I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— Joel 2:25
Following her rescue, Olga was taken to a refugee camp, where she and her aunt and uncle stayed for at least two or three months.
In the time that had passed since Olga left the Salvation Army, her sister had reunited with their mother. They were living in the capital city of Jakarta, and by a stroke of luck, that can really only be described as a miracle, they found Olga’s name on a list of refugees. They asked an airforce pilot who transported refugees into the capital city to be on the lookout for Olga, and bring her to join them.
After being reunited with her family, including her mother who she hadn’t seen since she was a young girl, she began working in Jakarta. There, she met a man who had been a prisoner of war for four years, fell in love, and married within six months.
“We had not had a normal growing up, developing years. And you fall in love and you think love is forever. But we were as incompatible as they come. Never had the chance to get to know each other real well, and one of the reasons we were so attracted to each other was that he had a similar background to mine. He never grew up with his siblings. So we thought we had so much in common. And we did, but what we had in common, had robbed us both of normal development. So we were both damaged goods. The whole scenario didn’t look right, but we didn’t know, and we didn’t care, because for once, we had something we thought was good.”
They had a son and daughter together. Moving to Holland, and back to Indonesia again during that time.
“By the time our daughter was born, I had noticed that our marriage was not all hunky dory. And we were as incompatible as they come. But what to do?”
In the meantime, her brother in law had been sent to Indonesia from Holland to fight the Indonesian rebels. When he came to visit, he brought with him a friend, someone Olga could have never expected to walk into her life. And she fell in love with him.
They kept in touch after he returned to Holland. But Olga never thought anything would come of it. (this was the point in the interview when Olga’s husband chimed in to tell me how good looking of a woman she was then, and as she giggled and blushed, he insisted that how beautiful she was, was no laughing matter).
As time passed, it became clear that Olga’s two young children could not tolerate the Indonesian climate. They were frequently getting sick, and eventually returned to Holland, her husband intending to join them a year later. That year gave Olga time to think.
“Can I live forever like this? I saw no future with him. I thought, if I stay with him, I bring the whole family down. Or will I go on my own? I had a job in Indonesia, I started working there in an office. In the back of my mind, to prepare in case it wouldn’t work out in the future.”
The time came for her husband to join the family in Holland, and Olga was faced with telling him her decision to leave, or bring the whole family down with her unhappiness.
“This man who had been so crushed, like me, so damaged, four years in a prisoner of war camp, with a more terrible background than I. I realized what I was doing to him, but I thought, the alternative is, nobody is happy. I was even suicidal. I thought ‘hey, they took care of the three of us in the Salvation Army, God will take care of my babies.'”
Throughout this time, Olga had remained in contact with the man she met in Indonesia. She quietly whispered to me how she really didn’t think he would ever consider being with her, knowing that this man, her now husband, who had known all along that he wanted her, could hear us.
“I never thought that he would marry me. I saw this swarm of young ladies that were swooning over him. I didn’t want to burden him with a ready made family at the beginning of a career.”
Despite Olga’s doubts, after being faced with potentially being called up to contain an uprising in Hungary, this man married her, without hesitation.
Her husband completed his final year of medical school, and they began to apply for positions all over the world. At that time, because of World War II, there was a deficit of professionals like doctors or dentists in America. Olga had never even given moving to America a thought.
“He came home waving a medical journal and said ‘What about going to America?’ I said jokingly, ‘Let’s go’. Six months later, we landed in New York.”
After moving to America, the family endured some tough times, the children didn’t speak English, her husband had to retake all of the medical exams; but for Olga, she thinks back on this time as the first time she really felt at home, in a home all her own.
“For the first time in my life, here in America, at 33 years old, I had a place of my own.”
Olga and her husband both faced seemingly insurmountable circumstances throughout their lives. Until moving to America, and even until they moved into their current home years later, there was uncertainty. Olga attributes the story of her life to one thing; her relationship with God.
“If I would choose one verse to resemble our lives, it’s in Joel. ‘He restored the years that the locusts had eaten.’ I didn’t have a childhood, I didn’t know how to play. Cried because there wasn’t a good night kiss. Sat at school and looked at children who had sandwiches for lunch…He restored the years that the locusts had eaten.”
The Lord has certainly restored Olga’s life beyond what could be imagined. She and her husband now have four generations living within twenty minutes of one another. They own a beautiful home, are loving the joys of being grandparents, and are clearly still abundantly in love with one another.
“Ephesians 3:20..that exceedingly, above all that we can think or ask, he is able to do”
Olga’s story is one that I will always remember when I am doubting God’s blessing and protection over my life. It’s hard to deny God’s plan after hearing a story like hers, and I think she summed it up best in her own words:
“I have a theme for life. ‘God surprises us.’ I have an olga-ism for it. Do you want to know what it is? ‘You ‘aint seen nothin’ yet.'”
Miss the beginning of Olga’s story? Read Part 1 here