The patrol ranged through jungle…
And out into great open spaces. But the purpose of Systse’s patrol was not so much to kill or capture an enemy as it was to do an even greater harm to a culture, smashing the one thing that was cherished throughout generations of Indonesians… their faith and symbols of their religion. Here is an altar broken by Sytse’s team:
Although Sytse never talked much about it, it was what eventually lessened his own faith. I can speculate that the damage he did in his quest; working to destroy another system of belief also chipped away at his own. He had become aware of the complexity and unassailable permanence of belief in the very people he was charged with harassing. Sytse was not one turn a deaf ear to the stories his guides told. No doubt it worked on his conscience. The mysteries he must have learned and never told me!
In the end, Sytse was once again captured by those forces who fought against the Dutch colonial troops. And here is the interesting twist in Sytse’s tale of his time in Indonesia:
Because his father had been a missionary before the war, his captors could not bring themselves to simply kill him. After all, he was the son of a ‘holy man’ and they were wary of challenging his God by such a flippant act. They could not, however, set him free either. The answer they came to was that he would need to be sent back to Holland wounded, so they machine-gunned him across his legs, patched him up and made certain he was returned to his unit.
This is how he soon afterwards found his way back home to his family in Holland and the next adventure which still awaited him. A marriage and another long journey lay ahead.
Stay tuned. 😀