I want to share with you something very personal.
Not that all my other articles haven't been personal, but this comes from my heart. This is about a woman who has been an integral part of my life for over 50 years, my mother. Mama passed away peacefully on the 27th of October, after a four-year battle with cancer.
In everyone's life there are people of influence. People who impact our lives to make us what we are, or rather, who influence us to make the decisions that make us who and what we are.
For me, one of those people is the person whose life I celebrate here today in this article.
Ann Buma Bruining left an amazingly rich heritage for this world; her 8 children. She was a mother who cared for her children, who loved them, who believed in them, who inspired them, and who prayed for them, every day. Not a faultless, flawless woman who never made mistakes, but a fragile, passionate, determined woman who, with the aid of an incredible husband raised 7 amazing kids... and me.
This is my Mama's testimony.
As I said, Mama was a mother of 8. Let me introduce my family from the eldest:
Olaf: a husband, father of 6, grandfather of 7. A teacher like his own father, passionate about the things of God, and always eager to make a difference in people's lives. He has had influence in our communities not only through his profession as guidance officer and teacher, but also through Christian radio and in leadership in the church.
Cees: also husband and a father of 3. From a very early age he wanted to become a doctor of medicine so that he could use his skills in the mission fields all over the world. He has done that very successfully, having worked with YWAM, and on Mercy Ships, and more recently with Joint Therapy Outreach, he travels overseas regularly to use his doctoring skills in countries where medical services are scarce and unaffordable . Also trained in theological studies, he has and continues to make peoples' lives better; giving them hope, addressing their needs both physically as well as emotionally and spiritually.
Christina: wife, mother of 4, grandmother and major support to many mums out there who have been blessed by her skills as a Nursing Midwife. Taking hold of her own struggles in her battle with breast cancer, she has strapped on a determination to be a greater help to those who are also struggling with life threatening illness by adding to her skills counselling and Bible college training.
Karin: mother of 3, wife, and one determined lady, driven with the sole purpose of making a difference in people's lives, she is an academic who has used her skills in schools and universities.
Level headed, strong willed, her determination has raised her to excel to levels beyond where most of us could only imagine.
Ilse: mother of 3, and grandmother of 3. Despite the odds, and the many curve-balls that life has thrown her, she too makes a difference in people's lives.
Annechiena: wife, mother of 3, and carer of our mother in her final years. How can we ever thank you enough for what you have done for our mama? Juggling her care with a career in the classroom, as well as running your home and the many church activities that you have been involved with over the years. All due to a passion and a calling to make a difference and to be the answer.
And Barbara: Our other missionary sibling. Beautiful wife, Not yet a mother, and yet an adopted mother to the many children, hundreds, if not thousands whom you have made it your purpose to introduce to Jesus and a better life. Barbara and her husband Lukas spent years touring nationally and internationally doing children's out reaches and mission work. What a calling, what a heritage.
Oh, and then there's me. I, too have made it my purpose to be a blessing to people that I come across, and to make a difference in people's lives. I have had the privilege of being a worship leader, musician and recording artist. More recently I am co-producer of the Worship Leaders Podcast, a weekly podcast that reaches thousands all over the world. I boast an amazing family of 4 children, 2 grand children and 2 more on the way. Wonderful, mature young people who love The Lord with a passion, and serve Him in their own churches as Worship leaders, and wherever the opportunity arises.
We all spend our lives looking for acceptance and approval; especially from our parents. And at times all in my family found it difficult to gain that approval from our Mama, and yet I know that she was immensely proud of us all. She was proud of what we have achieved in marriage, with family, our careers and our various ministries. In her eyes, we all gave her something to be proud of and to boast about.
As I was reminiscing over what write here, my thoughts took me back to memories of our childhood.
I remember the near fatal car accident that Mama and Papa had after our youngest sister Barbara was born. I remember our local neighbours coming and farming us out to various families in our local community while Mama and Papa recovered in the hospital. The accident had left our father in a coma, and Mama with serious internal injuries. It was 4 weeks or more before they were well enough to come home. Barbara was so young that they kept her in with Mama so she could feed her.
I remember trips to Haamstede, a small farming village in the south of Holland, to go camping. All of us cramped into that blue station wagon, with some of us having to take it in turn to sit right in the back of the wagon. And there was no such thing as third row seating back then. There we were, stuck in the back squashed in amongst the luggage. I also remember us fighting over whose turn it was to sit in the back, and no one wanted to do that uncomfortable trip, and one day refusing and causing such a fuss that Mama in her anger yelled and said that she would travel to Haamstede in the back of the car. It was not long after that that Mama and Papa bought a Daf (a small Dutch built car) to alleviate the passenger congestion.
I remember some of our adventures camping. Going into the WW2 bunkers, me climbing trees and falling out and having to be carted to the hospital, Christina falling into a thicket of stinging nettles, wearing nothing but a bikini, and Mama was there for us, tending to us.
I remember building a trailer for my bicycle because I was going to ride to Albany some 400 km away, just for something to do, and Mama cleverly came up with an idea to send me to a Scripture Union canoeing camp instead (What was I thinking???).
Whenever we got into trouble, mama was there, usually with the wooden spoon. She was a great believer in that scripture in Proverbs 13:24
He who spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
I can honestly say my mother loved me very much!
I suffer from confused personality. My family constantly confuses me for someone else. Brother Cees almost only ever calls me Cameron (his son), the other day Olaf was calling me Zac (his son), and after Papa died, and Mama would come to Queensland we would go somewhere in the car I would get the sudden hand on the leg and the "Pas op Cor!" (Cor was my father's name).
I spoke earlier of our struggle to gain acceptance. One of the most memorable moments of my life was when Mama and Papa drove up to Lake Leschenaultia, north of Perth, where I was living and working after I finished high school. They sprung a surprise visit on me and brought with them my high school results. It is one of the first times I remember Mama and Papa saying they were proud of me. It was something I never forgot.
A survivor of World War II Holland, Mama lived a life full of challenges, and she was human enough and normal enough to struggle with them. Simply put, she wore her emotions on her sleeve, and everybody at some time got a taste of it. She struggled a little with the finer attributes of diplomacy and couldn't suffer fools, or for that matter anyone who she perceived was trying to have a go at her or just didn't understand her. And, rather than try to reason with someone, she simply told them what she thought of them and storm off... And later on she would regret it.
When she was just 53, she suffered the loss of the love of her life to cancer. This happening, and at such an early age, I think was one of the single most difficult traumas she had to face. It shook her world, as it did ours. He was her rock, and her balance. But, to her credit, and with the incredible help of my beautiful family over in Perth, especially Barbara who put her own life on hold to be with her, she was able to move on with her life.
She told me that God had been good to her over the years, and she wanted to do something for Him. So she went on a number of mission trips, smuggling bibles into China, and visiting churches in Burma. I was pretty proud of my mother for undertaking such adventures at this time of her life and on her own. She too, wanted to make a difference.
Mama loved to travel. When Papa was alive, they travelled everywhere together, and in later life she undertook many trips back to Holland and other places. Sometimes on her own, many times with others in tow.
She also travelled to Queensland many times to visit us. Sometimes these were good visits, other times we were relieved to take her back to the airport. Our children though, loved their Oma, and they were always sad to see her go.. When our kids were little, whenever they saw a plane up in the sky they would stop and wave and yell at the top of their voices "Bye Oma !" They always associated aeroplanes with the comings and goings of their Oma, and I share with you the deep sadness that our 2 as yet unborn grandchildren will not get to meet the Grand Old Lady who has headed up the clan.
Mama was a fierce woman, who was not to be messed with, as we witnessed once when we were on the Gold Coast at a bird park, and when it came time to feed the birds, our kids were there ready to feed the birds when all of a sudden, out of nowhere a bus load of tourists appeared and started to crowd out our little ones. Well, Mama was having none of that, and like a sumo wrestler, she firmly planted her feet apart on the ground, behind the kids and warded off the newcomers, elbowing them whenever they got anywhere near her grandchildren!
Mama knew what awaited her in death. She knew where she was going, and I remember after that major operation in late December 2009, we were able to go in to be with her in the ICU. We sang the Christmas hymn "O Holy Night" to her, and later when she came out of the ICU she told us that she was aware of our singing and thought she was in the presence of the angels. That's why the first words she spoke when she finally came out of her induced coma was "I am alive? Praise Jesus!"
Mama also had a great sense of humour and mischief, as we witnessed many times with the surprise visits, late-night arrivals for special occasions such as birthdays, sneaking in with the aid of my own wife and children to make it all the way across Australia just for us.
And who can ever forget the countless poses for photos with the traditional finger up someone else's nose, or that famous photo at camp Buma when we all posed for that funny photo and Mama had taken her wig off and held it high in the air!
She loved her Husband, she loved her children, she loved her grandchildren and great grandchildren, and she loved her Saviour Jesus. I'm sorry she's gone, but I'm glad she's graduated. She didn't deserve to suffer, and fortunately she didn't suffer long. On October 27, 2013 after a 4 year battle with a rare form of cancer, Mama went home to be with Jesus.
The world may not know her, but the world is a better place because of her.
Proverbs 13:22 says
A good man ( or in this case woman) leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
"Many women have done wonderful things,
but you've outclassed them all!"
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear–of– God.
Give her everything she deserves!
Festoon her life with praises!
And right now we hear the voice of God saying "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into your rest."
There is so much more I could say; of cups of teas from porcelain cups, of puzzles on a rainy day, of adventurous picnics on hot a summer's day, of road trips to remote places.. I could go on, but time will not permit. So I will close with my children's words as she takes her final flight on the wings of the angels: