I was planning on writing about my Europe trip in order of how it happened, but since so many people have expressed interest in The Hiding Place, also known as The Ten Boom House and The Beje, I decided I would start with that.
Corrie ten Boom’s books inspired me and changed my life. They were also one of the factors that got me interested in writing. I saw how my life had been changed through a book, and I wanted to be able to write books that would do the same thing for other people.
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).
Corrie’s sister and father both died in the camps, along with one of her nephews (although not from the same raid) and Corrie’s only brother died soon after the war because of the horrible treatment he got in a concentration camp.
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.
I’m so very thankful for the people who run the Corrie ten Boom Museum. You don’t have to pay to go into the house (although if you wanted a guided tour it does cost a little) and it’s not affiliated with the government at all. They said they have it this way so that they can keep Corrie’s message true and strong and share the gospel and God’s love with everyone who goes there.
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.
And then I saw the Alpina sign, which they put in their windows, advertising a certain brand of watches they sold, but it was also a signal. When it was up, it was safe for the underground workers, if it was down, it wasn’t safe. During the raid Betsie had knocked the sign off the windowsill, but a guard noticed and realized that it must have been a sign, so he fit it back together (it had broken into three pieces) and put it back up. That was really bad, because some of the underground workers knew that the Ten Boom family had been found out and came to warn them and since the sign was still there, they didn’t know that the Nazis were in the house, so they kept getting caught. I think the Nazis got around 27 people in all, although not everyone was part of the underground.
This blue sign says “Jesus is victor” and is a phrase Corrie ten Boom used quite often and she even wrote a book with that title. It helped remind her that even though evil was so prevalent and seemed to be winning at times, Jesus was still the victor and in the end, everyone would be able to see that.
I’ve read where Corrie refers to this crown so often, yet I never realized how beautiful it is. This picture doesn’t do it justice at all, because the lighting was bad. Corrie used to carry this crown around with her, it’s cross-stiched and the back looks like a big mess and not beautiful at all. The idea comes from a poem by Grant Colfax Tuilar:
My life is but a weaving
between my God and me,
I do not chose the colours,
He works so steadily,
Oft times He weaves in sorrow,
and I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
and I the underside.
Not till the loom is silent,
and the shuttle cease to fly,
Will God unroll the canvas,
and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
in the Weavers skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
in the pattern He has planned.
I was able to buy some bookmarks there that had a picture of each side of the crown, as well as the poem. Plus, I was able to buy a few of Corrie’s books, which was extra, extra special! I never imagined I would be able to go to her house and actually buy her books.
Now, I hadn’t planned this at all, but when I saw how interested a lot of y’all are with the Ten Boom family, I decided I could share since I’ve been so blessed as to actually be able to go to the Beje. Therefore, I decided to host another (totally unplanned!) giveaway, where one of you can win a copy of Corrie’s book In My Father’s House, that I bought in the Beje. I hope y’all are as excited about this giveaway as I am! Plus, I’m also giving the aforementioned bookmark to five more of you wonderful people. With this giveaway, the first winner will get the book, and the next five will get the bookmark.