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

That second shot – 30%

The fear that gripped me (affecting us all) last March 2020 when it was ‘breaking news’ that a deadly virus was present in my neighbourhood, was removed for me this week-end by getting that 2nd shot of the Pfizer vaccine. It promises good protection from the virus and will give much needed reassurance in all of us moving slowly back to our normal way of life.

Halleluiah! Yes, literally ‘Praise God’ for the vaccines.

I know many would not express it that way as they would say: Science and good research and facilities operated by excellent minds made this happen. I appreciate and understand that praise for the efforts and smarts of the laboratorial medical men & women with the pharmaceutical enterprises ( and government funded vaccines) are to be commended and thanked, but hey- without the gifts of ‘earthly materials’ it would not be possible. These are the essence of the created world, with its unlimited resources, creatures and human beings and along with its many other wonders (wonderful) are a surely a God-like thing!

At a Mega-Clinic event, over 26,000 arms took the shot on Sunday, at the Toronto Scotia Bank Arena, a North American and perhaps a world record for vaccinations in one day at one location. Only in Canada you say?

Now 30% plus of Canadians have had 2 shots of these amazing vaccines for protection against the Covid-19 virus. May God be praised! and many protected from this deadly virus.

‘There is so much here (in the world), O Eternal One, so much You have made.
    By the wise way in which You create, riches and creatures fill the earth.’

Book of Psalms 104 verse 24 translation The Voice

June 29, 2021 JS

Lord, hear our cry!

Since writing about the Kamloops Residential School news and the whole issue of misguided leadership of church and state, I came across a news piece written by Reinder Smith a journalist (verslaggever) with RTV Noord. (a TV radio station in the province of Groningen, The Netherlands) He writes about an anniversary and a ship called ‘De Leusden’.

‘De Leusden’, a ship in which the City of Groningen, The Netherlands and the local Chamber of Commerce had a 1/9th ownership, sailed with the fleet of ships that the Dutch commercial traders had setup in 1621 known as the ‘De West-Indische Compagnie (WIC). This company profited much from the slave-trade-commerce, so prevalent in 1600s to early 1800s. This year (2021) will be the 400th Anniversary since that inaugural beginning. Reinder Smith remarks that he had not noticed any references to this 400th event in the present local news. Perhaps that is due to all the thoughts, questions and negative re-actions that we have noted (some call it our ‘woke’) in the last year or so about remembering and honoring historic figures and events. (Think statues, names on buildings, sport clubs and educational centers etc.)

‘De Leusden’ sailed for the Gold Coast (Ghana) to the fort called ‘Le Mina’ (built by the Portugese in 1482) on March 1, 1737 from the island Texel to facilitate the transport of persons (read – slaves) from there to the Dutch colony of Suriname (Paramaribo) to be sold for do slave-work on the sugar plantations. The sugar plantations were very prosperous for the Dutch. (see – ‘Hoe duur was de suiker’ – a book in Dutch by Cynthia McLeod and produced as a movie in 2013)

On November 19,1737 at ‘Le Mina’, they loaded onboard; 680 slave prison persons, a substantial load, thus promising great profitability even though the records of other slavery trade transports indicated that many would not survive the voyage across the Atlantic. (on a previous voyage ‘De Leusden’ had taken in 687 slaves and only 280 reached Suriname alive)

As the ship approached land, on January 1, 1738, the weather turned bad and Outtjes, the captain, sailed up the wrong river, the un-navigable Marowijne river instead of the usual Suriname river, causing the ship to hit a sandbank, flounder and capsize. The crew then proceeded to nail shut all the exits to the hold were the 680 slaves were housed, less the crew be in danger of being over-run, as space on the life boats were sufficient for the 73 sailors only.

The 664 persons in the hold of the ship died a terrible cruel death. There were 16 slaves that survived as they happened to be on deck when the ship sank and these were sold in Paramaribo (Suriname’s capital) for 4,140 guilders.

A trunk containing 23 kilos of gold however was rescued from the ship before it sank. The gold rescuers insisted they be paid for its salvage, which they eventually received.

Leo Balai‘s book – ‘Slave Ship Leusden: A Story of Mutiny, Shipwreck and Murder’ published in 2014 has pulled this story out of the forgotten history of The Netherlands.

At the time of the tragedy there is a record of letters concerning payment for the gold salvage, but shockingly no words or indications of regret and sorrow over the lives of 664 persons who died and drowned mercilessly on the ‘De Leusden’s’ final voyage. This was the worst loss of lives for a sea-ship tragedy in the history of seafaring for The Netherlands.

For sometime after there were conversations about raising a monument on the bank of the Marwijne river commemorating this event, however the project just faded away.

Where are we today? We have shut the door on many of these historic instances, trying hard to forget?, all these lessons we should have learned from. Many wrongs have been instigated by our collective ‘I think its OK’ culture, but on closer examination lacked any kind of compassion, justice or peace.

Think about it! Do something about it! Be part of the solution! To those who are able: Can you at least apologize and say ‘you are sorry?’

The Christian Reformed Church of North America CRCNA Contemporary testimony # 53 states:  

“We call on all governments (individuals and persons) to do public justice and to protect the rights and freedoms of individuals, groups, and institutions so that each may do their tasks.
We urge governments and pledge ourselves to safeguard children and the elderly
from abuse and exploitation, to bring justice to the poor and oppressed,
and to promote the freedom to speak, work, worship, and associate.”

Picture taken from: Loopnews Emancipation Monuments of the Caribbean

The deaths of the children

Two hundred and fifteen remains of children have been located in unmarked burial sites at the Kamloops Indian Residential School (Roman Catholic Church administered) in British Columbia province, which was closed in 1977. There were 139 of these Government schools identified of which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Report said were established “primarily to break their link (the native children) to their culture and identity”. Estimates of unreported deaths of indigenous children at all residential schools is believed to be as high as 6,000. There is a registry of listed deaths at the University of Manitoba and was created and is maintained by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR). An example of structural racism. A road full of tears and cries unspeakable!

Who were they and who were their parents and where did they come from; what were their ages; why did they die?

It is shocking to know or not know who buried these children and who made the decision to dispose of them in an unmarked and unknown graves. It is even more shocking to learn that the last of these schools were closed in the 1990s and that recommended actions to tell the truth about these institutions have been documented and agreed to but not acted on for a long time already. Maybe the ‘don’t talk about it’ would make it go away? Or too many people have a guilty conscience? (the teachers, principals, administrators, church officials and government officers)

This is just part of our past here in Canada but what about the rest of the world. Just now the USA remembers with reluctance, the 1921 Tulsa Black Wall Massacre, incited by city officials and the white community; where 35 blocks of Black neighbourhoods were destroyed and up to 300 people died, hundreds were injured and over 10,000 people lost their homes. A race riot. Again a place of unmarked mass graves.

What about other events going back in the recorded history of the world. To name a few unknowns: The massacre of people in the Congo by the King of Belgium (King Leopold the ll) forcing the local natives into slave labour (with punshment) for the harvesting of natural rubber. (think Dunlop tires) Prompting a Belgian expression of regret to the Congo government in 2020. What about the genocidal events perpetrated on the Herero and Namaqua tribes in Namibia by German colonization. Estimates are that 100,000 Namibians (reports from Missionaries) were killed as they revolted again the colonizers taking over their land. (in recent news of May 2021 the German government agreed to pay 1.1 billion Euros over 30 years – a mere pittance!)

Thinking about all of this will take us back to the Slave trade of the 1600s where the Dutch and English traders, owners and sailors (upstanding people in their home communities) of the ships that were used to transport captive native tribes people (many sold by their own people) from Africa to North America. And what about the whole aspect of colonization. So many sharp edges on the getting of wealth and man’s unbridled thirst for more and more.

The Charter Rights (Doctrine of Discovery) of the explorers as they ‘discovered’ new lands in their journeys of discovery (?) claimed possession and jurisdiction to new found lands and continents with the Pope’s blessing. As a 12 year old Aboriginal boy from Australia has said: ‘What did they (white explorers) think happened; we have always been here. This is our land, our home.’

How many of these domination actions can you name? I have listed a few. Think not just of racism against the African people but count the atrocities of wars; against Jews, Christians, Natives, black, yellow or white, religious and patriotic and all for the glory of god and the Emperors.

A stream of never ending assaults! Unbelievable! Unbearable! Unrepayable! Embarrassing, cruel and wrong!

All of us, even the ‘unreligious or un-spiritualistic’ person will find within their ‘souls’ the inkling bothersome conscious awareness that all of this is not right, not the way it should be. Not following the ‘golden rule’.

Why do we have this notion of feeling that the earthly human bus, full of ‘souls’ has left the road and is in the ditch? Do we have the ‘towing’ capacity to put it back where it should be, on the road?

The biblical command: Love God and your neighbour as yourself or the words of an old African-American man: ‘Love God and be kind to your neighbour!’ Sums it all up. How easy and how difficult!

Book of Proverbs 3: 9 – Make no plans that could result in injury to your neighbourafter all, he should be more secure because he lives near you. translation: the Voice

May you be blessed with: ‘Sterkte’

JS June 2, 2021

Related song: The prayer of the children by Kurt Bestor

Like squeezing a camel through the eye of a needle…*

May 4, 2021 – We are in the last stretch……..

Over 30% of Canadians have now received their first shot. The medical people tell us that when we get to 60% to 75% the virus should start to disappear and with that many vaccinated persons the chances of catching a severe case of Covid sickness should be limited to like a mild flu. The experts say we can get back to normal maybe in the later part of this year’s 2021 summer. It all depends on vaccine availability and the population’s desire to get vaccinated.

The information about blood-clotting for the Johnson & Johnson and the Astra-Zeneca vaccines complicates the administration of the sparse supply of the vaccines now on hand. Many people who have obtained an inoculation appointment are now changing their minds and asking for another vaccine. This will slow down the volume of those inoculated and will make it longer to obtain crowd immunity.

We have been promised (emphasis is on the word ‘promised’) millions of Pfizer and Moderna supplies coming each week in the month of May 2021 which hopefully will increase the volume of people with at least one shot driving us toward the where the sickness caused by the virus will not be so severe and only be mild. This will eventually result in the eradication of the virus altogether.

We are tired and languishing. But yes, we are seeing the end of the tunnel. The darkness is turning to more hopeful signs of normalcy.

However, for now the numbers are still bad (Ontario has over 900 people in ICU) we are encouraged by the forward striving of Health care for Covid patients and the ‘promises’ of more vaccines.

The ‘anti-vaxxers’ are still loud and strong. It is tough to convince them (like squeezing a camel through the eye of a needle) that the Covid restrictions** are not about personal and civil rights but about defeating the virus. And even though there are many stories of people who had loved-ones affected by the Covid and strongly advise others to take care; get vaccinated; this virus is brutal, no kidding!

Do not let your guard down, use common sense, be safe, protect yourself; protect your neighbour.

Together we can get there.

JS – May 5, 2021 –

  • * Gospel of Matthew the nineteenth chapter
  • ** we admit some restrictions are not perfect and make a lot of us more anxious and even sad.

WAR 1940

Soon it will be May 10 again – This is the time when we remember what our parents’ generation and their families experienced during the 5 years of the 2nd World War.

This is Jan Groenewegen’s story of May 10, 1940 – Rozenburg

(Rozenburg is a small island in the Waterweg (opposite the town of Maassluis) leading from the Port of Rotterdam to the North Sea)

May 10, 1940!        WAR IN THE WEST … … … … … … … … ..
GERMANY AGAINST THE NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND FRANCE
.
Memories of the first days of the war – experienced and written up by Jan Groenewegen (1906 – 1974) brother of Cor Groenewegen , Rozenburg, NL (translated by Petronella Schuurman – Groenewegen from the original Dutch document into English – April 27, 2011)

Published by JS – Burlington, April 30, 2021

What we as locals experienced during this time.

Rozenburg, NL – Early in the morning of Friday, May 10, 1940 – Many people are gathered in groups, staring at the sky. Some have already seen aerial dogfights. Our fast hunters, the G l ‘s, against German aircraft. Others have seen burning aircraft crash. Many faces show serious warnings of anxiety, yet people stay generally calm.
It is noteworthy, how low the enemy planes are flying. Before noon rumours are circulated with all sorts of stories. Radio announcements state that the German troops in the early morning crossed the border at various places. There is fierce resistance and many enemy aircraft are brought down. But there are also reports of ejected parachute troops landing in various areas.

In the morning at approx. half past three I wake up and my wife asks, “Do you hear all those aircraft?” Yes, I hear the planes, which in itself is nothing special, but there seems to be an usually large number of them in the air.
I get out of bed and come into the kitchen where I can see the sky over the harbour Waterway is indeed flooded with many black monsters. I walk into the front room and see only one man standing on the road, who seemingly appears to be enjoying the nice weather.
At the neighbours, Van Riel and Sala, I see no one. However, I hear in the distance some shooting. I think that is probably the Dutch Airforce holding training maneuvers and decide, being still sleepy, to go back to bed. Around seven o’clock, I get up and wash myself. I hear someone stumbling up the iron stairs. It is Krijn Pols, one of our machinists who steps into the kitchen and calmly observes: “They are really at it!” “Yes, is my answer, they certainly are holding great training manoeuvres.”Great training manoeuvres? Man, we’re in the middle of a war, we’re in the thick of it!”  ”War?”  I ask surprised, “With whom?”   ”With the Germans,” said Krijn. He goes to work and I’m going to wash and dress and have a tea.
It’s a miracle that I take everything so calmly, although I simultaneously observe a great apprehension inside of me wanting to challenge this intruder. When I come down in the shop the staff is at work, but whenever bombers or large transport aircraft fly over the “Buurt”, (ie neighbourhood),everyone runs outside to the road.

Picture of the business of Jan, Piet & Klaas in Rozenburg

Just before noon, as I am standing by his garage with Adr. Hartman, speaking to him, we hear distant machine gun fire in the air. Later we hear that those were aerial dogfights in the west direction of the coast.

At the same time – almost half past eleven – I see in the direction of the Staaldiepsedijk (but known to the residents of Rozenburg – as the Brielseheuvel) an aircraft circling low,  and then dropping out of sight. We get the impression that this is a German unit that has landed.
Hartman and I take steps to immediately jump in my “Opel” and drive to the “Heul”. There are many people standing on the causeway. From them we learn that in indeed a German plane has landed in the” Droespolder “, situated close near the bush owned by the Brothers Oosterlee. This machine landed in a wheat field owned by Jaap van Dorp. Twelve soldiers get out and start pushing to turn the plane so that it could take off again, but then immediately disappear into the nearby woods, to take cover. We drive by car as quick as possible back to the “de Buurt”, to the town hall to let the mayor know what has happened. Jaap van Dorp on his motorcycle riding at high speed had arrived a little earlier to bring the same message of doom.

The mayor phones army captain Smeele located in the “Sheurpolder” and requests as soon as possible that they send a military unit. This is not immediately possible, as in the Noordbankpolder, close to the Sheurpolder another German plane with l4 soldiers had also landed. This plane could not take off as it ended up in a ditch, with the landing gear broken off. The division of Dutch soldiers in the Scheurpolder were already engaged trying to capture the landed Germans. It was not easy to do as in the meantime they had taken cover in one of the barns of the Noordbank. So we could not expect help from there at this time.

The German soldiers had now left their cover in the Droespolder and had traveled to “de Heul”. There they asked Leen Luyendyk if he could tell them where they could find someone to lend them a truck. Leen referred them to Jan J. A. Pols by the Zandweg who had a Chevrolet for transporting cattle and vegetables to the auction at the market. Jan Pols had already seen this coming and had disabled his car just in time.

However. later Leen Luyvendijk was charged and arrested as he had provided information to the enemy and was sent to jail at Fort Hoek van Holland.

But the Germans were still at large and military aid was uncertain.

Already during mobilization a searchlight had been mounted in the “Oudepolder” Kerkdijk – close to Reijer van Gaalen’s, in his pasture, with a group of military operators. These soldiers had fired their guns at the German planes flying over the fields. Apparently the Germans did not like this, because early in the afternoon, a plane flew over very low, and dropped a few bombs in Blankenburg . One of those bombs fell in the ditch right behind the transformer boxes depot opposite the shoe store of Joh. Voorberg and the bookstore of J. M. Robbemond . As a result the windows and roof tiles of the surrounding houses, including Korsen Jack Kleijwegt, Pleun Breukel, C. Quak, the painter and the shop and café Sissy Santos were largely destroyed. It was fortunate that the bomb fell behind the dike and transformer boxes depot, but nevertheless it was a miracle that in this densely populated neighbourhood there were no personal injuries.

Old Joor Poldervaart stood on the dike, but because he was extraordinary hard of hearing barely noticed the bombs. When someone mentioned that a bomb had just exploded he said, “Oh, is that what it was? I thought I heard something.”
The second bomb fell outside the polder onto the so called “Zeven margen”, not far from the farm of Arie Barendregt Joh.z.
John Klink, an employee of Jack de Jong Sr. so called “the man of Trippie” had been busy spreading fertilizer. This man must have possessed imperturbable nerves, because the bomb exploded so close by him as he was spreading the fertilizer, that he was lifted,  several feet off the ground by the air pressure. When he landed on the ground, he calmly continued his work. He apparently felt that you cannot stop for every “little” thing.

The “deafening noise” of aircraft continued to fill the air. All around, one could here stories and rumours that were more or less embellished. Later we discovered what had been true or false. Thus, the radio reported that an armoured train crossing a bridge to Maastricht full of German soldiers had been blown up. It was said that German paratroopers in peasant clothing and in Dutch army uniforms, had landed in Holland. In some cities N.S.B.ers (Dutch who sympathized with the Germans) had fired on Dutch soldiers and that there were many betrayals done everywhere.

Meanwhile, our mayor Esquire L.G. Just de la Paisieres telephoned for reinforcement to help capture the Germans who had landed in the Droespolder. This help proved still not possible, even though the mayor called a number of addresses, no soldiers could be transferred to assist with this. However, some operators who manned the searchlight from the Oudepolder were summoned to the center of Rozenburg.

Indeed, it was anticipated that the landed Germans, who were heavily armed, would try to occupy the town post office. The German soldiers were now out of the Graspolderdijk and were moving in the direction to the Waterweg.

During the afternoon it was told by Piet Van Darn that some Germans had called at the Zanddijk demanding to make a telephone call.

When I came home in the afternoon there were two Dutch soldiers from the searchlight in the Oudepolder, sitting in our livingroom. They had opened the windows and sat with their guns facing outward. This measure was necessary to monitor and guard the town post office. If in case the enemy soldiers would decide to actually get to the post office this was sure to cause a firefight. So my wife with Cootje and taking along what was most needed, decided to leave our house in order to avoid any potential hazards. Tea had been made and I poured the troops a cup and lit a cigarette and tried to remain as calm as possible.
The German soldiers did not show themselves.

After the mayor had tried in vain all afternoon to get a military detachment to come to Rozenburg, he decided to take and make a radical decision.
Some forty members of the Rozenburg Civilian Guard (Burgerwacht) were called in the afternoon to report to J. van der Knaap. We were all given a rifle and a couple rounds of live ammunition.
Daughters of J. Van der Knaap pinned a band around the arm of each of us, so that we would be recognizable to each other.

Under the leadership of the Commander of the Civilian Guard Jac. Moll F.z. and former President Mr S.C. Heiden, we went by bicycle in the direction of Zanddijk.
At the corner of Zanddijk – Zandweg he split us into two groups. One group led by Commander Jac. Moll would advance along the Vinkdijk. The other group under the command of S.C. van Helden went over the Zandweg to the Heul, so that via the Graspolderdijk we could reach our goal. In this way, the German soldiers were approached from two sides. Meanwhile however, they had nestled in the grain barn of Adam Barendregt Nz, on the Vinkdijk, behind the house and the marketgarden of A.van derVliet. When our group approached the Heul, Mr. VanHelden called a halt and asked for a volunteer to bike to the Graspolderdijk to see if the Germans had remained in their quarters.  For this Ariel van der Meijde of “Kiewietenburg” made himself available.

Van der Meijde left his gun behind and rode as an ordinary citizen slowly through the Graspolderdijk. When Van Meijde did not immediately return the commander asked for two more two volunteers to move approx. two hundred meters further down the dike and act as an observation post.  R.C.Booden, the butcher and I (Jan Groenewegen, jo b.) volunteered. We took position behind a thorn hedge where we could overlook the polder, so that if the Germans attacked us it would not be unexpected. Meanwhile, Van Meijde returned and reported that the enemy was still in the  Barendregt barn. He also reported that the other half of our group of Civilian Guards were approx. 300 meters before the “Vink”, directly behind a levee. Hence they had a good view of the barn where the Germans were hiding.

Our Commander had no intention to attack the Germans, since we still hoped that a group of regular soldiers would arrive from the Scheurpolder. Indeed there were fairly reliable reports that some were coming. Anton (Tone) and Rocus (Rook) Geluk of the Scheurpolder just came from there with the wife of Rook and her child in their car.
They were the ones who could tell us if soldiers were on their way to help us. In the car sat a Dutch soldier, black as a gypsy with a revolver in his hand. He said, in the afternoon, after a fierce gun scrimmage on the Noordbank (de Vluchtheuvel), some landed enemy soldiers had been overpowered and taken prisoner. However, before we had any further assurance that help was on the way,  our Commander took a different decision. He asked if there was a volunteer who could go to the Germans and summon them to surrender.

It was Daan Weeda who volunteered and per motorcycle proceeded to the covered barn of Barendregt. Weeda had worked in Germany for some time, so that made him a good candidate for the job.

Some time passed and it began to get dark when finally from the direction of Staaldiepsedi I  heard a truck approaching. It was the long awaited soldiers from the Scheurpolder!
Among them was a Rozenburger, namely Peter Joh. Doorduin L.z. After their officer had received information from us about the situation, the truck drove cautiously toward the Germans. Our group also started to move towards the German location.

Meanwhile volunteer Daan Weeda had returned and reported that the Germans wanted to give themselves up. Initially they were not going to, because they felt to be surrounded by English and they certainly did not want to surrender to the English. Daan Weeda had assured them that they were surrounded by a predominance of Dutch soldiers. The Germans asked Daan Weeda at his solemn word that all were Dutch. After Daan Weeda had explicitly managed to convince them of that fact, then the Germans finally declared their willingness to surrender. If our forty Civilian Guards with rifles – mostly untrained – had been pushed into a firefight with them, then it would have been a disastrous outcome for us, because these 12 German soldiers were armed with rifles, hand grenades in their boots, and a heavy machine gun and revolvers.
Luckily it did not come to a fight.

Along with the group of Dutch soldiers who had already arrived, there came from the other side, along the dike of the Crown Lands Estate, another truck, with a detachment of Dutch soldiers. Our commander decided that the honour of the capture was given to the first group of soldiers who had arrived first from the ScheurPolder.
However, the Germans were surrounded on two sides to make sure they surrendered without firing a shot. Their machine gun and machine gun cartridges, etc. more than 12 boxes, were loaded on the trucks. That was not the only thing they had with them, but also: vitamin tablets, morphine tablets, powders, medicines and supplies for many days.
It was even said that they had tablets with them, on which they could live for more than thirty days! The German soldiers were now lined up with the Dutch soldiers in front and the Civilian Guard taking up the rear, and so the procession marched to “de Buurt” (neighbourhood), on to the town hall.
On the Zanddijk, were many people, and when we marched through, there was a spontaneous singing of the national anthem “Wihelmus.”
While we were marching, another German plane flew over very low, and could have opened machine gun fire on us.  But the darkness had already set in, so they probably could not see us from the plane. Also in the “de Buurt” where the word had gotten out, there were many spectators along the route.

The captain of the Scheur Polder was initially planning to accommodate the Germans in the
barn of Abr. Qualm – next to the mill.

Since the barn was difficult to lock up, he judged it better to take them to take the Scheur Polder and then transfer them to the Fort at Hoek van Holland.
Some more trucks were needed for transport,  as the vehicles of the Dutch soldiers would otherwise be too crowded. The vehicles of truckers J. van of Houtfen,  A L Noordermeer, were used for this unique transport, – a total of four –.  Dutch soldiers were placed around the Germans for security.
Since two of the Rozenburg trucks had to come back, the mayor was asked to appoint an escort. For one it was J. Marsman and for the other, I, Jan Groenewegen was appointed.

It was about half past eleven when the convoy of soldiers and prisoners left the “Buurt” and drove in the direction of the Scheur Polder. It was very dark and we were of course driving with our lights extinguished. The captain led in the front car, and from there gave orders.
Thus the entourage rode with Dutch soldiers, two Civilian Guards and twelve captured German soldiers, slowly, and cautiously through the night. Luckily it was pretty quiet in the air. The roar of aircraft engines, machine guns and artillery fire was temporarily silenced. Only in the distance we could hear occasional noise.
I sat in the cab of a truck next to a military driver. He said he lived in Tilburg. He had heard rumours that Tilburg was bombed and he was very concerned and anxious for his wife and child. To reassure him, I could tell him I had heard nothing about a bombardment in Tilburg. (We later heard that there had been no bombing in Tilburg)
There were so many rumours circulating that it was better not to believe anything unless it was absolutely confirmed.

At the junction Zanddijk – Zandweg, a soldier jumped on the running board of our car in order to catch a ride. We offered him a seat in the cabin, but he declined, it was going OK he said. So I gave him a cigarette, which he gratefully accepted.
Later I heard that he was named “the Belsch”.  His nationality was Dutch, but he had spent a long time in Belgium. It seemed he used two or three dialects interchangeably, because he was difficult to understand.

At the beginning of the Zandweg, near the house of Mr. ter Haar, the captain signaled a stop. “The Belsch” jumped off the footboard. But because the sheath of his bayonet was between his knees, he slid underneath the still moving vehicle.  We felt the rear wheels going over him and thought the worst. I jumped out of the cab and to our great surprise, “the Belsch” crawled out from under the truck. When I asked him whether anything was wrong he replied soberly: “Nothing! The wheel just went over my leg!”  (L vdHout  and A. Klapwijk were the drivers). “Is your leg not broken? No, I have a good set of legs. Everything is in order! ”
“I advised him to go and sit in the cab, but he disappeared again so he could receive orders from the captain.

After this interlude we drove further on the Zandweg, along the Staaldiepsedijk, through the Krabbe Polder. On the “Krabbedijk” near the bakery of Simon van den Berg we had to stop. The captain wanted to inspect everything.

That gave me and some others the opportunity to get a few sandwiches and a glass of beer. When I wanted to pay I found that my wallet was lost … … … ..

And then the procession went on through the night, we passed by the “Vereniging tot Landverbetering”, i.e. the Society for Land Improvement, the Zeehondpolder, Schutsluis, Noordbankpolder  (the  Seal Polder, the lock, and the northbank polder) and so without any further problems we reached the dunes of the Scheur Polder.

At the beginning of the Scheurpolder roadway, near the farm of P.H. DeBruyne, and the brothers Geluk, the truck belonging to A L Noordermeer caught fire and so stayed temporarily behind. The other vehicles drove on to the “de Blokkeet”, also known as” (Volkskeet) People Hut “, or “The Shack “. This was the command post of the officers and also the quarters of the Dutch soldiers.
That same night the German prisoners were transported to the Fort at Hoek van Holland.

In the canteen I asked “the Belsch” if I could look at his leg. He pulled off his shoe and pulled stocking down to show that his leg was only slightly bruised. He was absolutely right: He did have good legs! But later I heard that he had to sit the following day because one leg was stiff and sore. In the canteen we noticed two coffins.

Here were the bodies of Lieutenant Theunissen and the soldier from Rotterdam. Both coffins were covered with the Dutch flag. These two brave men had already sacrificed their lives for the fatherland in the struggle for justice and freedom!

So, how did this tragedy in the Scheurpolder occur? Here are the details.
In the morning (it’s still the first day of the war, May 10) a German transport plane had landed in the Noord Bank Polder carrying 14 enemy soldiers.
The landing was improperly executed because the pilot did not approach the field in its length but in its width, which was considerably smaller and near a spot where it was horizontally separated by ditches. While taxiing over the field, the first ditch became a fatal obstacle. The landing gear broke off and the plane finally collapsed a few dozen meters further onto its belly. Takeoff was therefore impossible. The Germans got out and headed for the farm “Noord Bank” from which the residents had already fled. Only the superintendent was still present. He was forced under gun threats to cut the phone lines. The Germans then nestled in one of the barns of the “Noord Bank”.

Meanwhile, scouts of the Dutch soldiers in the Scheur Polder had duly observed the landing of German aircraft. At that time, however, they could not miss any soldiers to go and possibly capture the German troops. The anti-air craft battery platoon also had their hands full with their defence against the German low-flying Heinkels etc. and giving protecting for the coast terrain. Captain Smeele decided to harass the Germans in the carriage barn of the “Noord Bank” with grenades fired from the “Scheur Polder”. The barn was shot in half and the Germans took refuge in a ditch behind the farm workers’ houses.

Captain Smeele also had to focus on the other side, the north bank of the waterway. There were about 70 German soldiers who had been dropped off by a military transport aircraft that had landed on a piece of land behind the “Staalduinse Bosch” at the Maasdijk on the river side. The coastal batteries from Hoek of Holland now took the “Bosch Staalduinse” under fire.

In the afternoon a group of approx. 15 Dutch troops were sent to the “Noord Bank” under the command of Lieutenant Theunissen.

On the dike where the road to the Norwegian bank, also called “Schulppad” ended, the group split in two columns. One had to go to out along the Zeedijk to the Brielsche Maas and so get behind the ‘Eende Kooi’ around the dike and then right across to the Noord Bank. The other column led by Lieutenant Theunissen would proceed along the dike of the “Schulppad”, so-called “Dooie Gat”, and then directly to the “Noord Bank”. In this way, the enemy would be surrounded and trapped. In the middle of the polder between the Eende Kooi and Schulppaddijk and about halfway the Noord Bank, lay the crippled German (plane) Juncker. When about opposite to the plane, Lieutenant Theunissen called for a halt.

Through his binoculars on the “Noord Bank” he saw the enemy soldiers on the hill entrenched in a ditch. Believing that the other column was now at its agreed point near the Eende Kooi dike, he ordered machine gunner Huub Raymakers to fire his machine gun first at the plane to see if there were any more Germans left behind or in the Junker. This order did not fall on deaf ears, because Huub Raymakers was a good soldier, who was just itching for a fight. However there were no longer any Germans in or around the plane.

Then Lieutenant Theunissen commanded his soldiers to take up their positions behind the dike and instructed that the guns and the machine gun be set up and aimed at the ditch of the dike in front of the “Noord Bank”. “Fire!” commanded the lieutenant and a volley was directed at the ditch. The action was obviously to close for comfort for the enemy because suddenly a white cloth flag went up. They wanted to surrender!

Theunissen rose up from behind the levee and along with him a soldier from Rotterdam who had been lying next to him. At that moment a very tragic event happened. One of the Dutch soldiers continued firing several times. The Germans, thinking that the fight was continuing, fired back and Lieutenant Theunissen was hit and fell backwards! DEAD!

The soldier from Rotterdam dies beside him moments later! This was a terrible critical moment. Two dead, including the commander, so now the group leadership was gone. A corporal of the Navy takes the lead and gives Huub Raymakers the assignment to go over the dike and through the polder to contact the other column behind the Eende Kooi dike for help.

When Raymakers rolls down the dike and crosses the road, bullets whistle around his ears. He gains the ditch that runs through the polder and so crawling through the ditch comes to the other dike. Since the road, called the Schulppad, is also under fire from the Germans, it is impossible for him to go on.
Raymakers then returns back to the dike again and finds just four of his comrades, the corporal is gone and with the machine gun! “Where is the Corporal?” he asked “the Belsch” who had stayed, replies, “he has run away and taken the machine-gun too!”

The soldiers now abandoned with a heartfelt manner air their anger at the cowardly behaviour of the corporal. This is an awkward situation for the remaining men.
Two dead, two wounded and a corporal gone with the machine gun.
Raymakers asks the others whether they are also planning to flee.
“THAT NEVER!” says “the Belsch”. The others also confirm they are not thinking to just walk away.

Raymakers then takes the lead. From behind the dike, fire is again opened on the Germans. Whether the group behind the Eende Kooi opened fire, or because possibly the Germans were thinking they are now surrounded by a major force, again the white flag rises up for the second time!
“We will now be more careful, Raymakers said, you guys stay behind the dike here, I’ll nab them.” Does Raymakers think he can do it alone? No, that is impossible!

He was strongly aware that if the Germans knew that there are only a few Dutch soldiers behind the dike, they would change their mind and would not surrender.
Raymakers therefore devises an equally daring and cheeky-like – cunning plan.
Arriving at the group of Germans – still hidden in the ditch at the bottom of the “Noord Bank” hill – he summons them to throw down their arms, which they promptly do. Then he tells the German soldiers, that they must go over – in one by one intervals – to his companions behind the dike. He orders them to walk on the Schulppad and not go behind the dike before they are in sight of the downed aircraft.
He begins by taking away the weapons of the first German and then sends him along the agreed upon route. When this man had gone far enough, he tells the second to go and so the progress starts with intervals – up to the last man. He threatens them individually that they would inevitably be shot if they did not follow his orders … ..

After the last man Raymakers goes back to his group behind the dike.

“The Belsch” loved it! He enthusiastically enjoyed the look on the faces of the stunned Germans when they arrived behind the dike and see only four soldiers … … … ….
Some of them were cursing like sailors. But yes, they were disarmed, so it was over for them. Now – finally – the other column from the Eende Kooi comes along and together they march the prisoners to the Scheur Polder.
These Germans were then transferred to the Fort at Hoek van Holland.

The cowardly corporal, who absconded with the machine gun, meanwhile was locked up in the same Fort!

These were some of the trials and tribulations on the first day of the war on our island.

We arrive back to the ‘town center’ later that night from the Scheur Polder without further delay.

In the office of the Civilian Defense Guards I found the mayor Esquire L G Just de la Paisieres and give him a report of our trip.

The next morning early, the hum and drone of aircraft starts again. Going to work or doing business was the furthest from our minds. Everywhere you saw groups of people together discussing the overwhelming news of the German invasion communicated in the news and through the radio. It was said that already in the first days of the war, our air defense fighters had shot down 185 German aircrafts. That the IJssel line held its ground and that the enemy near Mill (N.Br.) had been beaten back. Moreover, we have relied on our Grebbeline and Waterline and with the Afsluitdike and our G 1 airforce fighters that we would beat them! We did not, however know, that most of these fast jets had been made inoperable through obscure causes, or that a large part of our army had already been paralyzed and beaten.

Saturday, I drove along with the Civilian Guard police patrol car. We passed through the Crown Domain Estate, the Krabbe Polder and Brielse Hill and then back to the “Buurt”.
There was nothing special to note, except the constant drone of planes, the roar of the guns from Hoek van Holland and the rattle of machine guns in the distance. However, some citizens were starting in making shelters to protect them from the planes.

In the evening we were assigned some soldiers that would stay with us in our house. A division of soldiers from the Scheur Polder had been sent to monitor the post office. The office of our business would be set up for as a sleeping place for a sergeant and four soldiers. One of the soldiers Hugh Raymakers, a Brabander came and boarded with us. Sergeant Kiers was by Van Riel and the rest stayed with other neighbours. Sergeant Kiers came to me that night asking if I could deliver with my Opel (car), an order that he wanted to convey to Captain Smeele in the Scheur Polder. Herman Oosterman also a Civilian Guard would come along. We took our guns with us.

It was already dark when we left. Again we drove with lights extinguished. On the Way to the Krabbe Polder some soldiers suddenly appeared from the grass shoulder of the road and called on me to stop. One of them came with a gun in his hand to the door and asked who we were. “Civilian Guards,” was our reply. “Legimitatiebewijs!” (Permission and identification papers) said the soldier. Well we did not have any. I pointed to the orange band around my arm. “Anyone can get a band,” remarked the soldier casually. In the meantime, I stepped out of the car. Suddenly the soldier turned his gun on my chest. He shouted excitedly: “Guys, they have guns in their car!” I did not feel comfortable with that particular gun against my jacket. “There is nothing special that we as Civilian Guards have guns with us,” I remarked.  “I see that you are soldiers from the Scheur Polder, well we are on the way to Captain Smeele with an order from Sergeant Kiers.” “And you, I told the soldier that was still holding his gun against my chest, are private Hendersen who was once with us on a soldier’s night out last winter in Rozenburg and who played so brilliantly on the accordion.”

Finally, one of the soldiers seemed to recognize me and thus the danger was averted. We could drive on. The turmoil of the soldiers could be explained because all of us had heard rumours of treason. It had been told that the Germans were helped by the NSBers who would shoot up light flares that would signal the German pilots so they would know where they could land. Also sniper fire from houses and hidden places had been observed that had killed some Dutch soldiers … ….

There were a few individuals in Rozenburg who were picked up and taken to the Fort at Hoek van Holland. Among others, Mr. R. Sloots, the manager of the Association for Land Improvement and Mr. G. Staal of Scheur Polder farm, both suspected of favouring the enemy. Some who had been arrested were later released because they were found to be innocent. To minimize risk, however, most known local NSBers were searched out and locked up.

As we continued our way through the Crown Lands and onto the dike along the waterway near the lock, we unexpectedly came upon a truck with some soldiers. Some came directly at us and asked what we intended. When I told them that we were on the way to Captain Smeele, they asked us to notify him that they were stranded with a faulty vehicle.

Just as I looked across to the bridge at the Schutsluis (lock) the lock Keepers House, I suddenly saw someone raise a rifle with bayonet in front of the windshield of our car. I stopped and asked the soldier what that was all about. “Who are you?” he asked. We introduced ourselves and the soldier asked us to go back to the lieutenant, as he also had a message for Captain Smeele. The lieutenant asked us that when we got back to Rozenburg whether we could contact Warden Kruyswijk and the (duck) cage farmer Van der Meer, who had been evacuated there. We had to ask for the keys to the locked Schutsluis building.
The Lieutenant with his men would welcome the opportunity to make this their home as long as was needed. We promised we would do so.

Then finally we could go on our way to the Scheur Polder to deliver our message from Captain Sergeant Kiers to Captain Smeele.
It had become a journey with obstacles.. … … ….

Warden Kruyswijk was billeted in town with constable Hardenbol and so off we went to get the keys to his house. Kooi boss Van der Meer was in Zanddijk with his parents in the “verrolde” house, behind the Christian Reformed Church.
Here, just that afternoon, another fallen son had been brought home. He as a sailor on the Waterway, had just been killed.  He had been onboard a pilot boat, which they said had a cargo of gold on board and was on its way to England but then had been bombed (betrayed by treason?)

Kooi boss van der Meer rode back to the Schutsluis (lock). When we arrived we were immediately brought to the Lieutenant. The house of Van der Meer in the meantime had been opened by the soldiers by sticking their bayonets in the door! The Lieutenant took the keys and asked us about the overall situation. Meanwhile he kept his revolver in his hand, even when he was lighting up his cigarette! Van der Meer took some mattresses out of his house and brought them into the back of the car.

On the way back through the Crown Domain Estate, between “number one” and “The Vink” I thought I saw a truck coming. It was pitch dark, so I sounded my horn with all my might, but the truck continued with renewed speed. In order to avoid a collision, I threw the wheel to the left and drove into the ditch at the bottom of the dike.
The impact was severe. The Kooi boss in the back seat banged into my back and landed on my neck. Herman Oosterman who had his rifle between his knees, got hit by the barrel of his gun giving him a big bump on his forehead. We jumped out of the car and concluded that it was Henk Hoffmann, Jaspert van der Hout’s driver who delivered us that ‘bargain’. I asked him how he could be so dumb and stupid, with no light to drive at such a speed.

But Hoffman was shaking from nerves and from the blow and the terror of the collision. He said he had to pick up soldiers in the Scheur Polder. We advised him to slow down a bit, as his wild driving could attract a couple of gunshots from deployed guards here and there. Hoffmann said that as he approached the ship’s light at the Vinkseweg he had seen something suspicious and sent someone back to the “Buurt” to get some soldiers to investigate. “What have you seen?” we asked. Yes, he suspected that spies or whoever were toying with the lights.

When we drove by we could see nothing suspicious. We saw lights flickering in the ship’s light but that in our opinion was only a reflection.

On the Zanddike there suddenly again appeared a car in front of us. We had to stop. It turned out to be a expensive luxury car. It was the “two-seater Buick” with a ‘Dicky’ seat owned by G. Staalduinen from Scheur polder. Out of the ‘Dicky’ seat jumped two soldiers with bayonets on their rifles and came over to our car. “Identify yourselves!” they yelled. “Civilian Guards” I cried.

After they had looked us over we could continue. But they also asked us if we had come along the ship’s light by the “Vinksweg” and had seen anything suspicious. We told of our meeting with Henk Hoffman, but expressed the suspicion that he had probably been mistaken by the reflections in the mirrors.

It was about half past twelve now before we returned to the town police station to report by the mayor.  “So,” I said to the mayor, “I don’t like to go out again as Civilian guard without proper identification and permission papers. The risk to be shot by a Dutch soldier cannot be underestimated at this time.”

TWO DAYS OF WAR WERE OVER
Sunday May l2, 1940 – First Pentecost Day

Church services just continued as always, although less crowded. Many people had duties and service responsibilities such as a Civilian guards or as air protection defence personnel, but some groups are also busy digging shelters, for private or shared use.

From the battlefront we hear only vague confusing rumours, such as: Our troops are withdrawning from the IJssel line but have kept their stand at the Grebbeberg at Rhenen, where there is fierce fighting. In the “Peel” there is a stand off. Germans are seeming to try to reach the Afsluitdike from Friesland. They are bombing the Fort at Kornwerderzand, from the air but without result. This Fort covers the Afsluisdike and any attempt by the Germans to gain the dike comes to failure. Also there appears to be two Dutch destroyers in the Wadden Sea, which also control access to the Afsluitsdike with their deadly fire.
Then this news: that many Germans are killed in their still persistent efforts to capture the Afsluitsdike.

At the town hall there is a constant watch by Civilian Guards. This Sunday morning it’s my turn. A group of workers are busy in front of the police station digging a bomb shelter. The police station is in fact designated as headquarters for the Air Protection defence. Young girls are listening to the radio reports that give the route of the enemy aircrafts and then write these into a report. The girls do this together by rotating two hours on and two hours off. The mayor is very busy with incessant telephone calls, telegrams, meetings etc. Meanwhile, I walk with a rifle over my shoulder back and forth in front of the town hall.
I smoke one cigarette after another and occasionally check out the bomb shelter construction. Around eleven we get coffee. By twelve there is a little distraction. A German bomber comes flying low over from the west, behind the mill of Van der Wilt. Suddenly he is overtaken by a Dutch hunter. “Ha!” we thought, now we shall see something! The hunter streaks through the sky with machine guns rattling, but then veers off in another direction. The bomber was not hit conclusively, as it seems to continue its way undisturbed. Too bad, this was an incomprehensible setback.

The Sunday does not bring any further noteworthy events. As directed by the Commander of the Civilian Guard, I do duty again in the evening at Maassluis ferry moorings together with Civilian Guard Bouw Leeuwenburgh. The guard duties would last four hours. We went in at six o’clock. It was pretty cold and so we camp behind the bicycle hut of brothers Van Dam to keep warm. Our task was to stop all persons who wanted to board the ferry and then ask to see their ID proof and if they carry with them suitcases and packages to open them for us to check.

During the early evening we are busy. There are mostly people from (provinces of) Brabant and Zeeland going home or to visit family. There were some for The Hague, Haarlem, Amsterdam and even for Den Helder. Many were on bicycle, some even on foot.
Train travel was not without problems and not always possible. The military had first say to the trains as necessary troop transportation. Some railway lines and bridges had been destroyed and made impassable. Some areas were occupied by German paratroopers. The island IJsselmonde e.g. was from the first day of war – May 10 – occupied by the enemy. It was also told that out of some Rhine-ships in the Rotterdam port, on the morning when the war broke out, there suddenly many Germans soldiers appeared. Even news that out of the Velo factories near the Barendrecht bridge armored vehicles and tanks appeared suddenly. In any case, it was determined that on the first day of the war all the bridges on the island IJsselmonde had easily fallen into Germans hands. But not the Maasbrug bridge in Rotterdam. On this bridge, the Marines of Rotterdam immortalized their reputation. With fierce anger they defended the bridge and held it till our final surrender.

About this action the following was first told to us: Any German soldier, who tried from the left bank to approach the bridge was a marked child of death. One enemy soldier, who had come close to the bridge and had taken hold of a machine gun, thus swiping the bridge, was suddenly attacked and killed by a Marine! This Marine had crawled along the outside of the bridge railing from the other side and had taken the German completely by surprise. Germans in rubber boats who had tried to gain the right riverbank were stopped dead by the Marines who awaited them on the banks and with the butt of their rifle smashed the brains of the enemy or kicked them back into the water and drowned them. “This saves bullets,” said the Marines. After the first days of the war, the story was that most of the Marines had been killed. Later it appeared that only few were killed right there. The destroyer the “Jan van Galen” had helped to protect the Maasbruggen and thereby also played a big part in launching the defence of Rotterdam. Also that it had shot down a few German fighters. In the last days of the war, however, this hunter was hit and sunk.

On the second day after the ‘capitulation’ (the Dutch stopped fighting)  (Thursday May l6) when I visited devastated Rotterdam, I could still see traces of the struggle for the Maasbrug. There were spots of blood on and before the bridge, shot through uniforms, guns, etc. On the broken iron joists of the bridge I could see were the bullets had banged against the steel railings. Here and there were still vehicles riddled by bullets. The iron lion statues on “the Lion Bridge” also had bullet marks! Here and there pieces were shot off and a lion was missing an eye. Nevertheless, the lions still stood proud and fierce glaring into the world! Was not that the true symbol of the Dutch Lion?
Although injured, but once recovered, again shaking his mane proudly!

Back to the guard duty at the Maassluis ferry.
Among the passengers who we had checked was one of Austrian nationality. Everything that was German, or appeared as so was distrusted. We detained this young man briefly, and sent a message to the police station. Village constable Hardenbol came and checked his papers and subsequently let him through for transit. Some Dutchmen who heard this young man, including a lawyer (he said he was a lawyer), made a lot of fuss around this arrest, especially since they thereby also missed the ferry. The “lawyer” had an especially big  mouth. I exhorted him to calm down as he might be the next one to be detained. That helped!

As the evening progressed it became quieter, and steadily colder up on the Hill. I buttoned up my coat as tightly as possible and we started to walk back and forth without really warming up any.
Finally we came up with an idea to send someone to Stoffel van Dam to get the key to the bicycle shop. When we got this we could go inside and find some wood through a hatch from under the floor, so we could warm up the stove!

“There, said Bouw Leeuwenburgh, that’s better!” From then on we took turns outside to keep watch. It was now dark and if someone did come along, we held up our rifle as a stop sign.

Mr. ter Haar, the Ferry Commissioner came around to ask us whether we knew who had the key for the siren unit. He suspected that the mayor had sent someone to take away the key. He was clearly annoyed and grumbled that he would not let himself be treated as a rascal (kwaai jonge). Since he was known as a NSBer (Nazi sympathizer), naturally he was not to be trusted. (with the key)

Around ten o’clock, we were relieved by the blacksmith Peter Moree and someone else, and we could go home. I came in through the office, and there rested the ‘guardians’ of our post office, and in the middle sleeping quietly Sergeant Kiers. It was the first time in the three days of the war that I could turn in for some night rest.

Second Pentecost day – Monday May 13, 1940
It is obvious not a real celebration day under these circumstances. The sufferings of war, the insecurity, the fate of our boys on the battle lines, the many stories doing the rounds, the constant drone of enemy aircraft, tends to prevent people to think about the meaning of Pentecost. They think of the impact that the war has, what is the meaning of this all.
Increasingly the focus is on the West! Where is the assistance that is so often spoken about?  Where are the British? Where are those planes? Where is the famous British fleet?  Didn’t they promise they would help us against the Germans? All these questions are constantly asked, but remains to be responded to … ….
The radio reports that our troops on the Grebbeberg line remain steadfast against the intruder.

Also it is reported that many planes are being shot down. But, what about “the Peel”, can they hold on there?

However, generally it seems that the enemy paratroopers and other landing troops have been captured. At the airport bases of Ypenburg and Valkenburg and near the Ockenburg estate, and in the vicinity of Dordrecht, most of the enemy paratroopers did not survive their landing on the ground.

After lunch, I am go with soldier Raymakers, upon order of Sergeant Kiers, to bring a report to Captain Smeele in the Scheur Polder. We will go with my own Opel and brother Peter Groenewegen will come along.

In the North Bank Polder the downed German plane lies still stranded in the middle of the beet field.  Raymakers proposes to stop and investigate the plane. Just as we stop, from the other side of the “Schulppad”, (in the direction of the Scheur Polder), a truck drives up.
Suddenly a shot is fired from the truck.  Raymakers sees that they are the soldiers from the Scheur Polder and makes a sweeping motion with his left arm to stop.

They drive towards us. “Why did you shoot?” Raymakers asked.. “Oh, that was only meant as a warning”, they said, “to find out who you were”.

I asked Raymakers why the others responded to his arm signal. He said that this sign was a recognised army signal for all soldiers.

The driver of the truck was Henk Hoffman (again) and the men were on their way to remove the gas tanks from the German Juncker.

We leave the Opel standing at the roadside and walk in between the beets to the aircraft. Now from nearby, we could see the broken landing gear of the plane. As Raymakers had already indicated the plane had been fired at by a machine gun. Well, the aircraft was full of bullet holes. My brother Peter and I got into the plane to check it out thoroughly. There was room for twelve people. On both sides of the plane were six fixed seats and two seats behind the steering mechanism. One of the soldiers had apparently been airsick. One seat was smeared with food debris, apparently brought up from someone’s stomach. In the back of the plane was a sort of luggage department. In it we found bandages, a stretcher and other equipment that we did not recognize immediately.

There was also a manual that indicated, if necessary, how to make or repair an auxiliary wing, tail or construct a makeshift rudder that could be required in case of a possible forced landing and it looked as if it could be done actually with large clothespins. We took a look at the pilot’s seat, and then sat down and tried various manoeuvrings with the handles. We could move both the altitude and the rudder mechanisms including the flaps. Everything appeared to be functioning fine.

Meanwhile, the soldiers were busy removing the fuel tanks from the wings.
Private Smit, still known to us from the O. and O. evening in the “Hall for Christian Organizations” in Rozenburg, appeared to have an innate knack for such a job.
Raymakers was looking around in the vicinity of the aircraft.
When I went after him, he was walking with a German revolver and a German hat. He had also found the pilot’s notebook. “So, he said, we will hand this over to Captain Smeele.” As we walked back to the car, he tried to see whether the gun was in working order, but it seemed defective. He was so carelessly fiddling with it, that I asked him to please be more cautious. Jokingly he swung the gun over to Peter and me, but for that I was definitely not prepared. The butt of the gun appeared to hold the bullets. This became more apparent when after some fumbling, the butt closure sprung loose and eight bullets could be seen inside. Raymakers pushed the bullets neatly back in place and then tried the gun again. After pulling the trigger twice, “Pats” it went off. “You see how imprudent it was to be waving that thing just now?” I remarked.

Coming to the Opel, Raymakers wanted to go and take a look again on the other side of the dike along the “dead hole”, because from there they had also indeed shot at the Germans. Later, in “Noord Bank” he also wanted to take a look. The Germans had lain in coverage here and he wanted to take another look see. “Perhaps we can find a machine gun or maybe a dead German.” We investigated the spot and the immediate environment next to it, but our search found only footprints and shell casings.

Back to the car and in the direction of the Scheurpold onto Captain Smeele.

Raymakers volunteered the report and then presented the Captain with the objects he had found near the aircraft.

Meanwhile we went in the kitchen and soon we were given a delicious bowl of pea soup with bone, by the cook. While we sat there having our feast, the farmer of the “Scheur Polder Farm”, Mr P H de Bruijne entered the kitchen. When I asked him how it was going, De Bruijn said that he was worried about his wife and children. The constant shootings and bombings made staying in the Scheur Polder extremely unsafe. His wife and children had already spent one day and a night in the shelter. Other workers with women and children had also stayed most of the time in the shelter.
I suggested to De Bruijne that he with his wife and children should come to our house. “For my wife and children I would like that,” said De Bruijne, “but I can not walk away from my farm business just like that” “Let us agree then, that our home is open to you when and if you think staying here is really no longer justified”, I offered him once more.

After the pea soup we just drove around in the Scheur Polder. It was very noisy. In the mouth of the waterway were several English warships, one constantly fired on the “Staalduinse forest”. There were still seventy or so German soldiers, who had landed there in the first day of the war. Also, whenever German planes appeared over the coast and threw bombs, the British warships fired frantically on these aircrafts!
Bomb fragments flew around us and we with the soldiers jumped in the shelter, because even the return fire could be risky. The soldiers asked us how the war was going, because they had heard rumours that it was going bad for us. We tried to encourage the soldiers and advised them to calmly wait. The stories doing the rounds were indeed varied. The one story about the dike and the Grebbeberg line persisted, and it seemed to be correct. “But the Germans were on the Moerdijkbrug because it was too late to blow it up. One person said, the necessary dynamite had been removed and another said that the fuses had been disabled.

The story was that: German soldiers with a machine gun had forced a Dutch truck driver to drive them over the bridge. The Dutch soldiers on the other side saw the truck coming and did not realize what was happening till the last moment before being overwhelmed by the enemy. Already the first day of the war, 133 German paratroopers had landed in a circle on the southern side of Moerdijk. At four o’clock in the morning, German paratroopers were inside the village of Moerdijk and forced the inhabitants at gun point to show them the way! One of villagers was forced to bring one of the enemy to the civilian guard at the lock, he even mentioned the name of the lock keeper! In any case, the Moerdijk Bridge was the key to the heart of Holland. Its capture had been accomplished surprisingly quick and overwhelming – and yet so simple and easily – by the German occupation forces!

Raymakers had conveyed his message to Captain Smeele and we could now return to Rozenburg. Near the “Seal”, a farm of the “Land Improvement organization”, and near the Noord Bank, I discovered that we had almost run out of petrol.(gas) I asked Mr. Drost, the manager of the “Seal” (a good friend of mine) for some gasoline. We drove to the pasture, where the gas was stored in barrels and pumped ten litres. Raymakers gave him a receipt, so he could get payment later. After a little while as we drove up the hill where the director of the “Land Improvement Organization” lived (Mr. R. Sloots, who was accused as a NSBer during the war days and had been imprisoned in Fort at Hoek van Holland), there suddenly came a car with soldiers from the Scheur Polder. The car was on patrol and came from “the Buurt”.

While we were chatting with them, Raymakers carefully studied the Krabbe Polder and said, “Give me your binoculars again.” “What do you see?” I asked. He squinted in the direction of the A. Boogerd, farm “Noorder Farm” on the Lange Kruisweg. “There are a dozen guests there in uniform, who are they and what they are they doing?” grumbled Raymakers. “We should go in, as we need to know who they are! decided Raymakers.” So we got into the Opel, and a sergeant from the Scheur Polder, a Rotterdammer, also hops in with us. Near the “Kroondijk” past the thatched barn of L. Mol (Leendertje Sago) we stop. We crawl up against the dike and peer into the polder. Through my binoculars I saw that indeed the soldiers had located themselves in the vicinity of Staeldiep”. “We will drive a bit further,” concludes Raymakers.

At about one kilometer away from “Pothof” (the lock of “Staeldiep”), we stop again and Raymakers and the Rotterdammer sergeant with his gun in his hand creep up the dike. Piet and I follow.
“We want to know who these guys are, and if they are Germans or spies we will shoot them dead (in dutch it says: we will shoot them upside down…(overhoop) “That’s good and well Raymakers, I remark, but you have nothing but a revolver and we don’t even have our guns with us.” “Let’s go over the Brielle Hill, get our guns first and try to get some more men to join us. At this moment you and the Sergeant have two revolvers but we have nothing, what is that compared to ten or eleven men. In that event if they are actual enemies and therefore might well be armed, it will definitely be goodbye for us.” They all agree.

So we get back into the car and drive at breakneck speed to the “Krabbe Dijk” and the “Brielse Hill” back to the “Buurt”. Raymakers reports to sergeant Kiers and we get another soldier Gees Visser, one of the Rozenburgers from the Zanddijk to go with us. I myself now had taken my gun from the town hall and we drive quickly away. I suggest crossing over the “Vink” to get there faster. On the “Vink” we stop to use the binoculars and explore the grass Polder. We see nothing and drive to “number one”. That was approx. 400 meters away from the “Pothof” but no matter how long we look, we see absolutely nothing.

Heijboer, who lived at “Number one” comes out and we ask him if he might have seen ten or twelve men here in the area. “Yes, they came through here in the afternoon and looked around the “Staeldiep” “Were they civilians or soldiers?” we ask.
“Soldiers and sailors or marines or something,” thought Heijboer. And there was also an officer. “Could you notice if they were Germans or Dutch?” “I do not know, but we were told here that they were Germans” he says.
That was all Heijboer knew.

The four of us creep back against the dike and “roll” over it, being sure not to make ourselves a target to shoot at on top of the dike, just in case there really were enemies around. From behind the dike, we look over the crest at the whole area, but find nothing. Gees Visser creeps to the waterfront, down to beyond the curve of the dike but sees nothing either. Raymakers now suspects the group is hiding behind the Dwarsdijk. That is the piece of dike from the “Pothof” to Adriaantje Mol on the waterfront. He suggests that we ride with the car to within a hundred meters from the “Pothof” then carefully park at the curb. That happens and at the agreed point we leave the Opel.

Raymakers is now just below the crown of the dike on the right and the Rotterdammer at the same point on the left. They both creep along the dike. Gees Visser goes by the ditch at the side road, and I on the other side of the road along the ditch. Following this plan, we cautiously move forward. “Look,” Raymakers says a moment later, “here they have cut the telephone wires.” Gradually we began to believe that things are not in order. “If we get on top of the Dwarsdijk, we will see more” reckons Raymakers “and take into account that the shooting may start anytime”. “Take off your safety catch,” he orders. Raymakers is a born commander! And indeed able to lead and notice all sorts of things that others do not see so readily.

While we are crawling ever so slowly, with our fingers on the trigger, I feel frankly, that this adventure could suddenly end badly.
Four against ten, or more … … … .. Yet I remain remarkably calm.
Raymakers advises me to stay behind because I am untrained. But, I could not let those boys go by themselves, so I follow.
Down by the sidewalk Raymakers gives the signal to halt and goes on alone to the Dwarsdijk. That last little crawl up, until he can lift up his head and see the “Crown Domain Estate” is a tense moment I will never forget. After all, we were overly convinced that these people back there were waiting for us and were actual Germans or spies. Therefore we expected all the more that at any time gun fire would sound once Raymakers’ head protruded above the dike … … …

But nothing happens!

Raymakers jumps up, raises his rifle and cries, “Come on!”

It’s crazy, but I felt relieved first, and secondly, hugely disappointed! But, all well and good, where did these guys go?
At the next corner of the Kroondijk we see a luxury car approaching.
When it gets close by us we flash a stop sign and it appears that it is M J (Teeuwisse) Lievaart, the garage owner from Rozenburg. I ask him whether he might have seen some foreign troops or possible suspious persons. Yes, he had seen an officer with sailors on the “Land Improvement”. They were laying telephone lines along the river embankment and had come through the Crown Domain Estate. So those were finally the persons we had made all the fuss about!

Back to the Opel we went and onto the “Land Improvement” to drive the Rotterdammer sergeant back to his unit. Then we drove back to town.

While on the Zanddijk we heard a plane roar and the barking of guns. We stopped and saw German bombers flying to the coast. They dropped their bombs over the English warships near Hoek of Holland, but none were hit. The British fired on the aircraft, but also without result.

This afternoon, R C (Roel) Booden, the butcher had been locked up in the cell inside the fire hall. This was due to him telling fantastic war news stories in his shop to his customers. He had said to the people that the meat supply had become totally confused. He said that there was now almost nothing available. So the mayor took this as “unnecessarily provoking unrest” and called on constable Hardenbol to lock him up.

“There were actually more people who could not control their nerves or gave their imagination free reign. Henk Hoffmann, driver of Jaspert “van der Rout, came with a truck to the Post Office and told the sergeant that there had been heavy bombardments in the Scheur Polder. Soldiers were killed and buildings were burning.
Raymakers and I had just come back from that direction and knew that nothing untoward had happened. I convinced Henk Hoffmann that he should have better sense not to tell such stories, especially if you are not sure whether something is true or not.
We had just come from there and so we knew the current situation. He muttered a bit with disappointment, but I warned him I would make a report of his tale if I caught him again needlessly worrying people.

While we were enjoying the evening meal, P H de Bruijne from the Scheur Polder came driving into the yard with his wife and children in his car. His wife and the children came crying out of the car. It had become very deafening and noisy in the Scheur Polder and  dangerous because of the flying shrapnel. They were keen to avail themselves of my earlier offer to stay with us. Mrs de Bruijne along with the other workers wives and children had already spent two days in the shelter. Our guest room was fixed up so they had a place to sleep. This allowed De Bruijne and his wife and their children for the first time during the war days, to have a peaceful night’s sleep. This had been the second Pentecost day l940.

Tuesday, May 14, 1940Where are the British?
Why are there no British aircraft? Where is the British landing fleet?
These were the dominant issues raised in these first days and repeated time and time again. Before the war, they had always said that if one German soldier crosses the Dutch border, the English would come immediately and land an army on the coast.
Wasn’t there supposed to be 1500 airplanes in England, standing ready to take off and repel a German invasion of the Netherlands?

But it was now clear that the Germans had broken through “Peel Line” and that the boys at the “Grebbe Line” had had a hard time of it, but still no help from the West.

Yes, but wait! .. … …. Help did come, it was argued, there was an army, right now, of thousands of French invading the province of Brabant preparing to strike back at the Germans! But reality turned out quite different.

That morning again I had to stand guard, but it was different. Along the Bomendike, a military truck (a brand new Dodge) had rolled off the dike into the garden of Mr J C de Haas of Dorsser, right in front of his spacious house, villa ‘t West.
They knew the car could not get out on its own so I asked my brother Pieter to come with a tractor. A deranged soldier had expressly driven the vehicle down the embankment because he had been told that the Germans were coming from Voorne and Putten! (two islands to the south of Rozenburg) The soldier had already poured gasoline over the hood of the car to destroy it! The Germans were not going to get his possession. Residents of the Bomendike including Freek Dijkstra Bergwerff managed to calm him down, and persuade him not to torch the vehicle and so the car was not burned.
When Piet arrived with a “Fordson” tractor, ropes and chains were attached to the car and it was pulled back up against the dike with the help of 15 or so residents of the Bomendike lending their services by pushing and shoving.
Jan Aart Vark guided the “Dodge” after consultation to the Scheur Polder as that seemed the best solution.

De Bruijn left this morning for the Scheur Polder to check on his farm business.
Yes, so is the Dutch farmer. Although there are dangers threatening his business, he is not likely to let it go. There were many similar examples those days.

In the morning our BSA motorbike was claimed by Sergeant Kiers. It was given to a soldier, named Smit, who was sent to explore Voorne and Putten and Hoekse Waard.  Daan Weeda was given to him as an assistant. Daan went on his own motorcycle.

From twelve noon to two o’clock Bouw Leeuwenburgh and I stood guard again at the Masssluis ferry to stop and ask passing strangers for their identification papers and to search through their suitcases etc.

Meanwhile for the citizens of Rozenburg a ban was announced on sailing to Maassluis, except with special permission from the mayor.

While we were on the Veerheuvel, (Ferry Hill) position, we suddenly saw some British planes arriving. Would this be the long awaited help coming??
Whether there were also German planes overhead, we could not perceive, but there was a lot of shooting in the air and shrapnel clattered onto the cobblestones. We took cover behind the Veerdam. There were only a few English planes unfortunately, which glowing red in the sunlight, flew further inland.

In the meantime an incessant military motorcade had arrived from the Brielle ferry to sail over to Maassluis. It appeared that during the night and already this morning many military motorcades had passed through. We feared that this was not a good sign. Our troops seemed to be in retreat. Inside the Red Cross vehicles we saw the injured. A wounded soldier was moaning in a car with a bandaged arm. Another supported by an officer wandered around, apparently in order to resist the pain.

Then I noticed Minnebreucker, the warehouse manager of the International Harvester Company from Rotterdam sitting on an automobile! We press each other’s hand and I ask him what all this troop movement is really all about and where are they going? Minnebreucker takes me aside and tells me that the Hoekse Waard where they came from has already been captured by the enemy. “Remember, said Minnebreucker, don’t let anyone know what I have told you, as it will make unnecessary trouble!”
When we return to the car some soldiers express their outrage over the betrayal by NSBers. A little further on I see Jaap Pols from “The Heul, known if not as NSBer but certainly having pro-German sympathies. I warn the soldiers not to speak loudly. “What, says Minnebreucker, I would love to knock in his brains with the butt of my rifle”. The others try to calm him. An older officer comes along and said, “Calm down guys, it doesn’t do us any good.”

A depressed mood falls over the crowd, as they all have a vague notion that it is not going well. In the afternoon we see big black clouds of smoke rising above the “Matex” gasoline and oil storage facilities in Vlaardingen.

Now there were indeed British, and Canadians, who had landed by Hoek van Holland but only with the intention of destroying warehouses and other supply dumps. They had now moved up to Vlaardingen and continued to destroy more oil tanks which continued to smoke until late in the evening. With the dark skies it appeared almost as a total eclipse.

Also in Hoek van Holland ammunition and other stocks were destroyed, so that they may not fall into German hands. There were about two hundred British and Canadian troops who had come ashore at Hoek van Holland, but left again before falling into German hands.

Arie Noordam, the farmer of the “Bonnenwoning” from the Staelduinse woods came over this afternoon for tea. He belonged to a group of soldiers who patrolled and monitored Rozenburg as well as keeping an eye on the village post office. We had not heard from Smit and Weeda all day, but by evening they showed up.
Smit had a lot to tell. They had also been to Old Beijerland and been chased by a German army truck, from which they were constantly being shot at. “The BSA, explained Smit however, could go devilish fast, so that the Germans had no chance to hit me. But that is because the engine is English workmanship”. “Nevertheless, he continued, we nearly got caught, there is a dent in the gas tank from a machine gun bullet!”
However, Smit was known among his comrades as a story teller, because the dent in the tank had been there for some time. Daan Weeda also had escaped without a scratch.

By evening gloomy and serious messages began to get through. The Germans had surrounded the “Grebbeberg” and had cut-off the heroic defenders of this historic defence line. Also the Hoekse Waard ‌‌was already in the hands of the enemy. While initially vague at first but becoming more persistent we heard the rumours circulating that Rotterdam had been heavily bombarded.

During the evening as we were eating at about six o’clock, Raymakers was called out by Sergeant Kiers. We looked outside and saw Sergeant Kiers with the other men of the Post Office guarding unit standing on the corner by the white iron fence in front of the house of Van Riel near the ditch. We could see that their faces were serious and that something unusual was going on.
At one point a soldier from Rotterdam, put his arms and head on the white bridge railing and cried like a child … The Bruijne and his wife were with us at the window watching. “What could be wrong?” asked De Bruijne. I did not understand it either, but the fear came over me that this could relate to some very serious events.

Finally Raymakers came back into the yard. He walked like an old man and with a bowed head as he stumbled to the door: I went to meet him and asked why he looked so bleak. “I may not tell you,” Then I said, “I will ask no further questions”.
Just before the front door Raymakers turns around and asks, “Will you keep for yourself what I am about to say as long as necessary?” “Naturally, I replied, but if you are sworn to remain silent, then say nothing:”  “I trust you,” said Raymakers, “and therefore I tell you this: It is over for us, the war is done. Everything is and has been in vain … ”
Passionately, he adds, “And that had not been necessary, if only our army had been ready. If only there had not been so much betrayal. With a few hundred thousand soldiers and reliable officers it would not have ended this way. ”
Yes, this simple Brabant labourer, Raymakers, this man was a real Patriot, a true and good soldier. He had shown his mettle during the last five days of this war.

We arrive in the living room and my wife, De Bruijne and others ask directly what had happened. We can not tell them.

At seven o’clock the news came over the radio. Then followed the official notice that our Commander in Chief General Winkelman had consulted with our Queen and the Government and the decision had been reached to lay down our arms. The bombing of Rotterdam and the threat of the further bombing of several other cities had been the decisive factor, it was a difficult decision.
In several places there had been heavy fighting. Our soldiers did their best and many, even thousands, have given their highest sacrifice, namely their life for the Fatherland. But we have had to bow to this major force. Only now in the province of Zeeland, the struggle continues. Queen Wilhelmina and the government have crossed over to England.

Then we heard the “Wilhelmus” played … ..

It is hard to put into words what a terrible disappointment this announcement was to me in the first moments we heard it.

Our small but beautiful and free Holland, with its world-famous agricultural and horticultural
concerns, cultural spheres, world known tugboat and sea merchant fleet, with its vast colonies and with its hard working people, a people with a high ideal of liberty and freedom, with its proud independent sentiment, now betrayed and overwhelmed by an army of powerful German ….. neighbours … … … … .. … ..
Separated from our beloved house of Orange that had been attached to its people with strong bonds throughout the ages we were now alone.
You feel abandoned, in a prison, unconditionally delivered into the hands of the executioner

Gone is the illusion to maintain our defence, to fight against this brutal invading killer, to keep up the struggle against this injustice, and hold out till help comes one day … … ….

In “de Buurt” the people stood here and there in groups to discuss the latest news. When later I walked with de Bruijne near the barber’s shop of Sala, they asked us if we had heard the radio messages and whether it was true that we had surrendered.
We had no choice but to say yes.

There was a defeated atmosphere among the people. Also by the town hall there were people who once again asked the question: “Is it true?” I told them I had heard the message myself via the radio. One person was angry and snapped: “Are you still not wiser than to believe this? Those are all false reports, because the radio station in Hilversum is in German hands!”
Another replied: “Surrendered? Impossible! If it was really so bad, they would have called up the reservists to help out.”

What naive ideas about modern warfare this man had!
But the root cause of many of these remarks was the fact that no-one as yet could and would believe what had happened.
Later that evening De Bruijne with wife and children left to return to the Scheur polder farm.
During the evening it becomes clear how heavily Rotterdam had been bombed. Especially the inner city was almost completely in ruins. This bombardment on an undefended town, with hundreds of thousands of women and children by the enemy forced us to surrender. With the further threat that also Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht would undergo the same fate, if the Netherlands did not surrender and so to prevent even greater destructions, Commander General Winkelman while staying at “White bar” on the Vliet near Rijsoord had ordered the surrender which was signed later in the evening.

I ran into pastor Brouwer in the Veerlaan.
“Is it not terrible?” he said with emotion in his voice, “What will this bring?” Yes, Reverend, I replied, “that, only time will tell. But the bad news is that we owe this defeat to those people, who for years have screamed: “Disarmament! Disarmament!” ‘ No men and not a single penny for the army! The result is that our military was only a caricature of what we really are.”

That same evening, the soldiers left the Post Office. They all came here to say goodbye, and Sergeant Kiers thanked us with kind words for the use of our office.
It was really sad for us that these boys, with whom we had spent five exciting days of the war and with whom we had shared joys and sorrows, now had to leave.

Raymakers became very quiet. We gave him some cigarettes and apples along for his homeward journey. I went with them to Veerheuvel. Raymakers shook my hand and promised to come and look us up. Sergeant Kiers also promised in the holidays that he would again come to Rozenburg. The group stepped into the ferry boat and crossed over to Maassluis.

The war was over for us.
We were an occupied country!

Written in Rozenburg – July 2, 1944
By Jan Groenewegen the older brother of Cornelis Groenewegen.

Jan was part owner with Piet and Klaas Groenewegen (all brothers) of farm implement repair and dealership in the town of Rozenburg.

“Like a kiss on the lips”

In in the book of Proverb at the 26th Chapter we read: ‘A straight answer is as precious as a kiss on the lips’.

I am at a loss.

My world has changed and I am confined to my home because there is a mist out in the neighbourhoods that is unseen and very present, it is called a virus. And not only just a virus but one that is changing and become deadlier, more contagious as it mutates and emerges in different strains, Covid-19; B117; B1.617 or P1. the 3rd Wave. Some of these new strains have travelled from far away places, Brazil; UK; South Africa; India. Attached to people and unknowingly spread in our communities. Friends and acquaintances have been affected and hospitalized. Businesses closed and people have been without work. Governments are patching the community’s economic holes with MONEY but it is not enough………………! Many are anxious and emotional unwell. Many are praying for the right solutions and answers.

We are afraid! and yet……… “They predict it will end; we are in this together.” But some are in it more than others and the end? when will that be?

Daily news surrounds us with rules and regulations that become more and more unworkable or simply not at all effective. Numbers and totals, percentages are given and the whole mess becomes a quagmire of information impossible to keep track of. Daily news casts of information sessions seem to be an endless speak of same old, same old words and phrases.

Doctors and nurses are praying and pleading for help and warning of disasters for those who are smitten by the viral Covid-19 mist.

How long will this last? Will the vaccinations help? When can we return to NORMAL. It seems like a never, never place.

Who has the answers and who is still listening?

I am at a loss.

Oh, who can give us a straight answer that will be like a kiss on the lips.

JS April 21, 2021

Kurelek and the Passion of Christ

At this time of Easter, I also want to remember the work of the Canadian Ukrainian artist William Kurelek and his major Easter project which he named “the Passion of Christ according to Saint Matthew”. The work consists of 160 paintings depicting the story of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection as recounted in the Gospel of Matthew starting at Chapter 26 to the end of the Gospel Chapter 29 verse 20.

William Kurelek  1927-  1977

William Kurelek was born in 1927 near the small town of Whitford, AB, 75 miles NE of Edmonton. His parents were Ukrainian immigrants.

He was a very high strung and imaginable boy, who loved the prairies and loved to draw. His father however wanted him to be a professional (like a lawyer) and looked down upon his love for drawing as a weak, sissy occupation. When William was seven years old the family moved to Stonewall,MB , He became a loner and was plagued by self-doubts and anguish. As he left home and studied at Toronto Art College and University of Manitoba he became tormented with thoughts of self-doubt and suicide.

He traveled to England to study painting but when his depression got worse he suffered a mental breakdown and was taken up in  Maudsley Hospital where he spent 4 years and received 14 shock-treatments. It was at this low time in his life that he painted a canvas entitled: “Help me Please Help me Please Help me – Please Help”. This help came in the person of his occupational therapist, Margaret Smith  who was able to help him overcome his depressions and although he had previously rejected Christianity, now began through the witness of his landlady to re-examine the Christian faith. He converted to Roman Catholicism and was married to Jean.

Out of thankful to God for his deliverance from mental anguish and the dark night of atheism, he decided in 1956 to paint the scenes of Christ’s ministry in the Gospel especially the Gospel of Matthew. It was his intention that these illustration be used by missionaries as teaching tools. He started by making about 600 sketches and in 1959 traveled to Israel to get a feel for the country and its people. In 1960 on New Year’s day he started his St. Matthew Passion paintings. Beginning with Matthew 26:17 he painted a picture for every verse ending with the last verse in Chapter 28:20.

By working in the Av. Isaacs gallery in Toronto, at night as a picture-framer, he was able to complete one painting a week. The whole series of 160 paintings took three years to do. Sometimes money was scarce that is why some of the pictures were painted on wood or other available mediums. They were eventually bought for $ 30,000.00 by a Ukrainian art dealer and his wife, Olha and Mykola Kolandkiwsky and placed in their gallery in Niagara Falls,ON.

Wm Kurelek painted many other pictures and was a social activist in that his paintings always contain a statement about the world around him. He considered his artistic abilities to be a gift from God which must be used to bring a Biblical message.

In 1977 Wm Kurelek succumbed to cancer and passed away at the age of 50. A young man yet. His dream to paint other Scripture scenes left for someone else to finish.

William Kurelek was a deeply religious man even as he was seen by many as a disturbed soul, but I believe, one who knew personally the depths of despair and the meaning of God’s grace in his life. He was deeply concerned with the moral and spiritual well-being issues of our communities. These thoughts he reflected in a number of his paintings: For example see below: Christ on the steps of the old Toronto City Hall pleading with the passersby:

Picture from Toronto Toronto by William Kurelek (that’s Jesus on the steps of Old City Hall) see website – http://torontodreamsproject.blogspot.com/2014/04/an-apocalypse-in-beaches-william.html see also NOTE on torontodreamproject.blogspot : When the CN Tower was being built, Kurelek even asked if he could pay to have a metal plaque installed on the spire: “O Supreme Builder of the Universe, help us not to make the mistake of the first tower which you confounded.” The offer was declined. 

JS March 31, 2021

The St. Matthew collection was published in a book in 1975 and according to the Niagara Falls gallery website information is currently ‘out of print’.

Here are some pictures of the collection:

Easter again…

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb…….

It will be Easter again soon. Since last Easter (2020) our communities have had an up and down ride . Red zone, Grey zone, Orange zone but never a Normal zone. Let’s face it, it has been a tough year. Family visits are few and then only at a distance. Being careful, every time we go out. The masks are ever in our faces. We have come full circle back to the beginning. The 3rd wave they say.

But this virus is mean and nasty. Deadly in fact. And can be compared to the world-wide devastation that the Spanish Flu caused back in 1918-1919. (between 20 and 100 million people died, including some 50,000 Canadians.)

I think, the thing that bothers us the most is that we are not able to see the scope of it all. We are lost in the numbers and we are asking how does this affect us? How will it end? Sure the cities is where the problems are worse, but out here in rural Ontario, we are fine. And so we hear the loud and getting louder voices of denial. Those voices say: Where is the virus? We are all OK here and have not seen any bad scenes. None of my friends have been hurt. We think it is all over the top, these precautions are just scare tactics. Yet now we see (and experience close-up from friends affected) that the variants are making more people sick and appear to be harder to spot and control.

I guess what annoys (hurts) the most as the shouts of Pandemic gets louder, is that among all those voices which rebel (deny) against the ‘wise experts precautions’ (we are in this together: theme) about gatherings in groups especially without masks etc. there are many religious voices pushing the ‘it’s not so bad here’ and ‘no (authority) government’ can interfere in what we think and do especially at our worship centres and churches. Give us Freedom. Yes, they may be the ‘conservatives’ extremes, but still, should they (the ones who believe Jesus came and gave his life for the sins of the world) not be the ones that at least would consider carefulness (thankfulness) for their neighbour’s well-being? be serious in their consideration for the full expression of healthy kindness? and be thankful and compassionate for the giant exhausting efforts of our Medical care-givers? and eager to help in the task to see us all safe and the Covid patient admittance numbers go down? (see news reports about: pastor of Grace Life Church in Alberta, and Trinity Bible Chapel in Woolwich, ON and also Kingdom Worship Centre in Hamilton, ON and others)

Again and again, I have watched the reports on news media by the Premiers and Regional and City health officers who with anguish in their faces must count out to us the deaths of people everyday. Deaths that resulted sometimes from neglect and carelessness, crowds mingling together without any protection. Deaths that could have been prevented by simple kindness; wear a mask and wash your hands, stay home and minimize your contacts. Do not be a ‘spreader’ but a ‘helper’ and ‘protector’. Health leaders who in desperation demand that limits be placed on our communities to stop the spread and the filling up of hospital ICU beds with very, very sick people attended by care-givers that are tired and tired from the heavily loads they must bear with long work hours. Situations of panic and shortness of breath and energy, blood clots and life support machines. And so out of desperation our communities are put on hold and our normalcy is curtailed by sharp authoritarian rules. What is the normal again? How should we live? This is a world-wide pandemic!

Some authorities (beside masks and social distancing rules) (en)forced very strong community lock downs with no street access at certain times especially during the night to stop people from gathering in groups and having parties. Recently churches in Scotland rebelled against the harsh rule: Close the churches! No admittance! The authorities who meant well (to protect the people) when challenged in courts were found to be over zealous. Closure? No, but limited attendance with cautions, Yes! (the judge said: Yes, the virus is deadly and the care of the sick is urgent, with limited space and help and much PPE precaution.)

Is this a Freedom of Religion issue? Are the authorities telling us we cannot worship unless they give their permission? Is this obeying God versus obeying Caesar? Are we betraying our love for God by allowing to be persuaded by the governing (health concerns) authorities and the mass culture around us?

In his ruling in the Scottish case, the judge said: “It is impossible to measure the effect of those restrictions on those who hold religious beliefs. It goes beyond mere loss of companionship and an inability to attend a lunch club. I have not decided that all churches must immediately open or that it is safe to do so, or even that no restrictions at all be justified. All I have decided is that the regulations which are challenged went further than they were lawfully able to do in the circumstances which existed when they were made.” The Rev. Dr. Phillip (Glasgow) said on welcoming the ruling: “We realized the serious decisions to be made in response to the pandemic. However, the approach of the authorities to banning and criminalizing gathered church worship was clearly an over-reach and disproportionate. A dangerous precedent.” (source: BBC)

In perhaps another extreme at the Kingdom Worship Centre where people were seen in a worship video (March 18) without masks and gathering in groups in the sanctuary, the Pastor was quoted as saying: “The church has gotten so caught up with fear of Covid-19 that it thinks that people who are willing to risk their lives ( going to a worship service without masks etc) for the Gospel are careless people. That’s a lie from the pit of hell. These people care.” He further said: They (the people) need more than a mask, they need to see smiling faces, they need to feel somebody’s embrace. “The church must be willing to take the risk”. (Hamilton Spectator March 29, 2021) 10 people were later tested with Covid infections.

So where lies the moral decency and safe side on this pandemic road?

Some of us have to work, our communities must be maintained or else daily living will deteriorate with its subsequent results, our well-being then is threatened and will stop. Medical services and the like, and other maintenance concerns that contribute to that well-being for all of us are a must-do and must-have reality.

Where are you in all this? I urge you: be kind, keep your distance, wear your masks, be reasonable in your gatherings. Listen to the doctors. Remember the seniors and those who are health concerns. Let’s get THROUGH this TOGETHER. Love your neighbour as yourself. God bless you all.

They say with the coming vaccines there is light at the end of this bad time. A patch of blue sky at the end of our dark night. I hope! and I pray the vaccines will protect us and if we get sick, we will only experience a casual sickness and eventually all of us will have total indemnity and get back to NORMAL LIVING!

I will be getting my shot this week and hopefully the second a few moths later, and pray that they will be effective to protect me and so protect YOU against this terrible disease.

Happy Easter (worship) to you all. Let’s celebrate new beginnings through the power of our resurrected Lord.

JS March 21, 2021

Gospel of LUKE chapter 24: On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.

HDCH

Hamilton District Christian Highschool      1956 – 2021    65 years of Blessings!

“The aim of education is the forming of an individual into an independent personality serving God according to His Word, able and willing to employ all given talents to the honour of God and for the well-being of their fellow creatures, in every area of life in where God has placed them.”  Dr. Jan Waterink 1890 – 1966

Reflections for the 50th celebration in 2006:

It now seems to me such a long time ago that we attended HDCH, back when it was still in its baby shoes. The whole operation was a learning experience, both for the students, the teachers, the Board and the community. Nobody had any real training or expertise in running a High School operation, let alone managing a bunch of (recent immigrant) teenagers who were just feeling their age and getting into the local culture. (girls, boys, hit parade, hockey, cars etc) (Confession: We (I) sure didn’t make it easy for some of the teachers!) It seems we were all struggling to make ends meet, both in the family and in our church and school communities and learning the new language and culture all at the same time. What a mixed bag of concerns, challenges and opportunities! How much easier it would have been, if we had just connected with the locals!? But no, we were following the cry of Dr. Abraham Kuiper: ‘There is not one inch of human life (the world) about which Jesus does not say “mine!” I remember the first day our family arrived in Hamilton and my dad said to us, just as a matter of fact: “You are going to Christian School.” (1956)

So up the mountain we drove in our blue 1937 Dodge, along the gravel road that was then West 5th Street, past the unpaved Mohawk Road, past the Brouwer’s home on the south east corner and up to Calvin Christian School. The school was situated in a mud marsh and consisted of the original two classrooms with a recent addition of washroom space, teacher office and two more classrooms. The place was full of mud brought in by the kids during recess and when it rained hard the cement block structure leaked at times, the well (sulphur) water smelled like ‘rotten eggs’, the desks were discards from the public school. We played baseball in the marsh reeds…….. but it was a ‘Christian’ school.

When the grade eight class graduated in 1956, it was decided to push through with grade 9 and so HDCH was born. We moved from the Calvin Christian School (1958) site to Immanuel Christian Reformed Church (then the newly constructed home-to-be of the Canadian Reformed Church) at 61 Mohawk Road West. Classrooms were in the basement and it was very much a ‘homemade’ location. Two by fours and plywood separated the (rooms) grades. A year later, we moved to the ‘Mount Hamilton Christian Reformed Church’ on Upper Wellington, where there was more space. It meant however that a lot of us would need to take the city bus beyond Mohawk Road (which cost an additional fare of 15 cents). No student fare was allowed as we were an ‘unrecognized’ school. (This ‘unrecognition’ was not corrected till 1961 when the second class of HDCH students graduated and received their official ‘Ontario Junior Matriculation’ diploma). A number of St. Catharines students were also added to our numbers and they arrived by a special bus driven by teacher Tony ten Kate or rode in with Rev. Wiebe van Dijk’s (‘this is not the Cuban revolution’) car.

One more move in 1961 to downtown First Christian Reformed Church at Charlton & Hess, and then to Athens Street off Mohawk Road completed the journey to our ‘own’ school building. It was all done within five years. A tremendous effort!

What a journey it was! These were ‘heady’ times, full of youthful energy and ‘Kingdom’ dreams and visions. A small but important start in claiming the Canadian scene for the Kingship of Christ. A foundational sense of building ‘for the Lord’ that would reach all the way to many Christian Schools; Redeemer University College and other institutions like ‘CLAC’, ‘Shalom Manor’, ‘Holland Homes’, ‘Christian Stewartship Services‘ and other endeavours.

How are we doing? do we still have this ‘Christian Kingdom’ zeal? Do our children see and ‘catch’ this ‘faith’ desire that was so strong in the 50s and 60s and 70s? Are we ‘passing on’ our Christian faith and passions?

Our parents were the ‘visionaries’, we the ‘users’ and then the ‘builders’, will our children be the ‘maintainers’ and with prayer, the ‘expanders’? Will and can we all continue to constantly renew the energy of doing Christ’s work in our adopted now HOME country Canada? Are we all (still) ‘ready’ for this task? Are you ready and willing?

It is my wish that we may always be found to be faithful ‘servants’ of the Lord Jesus Christ! For the ‘Message of the Gospel of Jesus’ is salvation, glorious, full of wisdom, love and light and above all the Truth! (John18:37)

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.”
Letter to the Romans Chapter 12 verse 11 (New International Version)

JS (2006) and Feb 23, 2021

(2021) Today HCH has a large educational complex at 92 Glancaster Rd, Ancaster, ON L9G 3K9, accommodating up to 500 students with a budget of 6 million dollars.

Top pictures – bottom row L to R: Science lesson in the kitchen of Mnt Hamilton CRC Church basement from l to r- Mr. Tony tenKate;John vanderHoek; Dick vanderSteen; Mary Appel; Ted Bootsma; Berend Hartman; Bill Hordijk – HDCH crest; the staff – Mr.Tony tenKate (science, math & music; Pastor Wiebe vanDijk (Principal – Bible); Miss Jesse Personaire (english, literature, math); Bert Witvoet (french); Lowell Witvoet (history); Picture of the Class of 1956 -57 (Grade 8 & 9) Below: Tuition certificate: 1965 -66 and Graduation Certificate (1961)

Déjà vu!

2021 will be the 30th Anniversary of the CELEBRATE RECOVERY program

Posted first on April 23, 2012 (A letter to those who study the Bible with prisoners)

I thought I had seen him before….. It happened at a Prison Bible study session and when I asked the young man, he said, yes, he had been here a couple of years ago. So what has happened? I said. The answer was somewhat evasive and I realized that it is hard to break out of a life style, especially when you are young, impressionable and are moving around in a community of like minded people. As one fellow told me: ‘Why work when I can stand on the corner of the street for a couple of hours and can get what will take another two months of hard work to earn? You shake your head and say, don’t they ever learn?

Have you ever wondered about that as you mark your Bible Study correspondence papers and write all those encouragement letters? Am I really making any sense? Will he or she make a new start in their life? How can I influence this young man or woman with the Gospel’s renewing Good News to break out of this cycle? Jesus also knew how hard it was for someone to change. He said “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to seek those that are sick.” He knew that he had to deliberately seek them out to get through to them to deliver his message of salvation. And as we know, it not only had to do with believing what Jesus said, but then also to change your life (life-styles) and to start following him.

Take Zaccheus. What pent up thoughts and motivations were stirred in Zaccheus’ heart that he wanted to see Jesus? (Even if he looked ridiculous in climbing that tree!) My guess is that he had been gripped by the words of Jesus. They had given him a ‘key’ that cleared a way for him to break free from his involvement in shady tax dealings. This was his escape from his addiction and bondage of the power of misguided economic wealth. Did Jesus not say to Zaccheus after listening to his confession of restoring wrongs, “Surely salvation has come to this house today”. ‘Amazing grace how sweet the sound of Jesus voice.’

Only those who know that they are lacking in themselves see this renewal as the key to a new beginning. What a powerful ministry Jesus had and continues to have in the lives of people. The 12 step ‘Celebrate Recovery’ program also acknowledges this in Step 1 and 2 where it states:

We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviours and that our lives had become unmanageable. ‘I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out’. (Letter to the Romans Chapter 7 verse 18 )

• We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. ‘For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose’. (Letter to the Philippians Chapter 2 verse 13)

Past studies have shown that up to 65% of the inmates in Canada’s prisons are 34 years and younger. Young men and women who will be the next influencers in the future lives of other young men and women. They will be setting the tone for our future communities and they are the ones that you are talking to in your Bible Studies and letters. Help them to see that in the un-manageableness of their lives, God’s power can forgive and heal. Be assured, you are making a difference for there are many who will never have to face a return visit to the time of their loneliness and unworthiness. Because you cared! Thank you Jesus.

The people criticized and grumbled that Jesus would dine with notorious sinners. So on another occasion not unlike this one, he told the crowd, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Gospel of Matthew Chapter 9 verses 12 & 13) NLT

JS

Based on the successful AAA 12 Step recovery program initiated in the 1930s, the ‘Celebrate Recovery’ is a Christian ministry started in 1991 at Saddleback Church under the leadership of John Baker, a former alcoholic.

d’olle Grieze

2022 will be the 540th year anniversary since its completion in 1482

The “d‘olle Grieze” has stood watch over the houses of the city and its nearby lands [1] for over 500 years. In all kinds of weather and seasons it looked proud and tall [2] on the north east corner of the center of the great square (‘Grote Markt’). The ‘kerk’ was snuggled up beside it, touching its eastern side to almost halfway the height of the first tower balcony and fanning out with its ten peaks, five back to back on each side like separate buildings joined together with their black slate roofs and brick walls, and in each peak a large window.

The far eastern end of the church was narrower again with a slate roof on which perched a choir loft straining in height and towering over the ten peaked roofs like a massive stone tent.It looked like a church should look. Majestic and grand, with its tower reaching up to the heavens, taller than any other structure around it. Against the south side and beside its main entrance way were two smaller houses called ‘het brood & boter huisje’ [3] while just around the corner on the south side and tightly nestled into the corner of the church and against one leg of the tower was the house of the ‘tower watch’, guarding the entrance to one of the three stone portals, on the south, west and north side that gave access to the tower. From here one could enter through a door to the stairway leading upwards. The stone steps worn by the thousands of shuffled footsteps, turned like a coiled snake inside the brick structure of the tower going round and round. A rope was attached in the center for support as one circled up the tower. Narrow slits in the walls gave a little light in finding the next step. At the first balcony one could see the massive bells [4] hung on large and thick beams and directly outside on the south side, a sun dial was hung to check the accuracy of the towers clocks situated just above the second balcony, their clock faces turned to the north, south, east and west. Above that and just below the gleaming golden crown the bell carillon was hung which played during the day at the top of the hour and could be heard over the ‘Grote Markt’.[5]

At the top – what a view one had of the city and beyond to the country side!

Back at street level, on gaining entrance to the church through its large doors, one was struck by the vastness of the place. It was large and stately, reminiscent of a great cathedral. In front against the tower wall, one could see the great organ built originally in 1480 by Rudolphus Agricola and rebuilt and expanded by the famous F.C. Schnitger in 1834, beautifully decorated with gold leaf in the decor of its time. It had been and has again become world famous. Organists have traveled from the Americas to ask for permission to touch it ivory keys and hear the pipes speak in their clear and germanic tones.[6] As it was played, the sound would travel through the walls and could be heard clearly as one climbed the worn out steps of the tower. Huge stone slabs covered the floor and as was common, contained the last resting places of those who had been a somebody in the city going back to 1550 or even before that. During the last renovations a discovery was made of 8 Christmas and 6 Easter scenes painted in the ceiling of the choir loft. Although for a short time Catholic, the populace turned with the Reformation into a solidly Reformed people who in 1672 defeated the attempts of the Bishop of Munchen (also known as ‘Bommen-Berend’)[7] even though he had launched a series of bombs to force it to surrender and take-over the city. That victorious event is still celebrated each year on the 28th of August [8] with a civic holiday and much festivity enjoyed by young and old.

The tower of grey stone, blackened over the years, was originally over a 100 meters high and boasted as the highest structure in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its height and it grand stature was the proud emblem of wealth and economic wellbeing of the northern province (‘t golden laand’) with the same name as the city, Groningen (‘áin wondre stad’). By the locals the tower was known as the “olde grieze” (the old grey one) That expression conjured up the idea that there was wisdom, strength and life experience in the structure that many a ‘Grunninger’ could look up to from a long distance away. Yes, there was even more, a feeling of comfort, of home and of family. This was their tower, their ‘Martini tor’n’, and their city. The only city (stad) of status [9] in the northern provinces of the Kingdom. Invincible, energetic, strong and proud. Like its citizens, reflecting the true Calvinistic work ethic which said that ‘van hard werken ga je niet dood’ (you do not die from working hard). They were a people with a conservative bend, quiet, industrious and yet with a dry humour that made them seem real and believable, deep but true and steadfast. Their dialect was hard to understand and had various variations as one traveled through the province, but they were all one.

In Groningen you either ‘goan noar stad’ or ‘komt oet stad’. (‘go to the city’ or ‘you come from the city’)

Around this setting my parents grew up and lived most of their lives. It provided for them a shelter, roots, a place of identity, a place that spoke of who they were and where they had come from.

This place was their home!


[1] Also known as ‘Stad en Ommelaand’. The Groninger folksong mentions this phrase in the song meaning the city and its nearby country lands. Gruninger Volks Lied. [2] Built around 1250, rebuilt in 1469 and restored during 1889-94 and then again in 1926 with major work done over a 20 year period to 1948.  In 1465 the tower was struck by lightning and in 1468 it collapsed, causing it to fall and destroy a large portion of the church, except for the extreme eastern part which remained intact. In 1469 the building of a new tower was begun taking 80 years to complete. In 1627 the wooden crown was placed on top of the structure. Its height is 96 meters. [3] ’’Butter and Bread’’ house. [4] First bell was made in 1627 and weighted 7850 kg. [5] ’Grote Markt’ means ‘large market or square’. This was directly to the south-west of the tower. At the west end stood the City hall started in 1777 and not completed till 1810 (due to the Napoleonic wars, when the Kingdom of the Netherlands became a province of the French Empire) in the grand gothic style with four massage stone pillars in front and two large stone steps leading up to the first floor front balcony. To me it looks very Napoleonic like. Right behind it stood the ‘Collecte huis’ also known by the locals as ‘Goud Kantoortje’ (Gold office) because here the citizen had to make their city tax payments. Above the front was fixed in Latin the saying of Jesus, ‘Date Caesar quake sent Caesar’ (‘Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar’ Gospel of Mark Chapter 12 verse 17) [6] Some of J.S.Bach’s organ works such as his trio-sonatas were recorded in the church in 1989 for the Naxos label. The organ was played by the famous organist Wolfgang Rubsaum. [7] The city was ably defended by General Rabenhaupt who refused to be intimidated by the Bishop’s fire power. [8] One of those festivities was a fireworks display on the market “Grote Market” in front of the tower every 28th of August. It started sharp with the striking of 10 PM on the tower clock. An event that I was allowed to watch several times, although my mother didn’t think I should stay out that late being only 10 years old. [9] There were others who had also been granted the privilege of city status but the ‘Groningers’ always tried to dominate the entire northern part of the Kingdom so that already in 1473 there was a law that forced the farmers to bring their grain to ‘stad’ to be milled and processed. In 1487 the city received authority from the German emperor Frederick to establish its own mint.

Can you see….

Can you see the future? Are you able to look into next month or 2 weeks from now and tell what is going to happen? Can you even see what tomorrow will bring? Well no, but we can plan what that will (hopefully) be and look-like, you say.

Well, we can plan but what it will look like for you and me is much more of a problem today, it seems to me, than it ever was before. Our lives plans have been messed around with.

Take the biggest issue of all, the Covid situation. At the present we are under ‘lockdown’ orders. Stay home we are told especially the Seniors among us. So what can you plan? Visits to the grandchildren? A cruise or a vacation in Florida? (yes, some are doing it but at what (illegal and health) risk?) (Plus restrictions as you hit the border)

Then there are the issues with children’s education, businesses closing and a general fear of getting the groceries at the local food market. The local paper says west Burlington last week has one of the highest percentage occurrences of the virus in Ontario.

We are all sapped-out hearing about these issues, especially the constant news about Seniors in Nursing and Retirement Centres being infected by the virus and losing their lives. What misery for them, loved ones and staff. Will it ever end? We are caught in a whirl wind of sickness and death.

Then we are told about the vaccines. Pfizer, Moderna, Sputnik, AstraZeneca and others. They are coming, No, they are not. We will get them, well maybe, we are not sure! Projections, Plans (there you have it!) are that in Canada we will receive 6 million doses by March 31 or maybe 4 million and for sure, all Canadian, will be vaccinated by September. In the meantime we will take away some vaccines (2 million?) from the Bank reserved for the poorer nations and maybe replace them later? Well, we plan to replace them. We all have to wait and be patient. We will come through this, except some will be through it faster (fairer) then others. (Feb 11, 2021 news: Manitoba will order it own vaccine supply (2 million doses) from Providence Therapeutics in Calgary (possibly available by the Fall 2021) as the Feds promises are poorly (un)reliable.) Where is the Truth in it all?

The USA hopes to have all its citizens vaccinated by the end of July 2021, that is 300 million people! and Canada? What about the other nations?

What a mess! People are getting so skeptical and are cooking up their own versions of the TRUE news. Let’s tell it the way we see it. Who can see the future?

Am I letting it get to me. Yah, I suppose so…….However, I consider myself blessed as I am retired and my interactions with others are limited to walks around the neighbourhood and driving my wife for shopping. But what about others who have a (closed-up) businesses, out of work, or are Care-givers and mothers who must work and interact with (Covid-possible) people everyday. Wow!

For a while there was a slogan AD on TV: we are in this together….. Well some are in it a lot more than others. But we do all need to get this bug under control TOGETHER! See it through TOGETHER! Do you hear this, Anti-maskers promoters!

Pray for those on the front-line. (and for yourselves!)

Book of Proverbs chapter 3 : verse 29 says: ‘Make no plans that could result in injury to your neighbour; after all, he should be more secure because he lives near you.’ (Translation: The Voice)

A 400 year old poem says: No man is an island entire of it self; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away be the sea; Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me; because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. (author: John Donne)

Give a listen to the Victoria Chorale: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycbrO9XSDwY

JS Feb 12, 2021

25th of January (2021)

COVID-19 – one year – the second wave – a prayer

O gracious God;

May your Name be honored and your Reign be kind and unhindered.

Deliver us from the mutating Covid-19 virus

And restore our neighbourhoods to a fullness of grace and helpfulness,

May we acknowledge our stubbornness and ignorance.

Give us wisdom, responsibility and compassion,

Because we are Yours and

Our world belongs to YOU.

Amen

Psalm 46 (A mighty fortress is our GOD)

God is our shelter and our strength.
    When troubles seem near, God is nearer, and He’s ready to help.
So why run and hide?
No fear, no pacing, no biting fingernails.
    When the earth spins out of control, we are sure and fearless.
    When mountains crumble and the waters run wild, we are sure and fearless.
Even in heavy winds and huge waves,
    or as mountains shake, we are sure and fearless.

Come, gaze, fix your eyes on what the Eternal can do.
    Amazing, He has worked desolation here on this battlefield, earth.
God can stop wars anywhere in the world.
    He can make scrap of all weapons: snap bows, shatter spears,
    and burn shields. (and kill viruses)
10 “Be still, be calm, see, and understand I am the True God.
    I am honored among all the nations.
    I am honored over all the earth.”
11 You know the Eternal, the Commander of heavenly armies, surrounds us and protects us;
    the True God of Jacob is our shelter, close to His heart.

(Translation: the Voice)

JS January 25, 2021

Christmas 2020

Now-a-days and especially at this time of Christmas, many people will be forwarding their Christmas wishes via email. Many ecards can be used for personal birthday wishes or greetings.

My neighbour sent me a Christmas ecard greeting the other day via email with a Jacquie Lawson.com card attached.

It’s the type that you click on and then it opens and plays an animated scene with a song. They are actually cute and very colourful. Some ecards are free, others will cost.

The ecard I received was a card featuring a lovely Christmas tree that made the decorated balls light up as the song progressed and came to the end by lighting the star on the top of the tree. Lovely.

The song of course was: O Tannen baum, O Tannen baum. “O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, How are thy leaves so verdant! Not only in the summertime, But even in winter is thy prime”.etc. etc.

It reminded me of a time in the late 40s when I was just a lad, the home of my next door friend always had a Christmas tree. Not just an artificial one but a real tree with wonderful animal decorations, dwarfs, angels and balls hanging from every branch. And believe it or not, they would have real candles mounted in the tree. They would turn off the house lights, strike a match to light them and then sing the ‘O Tannen baum’ song. It had a catchy tune and so I remembered it easily.

It was a special moment, as our voices blended together, the atmosphere and the burning candles was very lovely and cozy. It all sounded like singing a hymn.

However my friend’s father kept a sharp eye on the burning candles and just in case had placed a pail of water near the tree.

So after the song was sung the candles were again extinguished till the next day. It was magic.

I remember coming home and singing the ‘O Tannenbaum’ song. My dad when he heard it said: ‘Where did you hear that’. I said: ‘at the neighbour’s, they have a lovely decorated Christmas tree and when they light the candles, they stand around it and sing this song’. So I started again, but he cut me off and said: ‘Don’t sing it anymore. Don’t you know that is idolatry, worshipping a tree. Well, our fore-fathers when they were heathens before they were converted to the Gospel by Saint Boniface, also worshipped (Oak) trees. Christmas is for celebrating God’s coming into the world and away with this idolatry. In fact, when Saint Boniface brought the gospel to the Frisians and the Batavian tribes, he himself, chopped down the trees they worshipped. Don’t you start again.’

Then as an afterthought he said: ’O yes, and telling the Gospel message cost him his life’.**

Wow, what a lesson. How do we rate today. Celebrating the real Christmas yet?

Later checking with Wikipedia, I noticed that the information on the ‘Tannenbaum’ showed a version of the song that had been Christianized with a fourth stanza:

‘O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, How sturdy God hath made thee! Thou bidd’st us all place faithfully, Our trust in God, unchangingly! O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, How sturdy God hath made thee!’

Well, you never know!

JS

**See  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Boniface

Three months….

It has been over 3 1/2 months now since my by-pass surgery and the healing is progressing slowly and without any complications.

It was on evening of my birthday, that I was admitted to the General hospital Cardiac wing and prepped for surgery……..,weighted, catheterized and shaved, smeared with orange yellow stuff (iodopovidone or chlorhexidine) to prevent infection, on the chest, arms and leg areas.

The diagnosis, a few days earlier after the angiogram, showed that at least 4 arteries were partially blocked and 80% of the LAD (left anterior descending artery – it is the largest artery and carries 50% of the blood to the heart) Two branches were also blocked 70% in several places extending back into the left main.

I had no idea what it all meant but was told by my cardiologist and family members (who are in the medical profession) that it was a big concern. I agreed and surgery was scheduled for the next day.

Recalling the last six months of my health episodes, I now began to understand that the chest pressures I had felt with a sense of disorientation, had been due, not to my just being a 79 year old, but pointed to a definite deterioration of my blocked circular system. The blood supply to the heart was insufficient. I was ready for a heart failure.

It seems strange to me now, but I did not have a lot of nervousness around this decision. I knew the situation was bad and as I had prayed a few days before for the Lord to extend his grace to me, in my heart I was assured that all would be well.

The next morning early I was pushed up to the operating room. The surgeon and staff said ‘good morning’ and after being placed on the operation table asked me to put out my hand and placed something on my finger and that is the last I remember.

Woke hours later in the ICU. I was not very sore but extremely tired. My son visited me in ICU but I did not remember. After sometime, I think it was the next morning, the mouth respiration tube and catheter was removed and I was relocated to the cardiac general nursing department. I did not have much pain but was restricted to laying on my back, but was able to sit up to eat and carefully use the facilities. I could feel my chest sore and tiring soon but other than that I felt just weak and awkwardly limited as far as body movements.

It was Covid-19 time so family visitation was limited to 2 persons and every other day, so I spent a lot of time by myself. However I did not mind as I wanted to get my strength back and go home as soon as possible.

After a couple of days I could get out of bed and walk around and was told if I could walk a fair distance by myself I would be discharged. So 5 days after my surgery I was released and driven home by my brother-in-law.

Since my wife was home, I had instant help and I needed it. As I had not taken a shower since my surgery I needed help with washing myself.

My leg was swollen and still sore. My chest was delicate and sensitive to movement, so I needed to be careful what I could eat and swallow. My home made meals were such a pleasure compared to the hospital meals. I never did get the drift of ordering what I liked while in hospital as every day there was the choice of a different menu.

I now had to be careful that nothing too big stuck in my throat. I would easily panic due to the limited movement of my sore chest. Especially when I needed to cough, I was taught to use a pillow pressed to my chest to lessening the pain it caused as my chest expanded.

I started to walk in the house a few times a day for 10 minutes or so and ventured outside down the street the following week. I felt good, happy and glad to be home. It was summertime and the weather was perfect.

The surgical area had a large incision right across the middle down my chest and I had a large scar on my leg from my calf to my groin area. All of this is still very visible after 3 months and occasionally I will apply some ointment to medicate the raw feeling of the scar tissue.

In a month or so we will celebrate Christmas and I look forward to perhaps being able to do a lot more than now.

Covid-19 lock downs and just being very careful with going about in public has certainly left me at home a lot. Although the feeling that days are somewhat blending into each other; Today is Friday? No, that was yesterday; is very real to me.

I check my mail box and have not found a hospital bill as yet. Eh. Canada.

I am also reminded of the Carolyn W. Gillette hymn** (tune version ‘There’s a wideness in God’s Mercy’)

God whose will is health and wholeness, hear your people as we pray:
Many now are facing illness; more face sickness every day.
As we lift our song toward heaven, may we use the gifts you give —
Science, justice, and compassion — to help others safely live.

Jesus taught that your commandments call for us to use the mind.
May we use the gifts of science to seek health for humankind.
Bless the ones who work for healing; bless the ones who seek to be
Builders of a health care system that protects society.

God, you call for love and justice, yet our laws are far from wise:
Many don’t have good insurance; lack of health care threatens lives.
Many workers must keep working, sick or not, to pay the bills.
Turn us round when we have sanctioned greed that leads to greater ills.

Loving God, we ask your blessing on the sick and those they love,
And we pray for those now grieving as they lift their cries above.
There is trouble all around us; illness causes pain and fear.
Give compassion, love and kindness as we serve your people here.

JS

** https://www.carolynshymns.com/god_whose_will_is_health_and_wholeness.html

Patience

It has been 5 weeks now since I had my by-pass surgery. It has been a slow time. Slow in getting back to normal. The places that were operated on can easily be seen and felt. The long scar on the left leg where the extra body parts were harvested and the scarred chest where the surgeon performed the ‘heart’ of the matter so to speak are all signs of the extensive and invasive operation.

Google You Tube has a video that describes this procedure: see: https://www.google.com/search?q=youtube+by+pass+surgery&oq

Healing, I was told will be ‘weeks’ and not always easy, so Patience and following the well documented instructions are the key to better health. Sleeping, eating, coughing or swallowing or putting on your socks was a chore and always with apprehensive care that something could go wrong. On this journey it helps to speak to those who have traveled here before.

There is a book in the Bible called JOB where the devil ‘robbed’ a man of all his assets including his health, all with God’s permission. From this story we get the saying: He or she has the patience of JOB. Now my recollection is that JOB was not that patient with his humbled condition especially when his visiting friends accused him of being a liar and a cheat, a bad person. ‘God who sees all has punished you for all of that;’ his friends told him. But JOB insisted they were wrong and became very IMpatient with his friends including in his dialogue he had with God about his present condition.

Now I did not incur that kind of impatience (thank God for his goodness) but at times it seemed like I could be back to normal life but when I exerted myself, I found that weakness was ever with me. The body needs its time to heal and in my case, big time. My wife kept saying: ‘but John, it is major surgery you went through, be patient it will come.’

I will be.

JS

Be not afraid

Last Friday (July 17, 2020) I walked into my local hospital emergency and said: ‘I need help, my chest hurts’.

For sometime I knew that it would happen, but I had been unaware in my mind that things were on such a fast downward slide. Being 3 score and almost 19 is already aged beyond the wisdom of Scripture where 3 score and 10 is for the strong. Psalm 90 verse 10.

Once inside Emerge (after giving my personal details – twice and given my admission bracelet) I was subjected to a battery of tests, prodded with a few pricks and provided with a ‘port’ for future internal injection events and waited.

Now it was my time to reason: is it bad news, what will they tell me, probably heart-burn and write a prescription? And send me home. How silly of me to come and waste these people’s time. Will I die?

There was a lot of activity, someone had a sore shoulder, another had a heart attack (60 years of age) there were police and paramedics bringing in more patients with doctors and nurses going here and there. A nurse inserted a needle to draw blood, another had a machine to measure my blood pressure and temperature, other machines were used to measure heart rate and internal heart movement with stickers pasted on the chest with wires (5) hooked up to a monitor which would send a remote signal to a central station. There came a rolling X-ray machine operated by a nurse, there were cell phone conversations in the various patient examination stalls and cleaning staff moved continually up and down the halls (cleaning and wiping equipment, chairs, door posts, beds etc …….. it was Covid 19 time….but did not pickup an item that had popped out of a supply cart) there were calls over the communication system, code ‘white’, main entrance 100; code ‘yellow’ south tower floor 7, 200, it all was very busy and in a crazy but organized way.

The cardiac surgeon came and talked with me. Because everyone was wearing masks I understood only half of the conversation but got enough to indicate I’m staying and will have more tests.

After some hours I was transferred to another part of the emergency department and received a bed to lie in. ( I had been sitting in a chair for hours) A nurse gave me a shot in the stomach to prevent blood clots. An older lady across from my stall was brought in and kept shouting: ‘I need help’, ‘I need help…’ and proceeded to climb out of her bed. The nurse came in, put her back in bed and said; ‘I will help you…..’ she shouted: ‘I need help….’ ‘I need help’. The nurse said; ‘what can I help you with…’ but the conversation never developed any further beyond this. After an hour or so she was transferred somewhere else. There are people here with physical ailments and with emotional and diminished cognizance dementia ailments. I was told very clearly now: you have suffered a heart attack.

Promises of getting a bed upstairs were many but after a night in Emerge, I was finally late the next day, moved upstairs to a private room with a great view.

As the sun set later that evening, I was still hopeful it was not serious. It was, and I prayed and hoped, I will be OK. My 79th birthday was in 5 days.

Psalm 27 verse 13 – stuck in my thoughts, ‘Where would I be, if I did not believe I would experience the LORD’s favour in the land of the living.’

JS

https://youtu.be/RF0DIpFOoBg SONG: Be not afraid

COVID-19, Psalm 25, and our Comfort

A reflection on Psalms of Faith & Covid 19 and us – we are ‘shifted’……….. The virus has now been in Canada for over 150 days, since Jan 25, when the first person was diagnosed in BC. Genevan Psalm 25 verse 8 in the DUTCH version reads: “Zie op mij in gunst van boven; Wees mij toch genadig, HEER; Eenzaam ben ik en verschoven: Ja, d’ ellende drukt mij neer. ‘k Roep U aan in angst en smart; Duizend zorgen, duizend doden, Kwellen mijn angstvallig hart; Voer mij uit mijn angst en noden.”

Translation: “Look at me in favor from above; Have mercy on me, Lord; I am lonely and shifted: Yes, the misery presses me down. I invoke You in fear and sorrow; A thousand worries, a thousand dead torment my anxious heart; Take me out of my fears and needs.”

The total deaths so far in Canada and the USA is well over 138,000 (July 1, 2020) out of 2.8 million confirmed cases. Far more people die who get COVID 19 then from the flu.  In the US about 50 million+ catch the flu each year and 40,000+ die but as you can see, the COVID-19 virus is much more deadly. There have been 25 deaths from COVID-19 in the Halton region (Burlington, Oakville, Milton & Halton Hills) since the beginning of March 2020 and 1 new case confirmed yesterday, June 30th, bringing the total to 836 confirmed. It has not stopped spreading.

Of the total 25 deaths, 15 were in the 80+ category. Nellie and I are almost in that category at ages 78 and 77. So certainly the Psalm verse above speaks to us clearly. As the verse says we are ‘alone a lot’ (‘eenzaam’) and have been sorely ‘shifted’ in our (home and body) comforts and what is needful and what is important.

We lament the destruction of our communities and the (emotional and economic) wellbeing of our kids, grand-kids, relatives and friends.

It so frustrating, as we (cannot) do not see this VIRUS and yet people in the know tell us it is out there clinging to packages and surfaces and hands and bodies. We know the ‘flu’ and take some precautions but this virus at our Senior age can be stealthily deadly.

How will we manage for the days to come? Sure, we grocery shop usually (once a week) early in the morning, 7 AM with mask and gloves (we have not suffered food shortages) but I have been to the garden nurseries a couple of times and we have delivered church devotionals & bulletins and other support things to friends, family have visited us all with social distancing, we stand in line at the bank, but still it is ALL STRANGE. No church or choir or other gatherings etc. What about birthdays, graduations and celebrations and God forbid, family sickness and deaths?

The Bibles for Mission Thrift store re-opened June 8, 2020 and asked us if we will volunteer, and assured us that they will use every precaution. Well, we are not sure. We know the cases in Halton are few, but it would be better to see an overall drop in cases. (Ontario still has a steady near 200 cases a day) Perhaps the final test for us should be: NO CASES at all for at least a couple of weeks?

On the gravestone of Teunis Zent and Jaapje Groenewegen-Kleijwegt in city of Brielle (a city first liberated for the REFORMED FAITH from the Spanish domination (for freedom) in 1672) you will find inscribed at the bottom, the words ‘Psalm 68: 2. The Dutch Genevan version of that Psalm reads: “Maar ‘t vrome volk, in U verheugd, Zal huppelen van zielevreugd, Daar zij hun wens verkrijgen; Hun blijdschap zal dan, onbepaald, Door ‘t licht, dat van Zijn aanzicht straalt, Ten hoogsten toppunt stijgen. Heft Gode blijde psalmen aan; Verhoogt, verhoogt voor Hem de baan; Laat al wat leeft Hem eren; Bereidt den weg, in Hem verblijd, Die door de vlakke velden rijdt; Zijn naam is HEER der heren.”

Translation: “But the pious people rejoicing in You, will dance with joy of soul, since they obtain their wish; Their joy will then, indefinitely, by the light that shines from His view, rise to the very top. Sing ​​joyful psalms to God; increase, increase the way for Him; Let all that lives honor Him; Prepare the way, rejoicing in Him, who drives through the flat fields (no obstacles for God); His name is LORD of lords.”

These folks heard the call of the Gospel and lived in the comfort of that call all their lives even though sometimes (WW1, the Depression, WW2, etc) the misery of it all pressed (shifted) them down.

We have an old tape recording of Opa and Oma Groenewegen (Teunis and Jaapje), already quite old, together singing Ps 68: verse 10: “Praise be to God with deepest awe! He loads us day by day, with His favor, that is the God of our salvation; who would that Supreme Majesty, then not respectfully praise………”

We wish you all a SAFE and comforting time as we together continue to go toward our unknown days ahead.

Blessings on you and your family.

Love & greetings, Take care!

JS July 2, 2020

O Canada and ‘het Wilhelmus’

Some time ago, I attended at the Netherlands Canada Friendship Day activities in Burlington ON. This is an annual event remembering the twinning of the city of Burlington with the city of Apeldoorn in the Netherlands.

That Saturday in May remembrance ceremony, was attended by the Mayor Rick Goldrich and Consul General in Toronto for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mr. Anne Van Leeuwen and Elizabeth Witmer, past deputy Premier of Ontario, (born in the Netherlands) and several Armed Forces WW2 veterans and cadets.

The two flags were raised and the National Anthems sung for Canada (O Canada) and the Netherlands (the Wilhelmus).

In his address to those in attendance, the Consul General mentioned that 2 verses of the ‘Wilhelmus’ is always sung at important occasions and since this ‘Friendship Day’ event also remembers the liberation of the Netherlands by the Canadian forces in 1945 from the oppression of the Nazi regime and the expression of thankfulness of the Dutch people for that gift of freedom obtained and freely given by Canadian men and women (some were just teenagers) has always been fondly and thankfully celebrated and so has cemented close friendships and bonds between our two countries.

The Consul General reminded us that when we sing the second verse, we are reminded that it contains a phrase that says: ‘de tierannie verdrijven, die mij mijn hart doorwond’ (‘to drive out the tyranny that wounds my entire heart’) a wish and a prayer expressed by Prince Wilhelm of Nassau to rid the country of the ‘tyranny’ by others, brought upon the Dutch people back in 1568 and beyond when they struggled for independence and freedom.

This was a timely and popular reminder by the Consul General of ‘terror’ and ‘tyranny’ that we have seen very recently in various places in the world, especially in Europe but also in Canada & USA, and how precious and thin that freedom(ed) reality is and how it can be breached suddenly by slanderous speech, actions and misplaced truths,  (and in 2020 by a terroristly contagious virus) if we do not, every day, practice ‘freedom expressions of protection of others’ in our own attitudes and life walk, also here in beautiful Canada.

This was a notable and timely reminder of the constant watchfulness of the protection of ‘freedom’ ways that we enjoy in our present every day circumstances. Thank you Mr. Consul General!

However, the second verse that is sung also starts with a confessional statement that God is our shield and trusted truth keeper, (‘Mijn schild en de betrouwe, zijt Gij O God…..’) (‘My shield and trusty One are you, O God….’) in that He never leaves us if we are steadfast, faithful and truthful and honourable to Him and our neighbours every day and in every way. (Jesus’ Golden Rule: Love God and your neighbour as yourself’) Then, as his servants, we will defeat the (evil) tyranny that does so wound (our) my (people’s) hearts. This is a circular one way rule for you and I, and I and you, and you and I. This rule is the second greatest rule besides ‘Loving God’ yet as Jesus[2] said: For the Christian, the two belong to and are inseparable from each other.

This speaks of Christian walk and concern. Jesus taught us to be followers of Him, good people and faithful citizen practicing goodwill and compassion in our own land. May that spirit (law) of truth and justice be practiced and preached in all our circles, in government, neighbourhoods, schools, organizations, businesses and families. Then perhaps we too may even give up our lives, as some also did years ago, for such a place (country) where this is practiced and experienced every day. Thank God, we have this blessing in Canada and also in the Netherlands!

LATER: Thinking on this on Canada Day July 1, 2020, I also observed that we too have this sentiment and wish spoken in our Canadian National Anthem. In the second stanza often sung ( although sadly now more infrequently) we hear: ‘Ruler supreme, who hearest humble prayer, hold our Dominion in thy loving care; Help us to find, O God, in thee a lasting, rich reward, as waiting for the better Day, We ever stand on guard.

May we ever be consciously and prayerfully ‘on guard’ in physical and communal ways for that great and rich reward of freedom. This is also covered by Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) which expresses in its preamble that: Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law: …………. 2. Everyone has the fundamental freedoms: (a) freedom of conscience and religion; (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association………….

Excerpts from: http://www.charterofrights.ca/en/27_00_01

The apostle Paul also instructs us in his letter to the Romans Chapter 12 (New Living Translation (NLT)

17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. 19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge;    I will pay them back,”[g]    says the Lord. 20 Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”[h]21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

Anthem:

  1. Wilhelmus van Nassouwe, ben ik van Duitsen bloed. Den vaderland getrouwe blijf ik tot in den dood. Een Prinse van Oranje ben ik, vrij onverveerd, den Koning van Hispanje, heb ik altijd geëerd.
  2. Mijn schild ende betrouwen zijt Gij, O God mijn Heer, op U zo wil ik bouwen, verlaat mij nimmermeer. Dat ik doch vroom mag blijven, uw dienaar t’aller stond, de tirannie verdrijven
    die mij mijn hert doorwondt.


    source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/n/nationalanthemlyrics/netherlandsnationalanthemlyrics.html

[1] Like many anthems, the Wilhelmus originated in the nation’s struggle to achieve independence in the 16th Century. It tells of Willem van Oranje (William of Orange), his life, and why he is fighting against the operssion of the King of Spain.[4] The anthem is written in the first person, and sounds as if William of Orange himself is speaking, the ‘ick’ -word (Early Modern Dutch) in the 1st stanza: Wilhelmus van Nassouwe ben ick (am I) van Duytschen bloet (“William of Nassau, was a German Prince”). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelmus

[2] Jesus words in the Gospel of Mark chapter 12 verses 30 & 31

A Past Remembered

Recently the town of Bobcaygeon Ontario was in the news with the sad happenings at the Pinecrest Nursing Home Covid-19 outbreak.

Here is a bit of history about the town:

Bobcaygeon’s nickname is The Hub of the Kawarthas and it is well named. The village is located at the rapids where Sturgeon Lake empties into Pigeon Lake on its way to Lake Ontario. The spot was an obvious site for native villages and was the spot of an early trading post run by a trader named McKeough. But the father of the village was an English entrepreneur named Thomas Need who set up shop in 1832. The local Mississauga Indians called the site: ‘bob-cajeon-unk’ which meant ‘shallow waters’ in their dialect. Need liked the name.

Need was granted 400 acres including the 3 islands that were part of the new village. Need built a sawmill & grist mill on the big island and a community began to grow up. In 1834 the government of Upper Canada commissioned the first lock for the Trent Waterway at Bobcaygeon. The lock was finished by 1840. The site was truly the Hub of the Kawartha Lakes

In 1844 Need sold his interests to a local farmer named Mossom Boyd and the village really began to prosper under its most famous family. Boyd’s main enterprise in the early years was his sawmill business. Ideally located on the Trent Waterway , Boyd floated the massive white pine logs to his mill at the foot of the lock. The dam at Buckhorn (completed in 1844) raised the water levels and forced several re-organizing of the locks & sawmills to the point where Boyd moved his sawmill to a new (and much larger site) on the south-east end of the island In 1855, the government commissioned a series of colonization roads to open up the Ottawa-Huron Tract north of the Kawartha Lakes . The Bobcaygeon Road was to be a key piece of this scheme and Bobcaygeon Village was to be the start point for the new road. It had regular steam boat connections with both Peterborough (via Bridgenorth) and Lindsay. All the settlers for Haliburton County flowed through Bobcaygeon until the Victoria Railway diverted the flow in 1876. The village prospered and became the largest community in the area. The village contained several large hotels and numerous stores to service travelers on the Road, local farmers & the lumber industry, then approaching its zenith

The village grew up on the 3 islands and on the north shore where a separate village called Rokeby was surveyed by the government. In 1876 the rival villages amalgamated so they could boast 1,000 residents & qualify for incorporated village status. The name Rokeby disappeared

The Boyds branched out and formed the Kawartha Navigation Company with numerous steam boats that plied the Kawartha Lakes for several decades until the age of steam passed by World War I. They also dabbled in livestock breeding. But the Boyds really wanted a railway for their businesses and when the Victoria Railway was planned in the early 1870s, they tried desperately to get the line to cross the Kawartha Lakes at Bobcaygeon. Unfortunately their designs were stymied by Verulam Township Council who refused to grant a bonus to the company. Fenelon Falls was not so cheap and won the railway. Fenelon’s rise was Bobcaygeon’s demise and the population actually declined in Bobcaygeon as Fenelon’s grew. Bobcaygeon eventually got its railway in 1904, but by then it was too late. The Boyd Family closed their big sawmill in 1898 and the village languished even further

The prosperity brought by the mills and the Road led to a number of prominent industries in the village. The Boyd Family built a series of large, lavish houses along the canal. The only one that survives today is the Boyd office, now a museum/library. The numerous Boyds also had a private school in the office. The Teachers, a Mr. & Mrs. Comer started a private school for boys called Hillcroft in town. This large structure was converted to a hospital (with 18 beds) in 1958. The small hospital operated until closed by the Ontario Government in the 1970s

Bobcaygeon also contained all the DNA structures of an established village: 4 churches, high school, newspaper, sawmill, grist mill, Orange Lodge, agricultural fair and numerous businesses. The Trent Canal also contributed to its prosperity, particularly in later years when tourism climbed to the number one industry in the area. Today the village has become a retirement destination, with both condominiums and estates gracing the local lakes. Today probably known for shopping at the Bigley Shoes & Clothings store.

Info from see http://www.kinmount.ca/friends_vol4_iss_3.php

The sorrowful bit of news at the Pinecrest Nursing Home with the Covid-19 outbreak surely must have rocked their families and everyone in this small community. It brought back some of the memories of what we experienced when I was married in 1965 and we settled into the village until 1967. Here are some of them.

The Bank of Montreal where I worked at their Burlington Branch had at that time a unique program where young men (not many women) were trained on the job in order to gain experience at BMO banking. They were often promoted by a move from branch to branch to enhance their banking expertise.

BMO in 1964

In April 1964 I was promoted Assistant to the Manager in the small 7 person branch in Bobcaygeon. My annual salary would rise to $2,700 per year. When I was told that my transfer was in, I had no idea where Bobcaygeon was, had never heard the name, and figured it was close to Wawa, ON. (this was a standard joke about that ‘infamous’ move you could ‘earn’ to the far – north lands of Canada)

So off I went from Burlington to Bobcaygeon in my 1956 Pontiac via QE, 401, Highway 115, 35 & 36 and arrived in the town with a population of approx. 600. The town was a renowned fishing and vacationing spot but more known to fishermen (even those from the USA) then the average ‘Joe Blow’ like myself. (I remember we had a well-to-do USA client at the bank who loved to hand out $2.00 bills for in the US the ‘deuce’ was no longer in circulation).

Arrangements had been made with a widow lady (Mrs. Clark) for me to board with and I would travel home every week-end. Room and board was set at $15.00 a week. Arriving at the branch, an old structure at the south-west side of the locks on Bolton Street I could see on the front above the door that it had formerly, before 1925, been a Molson Bank[1] branch.

In 1965 I got married and had my suit measured at Featherstone Menwear. ($100) My wife and I settled into the upstairs apartment in a mansion of a house (rent was $75.00 a month) on the Bobcaygeon Bolton Street beside the then IGA (now Foodland) store. Dr. Moran [5] had his office on the main floor of the house and we lived upstairs. We had bought our furniture at Knob Hill Furniture and Appliances in Scarborough, ON (owned by Jerry & Janine Lock) $1700 got us a kitchen table and chairs, stove, frig, bedroom set (bed, mattress & cabinets) and living room chesterfield, table and two chairs. On Sundays we drove to Lindsay to attend Lindsay Christian Reformed Church for worship services. Life here was slower and quieter. Nellie applied to the local hospital run by a Mrs. Stewart and she took a job at $13.00 a day.

Apt on Bolton St beside the IGA

        There were two other dutch families in town. There was the Walhout family and the other Harry VanOudenaaren, a mechanic, who with his family attended the United Church in town.

        At the Bank of Montreal branch I did the accounting and was in charge of the office at the SW corner of Bolton Street by the swing bridge for the boating (lock) canal (Trent Waterway system) between Pigeon Lake and Sturgeon Lake opposite the local hotel.

        Our participation in the life of the town was limited to the Curling Club of which I was appointed secretary immediately as we joined. I had no idea what to do and received all poster events mail addressed to the club by hanging it up in the locker room of the local arena where we practiced the game. I remember I was terribly sore in my arms and shoulders from doing all the sweeping for our team’s stones.

        We would try to go home at least once a month to visit with family and to keep in touch.

        That summer of 1966, the 1956 Pontiac needed almost monthly repairs so a patient at Hillcroft hospital had a 1961 Chevy for sale for $1,100.00 which we bought. This car lasted us till 1968 when we purchase a 1965 red Pontiac from a Dutchman in Belleville.

        In the Fall (November 1966) the hotel caught fire. We had been at home but most of the town was at the arena watching a hockey game between Buckhorn & Bobcaygeon. As the fire took hold the fire department was called but there was no answer (it was a volunteer fire department) because the fire chief and most volunteers were at the hockey game.

        It was told that the person who first saw the fire ran across the two bridges and arriving at the fire hall sounded the alarm and started back with the fire engine.

Nellie suddenly said: ‘I smell smoke’. We checked the apartment but did not see anything and then decided to look outside and ‘Wow’ the whole hotel was on fire. People were shouting in the street and the building next to the hotel was threatening to burn. More fire engines were called in from Lindsay & Fenelon Falls to fight the blaze. At one point we started to move [4] our furniture and other stuff into our car as the cinders from the fire came down in huge volume onto the apartment roof and it looked like it also may go up in flame.

        After some hours the fire was contained and we spent the night at the Walhout’s home.

        The next morning we moved the furniture back into the house and I filed a claim with the insurance. We got $70.00 for cleaning and damage. The hotel was a mess through the winter and was finally cleared up in March of 1967.

Hotel after the fire Nov 1966

        Shortly thereafter I received a transfer to BMO Stirling, ON, a small town near Belleville, a promotion.

JS

      Names I remember: Bobcaygeon Independent; IGA store; Devitt store; Purdy; Junkin; Need; Read; Nichols; Thompson; Poole; Clark; Jermyn; Mr. Daniels, Bank Manager; Jean & Eddie; Mr. James, the local cop; Dr. Thomas; Jack Featherstone; Bob Jokinen, the pharmacist; Mr. Strickland; Gladys Thorne; Mr. Ross; Purdy’s Garage; Chinese restaurant; Clark barbershop.

Kawartha Diaries (now famous for its ice cream) was established by Jack & Ila Crowe in 1937, its head-office is still in Bobcaygeon. http://kawarthadairy.com/about-us/

[1] See BMO history: https://www.bmo.com/bmo/files/images/4/1/BMOHistoryEng.pdf

Bank of Montreal’s branch network was strengthened yet again in 1925 by a merger with Montreal-based Molsons Bank, founded in 1853, whose 125 branches were mostly in rural Ontario and Quebec. The ties between Bank of Montreal and the Molsons were close. The Molson family had been shareholders of Bank of Montreal since 1823. John Molson, founder of Canada’s oldest brewery, was President of Bank of Montreal in 1826, and family members had always served on the bank’s board. When the Molsons Bank recorded a severe decline in profits in the early 1920s, its then President, Fred Molson, initiated negotiations with his cousin, Col. Herbert Molson, a director of Bank of Montreal. All Molsons employees were given either employment or life pensions

[4] We were about 4 buildings up the street from the fire.

[5] I recall an unfortunate accident occurred in the 1966-67 winter, Dr. Moran, Ross Poole and one other person were in the habit of ‘ski-dooing’ on Pigeon Lake. Although they were well acquainted with the region, one night all 3 of them skidooed into the open channel and drowned.

Good Friday 2020

Email sent to family: (April 10, 2020)

It is now the 75th day since the virus landed in ON, Canada. (January 25)

We have been home now for 4 weeks and it looks like that may stretch into another 4 weeks or maybe more…… who knows, will we ever get back to NORMAL? Many say: No way! Things will be changed forever. Perhaps we can look back when it is all over, that this change was a chance for a NEW beginning.

We have not been out shopping since March 12 although A. has gotten us some bread, bananas and a few other little things, we still have enough for now. The fancy stuff will need to wait. We are thinking of maybe next Wednesday to stock up our small supply and go to No Frills or Fresco. Our toilet paper is holding out; but soon…………

This infrequent kind of shopping is not helping the economy!

We have taken some walks in the neighbourhood and noticed that the shrubs and trees are starting to bud. Rhubarb is pushing up in the garden.

It is difficult to plan ahead. All events and meetings are on hold. The annual BFM Thrift Store volunteer appreciation dinner for Apr 18 will not be happening.

Had a Zoom session with some of my Ambassadors singers yesterday and they are talking of August events, but I doubt whether that will ever happen.

Yesterday we also had a church zoom prayer meeting but it had bad audio and very repeated prayer requests. Some 22 people joined the zoom session. Not sure this a good and edifying way to connect. (one participant answered the phone on screen and had a conversation with the caller for a while?)

P. emailed us a ‘Good Friday’ zoom service at church for later today and we will have one at our church for Easter Sunday? We will see…..

We are reading a book about the French resistance activities during WW2. What a bad time that was…….. see https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21853621-the-nightingale …….what we are experiencing today is a ‘walk in the park’ as they say.

Weather-wise it has been a few good days and so we have done some yard work because on Monday will be the first yard-waste pickup. I think the lawn will need to be mowed soon. All the crocuses and snowdrops are finished blooming. How quick it goes.

Saw some snow this morning at the end of the rain but now it is sunny and very windy.

We are trusting that you are all well and pray for those who need to attend to our essential services especially the few of you who are working in health-care and others who meet directly with the public.

We pray God will keep you safe.

Seems everyone at this time is still working and we hope and pray that will continue.

Watched a video this morning from G. Christian school where Z. is the music program leader. A very nice chapel video with singable Christian songs especially aimed at the kids.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1u9iFswMlnt8o4DyNnQMB1ltKF2I8c_Fb/view

Not sure when schools will start again, the last I heard was that the public schools will remain closed till May 6th.

Blessings to K. who has had eye surgery. Pray for healing ‘eradication’ of the tumour in her eye. 

Wishing you all a Good Friday and a Blessed Easter!

The Lord has risen, he has risen indeed! Take Care!

JS

Here is a link to the Dutch Easter hymn ‘Daar juicht een toon’. A song I remember singing in de Kerk in Groningen with the congregation and a big organ.

You can find the translation https://hymnal.rcnz.org.nz/Hymns/Hymn296_A_shout_rings_out,_a_joyful_voice.np.pdf

Here is the ‘Nederland Zingt’ video:

https://nederlandzingt.eo.nl/lied/daar-juicht-een-toon-daar-klinkt-een-stem/POMS_EO_1529746?cHash=d3455777ed6cbea2f0bcceacace4c3b6

A neighbourhood at (anxious) rest….

April 6, 2020

It seems that my neighbourhood has come to rest, that is the traffic on streets is less. The people in my community are coming into the streets. They are walking, jogging and working outside on their gardens. As we walk down the sidewalks everyday we meet people who when they see us will cross the street or move to the side to provide a larger space for us to pass. Social-distancing it is now called. A friendly gesture to keep us safe. Give no chance for virus spreading in this time of the Corona.

As I look down the street it reminds me of the days in the 1950’s when the traffic was light, especially on Sundays as all the stores were closed. So again today, only essential businesses are allowed to be open. We are told that the air pollution is way down and some experts suggest that maybe the environment will get its much deserved rest from human exploitation and nature will rebound with freshness and renewal.

There is also big caution and concern that less human activity will hurt people in their ability to look after their personal and family needs. No migrant workers, no harvest. Businesses (small (many) businesses especially) with no work will go bankrupt, people will be unemployed, rent payments and mortgages will be postponed, goods and services will be reduced to a trickle. Depression and anxiety will rise because of uncertainty and despair among the masses. Pensions will empty out of funds. Hospitals and staff are already cramped with fewer medical supplies and ability to take care for people who have the virus. Society as we know it, will ground to a halt. Of course most dire predictions are about the economy, the Canadian stock market down again today by 113 point to an index at 12,576. Banking will see great monetary pressures. Government leaders will be become irritable as civil and authority conditions deteriorate. Even now countries trying to procure medical supplies are getting irritated by others pirating their intended supply shipments. Unity and co-operational support for each other is turning into each country for itself.

Above all there is the darkness of not knowing what next week will bring. There are predictions but it is not possible to piece the darkness we feel and see threatening its way into our communities.

In the book of Ecclesiastes it reads: ‘above all get wisdom’. Let wisdom speak in this day and age. Let the wise say: If one falls we can all fall. One link can break the chain that holds back the virus enemy. 

A quote from Patrick Henry ‘Now is the time for all great men to come to the aid of their (party) country’.

Our country, our people are in need. Thanks for the front line workers, doctors, nurses and other essential workers. They are truly practicing the words of Jesus: ‘this is what our Scriptures come to teach: in everything, in every circumstance, do to others as you would have them do to you’.

Even by staying home…..you show loving concern for your neighbours. Practice it and be content. Wear your masks.

This too will pass!

Pray God for the virus to stop.

Confirmed cases:  Canada: 16,438; deaths 321 2%     USA: 36,2573; deaths 10,720  3%    World: 1,339,548; deaths 74,395 over 6%

Covid – 19

March 18, 2020 this is day 54 since the official announcement in (BC) Canada (January 25, 2020) that the virus is now among us.      

Stats as of March 17 are: Across Canada 558 confirmed, 12 recovered, 8 deaths, 21 pending.

We had known it would come but took a wait-see attitude. ‘we’ll deal with it when it arrives’ and when it did we said that is only one, we can manage.

Should we have stopped the inbound people and checked them for the virus when they got off the plane? Quarantined the whole plane load? Maybe we should have, in hindsight. However, how do you stop something you cannot detect by sight? or smell?

We are in it now ‘lock, stock and barrel’ as the saying goes.

The good thing about it is that Canadians are rallying around our leadership who been most promising with generous assistance of finances,services and good medical advice that will (hopefully) help everyone through this period of our ‘virus war’. We have learned from earlier  episodes of disasters; war; 9/11; and 2008 meltdown, that if we do not help each other using our own resources, all of us ( not just a few ‘unlucky ones’) will need to step up to preserve our own health, wealth, safety, prosperity and happiness. In other words ‘if one member suffers all suffer’ words the Apostle Paul wrote 2000 years ago to the Christian community in Corinth.

It feels odd, having to watch out for who you meet with and what you touch. Social distancing is now the key word. Don’t congregate or stand close to people. I filled up with gas this morning and noticed that I and others automatically stood 3 ft away from the others paying our bill.

 The invention of the internet has now come to help us with this disruption of community life and I believe will impact and change our lives going forward in yet unknown ways..

Virtual meetings, shows, church services, events, sports, gatherings and on-line class room education is blossoming. Purchases and email or virtual contacts will increase exponentially as we ramp up our use of this wonderful and powerful technology.

Yet we need to keep vigilant now. As our PM said: Keep an eye on your family and neighbours and make sure we cover for each other. If you are abroad, come home. Home; your place of comfort and security especially if you have to self-isolate.

Our neighbours are rushing to be home from Florida in the next few days.

Already this morning we found a note in our mailbox that our neighbours sent, volunteering to help with shopping etc. Other neighbours also sent us an email telling us to call or email if we need assistance.

These are turbulent times. We are in crisis. We are sad. We are watchful.

And yet in all these things there was a beautiful sunrise this morning giving us an assurance of the presence of GOD.

It reminded me of the hymn: When morning gilds the skies, my soul awaking cries: May Jesus Christ be praised.

And Jesus promise in his sermon on the mount: Do not worry what you shall eat or drink or wear for your Father God knows that you need all these things. But seek and do right acts and those things will be provided. (Good news)

Rest in the Lord; be safe. Keep healthy. Be a good neighbour.

JS

Forgiveness

 ON THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS

 I said: I am not praying for the forgiveness of sins anymore.
 It’s old fashioned, for I know now that I am a child of God.

 You said: Jesus died because of your sins.
  
 I said: I have turned my life around, repented and confessed
 Am now living out of God’s goodness and mercy.

 You said: Jesus died because of your sins.
  
 I said: I now live in the love of God
 And did acknowledge once long ago 
 That I am a sinner, forgiven 
 Sealed by the Spirit, done once and for all.

 You said: Jesus died because of your sins.
  
 I said: But as Christ who was once crucified,
 Died and was buried of which I remember and
 Celebrate, partaking in the Lord Supper. 
 Repeats do not change.

 You said: Jesus died because of your sins
  
 I said: I know my only comfort in life and in death
 Is because Jesus paid the price for me.
 I must now go and claim his promises.

 You said: Jesus died because of your sins.
  
 I said: I know my Christian calling, so I help
 Where’re I can to give a cup of cold water,
 Living for God and my neighbour.

 You said: Jesus died because of your sins.
  
 I said: You show me again and again 
 how to walk with you on the paths of the righteous 
 for your name sake and by your mercy.

 He said: Though your sins be as scarlet 
 They shall be as white as……….
  
 I interrupted Him and said: I know all that but 
 why again and again and again.
 
 You replied: Because I love you, I died to take away your sins. 
  
 JS



"Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift."
  
 2nd letter to the Corinthians chapter 9 verse 15