Monday, November 17, 2008

Water: Friend & Foe in Holland

The Netherlands is referred to as the low countries by the sea. The story of Hans Brinker is the tale of the young boy who stuck his thumb in the dike and prevented the sea from flooding the country. It is typical of the continual struggle of the small Netherlands against the mighty sea. I saw the statue of Hans 42 years ago. Today the monuments are made to illustrate the lowest point of ground below sea level. We visited that spot and took a picture to show you that our car and Zuster Servoss are at a point that is 17 feet 2 inches below sea level. Over 27% of this country lies below sea level. The top of blue scale on this marker, is at sea level.
The hundreds of miles of dikes, the sea walls, and many pumps control the water, and allow this area and much more to be used by the Dutch. However, much of it is not so far below sea level. Dikes are a real engineering marvel and are basically reinforced earthen banks covered with grass. They are regularly inspected and maintained.

It is also common here to not only have bridges cross over the rivers and canals, but to also have tunnels cross under them. The other photo shows the entry into a large tunnel that has 3 lanes of traffic. You are able to drive through them at 60 mph. This tunnel crosses under the Maas River (which includes the water from the Rhine River). It is 7/10 of a mile long. The Maas Tunnel that connects the two halves of Rotterdam is about 1 mile long. Also, it is a common site to have a canal pass through a low area with the canal being elevated much higher and held back by strong dikes. They allow barges and small ships to traverse the rivers and canals deep into Germany, and Belgium. It is amazing to see how much cargo is moved along the canals and rivers. Rotterdam is the world's second largest sea port, eventhough it is over 20 miles from the open sea.

So, water is also a friend to the Dutch and the frequent rains keep everything green year round. It rains no more than 6% of the time, which averages out to less than 90minutes a day There is plenty of water to drink, water crops, help the pasture lands grow grass, and allow the 3 million cows in the country to produce great tasting milk and cheese. What a great place to live and to serve. Which brings us to our last point, and that is the waters of baptism. We are impressed with the younger missionaries and their diligent efforts. Last week in our mission, there were 11 baptisms and 22 are scheduled for this week. Rotterdam will be among those counted in the next several weeks. The work goes forth and we invite each of you to do your part to better understand the gospel and also to share it.

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