Welcome to our dutch World
The Elders family is known for its 4 members. Dad Bert (tennis) is 71, mam Rianne (badminton) 64, daughter Jedidja (swimming) is 36 years young and son Marc (badminton) is 33. Their hometown is Assen, pop.69000, located in the northeast of the Netherlands, in the scenic province of Drenthe. Living on Svalbard/Spitsbergen for 5 years has been Jedidja, but now she's back in town teaching at a local elementaryschool. She and her friend Vincent now live in and on their own property. Marc settled himself in Berlin for a while. He married Joke on September 5, 2020; their new hometown is Utrecht. Follow our kids at Jblog and Mblog. Our local homechurch is here where we also joined a snackfree free baptist homegroup.
In 1999, 2000, 2001 & 2002 (tour #31) Bert managed the Continental Singers tour to baltic Russia and Minsk in Belarus. Russian christians and not only them, were jubilant and approached them like they came from heaven. The choir was treated like kings in this desertscaped land of Kaliningrad. They left bibles, toys, food and gave away their tapes for almost nothing. And were invited to come back as soon as possible. Slava Bogu! Russian hearts were opening up by giving flowers to the singers. The choir wanted to give them hope on their mission of love. Who isn't glamorizing the (soviet) past because the future scares us? Read the details on the german Ostpreussen page.
Tour #31 was Bert’s last tour. From '89 on he managed 17 american tours which were directed by Kevin Navarro, Keith Wheeler, Steve Schaffer, Allan Richard, Bruce Olson, Kent Vincent, Joe Huntsman, Brian Jonson, Eric Walker, Roger Gienger, Arnie Tharpe, Vince Tomei, Billy Lloyd, Tim Nicholas, Greg Gibson, David Bell & Tom Juarez. The 14 european tours were conducted by Kees Schrijver, Peter Grasmeier, Aad Contze, Peter Koetsveld, Marinus den Harder, Daniëlle Schaap, Harold Schonewille, Rob de Jong & Anca Ciora. His love for christian contemporary music continues until today. Watch for instance Kristyn Getty, Natalie Grant, Sara Groves, Brooke Fraser or Lenny LeBlanc. Next to that is his love for baseball, football, soft country music, american ballads, Dan Seals and Ludwig von Beethoven. But let's not forget Vikki Carr who Rianne & Bert met during her live concert in Evansville, IN, in the summer of '79. Baseballgames were also attended. They visited the New York Mets at Shea, Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, Seattle Mariners at Kingdome, San Diego Padres at Jack Murphy and Atlanta Braves at Fulton County. Sure we didn't miss the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN. Airports used were New York JFK, Newark Liberty, Chicago O'Hare and Denver Stapleton. A rental car brought us to some 36 states in total over a three year period. Including Arizona passing by Tucson, where Linda Ronstadt was born. Including New Jersey where Mary Chapin Carpenter was born. Including Montana's big sky country driving interstate 90.
The Russians were coming! You bet. The wonderful russian Credo chamberchoir from Gusev gave their first concert in Holland on their german tour. Host in Assen was Bert. Yes, can you imagine? Always too lazy to organise one gospelconcert while attending more than 350, our dad was even interviewed by state radio. The audience sure wants them back in the future. The contrast between their superb singing and living conditions at home is huge. It's such a pleasure to know this easy approachable group. In the 01fall and 02fall Credo from Russia came back for eight concerts total in the Drenthe province. They were very well received by all audiences. Bert had never seen those old dutch reformed churches on the inside. These are full of all sorts of history. And the sound, just superb.
In the 02spring it was time for our dad to visit a professional german soccer game. Auf Schalke, against Kaiserslautern (3-0). The soldout domed arena had a crowd of 60000. 80 Euro for a complete day by bus, including breakfast, lunch, drinks and ticket is not bad. Although Bert is not a real soccer freak, he came home very excited. Regarding the two 02springtours of the Continentals Bert booked concerts in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Russia. They even performed for 800 soldiers of the russian army and were invited to come back! Afterwards we had the feeling we just finished battling the devil. As it says at 3:20, when no one stood behind me but my shadow on the floor, you know how to bless so many broken roads who are searching for directions.
In summer03 we celebrated the 25-year wedding anniversary of our parents. In a fancy restaurant some 60 friends were present. Bert also met his namesake from Eemnes lately. Found through some searchengine, no family relation, a nice surprise to both of them. Our summerholiday was in eastern France, right at the swiss border, overlooking Lake Geneva with the snowcapped Mount Blanc at the horizon. July 14 was the day with a fireworkshow we will never forget. The Geneva airport was Bert's favorite spot together with the cablecars of the Jura mountains. In the 03fall Credo came back for three concerts in Drenthe. One of them was taped and came out on CD for the first time ever. Concerning the Continentals 04springtour, the russian army in Gusev invited the choir to perform! Some 300 soldiers attended that concert who heard "he who asks receives, seeks will find". If you hear that knock on your door, don't open a window. Atheist answers on your questions will lead to death when your journey down here is complete. Which some of them experienced in Chechnya later on. Be smart and deliver all your cares, burdens and troubles on time onto our trinity Lord.
In the 04summer Bert joined a german lutheran churchgroup from Aurich on their way to the russian province of Kaliningrad. They slept ten nights in Gusev. Meeting the Credo chamberchoir, doing lots of sightseeing, listening to churchleaders and renewing friendships was his goal. Mind that all the wodka and beer was for free! In the 05summer our parents went to the isle of Vlieland. No kids around means total chilltime. Our dad says that he's addicted to the scenery out there. Keeping track of some webcams is a small consolation. In the 05fall Bert visited two Credo concerts in Germany. He was told that they must see Amsterdam next year. If not they will send him to Siberia! Bert also heard the russian Kant chamberchoir from Gusev for the first time. He was invited for supper with them after the concert. Who knows we will see this impressive choir too in Drenthe.
In the 06summer mam & dad decided for Austria, where they ever went together to in ‘83. Therefore they bought a new car with airco to survive the hot summer. They stayed fourteen nights in a Lechtal hotel with webcam. In Reutte Bert payed a visit to a superb concert of Kremerata Baltica with their director and soloist Gidon Kremer from Riga. They played four violinconcerts from Mozart. Visiting castles like Neuschwanstein, riding cablecars, walking mountaintrails and enjoying the lakes was wonderful. In the 06fall the three of us went to Norway by car and nightferry. The fallcolours up north were spectacular. The mountaintrip led by Jedidja, in sunny but freezing weather, was too much of an adventure for the slower ones, so we didn’t make it to the top at 1883m. Beside visiting her school we also entered the local pentacostal church and joined their evening fellowship. Yes, our daughter will remain in Norway while Marc is busy for Athletes in Action and in the local youthchurch.
In the 07summer Rianne turned 50. We invited some fifty guests for brunch at a local restaurant. All four of us were present. We enjoyed every minute because we sensed that everyone had a good time and felt at ease. The summer was not a lazy one. Jedidja received her sports graduation diploma. Marc participated in an christian athletes camp. Bert joined a german lutheran group for another visit to Russia's Kaliningrad. And mam & dad again visited this christian dutch hotel in Austria. The 07fall vacation went of course to Norway. Now from Bremen airport with Ryanair who brought us there in only 70 minutes. We all love the most beautiful country of Europe. Staying five nights in a historic hotel overlooking the lake and Notodden city, was wonderful. The frontiertown of Rjukan is a must. We visited the warmuseum and took a ride up in the cablecar. The scenic trainride to Skien was lovely and the valley of Kviteseid is gorgeous. Space, freedom, fresh air, mountains, lakes and fallcolours makes our daughter a really privileged person receiving grace upon grace!
In the 08winter Bert's mother passed away at the age of 96. She had been a widow for 20 years. Nine children, 26 grandchildren and some 15 great-grandchildren. She was a blessing to everyone because she prayed for the whole family. Her favorite biblechapter was Psalm 23 and vocally the children's choir from Urk. She sang in the churchchoir for more than 40 years and insisted that Bert should do likewise, which he refused. She stood in the shadow so others could shine. Her chair is empty now and the four of us have to deal with this, just like George Jones. One of the things she teached and showed us was patience. Although Bert's mom is in heaven, our dad will surely visit the local graveyard. A perfect place reminiscing your childhood past, in which AFRTS Radio, Johnny Carson, Glen Campbell and the Carpenters had a big part.
In the 08spring Bert payed a sixday visit alone to Jedidja in Norway. By plane to Torp from Bremen. The weather was sunny and warm all week long. The scenic nature with snow on the mountaintops is a complete addiction. Daughter showed daddy the capital of Oslo. They visited the vikingmuseum, holocaustcenter, vigelandpark and the harbour. And also met another Elders family at home close by. In Gransherad Bert attended a classical concert performed by the Notodden orchestra. Saying goodbye to this beautiful Telemark region was tough but we have to, since Jedidja is moving way up north. An emotional rollercoaster! It was off to the russian province of Kaliningrad for our dad in the 08summer. He joined another german touristgroup on his way to Gusev city. Bert visited the lutheran, pentacostal, baptist and orthodox churches, met several pastors and visited museums and people's homes. All very rewarding cause emotionally, Russia as always goes deep to the bone. Walking on the bottom of the Waddensea? No big deal for Marc and Bert. They reached the isle of Schiermonnikoog in 3 hours. The weather was warm, the sky blue and the water refreshing. The boattrip back on deck in complete darkness was another highlight. They finished the day at McD where Bert swallowed his favorite icecream: McFlurry!
In the 09spring our dad finally made up his mind to visit 78N 15E. That's the city of Longyearbyen on the island of Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipel. He flew with KLM and SAS to get there. Around minus 15C in mostly perfect sunny weather with blue skies. But freezing windchills on the snowscooter driven by Jedidja. They tried to reach the russian Barentsburg base but had to return due to a snowstorm. The local churchpriest promised to bring the children's magazines later. Exploring the icecave was impressive. Sleeping on the dutch Noorderlicht ship, stuck in the Tempelfjord ice, was like coming home. This miningtown feels like the wildwildwest. People from 42 nations try to make their dreams come true including our daughter. An out-of-this-world location to explore as you can see at these webcams.
In the 10winter we guided our son by train to his bibleschool in Berlin, Germany. As you know a city with lots of history. Marc's dad grew up with the cold war and communism. Added with WW2, three hotelnights were needed to see the most important locations. After the guided bustour, the french-, german- and Berliner Dom, DDRmuseum, Alextvtower and the Stasiheadquarters were visited. For a young guy a great town to explore history and to check the evil part of the past. During the 10spring Rianne made a surprising visit by plane to Svalbard. Jedidja was delighted to show her mother around and introducing her to many friends. They made visits to the gallery, museum, church, shops and restaurants. Both were aware that this would be the last time they would meet, greet and talk alone. Another familychapter will come to its conclusion, a new one will begin shortly.
And that began with Norah Rianne. Our first granddaughter was born in Tromso, Norway, on May 31 in the 10spring. The proud parents are Jedidja & Inge. All is well because of so many prayers. We see and hear her on the webcam. An invention which erases any distance. In summer we will meet and hold her in person. Uncle Marc by the way, came back from Mozambique and South-Africa. That outreach lasted seven weeks. His graduation, attended also by his dad, followed at the bibleschool in Berlin. Great to find out what a cool, laidback and wise guy this person is. Together they visited the former Stasiprison, Stasiheadquarters, Eastsidegallerywall (Mein Gott hilf mir diese tödliche Liebe zu überleben), german-russian warmuseum Karlshorst and the huge soviet warmemorial in Treptowerpark. At the Spreebeach they ate flammkuchen: a delicious mix of pizza and pancakes. Right in the former borderzone between east and west, where 25 years ago they would have been shot or attacked by a hungry german shepherd dog.
The 10summer was centered around our first granddaughter Norah. The three of us flew with SAS to Bodo, Norway. By car we drove 200 km south (RV17) along a magnificent coastline with islands, fjords, mountains, tunnels and ferries. What a thrill to be part of this grand creation for ten days. Norah was baptised in the lutheran church on sundaymorning. Amazing, when you talk to her she smiles back! But i'm afraid the grandparents need to study some conversational norsk to keep track of her. We all went on a fishingtrip in a fjord. None of us had ever done this at home. It sure is fun when you catch one every ten minutes. At dinner we ate them all. Marc and dad visited also the Svartisen glacier. On dad's birthday we toured on a shrimpboat and had dinner at Rodoy island. Our family is expanding and opa & oma are in the middle of it.
As grandparents together to Longyearbyen? Not a bad idea because our daughter has room always. So here we are in the middle of the totally dark 11winter in which it seems 4 a.m. 24/7. When you've children, you travel to destinations you never dreamed about. SAS brought us all the way, although we had to pay for coffee and tea! The stopoverhotels at Gardermoen were fine. Tell norwegians you follow a norskkurs, and they open up immediately. They probably don't prefer to speak foreign languages. Tons of christmas snow everywhere, so dad was in a very good mood. Klemming our daughter and playing, singing and clapping with our granddaughter. Now you know why grownups act weird when they try to make a lasting impression. Observing Norah while she's trying to walk, is giving us a proud feeling. No generationsgap at all when there is love in the family. Bert came also for the northern lights but they were alas invisible behind the clouds.
Another expansion in the family. On July 3 in the 11summer we welcomed Luna Johanne to the world. She was born in the Mo i Rana, Norway, hospital. Our second granddaughter who is so sweet, quiet and observing. We are proud of her mother who has so much drive and energy. Now Norah has someone to play with or to tease. The grandparents can hardly wait holding her. July is also Bert's birthday month. He asked 7 friends to have dinner with him made by a female cook. In return they offered him to make a one hour planetrip above the state of Drenthe. But above it was so windy that he and his son came out shaken up. But the pictures are nice. More than nice was mam & dad's visit to Svalbard. Twelve days to get acquainted with our newborn granddaughter Luna and Norah. Luna can handle all the noise produced by her older sister. Who in turn likes to read, sing and clap. Bert was directing six wild huskies and taking boattrips to Barentsburg and the fascinating russian ghosttown of Pyramiden. On the water a whalemeat dinner and whiskey mixed with glacier-ice to warm up! By plane he went to the norwegian miningtown of Svea where he got a guided tour 12 km deep into the coalmine until the very end.
In the 11fall Marc went to Longyearbyen for the first time. He flew together with his mother who had been there before. The most enjoying part for him was to meet Norah again and how she had grown. The last time he saw her was six months ago. It was wonderfull to watch the second child Luna, that will one day say 'uncle' to him too. Besides playing with the children, Marc also looked around town. It was special to experience the quietness and to see all the snow. One day he went to the cabin built outside Longyearbyen located in the middle of nowhere. It was special for him to look around and watch only mountains and snow. He walked around the cabin and the feeling that icebears could be nearby, was intriguing. To conclude he made a short video when he was outside that cabin with barkings dogs in the vicinity. Which these animals also do at home where this dog shows us the five stages of grief in two minutes: denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance!
Walking is a favorite thing our dad does with great pleasure. Time to walk in Germany in the 12spring. Be part of the international Beten & Bewegen group. Without any training Bert had to walk 26 km, a distance he never mastered in the past. All in the Weser river area near Porta Westfalica. Day 41 of a three month tour which has a total mileage of 1800 km! We prayed for each other, for cities and people we met. A real privilege to walk, talk and pray on a warm sunny day in beautiful nature. Yes we were "ziemlich fertig" but God can and will use our weaknesses. Because the power of prayer results in Einheit, Erneuerung, Erweckung, Hoffnung und Licht.
On September 9 in the 12fall Ingvill Eline opened her eyes to observe her mother. Of course in the Mo i Rana, Norway, hospital which is a very warm and cosy place to be for mother and child. Even when it's right at the arctic circle! Almost 2700 gr in weight and 48 cm long. She is cherished by her two older sisters. As a family we're proud at Jedidja's perseverance. She is presumably able to handle alone 3 kids over a 40 month period and beyond. #Respect! Hopefully the older kids understand that now it is number three who has the privilege to sleep and drink all the time. Now it's coming down to run a stable family which means saying goodbye to painting the town.
Now let me tell you what's cruel. Dumping your stereo companionfriend at the recycling center! Emotionally very tough and therefore it took Bert several years before he could make up his mind in the 13spring. Bought in '77, this tuner/amplifier would become his musical buddy in every mental situation. The Marantz 2235B stereophonic receiver from Chatsworth, CA, USA. The power source for 8-track, turntable, reeltoreel, tapedeck, cdplayer, headphones, you name it. Connected to Infinity speakers a personal resource for his mind and heart. 36 Years around him, one year longer than his marriage. Is there life after this breakup? This canadian singersongwriter hits the same problem in songs. She has to move on by calling it quits although she opposes that. Bert had some smalltalk with Catherine MacLellan herself afterwards, about how she loves to sing the sad songs dealing with this cloud around her heart.
The christian center Krelingen in Germany was inviting guests for their Ostpreussen midweek seminar. Dad got there by train in the 13summer. Looking forward and excited to meet people he met in the past. Attended by 60 persons he followed lectures and presentations about the past and present of Kaliningrad's region and Masuren. Russian contemporary life embedded in german history. Fascinating stuff! Leading pastors were Erhard & Luise Wolfram from Hannover, Lorenz Grimoni from Duisburg, Martin Westerheide from Krelingen and Dietrich Klinke from Nienburg. Mostly sitting among germans who were children when they were shattered by war and expulsion. To find out that every family is part of a generation that is either evil or peaceful. What you sow you must reap? Not always in relationships will or can you reap what you sowed. Is love your cross to bear? Hard to accept, to overcome or to live by! When in this case the distance between Pennsylvania and Winnipeg was too remote for love, as John told me. What's left is wondering what's she's doing now leading to someone being teared apart. Who accepts time washes clean love's wounds unseen?
Maybe never heard of Reformation500? One of the main scholars in the history of the protestant church is Herman Selderhuis from the Apeldoorn university. Vrolijk orthodox director of Refo500 and also guiding 85 persons in the 14fall to Münster, Germany. Bert was one of them. His dream came true. Visiting many churches, museums and castle, it became clear that the architects of the past were masters in their art. Not to forget all the religious wars they were also part of. Next trip destination could be Emden, Germany. Which was a safe haven for many dutch protestants in the 16th century. History teaches you why we do what we do today and why we think what we think.
Time to take it to a higher level in Assen. Mam & dad were ready in the 14winter to move from level 0 to the 4th floor. Just 4 km up to the northeast. From the Peelo area to Marsdijk. Lots of our own history needed to be dumped in the garbagecan. Painful but also an energizer. Less sleepingroom but much more livingroom. Feels like a hotelsuite without the usual checkout time. Able to watch sunrises and sundowns while sipping on a glass of sweet white wine. A real gift from above! More space, sun, sky, thunderstorms and stillness makes life more fullfilling. Is that equal to what Winnie-the-Pooh meant, when he said:"How lucky I am to have someone who makes saying goodbye so hard."
The christian center Krelingen in Germany was again inviting guests for their Ostpreussen midweek seminar. Joined by his brother our dad got there by car in the 15summer. Looking forward and excited to meet people again he met in the past. Attended by 50 persons he followed lectures and presentations about the past and present of Kaliningrad's region and Masuren. Russian contemporary life embedded in german history. Fascinating stuff! Zwischen Tradition und Moderne was the midweek theme in which each day had a special meaning. Tag der Einstimmung, Geschichte, Begegnung, Traum & Realität, Ausklang. Leading speakers were Erhard & Luise Wolfram from Hannover, Lorenz Grimoni from Duisburg, Martin Westerheide from Krelingen, Joachim Mähnert from Lüneburg and Margarete Pulver from Braunschweig. Mostly sitting among germans who were children when they were shattered by war and expulsion. To find out that every family is part of a generation that is either evil or peaceful. The past can haunt you until the day your life down here is over. In other words, paying for the mistakes you made when you were young is not an option.
The 16spring was another chance to join a german lutheran group with a Kaliningrad destination. Joined by his brother, Bert accepted Wolfram's invitation from Hannover. The busride brought him first to Torun, Poland. A grand historical town not destroyed in the war. After a visit to Frombork's cathedral near the Frische Nehrung, the russian border was crossed. Hotel Usadba in Orlowka was like a mansion. Many old german churches were observed. A boattrip on the Pregolja river in downtown Kaliningrad was followed by an organconcert in the Domchurch. In the navaltown of Baltijsk not much was happening. Perfect weather at the beaches of Yantarny, Svetlogorsk and Zelenogradsk but at the Kurische Nehrung they should spray all musquitos. The Salzburgerchurch in Gusev was the place to renew so many old friendships. Full of melancholy cause so many Continental concerts were done here in the past. The HeiligeLinde cathedral was impressive, the Masury boattrip wonderful and the Gdansk city busy. Another stop was at the Finkenwalde garden in Szczecin in memory of pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who knew which cross was approaching him by saying "we are concerned with Christ and nothing else". His last stop on earth was KZ Flossenbürg. Our last stop was in the Berlin citycenter. What a privilege to be part of a tour that makes sense at all times.
For the first time in 10 years going south instead of north. It was about time! Mam & dad went to Austria again, in the northern part of Tirol, in the 17summer. Where gas and hotels are not expensive. Three nights in this christian hotel in Weissenbach in the Lechtal area, followed by 6 nights in Wildermieming. Very hot weather so they loved going up in open chairlifts. Enjoying the scenery with coffee and apfelstrudel. Watching the beautiful biblical paintings inside some catholic churches where Jesus never leaves the cross. Where they make gravestones personal with a picture on it. On their way back they visited the german concentrationcamp Buchenwald, located between Erfurt and Weimar. Evil all over the place. But the historical town of Weimar is worth a visit. At the last day they went to Point Alpha at the former DDR border between Hessen and Thüringen. A US Army observation post to protect the Fulda gap in the coldwar. A great place to watch how freedom in the end was victorious over communism.
In the 17fall the Gemeinschaft evangelischer Ostpreussen again organised their Ostpreussen midweek seminar. This time at the Schönblick center near Stuttgart. A perfect place with concerthall, swimmingpool, bible bookstore, good food and icecream in the Schwäbisch Alb. Bert got their by high speed train that at times drove 300 km. About 50 persons, of which some were born in Königsberg and Masuren, attended lectures by Erhard & Luise Wolfram from Hannover, Wolfgang Freiberg from Ellingen, Lorenz Grimoni from Duisburg, Eduard Prawdzik from Mosbach and Alfred Scherlies from Vellmar. History, philosophy, theology, literature, art, music and religion were the main topics about a former german state which today is more russian than ever.
You're never too late to learn something. Our dad, in his senior retirement years, loves to attend courses in college again. Once or twice a year he visits the local senior academy in Groningen. Teachers from college or university are digging a wide range of topics. Bert's interest is mostly music and history. He has attended Berlin's Wende, Bach, Soviet-Union and DDR-Stasi. The three Baltic states are scheduled for the 18winter while Today's Russia is for the 19spring. Soviet communism and the Berlin war will be attended in the 19fall. After that it will be Beethoven in the 20winter. In the 20fall Old dutch maps and Baltic books about communist domination are studied. In the 21winter Hungary, DDR and Drenthe will be attended online. The regional 1945 War and Weimar will be followed in the 21 spring. The DDR secret service was on the roster in the 21summer. Jewish life in Central Europe will be the topic in the 21fall. History teaches us that men, like Bush/Rice/Hu/Kofi, learns nothing from history, said Hegel. True but personally history gives Bert a fuller understanding of himself by pulling his roots to the surface. Additionally, social science has a huge impact on everyone's personal education and character. Growing up in the times you're now lectured about, is also part of processing your past, like Jennifer Morrison from Chicago had to endure, and getting a well balanced fulfillment in life based on the one and only JC.
Now let's go back to 1975. The first time ever I saw your face! Before we were born our parents dated 23 months and decided to get married in '78. Started in a small apartment, moved to a family house on soil and live now higher up again. Experiencing ups and downs, changing churches twice, making friends (+lyrics), losing parents. Goethe told us "Was man tief in seinem Herzen besitzt, kann man nicht durch den Tod verlieren". So people show up in your life and have left. The last time I saw her... Not having a clue how to leave her memory behind. Many sweet memories but not all of course. Nobody told us that life would be fair. So does time really heal all wounds? They were blessed with 2 children and 3 grandchildren. In the 18summer it was party time to celebrate their 40 years of marriage. Which we did in a family resort nearby. Still no health issues so we are thankful. But time where did you go?
Maybe never heard of Neugnadenfeld, Germany? Close to the dutch border this moorvillage has a remarkable history. It started before the war as Alexisdorf, a forced laborcamp. One of the 15 Emsland camps located just east of the Netherlands. Many russian soldiers died here during the war (Was ich an Liebe und Treue hab, wandert hin zu deinem fernen Grab). After liberation by the canadian army the Moravians were sent to this nomansland, renamed it and built everything from scratch based on God's provision. Turned the old armycasino into their church. Bert had been here twice before but went again with his son Marc in the 18fall. After the Herrnhuter churchservice with brassband, they were invited for lunch where they met people who came from the east in 45/46. The russian kriegsgräberstätte, german graveyard and the history museum in the lagerbaracke were also visited. Suffering families all around (Jeder Herzschlag ist ein Schritt zu dir) but with lots of prayers, courage, hope, perseverance and God's grace, the bad days never returned.
As parents time to visit our son in Berlin in the 19spring. We took the train leaving from a german station and parked our car for free. Hauptbahnhof Berlin was reached in 4½ hours. The busride brought us to Wedding not far from Tegel airport. Four nights were reserved in a hotel connected to the Charité hospital. Traveling by SBahn or underground by Ubahn is a must. On sunday we visited Marc's evangelische freikirche in Kreuzberg. We also attended the Humboldt university at Unter den Linden. Walking 3 km from Brandenburger Tor to Alexanderplatz is impressive. You're inundated with history on both sides of the street. Bert's favorite square is the Gendarmenmarkt. The guided tour inside the huge Tempelhof airport is loaded with impressive wartime history. Finally we watched Sanssouci and das Neues Palais in Potsdam. Can't wait to go back to Germany's capital. There is so much more to do.
It was back to the eighties/nineties in the summer of '19. Mam & dad visited the Continentals Tribute in Zwolle. Choir and orchestra were directed by Maarten Wassink. Sixteen oldies but goodies were performed and here's the list: Make His praise glorious - Let there be praise - Twila Paris medley - Fa me - The reason we sing - Carry the light - In moments like these - People need the Lord - All rise - Come breath of life - Our great God and King - When angels rejoice - For a thousand tongues - Wonderful grace - He's alive - Light your world - Wonderful name.
Marc was picked up in the 19summer at the Berlin Schönefeld airport where, in Ulbricht's words, niemand die Absicht hat einen Flughafen zu eröffnen. He and his dad were charged to visit Poland and baltic Russia. For Bert it was his 12th time to walk in the rebuilt Königsberg town. The german group of 35 persons was led by pastor Wolfram and his wife from Hannover. Twenty years ago he was president of all lutheran churches out there. When we met again he told me: "Wir wissen uns einfach mit dir sehr verbunden". Since our first meeting in Bielefeld in '98. Our hotels were located in Gdansk, Kaliningrad, Svetlogorsk, Gusev, Mragowo and Dlugie. In Ketrzyn, Masuren we had a meeting with lutheran bishop Pawel Hause. It was easier to cross the russian border than the polish one. So emotional to experience the goodness of God by meeting russian people, pastors, old friends. For the first time he was able to get inside the russian baptist church of pastor Anatoly Krikun at Gagarina street. Organconcert, boattrip, german bunker, citybustour was scheduled in the capital. The weather was perfect at the Ostsee beaches and the Kurische Nehrung. Concerts for us were done by kids, youth and senior choires. The vocal performances of the russian christians is impressive but they can't in any way rely on political trust. Which doesn't mean they will stop praising their Creator. Fernweh is the result, so another trip to this orthodox territory, which I call my homeland, is always imminent.
Our dad went for the third time to Krelingen, Germany. In the 19fall he visited das 30 Jahre Mauerfall Kongress among 45 Germans. Memories, thanksgiving und future were the topics the speakers talked about over 4 days. After 40 years the DDR was gone and went into history. The wisdom of Psalm 90 was apparently not relevant. This peaceful revolution and the reunification was a complete miracle. You tell me who was responsible. Was it really Schabowski in the center of it all? Wer nicht an Wunder glaubt, ist kein Realist. It was now rückwärts nimmer, vorwärts immer. Five DDR christians who were not immer bereit, informed us about their lives. Karin Bulland from Zwickau, Hans-Georg Filker from Berlin, Reinhard Folmer from Elbingerode, Matthias Storck from Bielefeld and Jörg Swoboda from Buckow. Albrecht Kaul from Kassel apologized for not being able to attend. The two hour movie "das schweigende Klassenzimmer" was also on the screen. Mit Feind hört mit, your only enemy could be the stasi. When you can trust nobody there's only One left you can rely on, as Karin told us. "Wir Kommunisten haben alle gehasst, die den Kommunismus nicht liebten. Aber die Christen haben ihre Feinde gesegnet. Nur dadurch habe ich überlebt“. She asked Matthias for forgiveness for all the pain and agonies he suffered in the Cottbus jail, done by her former comrades. After they hugged tears were on many faces. His dad was pastor but also a stasi spy. What's in your mind when your own son is in prison and you're to blame? Probably this: Citizens were supposed to believe in the eternal wisdom of the party that never errs. Die Partei hat immer recht. That absolved the individual from any responsibility. Dazu hatte man in der DDR immer einen Sündenbock, das System. Diese Ausrede, für das eigene Versagen nichts zu können, hatte man nach dem Mauerfall auf einmal nicht mehr. Swoboda's concert saturdaynight and his churchservice sundaymorning concluded this emotionally impressive seminar.
After cancellation in may20 another Ostpreussen seminar was organised in the 20fall. Again in Krelingen, Germany. Bert's forth visit to this village and 4 days long. He was alone among 35 Germans. But nice that one of them, from Nordhorn, spoke dutch also. This seminar was centered on religious life before, during and after the war. The fight between the political lutheran church and the christian church. Persons to remember in der bekennende Kirche are Hans Graf von Lehndorff and Hugo Linck. They were like Schafe mitten unter die Wölfe. Today there are 24 small lutheran and 14 catholic churches in oblast Kaliningradskaja. One topic was the Salem kinderdorf, another the two rehabcenters regarding drugsaddiction and last the connection between Gusev and Salzburg today, because of the protestant eviction from Austria in 1732. Presentations were given by Erhard & Luise Wolfram from Hannover, GRZ director Ralf Richter, former director Martin Westerheide, Henriette Piper from Solingen/Oldenburg and Gerhard Lipfert from Höchheim. Traugott von Below from Schwedt was not able to attend. In freetime Bert was able to visit the russian wargraveyard at Lager Hörsten where about 50.000 soldiers died.
In these covid times there's not much left than to go online. In the 21winter a combined dutch/german daytime zoom conference was organised by the city of Groningen & Leer. The theme: Jewish life in the borderarea. Focused on the synagogues in Groningen, Bourtange, Winschoten, Bunde, Weener and Jemgum. Eight speakers and about 100 guests, including Bert, participated. Lectures about the jewish past during the war, jewish migration all over the world, the promised land and the holy city, the Polak family owner of the pudding factory in Weener, schools keeping the history updated along the railway following the trail of their tears. This seminar was financially supported by Interreg, EU, Land Niedersachsen, Auswärtiges Amt and Provinz Groningen.
Now something complete superficial. Cars. Many men are addicted to them. Understandable since racer Max Verstappen is leading the pack. To me cars are nice but not part of image boosting. What satisfies me most is playing my favorite songs from the stick quite loud. Like, You don't know what you've got till you lose it all again or If these walls could speak. Lately things have changed a bit caused by automatic transmission. Since driving rental cars in the USA and Norway, it was what I always had in mind. In the 21spring this Renault Captur from 2018, mileage 31.000 km, colour red/black, showed up at the dealer's store. Now driving is fun, without any stress. My ninth car since 1976. It all began with Peugeot 104, Renault 6, Talbot Horizon, Ford Escort, Renault 19, Renault Megane, Renault Clio, Renault Break. I even saved all license plates. Important? Not at all. Just for the record. But now I know I bought another car, which was never new, every 5 years.
Just beyond the dutch border we have this german pilgrimage town called Heede. In the 21fall our dad went there for the third time showing that even baptists can be interested in catholic traditions. In the years 1937-1940 about 100 apparitions by Mary & Jesus were sighted by 4 young girls. The news brought outrage to the nazi leadership in Berlin. Carl Röver, district leader of the Weser-Ems area, declared: "These 4 girls destroyed in one day the ideology I tried to indoctrinate over the past 4 years". One of his evil goals was the removal of crucifixes in '36. The four witnesses were sent to a mental institution, later freed but forbidden to visit the local graveyard, which was guarded by the Gestapo. But thousands, from Holland too, honoured the queen of the universe and the poor souls. Even when you're gottgläubig it can be dangerous to resist the mother of Jesus and to personally sign the order for every Jew deported from Bremen to Minsk in '41. Röver died in the Berlin Charité hospital in '42 at the age of 53 caused by forced euthanasia. His grave is in Oldenburg where his streetname was not erased before '49. Today 70.000 from all over the world visit Heede each year including the late polish pope John Paul II.
After seeing it online first, mam & dad went to the cinema in the 21fall to watch the russian black & white movie Dear Comrades! All about the massacre in Novocherkassk in 1962. For Bert there has never been a film that has made such an impact than this one. Lyuda is a loyal communist who fought for Stalin’s ideology during the second world war. She is vehemently opposed to anything she perceives as anti-soviet sentiment. When a workers’ strike in the local factory threatens, she argues for a crackdown to quell the resistance. But the demonstration is inevitable and her rebellious daughter also sides with the workers. A bloodbath ensues by KGB troops after which Lyuda comes to the gruesome realisation that her daughter may have been killed. A daughter who needs prayer, not stupid atheism. Her world view changes. Her once unquestioning faith in the party line is shaken by her growing awareness of its human toll, tearing apart the world she thought she knew. Bodies are dumped in already used graves and all witnesses are obliged to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Despite the blockade of the city, mass arrests and attempts by the soviet authorities to hide what happened, she is looking for her daughter everywhere. Even at graveyards under the sand. You think this is pure history? Start protesting in Belarus today! Need some ideas? Build your own primary school or make public transport safer. And experience that if the state is on your side, you will get away with anything!
Also in the 21fall mam & dad were thrilled to visit another Continentals tribute concert nearby, called a new beginning. Former singers performed again in reunion style with songs of the seventies/eighties/nineties. What a privilege to be part in the past of a mission that went allover Europe. Full of memories of 31 bustours, bordercontrols, passports, sightseeings, audiences, concerthalls, churches, guestfamilies, praise and worship. Here are the 17 songs: Praise His name and see it happen - A new beginning - Come now is the time - Stomp turn sing - We believe - The rock on which I stand - Testify to love - He will carry you - Carry the light - Come breath of life - Hallowed be Thy name - Out of His great love - Agnus Dei - Testify the truth - From this moment on - Stand - There is power.
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