Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Power of One

Our last night in Amsterdam we went to the Anne Frank House in hopes to make it in before the 10:00 pm closing time. We had walked by earlier in the evening to see a long line that we knew the kids would not make it through (at least 2 hours). After a little regrouping at the 5th story loft we headed back out.

We were staying just blocks from the house so it was nice to walk through the canal lined streets through the neighborhood. (Michelle thanks for your compliments on the girls dresses I got them before we left at the Nordstrom sale - they say that feel like wearing Jammies they are so soft)
We got to the Anne Frank House and the line was not too bad, about a 30 minute wait.

As I stood in line I thought about us standing in line earlier in the day at the vanGogh museum.
VanGogh only painted for 10 years of his life and painted over 900 paintings. He only sold one in his life time and was not famous until he died. He suffered from depression and ended up shooting himself (he died 2 days later). He would never have believed that a family from the United States would come all the way to Amsterdam and wait in line for an hour in the rain to see his original artwork. The power of one!

And again we were standing in line because of one girl who kept a journal. I also thought about the fact we were standing in line because of on man who hated a religion and spent his adult life trying to destroy them. For the good and the bad - the power of one.

We were not allowed to take photographs in the museum. It was powerful. The girls were at their worst of the entire day. Jeff and I each with one in our arms. Annie Kate's mind was spinning. I slowly watched her get more and more of the story as we saw the different pieces of Anne's life. Some of the most powerful photos were of Anne living her normal life on the beach and with her family. It made the pain of what she and so many were forced to give up, more real.
We saw the yellow stars that Jews in Amsterdam had to wear on their chest.
We climbed skinny stair after skinny stair, higher and higher into the Frank's hidden home.
I feel bad saying this but it was bigger than I had imagined, but still incredible small to be living in with so many people for so long. I found this quote and thought it was interesting.

"After the Anne Frank House was restored, they asked me if the rooms should be furnished again. But I answered: 'No!' During the war everything was taken away and I want to leave it like that. But after the house was opened to the public, people said that they felt that the rooms were very spacious. I answered that they were getting a wrong impression and said: 'You mustn't forget the unbearable tension that was constantly present.'"
Otto Frank

Jeff and I were on borrowed time with the two littles and were racing through many plaques and information on the walls.
Near the end they had a few tv video accounts. Miep, who worked and was a member of the family who help them hide spoke of her memories. Miep was not taken by the police the day they found the Franks. As soon as the police had left she ran upstairs and had gathered all of Anne's writings and journals and kept them until Mr. Otto Frank returned for the work camps. It is just such a miracle that she thought to do that and kept them safe. It is a miracle that Otto Frank survived the the concentration camps to be able to come back and do all that he did to get her diary published.
We then turned one of the last corners to see her Diary (she nicknamed "kitty"). I had one of the moments on the trip where I said to myself "I can not believe that I am here" I had no idea the diary was going to be there. Annie Kate became very silent as well and could not get her eyes off of it. It had a beautiful red plaid worn cover. Even now writing about it makes me pause and think about all that has happened because of one girls diary.

The last part of the museum was a video taken of her father, Otto. ( I realized that Anne could still be alive today - her father died in 1980) I thought of all the things that he could share with us strangers at the end of our journey through this glimpse of his life "what would it be?"

would it be...
  • freedom
  • tolerance
  • love of family
  • love of God
  • forgiveness
I was surprised that what he shared was that it was not until he read her diary did he really get to know his daughter. I found this quote that seemed the closest to the words I remember hearing.

"When I returned and after I had the news that my children would not be coming back, Miep gave me the diary which had been saved by, I should say, a miracle. It took me a very long time before I could read it. And I must say, I was very much surprised about the deep thoughts that Anne had, her seriousness, especially her self-criticism. It was quite a different Anne than I had known as my daughter. She never really showed this kind of inner feeling. She talked about many things, criticized many things, but what her real feelings were, that I could only see from the diary."

Otto Frank

This seemed more powerful to me than seeing the journal. As a Young Women's leader I felt a need to understand my young women more and encourage their parents to reach out to them and get to know them. I thought of the importance of Personal Progress and that the entire process the girls are asked to keep a journal. (this quote and feelings I will be sharing at Evening in Excellence this Sunday night)

As a mother I felt the need to listen to my girls and find ways to let them know I will listen to them.

Of course the obvious need to keep record of your thoughts and life were on my mind. I feel grateful for keeping private journals through different parts of my life and was encouraged to start another one as we get ready to move next year.

We walked through the gift shop before we left and I so bad wanted to buy an English copy of the journal with the red plaid cover. It is only sold in English at the museum book store, but at 45 euros, it was not an option.
I did purchase a child's version of her diary and two postcards with photos of the journal. One to keep and one to send. It was the only postcard I sent from my trip.
The view walking out of the Frank's house is the Westerkerk, which is a church that Rembrandt was buried in. No one really knows where in the church as we was buried as it was a rented spot. I wish we could have done more Rembrandt tours. It has only been since I have been home that I have read more about his amazing and oh so sad life. Could no one appreciate these painters while they were alive. He lost his wife and his son, went bankrupt because the commissioners of the "Night Watch" did not like his painting. His self portraits show a saddened man near the end of his life. Oh I could go on and on all about what I have read about his amazing life.
The light posts around the Westerkirk had great crowns on them match the top of the tower.

The streets around the area were charming and had small paned windows with vines growing up on brick.
It was getting dark and we were getting hungry and still had the two cranky kids on our backs, literally and figuratively. Annie Kate convinced us to walk the many blocks to have another scoop of the awesome ice cream we had found the night before. They ran ahead while I walked the dark streets of Amsterdam with the two cranky ones.
Oh I wished we had been on that street just a few hours before. I found this darling thrift store screaming my name.
I don't know if you can see the pink paisley doilies hanging on the shabby chic dresser. Ahh!!
A few doors down there was a dress shop that had these photos of Michael Jackson on the streets in Amsterdam in 1980. They were beautiful pictures of him -

As we walked through the streets Annie Kate started asking so many questions and thoughts about Anne Frank, her life and the war. It became as real to her as it ever had been before. She asked if that could happen to us for believing what we believe.
She will be studying Anne Frank in school this year and I had uber grateful moment of having this opportunity to be there with here and have her have all these feelings, questions and memories.
Annie Kate got her ice cream and found us on the canal side of the street, but Jeff and I were hungry for real food that was warm and did not begin with the word Ramen. So as we were walking home, now about 10:30 pm I walked into a corner cafe and said "can i order a Pizza to go?" Our kids are not patient enough to have a European dining experience, so I was thrilled when the man said sure. I ordered a large pepperoni pizza, tomatoes and mozzarella and a large spaghetti. We sat outside at the tables waiting for our warm dinner.

I took this cool photo of the street trolley going by with the Westerkerk in the background.

We slowly made it back the apartment and then Sally Jane became all chipper with the excitement of climbing the 5 flights of stairs. Oh the madness of traveling with kids.
We downed the food and were ready for bed.
We were loving Robert (remember Ro-bear) at that moment when he told us we could check out anytime we wanted the next day and to just leave the keys on the top of the steps. We needed a morning to sleep in as we were still not quite adjusted to the 6 hours ahead.

I am going to end this post with some of the quotes from Anne Franks quote book ( she would have made a great blogger!) They are just incredible to read. Keep in mind she was from the ages of 12-14 when she wrote them..
  • Writing in a diary is a really strange experience for someone like me. Not only because I've never written anything before, but also because it seems to me that later on neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the musings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl. (June 20, 1942)

  • I've learned one thing: you only really get to know a person after a fight. Only then can you judge their true character! (September 28, 1942)

  • Sometimes I think God is trying to test me, both now and in the future. I'll have to become a good person on my own, without anyone to serve as a model or advise me, but it'll make me stronger in the end. (October 30, 1943)

  • I long to ride a bike, dance, whistle, look at the world, feel young and know that I'm free, and yet I can't let it show. Just imagine what would happen if all eight of us were to feel sorry for ourselves or walk around with the discontent clearly visible on our faces. Where would that get us? (December 24, 1943)

  • Mother has said that she sees us more as friends than as daughters. That's all very nice, of course, except that a friend can't take the place of a mother. I need my mother to set a good example and be a person I can respect, but in most matters she's an example of what not to do. (January 6, 1944)

  • Peter added, "The Jews have been and always will be the chosen people!" I answered, "Just this once, I hope they'll be chosen for something good!" (February 16, 1944)

  • Riches, prestige, everything can be lost. But the happiness in your own heart can only be dimmed; it will always be there, as long as you live, to make you happy again. (February 23, 1944)

  • I want friends, not admirers. People who respect me for my character and my deeds, not my flattering smile. The circle around me would be much smaller, but what does that matter, as long as they're sincere? (March 7, 1944)

  • Have my parents forgotten that they were young once? Apparently they have. At any rate, they laugh at us when we're serious, and they're serious when we're joking. (March 24, 1944)

  • I'm honest and tell people right to their faces what I think, even when it's not very flattering. I want to be honest; I think it gets you further and also makes you feel better about yourself. (March 25, 1944)

  • I don't want to live in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I've never met. I want to go on living even after my death! (April 5, 1944)

  • I've asked myself again and again whether it wouldn't have been better if we hadn't gone into hiding, if we were dead now and didn't have to go through this misery, especially so that the others could be spared the burden. But we all shrink from this thought. We still love life, we haven't yet forgotten the voice of nature, and we keep hoping, hoping for . . . everything. (May 26, 1944)

  • To be honest, I can't imagine how anyone could say "I'm weak" and then stay that way. If you know that about yourself, why not fight it, why not develop your character? (July 6, 1944)

  • We have many reasons to hope for great happiness, but . . . we have to earn it. And that's something you can't achieve by taking the easy way out. Earning happiness means doing good and working, not speculating and being lazy. Laziness may look inviting, but only work gives you true satisfaction. (July 6, 1944)

  • It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. (July 15, 1944)

So did you make it through my incredible long post that took me 4 days to write?
I am not giving up and writing about my trip even if takes me the next month.


Sharon C. said...

It has been such a long time since I read the book -- such a sad time in the history of the world. And you are right -- the power of one. Good and bad -- a lot to think about in this post.

Shawna B. said...

Yes, Kristi, I made it through. And I am crying and imaging the day that I will be lined up outside the house of my hero. Thank you for your pictures, your quotes, your tribute to Anne Frank. I have read so many books about her that I feel she is my friend.

Keep writing about your trip. It will be a while still until I get to Holland, so I will, for now, live vicariously through you.

May I suggest the following book for your reading pleasure: Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family by Miep Gies. It is a true treasure and one of my favorite books.

melissa's life said...

I love reading about your trip. I'm so glad you are willing to share with me and everyone else who reads your blog. I've learned so much from reading about your trips. I loved reading about Anne Frank. I would love to visit that museum someday.

lelly said...

i love those moments when our children realize that history is not just something that happened to someone else a long time ago.

and soon, they will make the connection that their lives will someday be someone else's "history."

Alisa said...

Don't give up! Keep on writing! It is so fun to read about where you have been and what your family saw.

Amy said...


And, I need to add THANK YOU!

For all of us that will probably never get to go, but would love to...thank you so much for taking the time to gather your thoughts & pictures and write this so beautifully and thought provokingly.

I am just so happy to have been able to read all those fabulous, moving qoutes.

Jill said...

I made it through this whole post and am so glad you took the time to write it!

I know I keep saying it, but I am so impressed that you and Jeff pushed yourselves to do these things even though the girls weren't being cooperative. What an amazing place for you to get to go and especially Annie Kate! I hope she'll start keeping a journal after this.

Thank you for sending me the postcard!

I need to reread this book, it has been many years since I read it and those quote are all so insightful and powerful that I'm itching to read it.

Thanks Kristi!!!

Nora from Chicago said...

A very inspirational way to start my work day.

patsy said...

I am so glad you didn't give up on this post- it's beautiful!

thank you~

Charity said...


I absolutely loved this post. What an amazing experience you and your family must have had. I can imagine the impression it must have made on Annie most likely would make the same impression on my 10 yr old as well.

I think that I will be picking this book up (it's been a while since I've read it) for my littles to read...

Thanks for the inspiration.

Lauralee said...

I made it!
great post.. lucky Annie Kate to be there and learn and experience that all, especially since she gets to study her this year! She will have a lot to share about it, I hope!

The power of one.. your YW in Excellence talk is going to be great.. I can tell! good luck.

Dana said...

Thank you for taking the time to compose this post Kristi. I read the whole thing and love it.


LJ and DC said...

I ditto the above. What a great YW in excellence you are going to have. What a crazy time in history, and how sad that such a young girl, and of course so many more too, would have to go through that. Thanks for your notes Kristi, its a great reminder not to be a schlub. :)

Mommyof4 said...

Thank you so much for telling about your trip. My mother is from Holland and I went once when I was in High School and I know that I did not appreciate it as much as I would now. I remember we were going to go to one of the art museums there and I was just to tired to walk there--boo hoo--now I would just do it no matter what. I so badly want to go one more time with my mother and husband. Thanks again for these great posts!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE reading your trip posts!!! Thank you for writing all those wonderful quotes from the journal. Annie Kate will never forget her experience--she was the perfect age to make such a strong impression. Keep writin! I love it!

michelle said...

This is so beautiful, Kristi. It's amazing to think about AK having this experience, to be thinking and questioning. Those quotes at the end are wonderful. I loved your thoughts on the power of one. (If you haven't read the book by that name, you have to!)

Misty said...

I have traveled through you. Thank you for such a wonderful journey! Love the quotes.

The 5 Bickies said...

I'm fascinated by your experience and want to a) reread the diary of Ann Frank and b) join Annie Kate for her school discussions. Her teacher better watch out - she is going to bring some serious perspective to their class discussion!

Sunshine said...

I am so exhasuted from a long day and couldn't help but be glued to this post! You are wonderful. I don't have any daughters of my own persay but I am the young womens president in my ward and they all...each and every one, feel like "mine" in some unique way. I was envious for a moment of the feelings you must have to have experienced the viewing of Anne Franks diary with a daughter who is at an age where she can appreciate and be drawn to her, and then I realized that we can take bits and pieces of what we admire and love and strive to be when it comes to our heros, to anyone around us, my young women included. I read every word of every quote you posted. How amazing, what a blessing to be able to have this experience. Thanks for sharing a piece of it with me :)

Holly said...

Thank you so much for sharing your Anne Frank museum experience--especially how it affected Annie Kate (very, very cool) and the quotes from Anne herself. Interesting thoughts from Otto about getting to know her through her diary--that's probably true about ourselves too. I didn't realize it was so small.

You are so right about the power of one!

Now I want to read more about Anne...

Beckie said...

That was such a beautiful post. It brought a tear (or two) to my eye. Thank you for sharing!

Kim Sue said...

wow! I'm going to have to put the Diary of Anne Frank on my to read list. It is has been so long ago. I want a young teen, I think.

Esther said...

Absolutely brilliant!!!! Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful adventures with us (and please continue to do so).

Christine said...

Thank you for reminding us about such a remarkable girl.