I’ve done some unusual things during the course of my writing life, but my upcoming bus tour next month will be a first. The idea came from my friend Paul, who thought readers would enjoy touring some of the interesting sites from my novel, “Waves of Mercy.” The novel is set in the town of Holland, Michigan where Paul has lived most of his life, and it tells the story of the Dutch immigrants who founded the town in 1847. Paul happened to mention his idea to a friend from church who leads the 55+ Seniors’ Group—and the “Waves of Mercy” bus tour was born.
I imagined maybe a dozen of us climbing onboard the church van for a spin around town. Ha! I had no idea how popular this tour would be! The group has had to hire two chartered buses carrying 56 passengers each—plus the church van. The “Waves of Mercy” tour will begin at the church with a lunch of Dutch pigs-in-the-blankets and pea soup, then we’re off to see the sites. Here are just a few of them:
A typical settlers’ cabin from 1847
The first church built in 1856
The original light house on Lake Michigan
The Hotel Ottawa Resort on Black Lake
The town’s founding father, Rev. Albertus Van Raalte
I’ve been trying to figure out what makes this tour so appealing to so many people. The sites we’re visiting aren’t unusual ones, but places that can easily be seen in Holland every day. I’ve concluded that it’s the settlers’ courage and faith that makes their story so compelling. They left their homeland of civilized cities to carve out a town in the wilderness because they longed for religious freedom. Their boat caught on fire and was delayed for repairs. The delay kept them from their goal and forced them to spend most of the winter in Detroit. They walked through knee-deep snow to reach the town site because there were no roads. They ran out of food and starved. Their first summer here, so many people died from malaria that they had to build an orphanage to house all the children. But they worked hard, cleared the land, and built farms and businesses. Then, only twenty-four years after the first settlers arrived, fire destroyed the town.
I’m guessing that many of us would have given up—or at least questioned where God was in all these disasters. Had He really called us to settle here or not? It’s so easy to feel like our work is in vain when our carefully made plans start to fall apart. But the settlers’ faith remained strong. Today, there are more than 70 churches in this town of 33,000 people. What an example of perseverance and faith! If they had a life-verse, I think it would be this one:
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,
Because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:58
That verse will give us something to pause and think about on our “Waves of Mercy” bus tour.
I love hearing about history and you always base your books on stories with true historical events weaved through. I love reading your books. I wish that I could ride that bus through Holland and hear about the history and enjoy the camaraderie of all of you guests. I am from Michigan and retired to Tennessee 12 years ago. I make an annual trek back to visit family and friends. I have been to Holland but never investigated it’s history. Wishing I could be there.
Thank you for everyone of your books; you are and awesome writer.
I dragged my husband to Holland, MI last summer and we both had a great time in your beautiful city. I wanted to see the places in the book. The only place I didn’t get to see was the museum, which was closed the day we tried to go, and we had to leave. But hopefully we will come back again some day. I loved shopping for yarn at GarenHuis and the many wonderful places to eat downtown! Looking forward to the Waves of Mercy sequel. You have an amazing city and love it’s rich history.
I especially loved ” Waves Of Mercy ” because my grandparents came over from the Netherlands to Holland, Michigan in the late 1800’s. I was born in Grand Rapids as my parents were. Most of my relatives still live in that area. To be able to take a peek into what their lives might have been like as immigrants is a blessing to me! Maybe by the time we come back to Michigan this summer we can come to Holland and revisit their history here in America. Thank you for giving me that gift!
This winter I have read several of your novels. I just completed Waves of Mercy and it is my current favorite. When I read about the trip to Holland, I smiled at the “coincidence” and wished I could have been on that trip. I started Fly Away today and decided in the middle of my reading that I needed to let you know how much I enjoy your writing and how often your novels have passages that speak to my heart in special ways. I always keep a blank paper bookmark in your books as I read them. I jot down pages that touch me and then when I finish the book, I write the excerpt in my journal so that I can remember and refer to it when I need some encouragement.
Often your characters face or do something that I can relate to. Today I read about Wilhelmina flying kites and making a new friend in Mike Dolan. I love to fly kites–the challenge and the freedom. As I am a retired elementary school teacher/counselor I can understand the joy she experienced at trying something new in retirement. But I also can relate to her sadness, frustrations, and lack of purpose as she searches for something to fill what her career used to do. I especially appreciate your ability to help your readers understand that God loves us, and He is the answer to life’s heartaches and tragedies.
May your writing continue to bless others as you write new things. Your books bring a legacy to His faithfulness and I am sure He smiles at you and says, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Thank you!
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