I have been writing my memoirs in a number of volumes which I call The Adventure Series. The first volume is the book of true stories for children but loved by adults, The Misadventures of Hansje: The Boy Who Kept His Guardian Angel Busy which covers my early years
The second volume is being published this week, The Adventures Begin: A Teen’s Memoir. You’ll be able to buy this book on my INSights and OUTBursts blog site soon.
(Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter of The Adventures Begin.)
After being seasick for over a week, I heaved a big sigh of relief when I finally stood on solid ground on Pier 21 in Halifax. It was Thursday, July 20, 1950, nine days of storms at sea since we left our home in Hilversum, Holland.
The women and children sat on suitcases and waited amid the confusion of baggage being unloaded and piled on the dock. The men stood in long lines to process their immigration papers and register their names. All I wanted to do was to board a train and start having adventures, and discover Canada with my physical senses, not just with my imagination from books.
The First New Name
Before we left Holland, we had already decided that we would change our Dutch names to English ones. We were going to be real Canadians; learn English, and integrate into Canadian society as quickly as possible.
During the immigration procedure the first name we changed was our family name. It was “Poepjes,” pronounced “Poop-yes” Unbelievable, but true.
Since it means the same thing in Dutch as it does in English, I had been teased and insulted for years because of that nasty-sounding name. I certainly didn’t want that to continue in Canada and neither did my parents. So, we took the “e” out of “Poepjes” and turned it into “Popjes.” In Dutch, this word means “little dolls” and had no meaning in English. Much better!
We also chose new, more Canadian-sounding first names. I was named Hans after my Papa. But since I was just a child, my name was Hansje, which meant Little Hans. In Canada, I was determined to be an adult with an adult name. So, Papa and I looked in the Dutch-to-English dictionary and saw the English translation for Hans was either John or Jack. I chose Jack since it sounded more manly to me, and Papa took John. I couldn’t wait to board the train and begin my new life in Canada as Jack Popjes—a young adult with a nice clean, new name.
End of the excerpt.
The Second New Name
This immigration experience was the only time I was able to choose my name. Eighteen years later, the Canela people adopted Jo and me into their tribal society and gave us Canela names. I have been known as Prejaka by thousands of Canela for the past fifty years. I value that name. But I look forward to another name, a secret name that I value even more.
The Final New Name
Someday, God will give me a new home, a new body, a new diet, a new life, and a new name. “Everyone who is victorious shall eat of the hidden manna, the secret nourishment from heaven, and I will give to each a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one else knows except the one receiving it.” Rev 2:17 TLB.
That name is the only one that matters—not Hansje, not Jack, not Prejaka—the new name created specifically for me by God. My future is so marvellous; God wants me to have a new name to match it.
May we all live in the victory that Christ gives as we look forward to receiving our new name.