“A Netherlands Pioneer,” Ensign, July 1996, 68–69
Johan Paul Jongkees of Leiden, the Netherlands, was converted to the Church during World War II by a fellow prisoner in a German prison camp. “He led 11 of us in Sunday School and sacrament meetings,” Brother Jongkees remembers. “We even had a singing quartet.” After the war, several members of the group were baptized, including Brother Jongkees in Amsterdam in 1945. His father also was a member of the Church.
Soon after his baptism, Brother Jongkees rejoined the navy and went to the Dutch East Indies, today known as Indonesia. “It wasn’t until a few years later when I returned to the Netherlands that I was able to become active in the Church,” he recalls. Brother Jongkees fulfilled his first Church calling as a branch Sunday School teacher of 10 children ranging in age from 3 to 15. After he became the branch’s Sunday School president, he moved his family to Leiden, a city in southern Holland where he and his wife still live today. Upon Brother Jongkees’s arrival to Leiden, the mission president called him to revitalize the Leiden Branch. “As president, I started holding meetings as a one-man show,” he recalls, “but the number attending gradually increased.”
In 1959 another mission president called Brother Jongkees as his first counselor, and soon thereafter Brother Jongkees’s England-born wife of 10 years was baptized. When the first stake in the Netherlands—and on the European continent—was organized in 1961, Brother Jongkees was called as the stake president. In 1974 he became a stake patriarch, and in 1978 he was called by President Spencer W. Kimball as president of the London Temple, where he and his wife served until 1982. He subsequently served as a regional representative, and today he again functions as a stake patriarch. “My leadership experience has taught me the wisdom of following the Brethren and the instructions in the handbooks,” Brother Jongkees says.
He and his wife have four children, two of whom are living, and also six grandchildren. “We have been blessed to associate with many marvelous General Authorities and local priesthood leaders,” he says. “Religion in general is declining in the Netherlands, but the Church is still growing here.”—Brian K. Kelly, Highland, Utah