Time is a funny thing. On one hand it feels like we just left the U.S., and on the other, it feels like we've been gone for months. The reality is that we are officially finishing our third week on this "wonderful road". This week we spent enjoying the sights and sounds of Amsterdam in the Netherlands/Holland. It was a place that we had been looking forward to since we started planning this trip. Though neither Perry nor I had ever visited the Netherlands before, we had heard from countless friends and family about how beautiful it is. And they were right.

Much of our five days here were spent wondering the streets and enjoying the views of the canals, boats, buildings, flowers and homes. The city itself is made up of 165 canals with 1281 bridges, giving reason to it being called the "Venice of the North".

We took a canal cruise that gave us a beautiful perspective from the water of this amazing city.

We spent time in the Van Gogh Museum and saw over 200 works of art by one of our favorite artists. We visited the Rijksmuseum and saw pieces of Dutch history, including works by Rembrandt.

We spent a day in the small suburb of Haarlem outside of Amsterdam. It was a beautiful little town with much history and beauty as well. It too is made up of numerous canals, old churches, a windmill and beautiful homes. The Corrie Ten Boom House is here as well (sadly tickets were sold out the day we went!). The Ten Boom family was part of the Dutch underground during WWII and helped hide hundreds of Jews from the Nazis.

We stumbled upon several concerts that were going on in Amsterdam for a jazz festival while we were there.

We got rained on. A lot. Apparently it rains over 200 days a year in Amsterdam, and we unfortunately experienced 5 of those days...

And continuing with the theme of these posts already...we ate a lot of delicious food. We were told that Dutch food isn't exactly the best, but we found a way to enjoy the few Dutch items that were recommended to us like bitterballen, Dutch pancakes, meatballs and stroopwafels.

Perhaps most memorable of all, we visited the Anne Frank House where the Frank family spent two years in hiding from the Nazis in the "Secret Annex" from 1942 until they were discovered and sent to concentration camps in 1944. This experience was something that neither of us will ever forget because of how it helped increase our understanding of the oppression and persecution that this family and millions of others endured during World War II.

Visiting the Anne Frank House had a tremendous impact on us as it sparked conversations between Perry and I about WWII, tolerance, intolerance, kindness, hatred, courage, and the strength of the human spirit. It made us examine ourselves and wonder what parts of us need reshaping in order to love others more.

It has been a long time since I've read Anne's diary (I plan to listen to it again on Audible soon!), but over the last week, I've spent time rereading some of her most famous quotes and thoughts.

It amazes me how despite the hopelessness of her situation, she (as a teenager, no less!) was still able to find the goodness in people and believe that the world wasn't such a bad place after all:

"Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness."

"In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart."

"Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!"

She believed that there was hope in the world, and that hope comes from the idea that we can change the world and make it a better place, that we can be a light in the midst of a dark world:

"Where there's hope, there's life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again."

"Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness."

And she wanted to make a lasting impact on the world and change it for the better:

"I don't want to have lived 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!"

How amazing it is that a teenage girl would have the insight and inspiration to want to make such an impact on those around her. May we all draw from her courage. May today, we rise up and respond to any and all hatred with love. May we take steps to improve our world whether that be through a kind word, a gentle smile or a helping hand. May we be the light that defies and defines the darkness. And may we hold close and live out Anne's words more today than ever before:

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."


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