For those of you who don’t know who the Ten Boom family is, I’ll give you a quick overview:
The Ten Boom family lived in Holland in the town of Harlem, in a narrow house over a watch shop that had been in their family for several generations. During WW2, Corrie ten Boom, who was in her 50’s at the time and a watchmaker herself, became very involved in the underground work. At this time she lived in the Beje (their nickname for the house, pronounced bay-yea) with her father, and older sister, Betsie (I actually have a sister who was named after Betsie ten Boom). Their house was a kinda in-between house where Jews would stop on their way to some safer place. Eventually though, they had a group of Jews that stayed with them because they didn’t have anywhere else to go.
One day the Ten Booms were betrayed by a fellow Dutchman and the Beje was raided. the family was taken to prison and eventually to concentration camps. Thankfully, they had built a hiding place and the Jews and some underground workers were able to hide there (more about this tomorrow).
After the war, Corrie traveled all over the world, sharing about God’s love and forgiveness. She even went as far as to turn the Beje into a home where Dutchmen who had betrayed their fellow countrymen and turned them in to the Nazis could come and stay. She also found out who it was who had betrayed them and wrote to him when he was sitting in prison, about to be killed for his war crimes. She told him what he had done to her family and how she forgave him and then she told him about Jesus’s love.
We left our cars quite a ways from the Beje, and were walking all over Harlem, trying to find the house. I hadn’t realized we were so close to the Beje, until someone said “There it is!” And I realized I was standing just across the street from this history and loved filled building. I had been recalling and telling stories to my younger brother about the Ten Boom family during our car ride to Harlem, and it felt so amazing to be standing on the very street corner where these accounts had taken place. The watch shop is a jewelry shop now and they had watches displayed in the windows, which made it feel almost as if time hadn’t really passed. It was a marvlous experience.
When we first went in, we were in the dinning room, and my first impression was “Wow, this is so small!” How they able to fit so many people in there, I have no clue. I remember how Corrie often mentioned how crowded the table would be when everyone was gathered around, but I hadn’t realized just how crowded it really was. There were so many of us in the room I didn’t get many good pictures, and then after we left the room, they said we weren’t supposed to take pictures, so sadly I don’t have many.
I was standing there, looking at the table, then I looked out the window and I saw how we were about nine feet up from the street, and that’s when I was suddenly like “OH MY GOODNESS!” Because I could very clearly see in my mind the scene where they were sitting around their table with all their Jews and suddenly they saw someone’s head right outside their window and they kinda freaked out since generally people couldn’t see in the window and hence it being safe for them to have the Jews eat with them. Right away they had begun singing happy birthday and acting like they were having a party so the person wouldn’t think anything unusual about so many people being there, then they realized that why he was so tall is because he was on a ladder, cleaning the windows. It turns out he had gotten the address confused and was cleaning the wrong windows, but they were still scared for a while that he was really spying on them.
I can’t describe how it felt to remember that part of the book while standing in the very room it took place in. I wished I could have just spent all day, or all week, walking around the house, reading the books and imaging them taking place there.
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Check back tomorrow for the next part of my trip to the Beje! And don’t forget to get more entries for our European postcard-tour giveaway! As always, when you share about the giveaways it really helps me! Thanks so much for passing the word along, y’all are great!