It was a short letter the chairman of the christian music society of Hijum received -
Mr Hendrik Smid,
chairman christian music society of Hijum,
Our intention is to hold our public school and folk feast shortly, and ask for your assistance to play some fitting music for our children's parade.
Please reply at your earliest convenience,
Mr Wiersma, chairman of the local public school.
The members of the corps, as they referred to the band, were stunned after the chairman, (who happened to my father), had read the letter at the beginning of the rehearsing, but then everyone talked at the same time.
“Now I have heard everything, are they nuts or something, how do they dare asking a christian band to play for a public school, not over my dead body.”
Sometime before the previous story a wonder happened in our village, an event that nobody had thought possible, certainly not the members of the re-reformed band or corps as they lovingly called it – our corps.
My father joined the 'our corps' in 1930 as a young married man and had just established himself as the owner of the tiniest grocery store in Hijum, a village of a small church full of mostly poor people.
The christian music band members all belonged to the re – reformed or Gereformeerd church started with lots of faith and enthusiasm, and time on hand, because work was already hard to come by, but also with – no instruments.
The few members with a rag tag variation of wind instruments lamented that with the present amount of players and instruments the corps would never reach its potential.
My father did not own a musical instrument except a mouth organ with which he used to drive the cows crazy, but he could formulate a good prayer before and after the rehearsals, and because a chairman was to open the meetings with prayer he was made chairman.
He also suggested to hold a drive through the village members of the other pillar of the area the Herformed for a drive, which was received with jeering and derisive laughter.
“You think that you get one red cent from the other side? You have not lived in this area long enough. Not a hope, no sir. Would we hold an offering for their Sunday soccer club? Not in a million years.” But since no one could come up with a better plan, they figured to give it a try. The chairman mentioned the enterprise in his closing prayer and all the members were given a district to canvas door to door, but only the Herformed and the non-church people, 'our own people have financial problems enough paying for an expensive preacher an all.'
And than something happens sometimes that makes you stand with your mouth wide open in amazement, making you quiet, feeling strange, you don't know what to say or do. Everybody had come together in the consistory room of the church to where they come every week to practice, but this time the whole corps stood around the table counting the result of the drive.
When the counting was completed, the coins in rows of ten and the paper money in heaps of one gulden, two, five, and – ten! and old dominee Douma, who had baptized me, and was invited to do the official counting, was finished doing just that, he and the entire corps were stunned with the amount.
That was the first miracle.