What can I say?

I had intended to reflect further on the people I saw at the cricket match. Then, this morning I received a call from one of my daughters. She reported that the house she and her sister shared had been burgled and set alight.

Two rooms in particular were gutted, and everything else was extensively smoke damaged and the building has been structurally compromised due to the fire getting into the ceiling.

So many emotions went through my mind: anger, sorrow and incredulity were just some. We are not a materialistic family but the material things that mean most are those with a sentimental attachment: a grandmother’s cross stitch, a gift from a special friend, an art work by a student and so on. All this is now irretrievably damaged.

I don’t wish to comment on the perpetrators but I do want to reflect on a number of things.

The cost: so far I have seen, firemen, police, detectives, fire investigators and forensic investigators invest many hours and it is only 6 hours since the fire. Apart from the emotional cost to my family, the social cost is enormous. We haven’t even started with insurance assessors, and the whole relocation and replacement effort that my daughters will now have to face. There were the ten years of educational resources that one daughter had accumulated. This was all at home because she was changing schools over this term break. As she says, it is now in her head. There was the precious doll that had survived in immaculate condition for 29 years but is now destroyed.

As a dad I was proud of the ways my girls handled it. They focused on what was important, thanked God that He is still sovereign and proceeded to deal with the issues before them.

Also as a dad you realise that you can’t protect your kids from the realities of the world. All you can do is teach and show your children what is truly important – eternally important. At that level they have not lost a thing. If anything they have gained.

But the incident is still fresh. I even get emotional just writing about it. In the future I will reflect again, when I am a bit calmer.

Categories: Family, Reflections | 23 Comments

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23 thoughts on “What can I say?

  1. Hi Pieter
    Your title says it all. My sincere commiserations with you and your family. We can only thank God that the girls themselves are safe; but it all takes some living with. Please be assured of our prayers as you work your way through the enormity of it all. And thanks for sharing – that has cost you. At times like this, I think we begin to realize just how precious ‘ordinary’ is. And life will get ‘ordinary’ again in time. Bless you and your family.

  2. mickqhs

    ” you can’t protect your kids from the realities of the world. All you can do is teach and show your children what is truly important – eternally important” How true Pieter. May your whole family hold to that faith.

  3. John B

    So sorry to hear this news – we’ll be praying for you all. Agree with you about what is really important and in essence the advice to hold things or possessions lightly. But it still hurts, I’m sure.

  4. My heart hurts with your family over this terrible act of violence and evil, while I also rejoice with you over your family’s safety and for the spiritual treasures experienced, and gained, through this pain. I just read Psalm 91 this morning…over and over again… laying claim, for my own family, to the assurances and promises found in this powerful chapter. Our family also recently experienced something…not as traumatic…but still hurtful that I didn’t want to happen and don’t understand why it did. God reminded me this morning to trust and praise Him….especially when I don’t understand. Evil remains, but God cause us to be more than conquerors…praying for you and your family…Donna

  5. Can’t begin to imagine the range of emotions that your daughters or you and your wife are going through but grateful with you that the girls are safe and connecting even more strongly to eternal realities. Praying for you all and eager to hear more of how God uses this to His glory through your lives.

  6. Helen and my thoughts and prayers are with your family at this time. Thanks for writing about your some of your first feelings and thoughts with such Christian grace, Pieter. Both our pastor and our Selwyn Hughes devotional reading dwelt on the crossroads in our lives today – some are standard ones, but as you write, some are tests and perhaps even turn out to be times of growth. It is wonderful that we can say with confidence that God will give your family His comfort and strength.

    • Thank you Fred for the encouragement. Sanctification can be a trying process. My daughters have been amazing! It is the bright side of an experience such as this.

  7. Pieter,
    So sorry to hear of your losses. I’m also glad to know you through your blog and to be able to say that I rejoice in knowing we share that which is valued above all else in the world; that is, Christ, and all God has promised we who have placed our trust Him.

    Your post of Psalm 11 is as true now as it was before this sad loss.
    Nothing can seperate us from the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus.

    Praying God richly blesses you and your family even through these events.

    You are a blessing to many.
    Because He first loved us,

  8. squigglyrainbow

    Oh dear, my daughter was in J’s class this year – praying for your family!

    • Thank you. Prayer support is REALLY appreciated. She is holding up well.

      • squigglyrainbow

        Miss G would like to do something, is there anything practical we can send over? Please give J a big hug from our family.

  9. corrie

    Hi pieter, just read your blog this morning, Adrian and I our thoughts and prayers are with you and the girls. Let us know if we can do anything else. I’ll let the cousins know.

    • Thanks Corrie. J’s room was obliterated, there is fire and smoke damage throughout the rest of the house. The house will have to be demolished. They are meeting assessors today to find out what, if anything, can be retrieved. The heart breaking items are the cross stitches and art works from family members, and childhood memorabilia.

  10. Chris & Liesbeth Meijer - Vliegenthart

    Dear Pieter,

    Just read your blog. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

    • Thanks guys. Really appreciated. We are presently sifting through everything to see what can be salvaged. The difficulty is that there house is 11/2 hours from ours.

  11. Henriet Vanderstoep

    Dear Pieter and Hetty,
    I have just read about your girls and what happened. The mind boggles. We will keep you and your daughters before the Lord for comfort and emotional wellbeing. We are thankful that your daughters look to God in this sad and sorry event.
    Did this happen in Australia?
    Love from Kees and Henriet Vanderstoep

    • Thanks Henriette. Yes it was in Melbourne. So we have been collecting, sorting and retrieving. The girls were under insured so we have to redeem what we can and also collect treasures that are redeemable.

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