Born on the outskirts of Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands. Henk grew up in a three-story house where his Father died when he was only eight years old, his family became poor people in a wealthy part of the city. Henk developed handyman skills in painting and carpentry to keep the house up to scratch.
Henk’s parents were staunch Dutch Reformed (a Christian denomination). He noticed how most people went to church during the war years, but people don’t seem to need God the same during good times. Sunday was the big day of the week with church from 9-11am then home for lunch where they had their biggest and only meat meal of the week. Then it was off to Sunday school after lunch.
The war years left a big impression on Henk with not much to eat it was almost criminal to waste food. To this day he can’t bear to waste food. He walked ¾ hour to school with his three brothers and home again for lunch for a sandwich then back to school, it was hardly worth it – 3 hours walking a day...
The only way to get pocket money before Henk started his first job was to dig potatoes and pick beans during the school holidays. He finished school at 14 years and went to work as a baker’s assistant. At 17 years he started night classes in book keeping. He was the class clown and got sick of studying at night, so escaped by joining the army for 18 months training. Here he grew up a bit. Seeing the other army guys studying at night, he decided to go back to night school, but he had to make a deal with the teacher to settle down and take things seriously.
Once he finished his army training he got a job at a shipping company, Rotterdam Lloyd, as a bookkeeper where he worked for 6 months. It was like sitting in a school classroom, where you couldn’t talk to anyone. This work was unsatisfying and had no future for Henk.
After going on his first holiday with YMCA, a boat trip to Germany, he gained an appetite to see more of the world. He had had enough of the rat race. The government was offering subsidies for people who wanted to leave Holland as it was overcrowded. The options Henk considered were South Africa, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
In 1959 Henk packed his belongings in two suitcases and moved to NZ. He received 65 pounds once he landed. He had a brother working on a farm in Taranaki and decided to join him. Henk found a job milking cows in Eltham. Three years later he found an office job in Hawera working for an accountancy firm and then Halliwells. A few years later Henk and a partner started their own accountancy business. In 2005 they sold to McCallum & Dallas.
Henk was encouraged to have adult baptism while worshiping at Stratford Baptist with Graham Broden. When he moved to Hawera in 1963 he continued to worship at Hawera Baptist and eventually became the treasurer. We recently thanked Henk for completing 35 years faithful service as treasurer. Henk still welcomes people on Sunday mornings and looks after the property.
Henk met Ruth at Rotorua Christian Camp and then followed her up to Auckland on his motorbike; they were married for 28 years. Henk nursed his first wife Ruth for 11 months of a non-treatable brain tumour until she died in 1993. Henk married Hanny 18 years ago and between them they have seven children and 17 grandchildren. Hanny worships at the Catholic Church and Henk at the Baptist Church and it works well, they have a wonderful gift in hospitality. Hanny is a real people person and does a great job in pastoral care. One of her famous sayings is, when you have a problem, pray about it and put it in the Jesus basket.
These days Henk keeps busy as a Property Developer using his handyman skills. He sees God’s hand on his life in all the small things – he gives God the credit for how things work out. Having a career in finance Henk has some advice for us, a hearse doesn’t come with a towbar - you can’t take anything with you when you die. Ownership in this life is only a passing phase – store up your treasure in heaven.