Peter Hoover: Hansl And Gretl

Sonthofen im Allgäu in southern Germany where a Hutterite was taken prisoner in 1566.

Hänsl, a hatmaker and a messenger of a Moravian community, was caught by the authorities in this lovely valley of southern Germany, and thrown into prison. He was able to get a message sent home to his wife, Gretl, who was wondering what had happened to him:

Gretl, I have to tell you something. A while ago, during the night, I kept hearing a door opening in the prison, somewhere close beside me. It opened just as if a person were going in and out. There was no wind, no other noise. But it happened about fifteen times. It would stay open until those that brought my food saw it and got angry, thinking the wind had done it. They slammed it shut, time after time. I was lying here for twenty weeks before this started happening and now I have been lying more than twenty weeks since, but I don’t hear it anymore.

I hope this means I will get out of prison sooner or later. Yet, however it goes, I am sure God knows best. He knows just the right time for everything. For our light and momentary trouble we gain unspeakably greater glory in the world to come—if we keep our eyes, not on what we can see, but on the unseen. . . .

My very dear Gretl, how good it is to trust God and depend totally on him! He says we do not need to fear those that kill that body but have no power over the soul. . . . Not a starling falls but he takes note, and he knows the number of hairs on our heads!

Thank you, beloved Gretl, dearest sister in the Lord, for your letter and gift, and for letting me know that you gave birth to a little boy! When the time comes for our little boy to be in school, do not cling to him or hold him back, for the Lord loves a willing offering. I do not write this because I don’t trust you. I know you will be a willing mother when the time comes. I write out of love, and I am just as glad to hear that things go well for you, as you are to hear from me. . . .

Dearest Gretl, I so much wanted to send you a letter last fall, but no one came and I had no way of sending it. I finally had to tear it up and throw it away. Health wise I am doing well, as far as I know, but we had a very cold winter. The chains on my feet kept them really cold. Many times I could not get them warm all night. But those very chains, the Lord willing, shall bring me into lovely comfort and warmth before long! They will be a much better adornment for me, before God’s seat of judgement, than the golden chains of the godless!

Even though we are separated in the flesh, dearest Gretl, in love and spirit we remain united still. I ask you and all the believers to pray for me that I may fight like a man against sin and death, the flesh and the world. I send you many thousands of kisses and commend you to God.

With this, I also send you my spoon. I wanted to give you a keepsake but I have nothing else. Greet your brother Anderle and his Anndl, along with Heinrich and Christina, Hans Ens and his Durl. Greet Anna and all the friends—Jörg and Jobst with their sisters. I heard that Hauber is no longer with you at Austerlitz. Please tell the servants to greet everyone who asks about me—Christoph Weber, Konrad Brenner, Hans Schreiber, Philip Rümer, Offrus Kämmler, Düterich’s wife Anndl, the foodserver’s wife Urschl, Marser’s wife Leni with her sisters, Finteger’s Durl, and the two Annas from Swabia—in summa, greet all the faithful in holy godly love and with the kiss of Jesus Christ!

I hope you will be able to read this letter. I only have a very small window, and the place where I stand to write is uneven and uncomfortable. Also the chains are quite heavy. But that is all right, praise God!

Written in the week after Easter, by me, Hänsl Hueter, imprisoned for the sake of God’s Truth. Sonthofen im Allgäu, 1566. Volume 3, Die Hutterischen Episteln -- 655-660

We only have a tiny window into the story of this brother and sister. We do not really know what happened -- whether he escaped or whether he was burned, or whether they ever became back together. But we are joyful because we trust they knew one another in Jesus. This life is precarious, only a little time, but eternity is before us in glorious delight.

My husband Peter had brain tumour surgery over a month ago, and now has what they call aphasia. The tumour was on the left side of the brain, which is where the speech centre is located. So his speech is hindered, and he cannot write e-mails like before. He can read some things, especially his Bible. It is hard for him to read on the computer, but he does want to hear from everyone who cares to write. We have a six-year-old daughter who loves to read for him, and she is good at it because she reads slowly and clearly! Our other children, and I, also do some reading for him. He is eager to hear what you have to say, so if you want to write, feel free to do so! Everything will be shared with him.

He did receive an e-mail from his sister in Canada last week, which he was able to read, and he was also able to write a reply to her. He can write some things, but then is not able to read what he wrote! However, we are glad to see improvement and trust that God will continue to bless and to heal.

Thank you, from the heart, to everyone who has written, and for praying for us. God bless you for your love.

So, even if things are not exactly as we would choose to have them, we are still not in difficult circumstances like the believers were in the story above! God has been very good to us. And we appreciate our brothers and sisters in the community very much. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus until we see him!

Susan Hoover

Rocky Cape Christian Community
19509 Bass Highway
Detention River, Tasmania 7321