We started Christmas concert practice in late November, and everybody was working diligently to learn their pieces. One grade-three boy in particular needed extra help with one word. In our German recitation of “The Four Candles,” Jonathan had a line from Romans 15:13 (KJV): Gott aber der Hoffnung erfülle euch mit aller Freude und Frieden im Glauben (Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing).
Jonathan struggled with articulation on a daily basis, and he simply could not remember the word Freude (“joy”). Instead, he always said Freunde (“friends”), which is understandable since the words are so similar. While God does indeed give us Freunde, we told him, in this verse it just wouldn’t make sense. Jonathan had no problem saying this particular word—Freude—in isolation. But when he said his line, he simply could never get it right.
Teachers, parents, siblings, and fellow students tried to help him, but alas, nothing worked. On our last day of practice, I resigned myself to the fact that he would never get it. I just hoped the audience would be able to figure out the meaning of what he was saying.
On the night of our program, Jonathan was looking sharp, dressed in his Sunday best: pale green shirt and black pants. Standing on stage with the other students, he was beaming, as if he had not a care in the world. I was sitting in the front row of the audience in case the students needed prompts. I kept telling myself not to worry about Jonathan’s almost certain mix-up. His was the last line of the piece, and everybody else had done their parts well.
While I was still wondering whether it would help him if I mouthed the word, Jonathan eagerly started his verse. All of us who had worked with him held our breaths . . . and then sighed with relief when he said the word perfectly. His bright smile said it all; he was happier about this accomplishment than any of us!
Later, when we were reflecting on our Christmas program, Freude took on a whole new meaning for Jonathan and for all of us. I was reminded of God’s promise in Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it will be given to you.” Jonathan was telling us how happy he was that he was finally able to say his piece flawlessly. When asked how he did it, he simply replied, “I asked God to whisper it in my ear, and he did.”
Looking for a Christmas present with Hutterite flavour? Stop by Linda’s website for more info!
Linda Maendel feels blessed to have lived in a Hutterite Colony her entire life. The Hutterites live communally, as outlined in Acts chapter 2: “And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common…”
In addition to Hutterite Diaries she has also written a German children’s book, Lindas gluecklicher Tag and has translated a set of five Bible story books into the Hutterisch language, with the help of a Wycliffe Bible Translator/Linguist, Dick Mueller.