Letter # 64- Jan Rubingh’s brother-in-law, Detmer Dekker, gives a moving account of his shipwreck in which his profound faith is very evident.
Wildervank, December 6, 1887
Dear Brother and Sister,
Through the goodness of the Lord we have received your letter of October 10 in good health, and to our joy we understood from it that you were all healthy and doing well, which is a great privilege if we but take notice of it and acknowledge it with thanksgiving. But all too often we fall short in this, and may that make us feel ashamed and burdened, and lead us to sorrow so that we humble ourselves before the Lord and confess our sins and guilt. We are all together doing well, and as far as we know, so are our Mother and Heichiena. Fourteen days ago we got a letter from Hendrik and Griet. They were all fine. They were taking a cargo of wheat from Rotterdam to Cologne.
But apart from that our affairs are not looking very rosy. Dear Brother and Sister, as Mother also informed you, on August 11 our ship was left in the North Sea severely damaged because we were totally exhausted and fatigued from ceaseless pumping. We had to leave the ship to save our lives because the water rose in the ship even though we pumped non-stop. We were rescued by an English steamship and landed in Hamburg. Then shortly after that, after we had left the ship, it was boarded by English fishermen and they prevented it from sinking by their own strength and non-stop pumping and towed it to Yarmouth. Then I traveled in person to Yarmouth, but there were so many expenses, that the ship was sold to cover the expenses. And because the ship was insured (solely) against total loss, the insurance did not apply. If the ship had sunk, we would have received 2700 guilders, but now: nothing.
So, Brother and Sister, that is a huge blow for us, and then a long time without livelihood is another blow. Fortunately no damage to us, because we had no debt on the ship, but now the blow is even harder for us. But what shall we say? The Lord is free in all His works and he does what pleases him. There is no one who can repulse His hand, or can say, “What are you doing?” It behooves us to be still and worship, dear Brother and Sister, because we have forfeited everything and have no authority or claim on anything, but our Nature often will not accept that. May the Lord make us willingly comply in the way which he desires for us to follow.
You write, dear Brother and Sister, that if it was in your power to give us information, you would gladly then do it, if we were at all thinking about going to America. And we do not take that ill of you at all. If we could obtain our living in America as well as we have had it here up till now, I for me would care very little where in the world (we lived). And our children would like to go to America. But I see a big difficulty in earning bread for our household because I am unaccustomed to such work. I have worked on the sea for forty years, and of that I was the skipper for 21 years. In August I became 53 years old, and then the work doesn’t go so well either as when one is young, and above all if one is not used to the work. I don’t see much chance to earn a living for my household on the land here either, because here everything is way too expensive and the competition is so huge in all professions that opportunities are poor. And I have an infirmity in that I don’t hear well, and that makes for me a large problem in starting something else. Thus it is my judgment that it is best just to stay with my old profession, if I am able to get things in order to get a ship again. Hoping and wishing that the Lord……..may soon provide a good result.
It gives us joy, dear Brother and Sister, that the Lord has blessed you this year. Just as you wrote, the farmers here also had a good harvest. Corn is cheap, but the mills are paying 80 cents for a Mud (= 4 bushels - ER) and most of the farmers have harvested 400 - 450 Mud per hectare.
Now dear Brother and Sister and children, I don’t have more details and my paper is also full and My Wife wants to write, too. Now then, having wished for you the Lord’s blessing for both soul and body, your loving brother and Sister greet you from the heart, D B Dekker
M G Rubingh
Be so good as to write us back as soon as you can.