We just spent the day in Europe!  After sleeping for around three hours on the plane, we arrived on the overnight flight to Amsterdam at 11:00am.  I booked a time slot for the Anne Frank House at 9:00 on the flight since more were released at that time.  When we had checked a week ago, they were sold out of the pre-sale amount, people said you needed to be online at 9am in order to be one of the few that received tickets for the current day.  With wifi on the flight, I woke up and booked the museum.  Cassidy was in a play a few years ago about children of the holocaust and she really wanted to go to this site.  Now we just had to get there.

There were trains and buses going from the airport to downtown.  By accident, I bought a bus ticket online instead of a train ticket.  I was a little stressed about making the 12:30 time slot for the Anne Frank House.  The bus dropped us off with a 25 minute walk to the site.  We walked along a canal, saw the narrow streets of Amsterdam and got to our destination a little late, but they still let us in.

It was powerful to be in the annex where Anne Frank and seven others hid from the Nazis for 2 years.  Right before the war ended, they were found out and ended up sent to concentration camps.  Only Anne’s father Otto lived through the ordeal.  He came back to his warehouse/office (which was where the hiding place was located) and found Anne’s diary.  He learned a lot about his daughter by reading the diary, he felt her inner emotions and self was much different then what he knew as her dad.  The diary was published and became a powerful testimony of what it was like to hide from the Nazis.

As we go to Israel, it was amazing to be able to see Anne Frank’s house before we came to the land of the Jews.  The holocaust shows us what humans are capable of doing to each other.  It’s atrocious.  A story that needs to be told.

Right beside the museum, we found a place that had gluten free pancakes!!  Cassidy was thrilled so we went for lunch and had Dutch pancakes.  It was so good to sit down and relax after rushing to the museum and then spending an hour hearing the story of Anne Frank and her family.  The crepes were delicious and huge! (See more pictures on Mark’s Facebook)

Cassidy and I wanted to head to the Van Gogh museum.  We convinced Candace and we started travel to the largest collection by the famous artist.  Vincent Van Gogh’s life story has always intrigued me.  He was born into a family of a pastor, studied in the church, was a lay pastor, had mental illness, was put into an asylum where he did some of his most famous paintings, and then committed suicide.  He was a tortured soul.  Skye Jethani has been writing some devotionals based on Van Gogh’s art.  In his daily devotional, he started the series on Van Gogh two weeks ago.  This was another reason why I wanted to go to the art gallery!

We then headed back to the airport and are waiting for our four hour flight to Tel Aviv!  We then need to sleep at our AirBNB so that we can explore Israel.

I have included Skye Jethani’s first devotional on Van Gogh below.  Skye and Phil Vischer (creator of VeggieTales) host a great podcast called Holy Post.  You can find more information on Skye’s devotional here.

From With God Daily:
Van Gogh’s Starry Night depicts a quiet village beneath a churning sky of stars. The scene was composed from the artist’s imagination and therefore reveals more about van Gogh’s soul than the countryside surrounding Saint-Remy, France. The deep indigo of the night sky was used to represent the infinite presence of God, and the stars and moon are bright yellow—van Gogh’s favorite color which he said represented sacred love.

The divine light of the stars is repeated below. Every home in the village is illuminated with the same yellow warmth of God’s love. But there is one building in the imaginary village with no light, no divine presence—the church. It was van Gogh’s way of depicting the institutional church of his day which he said was full of “icy coldness.” Like so many today, Vincent believed the world was full of God’s presence and love but he struggled to find it in the institutions that claimed Christ’s name.

Van Gogh’s critique may be as old as religion itself. It seems almost as soon as institutions were created to help us commune with God, corruption and sin made people question the value of those structures and the people leading them. We see this repeatedly among the Old Testament prophets. The Lord himself had established the monarchy and priesthood of Israel along with the temple and the sacrificial system of worship. But the prophets came to announce God’s judgment of these very structures and leaders for failing to fulfill their purposes.

No one represents this better than John the Baptist. He was described as wearing camel hair and eating locusts and wild honey while living in the wilderness. These were more than signs of John’s eccentric lifestyle. They represented his refusal to participate in the normal structures of Judean society—particularly the religious institutions which had abandoned their divine calling to become self-serving and corrupt.

John’s mission was to prepare the people for the coming of God’s messiah and the renewal of all things. To do this, he called them away from the bloated, bureaucratic religious institutions of Israel to rediscover the purity and simplicity of faith in the wilderness.Like John, van Gogh understood that religious institutions are not ends in themselves, but instruments to aid us in our life with God. But when they fail to accept this call to serve God and his people and instead seek to serve themselves, the light of divine love that once filled them will grow dim and may extinguish altogether. But we are not without hope because the world is still radiant with God’s presence.

Categories: Israel, Mark In Israel