Aruba

Aruba
 

Aruba is one of the ABC Islands of the Dutch West Indies formerly known as the Netherlands Antilles. ABC means Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. Those countries are situated below the winds. They have three more sisters in the Leeward Islands above the winds, namely St Maarten, Saba, and St Eustatius.

Aruba lies 12 degrees north of the Equator and 18 miles from Venezuela. Not surprisingly Venezuela can be seen especially when the weather is good. The Island is approximately 70 square miles in area.

In 1499 Alonso De Ojeda, a Spaniard sailed into it.   However, the Island existed as far back as 290 BC which was discovered by Archaeologists digging up early pottery. Fragments have been dug up which also dates back to 2540 BC – 2100 BC.

The early inhabitants are Caiquetios Indians, and in those early times came from Venezuela and are also known as Arawaks. It is hardly surprising, as Aruba is said to have been attached to Venezuela. A piece of Venezuela became detached through a freak happening and sailed up the Caribbean Sea. Aruba was born.

The Indians were nomadic in style. For this reason the whole Island may not have been inhabited all the time. In fact in 1527 the whole of the Island inhabitants were vacated to the then Hispaniola or the Dominican Republic to work in gold mines. That was terrible, as quite a lot of our Indians died from overwork. The Arubans who survived, were later returned to their native Country to look after horses.

The Indians were farmers who traded in horses, sheep and goats, and grew in importance, with no harbour facilities. They had to throw the horses from the ships into the sea. Then the horses had the good sense to swim to shore.

The population of Aruba is 120,000 and made up broadly of an international mixture of well educated people, with a pleasant nature and zest for hospitality. The modern Aruban is generally of mixed ancestry, claiming Caiquetio Indian, African and European roots. We claim 79 different nationalities, who live and work there peaceably. The currency of Aruba is the Aruban Florin which is divided into 100 cents. The florin fluctuates with the dollar on the world market.

The official Language became Dutch, however, the native Language is Papiamento a potpourri of Languages of occupation. We had a Spanish period 1500 – 1636. The British were in control from 1805 – 1816. The Dutch took over again through conquest late 1700’s – 1862, then returned to stay. Thus other Languages spoken on the Island are Spanish, and English.

Aruba separated from the rest of the Netherlands Kingdom for ‘Status Aparte’ ( State Apart) in1986 and became an Autonomous Government. Thus Aruba’s internal affairs are completely governed by Local Government, a Prime Minister, and “Seven Council Member of Ministers”.  

Education is very good – On the same pattern like the Netherlands right up to University.

The economy is taken care of by Tourism, an oil refinery that has changed hands several times since Lago Oil and Transport Company which was with us from 1927 – 1985. A goldmine yielded 3000 lbs of gold. A Chemical Plant has been mining Phosphate for 35 years.

We have one of the biggest Water Distillation Plants in the world piped through to the homes.

Since 1914 we have been the largest supplier of Aloes from her plantations to Britain for their cosmetic trade.

The climate is tropical averaging 18” of rain a year in October, November, December and January. There is a trade wind that cools the Country down that turns the Watapana or Divi Divi tree in Westerly direction. Only a few days a year sun fails to shine.

We have miles of pristine white beaches that rank among the most beautiful in the world.

The Indians were converted to Catholicism in 1914. Thus, Aruba is 80% Roman Catholic and a Christian Country. All other Christian Religions are found on the Island.

In 1924 Pedro Sanoja a Seventh-Day Adventist Venezuelan Colporteur and an early Pioneer, who was living in Curaçao visited Aruba. He sold 5 books and returned to his homeland. Adventism was thus introduced to the Island.

Captain Morris from the Marine Company ‘Red D’ was among the pioneers who distributed literature in the Ports of Aruba, as he visited other Caribbean Ports. The interest for the SDA Message was aroused among the English speaking people in San Nicolaas.

Early 1932 Pr Ashford visited Aruba for 21/2 months and held evangelistic efforts in three different places culminating with good results. As many as 200 people attended these meetings in the evenings. He held Bible studies, and sold them more than $100 worth of Gospel Books. There were 6 people keeping the Sabbath Day already.

On 10th December 1932, 5 first fruit of SDA’s were baptised in Aruba. Pr Ashford leased a piece of land 200m2 to build a church in 1933. Then he solicited the Shell Petroleum Company who had helped the SDA Church during 2 previous visits with fl.100. Soliciting of big Companies was not allowed, really. You can imagine that much prayer went up to our heavenly Father for help in this matter. We were successful thanks to God.
 
In 1934 Pr Ashford was soon challenged with a new Manager from England, at the Lago Oil and Transport Company, however, he did not know whether he would agree to continue the donations of fl.100. The Church Members decided to approach the General Manager of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey at his Head Quarters for Lago Oil and Transport Company. The soliciting Committee were allowed to present their Project to the General Manager. He gave them fl.1.10.00, and permission to canvass the company’s employees. He promised them 3,772 mof lumber towards the construction of a chapel in San Nicolaas, at Prins Bernhardstraat worth fl.550.00 from a Local Supplier. Other money came from the Mission in Curaçao, thus fl.2213 was available.
 

Pr Ashford baptised ten more members in 1934. The Church became increasingly more active, and sold more than 400 magazines in Dutch, English and Spanish month after month. The members were planting seeds, and the Holy Spirit was reaping the souls.

The first church was formed in the Village at Caya St John # 7. On 6 October 1934 Pr Ashford organised a group of Believers into a Church of 17 members. This was the second church.

Pr Ashford came to us from Curaçao to oversee the building of the Chapel in San Nicolaas, on Prins Bernhardstraat in 1936 from all the donations and lumbar received from Lago Oil and Transport Company. The San Nicolaas Church was dedicated on 11th July 1936. The Foundation stone was laid by their own Pr Leon Gardiner.
 

That Church was used as a Papiamento Church, and a SDA School in more recent years. The Building is listed today.

There are currently 5 Seventh-Day Adventist Churches on the Island, and are called by their location, as follows: Oranjestad, Tarabana, San Nicolaas, Bernhardstraat, and Rooi Congo.

We became a Mission on 8th June 1951, and later moved back to Curaçao, only to be moved back to Aruba as Mission of Aruba of Adventista Di Shete Dia again on 28thJanuary 2006.

Pioneers like Pr Klingbeil and Family came to Aruba since 1944.  He later baptised my mother and sisters. He soon laid serious plans for the work in Aruba and started to physically build a Church in our Capital, Oranjestad on 25 December 1948. He did all the masonry, and carpentry work, along with the pastoral duties during the week and still preached on Sabbaths in the churches. The Oranjestad SDA Church was dedicated in 1950. It was the second organised Church in Aruba.

Pr Klingbeil was a strong Leader. In 1949 he started Pathfindering with 130 young people. It was the first organised Pathfinder Club in the Inter-American Division.

The first Youth Camp in the Mission was held in Aruba in 1951. The Youth Camp was called

ARBOCOMIVO ( Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao,-Misionero)

The main focus of Oranjestad Church was to spread the message to the Aruban natives and English speaking people of Aruba.

Pr Robert Hamm, Minon, their children Wayne and Carol. This Pastor was only 28 years old when he came to us. Pastor Hamm baptised me when I was 15 years old. He worked tirelessly, and did so much work for the Youth of Aruba who were his heart and soul.

Nothing was too hard for our Pr Hamm. When we outgrew the chapel, he physically built us another San Nicolaas Church, as he was a builder and carpenter. He even built us a boat and took us camping to Bonaire. He was an evangelist, and organised a Tabernacle in Cura Cabai for the Papiamento speaking people, which he later moved to Zeewijk

When he was charged to build the new San Nicolaas Church, he organised the members, young and old; men and women; even the children to help build the church. Every Sunday the young people and church sisters would go to the building site and help out with construction. I can remember these things clearly as our families were part of this. So we were involved in building our own Church. Who were unable to build would cook and feed the workforce. On 6th March 1955 the Building was finally ready. The San Nicolaas Church was dedicated. It was a grand day. Many dignitaries like the Gezaghebber of Aruba (Prime Minister) and the San Nicolaas Community, the General Manager of the Lago Oil & Transport Company. Pr Tetzen gave the dedicatory address.
 
Sr Minon Hamm was a musician, so we had a good choir. Sr Daniel was a fine musician, and music teacher and both were organists and Choir Directors.
 

I must give tribute to these early pioneers some of whom are waiting to meet the Lord in that great getting up morning. God be praised for those early Missionaries.