Our son Joseph served an LDS mission in the Netherlands from 2010-2012. Lewis and I tagged along as Joseph returned to Holland in 2013 with his new bride Aubrey to visit the places where he served. Henk and Jackie Rensen who adopted Joseph as their American son, graciously hosted our stay. Joseph served as our tour guide. We visited Muiderslot castle and learned about defending medieval castles. We saw original Rembrand paintings at the Rijks museum and original VanGogh paintings at the VanGogh museum. We went to an outdoor museum where he saw an overview of the history of Holland including those beautiful traditional windmills. Windmills were used to drain water from the land to make it inhabitable. Much of Holland has been reclaimed from the sea.
We also visited a World War II museum. World War II devastated Holland. After the Great War (later known at World War I) the Netherlands never wanted to fight again. They didn’t build up their military, because they wanted peace. Hitler obviously didn’t respect their desire to stay out of the war. The underprepared Dutch lost their country to the Germans in only 5 days of fighting. We visited the Anne Frank house and although we’re smiling near the statue outside, there were no smiles inside the house. There is a sober feeling of reverence inside as the realities of what these people endured is brought painfully home. Tragedy can be on a large or a small scale. Our hosts, the Rensens, lost both of their sons to early and untimely deaths. We were able to visit the graves of these two precious boys.
Holland is beautiful. We visited the world famous Keukenhof Gardens Tulip Festival with endless varieties of gorgeous tulips. We also attended the Hague Netherlands LDS Temple.
I’ve never seen so many bicycles in my life. People ride bicycles everywhere and there are bicycle parking lots all over the place. Holland is the “melting pot” of Europe with many immigrants from all over the world.
We also visited Apenheul Primate Park. There is no other zoo in the world where you will find so many primates roaming freely! As we sat on a stone wall to rest, I felt a tug on my jacket. I found myself surrounded by tiny monkeys and several had their hands in my pockets searching for treasure. It was an experience unlike any other.