Period: 18th May 2005 to 1st June 2005
History & Introduction:
At the 2002 Synod of our Church the Unitas Fratum a letter of greeting (see attached letter dated 18th July 2002) from the BBSA via the Synod President, Br Abel Appel was read. We received a response to this letter from Br Albert Frank an assistant director at the Moravian Music Foundation. He was a delegate to the Synod from the USA Moravian Church delegation. This in turn led to the visit by Tyrone Hitzeroth, Ronald Johannes, and (the late) Albert Engel, Ulrich Jansen and Christo Appel to the Winston-Salem Music Festival in 2003. This contact with the Moravian Church gave rise to the idea mentioned by Christo in his welcome speech at the festival of a Triangle of Music in the Moravian Church, (South Africa, USA and Europe).
There an idea came up which was spoken about by Ben van de Bosch and Tyrone regarding a world Moravian Brass Band Festival. This was agreed on in principal, that it would occur in South Africa in 2007 during the year of the 550th anniversary of the Unitas Fratum.
Finally we could invite our guests from Bethlehem and Zeist to South Africa to attend the first planning meeting for the 2007 festival.
Visit to South Africa 2005: 18th May 2005 to 1st June 2005:
Our guests from Europe arrived on the Wednesday 18th May 2005. They were Ben and Femmy van den Bosch from the Zeist Moravian congregation. Ben has been a friend of the BBSA for many years. In 2000 he conducted at the Mamre festival of the BBSA and again was invited in 2002 by the Church to South Africa. At that stage he drew up a report on the functioning of the music groups within the church in South Africa. We could make use of his valued experience in Brass and choir music. We could also meet his wife Femmy whom we only meet via the e-mails. Ben is the leader of the Moravian Brass Bands in the European Province of our Church. A very busy man who just completed the annual brass festival in Zeist attended by 300 brass band players.
Our USA guest arrived on Thursday 19th May 2005. Rev. Dr Albert Frank who now is a good friend of the BBSA has been delegated by the Moravian Music foundation to head the 2007 festival planning in the USA. His director Sr. Nola Reed Knouse has put her full support into this festival. As Nola is on holiday Br Frank is now actually the Director of the Music Foundation. His knowledge of Choir and most important the history of the Moravian hymnal is of immense importance to us. He is well versed on our Church and music, really an assert to have as our delegate from the USA.
The BBSA arranged this visit to coincide with our Festival in Uitenhage of our PE branch. The aim was not only to have a meeting for the 2007 festival but also to show our guests our Country, Congregations and visit some Mission Stations. For Br Albert it was his first visit to SA, therefore each day was an adventure and a new chapter in his life.
The first site seen from the Cape Town International, driving west down the N2 was Table Mountain in its full splendor. After all the rain we recently had this was a site that Br Albert could always associate with Cape Town from the photos he was shown before he arrived in South Africa. Maureen and I could bring them to Hazendal to relax and rest.
We had prepared a full program for our visitors and this is how it went:
Friday 20th May 2005:
Depart for Elim; we were Albert, Ben, Femmy, Maureen, Bernie the BBSA secretary and I. Rev. Chris Wessels who was overjoyed, as he knew Ben, Femmy and Albert, met us. We had a day to remember. We took in all the sites. Firstly God’s acre as it is known. A place where the old missionaries were buried, the graves of the Wills, were of particular importance to Br Albert as his wife Erdmute was related to them. The Wills were store missionaries in Elim for 40 years. He then promised to bring his family in 2007 to see these graves for themselves. We took in the Church and the newly opened Elim Museum. Lunch and we were off to the Elim Tehuis. A visit, which will move any person to tears, but the welcome we received from the staff, made us feel that the children were in very good hands. We met volunteers from Germany and Sweden. One of whom saw the invite to the Tehuis on the Internet and when she saw the words “Sister” thought that Elim was a Roman Catholic Missionary, only on arrival did she see it was a Moravian settlement.
We slept at the very well kept Tourist Lodge in Elim. A lodge that any visitor will enjoy as it is in a very peaceful town and lends one to forget the problems of the world.
Saturday 21st May 2005:
After a hearty meal Rev Wessels and Rev G Joemath from Genadendal greeted us for our journey to Genadendal. After 3 hours drive through parts of the most beautiful countrysides in South Africa we arrived in Genadendal. Here we were welcomed by the Brass Band leader Br Wessel van der Heyde and Basil Carelse.
At Genadendal we were shown the Hostels, Bookstore, Church, Museum, and God’s acre and given a history of the missionaries in the graveyard by an unknown gardener who was quite interested in our visitors. The Pick family gave us a tour of the newly renovated guest rooms. This looks like a perfect place to visit in the quite Mission Station of Genadendal. After a hearty meal we departed for Cape Town.
Sunday 22nd May 2005
After changing our plans to have a service in Mamre we had the Trinity Service lead by Rev Frank in Bellville Moravian congregation. This was a well-attended service and Br Frank could point us as a Church to the Future and how our mission zeal must continue.
The evening we could entertain our guests through the Trombone and small Choir under the guidance of Rudie Engel and Paul Chandler at the Saint Matini Lutheran church in Cape Town.
Ronnie took our Guests after the morning service in Bellville to Mamre where they enjoyed a rest and a meal. They could also visit Pella and Atlantis Moravian Congregations.
Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th May 2005:
These two days our guests were in the company of Ronnie Johannes (BBSA v/chair) and Isak (Sakkie) Marthinus (treasurer BBSA-wp). This journey, as those who know Wupperthal, can be quite nerve racking. Mountain passes with steep valleys lead to this remote Mission station. It is however well worth the drive. Al, Ben and Femmy really enjoyed the scenic drive through the Cedar Mountains. Our guests enjoyed their stay there. A visit to the Church, shoe factory, tea and vegetable gardens are always an attraction in this town. Not to forget the meal they had at the “Lekker Bekkie” restaurant with their Rooibos Tea and “Sakkie Koffie”.
The group could also go on at Wittewater. In Wittewater they were met by Rev Charles Goliath, the local Moravian minister, who showed them around the mission station. Later they could enjoy a typical Cape Town dish, Chicken Curry. These Moravian stations are steeped in history and a short visit is never enough to enjoy it fully. On their return they could touch on at the grave of a very famous South African writer, Louis Leipoldt. On their return to Mamre they were shown around the “Werf” or Church grounds. They visited the Church and also the graveyard. There they could see the old Missionary family graves and also view the village and the Blaauwberg region of the Western Cape. From this vantage point they could see all the way to Table Mountain. At the Church the Mamre Youth were busy and they could entertain our guests with a song.
The evening was ended off with a social gathering where Ben and Femmy could meet the 2002 Mamre tour group. This ended a very busy and interesting couple of days for our guests on the West Coast of our country and Province.
Wednesday 25th May 2005:
Another full day lay ahead for our guests. We could pay a visit to our Provincial Board Head Quarters in Lansdowne. We were met by Sister Angeline Swart our President, Br L. Mcubusi our vice President, Rev Hans (Wuppperthal) and Br Hubert Engel (property dept.). Bishop Temmers, who was not too happy to know that we had Rev Frank and Ben in SA without his knowledge, also later joined us. A communication problem we will set right with our News Letters in future. It was however a pleasant meeting. Sr Swart could relate the situation of our Church in SA. Our guests could bring greetings from their countries and organizations. We could also give greetings from the BBSA and the reason for the 2007 festival.
The highlight of this day was a visit to the top of Table Mountain. After the rains to have such a perfect day was a blessing from God. Not a breeze or cloud was on the tabletop. It was sunshine all the way. Al, Ben and Femmy really enjoyed this trip up the Cable Car. A first for me in the new revolving car. After a tiring hour we went down to the Good Hope center to see where the 2007 festival would be held. After speaking to the caretaker he took us in, as there was a function on at the time. I explained that our guests came all the way from Europe and USA to see the hall and he had to give in after that. Al and Ben were happy with the venue. We then went directly to Moravian Hill and from there we could again see the beautiful Cape Town City Center and the destruction of our communities in the empty District Six streets where our congregations lived. Moravian Hill was closed so we could not see the inside but leave that for 2007.
After lunch and a walkabout at the V & A Waterfront we went home to Hazendal.
The evening, and also the Cape Town leg of the visit, was ended off with a dinner at number 98 in Hazendal. This was an evening of “call back the past”. Present were Abel and Stephanie Appel, Ronald and Jenny Johannes, John and Angeline Swart, Ben and Femmy van den Bosch, Albert Frank and Lizchan and Gretchen. With Abie and John there is never a dull moment and the evening was very pleasant.
Thursday 26th May 2005:
At 09h00 we departed for Port Elizabeth to visit our EP branch of the BBSA and Tyrone. Up to Riversdale things went very well. Then just before Mosselbay we witnessed a head on collision directly in front of our Combe. My mind went immediately to 2003 and our friends. That morning Ben read the watchwords as he always did every morning and we told him that it protected us, a few seconds and things could have been different. We thanked God for our safe passage to PE.
Friday 27th May 2005:
After a good nights rest, at Tyrone’s house we were in for another hectic day. First off was a drive to Thornham and the congregation there. Then onto the Tsitsikamma Forests. All the members were asked if they would like to do the “Treetop Canopy Tour”. We all accepted the offer except Al and Venus. We were kitted up in buckles and belts and helmets and taken on a rough ride to the start of this tour. Well, here things changed when we discovered we had to swing 30m in the air suspended from cables in the treetops. Femmy and Ben reached the end of their Canopy Tour right there. We continued and I can recommend it to any body. After the first slide and the good instructions from the guides it becomes a thrilling experience and you receive a certificate. (Which you must pay for though). It was great. Thereafter we visited the big tree and ended the day at our Mission Station – Clarkson. Here our Clarkson Junior Brass Band entertained us.
I would recommend the Eastern Cape forest visit to any person; it was a very exciting and rewarding day for us all. Well done to Tyrone and his executive who arranged this day.
The evening we were treated to a social evening with the leaders of the Church and brass band. We could be introduced to the local minister Rev K. Aboagye, Rev D. Tamboer and also Bishop Errol Moos. Tyrone could again introduce our visitors and explain the reason for their visit to SA. At last Ben could play on the grandly restored organ at Salem. He entertained us with the new sound of the organ as Al and Femmy sang along. Ben was one of the sponsors who financially supported the restoration of the organ. After a long day and evening we could return to a very welcome bed.
If you ask our guests what they found most hair raising of this day then it must surely be the drive they had with Br Eldon Telling they could not relax at the speed the brother was moving but an enjoyable day was what we had.
Saturday 28th May 2005:
Saturday started at 05h00 because then Bernie sent me an SMS that the Cape Town executive members arrived safely in PE. Now we could relax and enjoy the weekend.
Saturday we would spend the entire day in Uitenhage while the Eastern Cape practiced for the festival. The practice went well although Ulrich and his group had an accident on their way to the practice. All went well when they to could join in with the practice.
The main item on this day’s agenda was the first combined meeting for the 2007 festival. This we could have at 17h00 after the practice sessions. This historic meeting took place at the Uitenhage Moravian Church. It was started by Al with a pray. It would be a very lengthy report to include all the deliberations we had there, that we will leave for Liza’s minutes. Suffice to say that the meeting went of well. We could all give our input with regard to the numbers, music, accommodation, marketing , fund raising etc. Rev Albert Frank ended this first meeting with a pray and we could now all focus on making plans for 2007.
This historic day was ended of with a braai and due to the continuous rain. The braai went rather slow. Each one had to be done separately but as with all gatherings these are small problems. We could again enjoy the musical talents of Ben on the organ. He reminded us of Albert who played on all the organs he could when we were in the USA in 2003. Al, Ronnie and Femmy again sang along with all the Choir Pieces that Ben played. It was an unforgettable day and evening to remember for the rain and camaraderie we could share in Uitenhage.
Sunday 29th May 2005:
The big day for our Eastern Cape members finally arrived and the long hours of practice will now finally come to an end for 2005. The one thing however that Venus feared was the rain but the Lord had other ideas and sent rain in bucket loads over Uitenhage. The morning service we had an inspiring message from Rev Albert. His second on South African soil. The noise however of the rain on the Church roof drowned out the junior choir but the message of Al came through strong and clearly. Ben also had a share in the service as he accompanied most of the hymns on the beautiful organ of the Congregational Church.
We could then retire to the hall for the lunch meal and the whole group of brass band players and some congregation members could enjoy the food that was prepared for us. Thanks should go to all who prepared and organized such a good meal for so many people. Tyrone opened the festival itself at 14h30 with the welcome and Bishop Moos did the festival message. The music presented by our Eastern Cape members was of a high standard and was enjoyed by all who ventured out in the rain to enjoy the music, Tyrone had prepared for us. The Concert Band and the MCUSA choir under the leadership of Br. John Lavack also added to the festival’s success. This well-rounded festival was closed with the vote of thanks by Venus.
We can be very thankful for the talents that our members are blessed with and that they use it to Glorify our Lord through their playing.
Our few days in PE had come to an end and we had to take leave of our friends in PE and our guests from overseas. A few days, that was blessed and very enjoyable, with many memories that our guests could go home with and invite more people to SA in 2007.
After the long goodbyes we departed Uitenhage at 18h00.
A long journey lay ahead for us to Cape Town but we were happy that we could have had the few happy days in PE. Our guests were in good hands and they would further enjoy their stay in SA with Tyrone and Marilyn.
Our thanks to all who accommodated us in PE.
Ben and Femmy would now continue their stay in South Africa and visit the Kruger National Park and Rev Albert Frank would return to Cape Town on the 1st June 2005 to return to Germany and his family, before returning to the USA.
Wednesday 1st June 2005:
Al arrived at 10h00.and our work was not over yet. We met Br Sacks Williams and we arranged to meet in Hazendal before Al departed. They could share musical ideas and Br Williams handed over some of his work to Al, which would now be added to that of Br Lavack, these would go to the Moravian Music Foundation. We need more of our music past and present to be sent there so that their records can be complete, of music for all Moravians from all the Provinces.
Rev Albert also arranged to meet Bishop Temmers at the airport with Jufrou Temmers for lunch. Up to the last minute contacts were being made by our visitors.
Finally thanks to this lunch Al never missed his flight, unbeknown to him his flight was changed from 17h15 to 14h45. He cut his lunch short and said farewell to the Bishop and Jufrou and he was off, God willing we will meet again in 2007.
I believe this visit was a success and that we can now all start planning 2007 in earnest. We are all excited and we know that the Lord has blessed these few days our visitors could be with us. Let us look forward to 2007 in faith and with a positive mind knowing that what we do, we do not do for ourselves, but to Glorify our Lord and savior.
We the BBSA thank the Lord for his blessings since our guests arrived. Thanks also to the BBSA executive for all the arrangements made. We have proved to our visitors that we can organize this event in 2007. Thanks to our families, wives, partners, bands and members who assisted with the planning and who gave up their homes and time to make our guests stay in SA unforgettable.
Thanks to our Church Board, ministers, Mission Stations for welcoming our guests, this will go along way to show that we welcome all who come to our shores.
God Bless the Moravian Church and all its members in The Unitas Fratum.
18th June 2005