The cycle has now been completed – I am back in Schiphol where my trip started almost a month ago. I’m currently waiting to board the plane and I still have heaps of time to waste until boarding time. It’s currently around 7.00pm here and my flight will leave Amsterdam at 9.30pm. I have taken a shower at the Mercure Airport Hotel – so now I feel very refreshed and ready to tackle the long flight ahead. I will still have to face about four hours of transit in Singapore before I continue on my flight to Jakarta.
My last day in Amsterdam has been a positive one as well – I got up late, not rushed by the need to have the breakfast at the hotel. The package that I got at Hotel Bellevue doesn’t include breakfast. So when I received the call from Sjoerd, I was awakened for good. I did wake up some time earlier and decided to return to sleep. Hehe. We took the train to Haarlem at about 10.00am, a short train ride away from Amsterdam. Haarlem feels much more laid-back and quiet – very different compared to the tourist-infected Amsterdam. *grin*. I had my omelette breakfast in one of the café there, that had been there since the 1800’s, whilst Sjoerd had his apple pie. As mentioned in the previous blog entry, I wanted to visit the house of Corrie ten Boom in Haarlem. We didn’t check the guided tour schedule before we went to the café, so we found out that we had to wait for two more hours before the next English tour began.
We spent time by walking around Haarlem – we visited the smaller begijnhof complex in Haarlem, the atmospheric Cathedral of St Bavo, as well as going to the Teyler’s Museum. Teyler’s Museum houses various fossils and minerals, and has a current exhibition on deep sea exploration. It filled in the two hours of waiting time quite nicely, so by the time we walked back to the Corrie ten Boom’s museum, we just had to wait for around 10 minutes.
There were about ten other participants to the guided tour: two Brits, two Philipinos, two Canadians, and an American family of four, myself and Sjoerd. The guide, Judy, warned us that the tour would touch on the topic of Christianity and God. As we sat around in the living room, it did feel like we were in a cell group, which was perfectly okay with me. I was a bit worried about Sjoerd because he probably didn’t expect a religiously-flavoured guided tour.
We learned about Corrie ten Boom’s family and how they ended up helping hundreds of Jews to escape Nazi’s persecution. Apparently the patriarch of the ten Boom family had started praying for Israel and the Jews from 1844, one hundred of years before they actually helped the Jews in the Netherlands. God works in mysterious ways! The family who were praying in 1844, didn’t know that their descendants would help to save hundreds of Jews. The nation of Israel wasn’t even formed then!
We also visited the actual hiding place, that could fit six people, behind a cabinet. Those who needed to hide, had to slide in through the opening in the cupboard and then pull the lever to shut it. According to the guide, they regularly had a drill to ensure that the process was smooth – it took them 70 seconds to climb up the stairs, get into the hiding place, and tidy up everything to ensure that nothing looked amiss.
I found the tour really good and soul-enriching – and certainly left me with a positive note even though you learned about death, tragedy and loss.
The guide, Judy, also showed us a cross-stitch picture that was made by Corrie – it looked messy – but it was actually the back of the actual picture. She flipped it over and showed us a picture of a crown – and said that sometimes when life seemed messy with so many hardships that came your way, you just needed to wait until God reveals the actual picture to you. I know the analogy but when I heard it again, it strengthened me.
When the tour ended, we walked back to the station, but because of the heavy downpour, we took refuge in a local HEMA store (some kind of department store). I ended up following Sjoerd’s example by getting myself a bread and half a rookworst with some mustard on top. A delicious lunch!
We parted way in Centraal Station in Amsterdam because Sjoerd had to take a connecting train to Diemen, where he lives. I returned to the hotel, picked my bags and headed to Schiphol … I was a bit worried that the immigration officers might be concerned with my Emergency Passport. The process was pretty smooth though, so in no time I was inside of the airport complex already.
I walked around the airport after I took my shower, just to kill time – I also had a look at the Corrie ten Boom book that I bought for my sister (A Visit to the Hiding Place) and at times I had to stop myself getting misty-eyed because of what I read. Corrie ten Boom and his father, Casper displayed such a remarkable faith of always being positive and anchoring everything on God’s promises. I want to live with that attitude and hope as well. One of Corrie ten Boom’s favourite sayings is apparently, “No pit is so deep that God’s love cannot reach.” I surely don’t want to live with a nagging self-pity or a “woe is me” mentality when I’m facing challenges in my life – if I cry, I will cry because of God’s love in my life! 🙂