Annick had the day off from school today, and so we ventured to the neighboring town of Haarlem to see what has been classified as one of the remaining “Typical Dutch Towns.” Our original draw to the city was that it housed Corrie ten Boom, a truly fascinating and God-fearing woman who helped hundreds of Jews go into hiding during the second world war.
The city welcomed us with the aroma of oliebollen, literally translated to oily ball, that in reality was a delicious fried dough with raisins inside and sprinkled with a magical powdered sugar that once bitten into then sprinkled all over me, I mean ALL over my beautiful black coat. Needless to say I was a sight.
Once I was cleaned up, we were welcomed into the prior home of Corrie ten Boom which still resides over the family Jewelry shop. We recieved a personal tour where we got to sit in the home where Corrie once sat.
Corrie is an extraordinary woman who has preached the gospel to countries all over the world. The house she lived in was previously two houses that eventually got combined into one house. For this reason, the floor levels differed between buildings, making it the perfect place to hide. In her young years, she had fallen in love with a young man, but his family disapproved and so he backed out. Her father told her, you can pretend it didn’t happen and throw it away and lose a part of yourself with it, or you can face it where it will hurt and let God heal you himself.
She eventually became the first female watchmaker in the Netherlands and opened a girlscout club of sorts for young women that ended up being her helpers for the Hiding Place.
She helped over 800 Jews escape, hiding many in her own bedroom behind a secret wall. Her family was eventually sold out into the concentration camps. One fall, her sister, Betsy, dreamed that by the end of the year, they would both be free, and that they should open safe houses in both the Netherlands and Germany so that they could serve their friends and their enemies.
Betsy died the next week, but Corrie was set free which was a miracle in itself. She went on to open those safe houses and spoke of forgiveness to the Royals and to those in prison.
On one of her final trips, she was confronted by a prison guards from the concentration camps after her talk – one of the worst guards she ever encountered. She said that she had to pray over and over to ask God to help her. Once God gave her the courage to extend her hand, she felt warmth and release. She said that God asks us to do something not for others, but for our own freedom.
I believe that Corrie is a beautiful example of forgiveness. That if she can forgive, with God’s help, the guard from a concentration camp, we can forgive anyone and any fault committed against us.
I had the opportunity to stand where she hid all of those Jews. Behind the wall in her room. Today, there lay a bible verse and not much more, but to know that it was once a place where lives were saved from her work was honoring.
Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas season with family and friends!
Many blessings my sweet friends and family!