Monday, January 24, 2011

Leo and Anneke Andringa (The Netherlands)

I am Anneke, have 73 years, of the same age as Leo. From a Christian family, 6 children, where my father read the Bible after dinner, special on Sunday and days of feast. For me this is a great inheritance. Reading the bible, I feel always happy and serene. 
When I went to church at the age of a child - not so happy at all - there came over me the feeling that I was only dependent on God. Because of my distrust to authority, without love: my father, the priest in the church, the teacher at school.

There was never an equal relation of love between us..
We know each other from our childhood. His mother and mine were pregnant at the same time and they were friends, so we met each other even before birth! We married with 26, I was independent as midwife, sold my practice and followed my husband Leo, as I followed him to Rome and now to Nairobi, most gratefully!

The marriage was the discovery of the difference between man and woman. And also of the hurts we bring in from our past.
When I was 7 years old, during the second world war, my parents send me to a family outside town. For half a year I did not see my brothers and sister or mother and father. Why? I felt homesick and when I returned happy at home, my father did not even find the time to embrase me. I felt abandoned. That feeling of desolation came often back, also as a form of anger, a willing to fight.

Our marriage became a life of fighting. I remember me, on a bike in our hometown, the children at school, crying with tears, screaming:”How  to reach my husband Leo?” in me came the answer:”Be quiet, there will be come the moment for.” And in the meeting with the Focolare movement, in the beginning years of the 80’s, later, could I recognize that that has become the moment of our salvation. The gospel lived as Chiara Lubich. With Chiara. Not we love God and do things for him, but He loves us and we may, in return, love Him. And see Him in everyone. 

I am Leo, one of 9 children in a good catholic family. I studied economy.  Worked 4 times 10 years as a purchaser at a chemical company, as an inspector at the ministry of finance, as head of a state purchasing company, as regional director of the central bank.

I was sure that I wanted Anneke as my wife. I felt we were destined for each other. She was an open person. I was like an oister. I finished our courtship three times because of fear for her, the female. But I was very happy to marry her. We got 5 children and were very busy with all the aspects of life.
But she was so different. I felt lonesome! At home she wanted our room  painted in blue and black. I did not like that, but could not stop it. I felt that my place was behind the wallpaper in the corner of the room. 
The first 20 years of marriage were very difficult – it was she or me - until I discovered – through the ideal - that I had to love her as she was, not as I wanted her to be. I had to loose all my ideas and all my reasoning. I regularly met a psychologist to open the oister in me and gradually I turned my life 180 degrees and got the capacity to love her as she was.

Anneke: Through the new love of Leo for me I could calm down, so that my angriness slowly got a place and name: J.F. I became able to love in return, anger disappears more and more.

Every week I met a couple of women with whom we changed experiences over our live with the Word of the Gospel. There was an atmosphere with them as with no one else. One day two of them were in our house and our youngest son of 6 year stood leaning to my knees. Never did he so. I realized that the atmosphere between us attracted him. There came in me a great longing to build up the same form of relation with Leo.

Leo: As head of the state purchasing enterprise I had the possibility to employ personel. As a personal assistant I took a focolarino who came fresh from Loppiano. I wanted to live the ideal: “where two of more” in my company. That was not easy my female secretary became jealous. Lateron she betrayed me.
In a period of political turmoil I was obliged to leave my job and make place for an interim manager who reorganized the company so it could be privatized. I was forbidden to enter the company any more. I felt abandonated and when I drove in my car to meet my focolare in Amsterdam I had an extreme experience of unity with God. I saw him on the cross looking at me with so much love that my heart all of a sudden was full of a tremendous joy. Lateron I realized that this has been a personal experience of Easter, a resurection after death. This has been the biggest experience of my life.

Anneke: After the congress of the economy of communion in 2004, with Chiara, we decided to transfer to the centre of the focolare movement in Rocca di Papa. The answer of Chiara came:”We put everything under the care of Maria, who certainly will help you to realize what God ask from you.”
We were both 68 years old. I was always tired,with a firm cough and walking trough the street in Grottaferrata Italy, looking for a house there, I asked myself, what for goods can I do, I am so weak. Seeing a tree cut off at the roots, in me came this answer:”I can cut down you and build you up new.” At the end of the first year I felt 7 steps down in the cellar, broke both my wrists. My first thougt was:”This is the personel love of God for me, a little bit strong but of course necessery to me!” I was not able to do anything, they came from Holland to help me, friends, my sister for weeks.
When they did the plaster on both polses I returned to Leo with a big smile, sign of the great joy we had because of our unity in Jesus.
Leo: In 2006 we lived in Grottaferrata and went on vacation in Corsica. When we walked on the beach I felt pain in my hip. Back at home we discovered a tremendous high level of PSA, an indication for cancer. It was a big shock. In bed me overcame a great joy, I felt like I was flying directly to God. I told this to Anneke and she immediately had the same experience. I have not been afraid one moment. The process of radiation, medication, hospitalisation went on very well. Now I can say that the cancer is “under control”, but you never know …

I work full time for the economy of comunion. Anneke works for the centre of the volunteers, we have a unity that we have never had before. We feel in paradise.

Our children marry and we get grandchildren, now 8.
When we will have the feast of our 50 years of marriage – in 2014 - it will become time to think what God wishes from us for the ultimate part of our life.

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