What God joined together: Chapter 11 — Reunited

A serialisation of a fascinating new book by Cape Town missionary and author Ashley Cloete about love across the colour divide in the apartheid era. Each week we will publish a new chapter. YOU CAN ORDER THE E-BOOK VERISION AT https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1144423 or https://

My anxiety with regard to leaving the country turned out to be unnecessary. After hearing that I intended to be involved in church-related ministry in Germany, the customs official merely advised me not to go and learn to drink wine over there! How much I would have liked Rosemarie to share in the sigh of relief.

She was, of course, still waiting nervously, hoping that no phone call would come from South Africa.
Early the next morning, in weather almost amounting to a snow storm, Rosemarie, Hermann and another student friend took off by car to fetch me in Luxemburg. There had been no phone call from Johannesburg. Under normal circumstances the trip from Tübingen would have meant a four-hour drive.

What a sacrifice it must have meant for them to fetch me in those harsh wintry traffic conditions.
My own nerves were also strained when I arrived in Luxemburg. Nobody was waiting for me; no Rosemarie to meet me at Findel Airport. I phoned Tübingen to ask about their whereabouts. Fortunately, the airport was still very small according to international standards and Rosemarie and the two males who accompanied her spotted me in the telephone booth just as I was phoning the Karl Heim Haus. Such relief and joy mingled as Rosemarie and I embraced each other lovingly!

Poor Hermann and his friend had all the trouble in the world driving in the adverse traffic conditions, while on the backseat, Rosemarie and I enjoyed every minute of being reunited after the years of involuntary separation.

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I was due for my first visit to Rosemarie’s parental home in Mühlacker soon after my arrival and I met her father for the first time. Besides making a disapproving remark about the way I was dressed, our encounter could not be defined as a clash. He was courteous and polite in his dealings towards me. However, I had no clue of what was going on in his mind. Agreeing to meet me had been a big deal for him. And now, upon seeing me in person, he was confronted with the fact that I was serious about his daughter; serious to the point that I wanted to marry her. This thought plagued him deeply. He could not yet accept a foreigner as a possible future son-in-law. In the weeks that followed, there was once again much stress and debate in the house over my relationship with Rosemarie. The tension escalated to the point that my darling’s parents requested her to leave the home. Mama Göbel still treasured the command from Scripture, but her husband had such a lot of entrenched hang-ups around the matter that he could not accept any such guidance from God. Coming from South Africa with all its racial prejudices, I could cope with these developments much better than Rosemarie. She really struggled with the fact that she had been requested to leave the parental home. Understandably, this was hurtful to her. She did, however, also know that she was not expelled because her parents didn’t love her any more.

Elke Maier’s parents in Gündelbach lovingly took care of Rosemarie, took her into their home and treated her like their own daughter while in the meantime I applied for the extension of my passport. My anxiety in this regard was eventually dispelled and my passport was extended for three more years. There was still a glimmer of hope that I might one day return to South Africa.

We became engaged for marriage in March, 1974 – with no family from either side present to celebrate the joyous occasion with us. However, Rosemarie and I were due to part again shortly thereafter. After a few months of re-orientation in Königsfeld, I was called to far-away Berlin, to serve there as a Vikar, an assistant minister, in the western part of the divided city from April

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The day of our engagement

On the afternoon of the day I was due to leave for Berlin, I went to the soccer field where the local team was due to play against a team of Gastarbeiter, i.e. immigrant workers from Yugoslavia and other southern European countries. I had seen an advertisement, and thought I would kill some time watching the game. While the visitors were waiting for more players to arrive, I joined in the fun, kicking the ball around with the other players.

When the guests noticed that I possessed some skill with a football, I was promptly picked to join the non-Germans.

Just after half time, I heard a click as I stepped into a ditch on the uneven surface. The pain was so bad that I was immediately forced to stop playing. But I could fortunately still cycle home and when my ankle got swollen, I still did not suspect that I had actually fractured my ankle. My Königsfeld neighbours suggested that I should have the injury checked. After examination, the local doctor immediately sent me to the hospital in the neighbouring town of Villingen for an X-ray. I would spend the night, and quite a few thereafter, in hospital.

Neither Rosemarie nor I was really sad at this turn of events, because this meant that we would be much nearer to each other a little longer.

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