Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Day 9: Zondag (Sunday)

April 27th was a very special day for us: we visited the church that my grandma went to when she was a little girl, and we visited the farmhouse that she grew up in!

The Ooste Kerk.


(Look how symmetrical it is!  Isn't that cool?)

This stained glass window was given to the people after World War Two. Beauty in brokenness.

There's something special about worshiping with other believers, even if you don't understand the language. On this particular day, they were having an infant baptism. At first, I thought the father was the baby's big brother! He looked rather like a young Michael Jackson (or one of his big brothers in the Jackson Five) and sang like him too! The baby's older sister - who looked about five or six - was in charge of holding a candle. And not one of those fake ones. This was a real candle, very tall, with very real fire at the end. I thought she was going to light her siblings on fire! Either them or the minister in his robes. Thankfully, no mishaps occurred. 

My grandma's family have supposedly been living on the same piece of land since the 1600's. In the 1850's, the below farmhouse was built. It was where my grandma, her siblings, and many of her other relatives (including my dad's cousins) were born.

The farm is run by my dad's cousin and they raise cattle for milk. While we were there visiting I drink some pure, unpasteurized milk, that came straight out of the tank (that had recently pumped the milk out of the cow). Wow! If milk tasted like that all the time, I might drink it. (When I was little, I had an allergy to milk. I've since grown out of the allergy, but we never switched from rice milk to regular. I don't drink milk; it goes only on my cereal and occasionally in hot chocolate.)

The farm, like most other farms, has other animals... cats, a dog, and some ponies, which my dad's cousin's daughter trains and rides. I even got into the saddle for a short ride!

My dad's cousin's daughter (I will give five hundred imaginary dollars to whoever figures out what relation she is to me) doesn't speak much English, and I don't speak much Dutch (I'm better at understanding it) but we managed to communicate a little bit. We're around the same age. She asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I tried to explain youth ministry in the church... but that didn't work too well. Whenever I told anyone about youth ministry, they didn't really understand. It wasn't a speech barrier, more like a cultural or religious one. They just didn't seem to have any programs for youth - at least not in the churches we visited. But more on that in a later post.
The girl was telling me about what she wanted to do as well. I believe it was something with horses and equestrian... but I could be mistaken.
In the end, I don't think either of us really got much out of the conversation, but it was fun nonetheless! And the horse was very nice.

Now, there are several big barns where the cattle are kept, but when my grandma was growing up, the animals were kept in the barn attached to the house. Can you imagine the smell? Now, the cows are milked in the attached barn. The really young calves live in the attached barn as well.

Inside the farmhouse there were three bedrooms upstairs, and one more downstairs. There was also the kitchen/parlor, where my grandma's family would usually sit. We sat in the "Sunday parlor," which, when my grandma was young, was only used on Sundays (it reminded me of Great Expectations). Now the parlor is used any time.

I could have stayed at the farm longer, I think. Not only were the owners of the farm and their children there, but two of my dad's other cousins with their children and spouses came as well! And an old aunt. There were 18 of us all together, I think! It was so much fun to sit with every one and to listen to them laugh and talk in a strange mixture of Dutch and English! I love having such a big family; I don't love that everyone lives so far away that we can't just invite them over or be invited over on a Sunday afternoon.

We had to leave, however, because we were going to another church service - a special Koningsdag service. This service had a female minister, and a beautiful, beautiful choir! Oh, how I wished I could go up and join them! The roofs of old Dutch churches radiate the music back to those sitting in the pews; it's gorgeous. I can't wait to do a special post on Dutch churches, because they were really wonderful (maybe not so much the worship - because we couldn't understand it - but the architecture, and the music. Oh).

It was a nice, restful Sunday.

Stay tuned for Day 10, where Tintin made a new friend named TomTom...

P.S. For anyone wondering, I didn't actually have my wisdom teeth removed today. There was a scheduling mishap where they didn't even have us down for an appointment today (plus the surgeon is in India because of a family emergency) so now my surgery is rescheduled for sometime in the last week in July.


  1. Wow Abbey your trip just sounds so neat!
    We drink pure unpasteurized milk all the time! I have to go our friend's farm and pick some up this morning.
    Your dad's cousin's daughter, wouldn't she be your second cousin?

    1. Oh, cool! Unpasteurized milk is healthier for our bodies too, isn't it? Doesn't the pasteurizing process take out valuable nutrients that our bodies need or something?
      Or would she be my dad's second cousin? (Since she's the kid of his cousin... here we go with that Dutch bingo again!)

  2. Your dad's cousin's daughter would be your second cousin. Meanwhile, she would be your dad's cousin once removed... just as his cousin would be your cousin once removed. The "removed" is how far away you are from a common ancestor... so your dad's cousin would be one generation closer to your great grandparents... hence the "once removed" bit, by the same token, your dad's cousin's daughter would be once-removed from your dad, but just "second cousins" to you, because you're the same number of generations from your great grandparents (the common ancestor).

    Clear as mud? ;)

    My family is huge, so I took the time one day to figure out how we were all related and what we were to each other. The whole "removed" thing is weird at first, but once you understand the underlying principle, not really that convoluted. (Of course, my brain is weird... so I could be wrong about the "not that convoluted" bit)