In 1997 we moved to a beautiful village named Wintam (see photos here) to live nearer to my office. We lived in a small house with a beautiful garden. We lived there for three years. We then attended church meetings at Sint Niklaas, the unit of the stake president at the time. We enjoyed church there, comparing with Leuven it was like the window has been open and fresh air was invading a very dusty room. The members were very nice and the youth was simply the best you could have. My wife and I were called as Young Men president and Young Women president. We had wonderful lessons and activities and they came to us with their problems. The youth really trusted us. Once during an auxiliary meeting with the branch presidency I asked the branch president to stop “terrorising” the youth because we have been receiving complains about his attitude towards them. We were approached by the youth crying about dignity interviews and also other interviews.
It was as hell was frozen. The branch president took my remarks so seriously that since then, without me knowing, each time he needed to talk to me he was not friendly anymore. As if it was because of my wife and I that the youth came out crying from his office. Some time later I received a phone call from the relief society president. We talked about the youth and later she called me again. She apologized because she has been obliged by the branch president to call me about the youth while he was listening in the second line. When I confronted him with that he was not comfortable but defended his action on using someone else to be spying on me.
He made everyone’s life a misery. His second counselors asked him repeatedly to stop treating me the way he was doing at to take care of the youth and stop playing the big Master. No ears were given. One evening we were called by a missionary from the Antwerp Second Ward to welcome us in his ward. I replied that he must be mistaken because we were members in Sint Niklaas. He informed us that the borders had been changed. I could not believe my ears, so to get us out of his ward because we defended the youth, the branch president requested for the borders to be changed.
As I wrote before, we were living in Wintham (near Bornem), and for us to start going to our new unit, we needed first to drive to Sint Niklaas (Sint Niklaas ward boundaries) and then take the highway to Antwerp, or we needed to drive to Willebroek (within the Mechelen branch and then take the other highway to Antwerp. No way that I needed first to drive through another unit to be able to attend my brand new unit. Besides, Sint Niklaas was only 20 minutes away and Antwerp 2 was 40 minutes away. I could not go directly because we were separated by a river and within the borders was no bridge.
I tried to explain the situation to the stake and ward leaders and as usual, “inspired leaders never make mistakes” and they made us move because it was for “our own growth”. So I said, if you want us out of Sint-Niklaas, OK, so we go to Mechelen (we were looking for a house there and the unit has just been reopened). Later in the week, when they counted their priesthood holders they were dismayed because if I left they were not able to qualify to become a Ward (they would have a priesthood holder too short). They called me trying to convince my family not to leave but we reminded them that “for our growth” we had to leave Sint-Niklaas. So we left anyways and they hid that fact from the GA’s and they counted me to become a Ward.
"We believe in being honest..."