religious communities and church congregations divided and unable to practice their beliefs in person. Supply and demand of goods and services in disarray. Everyone now needs a vaccination certificate qualify for travel.

Why? How? What now? Is there maybe a reason for all this to happen to us? Where is God in all this?

N. T. Wright (Bible scholar) wrote a little book in 2020 “God and the Pandemic” in which he says we should not jump to conclusion that God is angry because of our (sins) shortcomings and failings. Rather this all should teach us to be humble and caring people in the face of this struggle. There is more and you can read about it in this little book.

For me, I say, we do not know, but God still cares and understands our fears and failings. Perhaps this teaches us to be wise and compassionate in a time when we see and experience a lot of other earth shattering (warming and warring) events and problems. The second part of the unity command statement ‘Love God’ and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ has certainly come into sharp focus.

This Pandemic is not yet over and we will see……….. However let me draw your attention to an old Hymn. One that we always sing when we as citizens, annually remember our national defense efforts in times of war and great crisis, a mixture of the bad and sacrifices in all the victories:

O GOD OUR HELP IN AGES PAST. (Text: Isaac Watts – Tune: ST. ANNE)

Verse 6:  O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
still be our guard while troubles last,
and our eternal home!

May the God of grace grant us delivery of this virus soon!

May you be blessed with peace and well-being!

JS    January 17th, 2022

NOTE: as of January 18, 2022 we see the following numbers of COVID deaths:

USA 846,000; Brazil 621,000; India 486,000; Russia 315,000; WORLD 5,500,000; CANADA 30,000; ONTARIO 10,700

Languishing 2022

As the year comes to a close we are again for the second time in the grip of Covid-19 through the Omicron virus, another variation of Covid. This time it appears to be affecting many more people and it seems that our health-care prevention network is behind the eight ball in this one.

Reading the New York Times daily update this week refers to a report that explores our present time as in a state of ‘languishing’; the mode ‘between depression and well-being’. No doubt this probably describes the feeling of many Ontarians at this time. When we think and dwell on Covid and its consequences for the past 21 months; we are in the BLAHS!

Just now with all the practice (experience) we have had in managing this Covid pandemic; this alone: There are long lines of people waiting to get a ‘test’ as they feel the need (are told) because of sudden symptoms or work/visiting requirements, giving assurance they have not been exposed to the virus. Self testing kits are few (‘they are on order’ we are told) and not easy to obtain. There is a list of sites on the Gov website but they are in different Ontario locations on different specific dates. Businesses can order free kits via this website and pick them up at Chamber of Commerce office in their local area. (not available right now!) Pharmacies can administer tests but they cost anywhere from $30.00 for self tests to $199 for Travel use tests (Antigen type) which are available in 24 – 48 hours. On website Express Rapid Test costs can be $145.00 for 5 tests with pick-up Test kits only at Steeles Ave. Toronto location and ready in one hour. Some people are even now questioning the need for self-testing unless one is a frequent visitor at places of work or for instance visits with elderly or other needy persons or has a job that could put others at risks. Those staying mostly at home do not need to self test as they are infrequently in contact with others.

The usual isolation time of 10 days has now been cut back to 5 days as it appears the Omicron variant although quite contagious does not appear to have severe health issues for those having had their vaccinations. (2 shots and a booster) They say 10 days will harm our ability to function as a society. Ther will be less workers especially health workers if we maintain the 10 day rule.

The experts have different takes on what will serve us the best in fighting this virus. There are many questions and sometimes it seems the answers are like: to quote a popular song ‘the answer is blowing in the wind’.

So what will the new year 2022 bring?

I believe there will be business flow as we have seen in the last 2 years. Full lock-downs will be fewer and people will take the mask-on and other distancing methods in their stride. It is hoped that the Omicron virus will slowly die out but there will be over-caution-ness in the Health-care sector well into the next year or so. ???? Will there be have many indoor events restored? Visits indoor with friends and relative in the usual way? Church meeting and worship services and other family and social gatherings in our usual accepted manner? How will school function? Can our kids manage with fewer and more difficult interactions needed for healthy Youthful living? Travel without restrictions and will vaccination proofs documents be obligatory? Shaking hands and hugs in public? Probably not much, at least till we are sure the cases of infections are mostly eliminated. Will we need to have proof of vaccinations in order to enjoy and enter certain venues? Yah, we probably will need to have those documents handy.

My hope is that our neighbourhoods and coming together events will slowly be restored but the practice of healthy cautions will be front and center for a while. May Covid develop into a mild flu like 21st Century nuisance.

Let, I say, the feeling of ‘languishing‘ be banned and let’s make an effort to look forward into the new year 2022 as a year of trust and well-being. As the slogan goes ‘we can do this together’.

May this enthusiasm for the new year for those who profess to be Christ followers not go without echoing and owning the words of the Heidelberg Catechism. This Catechism is a list of Questions and Answers from the Bible what Christians believe about our lives and our future. It always asks the BIG tough questions: What do you believe about the Providence of God in 2022?

Questions and answers 27 & 28: What do you understand by the providence of God? God’s providence is his almighty and ever present power, whereby, as with his hand, he still upholds heaven and earth and all creatures, and so governs them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand. 

So how does knowing this help us to face issues in 2022? We can be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and with a view to the future we can have a firm confidence in our faithful God and Father that no creature shall separate us from his love; for all creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they cannot so much as move.

Happy New Year 2022 to all!

JS December 30, 2021

A Hymn that speaks of disconsolate people (sad, bleak and dismal emptiness, unhappy) and languishing (stagnation, weak, neglected) but yet believing in the the Lord’s goodness where ‘earth has no sorrows that heaven cannot heal‘. This can be sung for the 4th Sunday of LENT.

Treasure or Terror (or both)

Who would have believed that in ‘Mien Hogelaand’ of the province of Groningen in the Netherlands, they would find one of the world’s largest (10th) natural gas fields. So in 1959 near the village of Slochteren (after 2 unsuccessful tries) they discovered a well at a depth of 9,800 ft some 100 trillion cubic feet of gas, the largest gas field in Europe. Who would have believed it?

Production started in 1963 with around 100 billion cubic metres (3.57 trillion cubic feet) per year during the first first 10 years and gradually pared down to 35 billion cubic feet. So far 60% of the field’s capacity have been extracted with the remaining 39 trillion cubic feet lasting another 50 years it is estimated.

This find has won large volumes of profits for the Dutch Government and has contributed largely to the wealth of its population. It is estimated that revenues from this gas extraction since 1965 are 417 billion Euros and at times produced for the Dutch Mining sector a large share of the Dutch GDP (in 1985 it was 7.9% since then down to 4%) however even with declining extractions the revenue is significant for the Mining industry.

The Groningen gas field is operated by the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij BV (NAM), a joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobile and supplies 50% of natural gas needs for the Netherlands. The other 50% is harvested from wells in the North Sea. At the moment the Dutch extract every 10 days, comparable cubic volumes as large as the size of the ‘IJsselmeer’, a huge lake (area 1,100 km2) in the center of Holland.

As the revenues climbed in 1980 so did the earthquakes. Something was wrong in ‘Pronkje, Stad en Ommelaand’. The strong fertile clay was breaking up in frightening ‘events’ at several places and het ‘volk’ were rudely awakened by shocks and trilling of the earth. Cracks started to appear in structures and houses. Cracks were also now apparent in the euphoria of the win and winners for NAM and the Dutch government. By 1991 seismicity records kept showed a rate of about five (earthquake) events per year. Since 2003, the number of these events and magnitudes started to increase leading in 2012 to the largest ever recorded of 3.6 on the Richter scale causing lots of damage to houses and structures throughout the gas area. There was much damage. Studies confirmed that as the depletion of the gas field continued there appeared to be a close link between induced seismicity and reservoir compaction. In other words, the natural consistency of the ground under the farms and towns of Groningen had been shifted, modified and robbed of their native and consistent expansion abilities causing flows of substances on the move from various pressure areas creating upheavals and underground ‘streams’ grinding underneath the feet of the province’s citizens. And they were not only traumatized by the sudden ‘events’ but were losing their tempers as it seemed that NAM and the government traded accuses off against each other as to who was to blame and who should pay for the damage. Many houses and other structures needed to be shored up and walls re-enforced while the good citizens were losing their homes to being condemned unfit and too dangerous to live in. The ‘huis-vrede’ (home-peace) had been threatened and damaged.

Requests (applications) of remuneration claims for damages were discussed and in the beginning honored and approved although the ‘proper paper for filing’ the claims was a horrific nightmare. Claims boundary eligibility regions were set and reset because who could predict where the next quake would come. As the gas extraction was cut back claims limits were also scaled back accordingly leaving many people (especially since 2012) with being lost in the bureaucracy with many becoming tired of the fight for their rights even though they had no control over the ongoing quakes (these seismicity were called ‘events’). There were a lot of protests (fakkel en kaarsen) and a lot of ‘Blah, Blah, Blah’.

In the village of Overschild, with a population of 500, just east of the City of Groningen, over 80% of the homes will be demolished as they have been condemned to being unsafe to live in. New houses with ‘earthquake resistant foundations’ are now being built. A nightmare for the citizen experiencing the breakdown of their homes as they knew them. Although they seem to be the lucky ones, there are many who having lived in their homes for 40/50 years are giving up hope to ever ‘in their lifetime’ be compensated for their structural damages and losses. There are a registered 26,809 addresses that have noted instances of structural damage. Of these about 10,000 are waiting for a visit by inspectors from the ‘Staatstoezicht op de Mijnen’ government group who have a 7 year window to determine all damages.

Not only are there structural damages but even the teachers at school notice how the tremors are emotionally scarring some of the children who are experiencing these sudden terrifying shocks in their communities. It is affecting their school work and their relational family well-being.

It seems that the ‘Den Hague’ government is staying far away from the good citizens of Groningen. Demonstrations, protests and discussions only leave long pauses of getting ‘nowhere’ in providing an end to the gas extraction. Oh yes, there is a plan (2022, 2025 or maybe 2030) but it gets modified from time to time and yes, the premier Mr. Mark Rutte came to visit Loppersum but that turned out to be just a political token. Many told him to just ‘Oprutte’ a regional slang expression meaning ‘Get Lost!’ What will be next?????

JS November 26, 2021

And then………….on November 16, 2021 this news.

Anger reigns in Garrelsweer in Groningen after a heavy 3.2 earthquake

A shock – literally – went through the Groningen village of Garrelsweer last night. How is the damage after this massive earthquake? This is an article from ‘Trouw’ a dutch newspaper. Every day a selection of the best articles from newspapers and magazines appears on NU.nl.

Wim Vreeling was woken up at around a quarter to two last night by loud rumblings in his house. There was a bang, after which he almost rolled out of bed in the dark from the vibrations. Immediately the thoughts of the church steward of the village church in Garrelsweer in Groningen went to the golden weathercock on top of his church. “Imagine another blow like that,” he thought. “I have to have the church tower checked.”

Vreeling is one of the 450 inhabitants of the village of Garrelsweer, where one of the strongest earthquakes – with a magnitude of 3.2 – of the last two years was recorded last night. Residents were awakened in the pitch dark by clattering wardrobes or trembling bedsteads. A few who were still awake, such as the couple Ron Otte and Caroline Marang, were able to see the shock wave. Marang: “The walls and the ceiling danced, as if we were on a boat. The corner where the kitchen is located came up. I don’t know yet whether we have any damage, but I was completely shocked.”

Steward Vreeling too, and that is why he immediately reported his concerns about the church tower, on which the heavy golden weathercock rests on Tuesday morning. The engineers who immediately came to have a look confirmed his fears.

After the quake, which could also be felt (all the way as far as) in the city of Groningen, more than two hundred Groningen residents reported their earthquake damage to the Groningen Mining Damage Institute (IMG) on Tuesday evening. Eight of those reports, including that of Vreeling, indicate that acutely unsafe situations had arisen.

Feeling of insecurity

Because damage is certain. Resident Fenne Feenstra counted three new cracks in her house. She immediately makes it clear that the damage is not only about cracks, but also about the feeling of insecurity. Fearing that her trembling closet would fall on her Tuesday night, she froze. “The feeling that it is not safe here, you learn to ignore it, but on a day like today you are literally shaken awake.” She now tells this to a handful of other residents, who nod in agreement. They sit together at the table in the neighborhood center of Garrelsweer, where mayor Gerard Beukema invited them on Tuesday afternoon to share what happened last night. After all these years, he knows that an earthquake makes a lot of noise among residents. Around him, residents discuss fortification procedures for their homes, complain about communication with aid workers and describe how angry they are. The shock and fear that Feenstra still felt at night quickly turned into anger, she says. “After such a night you open the newspaper and you read that Shell wants to go to England because they do not want to pay dividend tax,” she says with tears in her eyes. “They’re evading their social responsibility, again.”

For more reports also check Wikipedia at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groningen_gas_field and https://www.magnuscmd.com/groningen-the-slow-ending-of-a-giant/

Heading under top-picture: In Loppersum, considered the center of the quake zone, 80 percent of the first 200 homes that underwent government safety checks required demolition. Credit…Julia Gunther for The New York Times

Read more at DutchNews.nl:

The Day Of Liberation

Groningen, the Netherlands on April 13, 1945 my family and I were hiding in the building on the left. These Canadian soldiers were our liberators.

Picture taken during the “Keep Them Rolling” parade in Apeldoorn 2005.

A mutual heartfelt thanks! for the Canadian veterans by the Dutch people.

The End of Tolerance for Canadians?

Or is this the tip of the iceberg of the Liberal Party’s political dark-side? Bottom line – to be a little prejudiced is OK for the Government but not for Canadians or their non-profit organizations. Or a little bit of trampling by the Government on Canadian charter rights is OK? You be the Judge.

Court finds Ottawa’s anti-abortion test for summer jobs funding within bounds

CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS – OTTAWA – THE CANADIAN PRESS PUBLISHED OCTOBER 25, 2021

A Federal Court judge has found it was reasonable for Ottawa to require applicants to its summer-jobs program to declare themselves in support of abortion rights in order to get funding.

In a decision Friday, Justice Catherine Kane dismissed a legal challenge to the federal government from Toronto Right to Life as well as its former president and a student who’d hoped to work at the organization.

The court case came after the Liberal government added wording to the Canada Summer Jobs program application that required groups to say neither their core mandates nor the jobs being funded actively worked to undermine constitutional, human and reproductive rights.

Faith-based groups felt the wording went against their religious beliefs, so the Liberals reworked the declaration and eligibility rules for 2019 to make applicants say they don’t work to infringe any Canadian’s legal rights. However, the new ruling says the program’s pro-choice attestation fell within the labour minister’s authority and had a “minimal” impact on the court applicants’ charter rights.

“The minister did not act for an improper purpose, rely on irrelevant considerations, or show bad faith or a closed mind in making this decision,” Kane wrote.

“Given that the decision reflects a proportionate balancing, it is a reasonable decision.”

The jobs program aims to encourage small businesses and non-profits to bring on students and others looking for early experience by subsidizing wages for summer workers.

Informal consultations in late 2018 helped convince the government to change the wording for the following year’s version of the program.

The head of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada said at the time that the retooled language achieved the same aim of ensuring that “anti-choice groups,” among others, would still be ineligible for funding.

After the government put the reproductive-rights language in the 2018 application, funding rejections increased 12-fold. Only one of 63 groups flagged to the government as problematic by pro-choice groups received funding.

Blaise Alleyne, former head and current vice-president of Toronto Right to Life, said the group is “disappointed” with the ruling.

“We believe it’s a violation of our charter rights to put a values test on a government program like that, and deny applicants on the basis of their beliefs, rather than relevant eligibility criteria,” Alleyne said in an e-mail.

He said the organization is reviewing the decision, which dismissed its request for a judicial review, and considering next steps.

Employment and Social Development Canada said the summer-jobs program plays a key role in “ensuring that young people have the supports” needed to build successful careers.

“The government of Canada is committed to ensuring that the Canada Summer Jobs program supports quality job opportunities for youth that, among other things, take place in safe, inclusive and healthy work environments,” the department said in an e-mail.

This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.

A Hamilton Spectator reader comments on the above news feed hits the nail on the head!

  • The Hamilton Spectator 30 Oct 2021 a letter to the Editor by a reader.
  • Trudeau and Spec leading to totalitarian state

Regarding “Ruling says anti-abortion test for summer jobs within bounds” (Oct. 26): Even before 2017, when the Trudeau government linked views on abortion to access to the Canada Summer Jobs program, I have been highly concerned about our path toward totalitarianism. Now that this attempt at thought control has been endorsed by the courts, we should all be very, very concerned. This has nothing to do with abortion, but has everything to do with your opinions and your right to express them, personally or in a group. How long before you are denied access to services and opportunities because you don’t accept the government’s viewpoint on such issues as climate change, open borders or foreign policy? Will your pension, access to medical care or admission to university be compromised? If you think these things cannot happen to you, consider all the jobs and careers you have seen evaporate under the repressive doctrine of cancel culture.

The reader then comments on the fact that the Spec had No Comments to make. He then concluded with the question – Where is your outrage?

JS – November 1, 2021

When Will They (We) Ever Learn?

China has launched a hypersonic missile: Could it spark a new arms race?

and able to circle the earth, evading radar and strike targets with exceptional accuracy.

Some of you may remember Barry McGuires song: ‘Eve of Destruction’ (1965)

Don’t you understand what I’m trying to say?
Can’t you feel the fear that I’m feeling today?
If the button is pushed, there’s no running away
There’ll be no one to save with the world in a grave
Take a look around you boy, it’s bound to scare you, boy

But you tell me over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction

New York Times (Oct 27, 2021) had this recent report – WASHINGTON — “China’s testing of a hypersonic missile designed to evade American nuclear defenses was “very close” to a “Sputnik moment” for the United States, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday in the first official confirmation of how Beijing’s demonstration of its weapon capabilities had taken American officials by surprise. The tests, which could revive fears of a Cold War-like arms race, come as Beijing is spending heavily to modernize its military and may be seeking to expand its nuclear arsenal.”

And these were the head lines on the BBC News website (October 25, 2021): “Is China’s present missile development program a contest of strength that will be used as a threat to extend their political and moral supremacy over the world?”

Here is an excerpt from that article: “Some advocates of rapid US nuclear modernization have seen the recent Chinese tests as “a Sputnik moment” as a reference copy to the surprise and alarm registered in the US at the Soviet Union’s first orbital satellite in the late 1950s.”

“However, but some experts would disagree and don’t believe this test by China creates a new threat. James Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says the US has been vulnerable to nuclear attack by China since at least the 1980s.”

Are some of the powerful nations stealthily and silently back into the STAR WARS competitiveness scenarios of the “Cold War” and the Reagan era? Being a teenager in the 50s, I remember the shock of reading that front page headline in the Globe and Mail newspapers on that 1957 October 4th early morning when I picked up my paper-route newspaper bundles for delivery along King Street, King William, Rebecca, Wilson, Mary Streets and Ferguson Ave in the city of Hamilton. The Russians had won the “cold war space race” and we were all in big trouble. The alarm sirens that had been strategically located around the city in the previous years to warn of nuclear attack were now our only defenses to save our lives. ( I think Hamilton had 5 of those)

see NOTE at end of article

The USA (read the Western World) now had lost their prominent scientific advantage for space weapon superiority and we would soon be in a war we would never be able to win. The anxiety of that thought was never far from my mind. The nuclear Cold War had been lost.

Although this was an anxious time, the population of the day continued with their work, studies and chores as before. What could they have done otherwise? Nevertheless there hung a threatening (cloud) in the sky. What if somebody slipped up or an unforeseen mechanical accident occurred? Where would we be safe?…………… Being a Christian, I asked, with these all-powerful weapons how can God defend us now? In fact why did God allow the Russians to race ahead of the USA and us? My anxiety about this threat always hung in the back-ground of my thoughts and prayers through my teenage years.

These thoughts were in the minds of others also and were expressed in Folks Songs of that day like: ‘Were have all the flowers gone’ by Peter, Paul & Mary, the Kingston Trio, Joan Baez, Brothers Four and many, many other singers. (Especially during the Vietnam war days)

Perhaps Peter Seeger expresses it the best in this song with Judy Collins: Turn, turn, turn, there is a season…….(based on Ecclesiastes chapter 3, verse 8 and on) which has this fitting ending:

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heave
n

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time to love, a time to hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late

I also recently ran across a poem by I.F. Stone, (1907 – 1989) an investigative journalist and author who wrote it to commemorate V-E Day in 1985.

Prayer To A Displaced Person

Our father,

Who art in Heaven

Where shall we find You

When contending armies

Build battle stations

In the skies, jostling

For high ground

In outer space?

Where then will we hear

The Herald Angels sing?

Will You become

A displaced person

Searching among the stars

For a place

To lay Your head?

Who needs God

When particle beams

Spray death across

Infinite spaces

And lasers overwhelm

Your trivial lightnings

And the aboriginal void

You found in the beginning

Yawns again

To swallow You

And Your Creation

Why did You plant that tree

And temp us with the fruit?

Now our rebellion

Is at Your gate.

Where are we going with this at a time when our Climate Change dilemma – Covid 19 pandemic and war and poverty with stark economic inequality is seen all around us? When will WE ever learn!

JS October 29, 2021

The first epistle of Peter chapter 5, verse 7 reminds us: ‘Cast all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]. Translation: amplified Bible

And Gospel of Luke chapter 21, verses 25 – 28: There will be earth-shattering events—the heavens themselves will seem to be shaken with signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars. And across the earth the outsider nations will feel powerless and terrified in the face of a roaring flood of fear and foreboding, crashing like tidal waves upon them. 26 “What’s happening to the world?” people will wonder. The cosmic order will be destabilized. 27 And then, at that point, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and blazing glory. 28 So when the troubles begin, don’t be afraid. Look up—raise your head high, because the truth is that your liberation is fast approaching. Translation: the Voice

NOTE on Website: Spacing.ca/TORONTO a Chris Bateman article dated November 12, 2015;

…… In 1967, a fault at a downtown telephone exchange triggered dozens of sirens across the city for about 10 minutes. The police were flooded with calls, though no-one was scared, according to reports.

“The only thing that panics people here is when the Leafs lose 10 straight,” a police official said.

As the threat of nuclear war diminished through the 70s and 80s, the Ontario siren system began to fall into disrepair. Lightning strikes and damage by vandals with rifles triggered periodical false alarms. In 1979, a badly timed activation of 50 sirens between Port Credit and Oshawa caused nervous moments for several local residents.

“Some called police and local media to ask whether the alarm was a warning that SkyLab was about to fall on Toronto, ” the Globe and Mail reported.

By 1980, there were 1,704 sirens dotted across the country, according to the Toronto Star. “Most of the sirens have gone the way of the wind, or torn down with utility poles when lines and poles were replaced.” The downtown siren at Yonge and Richmond was still standing at the time, though it now seems to be gone.





NOTE: November 16, 2021 – BBCNews – On Monday, Russia carried out the A-Sat (anti-satellite) test from Plesetsk Cosmodrome, about 800km north of Moscow. The missile destroyed an old Soviet spy satellite, called Kosmos 1408….causing 1,500 pieces of large orbiting objects…… and thousands of smaller fragments some 440km to 520km above the Earth, threatening the ISS, China’s Tiangong space station and other spacecraft. Many countries now have their own A-Sat systems; the US, Russia, China and others have been developing weapons of this kind since the 1950s……and have conducted similar tests since as early as 1985. The proliferation of small satellite technologies will likely see the annual launchings rise above 1,000 satellites a year, greatly increasing space junk garbage.

A Glorious Reformation Mov(i)e to Gospel Truth

As October the 31st, 2021 approaches, I will again remember the Reformation (restoration) of our Christian Faith told through the story of the Life of Martin Luther. (1483 – 1546)

My father, back in the early 1950s, when I was 10 years old, had given me a small soft cover book with many pictures that described the life events of Martin Luther, the Reformer. It made a large impression on me. The message was clear: the message of the Truth of our Gospel is in the Bible and can only be received by faith.

This message was presented in a classic film made in 1953. A black and white movie of Martin Luther’s Gospel Truth discovery. This movie can now be found on YOUTUBE a Louis de Rochement film by Luthern Church Productions – Martin Luther | with Niall MacGinnis | John Ruddock | Pierre Lefevre. A copy of this movie was bought by John vanderBoom, director of the Bible League of Canada (then known as the Canadian Home Bible League) and shown to many churches in Canada through the 1960s as a fundraiser for the promotion of the placement of Bibles around the world.

Here below is the narrative in the scene of that movie that was the turning point of Martin Luther’s life search and found for him the rest for what he perceived was his sinful soul and the punishment of an angry God. Luther’s life journey, ‘spiritual angst’ about the anger of God’s dealing in judgement with sinners, to a loving and faithful Father and Saviour. To atone for his sinful soul Martin had stopped his Law studies and entered an Augustinian monastery to devote his life and studies to knowing how he could be right with God. He was ordained as a priest and continued his studies of Scripture and to search rest for his soul

At minute 26 in the movie: The setting is the Wittenberg’s Castle church where Martin Luther was pastor and served as professor at Duke Frederick’s Wittenberg University. In this scene, the church Vicar shows to Martin Luther and members of the church, his newly collected acquisition of holy relics.

Vicar: All fragments of Saint Jerome and Saint Chrysostom and from the veil sprinkled with the blood of the Saviour; a morsel of the very bread eaten at the last supper; this, a nail driven into our Lord’s feet and hands; a fragment of the true cross. The Vicar then says: with these and all the others I have brought, if a pilgrim were to venerate (revere; give respect to) every single relic in our church, they would be forgiven by God of their time in purgatory: 1 million, nine hundred and two thousand, two hundred and two years, and two hundred and seventy days. He then turns and says: Now, brother Martin………………. but Martin Luther is seen perplexed and upset as he leaves the sanctuary of the church in a hurry.

Later, the Vicar visits Martin Luther in his study. Vicar: Doctor Martin, you don’t think much of my acquisitions.

Luther replies: I’m not sure that Christ does. Dear Vicar, I wish I could be the kind of Christian that only sees and hears, believes and worships and there’s that.

Vicar: Doctor Luther, relics are not an end in themselves they’re merely symbols of holy men and women whose sanctity enables them to intercede in our behalf before God.

Luther: Symbols, it’s true, but if the symbol is replacing the meaning-ness of faith then meaning itself is lost, and if it is the other, I say if then we are lost, lost and damned.

Vicar: this (pointing to the crucifix on the wall) is a simple tool, but is it God’s supreme gift of His only Son we adore. This symbol, the splinters of the wood, the rest of the nails that we worship, this crucifix makes the agony of Christ more vivid for the simple Christian, the little peasant with his prayer to St. Christopher for a safe journey, the poor widow with a tiny Madonna, the soldier going into battle with his rosary, yes – even the Duke of Wittenberg with his noble gifts to our church. Would you take all these away, doctor Luther? You the people’s priest. You cannot afford to shatter their faith by tearing away it’s visible supports.

Luther: As their priest responsible to God for their souls can I afford not to. Symbols to inspire devotion, yes, but crutches to uphold a tottering faith?

Vicar: doctor Luther whence all this sudden doubt?

Luther: This is no sudden doubt but a growing certainty. Dear Vicar, what little certainty I have you gave to me, you heard my sin, you sent me to Rome to fortify my faith; you sent me to Scripture to find my God; you brought me here to Wittenberg to preach his Word; and now here in my room I’ve been preparing my lectures on the epistles of Paul to the Romans and here (pointing to an open Bible) I think I’ve found the truth at last and when I found it, it was as though the gates of heaven were open to me.

The Vicar sits down and reads: Paul’s Epistle to the Romans chapter 1 : verse 17 in Latin (iustitia enim Dei in eo revelatur ex fide in fidem sicut scriptum est iustus autem ex fide vivit)

Luther recounts: ‘For in the Gospel righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith as it is written: the just shall live by faith!’ and so where do we find anything here of relics, Vicar? By faith mankind lives and is made righteous, not by what we do for ourselves. Not the veneration of relics, singing of masses, pilgrimages to Rome will one purchase pardon for their sins, but by faith in what God has done for them already through his son Jesus Christ.

Vicar: doctor Martin, if you leave the Christian to live only by faith, if you sweep away all good works, all these glorious things and you dismiss them as mere crutches, what will you put in their place?

Martin Luther: Christ, mankind only needs Jesus Christ; THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH ALONE!

Song: In Christ Alone

JS October 22, 2021

(the above narrative is ‘as I heard it’ and may differ slightly from the Movie score)

NOT QUITE DONE YET…………….

It is a week before Thanksgiving (Oct 11, 2021) and I seem to be caught in a spin. Like a spinning wheel that revolves around and around and seems to constantly return to the same starting point. It is the now ‘normal’ that is confusing. Going to the store the other day I forgot to wear a mask and was intercepted by a young fellow shouting: “Sir, you need to wear a mask”. I apologized and went back to my car and got my mask on. What is happening to us?

Going to church is now a contest of sucking in enough breath of air to sing the hymn on the worship screen. Like sucking through a straw. It is difficult to sing the Lord’s praises with a mask on for an octogenarian like me; I do not understand why the 40 or so people in the church sanctuary (big enough for 300 + people) need to wear masks. But if we are all fully vaxxed the chances of spreading something affecting each other is very remote. Is it not? It’s a provincial Covid restriction rule they say.

That brings me to the present Canadian situation.

In the Province of Alberta, medical staff are exhausted they say; because the hospitals are full of Covid patients who have NOT been vaxxed. The Saskatchewan hospitals are also full. Medical staff is warning of a disaster to come, where some Covid people will be triaged to lesser care because of staff shortages. We also hear much news of medical nurses quitting their jobs, too much stress and too many extra hours of work have become unmanageable situations. New Brunswick is facing the same dilemma. Where will it all end? The army is coming to help out they say, but will that stop new no-vaxx Covid cases?. These are head issues in the sense that, how do to you convince someone to consider another truth. This is war but not the kind an army can fix or blow away. (the average 7 day increase in positive tests in Alberta right now is 10.9%; in Saskatchewan it is 13.3%; why so high there? Ontario is only 1.9% but then Ontario has been under stricter rules than other Provinces and I guess that has paid off in subduing the spread of this vicious virus.)

And still there are people protesting, No Vax. And there are also people protesting No masks. Some are saying ‘my body my choice’. Yes, but a choice to get VERY sick? is a BAD choice!

The media shows us video clips of people in ICU with all the technology we know of, strapped to their bodies to help them breathe, to live. There are stories of people suddenly missing a loved one; healthy one week and the next a funeral. And some do not believe it can hurt them. Others say you are mistrusting God if you get the shot. Can it truly be so?

Next, we have the No certificates, mandated to prove we are vaxxed in order to be safe for others who also are attending the restaurants, sports events and other group get-to-gethers? This is a privacy concern they say, and not the business of others to know. But have they ever been stopped to show their driver’s license or health card? Of course; so ‘Where is the beef?’ (a slogan from a Wendy’s hamburger Ad in 1984. It increased sales by 31%. Maybe we should use it to draw the attention of the No vax crowd?)

The production, research and advance of this vaccine has been nothing but a heaven sent miracle effort. I know much of the world believes this is ‘look at us’ taking control of our lives, but I really consider this be a gift from God. Yes, smart people made it, but our created reality has made smart people (see note at bottom) able and possible to get it done. It almost reminds you of that sermon on the book of Psalms, song number 8 (a King David song, a song fit for a King) and also the quote in the letter to the Hebrews in chapter 2; where we read “Yet you have made him (mankind) a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands….” Mankind made in the “likeness of God” has been endowed and enabled by the Eternal to discover and make this medical breakthrough for our time. A God given gift. We agree with the Kingly Psalmist when he says: Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Oh, the common grace God freely gives!

Shall we waste this gift, reject it and despise its usefulness. No way!

Are there issues with this about how to protect everyone? Yes. Are we concerned that our egos and privacy will make us feel more or less important than others? No doubt. But let’s together see this through. Will the virus be gone soon, like the Spanish flu or the eradication of small pox and polio? Nah, I think we will always need to be on our toes. And remember the rebelliousness in ourselves will not always be overcome by the kindnesses of this world. Just see what happens when we participate in our national religion called “Politics”. Everyone for himself! Give it to the other team and give it often.

So then how will we celebrate Thanksgiving? Lets give a handshake for the Amens of thankfulness for the fruit of the land, including the fruit of medical research and discovery of all types of ‘sweet fruits’ to make us well again and drive away sadness, despair and the angry-nous of all; disease and sickness, viruses that attack and devour the old and the young. (to date almost 5 million world wide)

We will celebrate in humbleness and sincerity and acknowledge that our lives are but a ‘breath’ and that we are not ourselves but are part and of the Eternal’s big plan. Let’s do our part. Be kind get your shots! and give thanks to God for His marvelous gifts to mankind!

The 3rd and last verse of ‘We Gather Together’ a favourite Thanksgiving hymn is:

We all do extol you, our leader triumphant,
And pray that you still our defender wilt be.
Let your congregation escape tribulation; (like the virus and other oppressions)
Your name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

JS October 4, 2021

NOTE: God has given ability to mankind by his Spirit. In the Book of Exodus, at the construct of the Temple, chapter 31; verses 1 through 5 it tells us: The Lord said to Moses, “See, I (the Lord) have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.

Note: Bible translation: ESV; some thees and thous changed in the verse quoted

The Jelly-Pudding Election

The following are listed as registered Political Parties in Canada (2021)

On the whim of one person, Justin Trudeau, Canada was cast into an election mode in the middle of a rising Covid-19 Delta pandemic. He said Canada needs him to show the way forward as we are in crisis mode. Many new initiatives need to be started by a strong unlimited political power. The Liberal Party!

And so we started the roller caster on the scripted track but it soon began to sway and became undone. What have we experienced so far?

No vaxxers protests near hospitals overrun by sick no-vaxxers; hiding personal vaccination status especially among (candidates) Conservatives; 620 million dollars wasted for election expenses; evading clear direction on vaccine passports; Jason Kenney’s blunder on “Open for the Summer” Alberta announcement boomeranging back with large number of ICU non-vaxxed sick people; USA border openings: Masks on orders in public indoor places; the rise of the Freedom Party otherwise known as People’s Party of Canada with Maxine Bernier; Trudeau’s claim only the Liberals (read: Justin) can solve Canadian problems; accusations by all parties of Gov’t neglect on Native issues (graves of children at Residential schools, land claims; water on Reservations); Covid-19 issues; Pipe lines; Climate change; Day care initiatives; messy plans and execution of ‘out of Afghanistan’ rescue of “friends of Canada”; housing crisis; and then the other little irritants of sexual misconducts and racist remarks (Oh boy, the internet has a long memory) and finally the National Debt among others.

With attack ads sickening the beautiful Fall of 2021, it is probably a good thing that the election is only 36 days long!

My prediction is a Liberal/Conservative near tie with all other parties increasing their votes and maybe we will have a few seats in Parliament for the unknown, even though the First Past the Post system will not be lenient in seeing ALL voices heard on the Hill, only those who shout the loudest!

When all is DONE, may respect, fairness and kindness still be the law of the land!

So much for democracy.

Like a real JELLY-PUDDING, the new government of Canada will quiver, tremble, shake, vibrate and almost flop over, but steady up as always.

Peace be with you. JS Monday morning 9 AM September 20, 2021

Book of Proverbs 29 verse 18 reads: “Where there is no vision from God, the people run wild, but those who adhere to God’s instruction know genuine happiness”. Translation: The Voice

The early Tuesday (Sep21) results are a mirror of the 2019 before: 158 (157) Lib; 119 (121) Con; 34 (32) BQ; 25 (24) NDP; 2 (3) Green; (1) Indep

Covid Intelligence Lesson 101

You Tuber ‘Beau of the Fifth Column’ states:

For the USA this August 2021, the forecasts tell us that 100,000 people will die of Covid-19 in the next 90 days.

Covid-19 statistics gathered in the last 12 months indicate that if you wear a mask when out and about in the public, the number of deaths will drop to half (50%) so that number would be 50,000. 50,000 lives are saved. Although still too much, this (simple) prevention method seems effortless! Just wear a mask!

This means that if you do this, you can SAVE the lives of people like possibly your neighbour, your friend and yourself.

People, this is a no brainer. So why are you not doing this?

See: the Beau of the Fifth Column You tube info

JS AUGUST 30, 2021

In the Gloria!

A quote from the poet – Emily Barret Browning (1806-1861) Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; And only he who sees takes off his shoes; The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries“.

Lang zal hij/zij leven, (Long may he/she live!)
Lang zal hij/zij leven, (Long may he/she live!)
Lang zal hij/zij leven, (Long may he/she live!)
In de gloria,
In de gloria,
In de gloria,
Hip, hip, hip, (hieperdepiep) hoera!
Hip, hip, hip, (hieperdepiep) hoera!
Hip, hip, hip, (hieperdepiep) hoera!

This is an old Dutch song that is sung when someone has a birthday or other significant celebratory event in their life. Notice each phrase is repeated three times for special emphasis. The GLORIA has a special mention here, I think it means as long as life lasts and from then on and into an eternal different plain, FOREVER. Usually the person so honored would then distribute an edible gift to those present. (at school, everyone in the class would be offered a candy, or a piece of cake or cookie)

This year is a special year of celebrations for me. Not only is it my 80th birthday but also it will be exactly a year ago that I had my by-pass surgery. I received a miracle, I have healed and life is good!

There is so much in our lives to be thankful about. The recent events (July 2021) in the world, (floods in Europe and tornadoes in Barrie, ON, so close to home) made me realize again that the edge of despair is always close by. I am more aware of my most blessed position and residence, now that I will become an octogenarian, than ever before in my life.

In my father’s generation there are only a few who lived to be this old. My mother Trientje Oosterveld was 80 when she died; my dad, Derk was 78; my father’s mother, Oma Titia (Grasdijk) was 87, (she was a strong woman); my Opa Jan was 74; my Great-Opa Derk was 73; my dad’s older sister was 97, (she was still biking in her 80s) his one brother died at 56; the other brother was 80. On my mother’s side most of (her brothers and sisters) my aunts and uncles, died in their 70s or early 80s.

It has become a habit for me to note the obituaries in the Hamilton Spectator especially on Saturdays morning when there seems to be a long list of persons who have passed away during the previous week. I read that many are in the 80s and 90s and I am taking note!

Life is good! Longevity is what everyone wants and seeks for in their life. Medical advances, access to care, prescriptions or herbal additions are abundant in every pharmacy and the discovery and promotion of drugs and health products continue to be produced and manufactured everyday that have helped many persons manage and recover from health issues and concerns that killed people 100 years or even 50 years ago. Treatments and cures of every kind can be obtained and purchased. Some of these are extremely expensive as they are produced in small limited batches for exceptional diseases that only the rich or the well insured can afford. The promos for health products knows no end. Hospital medical surgery techniques now are wonderful and almost magical. (See the Covid treatments and vaccines development recently) Thank God for the Canadian Health Care benefits that we as citizens enjoy in this country.

But besides all of these wonders there is also much disappointment in that the obituaries, which do not cease, eloquently continue to describe and record the griefs and sorrows for the passing of a loved one. There is no end. It is what life is.

But life still also has its great “I’m alive” moments.

One of the greatest pleasures for me is to sit quietly outside in the early morning in a garden, a camping spot or place of restfulness somewhere, and just listen to your surroundings: the sound of a summer breeze in the trees; the song of a little wren; the fluttering of a bee, working already with the early morning light doing what bees do – busily gathering honey and spreading life’s fertility from plant to plant; lake water crystal clear lapping at the edge of a sandy beach; the sight of an ant carrying to its nest food for winter; the occasional tweet of the cardinal and the majestic posture of a blue heron in a misty sunlit pond and the bright yellow petals of the sunflower standing tall among its garden companions.

How sweet it all is. This then is a time to give thanks. A time for a soul to remember the goodness of life. A time to give thanks and say a prayer to the Giver of Life, to feel humbled by the created world we see, touch, smell and hear. Go ahead take a breath and smell aura of the garden. Doesn’t that give you a crisp new feeling of new hope, new starts, and the joy of ‘just being alive’ satisfaction?

And as you listen closely with you heart and soul, you will hear the whisper of God in the breeze, echoing in your resting soul stillness.

“For you my child, I made all this, come, enjoy, work and be joyful; till in the GLORIA.”

July 18, 2021 (on being 80 years young) JS

July 1, 2021 – O Canada!

1763 – A Proclamation by King George 3rd of England

the 1982 – Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

are they still in effect and effective for all CANADIANS?

June 11, 2008 Prime Minister Harper apologized to the Native community. Where are we now?

Still blind to our HISTORY?

the main featured picture was taken by JS – Listening to History (Bill Woodrow) – in Meijers Gardens, Grand Rapids, Mich. 2004 (click on link for info and a better picture)

July 2, 2021 JS