Friday, March 27, 2009

On Immigration

In his Third State of the Union Address, President Lincoln described immigrants as a " source of national wealth and strength." Immigration is a topic that is close to my heart. I am the daughter of a Dutch immigrant. My father, his brother, sister and my grandparents immigrated to the U.S. in the 50's. When arriving into the United States they found out that the treaty that was assumed to have been signed by the time they arrived in the U.S. wasn't. In short, they were in the country illegally. By the grace of God, an immigrant official had pity on them and told them to enter the U.S. and then make it right. He could have easily sent them back. My grandparents took seriously the responsibility of making it right and did so after four years of struggle. Many years ago my Grandmother wrote the story of their troubles. Here it is in her own words.

June 1994

As soon as Stan and I had said “Yes” to Mr. Strater’s requests that we were willing to go to America for his business (making hand-embroidered vestments for Catholic Priests), we contacted Mr. Bob Vogelpohl in Cincinnati, Ohio, to work out further plans with him. Bob had offered Stan a job as his salesman with a territory of practically the whole U.S. Since Bob sold all kinds of church goods, but not vestments, Stan would travel for both companies. Bob would rent a house for us and make things ready on his end of the world.

We contacted the American Consul in Rotterdam and we got our Dutch passports. On mine were the names of our three children and a picture of me and the oldest one. (We had Joseph, Titus, Octavie and I was pregnant with Clemens). I had asked Mr. Strater if we could take my sister Miep with us to help with the new baby.

Stan and I were not sure that the Lord really wanted us to go to the United States and I secretly asked Him for “a sign”.

Stan had been there for two trips, seven months out of the year in 1951 and after having Occi and moving into another house by myself, I just wanted to be together. Deep in my heart, I had no aspirations to go to America for we lived very nicely in Laren and our county was so free!

The Consul decided to give us a new kind of visa because we were leaving the last week of April. (By boat: the Rijndam II). The two countries had been working on a special visa for business-people; they would stay for 4 years, pay taxes etc. and then return to their home-land.

I never believed in that four-year-thing. My intuition said that we never would come back; but who listens to intuition? Not only was I proven right, but my Dad had the same feeling, which years later came to light after his death in 1955 when my Mother found a piggybank marked “for the trip to America”.

We got our visa quickly, but Miep didn’t. She had told the Consul that she wanted a two-year visitor’s visa because she wanted to help us with the new baby and she loved the chance to see the U.S. “You are not a visitor” the Consul said, so the answer was no. Miep went to Rotterdam a second time, but she kept telling the truth and didn’t get it. In the meantime she got her smallpox shots and was very sick after that. She went to Rotterdam for a third and last try. The Consul was not in and a young man had taken his place. Without further ado he got her photo and papers together, asked her to sign and she got her visa. I felt I had gotten my sign.

On April 17 (my parents wedding date) we went on the boat with our hearts broken from all the farewells and the last hugs.

Seven days later, we arrived in New York and after about two hours in line, the Immigration Officer looked at our papers and said “the treaty between America and the Netherlands was NOT signed last week, so now you are illegally here.” Did he tear them up? (I don’t remember). He looked at us again, this time very carefully, and decided to let us go to Cincinnati and there contact the Immigration Authorities immediately.

Later we found out that Ellis Island was still open and that the Officer could have easily sent us there. We were a sorry, but decent sight and he may have felt sorry for us! Then started a four-year battle with the authorities.

Our first money went to a hotel where all six of us had to stay for three weeks until our crate came in, and our second money went to the Immigration Services in Cincinnati and Washington where they had big dossiers about us full of papers, X-rays and requests to go back to Holland and start all over again. The people in the office in Cincinnati got to know Stan so well, they yelled one time “Hi Stan. How many children you have now?”

Well by that time, we had six children and we were bursting out of our house in Glenmeadow. Miep had to leave when Maria was almost five months and her two years were up.

The Lord must have decided that we needed some divine intervention and he inspired one of our neighbors to write a letter to her Senator. It read something like this, “Senator Bricker, What is going on? This is a decent family and they are treated like Russian spies. Threatening letters, official orders, etc. have finally brought them to the end of the line. They have made arrangements with a boat to Holland, a house, registration for the children in school, but her husband has no job there and his family is big.” Stan had two bosses in the beginning, but nobody can serve two masters and after about three years he had to break away from the Dutch boss.

The result from that letter was fantastic! Senator Bricker had other cases like ours and knew about the Immigration laws. He sent some telegrams to us and to several offices. It was decided we would have to go across the U.S. boundary and of course we preferred Canada to Mexico. Within three weeks we were on our way to Windsor, via Detroit where we had friends, and our papers were indeed waiting there! Our three Dutch children had to come with us. Our three American/Dutch children were taken care of by two Grail sisters.

I had wanted to go back to Laren, but was very relieved to have a decision finally. All those years were kind of hanging there, and now we could really start to make the best of it! We cancelled the boat, could keep all our stuff and we moved to Redbank Road.

So now you know the end of that story!


Knowing how hard a struggle my grandparents fought, I believed I knew my position on illegal immigrants. While my grandparents did not purposely come to this country with the intention to be here illegally, they were here illegally. They chose to make it right instead of lie and hide.

These past few weeks, our studies in home school have focused on immigration. It is with much pride I tell our children that they are descended from recent immigrants. Several years ago our family took a road trip from Texas all the way to New York City (with stops along the way). My dream was to see the Statue of Liberty. I wanted to see what my Grandparents had seen when entering this country. It was more magnificent and moving than I ever imagined.

Last year, I met a dear friend here in town. She was much younger than me, pregnant with her second child and homeschooling her 2nd grade son. We started talking and found out we had so much in common. She was very mature for her age, intelligent and articulate. We had an instant bond of friendship. Now, she is like a little sister to me.

Recently she confided to me that she had come into the country illegally when she was young. I was shocked to find out that although she was married to a U.S. citizen and both of her children were born in the U.S., she would shortly be shipped out of the country for an extended period back to Mexico. I grieved for the toll this would take on her family. Her husband would be separated from his children and wife for a year or more. So much happens in the life of a baby in a year. Bonding between the baby and his father would be greatly compromised. My heart was sick for her. Knowing her story personally has really opened my eyes to the plight of the illegal immigrant.

She became a Christian and applied for citizenship. The paperwork and money needed to gain her citizenship are unbelievably burdensome. She often wanted to give up. She recently asked me to write a letter on her behalf in her efforts to gain citizenship. While I am honored, I don't even know how to begin such a letter. I pray that God gives me wisdom for this task.

I think it has come full circle for our family. Someone wrote a letter on behalf of my grandparents so many years ago to help them gain their citizenship. Now it is my turn.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring Beauties blooming in our front garden

Our front flower gardens are planted and ready for the season. We stick with one color family for unity. Purple and blue are cool colors and tend to recede into the background making our gardens seem further from the street thus making our yard look larger. We also sometimes throw in a little white which goes with our main color quite nicely. The Cleome bush shown above is a newbie.

Here are a few pictures of what we planted:









We also planted the following which haven't shown their blooms yet:

Queens Ann Lace
Columbine Blue
Louisiana Iris

We are looking forward to enjoying our spring beauties all season.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My continuing efforts to gather my 3 month supply

As I type this, my expanded garden has been planted. My husband placed some large sticks around the garden to help keep the soil from eroding. It looked so much like an old pioneer garden that it was thus dubbed. Here are some pictures of my "Pioneer Garden". It isn't much to look at now, but soon it will be bursting with goodness. I have planted two tomato plants, two cucumber plants, a zucchini plant, several bell pepper plants and two rows of bush purple hull beans. If you have never seen purple hull beans let me explain their magic. They go into the pot purple and as they cook, they turn a brilliant green. Kids love to eat "magical" beans. They also like to eat what they pick. This is a great way to get the veggies into the mouths of babes! If you look carefully, you will see my little bunny amongst the plants.

Our older garden in front of the patio has been planted with jalapeno and tomato. Most of the herbs survived the winter. A testament to the hardy stock of plant at our local nursery, Nelson Water Garden. They have the absolute best plants around. The herbs currently flourishing for their second season are lavender, curly parsley, thyme and rosemary. New to the garden is oregano and two types of basil planted in containers. I've also planted two containers with lettuce.

My husband also planted 4 tomatoes in other beds around the yard. I think we will be begging our neighbors to take tomatoes off our hands by mid-summer!

My shopping is going well also. I have stocked up on shampoo, laundry detergent and flour. I'm being diligent to use coupons and shopping sales for my 3-month supply. Because we spent money on our garden this month, we had less for my 3-month supply shopping. We know we will get a return on our investment throughout the summer. Next month I will have more money to stock up on canned goods and such.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More confirmation about preparing for the economic storm ahead

Just yesterday I posted about storing up a 3-month supply for your family and to be able to serve others during our tough economic times. I got goose bumps reading this message forwarded from someone in our homeschool group.

In an "URGENT MESSAGE" dated March 7, 2009, Wilkerson said:

I am compelled by the Holy Spirit to send out an urgent message to all on our mailing list, and to friends and to bishops we have met all over the world.


For ten years I have been warning about a thousand fires coming to New York City. It will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. Major cities all across America will experience riots and blazing fires—such as we saw in Watts, Los Angeles, years ago.There will be riots and fires in cities worldwide. There will be looting—including Times Square, New York City.

What we are experiencing now is not a recession, not even a depression. We are under God’s wrath. In Psalm 11 it is written,“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (v. 3).God is judging the raging sins of America and the nations. He is destroying the secular foundations.The prophet Jeremiah pleaded with wicked Israel, “God is fashioning a calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh, turn back each of you from your evil way, and reform your ways and deeds. But they will say, It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart” (Jeremiah 18:11-12).In Psalm 11:6, David warns, “Upon the wicked he will rain snares (coals of fire)…fire…burning wind…will be the portion of their cup.” Why? David answered, “Because the Lord is righteous” (v. 7). This is a righteous judgment—just as in the judgments of Sodom and in Noah’s generation.

WHAT SHALL THE RIGHTEOUS DO? WHAT ABOUT GOD’S PEOPLE?First, I give you a practical word I received for my own direction. If possible lay in store a thirty-day supply of non-perishable food, toiletries and other essentials. In major cities, grocery stores are emptied in an hour at the sign of an impending disaster.

As for our spiritual reaction, we have but two options. This is outlined in Psalm 11. We “flee like a bird to a mountain.” Or, as David says, “He fixed his eyes on the Lord on his throne in heaven—his eyes beholding, his eyelids testing the sons of men” (v. 4). “In the Lord I take refuge” (v. 1).I will say to my soul: No need to need to hide. This is God’s righteous work. I will behold our Lord on his throne, with his eye of tender, loving kindness watching over every step I take—trusting that he will deliver his people even through floods, fires, calamities, tests, trials of all kinds.

Note: I do not know when these things will come to pass, but I know it is not far off. I have unburdened my soul to you. Do with the message as you choose.

God bless and keep you,

In Christ,


Monday, March 16, 2009

Easter Decorating

I love Easter! It is my favorite holiday. My Savior rose that day and made it possible to have my sins forgiven and be with Him always. It is also the start of Spring. The promise of a new beginnings. Bunnies are a special collectible for me so I get to showcase my collection during this time of year. I found some really fun Lindt chocolates in the shape of lambs and bugs and some mini-bunnies. I always purchase the Lindt chocolate carrots. So fun to give and decorate with. I've just started arranging my decorations so here is just a peek...

These little flocked bunnies are from my childhood.
The boys and I also took a fun trip out to King's Orchard near us for strawberry picking. Here is some of our 10 pound haul. We had fun eating them plain, in smoothies and we had a fun chocolate fondue with friends and consumed a few more. Reliving my childhood in the 70's! The rest are in the freezer ready for smoothies.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Preparing for the Economic Storm Ahead

In the tough storm of economic times the advice I hear most often is "save your money". I am starting to question this wisdom. Thinking ahead to what the future might hold, goods may what will be in short supply. With tougher economic times looming in the distance, my thoughts turn toward preparation. The storm may be long and hard, but we want to be able to ride it out and to be able to serve others.

When you tell others you are saving money for the tough times, they nod in agreement. But tell someone you are storing up food, and they look at you with a puzzled look in their eye. Why? Food is abundant and somewhat inexpensive now. Wouldn't you be wise to buy it while it is inexpensive and store it for later? It is actually a better investment than squirrling all your money away. Who knows what kind of value our money will have in the near future. What if your loved one loses their job? Wouldn't you feel better knowing you had a nice supply of food to take you through a tough time? I'm not saying you shouldn't also have a nest egg for hard times. That's important too. You can't pay your light bill with canned food.

What does the Bible say?

The virtueous woman in Proverbs 31 gives.

She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. Proverbs 31:20

How can she help the poor if she hasn't prepared something to give them?

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Proverbs 6:6-9

Ants prepare during times of plenty. So should we.

As Christians, we have to wake up and look around. We need to be prepared for our family and others. Can we prepare for the storm without losing our heads? Can we gather without being alarmists? We should be ruled by wisdom, not fear. Anything that has fear attached to it is not of God.

Today I was digging around for my Y2K food preparation list. (Yes, I stored up for Y2K.) At the time, I thought it was kinda silly, but I thought it would be better to be safe and sorry. After nothing happened at the stroke of midnight, we were able to use our food storage for the next three months. Nothing was wasted and I was glad for the added convenience of the stockpile.

Y2K was actually a great "dry run" for this next project of mine. I'm going to store up a three month supply of non-perishables and find alternative suppliers for perishables. I'll continue to post my progress here. My intention is to very slowly gather up a 3 month supply of non-perishables that we currently use on a daily basis... nothing new or strange. Nothing to strain my already tight budget. Just an extra can of beans here and a extra bag of flour there. If something is on sale, maybe I'll pick up a few more. We also plan to extend our garden and plant more produce.


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