May 19, 2022
Somewhere over Khartoum
First of all, I should say that I’m sending this to anyone who I think might be interested—but if you’d rather not get these emails, let me know and I’ll take you off the list. And for Pete’s sake, please don’t press reply all!
As I write this, I’m 4 hours and 46 minutes away from landing in Antananarivo, Madagascar. A group of ten of us—almost all are students at Andrews University—set out from JFK about 5:45 pm Wednesday.
Well—my day started a lot earlier than everyone else’s. I gave up trying to sleep about 3:45 and was out the door by 5:20, on the way to Groome Transportation in Chattanooga. I slept almost the entire trip to Atlanta where I grabbed an early morning flight to JFK. I was efficiently through security within just a few minutes, and was whisked halfway across the airport to find my gate within just a few minutes.
My arrival at JFK was met with frustration, however, because they couldn’t find someone to open the door and send out the jetway. We waited on the plane for an extra 15 or 20 minutes before they could even begin to let us off. I finally got myself, my bag, and my backpack off the plane and began to look for the next gate. Surely, I thought, it would just be a few minutes of walking.
Oh no it wasn’t! After walking about 32 miles, I encountered a subway car. I’m used to riding on a train in the airport, but I’m not used to it sending me OUT of security along the way! I walked right past the baggage carousel for my flight (I was told not to check a bag because I wouldn’t have time to get it) before finally making it to the Air France baggage claim.
I had taken a Covid test the day before (it was negative), but they didn’t like my test. They had to call someone over before realizing that I was right all along (this will be a theme on this trip). We slowly began to meet up as a group upstairs in the food court. A couple hamburgers later and I felt slightly revived and ready to go back through security.
Remember how I said I was through Atlanta security in just a few minutes? To get to the front of the line at JFK took close to 45 minutes. Then their security procedures proved to be much less efficient. Finally, however, we all made it to security. Then it was just a few minutes to our gate.
Part way through security my suitcase handle broke. I went to price a new one in one of the shops along the breezeway--$299! So I’m working with a broken suitcase. But it’s been a good and faithful servant since my first Madagascar trip eleven years ago, so after this trip (or maybe during), it will be allowed to retire.
Daniel bought a neck pillow for $21 and managed to break it as he was showing it to us. That gave me several hours of good material for picking on him. I went to the little market by the gate looking for gummy bears. Two bags cost $17. I’ve been rationing them.
The boarding process was uneventful. I wound up sitting next to Raleigh on the flight. Daniel was right behind me, Jason behind him, and Cyril behind him. Elsie sat next to Cyril (with an empty seat between them). It was at this point that I got word that Allen—our guitar teacher for the trip—hadn’t been allowed to board due to not having his Covid results yet. He was able to get a later flight and met up with us in Paris. Daniel’s hair is starting to gray at the temples and his small bald spot is beginning to grow.
The food on the flight was quite good (pasta and a brownie for supper, bread and a muffin for breakfast), but I couldn’t get comfortable. It was a seven hour flight that felt like 18. Every time I looked up to see how much longer, it felt like the number was getting bigger instead of smaller! I did manage to doze a little, but not much. Cyril didn’t seem to try at all—he watched movie after movie. Raleigh slept all night (though he’d argue and say that he was awake. Daniel also managed to sleep some. I was very jealous. I didn’t actually start falling asleep until they started the descent.
We landed in Paris between midnight and one o’clock EDT, which was about 6:00. We traveled about 19 miles from our gate looking for our connecting flight—which somehow was on the other side of security again! We waited longer in Paris than in New York before I had my toothpaste and deodorant confiscated by an angry AST agent. We FINALLY made it to our gate and I was able to lay down on the floor. So far the group travels well together, though I’m constantly doing a head count. I told them the story of Joel being arrested in Berlin and they laughed at the punchline.
As soon as I found my seat on the flight to Madagascar, I fell asleep. We waited about half an hour on the ground, but then were up, up, and away (as they say). I for several hours before needing to do some paperwork and make concert programs. We land about 11 pm Malagasy time and stay in some guest rooms owned by the Union. I hope there will be hot water. I really need a shower!
Much love to all!
I've been a Seventh-day Adventist since birth--and I've been a baptized member for nine of my 22 years. For all those years I've heard my pastors, teachers, and parents say "Jesus is coming again!" or "Jesus is coming soon!"
I've sung all the songs, watched the lectures, taken the classes, and visited all the Adventist Historical sites. I am the perfect, stereotypical Adventist. The date October 22 has always had an ominous ring to it, though nothing bad has ever happened to me on it.
Then today in my Old Testament Studies class, I was given a new way to look at this date. October 22nd wasn't the Great Disappointment, as all of us in the church call it. It was the Great Anticipation. Our ancestors believed that Jesus was going to come back to earth, to take them out of this sin sick world.
October 23rd was the day of disappointment. When the clock stuck midnight on that cold morning the hopes of many were crushed. Hiram Edson said, "We wept and wept until the day dawn." Many of these early Adventists left the movement. They had been disappointed several times earlier, and this was the final straw.
But the reason I know that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is on a mission sent from God is this: we still exist. We shouldn't. Everyone should have given up after October 22, 1844, but they didn't. In December of 1844 William Miller wrote in the Midnight Cry, "I have set my mind on another time, and here I mean to stand until God gives me more light. And that [the time God gives me more light] is today, Today, and TODAY until He comes."
In the days surrounding the Disappointment God's truth was given to many, and shared with all who would listen. They had the right day, but the wrong event. Jesus wasn't supposed to come to earth that day, but instead was to enter the Most Holy Place in Heaven to act as our Lawyer.
F. E. Beldon's song says it best:
We know not the hour of the Master's appearing;
But signs all foretell that the moment is nearing
When He shall return--'tis the promise most cheering--
But we know not the hour.
He will come, [He will come]
Let us watch and be ready
He will come, [He will come]d
He will come in the clouds of His Father's bright glory
But we know not the hour.
We don't know when Christ will return, but that doesn't matter. We know THAT He will come, and that's all that matters.
Father, we know that Your Son has promised to come back to this earth to take us to Heaven to live with You there. May that coming be soon, but more importantly, may we be ready for His coming. This is my prayer for all those who read this. I pray this in the name of Jesus--He who came to earth, died as a the substitution for our death penalty, rose again on the third day, and is now in Heaven as our advocate. Amen.
Cahill, Thomas. How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe. New York: Anchor , Doubleday, 1996. Print.
Just over two months ago I went on a trip to Europe, where I got to experience many of the most important places in history. When I was over there I remembered something I learned about in Dr. Haluska’s English Literature class—the White Martyrdom.
There are actually three colors of martyrdom:
1) The traditional Red Martyrdom which spilled the blood of countless (mostly early) Christians. Of this Martyrdom Tertullian said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
2) The Green Martyrdom was a way for Irish clerics to copy the early desert hermits. They moved away from civilization, hoping to find God in the solitude and beauty of nature, as well as in the written Word of God.
These hermitages very quickly became monasteries, and the monasteries quickly became cultural centers at a time when all of civilization was collapsing (the mid-to-late fifth century to the early-to-mid sixth century—when Rome was collapsing). They collected books from all over the known world, on topics both sacred and secular.
3) The most moving to me (at this point) is the White Martyrdom. There was a main priest of the monetary, who was called the Abbot. Under the Abbot were twelve priests who were awaiting ordination. When they had learned and grown enough to be ordained, they were charged with the task of starting a new monetary, and in doing so they would spread the Gospel of Christ with the pagans they came in contact with.
It wasn’t as easy as it is now, though, to move to a faraway land. These freshly ordained Abbots oftentimes didn’t even know where they were going. They would just pack a small boat and sail into the white, foggy morning—never to be heard from by their friends again. Some didn’t even pack oars, instead trusting God to guide them.
They didn’t just drop off the face of the earth, though. They witnessed to much of Europe, making their way as far west as modern-day Kiev in Ukraine. They formed new monasteries in places like Salzburg and Vienna, Liège and Würzburg.
James Bullock remarked, “All England north of the Thames was indebted to the Celtic mission for its conversion” because the British Christians hated their Saxon invaders—the same people who had pushed them out of their lands into modern-day Wales. It was the Celtic missionary martyrs who brought the gospel to England.
As I mentioned, I got the idea for this post from a lecture from Dr. Haluska’s English Literature class. He quoted from a book by Thomas Cahill: “How the Irish Saved the World,” which I read in preparation for this article.
I had to write a real, honest-to-goodness professional, scholarly book review for a summer class, and I really loved it. The book was great, and the process of writing the review was fun!
So here is what I am going to do—or at least attempt to do—I am going to review every book I read (for fun) and write a blog about it. The will not necessarily be scholarly reviews, but will tell some of what I learned, and my observations along the way.
I do not promise one a week, but that is my goal. I most certainly do NOT promise to only write about scholarly type books. I love a good Nancy Drew mystery, and you should remain unconcerned if I review Bunny’s New Shoes.
This is a project that will help me 1) blog more frequently, and 2) read more for pleasure.
Feel free to recommend books for me to read, but I make no promises. Thanks for reading! Be sure to comment!
Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven. By John Eliot Gardiner (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. XXXIV + 629 pp. Illustrations, chronology, glossary, notes, and index.)
The sacred vocal music of Johann Sebastian Bach is considered to be some of the greatest ever written; however, many feel that these great works are relics of a bygone era instead of pieces that are relevant to modern people, whether professing Christians or not. In his book Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven, John Eliot Gardiner puts this music of Bach into its proper social, religious, and historical contexts to show its relevance today.
Gardiner was raised in a “family where it was considered perfectly normal to sing...” (Gardiner 2) and, almost from the womb, was exposed to the unaccompanied choral music of the greatest composers of the Renaissance and Baroque eras. In addition to being exposed at an early age to vocal music, he was raised under the gaze of Johann Sebastian Bach. His parents had been entrusted with one of only two surviving paintings of Bach. From an early age it seemed as if the lives of these two musicians were to be intertwined.
Gardiner was taught and nurtured by some of the most important music teachers in the world, including Imogen Holst (the wife of composer Gustav Holst), Wilfred Brown, and Nadia Boulanger (who taught a who’s who list of composers and musicians), all of whom encouraged his love for Early music. He has conducted since the mid-1960s, focusing his attention on authentic Early music performance practice. His ensembles were some of the first to attempt to play Baroque music on historically informed instruments. His decades of scholarship and study have made him a widely trusted source in his field.
In the year 2000, John Eliot Gardiner and his ensembles set out on the “Bach Cantata Pilgrimage,” an amazing undertaking which resulted in recordings of the almost two hundred sacred cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach. They performed the cantatas appropriate for the week’s lectionary readings in venues all around the world.
In his book, Gardiner puts the music of Bach into many different contexts. He puts it in the historical context of Germany in the years before the Enlightenment and he also shows Sebastian Bach as the greatest composer in his family (who had all been professional musicians for generations). After developing these ideas, he compares Bach to other influential composers of his time—people like Domenico Scarlatti, George Frederic Handel, and Georg Philipp Telemann.
It is only after Gardiner firmly places these ideas into context, allowing the audience to see through his eyes, that he beings to talk about the music of Sebastian Bach. Then slowly, little by little, Gardiner unmasks Bach. He shows the composer not as some sort of demigod, but as a human. The audience can see the struggles he had submitting to authority, but can also see how desperately he wanted to use his work and talents to glorify God.
Johann Sebastian Bach was not just a composer. He was a theologian, at least to some degree. He studied his Bible and knew it well. He was familiar with the various commentaries available during his lifetime, and used all the information he gleaned from them in his music. He took his job, as described by Martin Luther, seriously. Luther said that music “is to give expression and added eloquence to biblical texts: the notes make the words live” (Gardiner 129), which is exactly what Bach’s music did wonderfully.
I have been in awe of the music of Bach for about three-and-a-half years, during which time I have studied and learned a lot. Until reading Gardiner’s book, however, I have not seen Bach so much as a person, but as some sort of superhuman, super-Christian composer who understood all things theological and musical. As I read his book, though, I was encouraged to find that Bach is a lot like me: stubborn to the point of stupidity, but always striving.
John Eliot Gardiner did an excellent job of staying fairly neutral in this book. His passion is obvious, but he seemed to be fair in his statements of opinion, citing many reputable sources, including primary source documents. His assumptions seem reasonable, and his knowledge of the subject is obvious. His sources come from a wide pool, including hundreds of years of scholarship in many different fields. He cites a wide range of musicians (including Michael Praetorius and Richard Wagner), authors (John Milton, John Butt, and Montaigne), at least one pastor (Martin Luther), and a professed atheist (György Kurgág) who finds it hard to keep his belief when listening to the music of Bach.
This is a very thorough book, though I would like to see how someone from a different background would handle the information. I would have also liked to have seen more time spent on the instrumental music by Bach, which was not really discussed (though it is understandable since Gardiner is more familiar with the vocal repertoire). There was, also, no examination of Bach’s organ music (for which he was famous, even in his own life).
This book is intended for musicians. A non-musician would be lost very quickly when Gardiner begins to describe and discuss various pieces of music. He assumes his audiences has at least a basic knowledge of music theory, formal analysis, and is at least somewhat familiar with Bach’s biography. A basic knowledge of Latin and German would also come in handy, though is not necessary. Knowledge of, or at least a familiarity with, the Early music repertoire is useful.
Overall this is a very well-written book. As a musician I was on the edge of my seat several times as his descriptions of the music were getting exciting. His facts and observations were very interesting, and he has a very clean style of writing. His use of musical descriptions were necessary, but they were also a downside since they made the chapters quite lengthy and thick. This is not a book for someone looking for light reading, but for someone interested in the topic, it is an invaluable text.
Gardiner, John Eliot. Bach: music in the castle of heaven. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. Print.
"John Eliot Gardiner." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 July 2014. Web. 29 July 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Eliot_Gardiner>.
Date: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 (for Tuesday, July 15, 2014)
Time: 7:12 pm local, EST
There really are very few words more beautiful in the English language than home--unless one includes such words as Big Franks and drinking fountains.
My alarm was set to ring at 4:45 am Tuesday morning, but I had already woken up by the time it rang. It wasn't because I was excited, but because it was so hot. I finally just gave up. I took a shower, got dressed, and finished my packing. Then, with much delight, I threw the remainder of my loaf of bread out the window and into the lake (I think it was a lake). One duck ate quite consitently and a swarm of seagulls divebombed the rest of the bread.
We left the hotel by 5:55, I carried my overstuffed backpack and pulled my small, light suitcase behind me. In front of me I pushed Kaiti's very large, heavy suitcase which I had volunteered to bring home so that they didn't need to lug it around Spain for the next week. It was about a ten minute walk from our hotel to the train station. We got on the train and had a (basically) private car for the hour-and-a-half ride to the airport. During that time Joel and I (but mostly Joel) wrote the Twelve Days of Christmas, a la Wholer's Europe Tour:
On the twelfth day of Europe, Wholers gave to me:
Twelve art museums
Eleven pricey meals
Ten small hotel rooms
Time in nine countries
Eight hours of train rides
Seven lectures, too
Five chocolate treats!
Four times getting lost
Three loud Argentines
Two hot night on a train
And a Eurorail pass that Chris lost.
Please note that none of these numbers are accurate (except the last three).
We got off the train which stopped in the airport. We went up a couple of excalators and made it to the Delta check-in window. I was very nervous that they would ask questions about Kaiti's suitcase--or even worse charge me for its weight. But they didn't. It was ever so slightly overweight, but they were nice and didn't charge.
I easily made it through security, and was the first one to our gate. I found a small waiting area and got comfortable so that I could read for the hour before the plane started loading. After I had been reading for half-an-hour an announcement came over the loudspeaker asking for volunteers to sit in the emergency exit row. When I had originally checked in I had asked for an aisle seat, but they said the only one was in the emergency exit row, which would cost an additional E80. But I got to the counter fast enough to get the same seat for free!
I got to sit next to Allison Brown, who became a pretty good friend of mine, but it didn't help the trip! It was so incredibly long! It lasted about 9 hours, but it felt like twice that. I watched a lot of movies, but got horribly sick of it!
We were scheduled to land in Atlanta at 2:51, but we managed to get there at 2:37 instead, which was nice. I was the first of our group to get off the plane, followed quickly by Allison. We were also the first through customs and to the baggage check area. I was waylayed slightly because I had brought back bulbs and chocolate, but I had no real problems. I truthfully answered the questions they asked me, but I didn't volunteer any information (unlike Chris who volunteered way too much information). After collecting Kaiti's bag, I left the baggage claim area and found Dad who was waiting in the long receiving line.
We left the airport, and began driving home, missing bad traffic. We stopped at the Taco Bell about an hour out of Atlanta, then sped home so that I could eat Big Franks. Then it was time for Doc with the family, then bed: blessed bed.
This afternoon (Wednesday) I had some free time, so I decided to attempt some math. My (very broad) estimate for mileage, from my door and back, including airfare, was 12,862 miles, approximately 140 of which were on foot. I visited 9 countries (10 if you count Vatican City as its own country) and spent 28 days with 25 new friends. I completely ignored the world cup, but felt like part of it anyway, since all the Europeans were watching their teams win or lose. I studied thousands of years worth of history, culture, art, and rulers. I now know a little bit more about politics, and feel a little less like I know it all. That's the beauty of international travel.
This is the last blog installment for my Europe 2014 study tour. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your prayers and support. It has been greatly appreciated. I would also like to publically thank Bill Wohlers, though he will probably never read it. In my opinion, Dr. Wohlers, you went above and beyond what was expected of you. I enjoyed most of the tour, and I learned so much. You showed a compassion for and interest in all your students, and I appreciate all the hard work you put in to making this trip amazing.
Love to all!
Date: Tuesday, July 14, 2014 (for Monday, July 15, 2014)
Time: 5:22 pm European Time/11:22 am EST
Place: Over Newfoundland, heading toward Boston. 2960 miles from Brussels, 1468 miles from home. Longitude 60 degrees 59' 17" West. Latitude 44 degrees 48' 36" North. Remaining time in flight, 3 hours 13 minutes.
We ate breakfast at 8 o'clock on Monday morning, which was the latest we've gotten to eat. We left the hotel a few minutes before 9 o'clock so that we could meet up with our walking tour guide, Ann.
Ann is a very happy woman, about 5' tall, and not quite as wide, but fairly close. Her personality and style of dress reminded me of Becky, which gave us a very fun and lively tour.
Ann led us through the same part of town we had explored the day before, but we got to hear all of the stories this time (there was no motor getting in our way.
We crossed a bridge and walked into a gated community from the 13th or 14th century. This is where the original Women's Lib ladies lived. They didn't want to have to be married. They wanted their independence, so they basically lived like nuns and dressed like nuns. Instead of praying like nuns, however, they went out and worked. The gate to their community was locked from 6:30 in the evening until 6:30 in the morning. I think I could handle living there, at least for the most part.
The next highlight we got to see was the Wall of Beer. In the country of Belgium there are 1,132 locally produced beers, and there is one bottle of each on this wall. There are fewer lectures I've been given that were more awkward than having someone lecture a group of 26 Adventists (most of whom have never drunk a drop in their lives) about beer.
Our next stop was the town square, but to get there we walked through several of the shopping streets. I saw several lace shops, and even saw a lace loom (I'm not quite sure that's the right word, but I don't have a better one at this point). I would have liked to see it done, but we do what we can...
We were released by about noon, after giving a special book to Dr. Wohlers and Rita that we had all signed. At this point we also bid a fond farewell to the Laughlins (who left at noon to fly to Spain for the rest of this week).
By noon we were on our own, though I stayed with Kathy. We went into a couple of shops, including a shop where they make and sell chocolate. I didn't see how they made it, but I got to buy some for the family.
Kathy, Chris, Anastasia, and I all decided that we wanted to go to Gent in the afternoon. Gent is a city about an hour away by train. In it is a beautiful Cathedral (with a an absolutely gorgeous altarpiece) and a 12th century castle. It was a lot of fun.
We got to Gent by about 2 or 2:30 and took a short bus ride over to St. Nicholas' Church. Unfortunately the altarpiece isn't in St. Nicholas, but is instead in (another) St. Baavo's church.
As we walked in we were greeted with choral music performed by a middle school choir from somewhere in the United Kingdom. Their music added a wonderful effect to the church--these old churches were made for music--but it was very hard not to analyze them to death. I thought that they were a very poor choir, but it was wonderful to have them there.
After we had enjoyed their music we each paid our E4 for a ticket into the museum to see the altarpiece that had been painted by the van Eyck brothers around 1425. Even though this was so early in art history, this shows some of the very first attempts at realism. The altarpiece is in 12 different panels, all showing various aspects of worshiping the Lamb (as described in Revelation).
On the right side on the top of the altarpiece is Adam, and on the left top is Eve, showing the importance of Original Sin. I had never realized, but Catholics believe (at least they did at the time of van Eyck) that before the Fall we were in need of Salvation, but we weren't eligible for it until Adam and Eve sinned. It was very complicated, and I don't want to try too hard to explain it, because I probably would mess it up. Suffice it to say, it was full of hooey.
After viewing the Altarpiece and enjoying the audio guide that went with it, the four of us left the church and headed to the 12th century castle which was only a few blocks away. It was built around 1180, but wasn't intended for a king and queen, but (I believe) a count and countess.
Included in our ticket was a movie guide (not an audio guide), but I kind of wish that I hadn't gotten it. The movie really wan't especially factual, or well done. I could have gone through the castle in 20 minutes, but we spent over an hour because we were trying to watch the movie as we went.
Highlights from the castle included a sword that was over 6 feet tall (I took a selfie and it's just as tall as I am), a chapel, a tower where we got to take pictures of the scenery, and a surviving two-seater outhouse which was open at the bottom over the lawn below. I also saw remnants of several other outhouses, too.
We got home from Gent after trying about four train platforms, and I went to the grocery one more time (I was sick of peanut butter sandwiches, so I wanted some cold fettucine alfredo). Then it was back to the room to eat, watch Hogan's Heroes, and go to bed. We had to be up and out by 5:55, so I set my alarm for 4:45 am.
Love to all!
Date: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 (for Sunday, July 13, 2014)
Time: 4:42 pm European time/10:42 am EST
Place: 35,988 feet above the Atlantic ocean, at the very beginning of being over North America. 2,661 miles from Brussels, 1,775 miles from home. Longitude: 54 degrees 48' 11" W. Latitude 45 degrees 56' 17" north.
We left Leiden by about 9 in the morning, walking down to the train station from our hotel. The weather was iffy at best. We were forced to take a total of three trains, finally arriving in Brugge by about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. I spent most of the day dozing, so nothing particularly wonderful happened.
When we arrived in town we were given a few minutes to check into our hotel which was a boat called "De Barge." Joel and I shared a double room. There wasn't a lot of space, but there was plenty to be comfortable. We were told to be back downstairs in about 10 minutes so that we could continue our adventures.
The whole group assembled, and then we walked about 15 minutes to the church of Our Lady (it had a really long Flemish name that I couldn't even hope to pronounce, so I don't remember it). In it is Michelangelo's statue of the Virgin and Child (or some very similar name). It was the only one of Michelangelo's statues to leave Italy during his lifetime.
It was confiscated by Hitler's men during World War II (along with the Gent Altarpiece, which we'll talk about in tomorrow's post) and plays an important role in Monument Men which is a fairly recent movie I haven't been able to finish yet. Suffice it to say, it's beautiful and the church got it back when the war was over.
We really didn't spend that much time in the church since there was really only that one piece of art to see. There were others, but we were very quickly able to see them on the way to the statue.
We left the church and walked across the street to St. John's Hospital which dates from the High Middle Ages. For centuries it was an actual hospital, but in the last hundred years (or maybe even less) it has been turned into a very nice museum.
It contains an altarpiece, dedicated to various St. Johns. I don't remember who is in the middle panel, but St. John the Baptist was shown (decapitated) in the left panel, and St. John the Revelator was shown (in vision) on the right panel. It was really quite remarkable.
Also in the church was a reliquary that (at least at one point) was supposed to hold the relics of St. Ursula. I don't think anyone told me the actual story of St. Ursula, but I like my story better anyway. I think she was a Christian octopus that was killed for her beliefs. But probably not...
Museums close about 5 o'clock in Europe, and the gift shops close even earlier, so I didn't get a postcard of the altarpiece. Too bad.
After finishing up at the hospital we headed over to a place where you get on a tourist boat. As we were trying to all get on the boat we came very close to capsizing, but luckily we managed to not do that. The man driving the boat gave us all sorts of factoids, but I was sitting in the back (as some sort of a ballast, I suppose) so I couldn't hear anything.
After the boat ride (which was quite a lot of fun) we were given free time. It was around 7 by this point, so I went to the grocery story to get some more bread, then went back to the hotel and ate. Over this trip I've managed to introduce Joel to Hogan's Heroes, so we watched four or five episodes. It was a fun way to kill some time before we were ready for bed.
Love to all!
Date: Sabbath, July 12, 2014
Time: 8:35 pm local time (2:35 pm EST)
Place: Leiden, the Netherlands
I’m very overjoyed to let you know that I’m caught up with my blogging. I’m writing today’s post today. How cool is that?!
We started our day quite late today—it was almost 10 o’clock by the time we left our hotel this morning. We walked for about 20 minutes until we got to a place called De Brucht, which was an old fortress. It was fairly private and had steps to sit on, so it was a great place for us to have church, which was put on by Sharon, both Laughlins, and Kathy. I was pulled in to help teach/line out a song. They wanted to sing “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks” but no one knew it. We did managed to get a good chunk to sing it though, and I was very glad of that.
Kathy talked for a while, asking us to look at the characteristics and ideas that we’ve been learning about this month. Specifically the idea of all the enemies. Religious enemies, political enemies—no one was free of enemies it seemed. One innocent Hungarian after World War II was called in for questioning. “Who are your enemies?” he was asked. “I don’t have any enemies,” he replied. “No enemies?” demanded the incredulous guard, “How can you have no enemies?” Then she compared it to what Jesus tells us to do to and for our enemies. We are instructed to pray for them and love them.
Dr. Wohlers walked us into the oldest parts of Leiden after church, where we got to see a church where John Robinson, one of the Puritans, was buried at 49 years. He also showed us the alms house where they lived. Then we took the train a few stops (about 30 minutes or so) to Haarlem.
We got off the train and walked for 15 minutes or so until we found the blue awning with Ten Boom Juweliers written on it. We were finally on Barteljorisstraat! I’ve wanted to come here for most of my life! It was still too early go get into the museum, so we walked through the market square and entered St. Baavo’s church where we got to see the King of all Organs (which is already the king of the instruments). It’s a beautiful, extremely tall and ornate structure, with red wood and gold leaf. Simply gorgeous.
We were given some time to find food and were told to get back to the Beje (ten Boom house) by quarter of one. I managed to get myself separated from everyone else in the group, so I walked around, thinking I knew how to get back (it was only a couple of blocks), but about 12 minutes later I had to go into a shop and ask for directions. It turns out I went the wrong direction out of the market square. But I made it in time.
We entered the Beje and were ushered up to the second floor (Tante Jans’ rooms) and told to sit in her sitting room. There our guide told us their story and showed us pictures of the family. At one point she gave us a chance to stretch our legs, and Dr. Laughlin spied a copy of the words to “You are my hiding place.” I played their piano, and our group sang it. What a perfect song to sing in that place.
We were able to go up to Corrie’s room and see the hidden room. The opening is in the closet, behind the bottom shelf. There is enough standing room behind the wall for eight people, but it would be very tight. There is exactly enough room for them to stand in a line, no movement, no sitting, and no bathroom facilities.
They have removed part of the wall to the hidden room, so I climbed in that way and have my picture taken in the room. I didn’t want to smile, since it’s not a happy room, but it was a place of safety.
Our tour ended in the dining room where every morning and evening Father ten Boom read from the Bible to his family. The family motto, Jesus is Overwinnaar (Jesus is Victorious) is embroidered on a sampler and hanging on the wall. Corrie made another piece of embroidery, which is displayed backward at the beginning of the tour. You see a mess of tangled threads. Then this poem is read:
My life is but a weaving
At this point the sampler is turned over, showing a brilliant crown, revealing God’s ultimate plan for His children.
After the ten Boom house we were released and allowed to go back to the hotel if we wished. Dr. Wohlers had found us an organ concert, though, and both Laughlins, Kathy, Chris Dant, and I went to it. It was all late Romantic/early 20th century French organ works, so not exactly my favorite repertoire, but such a blessing on this Sabbath. The music was simply beautiful and it allowed me to retreat into my thoughts and experience a blessing.
After the concert I got permission to go up into the organ loft to look at the console. When I got up there, there were two organists up there (neither one had played in the concert), and they seemed slightly annoyed that I was there. I was polite and friendly, and they let me look (not play) at the console for a few minutes. Then the male organist walked me down. As we walked down the stairs I dropped the name John Brombaugh (who built the organ) and described the five organs on campus. He was thrilled and said he would look them up. He also said (I think) that he is the organist at the Adventist church in town, which is really quite amazing! It’s a small, small world!
I’m back at the hotel right now, and am trying to stay awake long enough so I can sleep tonight.
Love to all, and I miss you! I’ll be home Tuesday evening!
Date: Sabbath, July 12, 2014 (for Friday, July 11, 2014)
Time: 8:10 pm local time (2:10 pm EST)
Place: Leiden, the Netherlands
We took the train into Amsterdam yesterday, which is about a 20 minute ride. It’s a very nice city, but it’s a little big for my tastes. The very first thing we did after we got off the train was to get on a tour bus to ferry us around while we learned a little bit about the city. Unfortunately I was at the state of being awake or asleep where sleep happened a little bit too easily. So I nodded in and out. It was a lot of fun, to ride the boat, though.
By this time it was lunch time, so Dr. Wohlers released us for an extra-long lunch break. Both Laughlins, Kathy, and I decided to go try the pancakes (which are famous—they are the quintessential Dutch food). They all ordered savory pancakes (with tomatoes, mushrooms, and cheese), but I couldn’t imagine that that would be good, so I ordered mine with ice cream, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream. It came, and it was easily as big as a large pizza from Papa Johns. But I managed to eat it, and boy was it good!
On the way back from eating we stopped at a souvenir shop, then we headed over to the Rijksmuseum, the national art museum, where they had a free app for iPhone, so I was able to take the highlights tour. It took me all around the museum, showing me a self-portrait by van Gogh, the Milkmaid by Vermeer, Rembrandt’s Night Watch, a doll house, tons of model boats, and a folding harpsichord. Not to mention a whole lot else. I got a lot of post cards which I’ll show you when I get home. And the library. Four stories, full! It was great! I would love to have a library that size, but it is probably never to be.
By this time it was time to eat (again—we eat more in this group than we do when all the Raneys are together). After going to Subway, we went to the Anne Frank house, which is extremely well put together. The annex itself is quite small, and, at the request of Otto Frank, Anne’s father, is unfurnished, but it is very well done. Videos add depth and more history to the tour, and Anne’s own words line the walls.
I hadn’t realized that she had dreamed of being a journalist, and maybe even a famous author. She never knew that hers is one of the most read books, and that she is one of the most translated authors in all of history.
I had never actually read her diary, though at one point we had an abridged cassette tape of it. I bought a copy of it at the museum shop. I wish I had more to say about the museum, but there’s not a whole lot that I can say. It is something that has to be experienced. But Otto Frank said something that seems to be the whole idea behind the German philosophy of teaching about the Holocaust. In 1967 he said “To build a future, you have to know the past.” That is what they are doing, both for themselves and for us.
After Anne Frank’s house we came back to the hotel. I stayed up for a while writing and posting blogs. Then I went to bed, and was so very happy to do so!
Love to all!
I'm a Classical musician, a growing Christian, and a world traveler. I'm learning, exploring, and trying to understand this wonderful world I live in.