The princess put her books away and plomped down on the sofa. “I’m glad that’s the last paper for the year, but now what do we do? It’s the summer holidays, and we have to be off the campus over December and January. We’ve got no income over that period, and we have to find accomodation.” “Let’s ask the Lord what He wants for us” Isaac suggested.
They sought the King for His will. Pleased they had asked Him to lead them the King replied “Go camping”. Trusting in His direction, they spent the last of their money on some camping equipment and left the campus before Christmas.
They camped near the Karangahake Gorge, an area of outstanding natural beauty where gold was once mined. The sparkling Ohinemuri River cut through one gorge, the Waitawheta River the other. History was everywhere in the mining ruins and tracks. There were a lot of tunnels to explore, and on the first day they did not have a torch. The King helped them by sending a guide at the precise moment the Princess was about to trip in the darkness of a tunnel. Their unofficial guide was a Department of Conservation employee who had keys to the locked tunnels.
The King said “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16.
“Would you like to see the mine head?” their guide asked. He didn’t have to ask. They jumped at the chance. As he opened the gate the guide told them this place hadn’t been seen for a century. The Princess peered into the darkness at the minehead and the glow worms.
When they returned to their camp, the grateful Princess thanked the King. “You were a light in that tunnel for me. I am so grateful you sent that guide at just the right moment. Not only did he have a light, he had keys. He opened a locked gate and showed us things hidden for over a century”.
The King said “I will go before you, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of bronze, and cut asunder the bars of iron:
And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the LORD, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel. Isaiah 45:3
The Princess smiled and bowed to Him. The King blessed their holiday as they made their way south, meandering their unhurried way through the North Island. He led them to many beautiful places, eventually bringing them to Waipawa, a pretty little town in central Hawkes Bay where her sister Princess Christine and brother-in-law Prince Paul lived. They were going way on holiday, and the house was theirs to house sit.
Both Princesses were born and bred in Hawkes Bay, and knew their Great Grandparents had settled near the Waipawa area. “Look at this;” the Princess said as they walked around the town, “Our family name is on the monuments.” “Yes, we are known here. When I give them my maiden name, they know of our family” Princess Christine replied. “It’s nice to live in an area where we have history” the Princess replied. “Yes, I felt a sense of belonging with the place, right from the start” her sister replied. Princess Christine and her husband had moved to Waipawa the year before to take up a ministry position at St John’s, a Methodist-Presbyterian cooperating parish. It was their first ministry position.
“How’s it going with the Church?” the Princess asked her sister. “Great, I love being in ministry – although it is Paul who gets the recognition” Princess Christine replied. Nodding sympathetically, the Princess said “God knows the work you are doing. I know He’s got you here for a reason.”
The Princess thought about the vision she had received the year before at Prince Paul and Princess Christine’s induction ceremony. As the thanksgiving prayer began “Our Father in heaven, we thank you for those who have given us our heritage …” the King took the Princess by the hand. The sunlit church and people faded, as she found herself on the hill in Hawkes Bay where she and her sister had been born. The hospital they had been born in was gone. It its place were immigration barracks. A harbour lay at the base of the hill, where the Friedeburg, a German ship newly arrived from Hamburg lay at anchor. The King was showing the Princess a scene from over a century ago.
“Vater unser im Himmel” … thanksgiving prayers were being said in the forgotten language, as a newly arrived couple stood on a hill at the ends of the earth, looking out over the land of Hawkes Bay. Although the woman’s lips trembled and moved she appeared to have difficulty with her hearing. “Why am I seeing this?” the Princess asked. “Today you are seeing a generational promise fulfilled” the King replied. Out of fear she was just imagining things, the Princess said nothing about it to her sister.
In the days that followed, Waipawa welcomed them, wrapping them together in a sense of belonging, homecoming, and peace. Isaac had some work on a house renovation while they were staying in the town. He worked on a roof while the Princess took the teenage children to the beach, and came home smiling, his face made pink from the sun. “Why are you so happy, when I’m the one that got to go to the beach?” the Princess laughed. Isaac said “I don’t know, but I feel I belong here.” She felt the same. For years this land had called out to her, and now she would find out why. “What is this place in the Kingdom? Where am I?” she asked the King. “You are at the place of the forgotten gate, a gate that has been closed for over a century” He replied.
They went exploring, and found a place called Makaretu, the place where her forefathers had settled after leaving Germany. Nothing was left there except a cemetery, and a memorial gate. “Stop the car” the Princess asked Isaac. As they walked through the gate, the call of the land grew into a single word; “here”. The Princess had never been to this place before, but Isaac saw the King lead the Princess to a grave.
“Here” the King whispered, touching a headstone that bore no discernible name. “Here” she repeated, as Isaac found her scraping away madly at the moss, looking up at him with her eyes shining as her family name slowly appeared. “Here’s my name! We have found Wilhelm’s grave. He’s here, he’s here! Oh, thank you Jesus!” The Princess leaped up and jumped around in excitement, overjoyed at her discovery of Wilhelm’s grave. Isaac took over scraping at the lower half of the headstone. “So is she …” Isaac said, finding Anna.
“Here” she heard the word whispered again, “Yes, I am here” the Princess said, as she bowed her head. A fragment, a memory, a feeling of something left forgotten and buried tugged at her heart and mind, as she stood paying her respects. Wilhelm Dassler had not chosen to settle at Makaretu, where he lay buried. He died before he could establish himself in the place where he wanted to be.
The King said “They died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore I am not ashamed to be called their God, for I have prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11
Anna lay there with him, Anna who called the Father “Abba” like a child. “My Father is also your Vater …” the Princess said, remembering. She looked up at the King standing on the other side of the grave. “You led us here for a reason, didn’t you?”
The King said “Just as you have been an object of cursing among the nations, so will I save you, and you will become a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.” Zechariah 8:13
The Princess thought about the cursing. Did the King mean by cursing that even though their name was on the war monuments in the area, there was the stigma of being German during the world wars? Or did He mean something far worse, like Freemasonry? Freemasonry offered a man brotherhood, light, and secrets – but when a man swore allegiance at the lodge, he swore allegiance to a different God. It brought cursing, oaths that bound a family for generations. The darkness spread throughout the land, for with every New Zealand town, there was a church – and a lodge. She knew her Grandfather and Great Grandfather had belonged to a lodge, and had broken off the oaths they made.
The Princess regarded the King and spoke; “It does seem we were cursed. Other settler families have farms they have been on for generations. We do not have land here to call our own, and even though our name is on the war monuments in this area, there is no one down my line of the family left to carry it. I read the curses you wrote for following other gods;
The LORD will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind.
At midday you will grope about like a blind person in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you. Deuteronomy 28:27-29
I grew up seeing my blind Grandfather grope in the dark on the farm where we lived, and his Grandmother was deaf. We couldn’t hear, we couldn’t see, and we couldn’t think right.”
“Lord you have brought over us a deep sleep:
You have sealed our eyes
You have covered our ears
For us this whole vision was nothing but words sealed in a scroll.” Isaiah 29:11
The King watched the emotions flit across the face of the Princess. He remembered how she first staggered out of the darkness into the light, holding her hands to shield her eyes, unable at first to accept the Father’s love, or believe it. He wanted her to believe it now.
The King said “It’s not over. The oaths have been removed, but you have not come far enough. This is the day of my favour. I want you to come forward for my blessing.” His voice was rough with emotion, as He extended His hand to her across the grave. “So many of you suffer judgment, but I am a God who longs to establish you, and show my favour! I am gracious and kind to all, full of compassion and mercy.
I look at each generation, and call until my voice gets hoarse. Please come forward for my blessing. It is the blessing I promised your forefathers, the blessing I promised for generations.”
The Princess had already started to experience the Father’s blessing. She knew this was something important, and nodded. “I don’t know what you promised, it wasn’t shared with us, and I don’t speak German. What I do know is you are a faithful God, and your promises are for all generations. Please give the blessing you have promised. Show me what I have to do.” The King came forward with keys in His hand. “Would you like me to open the gate?” He didn’t have to ask. “Please” the Princess replied, nodding.
A monarch butterfly alighted near a bush with purple flowers. The Princess chose some of the flowers and left them on the grave.
The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever. Isaiah 40:8