August 31, 2014

The Haarlem Hideout


I rode my bike into Leiden from Wassenaar. It was supposed to take 20 minutes. I think I had a couple backtracks, and it took me 35 minutes instead. Locked up my bike next to a tree, and got on the next train to Haarlem. The Netherlands has free wifi in their stations and on their trains. No phone, no problem!

Once in Haarlem, I took the long loop back to the Corrie ten Boom house. The museum only offers 4 English tours a day, and for only 25 people at a time, and I was already too late for the early tour. I did not book ahead, and I got lucky; I definitely recommend booking your spot ahead of time to save the worry of having gone all the way to Haarlem and not getting into the house.

The little city of Haarlem is dominated by the massive cathedral in the center market square. There were workers cleaning up what looked like had been a music festival of some kind. I think normally the square would feel more open and inviting without stage equipment everywhere. I would have gone inside the church, but there is an annoying Dutch trend of charging admission to go inside churches, and I don't support this concept (exception: Sagrada Família).

Every restaurant looked good in the center, so I don't remember the name of the one I ended up at...but if I saw it again, I would know! I ordered a sandwich that said North Sea, and all the ingredients were in Dutch. An amazing salmon sandwich came out on the softest homemade bread: YES!

"The Hiding Place"
I don't even remember the first time I heard the Corrie ten Boom story. It was sometime in early elementary school, and she was just a natural part of our Christian curriculum. This home tour was just as excellent as the Anne Frank tour, but with an unashamed message of Christ's love for everyone. Honestly, I felt like I was at a home prayer group. It was real and it was awesome.

The guide had great stories to tell, and I learned so much about the history of the ten Boom family; how they believed Christians should pray for and do whatever they could to support the Jewish people (they felt this way 100 years before WWII) and how their sacrifices during WWII helped save over 800 people.

The ministry of Corrie ten Boom after the war was intense. If you have no idea who I am talking about, read this. An incredible woman who survived insurmountable odds, and blessed others until the day she died. An ultimate warrior for Christ, and someone even non-believers can admire for her courage and strength to love even after seeing the worst of humanity during WWII.