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I have a friend that I have never met.  His name is Roads.  Many of you have marvelled at the comments that he has left on this blog and that is because he gets it.  He sadly understands what is was like for me to watch Marisa die.  He had to watch his Jenny die.

He decribes that moment well in his blog the price of love.  I especially resonate with the part when Roads says that he didn’t realize that the days “would get so much harder still”.  How true, how true.

Thank you Roads.  I learn from you.  Peace to you.



I have received numerous requests for a DVD of the concert.  They WILL be available and we are now in the process to see how that is going to logistically work.

I will keep you posted.



If you were at the concert last week, you may have noticed that two of my sisters were great with child.

That is no longer the case, my sister Jacoba and her husband Peter had a healthy baby boy!

His name is Joseph Mendelt Doris.  Yep, the name Mendelt will live on…


My good and faithful friends Justin and Rachel sent this to me as a comment but I thought it was more fitting as a post because it is so fitting and beautiful.  I’ve asked their permission.   Thanks JC/RC.


Three people were each given different amounts of suffering. For each it was difficult.

The first was given one cup of suffering, and, because he thought his Master was a hard man, he tried to bury it.

Another was given two cups of suffering, but he knew he had been entrusted with it. So he made two cups of blessings with his.

Another and his whole family was given five cups of suffering. They also knew they were entrusted with it, and so they went to work, carrying the suffering the best way they knew how. They threw a number of parties. At the last party, everyone there was generous with what they had been given too. And by the end of the party, the five cups had turned into 30,000 dollars and honour in one of their names. The Master who had entrusted the five cups to the family turned to them all and said, “Well done, good and faithful servants. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.”

And also,

“Because she loves me,” says the LORD,
“I will rescue her;
I will protect her, for she
acknowledges my name.
“She will call upon me, and I will
answer her;
I will be with her in trouble,
I will deliver her and honour her.
With long life will I satisfy her
and show her my salvation.”
Psalm 91:14-16 (Thanks Mr. Vanderveen)

I received an e-mail from a good friend that said to me, “Mendelt,

“it is difficult to be your friend”.

This is the same person that calls my thoughts and words “Mendeltisms”.  I like that.

This friend said that is was difficult not because of me, MdH, but because I am bereaved.  I am up one day and more up another day.  This friend isn’t saying that I should change or be less open or more open, this person is just saying that it is difficult to walk with me during this time.  And I can understand this.  In fact, sometimes I wonder why people stick with me to begin with. 

Then the answer comes.  It is grace. 

In saying all that, I applaud those who stick by the bereaved.  We need you.  Because you are the grace we need.  The grace we crave. 

Your task is work.  It is difficult.  It is difficult work. 

But it is also beautiful.  It is also love.  It is righteous.  It is kindness.  It is gentleness.  And as you will read in a future post from my friends Justin and Rachel, it is faithfulness.  I know that each person supporting the bereaved aren’t believers in Jesus, but you won’t convince me that the support isn’t Spirit inspired.

A light is not just a light.

To that end, I wish you the spirit.  The spirit of faithfulness.



I have met a number of you since the concert.  I hope that to each person I have extended my appreciation for supporting us.

Most people that have talked to me about the new scholarship are thrilled and come up to me with exuberant passion.

I hope I haven’t extinguished that with my reaction.  The truth is, I don’t really know how to react.

Yes, I am thrilled that we raised enough money for sweet Marisa’s name to continue as a lasting legacy.  Yes, I am thrilled that Her name will help others.  Yes, I am thrilled that we actually raised more than 30G in one night.  Yes, I am thrilled that such hard work paid off.  Yes, I am thrilled that yet again, the Christian community witnessed that death doesn’t win.  Yes, I am thrilled that Zion, Jacoba and Zekijah can look back and be blown away with the support they had.  Yes, I am thrilled about all that.

But I am also sad.  Very, very sad.  Deeply grieved that we had to do all this.

Deeply shaken that at the end of the night we had to remember Marisa.  I miss Marisa terribly.  I didn’t want to have to do the concert.  I wanted Marisa to survive cancer. 

But She didn’t.  The concert was five days ago.  I am still shaken.

But I will go to my empty bed like I have done for almost a year now.  And I will get up in the morning and something will happen that will cause me to be re-shaken.  It may be joy.  It may be suffering.

I guess that is one thing about joy and suffering.  They can not cancel each other out.  They must live together.  Sometimes they must live holding hands.

Jacoba, age four, misses her mom right now something fierce.  When she is sad, like tonight, she likes to sleep in my bed.  I am about to crawl into bed with her and when I get to bed, she usually wakes up.  And then she will do what she usually does. 

She will reach out her hand and I will hold it.

And we will fall asleep holding hands.



The first count of the money totalled more than $30,000.

It’s hard to explain in words the range of emotions that swept through and over me when I heard that number.  There is much more to write about this but that can wait for another day.

Marisa will forever shine.  I don’t know how to explain what that means to me.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Shine on Marisa, Shine on.  Forever.


I don’t know what to write to all who came tonight.  “Thank you” doesn’t measure up to what I felt when I saw so many people there tonight.

It was a great night.  We laughed, we grieved and we watched Jacoba and Zion sing The Hiccup Song (my favourite song for the night).  We listened to stories of Marisa.  We learned a bit more about Marisa.

And hopefully we made enough money for the scholarship.  We won’t find out until the business office counts the money on Monday.  I will let you know.

And though it just doesn’t seem strong enough, thank you.

Shine on Marisa, Shine on. 


Two more days to the concert.

We are stoked to perform.  I hope you are coming.  MdH

We are gearing up for the concert on Saturday.  My good brother John flew in from British Columbia and we have been rehearsing and having a great time.

The concert will be at Redeemer University College in Ancaster ( for directions ).  The concert will be put on by the Hoekstra family and those that have either married into the Hoekstra family or becomed loved by them.

It starts at 7:30.  Please invite your friends.  You don’t need to buy tickets.  You can just show up and there will be an opportunity for you to donate to the scholarship in Marisa’s name at the end of the evening.

Marisa knew that this scholarship was going to be created. 

The Marisa VanderVeen scholarship will go to a student that shines brightly.  For the student that furthers the Kingdom with their athletic and musical gifts.  Just like Marisa did.  For this scholarship to continue forever, the amount of $25,000 needs to be collected.

At the concert, we will be hearing varied music played and sung by the Hoekstras.  It will be fun.  We will also be listening to a recording of Marisa playing piano herself.  We listen to it in the van when we drive.  When I listen to it, I can see her fingers blaze up and down the piano.

Although some would call me an accomplished piano player, the fact is, I can’t hold a candle to the way Marisa could play.

A few days ago we were listening to Marisa in the van and Zion said to me, “Can you play this song”  I said, “No Zion I can’t”.

He said, “does that mean Mommy was better than you?”

The answer is complicated and simple.

“Yes Zion. Yes.”


I hope to see you on Saturday.


Zion and I just got back from a birthday party.  It was for his friend Jacob.  Jacob’s dad was killed in a car accident several years ago.

Tomorrow, Zion goes to another birthday party.  For his friend and classmate Felicia who lost her dad to cancer last year.

We live in a broken world.


After dropping off Zion and Jacoba to the bus stop this morning, Zekijah and I came back into the house.

I carried her in and put her in the room that has our piano.  She sat on the ground and grabbed some toys.  I sat behind the piano.

I started to play.  Zekijah said “play softer!”.  I played softer.  This seemed to satisfy her.  Then she seemed focused on her toys.

I started to improvise on a song called “I love Zekijah”.

She turned when she heard her name.  She said, “Heit, what are you doing?”

I said, “I am loving you”.

She said, “stop loving me”.

I said, “never”.

She seemed okay with that answer.

soloist Zekijah

soloist Zekijah

The Hoekstra family is gearing up for the concert on October 18.  I hope that people are making plans to come.

Again, the concert is at Redeemer University College ( for directions ).  This is where Marisa and I met.

The concert is going to be put on by my family.  The plane tickets have been purchased.  Mem has given us our dress code.  My brother John is already doing his hair. 

We are all musicians and I promise that you will enjoy the concert.  There will be a variety of things; the whole family singing together, my sister Monique and I doing some duets, my brothers, our dad and I singing some men’s four part harmony, and hopefully Zion and Jacoba and I in a trio of something special.  We have been practising (even Zekijah as seen in this picture).

I am also planning on singing four original songs myself.  One for Zion, one for Jacoba, one for Zekijah and one for Marisa.

We are planning on raising 25,000 dollars.  I know this is a large amount of money but I think we can do it.

I’m sure we can do it.  MdH

Two funerals in two days…sigh…

Strangely, or maybe not so strangely, the most difficult part of my week was having to tell Zion, our 6 year old, that Ann Mary died.  We had been praying for her for a long time.  When I told him, he looked at me as if to say,

that blasted cancer won again?

That was the most difficult part for me.

Yes the visitations were difficult.  Watching Randy speak and their children sit beside him was tough to see.  But it is healthy to be contemplative.  It is good to go where life is thick sometimes.  At those visitations and funerals, people are thinking of life.  And death.  And cancer.  And heaven.  Real stuff.

No one is wondering how the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to do this season.  No one is wondering about their mortgage payment or what next weeks meeting is going to hold.

I was honoured to play at the funerals.  I think both were fitting and life-honouring.  A high complement.

Today at Harry’s funeral, Harry and Rose’s son Jonathan read a poem.  It was honest.  It was dark.  It was raw.  I loved it.  I spoke to him afterwards and told him that I loved it because sometimes we need to praise and sometimes we need to lament. 

I once wrote on this blog that those who suffer, sometimes need to hear the groans, and other times need to hear the gospel.

I am realizing that the groans are the gospel.

Shine On DVD

This DVD is of a concert put on by Marisa's family that raised funds for a yearly scholarship in Marisa's name.

Donate Now to receive a DVD