Nov 14, 2011

150 years

That's how much time has passed since the first Dutch people were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Friesland (pronounced 'Freezelund')- cause for a celebration and a road trip. Lindsey and I loaded the three oldest kids into the car along with plenty of snacks, drinks and music, and set the TomTom to an address I had never heard of, let alone ever been to. You'd think that living in such a small country as Holland, and having Fries blood (my grandmother was from Sneek) would have ensured many visits up north. But it hasn't. The only other time I really remember going up to Friesland was for a 4-day camp held in Appelscha when I was 16ish.

I wish I'd gone more.
The drive was absolutely gorgeous, as was the weather. We made a stop on the afsluitdijk to see what it was all about and stretch our legs. The kids would have been happy if that had been our only destination. But we got back in the car, drove on, and as time ticked on the views became greener and quainter. The best part was when I took a few wrong turns TomTom messed up, and we got to enjoy the extra scenic route.
The site where the monument is situated is a humble one. Set between two small farms it is separated from the quiet asphalt road by a narrow ditch. The windmill behind it and the grassy pastured that surround it give it a perfect Dutch feel, and I must admit that my patriotic side came alive a little as I listened to the mayor speak of the history of the place. It also made me feel proud of my Mormon heritage, and the kind of people we are generally viewed to be by anyone who has taken the time to get to know us just the smallest bit.
 After a few speeches a choir of missionaries sang, and everyone was given the opportunity to get a picture with the monument. Balloons were let up, and we all gathered at the neighboring farm where we were graciously welcomed with cake and drinks. As I looked around for a place to sit I noticed an elevated patio that looked quiet and cosy, so I headed over there. The only other person sitting there was an elderly man who motioned me to come sit next to him. He turned out to be the original owner of the farm, though his son and daughter-in-law now ran it for him. He told me all about what the area looked like when he was little, and asked many questions about my faith. He told me lots about his and we were happy to find many things we had in common. He reminded me of my grandfather, and talking to him was my personal highlight of the entire trip. Either that, or how soundly the kids slept during the drive back...

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