Letter # 63 - Janís sister Marchienís husband Detmer is a ship captain and in this unfinished letter, Janís mother describes his shipwreck. A final page is missing, but her beautiful testimony shines through it all.
Wildervank, 24 August, 1887
Dearly Loved Son and Daughter and children,
We received your letter written on the 6th of this month with the money. Through the undeserved goodness of the Lord we received it, as well as the previous letter, in a reasonably good state of bodily health.
Dear ones, if I excuse myself (for not writing - ER), it doesnít matter, as you yourself wrote in your letter, but still the circumstances can certainly lead one to postpone it. Sometimes I do not look forward to writing you because I canít always put matters together in order, as I would like to. So then I just have to do it alone. On July 17 I was 74 years old. You probably know that yourself, but still the Lord makes it so that I am what I am. And there are not so many of my age who appear so well on the outside, but I myself feel the infirmities. Enough!
Our Heigiena is not with me right now. Our Marchien and Detmer live in the house of Willem Pronk. That is roughly across from our church. You will be able to place it. So that is closer by.
But, dear ones, I also canít give you any welcome news. Detmer lost his ship some fourteen days ago in the North Sea. It was a huge disaster for them. At that time there was very bad weather and they had railway iron (rails? - ER) in the hold. That is such dangerous cargo at such a time. Some donít even want to load it, but because the shipping industry is in such bad shape, sometimes they just have to take what there is. They were so exhausted from pumping that they just couldnít do it anymore. By Godís grace a steamboat came by to save their lives. They did what they could, but they were not able to find out what happened because that boat just happened to come by at that time and had to be at a certain place so they had to leave quickly but they said that there are people who look out for this and have larger pumps and forcefully bring in the broken ship or its freight and it is the captainís responsibility. If the ship is condemned and could not be repaired, then the captain is not liable, as part of the contract, but otherwise itís the captainís responsibility, and the merchant of the goods also bears great responsibility because this cargo of iron isnít worth much. The more valuable the cargo is, the better.
I better just stop. In any case Detmer has gone to the ship in Yarmouth, that is in England, and does not himself know how everything will turn out, but the ship is too good to condemn. Everything is known to the Lord. What will become of it time will tell. They will probably write you.
Now to return to your letters, Dear ones, your previous letter, dear ones, was so delightful for me, dear ones, that your fruit and other commodities seem so promising. It was also so gratifying to hear that Dominee Kuiper and Mr. Veltkamp visited you, and that you visited Mrs. Strobos and Kaspar and Eiboes. If you meet her again be sure to give her my greetings. And dear one, what you wrote that your desire was that the Lord may still use you in his Vineyard..
Oh dear ones, I feel that if the Lord in his counsel had so decided then it will surely happen. I wish that it may be comfortable for you. The Lord says, ďMy ways are not your ways and my thoughts are not your thoughts.Ē How fortunate is a man if he is able to present all his thoughts and needs before him and pray for what we may need for soul and body and receive our comfort in that way.
I donít believe, dear ones, that I need to convince you that our only comfort in life and death lies in this that I do not belong to myself, but to my trustworthy savior Jesus Christ, and what is says more in that entire answer of the first Sunday (of the Heidelberg Catechism - ER), but also, dear ones, I must also say that I believe that all things will work together for good and that the Lord orders and guides all his desires precisely. However, he is touched by our concerns and wants, even when it is the opposite of the truth. Oh, dear ones, that struggle will certainly.....