30. Starts with Di - ends with La
The state of South Australia has the highest percentage of German descendants in Australia, seven percent (national average is 4 % as per the Advertiser 22/5/04). Our young state (established in 1836) was the only ‘free settlement’, which started when a group of Germans found refuge from religious persecution in their homeland. Convicts from Great Britain initially settled the other states. Ironically, more than 160 years later, as Australian of German descent, I felt persecuted in my adopted country for my outspokenness, which is in part the result of my fundamental, religious faith.
On the weekend of April 17/18th 04 the German Male Voice Choir ALT, of which I was a member, travelled to a Victorian country town, about four hours drive from Adelaide. We had been invited to the annual “German Fest”, which celebrated German culture, enjoying traditional music and food and to raise funds for the local hospital.
The name of the town starts with Di and ends with La. It may sound silly, but these letters, plus the name of a nearby town Horsham (= horse home?), where the choir stayed overnight, teased my brain to the point of thinking that, perhaps, God was leading me away again to …LA? A year earlier I may have been tempted to let my thoughts run free and act on such clues. But in the same way as the trips away with the soccer supporter’s group, I knew I would not run away. Instead I looked forward to another adventure, waiting to be lived.
My diary is full of connections that I could draw to my online story. Here are a few examples:
Just before my arrival I took a break in a “Driver Reviver” station, set up by the Lion’s Club. On the way I had noticed many car registration plates, but the one parked beside me as I drank my free coffee, had me intrigued: V_ _ 123. Not only did I read the letters as victory, but as I drove away after my coffee break, I noticed a complex looking apparatus, which appeared to be electronic equipment, in the back of this vehicle. The driver just happened to have his boot open for me to get a good view. I could have sworn he loves ‘Fanta’ and had read Chapter Nine of “More in number”.
The area is called the Wimmera – I only need to replace the m with the next letter in the Alphabet, to create 'a winner'. Two geographical names immediately rang a bell as soon as I saw them – “Riverside” and “Nine Creek”.
The place I stayed overnight used codes to unlock doors – of course they were my numbers 153 (not in that order). On Sunday Morning I attended a church service. One of the hymns sung was Number 135. I remember the leader questioning himself – is that the right number?
The atmosphere in the large shed of the Showground of the small town brought back memories of Germany. Happy, smiling faces sang favourites that everyone knew, lead by a lively brass band, in traditional costume, from Klemzig, a suburb of Adelaide. People were sipping from beer steins, while swaying to the beat of the music, trying not to spill any. The air was filled with the smell of German sausages and sauerkraut. Black Forrest cherry cake and ‘Bienenstich’ were my favourite in the selection of sweets. The singing and dancing got more jovial, as the beer barrels got emptier.
I noticed a subtle piece of wit standing on the platform. Two signs on a stand were pointing in different directions. One said – “Lloyd Street”, the other “To the Hospital”. Our choir’s abbreviated name is “ALT”. Alt in German means ‘old’ and we are the “Oldest male voice Choir” in Australia. Did someone try to pre-empt the possibility of one of us “oldies” needing to find the way to the hospital in a hurry? (The other possibility is somebody had read chapter 66 of “More in number” and was giving me a hint).
My sleeping quarters, my small Suzuki Wagon R plus, brought back memories of the time I previously slept in the back of a van in the US. I was (again) freezing cold, because I had not listened to Isobel and not taken a sleeping bad, but only one blanket. This was one time I should have listened to my wife?
Early the next morning I awoke and turned the dial on my transistor radio. That morning I got up early (to get warm) and decided to phone, for the first time, a nationally broadcast weekly radio program. It’s called ‘Australia all over’. I was hoping to tell listeners about the great weekend we were having here.
I tried for about an hour, dialling the ABC’s number over and over from the phone box outside the post office. Finally I got through and after a “pre-interview” was told to hold on, I would be on air, when it was my turn. (The cost of the call was reverse-charged). My arm got heavy after holding on for another 15 minutes or so. Suddenly the line went dead. I tried twice to reconnect, but knew it would be fruitless. I had given my real name, Dieter. Would have I been cut off had I called myself Winston, which I occasionally did to stay anonymous? I will never know the answer.
In an email from back home later I explained what had happened and why I had phoned. Not that I was upset; I just wanted to let them know that I did not hang up on them. I was well aware that being cut-off could have been initiated at various locations, and for many reasons. I refused to be irritated by the thought that I perhaps was silenced on purpose. Who cares?
There were times when being cut-off like this sent me in a spin and fuelled my conspiracy theories. Now, trusting in God’s will, gave me the assurance, if HE had wanted me on air that morning, I would have been. I had tried my best. There are times when we must leave ‘success’ up to God.
As I was driving back to Adelaide later that day, I spotted something out of the corner of my eye, on a side road. It was for a fraction of a second only. The familiar urge to investigate, to turn back and have a look, overcame me. At the speed I was travelling, approx. 100 km/h, turning around suddenly, for no real reason, would have sent Isobel crazy, had she accompanied me.
The persistent drawing of my mind or spirit, call it what you may, made me indicate left, stop the car and turn around. The fleeting blob of colour I had seen was a family. Two adults and boy and a girl in their early teens were painting a fence. A large 4-wheel drive van was parked at the entrance of their driveway. By the car registration number, plus the fact that a whole family was painting a very short, easy to paint fence, very late on a Sunday afternoon made me think – is this for real?
I stopped nearby, got out of my vehicle and simply asked, where the road was leading to? The lady gave me a puzzled look and asked in return: “Where do you want to go?” Slightly embarrassed I said: “Nowhere, ah, ah, I’m actually on the way home.” What they thought l never know. Had I said something like – well, it’s like that. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw something. The number of the car in front of me turned me on and God told me I must turn around and look what’s going on – what would she have thought of me then?
Before entering the main road I read the name of the road: ‘Sorswell’ (=soars well)? I am tempted to also decipher the name of the National Park I read on a sign – ‘Ngarkat’ - but I shall leave this to the reader, if they wish.
There are moments in my life when I ask myself – as you, the reader probably does likewise – when will I finally wake up from this nightmare or fairytale, whichever it is, and see reality? “What is taking place can’t possibly be for real. My mind is that far gone that I will never see that it all is one big illusion.”
This is how my dear wife argued with me almost daily. In fact, only a moment ago, our dialog went something like this:
DF: “Why don’t you consider my offer and kneel beside your bed for only ˝ hour a day for a week and ask God to show you.”
Is: “What would God show me that I don’t know already”? Why don’t you do what I’ve been telling you to do – take a small dosage of anti-psychotics and your mind will think clearly”.
DF: “Where am I not thinking clearly? In Australia we have freedom of speech and freedom of thought. How could tablets change facts that I have seen and report? Can you be specific, where in my book am I not making sense?”
Is: “There is that much stuff in your book, I wouldn’t know where to start.”
DF: “I have told you so many times that all I have done is, ask questions. If I am correct in what I am saying, then there are a few unhappy people around, who would have reason to silence me.”
Is: “But you’ve been saying that for years and nothing has happened.”
DF: ”Would you believe, if something sinister would happen, like a brick thrown through our window or worse?
Is: “Why don’t you listen to…? None of your friends are bothered with your stuff. They can see it, but you can’t. It would only take a small amount of tablets. Many people are taking tablets, even Christians.
DF: “If I took a vote amongst committed Christians how to best solve our problem, how many would vote for tablets and how many for ˝ an hour daily beside your bed in prayer?” I pray every day, why has God not shown me yet that I am wrong in my thinking?
Is: “You always bring God into it. Anyway, there is no point in discussing it any more. Nothing seems to make you change your ways. I just feel we are going backwards. You should spend more time on the house and look after the yard.
DF: “Please Is, never come to me and say - why didn’t you tell me? I wish you would at least consider what I am saying, try to understand the whole story, not just the weird bits. There is a lot of useful Christian on my website. Even if a few turn their lives around, it will have been worth it.”
Is: “Has the dog been fed yet?
Please let no reader assume I am writing this for malicious reasons or to belittle my wife. I love her and my family more than anything, besides God. Every few days we talk in a similar vein as above dialog, especially after I had been experiencing some extra-ordinary event, which Isobel just dismisses as co-incidence. She finds it painful to even begin to listen to me. It hurts me too, to see her concern about me, to realize that we are poles apart.
I would never consider leaving her or the family. Her refusal to go along with my thinking, in a way, is an expression of her love towards me. She really believes that I am ill and instead of dismissing me altogether, she wants to see me well. One of us sooner or later will have to admit to flawed thinking.
At the fifth anniversary, of what I nominated as the launch of my mission, I planned to visit the church where it all began. I was glad I did. After many doubtful moments God came up with pure magic. That day, 25/4/04, Anzac Day, it seemed, I progressed once again to a higher level (Read it in the following chapter).
Just a while ago, Isobel challenged me to ask you, the reader, to be the judge: “Why don’t people write to you in support?” she questions.
“But there are not many who have dismissed my writing as lunatic either,” I replied.
The scores are level - one all.