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  The letter from Roelof Pieters Ruiter - 2

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After all who had to leave the ship were back on shore, the engineer was given the signal to put on steam and the ship's whistle gave three ear-splitting blasts. Suddenly the ship's orchestra began to play Holland's national anthem and a few other lively songs. Very quietly we felt movement in the ship as it moved away from the dock and moved slowly into the middle of the stream, being watched by some hundreds of people, gazing from the shore.
About 200 people remained standing, who would so gladly have gone with the ship, but could not since every cabin was filled. These were all Jewish people, driven out of Russia (refugees), all showing the marks of suffering and deprivation on their faces. About a thousand of these outcasts were on this ship as passengers to America. How much these people have suffered, yet their whole appearance and behavior was such that much of their trouble may be ascribed to themselves, since most of them were very dirty and careless and disreputable in their actions. However, there were some among them who were different.

The ship began to take on more speed and so it didn't take long before we were no longer able to distinguish the faces of our friends on shore. Only the waving of handkerchiefs and hats and the yells of those who called out their last farewells to one another could be seen and heard. A prayer arose in our hearts to God for all those we were leaving behind and for ourselves who were now upon the great seas and were facing a long trip before us.

How much could happen, with 2300 people on this ship, everything crowded, not a single room unoccupied, and before us the great ocean! Now it didn't take long before the last land of the Netherlands vanished from our sight and we were way out on the North Sea. The weather was pleasant and the wind was rather brisk. The waves, four or five feet high, dashed themselves to pieces against the prow of the ship, but they did not disturb the ship. It seemed wholly unmoved by the power of the waves against it and moved stately forward on its course. However, we were but a short distance out at sea before we saw what the winds and seas could bring about. On one side of us, projecting from the water lay a broken mast and now and then we saw the hull of a ship, broken on the rocks and cliffs.
I learned it was a Spanish freighter, which had been stranded and broken in two by the continual dashing of the waves. This sight left a very unpleasant impression on many of us and was for us truly a reminder of our smallness and our deep dependence upon God.
Yet we may say that it did not depress us or take away our courage, since we knew that without the will of our Heavenly Father, not one hair of our heads would be lost and we were safe with the Lord, even upon the deep waters of His sea.

So we sailed onward and were served our first dinner on board at about six o'clock, after which it became dark and a bit more wind came up. Soon all of us, after prayer in our cabin, lay down to sleep. During the night, at about two o'clock, we arrived at Boulogne, where some more passengers came aboard and mail was brouqht to shore. I did hear that this was taking place, but we were too tired and sleepy to get up and take a peek at what was going on. When we awoke, it was eight o'clock in the morning and we were at midsea. No land was visible.
Only a few fishing ships and boats could be seen. It was a wonderful sight to see how these little ships flew upon the waves. One moment you couldn't see them and the next they were riding the crest of the waves.
The wind became stronger and stronger. Even our ship began to go up and down with the waves, and soon the only sound we heard was that of a large number of people who were sick and vomiting -- a very unpleasant (vies) sight.

This picture of another ship from around 1900 shows how crowded the decks could be! - JR

However, Lammechien and I and our children remained entirely free from this trouble. Together we went on deck and renewed acquaintance with some people who knew the Lord and desired to serve Him. It did not take long, therefore, before the singing of psalms was again heard on deck and a Sabbath blessing was enjoyed, even though we had no 'dominie' to break the Word of Life for us.

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Laatst gewijzigd : 03-FEB-2005
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