The son of one of the founders of the Presbyterian Church of Burlington came to worship with us on May 29th. Pastor Gerrit-Willem Oberman and his wife Ellen live in Stuttgart Germany, but were in the Boston area to attend his childhood friend’s wedding. Gerrit wasn’t quite sure if our church was the one he had attended until age 11 with his mother, Geertruida-Reiniera Reesik-Oberman (called “Toetie” by her friends). His mother is still living, and asked him to try to find the church and visit it.
We had Gerrit look at the framed document in the narthex to find his mother’s name. After he found it, he said that her signature is notable for a flourish that she always makes at the end of Oberman, extending the tail of the “n” under the last name. Laughing he said, “Yes, yes, that is definitely my mother’s signature!”
Gerrit speaks three languages (English, Dutch and German), noting that his mother came from the Netherlands and his father from Germany. His wife also speaks those languages, and Ellen had the opportunity to speak Dutch with Daisy Oey during coffee hour. Daisy had to speak Dutch in school as a child in Indonesia. Daisy was all smiles as they talked, and it was obvious that she understood everything Ellen said to her. Daisy said she was happy to have the opportunity to speak Dutch again, and Ellen noted that Daisy spoke “very well, very correct.”
Gerrit’s current pastoral job is working with recent refugees from various countries that are living in Stuttgart. He and Pastor Trina had the opportunity to discuss his work during coffee hour.