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Wisdom of the Elders

Every summer morning on the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, "The Wisdom of the Elders" is shared with 100+ teenagers and young adults by the Reverend Keith Titus, Director of the faith-based mission to the Lakota Sioux called "ReMember."  Youth groups come to the reservation to learn, to serve, and to hear ancient words of wisdom from the Bible and from Native American Elders.

The young people come away astounded at the way the different teachings reinforce each other.  Elders from both the ancient world of the Bible and from Native American history had much wisdom in common, and were held in high esteem by their communities. 

Here within our Holland-Zeeland community, we enjoy a rich array of our own Elders.  Each and every one of which have experiences and insights that could be of immeasurable value today if we honor our Elders as those ancients honored theirs.

At Resthaven, we have the privilege of growing through the wisdom our Elders share as we work in their midst.  It is an honor and a joy to be a part of their lives.  Please read on for our home-grown versions of "Wisdom of the Elders."

 

Alice

Alice Doggendorf 
Resident at the Resthaven Care Center, age 84

A friend told me to enjoy my husband and go with him while you can.  She almost divorced because she wouldn’t go with her husband fishing.  After a talk with her minister, she started going with him fishing.  She said that saved her marriage.  Its little things like that you remember.

That’s what I would tell my kids why I go with Dad in the evenings to go back to the shop to check something.  We’ve got to have time together, because sometime you kids will be gone, and if I don’t go with him now, later on he won’t want me around.

So we started walking every night.  Maybe it was just down to the end of the property, but it was a time to be alone.  All I would talk about was the kids and the house and everything.  We just started taking our little walks like that and it saved me…you know 6 kids can drive you nuts.

It’s hard to hold a job when you’ve got children.  For the first year or so you need to devote yourself to the baby.  But what can happen is that you get so wound up with the baby that the husband is pushed aside.

Carl and I used to hold hands a lot.  In the evening we would walk down our dirt road and hold hands.  One of the neighbor girls went to college, and she came home and said to her Grandmother, “Do Mr. and Mrs. Doggendorf still go for their walk?  I’ll always remember that.” 

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Margaret Hulst
Resident at Maple Woods, age 94
 

My husband, Marvin, was, in fisherman’s terms, “a keeper.”  He liked working with people…and his glass was always half full, not half empty.  It rubbed off on me, to be optimistic and always look for the good in something, instead of the “down.”  You can always find the “down.”  I found it best to make the best of things and to be cheerful.

 

Years ago, shortly after we were married, Marvin and I were in a Dutch import store.  We found a tile which my husband, who was fluent in Dutch, read for me.  It said, “Van het concert des levens krijgt niemand een program.”

 

The English translation is, “In the concert of life, no one receives a program.”  To me it means that you don’t know what will happen, and you can’t give up.  That tile has been by our door always since then.

 

I would also say that going for money is not the biggest thing.  If you’re not happy in yourself, you could be a millionaire and may commit suicide.  It is best to put first things first…being truthful and not trying to take advantage of another person…being someone you’d like to meet.

 

I think a lot of grief is caused by greed of money.  It’s the old thing that you’re not going to take a penny with you, so what’s the point?

 

My faith has kept me on an even keel.  We used to go to Florida and drive along the Intercoastal watching the tides.  We’d watch the rocks on the bottom…and just at a certain time you’d hear a little rushing sound, and here comes the water to cover them all.  The tides are just to the minute!  Same thing happened when we used to huddle under blankets on the beach in the early morning as the sun rises.  Just to the minute it pops up.  And you think, that’s not “Mother Nature.”  You know there’s a Creator when you see something that exact. 

 

 

Dorothy Robinson 

Living in her family home, age 93

 

I like to give back to people through my art, through things I make with my hands.  Now I am making baby "blankies" for the new babies we welcome into Hope Church.  They are made of soft fleece and I decorate them with pretty ribbon fringes.  Giving to others is fundamental to life.  I guess that's what Jesus teaches us...to live beyond ourselves...to live for others.

 

Ronald, my husband, has been gone now for 6 years.  But I have to laugh thinking about a comment my mother-in-law made to me a few years ago.  Noticing an unusual act of kindness in how I was treating him, she told me that I spoil him.  I replied, "If I do, he spoils me right back."  We were happy married for 64 years.  Living for others begins at right at home.