Thursday, November 3, 2016


During the 2-week Van Marel family tour of the Netherlands in June 2015, probably the most treasured stop was worshiping at the last church where our ancestors attended before they immigrated to the United States in 1848.  (That was the family of Jacob and Margaretha vander Marel, plus their 5 young children ages 0-7.)  The church was alive and you could feel the Holy Spirit dwelling in that place.  We were most impressed with the organ playing.  The church had a nice reception planned for us after the service and we had the opportunity of meeting the organist, Arjan Breukhoven.  We asked if he performed concerts.  He said that he had been to Australia several times, Russia, all around Europe, and was invited to play at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.  He had never been to the United States!  When asked if he would be interested in a concert tour in Northwest Iowa, he immediately said “Yes!”  As soon as we returned to the U. S. we quickly jumped into gear and contacted the Orange City Arts Director to get on their schedule and make it happen.  Following many planning meetings, including several experts outside of our family, we celebrated the harvest of our labors during September 9-18, 2016. 
     In Summary, Arjan performed at 5 concerts (Sioux Center IA, Sioux City IA, Cherokee IA, Sioux Falls SD, and Orange City IA); 2 Sunday morning Worship services; a chapel service at Northwestern College, and an organ workshop for teachers and students, which basically centered around his own wide-ranging style of improvisation.  Different programs were organized for each concert.
     The generous offerings were indicative of the quality of his performances.  Our plan was to contribute all funds received in excess of the collections to local charities.  This amounted to almost $2,200 and has been distributed to charitable organizations in the cities who hosted the concerts.
     I can’t thank our family members enough for all of the time, money and efforts that you so willingly contributed to make this project such a success.  There was the planning, opening your homes for their nights of rest and breakfasts, providing other meals, showing them sites of interest, shuttling them to practices and concerts, taking them shopping, greeting at concerts, taking offerings, counting money, attending the concerts, and for your prayers.  As always, you chipped in and were willing to support and serve wherever and whenever there was a need.  I feel so blessed to be part of a family whose gifts are Love and Service! 
     Since this was such a major family undertaking and sponsoring effort, I felt it was worthy of being included in our family Blog!  So, we would like to share some of our photos and experiences with all of you.

Dorpskerk, a Reformed Church in Berkel en Rodenrijs, Netherlands, near Rotterdam.   The church was first organized in 1300. The building in its present form dates from 1732, replacing a structure on the same site which was built in 1347 and had fallen into a state of disrepair.  The tower was built in 1500 as a Berkel city tower. 
Arjan Breukhoven, the organist at Dorpskerk.


B. J. Haan Auditorium, at Dordt College, place of his first concert

Arjan and wife having dinner with musicians in the area.

A gift presented by the Van Marel family to the Breukhovens—a copy
of the painting selected for the 75th Anniversary of the Tulip Festival.

Celebrating Annelies Breukhoven’s 50th birthday.  She is the                                       
wife of Arjan. Lois and Cal Cleveringa are in the background.

Arjan handling Teri Mouw’s motorcycle.


Trinity Heights
Statue of Mary, mother of Jesus                                               The Way of the Cross

Our Lady of Lourdes

Last Supper Sculpture.  Life size sculpture of Jesus and His 12 disciples carved by Jerry Traufler.  He used the heads of his wife and friends who posed for photographs dressed as individual apostles.   It took 7 years to carve and was completed in 1993.

Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City Iowa, setting for Arjan’s second concert.

The cathedral’s organ pipes

Arjan at the organ

One of many meals with the Beukhovens
and Carl Van Marel as they traveled around.


National Music Museum—collections
feature over 15,000 musical instruments.

One of the three organs that Arjan had
the privilege of playing

Arjan thanking the museum curator for being our guide.

W. H. Over Museum—preserving the heritage of the land and people of South Dakota.

Moose head



A. B. & E. Telephone Company’s operator switchboard, used in 1907.
American La France Triple combination pumping car, built in 1923.  
This was the first motorized fire truck in Vermillion.


Chamber of Commerce                               Arjan's posters and advertisements

Stadscentrum Museum

 Street organ used during the annual Tulip   Bill Van Marel, a former wooden shoe 
Festival is displayed in this museum.           maker, demonstrates the carving process

Century Home built in 1900 by the first Mayor of Orange City.  Only two families lived in this home.

Guide explaining information about this home.
Downtown City Park
Windmill Park

Breukhovens on the drawbridge


Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Cherokee, Iowa, built in 1907.

Cherokee church welcomes Arjan.  Pictured are the priest, Rev. Armand Bertrand; parish organist, Sister Janice Hoffman; Arjan; and Rick Darrow, the man who rebuilt this organ in 2011.

Carl Van Marel telling story of how Arjan Breukhoven came from the Netherlands and to the United States.
The church organ

Posted on the church wall.

Audience waiting for the third concert on an evening with heavy rain storms.


Cathedral of St. Joseph, constructed from 1915-1919, with $390,000

Cathedral parish house

Riverdale Park
Views of the Big Sioux River with beautiful falls following a rainy day.


Zwemer Hall, historic building on Northwestern College’s campus, was built in 1894.

Northwestern College’s Christ Chapel, where Arjan held his last concert.

Front of the auditorium with screens showing Arjan playing.

A photo shot of the guests at the end of the concert. The largest number of people attended the final concert.  Crowds kept growing as word got out about this fantastic organist.

In summary, this Van Marel family project was another fantastic bonding experience for our family, and there was much satisfaction in reaching out to others.  Also, it was heartwarming  to see the enthusiasm of the guests and to hear their glowing comments!  Several of you family members came for many miles to attend the concerts and willingly serve.  You ALL are the best!!