In the summer of 2006 I received, as many of the Bechterdissen PAX boys did, a letter inviting us to come to Bechterdissen and to be a part of the 50 year celebration. I put the letter aside with out much further thought. Earlier in the year some relatives had asked if I would take a group to Germany. As the plans for that trip were being made I kept Bechterdissen in the back of my mind. We had planned to go to Germany the beginning of Sept. and I thought I would visit Bechterdissen after the trip with the relatives. I communicated with Heini he asked if I could come earlier and help celebrate the 50 year celebration. So I changed my visit from the end of my trip to the beginning and booked a flight for August 28 arriving there on the 29th. I also wanted to leave the following Sunday morning to meet my relatives. I told Heine about my planes and soon received a call asking if I could possibly come so I would be there on the 27th which was a Sunday or Sept 2. Sundays were the most important time because more people would be there. So I changed my flight and left here on Friday the 25th and arrived in Germany the 26th
The celebration went from Sunday to Sunday. The first Sunday Peter Huebert spoke and the choir sang. And in the evening there were interviews with people who were involved with establishing and planning the Gemeinde . Monday was open. There was no meeting. Tuesday evening was a program by the various choirs. Wednesday there was a breakfast for the retired “Senioren” people with activities afternoon and a slide show in the evening. Wednesday they had a breakfast for the women and in the evening they had personal testimonies about what God did in your life (the first time for sharing like this).
Friday evening was praise worship young people style with a group “Guido Baltes and Band” (also a first). Saturday was a fun and food time with a church picnic, and Sunday there was a guest speaker Dr. Bernhard Ott from the Schweiz with a gemeinsames Mittagessen. That was the activities for the week. I was there for the first Sunday but left to go to Frankfurt the following Sunday morning so I missed the last day. The church was quite full most of the time. I think they have about 700+ members.
I stayed with Karen and Heinrich Tyart, their house is right behind the church. I had met them about ten years earlier and Daniel their son had spent two weeks with us when he was in the USA. So we didn’t have to get acquainted but were able to continue were we left off ten years ago. Heini of course took good care of me also. Heini is also good friends with the Tyarts so they worked together to make me feel at home. Heini had me over several days at his apartment in Bad Salzufen. He is a very good cook and we spend time visiting the town, swimming in the spa pools and just sharing. As I think most of us know Heini was a bright light in our Bechterdissen experience and I am really blessed to have him as a friend and a Christian brother. We shared, reminisced, some times wept together. I met and spoke with many others in the church: the pastor, others in leadership and others. I visited also with Wilfred Regier and his wife. Wilfred doesn’t look any older than when we worked together 50 years ago. I met for the first time Fritz Wedler and his wife, in fact I went with the Tyarts to their house for “Kaffee und Kuchen” and what a nice couple they are. Some of you probably worked with him. I was disappointed I didn’t get to see Lothar Teuchert and Rudy Schultz. I have such good memories working with both of them. The young people, of course, didn’t experience the PAX era but I did speak with some of them and it was interesting to find lots of similarities with young people here in the states. They as most young people are groping for their identity and Daniel Tyart is working with them trying to give them guidance and direction.
Sunday evening I was able to speak on behalf of the PAX boys who worked in Bechterdissen. It was a walk through the history of the Bechterdissen Gemeinde. Various people still living, who had a part in bringing the community together, were brought up on stage and interviewed and asked questions. I sat and listened to stories I had not heard before about the work that was put into this project. We all know about the paper work necessary to do any thing in Germany and these were stories about the beginning. When it came time for me to go on stage and be interviewed I walked up and the people began to clap and I felt all the appreciation for all the work that you all gave so freely and joyfully. I felt like this appreciation was not for me, I only did a small part, and I knew I needed to share this gratitude with all of you who contributed. I felt so much gratitude I could have wept. It was genuine and real and I wish all of you could have been there to feel the appreciation. I shared about how I felt I was giving two years of my life and receiving almost no money for doing it. I sorta felt a little selfrighteous about it back in the 50’s. I shared I was excited about the adventure and seeing Europe and I wasn’t aware what God was doing with me and with the people in Bechterdissen. And then later after I returned home I realized how little I really gave and how much I received. I shared that the experience changed my life. It enlarged my world. I experienced real Christians in Germany and I knew God was much bigger than I could have imagined. That was the essence of my interview and I trust and believe you would have said some thing similar.
I was amazed that some things we did 50 years ago would be remembered and appreciated to this day. I decided that we did it as unto the Lord and because of our attitude God used it to bless us and others even remembered for over 50 years. Let me tell you again your work as a Pax boy was and is still to this day very appreciated Just praise God for what he did through you.
That is a birds eye view of what went on during that week of celebration and thank God I was able to represent you and I hope you felt like you were there with me.