My favourite time of the year has arrived: Advent – and anticipating our Lord’s coming with deep longing and growing joy! It’s summer and holidays at school, university and seminary have started. Even the various dioceses have held their end-of-year functions. So things are winding down even as we prepare for the Christmas celebrations and the Epiphany of our Lord. Exams are done, reports have been distributed or received and we Webers in Rubida Street 196 are planning our coming vacation. A friend from Stellenbosch is making his house available to us – and so we are looking forward to seeing that part of our country for the first time. Exiting prospects!
Angelika has been at UP for a decade now. With that she’s the longest serving lecturer in her department and a experienced “old hand”. We are very grateful that this her calling has worked out so well for her and for us. She’s come up with the idea of putting the LTS on the list of beneficiaries of their social engagement projects. So the idea is that they will give 2 lessons of basic German language proficiency per week to our Seminarians starting next year – compliments of the German government and the University of Pretoria. I think it’s a good way of strengthening our traditional ties with our sister church in Germany and our students at LTS are quite enthusiastic too. Let’s see how this prospect works out. Thursday’s Angelika still regularly enjoys the practice session with St. Paul’s brass band. That’s a good start to her weekend, when she works from home mainly – except if the department is on the road and at some other university. Together with her three eldest children Angelika sings in St. Paul’s choir under the baton of Bernhard Böhmer and is always full of praises for this musical engagement. Together we stayed at Goss estates in Magud and there enjoyed the victory of Germany over England 4:1 at the World Cup. That was a hunting trip with a difference. We celebrated my parents 50th anniversary, my brothers 40th birthday in Ohlangeni, my brothers installation in Umlazi and so on.
Christoph, who is now 21, has finished another year at the university, while doing Biblical Introduction [NT] and Augsburg Confession [CA] at Seminary with the Beginners. He’s still going to classes by bicycle even if he assists us greatly with driving his siblings to school and running other errands for us now and again. He enjoys his piano lessons and continues to strum his guitar in this and that band. That’s his passion no doubt. He and his brother Detlev hosted friends from Aschendorf in October. That was the answer to their visit there last year. The two orchestras did some sightseeing around Pretoria together, but also in N. Natal and a visit to the Kruger Park complimented this cooperation besides practicing music together for a final concert. For our sons this visit was the highlight of the past year.
Friederike has completed her first year at UP too. After getting her learners licence, she’s now doing driving lessons and hopes that she will finally get her driver’s licence. She has also volunteered to help Salomé with administrative tasks at the LTS for three or four days a week in the past Semester. Part of that was the translation of the LTS newsletter, doing photocopying and also some basic accounting. She’s fond of working with her hands, taking care of her mother’s roses and her own sun flowers, baking and knitting if she’s not watching some movie. She’s got her own hamster and a boyfriend too. Probably that’s all part of being a first-year at university doing a BA [own choice].
Detlev is growing up in our servants quarters. We had hoped that we could extend that washroom of his, but these plans take time as you might guess and sometimes even more than that too. He enjoys music and seriously practices his French horn and piano nearly that much. Like in the past he continues to jump on the trampoline every afternoon if he can and that’s why it was ok to replace the rusted springs for the first time this year. He’s still the one, who makes most use of our swimming pool besides myself. This year he directed his first movie: “Das kleine Geheimnis der grossen Schule” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lgib-Hfw_6M
Matthias has now also been dismissed [“Entlassen”] from the “Christenlehre“, because it’s 2 years since his confirmation. So nothing sinister, rather another necessary step to coming of age – even if quite a few more steps are required for that. I am glad that we can look forward of having him with us for some time yet. He is very lively, loves reading, watching TV, but needs to concentrate more on the learning part of his schooling. In retrospect I would have gladly enrolled him at one of the government schools around our place, but moving in St.8 [Grade 10] is a bit late. Most move in St.6. As things are he will probably stick it out at the German School for the next 3 years just like his siblings did.
After my election in 2009 as bishop of the Lutheran Church in Southern Africa my induction as bishop in Mofolo N. was planned and carried out by Bishop David Tswaedi together with his congregation. I was especially grateful that a considerable number of my friends, brothers and colleagues from here and abroad could attend this special event in my life and also that of our beloved Lutheran Church in Southern Africa. Being invited to the installation of President Matthew Harrison in St. Louis in September was a superbonum additum: the cherry on the cake! Due to my new office I have now the privilege and duty to get to know the dioceses personally. The decentralization of the Church has gone to some lengths since the old times of Bishop Schulz in Enhlanhleni and the dioceses go about their workings quite independently. In my view the unity of the Church remains a top priority of my office. The magnitude of the task is daunting as ever and I am grateful that faithful friends and family continue to have me and this Lutheran Church on their prayer list. Most comforting is that our Lord and Savior is the Good Shepherd himself and that he rules in the Church as well as in heaven and on earth. To him be all praise and glory now and forever! Thankfully I am still posted at the Seminary and have the joy of teaching several subjects as before. The Seminary shareholders have requested me to continue serving as rector for another three years in the hope that by that time a suitable replacement will have been recruited. Due to these developments I have started to teach some practical subjects too: Church Administration, visitation and homiletics. Obviously that was mainly to learn these things myself. Preaching during Matins and Vespers gives me regular exercise in doing, what I am called for: Proclaim the goodness, forgiveness, grace and mercy of the Lord, which is new every morning! Brothers here and there have asked me to preach in their congregations too and I am grateful for those opportunities around the country. In the LCSA some brothers were wed, some buried, some were installed into their congregations or new offices, none were ordained in the past year. Chairing meetings of the Church Council and participating at the Seminary Board meetings as the executive director remain vital functions. The Pastor’s convention of our Church met in August and even a number of the retired pastors took part. Looking at the past, present and future of the Lutheran Church in Southern Africa was a vital part of this exercise. At the Seminary Thanksgiving nine students graduated – all of them from Lutheran Churches in Africa. We pray that we will have more new students again next year – also from South Africa. For the first time five students have applied from Tanzania. Hopefully more will join them. New mission posts are to be established in Nhlangano [Swaziland], Salem [Mpumalanga] and Rustenburg [North-West Province]. Several congregations are vacant and therefore we seriously need more pastors. Therefore please pray to the Lord of the harvest, that he will send workers into his harvest, his mission and church!
Wishing you a very happy Christmas and a very prosperous new year of the Lord: Wilhelm and Angelika!