Friday, August 26, 2011

A Trip to Middelburg

We were invited to spend the day with the Andersons traveling through the islands of Zeeland, south and west of Rotterdam.  These  islands were seriously flooded in 1953, about ten years before Elder Beckstrand served his first mission in The Netherlands.  A severe storm broke through a dike and the ocean poured through the breech drowning over 1800 people, and damaging homes and property to the tune of millions of dollars.

As a result of the devastation, the country initiated a huge storm barrier called the Delta Works. These huge concrete slabs close off the ocean's access to the dikes around the islands during storms so that they aren't in danger of being broken through by the waves.  It was an amazing feat, being called one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

The ocean was beautiful on this sunny, August morning.  Almost hard to believe that it can also be a killer.  Many places on these islands are actually below sea level - thus creating the need for dikes to hold back the water.

A beautiful windmill on our route.

We stopped at a small dorp (village) called Veere.  This was originally a fishing port. 

Lots of people were out enjoying the beautiful weather.  The sun hasn't been very friendly this summer.  Mostly it has  hidden behind lots of grey clouds.

This large tower stands on the wharf.  It was originally a fortress to protect the harbor from attack.  Slits in the sides of the walls show the places where those protecting the port could take shelter from invaders.

It was interesting to learn that Veere had exclusive rights to the Scottish wool trade.  The Lord of Veere married Mary, the daughter of James I of Scotland.  This alliance gave Veere special privileges to market wool throughout Europe during the 14th - 18th centuries. 

The typically Dutch architecture is a continual delight.

This building looked like some kind of official government agency. 

We next traveled to Middelburg where we walked to the town square.  The 15th Century Town Hall was prominant on the square.  This building was beautifully decorated with statues of prominent past statesmen. 

Another building on the square.

They certainly build their church buildings LARGE!  I can only assume that at some point there were actually people who went inside to worship.  Today it is mostly tourists who visit them.

It is pretty impressive to see what man was able to create in centuries past with only hand-made tools and equipment.

We walked through the city and enjoyed the ambiance.

This was a very picturesque well.

Another stately church. 

I will always associate this type of roof design with Holland. 

The churches try to outdo each other in size and prominence.

We were standing in front of the Town Hall when this wedding couple arrived to be married here.
Another prominent building on the square.

We looked and looked for the abbey.  After walking all round the center of the city, we finally stumbled onto it.  It was well worth the walk. 

Founded in 1120, this abbey housed the Norbertine religious order until 1574.  Since that time it has been home to the provincial government of Zeeland.

When we walked down this corridor it was like stepping back in time 6 or 7 centuries.  I could almost feel the postulates walking beside me in their long, black robes.

The roof was all constructed of bricks in a very intricate design.  The arches were high and beautifully crafted.

There was a lovely garden totally surrounded by the abbey buildings.

We loved the feeling of antiquity that we felt here. 

Time to say goodbye to Middelburg.  We passed this lovely windmill on our homeward journey.

This beautiful field of sweet peas was a delightful surprise!  We had supposed that all of the flower fields were gone.

One more exquisite windmill.  I can never get enough.

This family has found a way to enjoy a bike ride together.  I've never seen a bike quite like this before.

The Andersons are celebrating their 44th wedding anniversary this week.  Happy Anniversary, you two!

I'm not sure where we are - but there's always a big church in every town.

This is the original gate to the city.  The village was surrounded by a canal, much like a moat in former days.

Isn't this steeple pretty?  It has been a lovely day and a beautiful drive through Zeeland.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Zone Service Day at the Mission Home

The Den Haag Zone was invited to a Service P-Day at the Mission Home on August 22nd.  This new mission home is located in Leidschendam, just south of Leiden.   All of the elders, sisters, and senior couples met at 10:00 am to get their service assignments.  Elder Beckstrand was asked to work in the backyard to help cut away the over-growth along the canal.  I (of course) was asked to cut up fruit and vegetables in the kitchen.)  Sigh.....  That's where I always end up.

Sister Brubaker needed help carrying in all the bags of groceries from her car.  Food, food, food!  You can't let these young people go hungry after they've pulled weeds all morning.

Oh, what a pretty array of delectable picnic offerings.  We are certainly being spoiled today!

President Brubaker is the master chef!  The hot dogs over here are called 'worst' and are about 1 1/2 times the size of a normal hot dog.  Very spicy and tasty.

The fruit and vegetables took a couple of hours to cut up, but everything is finally ready.  I even got a chance to pull weeds for a half hour - just so I could say I had earned my lunch.

Sister Salden cuts the buns in preparation for the barbeque.

It may look like Elder Tibbitts and Elder Beckstrand are loafing.  Well, in point of fact, they are - but not until they got their assignments done.  Elder Beckstrand took charge of the pruners and made quick work of the overgrown trees and shrubs along the canal.

It took the missionaries quite a few minutes to scrub the dirt off their hands before lunch.

Sister Hill asks permission to read her mail from home while she waits for the others to clean up.  It's always a good day when you get to read news from home.  (Hint, hint....) 

The rule of the mission is that the sisters ALWAYS go first when the food is ready to serve.  It might just seem like a courtesy - actually, it's to ensure that they get something to eat before the elders go through the line and consume everything in sight!

These are such great young people.  They work hard, they pray hard, and they serve with all of their hearts.  A P-day activity such as this gives them a little break to enjoy each other, share stories, and gear up for the week ahead.

"There's lots of meat!  Come and get it,"  calls President Brubaker.  (He doesn't have to ask twice.)  A delicious lunch was enjoyed by all, then we loaded the car with missionaries and drove back to Amsterdam to prepare for JoVo FHE.  Most peoples' work is from sun to sun.  A missionary's work is never done!  Aren't we blessed???

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rijnsburg Flower Parade

On August 13th we were invited to the Tibbitts' apartment in Rijnsburg for lunch and the annual "Bloemen Parade"  (Flower Parade) that was held there.  After enjoying a delicious lunch we went out onto their balcony for a birds-eye view of the parade, which passed right in front of their apartment building.

It was raining quite hard down on the street, but we were protected from the weather by a roof over their balcony and we watched the parade in warmth and comfort!

                                      This is the Netherlands' flag.  It was waving in the breeze just in front of us.

The people watching the parade were wearing raincoats and holding umbrellas throughout the event.  It would be nice if the rain could just go away long enough to enjoy the floats.

We weren't sure if this entry was trying to show an alien from outer space or a submarine immersed in flowers.

This limo was strewn with cornucopias filled with flowers. 

There were several bands.  This one was all brass.  They had a great sound and their lines were straight, too!

This was a clever idea.  The land of Holland was shown here on the map reminding us that it is one of the largest producers of flowers in the world.

Many of the entries were flowers draped over cars in beautiful color combinations.

The Scottish dancers were dancing to music played by a bagpipe band immediately behind it.  The next entry went from Europe to Asia, highlighting geisha girls from Japan.

There is more than one way to show off flowers in this parade.  This energetic bicyclist peddled his way down the parade route.  Bicycles with carts in front are a familiar sight in this country.

It was fun to see Tigger ride by on the back of this car, surrounded by beautiful flowers. 

Winnie the Pooh followed right behind his friend Tigger.  Children all over the world enjoy these delightful Disney characters.

It only makes sense to have Winnie the Pooh in a flower parade.  After all - the honey he loves wouldn't be available if the bees didn't have flowers to get their nectar!

So many fun colors and ways to display flowers.  It wasn't the "Rose Bowl", but it was delightfully Dutch.