Letter # 71 - This sad letter from Janís sister Marchien tells of the death of Janís oldest child, Mietje or Mettje, 20 years of age and married. For several years Marchien has been Janís most frequent correspondent, next to his mother. Her husband Detmer captains an ocean-going freighter. The letter was water stained and very hard to read in spots.
Wildervank, April 21, 1892
Dearly Loved Brother, Sister, and children,
With the deepest sorrow we received your letters in good health, and saw how you ....;.one of your dear children, your oldest daughter Mettje.......with the ..... dear ones, but also her husband. Although we are so far away from one another, yet we feel it deeply, because she is just 18 weeks older than our Elziena, I feel so ..... that they are very much one. We ourselves lost 2, still so young.
And what shall we say? We have forfeited everything through sin, and if she sought and found Jesus as her guarantor and mediator, then she is released from all her troubles and cares, because as the poet says, the preeminent thing is trouble and sorrow. But may the Lord make you submissive and pour balm into the wounds, because we know very well that by nature our flesh and blood cannot manage without one another. We would so much like to comfort you if only we could speak face to face. Yes, dear ones, I think you will be pleased that Iím writing you. I simply cannot postpone it anymore.
My dear brother and sister, once again a few more days have passed and the letter is still not mailed. When I began to write my intention was good - that the letter would be finished and underway. But because we have three girls working now, Iím also very busy. Our Elziena is still in Harlemmermeer by her nephew and niece. Detmer Dedden is the head teacher there. Our Mettiena is by Geesien Veenhoven and she is a widow, and our Allieda is by the elderly Kuiks. Grietje is married and.....
Yes, dear Brother, you can see all of this in your mind, and from my husband I had a message this week that they were waiting for a favorable wind. A few days earlier I had a letter that they were ready to depart with a cargo of coal from Scotland bound for the Baltic Sea and then they would return from the Baltic Sea with a cargo of wood for Brem (Bremerhaven??)
I must above all greet you from him. He does not yet know the tragic news about your oldest daughter. Detmer went on board on March 5. Last fall on November 11 my dear Detmer came into harbor and I went with him to Hamburg. He is impatient to put to sea, but it is still somewhat early and I really wish he would tie down the boat there. Last year the shipping trade was poor and then we were just back home and it began to be winter, and we have had a long and severe winter.
You will likely say, dear ones, put your girls to work! Well, they are not allowed to sew, but I taught all three of them to learn to sew, so that they can make their own everyday clothes. I did not go to even one person to see if they would have her, but people came all by themselves.
All three are big like men, like me in size and even more plump than I am nowadays. So now we still have two girls at home. Then there is Griete; she is sort of awkward and lop-sided. We have done a lot about it, but nothing helped. She is quick and helps with the wash, but she cannot do very much. Then there is Berendiena, she is ..... and a sassy girl of 14 years. She will learn to sew if we live and stay healthy. Last summer already she was out for awhile.
And then there is also a boy; he goes to school. Tomorrow if he is well, he will also put his name in this letter. So not much idle time is left over for me, but that is also how I want it to be.
Now dear ones, greet Mettjeís husband for me his sister-in-law and too much.....