This past summer, we two girls were privileged with something that neither of us will ever forget. We travelled around the world and learned a lot. One of the things we realized was how fortunate we are to have been brought up in Christian homes and in a country in which we have almost anything we want, and nobody is starving nearby.
First, we went to Hawaii with Rev. Hanko. Here he watched us take off for Singapore, where we would stay for one month before meeting him and Prof. and Mrs. Hoeksema again.
We were on the plane for the whole day and spent the night in Bangkok, Thailand. The next day we reached Singapore. The Chinese people at whose home we were to stay picked us up, although we were ready to take the first plane back home again. These people were considered quite wealthy, but still their house wasn’t like anything we were used to.
The food also took a lot of getting used to. Both of us ended up liking rice and fish. They eat a lot of this because it is so cheap there. Near the house we stayed at, was a housing complex (one square mile), which housed 250 thousand people. These apartments had three to five rooms apiece and sometimes a family with six kids shared a three-room apartment.
In Singapore, there are 2.4 million people under very crowded conditions. The majority of the people are Buddhist. They are very superstitious and are very frightened by their religion. Above the doors of many houses or apartments, there are lights, a picture of Buddha, a mirror, burning sticks or simply just Chinese writing, al of which are supposed to scare away the evil spirits. They believe that if they do not lead a good life and obey Buddha and all the gods, the gods will become angry and at the people’s death they will be punished severely. We visited a place that showed the Chinese beliefs concerning heaven and hell. This is very real to the people and even to us it was very scary. Many Christians in Singapore will not visit this place, or any place that concerns Buddha.
There are not many Christians in Singapore compared to the population. They belong to the Bible Presbyterian churches. There are about twelve of these churches, made up of mostly young people. A lot of these young people are either persecuted or thrown out of the house by their parents because of their religion. This creates many problems in the church. The Bible Presbyterians are not very reformed in their beliefs. For many of the people, their main goal in life is winning people for the Lord, and seeing how many people they can convert in one day. Sunday is not a day that they keep only for the Lord. After all their talk about God we thought Sunday would be very important to them, but after church and lunch, Sunday is all done and the rest of the day is left to do what they want.
After Rev. Hanko and Prof. and Mrs. Hoeksema came to Singapore, we all visited a Chinese temple. Here we saw a little bit of the idolatry of the Buddhists. But it wasn’t until we got to Bangkok that we really saw how awful the heathenism of the East was. We all took tours of two different Buddhist temples there. We were horrified at what we found in these temples. There were many people doing different things. There was buying and selling of many things, there were many monks, and people worshipping. It’s quite awful to see very poor people that have nothing, praying and offering incense to a stone image. Rows and rows of Buddhas (each in a different position) line the walls of some temples. We saw one huge Buddha that was solid gold and all the rest of the large buddhas were either overlaid with gold, copper or marble, all with mother of pearl for eyes, nose, mouth, fingernails, etc. This was terrifying in itself to see that all these people are starving and give all they have to their god, because they are frightened of the consequences. Many monks, all dressed in orange were walking around and preparing incense. When we were in these temples, everything was so eerie, and it seemed as if God was so far away. This was an interesting experience, but one that we would not care to do again.
From Bangkok, we flew to Zurich with one stop in Iran. This was one stop all of us would just as soon forget. The only point of real interest was the Arabs walking around.
In Zurich, which was very cold, we took a train up to the mountains. From there we took a bus farther into the Alps. It was there that we spent a beautiful Sunday. We could see the wonders of God’s hands in the beauty of the mountains and all that was around us. This was a good rest for everybody and especially for the ministers.
Monday was spent riding by train along the beautiful Rhine Valley through Germany. We saw lots of old Medieval castles and also the cathedral in Cologne.
After going through Germany by train we went to the Netherlands. This was very interesting. We saw some of the things we had often heard talked about, but had never expected to see. We spent one night in Amsterdam. From there we went to a town name Harligen where we also stayed for a night.
We had a hard time understanding the people there. We learned and saw from our trip there that the young people weren’t very interested in the things of the church. In Amsterdam, we could tell from the appearance that it was a very immoral city.
From Netherlands, we took a train through Belgium to Luxembourg. We arrived at Luxembourg too late and too tired to do any sightseeing.
The next afternoon we boarded our plane for home. We couldn’t wait to get home and back into our churches and be able to have fellowship with loved ones and friends. We were very thankful for this opportunity to see all these different things and for God’s sovereign care in bringing us safely home.