Letter # 79 - There is a gap of 3 years since the previous letter. The writer of this incomplete letter is Janís younger sister Griet, who is now 68 years old. She and her husband Hendrik operated a barge. The First World War is raging, and her son Geuchien has just been drafted. At this point Holland seems to be allied with Germany. I met Geuchien (my dadís cousin!) in Rotterdam in 1955. At that time I knew nothing of these letters. The third convoluted sentence of this letter seems absolutely Pauline!
Groningen, January 27, 1915
Dearly Loved Brother and Sister with your children,
Through Godís goodness we are fairly well and hope that you may receive this in good health as well. I have wanted to write for a long time but circumstances prevented it so often, but now the letter will get over to you. Once again a year with all its cares and concerns has come to its end, and the New Year with its worries and burdens is here, revealing in a large measure what the consciousness of our depravity and misery again brings with it in adversity or prosperity, in peace or in war, so that we may look carefully ahead to our faithful God and Savior, knowing that no hair from our head will fall outside his will, and that whatever happens to us comes to us from his hand, even though sometimes danger seems quite threatening.
Last year in the month of July our boarder, brother of Christina, went away for 6 weeks on vacation and then we went away as usual for 3 weeks to our Albert and Wubbina, and also on the 27th we went to Amsterdam. On the 29th our Geuchie phoned Albert that he had just come into Zwolle with linseed cakes from Hamburg, and now had a message that on August 1 he was drafted as a soldier because of the war, and had to be at the capitol in Groningen at twelve oíclock, and he had heard nothing about that before this. So Albert phoned him, Iím coming to you and will go with you to Groningen. Albert stood with him and telephoned home that he would go and stay with his wife, and in the evening when we were in the train you couldnít see anything but soldiers. What suspense! Everyone was filled with anxiety and fear. In Amsterdam there was total confusion. Our Geuchie had actually fulfilled his draft term and was getting his release. But now thereís no thought of that. Heís now docked at Noordpol on the Zeedijk and then will go once again to Delftzijl.
If the Lord wills and we are alive, heíll come on leave Saturday and stay over Sunday. We had to stay 4 weeks at Zwolle with the cargo and the crewman. Our Albert went regularly by train to check and didnít see him. Then the ship was undocked and our Albert brought the ship to Amsterdam, and now itís lying in the Oosterdock with the rigging in the hold. What a huge change, so different from his usual activities! So then his (Geuchieís) wife stayed with our Albert and Wubbina, and gave birth there to a son and then in December came to our house. Her people were in Hamburg that entire time because of the war and came here for the holidays with a cargo of iron, and now she has gone home for a short time to her parents. For me itís a lot of work. She, with the child, receives one guilder per day. Thatís all right, but the ship is idle; however so far we have been spared.
Our Willem and Chatrina had the cargo on July 27 in Bremen bound for Rotterdam, as we were leaving, too. They knew nothing of the war, but when they were outside the harbor the navigation was blockaded. So they went back to port and stayed in Brake until November, about 3 months. Then they were towed by a naval tugboat to Willemshaven. The news from there was very bad, and they couldnít even go on deck! What anxiety! But the Lord made it all turn out well, for they are all healthy.
We have not really had any winter and no night frost. May the Lord grant that an end may come to this terrible war and bloodshed. Sunday was a stormy day at sea near Helgoland. We could hear the cannons clearly here in Groningen. At first it was a great commotion here; trains full of Belgian refugees were arriving. But places were found for them and now there are also 1600 English interred. And with all this Groningen is in a state of siege at this time and everything is in confusion, but the government is indeed managing things.
Dear Brother, you wrote about our Heigiena. She doesnít come here often. Her husband.......