The Life and Experiences of a Layman by Charles Boller

Pages 13 - 17

2. My First Visit to Oberhörgern


When after thirty-three years I visited my relatives in Germany they were all very happy to see me and they warmly greeted me. "Now Karl, you can visit everyone in the village only don't go the Bäckerhannes'," my beloved uncle told me. These words alone acted as a magnet on me. After I had spent a few days with my relatives I found out the reason. In twelve years my uncle had not spoken with Bäckerhannes. They had brought eachother before the court and the court had not handled the case properly. The pastor preached on the text, "If you think that your brother has something against you, lay your gift before the altar, go forth and reconcile with him," etc. "Well, Karl, how did you like the sermon today?" my aunt asked. I said, "Very good, aunt. Today the pastor preached for Uncle and Bäckerhannes." My aunt responded, "Friedrich, do you hear what Karl says?" etc.

That same afternoon I spoke with some of my comrades about this serious matter.

They regreted this tragic situation between the two well-respected families. At that moment Bäckerhannes arrived at the the waterwell where we were standing in order to get some water. "Bäckerhannes, listen to me. Would you go half way in order to reconcile with my Uncle Friedrich?" I asked him. He answered "Not half way, but the whole way. I can't tell you what I've endured because of this matter. This morning during the sermon I looked over at you and wondered if you knew of the matter." I made arrangements to bring my uncle and Bäckerhannes together at 10 o'clock that evening in order with God's help to affect a reconcilation. I had to leave two days later. Friedrich and the entire family sat with us around a long table. Then the four men with whom I had spoken about this matter arrived. Bäckerhannes came in last. None of the family knew what this was all about. When his greatest enemy extended his hand to him my uncle wanted to leave; but my aunt prevented this from happening. It looked as though he was petrified and tamed and he merely said "Nothing will come of it." With great seriousness I walked over to him

and said, "Dear Uncle, it has been a pleasure to visit you and our elderly aunt one more time before your departure from this world and I thank you all for the good times my wife and I have had. We're leaving the day after tomorrow and perhaps we will not see each other again in this life. It is regrettable that for twelve years you and Bäckerhannes have lived in discord with one another and have not received justice. Without a doubt both families have experienced much sorrow and heartache because of it and perhaps spent many sleepless nights. I can't and I won't say which of you is right and which is wrong; who is guilty and who is blameless. The court has given neither of you any satisfaction. I wish to ask a favor of you, my dear uncle. Grant me the great favor, now and before I leave you in the name of Jesus Christ, of reconciling with Bäckerhannes. If you're willing, please stand up. Bäckerhannes, are you sincere in your wish to reconcile with my uncle, to forgive each other with your whole hearts and to greet one another when you meet and to never speak of this matter again?"

Bäckerhannes jumped out of his chair and walked over to my uncle. "Now shake hands before God and these four witnesses." At this moment of rejoicing there wasn't a dry eye in the room! My aunt cried loudly and said, "Karl, you have to come from America to make peace among us." We gave them some good advice on how to nurture this peace and Bäckerhannes promised to write to me each month concerning the reconciliation. He did this regularly. In his letters he usually said, "Karl, the reconciliation is as strong as goathair."

When I came to visit five years later, my uncle and aunt had gone to their final home, the son of my uncle and his brother-in-law two years later. When I visited the third time Bäckerhannes had also gone to his heavenly father's house. In the cemetery they showed me the five burial plots of the departed. I rejoiced in the Lord with the thought that perhaps I had been the agent to their sanctity. Our beloved heavenly father could hardly have admitted them with their old hatred and anger.This deed of affecting the reconcilation of these two men compensated me for the money I had expended in traveling.

3. Experiences I had in Europe


The major goal of my second trip to Germany in 1887 was to take a look at our work in Württemberg and Switzerland. Since I wanted information on the major congregation in Württemberg the eminent elder wanted to give me a preacher's license. In every respect I was in the prime of life and I had a strong interest in the Sunday school work of our conference. I wondered how the work was conducted in Germany. In the company of my wife as well as R. Dubs, Bishop of our church, and many others we traveled on the steamship "Mosel," which ran aground on the return trip in the English Channel near Lizzard Point. We had departed from New York Harbor. After a fortunate journey we arrived in my home district. After spending a few days there I traveled directly to the German Conference, which was held in Durlach near Karlsruhe. The conference was already in session and the bishop painfully awaited our arrival. Brothers and sisters from Ebenezer, Rochester and Naperville were among our traveling companions.

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Text provided by Lockwood Library, State University of New York at Buffalo, BX8080.B65

Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks