Letter 12-a

Date (sent): 8 February 1873
Writer: A. Stokdijk (brother and friend)
Sender: G.W. Bloemers
Place: Gibbsville Post Office, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, North America
Addressee: Derk Willem te Selle
Address (sent to): Fökkink farm, Winterswijk, NL

Holland, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin February 8, 1873

Worthy Nephew, D. W. te Selle,

Upon invitation of your uncle G. W. Bloemers, I am taking up the pen to write you some lines in his name and in his presence hoping that these lines will find you and your family with my two sisters in good health.

As far as your uncle is concerned, well, taken his years into account (since he is almost 79 years old) he still is very well, however, the old man is very deaf, and much dizziness in his head, is related. Also, it goes without saying, he is becoming weaker and less able to walk, and also must pay attention to many different weather conditions. The desire of your uncle is that he would like to know that all is well with you and with the entire family, not just from his side of the family, but also from the side of his departed wife.

You must know that your uncle, however old he may be, would very much like to know how each member of the family is in the temporal. But also, and above all, I know that – however pleasing and refreshing it might be for him to know that you are all doing fine in the temporal – he would be delighted in particular to hear from you and the family that you all are doing so well that you can write:

“Dear Uncle, we know that when our earthly home, this tabernacle is broken up, we have a building close to God. A house not made with hands … but Eternal in the Heavens.” That your uncle for himself may believe this, I have no doubt. And that you and the entire family also might share in this hope is his sincere desire, and his highest longing. Not only here, but also his prayer to our God and Father.

That the old man has written you about this before is quite sure. And that you are convinced of the fact that he means well by you, you would not dare to deny.

It has befallen the old man well upon that way, and when we ask the older folks (in heaven) how did you come out with Jesus whom you have chosen as your deliverer, and your Leader, for your eternal hope, then they would all say, “All of us has befallen it well, yes as good as it was and is for them to be near the Lord, that they consider others as Strangers here below. They all would say to us that with Jesus they were never cheated (or disappointed) and possess a hope they do not want to exchange for the entire world.

And O, how wonderful it would be for him in his old age, that there are souls who have obtained a love for Jesus, and that is also why your uncle, once more wants to invite you to give heed to that great salvation. Considering his high age, it could be the last time that he is able to say this to you. So take heed to your days. I know that your uncle is sincere, and yes I know that he also likes to see and to hear very much that all of you is going along quite well as far as the temporal is concerned. For that he is not reckless at all. He is with his family where he has it very good. And now after the passing away of his wife, he will also feel stronger than ever before how well the Lord still cares so much for him. So well cared for that he is unhindered and free from all necessity beyond the temporal. But above all his soul would fare well when his children and grandchildren, yes the entire family, might walk in the truth. The grace is not denied, no, no, a Christian would, if possible, bring all people to Jesus. A Christian prays and pleads many times, hidden from view. Many times sheds tears out of sight, and in the inner chamber, in the night when most of the people are asleep. From this we see a great love, a great interest.

Even as Jesus stood over Jerusalem and said while he wept, “Oh if only on this day you might know the things which bring your peace.”

I want to invite you to write your uncle, especially how every member of the family is doing, and also how his two sisters are doing, if they are still living. Also if they are doing well, will you be so good to make them acquainted with this. And bring hearty greetings from him to them and the entire family.

From your two brothers who went to America he did not receive a letter for a long time.

This spring it will be two years that Harmen Jan has written them. They live in the state of Nebraska. Nevertheless, he has heard from others that they are doing well after the temporal.

You will understand that your uncle still lives with his son Tobias and wife, and that he, in his old age, enjoys the privilege of being together in all freedom and comfort with his children, and not only that, but also with his grandchildren. Of whom, Solomon says, that they “are a jewel for the elderly.”

His children possess a total of nine of these jewels called grandchildren, of whom the oldest Janna, is 20 years old; Anna, 18 years old; Hendrik Jan is 15 years; Gerrit Willem, 13 years; Dina, 11 years old; Gezina, 9 years old; Mina, 7 years old; Jan, 4 years old; Albert, 1 year. Thus 9 jewels crown the head of a man of 79 years old and living in a household.

Now, what else, your uncle would also like to know how is the churchly situation with you in the Netherlands. He feels that if it did not take a turn for the better, from when he left the Netherlands, then the situation of the church is not the best. Not that there are still some true Christlike congregations with upright ministers, or that there were no pious Christians anymore, but how things are in general. Isn’t there a great falling away and departure from the true Christian teaching? If you still hear about conversions, or being born again to a living hope through faith in Jesus Christ and the Word. When you see churches and enter therein and hear and see what goes on there, and sit by yourself at home and read the Bible, and see what the despised man of Nazareth, Jesus Christ, teaches us about the way of salvation, and his disciples, those despised fishermen, what they learned, and not only what they learned, but how they lived, what would then be your answer? Is in your place the congregation of Christ visible to the world, or is the world with you in the church, or has the so‑called church taken on the garments of the world? Your uncle longs for your answer. Tell him once your thoughts, because we all know very well, or should know, that we are approaching the end of his time. We must remember that the day of the Lord is drawing near, and that that day will come, after all, when people expect it the least.

And it is quite plain that, in general, very little thought is given to this. It is evident that there are many who say, “Oh it is and will stay as it always was in the world. Where is the promise of His coming?”

But when we see what the Bible says about that, then it is the language of mockers. Mockers and those who bear the name of Christians, we must not give heed to hear them. O troubled Christendom, we might well say, “Did you learn Christ that way?” No, mockers are not Christians and it makes no difference who or what he is. Even the most fluent or talented preacher: when he makes fun with (or mocks about) the return of Christ, he is not a called minister of Christ, and he himself is not a Christian. Surely we are in dangerous times, there is so much agitation to move and to go ahead, but where is the movement ahead in Christendom? Nevertheless, it is also true that there are crying voices from all directions East, West, South and North, “See the Bridegroom is coming.” Faithful watchers who God still gives, also in our days, and those calling voices, increase from day to day until the day is there. Fortunately there are still many who are awake here. And how is it with you, or don’t you hear anything about this. We know that there are in the Netherlands, but if there are some with you, or is still everything still asleep?

O, may the Lord cause all to understand, not only to help us to recall that the day of Jesus is near, but also that we impart the Mercy of God in Jesus Christ through conversion so that Jesus Christ may live in our hearts by faith so that we with joy, may long for that day.

Because, otherwise, all our knowing will help us nothing.

If we long for Jesus’ return, then that Jesus must be our daily life.

If we pray for His return (lit. Toekomst means Future!) , then we must first pray that He may live in our hearts. If we long for the New Jerusalem (Hemelsche ‑ Heavenly), then we must first have our new birth from that Jerusalem, and when we understand that, my friend, then we can call ourselves fortunate people. And then we know for sure that our Lord Jesus Christ shall come when He has prepared a house for us in the House of our Father, the New Jerusalem. And worthy friend, may my wish and prayer be fulfilled then will your uncle, I myself, with all our friends and acquaintances may receive that grace to know Jesus here and to long for His return, and to meet you and yours there, to be with the Lord forever. Amen, so be it.

And now, my friend, upon the invitation of your uncle, I have written you a little. I may have added a little of my own, but this I know, that whatever I have written, it will have the approval of your uncle. And with this, I commend you with yours to God and the words of His grace.

Your uncle’s friend, brother and servant

A. Stokdijk

N. B. We have had an early hard winter here. On November 12, 1872, the winter started. There is enough food and fodder here for people and cattle. The coldest it has been here is 22 degrees below zero. In other places as cold as 40 degrees. The likeness (gelijkenis = photo, picture) of your uncle is enclosed herewith, and you and your family and all other friends receive hereby the hearty greetings from old man Bloemers, his son and daughter, as well as their children. Hoping that you will write back soon.

Address; G. W. Bloemers
Gibbsville, Post Office
Sheboygan County
North America