Religious encounter in The Netherlands

A 1951 religious experience in The Netherlands.

 It was cold and freezing when we, my mother and 4 children, arrived in the early morning of January 27, 1951 with the passenger ship m.s. Chitral from the Dutch-Indies in Rotterdam. My mother was alone, because my father died in Batavia of the inflicted wounds due to Japanese cruelties. Few hours later we were transported by buses to a hotel in Berg and Dal just outside of the town Nijmegen. We Indo’s got cheated by the hotel owner and after many complains hotel Beatrix got closed by the authorities. Then we were moved to another pension in the town of Nijmegen on the Groesbeekse weg across from the Catholic Church.

Being brought up as a good catholic I went the following Sunday to that church and took a seat on a church bench on the fourth row from the front. During the prayers a man suddenly kept a basket in front of me and asked a donation. Being 13 years old and one week in a cold Netherlands I told him that I had no money. He told me, if you do not have money you have to stand at the back. I got up, went to the back and walk out of the church.

A few months later my mother, my younger brother, two younger sisters and I moved to a house in the village called Beuningen, a typical farmers place about 10 miles outside Nijmegen.
This house had no running water and no heating. In the kitchen was a pump-handle. When we need warm water we had to boil the water on a coal furnace (potkachel).

Meanwhile my mother re-married a man she had worked with at a government office in Batavia (today called Jakarta). Mom could not handle the cold and got arthritis, especially at her hands and the pain was unbearable. The local village doctor was called and surprisingly the village catholic priest together with the doctor showed up at our front door. My father guided both to the bedroom where mom was laying. The doctor checked mom her hands, stand up and while he look at the priest he said: I think you are right! My step-father asked what he meant with “I think you are right”.

The priest turned to my step-dad and told him, that it was not his fault, but a catholic woman is not allowed to marry a protestant man and because she did, she has been punished by god.

Both the priest and doctor were kicked out of our house.