Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A visit to the town of Erfurt

Time to head south! Today we are leaving Weimer and heading south back to Frankfurt. We are using an online ride-share to get to our destination. We simply go to the ride-share website and type in our current location and desired destination and a list of names of people traveling in that direction appears. You choose a person and a departure date, call them and work out a place for them to pick you up. We pay a small amount for gas (15 euro each) and get to our destination much cheaper than a train or plane. We may stay a day or so in Frankfurt before heading further south to visit friends.
Yesterday a friend of Kimberly’s showed up and invited us to jump on a train to a neighboring town called Erfurt. The adventure started with a dash to the train station to catch the departing train as the doors were about to close. We boarded the train and traveled 23 kilometers to the west. We enjoyed getting to know Carly while she walked us around town. She took us to a great chocolate shop where I had a fantastic cup of drinking chocolate. From the chocolate shop we went for some ice cream near the town center and then visited a large cathedral overlooking the town. While at the cathedral we were entertained by a peculiar event in the corner of the church grounds. Located in this corner was a perpetual mini tornado that tossed leaves into a captivating dance. Erfurt is hosting its own Octoberfest, a giant carnival like atmosphere. We briefly visited one of the beer gardens (a giant tent where food and beer can be purchase and consumed at bench tables). While entering the tent we noticed a man happily dancing on his own. Carly, a lively spirit, thought she would show him a few dance moves of her own. We also visited a ketchup and mustard shop with many varieties of the product. We taste tested onion ketchup, Mexican ketchup, garlic ketchup, curry ketchup, spicy ketchup and regular ketchup. After this experience we were never running behind. We did not need to ketchup (catch-up).

Monday, September 28, 2009

No coincidence here

Yet another unexpected visit to an old friend leads to some pretty great times. We are in Weimar visiting Kimberly, a visit I couldn't have planned in a million years. Kimberly and I met in 2002 on a trip to Belize. We spent some time together in Belize and then were kidnapped by Katie and taken to Seattle for a weekend, where we spent more time together, and that was pretty much it. We eventually went off to different things and we lost contact, but thanks to the virtual land of facebook, we have reconnected, and now we are hanging out in Germany-pretty cool.
I have once again been baffled by God's great hand in our lives. We have had incredible and difficult conversations, but I am amazed how God seems to bring us to places where we, specifically Craig and Mariella-all our problems and quirks included, are to be used by Him to love and be His hands and feet.
Yesterday, Kimberly suggested we attend a small church service near her school. I am amazed to see, yet again, how specific our paths are. I mean we ended up having a great conversation, the sermon or talk that day ws planned to be more of a discussion anyway. It was funny to hear all the things they were thinking about and how it matched up with so much that has seemed to be a theme in the last 90'ish days. These conversations have been happening since we met with Sam Metcalf in Orange County about a month before we left. He gave us a list of book to read, none of which we were able to buy before leaving. In Ireland, our first stop, we talked to Phil and Cheryl and ended up talking about the same things. Phil also had a list of books, some being the same ones that Sam had suggested. Phil gifted Craig a few books and we were off. In Kenya, same conversations; in Sweden, same conversations, and now in Germany, same conversations. I can feel God's leading in such cpecific ways and it feels so good, so good to be in His will. Thanks guys for encouraging us to go on this crazy trip.

Mariella Biking in the Fields of East Germany

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Enjoying our time with Kimberly

While visiting Kimberly we’ve met many of her friends. We’ve spent time with these people at barbeques, dinners, and parties, on bike rides and at art shows. One of her Chinese friends invited us over for some home cooked Chinese food. We found ourselves enjoying the company of people from Australia, Germany, Greece, America, Asia, and South America (Mariella). Unfortunately, we were missing representatives from Africa and Antarctica. On another occasion we enjoyed the company of her bee keeping friend and his family while hanging out and eating the best barbecued bratwurst I’ve ever tasted. Amazing! We enjoyed a nice bike ride this afternoon through parks and cobblestoned streets and next to creeks and rivers. At one point we were riding through fields where we watched hot-air balloons lifting off and moving west as if chasing the sunset. Mariella was so excited she tried to chase down the hot-air balloon,forgetting about her hurt knee and hurting herself a bit-but hey we got a cool video out of it.

Buchenwald Concentration Camp

We visited the Buchenwald Memorial. We were amazed by the size of concentration camp. Some 250,000 inmates were held there and more than 55,000 lost their lives. It was heartbreaking to walk the grounds where so many atrocities took place. The wrought-iron gate that leads into the camp has the cynical inscription “Jedem das Seine” (“To each his own”). The gate separated the former SS area from the main camp. During the visit we entered the western gated area of Buchenwald that was referred to as the “Bunker”. SS guards tortured and murdered prisoners on the orders of the Gestapo and the camp commandant. In 1940 a crematorium was built inside the camp, making it easier to dispose of the bodies of those who had been killed. Prior to cremation, the bodies were plundered on the dissection tables. In the basement of this area the SS murdered approximately 1,100 men, women and teenagers by strangulation on hooks in the wall. It is requested by the memorial operators that there be no talking while walking through this area. It was sickening to be surrounded by the same walls where so many people were murdered. After the American army liberated the prisoners they ordered the people in the town of Weimar to walk through the camp to see the things that were taking place in the forest on the outskirts of town. Here are some pictures of the visit. Some pictures contain images that are not suitable for children so view them at your own discretion.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Weimar, Germany

We arrived safely in Weimar for a visit with Mariella’s friend Kimberly. Weimar is a small town filled with college students and tourists. Kimberly is an art student at the nearby university. She is a great cook of vegetarian meals and is a bee keeper. She is educating us about bees and sharing the variety of honey her bees produced, they are fascinating insects and produce great tasting honey! Kim has invited us to visit her bees this weekend. Yesterday Katie and Kim showed us a bit of the town. While out we met a friend of Kim’s named Kai who runs a hostel. He invited me to join him for a jog. Unfortunately I am not in jogging shape so I told him I would ride a bike while he ran. This was a wise decision as Kai ran for close to two hours. We ran and biked past parks, ponds, castles and farmland. We discussed many things while on the road. Kai told me the history of places as we passed by them. The last part of the jog/bike was done in the dark. As we went from the outskirts of farmland back towards Weimer a monument was lit up on the hill in the distance. Kai explained that the monument in the distance was the site of Buchenwald Concentration Camp. “Between 1937 and 1945, more than one fifth of the 250,000 people incarcerated here (Jews, gypsies, children, political opponents, etc) died. The location on the side of a hill only added to the torture of the inmates as there are sweeping views of the region-a place where people were free while those here died.” –Lonely Planet

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Frankfurt-Am-Main, Germany

We arrived in Frankfurt on Monday night and were greeted by Mariella’s friend Katie. We traveled about 11 hours from Gothenburg to Frankfurt on four trains. Going from Denmark to Germany was an interesting experience. The train we were on, drove onto a huge ship. We were asked to exit the train and go up to the top deck of the ship for a journey across the Baltic Sea to Germany. I included a photo of Mariella as she was walking next to the train in the belly of the ship. One of our trains arrived late to Hamburg, Germany so we missed our connecting train, which increased the duration of train travel. Katie’s friend Romi also greeted us as we arrived and we had a beer and fries at a pub across the street from the train station. We spent a couple evenings with Katie and Romi sharing stories and discussing the dynamics of male-female relationships, a conversation that seems to be a constant for Mariella and I.
The city of Frankfurt is located on the Main (pronounced ‘mine’) River. After London it is Europe’s centre of finance. The city skyline is blanketed with skyscrapers, a setting found nowhere else in Europe. According to the travel book, “about 80% of Frankfurt was wiped off the map by two Allied bombing raids in March, 1944. We have included some photos of Romberg, the old central area of Frankfurt, next to postcards that we bought showing what the area looked like after the WWII bombing. On Tuesday we spent most of the day meandering through the city enjoying the warm weather (compared to Norway and Sweden). Katie and Romi met us after work and we enjoyed spending time together eating bratwursts and drinking apple-wine. Hanging out at apple-wine taverns are a local tradition here in Frankfurt. We enjoyed our short two days in Frankfurt. Today (Wednesday) we are driving with Katie to Weimar, located three hours driving time to the north east. We will visit Katie’s sister, hang out with her, and check out the town.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pictures of our visit with Joakim

Photos from Bergen to Oslo Train Ride

Glaciers, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and Autumn colored trees. Beautiful!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Good times with Joakim

Monday September 21, 2009
There are times when we are allowed to experience sweet moments here on Earth, we revel in the presence of God’s Spirit living through people and those people seem to infect all of those around them. I observed a beautiful thing while in Sweden, as we rode a tram filled with people that are commonly known to be lonely in a city jammed with people. But first I must set the scene. First of all, we spent time with Joakim while in Sweden. We met him in 2006 as our Kenya team met with teams from all over the US in Amsterdam. I can’t remember if we knew in advance that there would be one Swede joining us but suddenly this tall, blonde haired, super smiley guy approached us. I don’t recall much else but I do remember that he made an entrance. Not in a loud and obnoxious way, but he captured your curiosity, he was genuinely happy, overjoyed even and in a way that wasn’t common and really forced those around him to sit and stare, it is as if somehow you knew that something either great or absolutely hilarious was about to happen. Our time in Kenya proved to be filled with some pretty hilarious moments with this character; between moments of cultural differences (dropping your pants in mixed company) and hiccups in the English-Swahili-Swedish translations.
Now back to the tram. It actually occurred as we waited for the tram. We sat waiting on a bench, on our way from church to run errands. This little boy with his mom and small baby in a carriage waited near us. The little boy was about 4 or 5 and he played with a plastic strap turned sword. Like your typical boy there were lots of sound effects and usually his sword was severing something or destroying anything in sight. He looked at Joakim and gave him a pretty nasty stare, then he took his “sword” and cut Joakim’s arm off, well in his imagination he did anyway. Now, you all know I love kids, but I don’t necessarily like kids that go around stabbing people with imaginary swords, perhaps it’s the years of education setting, “no real or fake guns” that has trained me to frown upon such things but I would’ve probably frowned a very international frown, communicating my disgust with such behavior and the kid would’ve gone away-end of story. Well, not Joakim, he quickly joined in and grabbed his arm as if the child had really severed it; he grabbed his own “sword” and began playing with this kid. The child smiled and giggled and was having a great time. We all eventually got on the same tram and it continued. The tram was filled with people and we stood next to a couple of young guys, who I quickly generalized as “tough guys” the kind that don’t like interacting with strangers and are just getting from one place to another. Seriously guys, within minutes Joakim and this little boy were making people on the tram smile and giggle, and the guys who I quickly judged were joining in. It was an amazing sight and it was great just being an observer, I watched as a young teenage boy try hard not to enjoy the moment, succumbing to infectious joy on the tram in moments. Guys, it was awesome. What a beautiful difference uncommonly joyful people make on the world.
The bible says that people should know we are Christians by our love. What a challenge that is. I am afraid that often I get so caught up in my schedule and I get stuck on what I believe to be right and wrong that I fail miserably to live up to this call. We had a great few days with Joakim. Had a great, very long conversation with Jackie, a woman we met on one of the islands and later had dinner with. We rode trams and buses and boats all over town. Had great conversations, and decided we could solve the problems of the world in 3 days.  Thank you Joakim for being obedient to God’s call in your life, you are truly a blessing to be around and have a contagious joyful spirit, keep transforming those around you. Thank you God for creating a spirit of joy in each of us, help us to find the unique and beautiful in what you have created, to get past our temptation to judge and choose love instead.

By the way, a hilarious thing just happened: We got on another train, on our way to Frankfurt. The guy with the push cart passed us, asking everyone, in Swedish, if they would like something (I imagine). He asked us, and I responded with a polite “no thank you”…are you ready for this? He responds in his best Austrian/American/ Swedish accent “I’ll be back”-Holy cow guys I lost it, I think if he passes by again I might ask if he will do it again, this time we will catch it on film. He said he loves Arnold. Craig called him the Governator-pretty hilarious stuff.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Arrived in Gothenburg, Sweden

Friday, September 18th 2009
We are writing while taking the train from Oslo, Norway to Gothenburg, Sweden. Mariella and I had a three hour wait for the Gothenburg train so we walked around Oslo for a few hours. We exited the train station and walked down the main street, Karl Johan’s gate, which runs through the heart of the city. There were loads people walking up and down the store-lined streets. We walked to Slottsparken (a park) to enjoy the sandwiches and fruit that momma Crystal packed for us. After resting at the park a bit, we walked along Bygdoy (a warf) area, there were many restaurants and boats around. From there we explored the medieval fortress called Akershus Festning the fortress was built by King Hakon in 1299, there was an excellent view of the Oslofjord from the top of the fortress. We later learned that During WWII the Nazis used Akershus as a prison and execution ground. After visiting the fortress, we walked back down the main street to the train station. Mariella wanted a small Coke. We spent the last of our Norwegian Kroners on the soda that cost about $5.33. Norway is super expensive!
Now Mariella writing: Actually, we spent the last of our Norwegian Kroners on a chocolate ice cream bar that Craig devoured as I attempted to use up the last 18 Kroners, about $3 US, I got Haribo sour candy and a mini Mars bar and still have 2 Kroners in my pocket . Oslo was pretty cool, but if you travel to this side of the world, Bergen is way more …como se dice, scenic, quaint, not so much LA, but perhaps comparable to Laguna Beach in its coziness and its wealth. We had an awesome time with Crystal and a great few days with her husband Jon Andre. What a blessing it was for us to get a little taste of home. We cooked and cleaned and for a few moments it felt like home, well except for the occasional insane downpours. But really it was an incredible blessing to have spent time together. What a pretty amazing thing; that God would allow me to meet this girl in 2004 in LA, we hung out, had a great time, and 5 years later we get the wonderful opportunity to see her again and totally soak in her hospitable spirit. I also got to read Soul Survivor, well almost all of it, by Philip Yancey and I have a whole lot of stuff whirling around since then, so expect some posts/preaching? Here is one to get you started: I’ve often been asked and have even asked myself this question about the problem of pain. If God is all loving, then why do we experience so much pain and agony here? In Yancey’s book, one of the people he interviews, Dr. Brand, asks “Why do we experience pleasure and joy and happiness?” I thought this was a totally appropriate question. Why not make us numb to the sensation of touch and taste? We don’t really need to smell, or taste in order to survive, so why do we experience these things? C’mon people give me a piece of your mind.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Heading to Sweden...

Tomorrow morning we leave for Sweden to meet up with our friend Joakim. I (Craig) shared a room with him on our trip to Kenya a few years ago. I remember him as a very humorous Swed. We look forward to visiting our friend. Mariella and I will be taking a train to Oslo then to Gothenburg, Sweden (about ten hours). The travel book describes the train ride from Bergen to Oslo as a “seven-hour journey past forests, alpine villages and starkly beautiful Hardangervidda plateau. The train climbs 600m through tundra-like landscape of high lakes and snow-capped mountains.” We are excited about soaking in more rugged Norwegian beauty from a train window, but we are saddened by the thought of saying goodbye to our friends Jon Andre and Crystal.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Browsing Bergen and a Stave Church

Today we went for a walk in Bergen’s city center. We walked through the fish market near the harbor. We sampled some smoked whale. Yes even Mariella tried the whale that was likely caught using a grenade tipped harpoon. Whale fishing sounds pretty extreme. We meandered through the streets before having a great tasting kabob from a Turkish takeaway restaurant. After a couple hours in the city Jon Andre and Crystal took us to a Stave Church. Fantoft Stave Church is a reconstructed stave church in Fana, Bergen, Norway. It was originally built in Fortun, a village near inner (the eastern end of) Sognefjord around the year 1150.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Trip to the Family Village

Crystal took us on another road trip today. This time we met her husband’s grandparents who live in a village called Andvik, named after their family-what the heck? The family owns a huge chunk of land in the village. The land includes hundreds of acres of breathtaking mountains surrounded by a valley that best resembles a mini Yosemite, complete with its own waterfall, creeks, and trout filled lakes that drain into the fjord, also on their land. Oh, and there is an airstrip that some uncles use to operate their micro light airplanes (single man airplanes). The house sits yards away from an arm of the fjord and looks out to a large stream fed by another huge waterfall. Amazing! The more time we spend in this area of the world the more I am taken back by the creativity of our Creator. This is the most beautiful place I have ever seen, knocking off the South Island of New Zealand, which holds a close second place. Bergen and the surrounding area is an amazing blend of human infrastructure and rugged nature. After a day of exploring we get mentally and physically exhausted from trying to take in the grandeur of this land. On our way to the Andvik village we fished a fresh water lake, but caught nothing. No fish were even seen in the water, so we moved on and fished part of the fjord. I was able to land one mackerel from the shore. We will add the fish to our evening dinner for tomorrow. Grandpa and Grandma Andvik shared awesome, strong coffee, cake, lefse (a thin, sweet bread with butter and brown sugar inside), and conversation with us (Crystal did a great job translating). I asked Grandpa how long his family had lived in the area. It was so long ago that he didn’t even know when the land was first settled. Grandpa figured it was hundreds of years ago, more than he could count. It will be difficult to leave this beautiful setting in the coming days.

A Sunny Afternoon!

Yesterday we took advantage of the final hours of the sunny day, and went out on the sailboat to soak up the sun. We did a little fishing as well. Mariella caught one Mackerel and I caught two. Unfortunately, one of my fish escaped as I attempted to fill up the fish bucket with more sea water. We will cook the fish for dinner tonight (Tuesday). Crystal (whom we are staying with) completed another quarter of her master degree program. We celebrated with turkey sandwiches, Sprite and cookies as we floated along in the fjord.
Mariella and I are really blessed by spending time with Crystal. We frequently discuss the joys and challenges that accompany a marriage relationship. We are experiencing transformation as we are transparent before each other and God about our marital successes and challenges. We find that our discussions are bringing about much needed change and growth. Just last night we had a candlelit discussion, really it was more like a counseling session, Maryanne you would’ve enjoyed this, she pretty much did what you did when we were living with you guys-pretty awesome, she Crystal’s husband returns today from his two weeks of work out on an oil rig. We look forward to meeting him.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Road Trip to Hellesoy

Yesterday we went on a little road trip to Hellesoy. The sun was out and it is beautiful here. On the way out of town we went to the Bergen food festival. We enjoyed some Norwegian pancakes with jam and sour cream, crepes also with jam and sour cream, fresh cheese, and bratwurst wrapped in a tortilla like bun and sprinkled with fried onions-oh yeah super good. After tasting some food and walking around, we drove out to the open ocean. We went over many bridges and tunnels, island after island until we reached the open ocean. We planned on fishing from the point, but unfortunately the wind was too strong. We drove back to Crystals place to watch the sunset from her balcony. The last ships of the day were leaving port and a paraglider was being pulled into the air by a boat. The paraglider would detach from the rope and catch the jet streams to float over the fjord. Mariella and I walked down to the fjord this morning to soak in the rare sunny day. Included are some photos of the nearby waters.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fishing Trip

Saturday, September 12, 2009
So, the fishing trip was great fun and surreal, we were in an absolutely majestic landscape. A handful of fish were caught, but not nearly as many as expected. I fished with Trygve and Asle, Trygve is Crystal’s neighbor and he invited me to go fishing just last night. We set out a massive line composed of over 100 hooks…we caught about five fish and kept three, one of the ones thrown out was poisonous. The fishing was slow, but the scenery was mind-boggling. We fished below Asle’s parents house. The pictures are of the village where he grew up and where we fished. After baiting all the hooks we took the small boat out into the fjord to drop the line. After setting the line we trolled back to the dock and went up to the house for a cup of coffee and some greute (rice and milk-Norway’s version of oatmeal). After a couple hours we went back out to pull up the line. The fish were cleaned and will be smoked. After fishing we drove down the road to find out if Axle’s father had a successful deer hunt. It turns out his dad and friends shot more deer (eight) than we caught fish (five). I guess we should have gone hunting instead of fishing.

F.Y.I.:Dead deer are shown in the slide show. If your a Bambi lover you may not want to look at the photos.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy Saturday Morning

Hello friends. It is Saturday morning at 7:50 am. The weather in Bergen is overcast and rainy. Looks like a perfect day to go fishing in the cold rain. A neighbor has invited me to go fishing out on the fjord. Should be fun and wet. Blessings, Craig

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Road Trip with Crystal

I am not sure guys, Norway might take the cake so far. Sure it rains a lot and there are crazy wind storms, Craig and I saw a little child's inflatable pool with palm tree attached fly right by the kitchen window the other day. Still, it's an absolutely gorgeous place.
Yesterday, Crystal took us on a road trip, this girl doesn't mess around, we were on the road for 11 hours, going from place to place. Craig took way too many pictures as usual, but I really couldn't blame him, there were waterfalls everywhere and it was amazing. In order to give you the true details of this trip I will need to wait to have Crystal spell out all the names of the places we visited, but I can tell you we stopped at two fjords and two giant waterfalls, one of which we walked behind-yeah behind the waterfall. Craig nearly was in tears because we failed to bring along the fishing rod and there were great fishing spots everywhere. I think of the places we've visited so far, this might be Craig's favorite. Why? All you really need is fresh air, fish, lakes, rivers or other bodies of water, and mountains to climb. It's definitely his most suited habitat, the man becomes a different person in nature. It's funny actually because most of you know him to be a pretty ...how do you say...laid back, mellow, sometimes-difficult-to-record-a-heartbeat-kind-of-guy. Well, just take this guy into nature and he really comes alive, it makes me so happy to see him like that and it was great to have had Crystal witness it all.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sailing Osterfjorden

Sailing Video

Mariella dancing while Craig focuses on fishing

Monday, September 7, 2009


Monday, September 7th 2009

Yesterday we went for a sail on the local fjord. We experienced a variety of weather. We were thankful for a strong wind which made for good sailing. It was sunny at times and windy and rainy at others. The weather changed frequently and we were blessed with witnessing the beauty of rainbows as the sun and rained intermingled to produce a beautiful landscape. It would rain and I would get soaking wet then the sun would come and I would dry out then it would rain some more. Mariella took shelter in the cabin when the rain became too heavy. Crystal remained comfortable while wearing her nice boiler suit, protecting her from the wind and rain.
We putted away from the dock using the motor then used wind power once we left the shelter of the cove. After sailing for a while I wanted to give fishing a try. While sailing the main body of the fjord I let out a trolling line. The line was in the water for about an hour and we hooked no fish. We decided to sail up a smaller channel where we finally got into some fish. We caught a bunch of mackerel. Mariella and took turns fishing. In the end we hooked eight fish and landed six. We were the only sailboat out on the water the entire day. I guess the other Norwegian sailors did not want to brave the unwelcoming weather. After a day of sailing and fishing we docked the boat and drove up the street to Crystals in-laws. They treated us to hot coffee and a pancake snack. Crystals father-in-law offered to clean the fish and her mother-in-law started frying them. Two hours after landing the fish we were eating batter fried Mackerel. What a great day!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hiking around Bergen

Sunday, September 6th 2009
Yesterday Crystal took us on a long hike. There was no driving to the trail head. We just walked out the front door down the street and started up a mountain. We hike a couple of the mountains surrounding the city of Bergen. We were rewarded with great views of the city, sea and nearby islands. We walked past a WWII fort which the Nazis built. We also picked some fresh blueberries, which Crystal is making pancakes with this morning. Mariella slid down a rock on the hike and scraped up her arm. She is ok. After hiking from Crystals place to the city we took the bus to return home. Today we are planning on taking the sailboat out to see some fjords. The weather is overcast with frequent showers. This is typical weather for Bergen. Here are some photos.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Arrived Safely In Bergen

Just want to make a quick update. We arrived last night to Bergen, Norway. We flew from Amsterdam to Copenhagen to Bergen. Our friend Crystal welcomed us at the airport. We are looking out their window to the ocean and a large island. Sailboats are cruising the fjord as the sun is out today(a rarity). We hope to go on an evening sail tonight on Crystal and Jon Andres' (Crystals Husband) 30 ft. sailboat. We are excited about soaking up the beautiful landscape. I assume the area is much like that in Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, Canada. Unfortunately Jon Andre is working for the next two weeks out at sea on an oil rig. Crystal is graciously hosting us.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Corrie Ten Boom House

A short description about Corrie and her Family from the website:

In 1837 Willem ten Boom opened a watch shop in this house. His family lived in the rooms above the shop. The home was later passed down to Willem’s son, Casper, and then to Casper’s daughter, Corrie. In 1987 the Corrie ten Boom House Foundation purchased the building. To continue this family’s witness, in 1988 the Foundation opened this home as a museum. It is often called the Hiding Place. It has become a symbol that surpasses national boundaries. Let us share the inspiring story of the Ten Booms and the Hiding Place with you!
The Ten Boom family were devoted Christians who dedicated their lives in service to their fellow man. Their home was always an "open house" for anyone in need. Through the decades the Ten Booms were very active in social work in Haarlem, and their faith inspired them to serve the religious community and society at large.
During the Second World War, the Ten Boom home became a refuge, a hiding place, for fugitives and those hunted by the Nazis. By protecting these people, Casper and his daughters, Corrie and Betsie, risked their lives. This non-violent resistance against the Nazi-oppressors was the Ten Booms' way of living out their Christian faith. This faith led them to hide Jews, students who refused to cooperate with the Nazis, and members of the Dutch underground resistance movement.
During 1943 and into 1944, there were usually 6-7 people illegally living in this home: 4 Jews and 2 or 3 members of the Dutch underground. Additional refugees would stay with the Ten Booms for a few hours or a few days until another "safe house" could be located for them. Corrie became a ringleader within the network of the Haarlem underground. Corrie and "the Beje group" would search for courageous Dutch families who would take in refugees, and much of Corrie's time was spent caring for these people once they were in hiding. Through these activities, the Ten Boom family and their many friends saved the lives of an estimated 800 Jews, and protected many Dutch underground workers.
On February 28, 1944, this family was betrayed and the Gestapo (the Nazi secret police) raided their home. The Gestapo set a trap and waited throughout the day, seizing everyone who came to the house. By evening about 30 people had been taken into custody! Casper, Corrie and Betsie were all arrested. Corrie’s brother Willem, sister Nollie, and nephew Peter were at the house that day, and were also taken to prison.
Although the Gestapo systematically searched the house, they could not find what they sought most. They suspected Jews were in the house, but the Jews were safely hidden behind a false wall in Corrie’s bedroom. In this "hiding place" were two Jewish men, two Jewish women and two members of the Dutch underground. Although the house remained under guard, the Resistance was able to liberate the refugees 47 hours later. The six people had managed to stay quiet in their cramped, dark hiding place for all that time, even though they had no water and very little food. The four Jews were taken to new "safe houses," and three survived the war. One of the underground workers was killed during the war years, but the other survived.
Because underground materials and extra ration cards were found in their home, the Ten Boom family was imprisoned. Casper (84 years old) died after only 10 days in Scheveningen Prison. When Casper was asked if he knew he could die for helping Jews, he replied, "It would be an honor to give my life for God's ancient people." Corrie and Betsie spent 10 months in three different prisons, the last was the infamous Ravensbruck Concentration Camp located near Berlin, Germany. Life in the camp was almost unbearable, but Corrie and Betsie spent their time sharing Jesus' love with their fellow prisoners. Many women became Christians in that terrible place because of Corrie and Betsie's witness to them. Betsie (59) died in Ravensbruck, but Corrie survived. Corrie’s nephew, Christiaan (24), had been sent to Bergen Belsen for his work in the underground, and never returned. Corrie’s brother, Willem (60), was also a ring leader in the Dutch underground. While in prison for this "crime," he contracted spinal tuberculosis and died shortly after the war.
Four Ten Booms gave their lives for this family’s commitment, but Corrie came home from the death camp. She realized her life was a gift from God, and she needed to share what she and Betsie had learned in Ravensbruck: "There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still" and "God will give us the love to be able to forgive our enemies." At age 53, Corrie began a world-wide ministry which took her into more than 60 countries in the next 33 years! She testified to God’s love and encouraged all she met with the message that "Jesus is Victor."
Corrie received many tributes. Corrie was knighted by the Queen of Holland. In 1968, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem (Yad Vashem) asked Corrie to plant a tree in the Garden of Righteousness, in honor of the many Jewish lives her family saved. Corrie’s tree stands there today. In the early 1970's Corrie's book THE HIDING PLACE became a best seller and World Wide Pictures released the major motion picture "The Hiding Place." Corrie went on to write many other inspiring books and make several evangelical videos.
Corrie was a woman who was faithful to God. She died on her 91st birthday, April 15, 1983. It is interesting that Corrie's passing occurred on her birthday. In the Jewish tradition, it is only very blessed people who are allowed the special privilege of dying on their birthday!
Corrie's story is recounted in her books THE HIDING PLACE and TRAMP FOR THE LORD. These, and many other books and videos about this family are available from the Book Shop on this web site.

Amsterdam, Anne Frank House

At the end of the day we visited the Anne Frank House. We invited a friend we met earlier in the day to come with us. Hank is twenty-something years old and is on his second day working at the hostel. He has lived primarily in Papua New Guinea and West Africa (I cannot remember what country.) Oh, the Ivory Coast. His parents are missionaries and his sister worked here a few years back, so now he is here following in her footsteps. The hostel employs quite a bit of young people in exchange for room and board, or most of the room and board. They hold daily bible studies and daily evening prayers in the dining room/common area. So, back to the Anne Frank museum.

“Anne Frank was one of the millions of victims of the persecution of the Jews during World War II. She lived in Germany when, In 1933, Hitler came to power and installed an anti-Jewish regime there. For their own safety, the Jewish Frank family fled to the Netherlands. However, In May 1940, the German army occupied the Netherlands and repressive measures against the Jews followed here as well. The Frank family hoped to escape these by going into hiding.”

For more information on Anne Frank visit Wikipedia

Written Tuesday, September 1st 2009

Written Tuesday, September 1st 2009

Yesterday afternoon, we arrived safely to Amsterdam from Kenya. We took a bus from the airport to the city center and walked to the hostel less than a mile away. We are staying at a hostel a few blocks from the Anne Frank house (Anne Frank Huis). This is where Anne wrote her diary while in hiding during WWII and the Nazi occupation of Holland. The country was devastated and most of the countries Jews were murdered. Many of the Dutch tried to fight against the Nazi occupation, but like much of the rest of the world, the Nazi propaganda had confused and divided the people here.
Still, Amsterdam is a breathtakingly scenic city, with beautiful 17th century housing and some of the continent’s best museums. It is a compact and user-friendly city with tons of bikes and beautiful boat filled canals. Today we went on a long walk along the canals of the Jordaan passed the Anne Frank house. We walked through the south west of the city going through Leidseplein (theater area) to Vondelpark where we walked for about an hour. Next, we left the park and went passed the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum (we may visit one of these highly acclaimed museums as the entrance fees are high). We walked through Museumplien (a park) taking pictures at the touristy “ I AM STERDAM” sign. We then walked north toward the city center stopping at the FOAM photography museum: terrible. We wish we would not have paid for that visit. In fact, we decided that in order to make the visit worth our precious Euros we would occupy the top floor’s conference room. Mariella spun in their comfy chairs and I sat and planned the rest of the day out. Mariella got a kick out of the people coming in with confused looks on their faces, wondering if they were interrupting a meeting or something, while wondering where the rest of the exhibit was, seeing as there were only 15 to 20 different photos, for way too much money.
Luckily, we were still satisfied with the wonderful bowl of soup we purchased shortly before the museum visit and ate next to the Keizersgracht canal. Next we walked to the Bloemenmarkt (flower district) looking at the beautiful variety of Holland’s finest flowers. From the flower market we walked north to Dam Square where we viewed the National Monument in the center of the square. It has been interesting watching people smoke marijuana as common as the way people smoke cigarettes at home. There are many “coffee shops” around that sell the drug. In Amsterdam, people go to the “CafĂ©” to get coffee and they go to “coffee shops” to get marijuana. Good thing I explained this to Mud before she made a crazy mistake and turned her coffee addiction into something worse. We have not yet visited the red light district where brothels abound. Prostitution was legalized in the Netherlands in 1815 and brothels legalized in 2000. Mariella does not want to visit as she says she does not want me to see the near naked prostitutes propositioning passersby from black-lit windows. I think she is right as it is heartbreaking to think about the lives of the individual women, their customers, and the families that are destroyed by the casual sexual encounters. What a beautiful act God created that man has abused. God certainly created sex for the right context. In the right context (between a man and a woman in marriage) it is a beautiful thing. When sex is taken out of this context it seems to destroy people. Of course it is fun in the moment, but it leads to difficulties and destruction. I have always liked the example of a fire in the fire place being a good thing and the proper place for a fire. But if the fire were taken out of the fireplace and put in the middle of a room it would certainly not be good and will eventually cause the house to burn. The right thing in the right place is good. Right thing in the wrong place is not good. I am just speaking from life experiences and observation of others. Jesus said, I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. Is there a difference between living life and having fullness of life?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hello Friends

We are making a quick update from the Apple store in Harleem, Netherlands. Thank you Mr. Jobs for the internet access. We just toured the Corrie Ten Boom residence. It was an excellent tour. We read the book, "The Hiding Place" during our last two days in Africa. We saw where Corrie and her family hid Jews during the Nazi occupation. We will jump on a train in a few minutes and head back to Amsterdam then walk the canals back to the hostel. We will do a more complete update soon. We are enjoying Amsterdam and we love all the bike riders. Tomorrow we hope to rent a couple bikes for the day.