On our second and final morning in Amsterdam we didn’t hesitate to go back to delifrance. I knew it was going to be a good day when I walked in and one of Celine Dion’s French albums was playing over their system. (I happen to like Celine though many of my close friends really don’t. Proves that people with varying musical preferences can be friends.)
The same waitress was there and we placed our order as soon as we walked in. We enjoyed our breakfast as much as we had the first morning. As Matt and I were enjoying our second cups of coffee the waitress walked around the counter and asked if she could give each of the bigs a chocolate muffin and Parker a second croissant. Of course we said yes and they ate an additional 9 € worth of food on the house. Happy kids, happy mama!
After breakfast we went back to our hotel and I read to the boys from Anne Frank’s diary. It was different now, for the boys, having seen the rooms we were reading about. Pretty exciting to see these lightbulbs illuminating their eyes. Before we knew it the driver had arrived with our van and its treasures hidden within… the food we had accidentally left behind. As we walked and/or drove around the city we took pictures of things that caught our attention.
On the previous day when we toured the Anne Frank House we had forgotten to take along our ChapelNext mugs. These things travel all over the world and then we tag our chapel’s FB page in the pictures. Because we were in no rush we drove as close to the museum as we could get and I let Matt and Hayden out. They rushed down the street and got the following pictures. Perfect!
The next two pictures are ones I liked from our visit and so I wanted to include them in this post.
We got on the road to to a nearby small town called Haarlem to visit the Corrie ten Boom house. As soon as we arrived we noticed that the next English speaking tour was an hour and a half later. We didn’t have that much time to spare so when the guide showed up for the Dutch tour we asked if we could tag along with them even though we wouldn’t understand a thing.
I really want to give these curators a bit of extra recognition. They went above and beyond to acomodate us. They took us in and led us to the English tour that was already in progress. I didn’t stay long as Parker was being very loud. Flirting with anyone he could and asking to get down to play. I ended up spending much of the time in the dining room doing fun little games with my baby like, “This little piggy…”
I felt so badly about Parker being a disruption and about our jumping in the middle of the English tour that I worried we were a bother. The guides assured by their smiles and pats on Parker’s head we were not and seemed to be glad we were there. In fact, they were REALLY glad the bigs were there because they could demonstrate getting in the secret room the way the actual Jews had.
A few fascinating facts about the secret room:
- They built it specifically to hide the few Jews they housed at a time; those who helped brought bricks in one at a time, and paint disguised as milk.
- They made it with bricks because a wooden wall would sound hollow while bricks would trick anyone searching for fugitives.
- After it was built they aged the walls with coal and even added fake water stains to match the exact look of the other walls.
- The room is small: 2 and a half feet deep and the width of the room, which was fairly small.
- Six people hid there for over 48 hours after the ten Boom family had been arrested and taken to prison. They were released by a double-agent who came and rescued them.
Toward the end of the tour the guide asked if the boys wanted to pretend to be in hiding. Matt was to ring the alarm bell installed for the purpose of alerting the fugitives to rush to the secret room and the boys were to get there and hide, while I checked their time. I ran upstairs to Corrie’s room and threw open her door, doing my best to get there before Matt pushed the buzzer. Imagine my surprise when I saw in the room the small group of people who were taking the Dutch tour. Fortunately the curator knew what was going on and smiled, and explained to her visitors what was going on. Then we heard the bell and the sound of elephants herding up stairs. The boys made it to the hiding place in 42 seconds.
The guide congratulated them but then reminded them that the people who were in hiding had to bring with them their food, cups, plates, hats… anything that would tell the searchers that there were more than three people living in the house. They had to get all the way upstairs with their things, silently, within 70 seconds. It was an amazing story and the boys really seemed to grasp the importance of what they were seeing.
We purchased the movie and the book while there before heading off. Later that night as I read Corrie’s book I learned that her father had wanted children in the house all the time. After raising his own four children he went on to raise eleven foster children. Corrie described the joy he felt in being around children and how, in a crowded room, the children would be drawn to him and he rewarded them with his full attention. It comforted me that we had brought into the house something Casper ten Boom loved: the joy and noise of children.
Before we left I snapped a picture of the symbol the family had used to indicate that it was safe for Jews to enter and ask for refuge. When the family was taken prisoner the Nazis figured out what it was and placed it in the window. Over the next 48 hours additional people were arrested after entered the building thinking it was safe, bringing the total arrested in the ten Boom house to about 30.
We left having felt we had really touched history. We had visited the sites of two places where Jews hid for the sake of their lives. One with the focus on the Jewish family in danger and one with the focus of a Christian family who put themselves in the face of danger to protect Jewish families.
I would love to think that, were I to face that situation, I would do what the ten Boom family did. I can’t even imagine.
One thing I discovered today as I listened to The Hiding Place on audio book was that the very truth that comforted me most as Matt considered entering the military (and again before he deployed) is a take on one of Corrie ten Booms quotes. I have said a hundred times, to myself and to others, that there is no place safer than in the center of God’s will. I will close with Corrie’s actual quote:
“There are no ‘if’s’ in God’s world. And no placess that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety – let us pray that we may always know it!”