After many weeks of preparation, practices and rehearsals the time had finally come. We set out to Lüneburg for the FELSISA’s 76th annual Youth Day.
But before the weekend could start in full swing, we had to endure one more choir practice. It is not a secret that, after a long trip, many youth members would have preferred a different welcoming; but nonetheless, the conductor, Bernhard Böhmer, managed to lure the voices out of us. This was followed by a social evening around the fire at the newly renovated lapa of the Lüneburg Youth.
Saturday morning we were greeted by the white-frozen grounds, but breakfast and coffee quickly ensured that the voices and spirits thawed in time for the final choir practice, where everyone who couldn’t make it the previous evening still got the opportunity to decipher their notes. Punctually at 9h00, the programme began with the morning service, accompanied by the brass band and the Youth Choir. Through these songs, we were able to praise our Lord, and through several lyrics proclaimed his redeeming Gospel, for example through Albert Frey’s “Look at the Lamb.” During the service several persons were also installed into their new position in the synodical Youth work: as a second vice-Youth pastor: Tobias Ahlers, Youth choir conductor: Rainer Johannes, Youth secretary: Michelle Niebuhr and as Youth sport leader: Herold Klingenberg.
After a twenty-minute break, the second half, which contained a little more secular music, began. The children’s choir brought joy to the entire tent, through their singing, as well as the hope of a growing youth, judging by their numbers. This was followed by the individual youth choirs from Cape Town/Durban/Pietermaritzburg/Shelley
Beach, Kirchdorf/Greytown, Wittenberg/Augsburg, Arcadia and finally the hosting youth: Lüneburg with their edited edition of a Namibian folksong.
The German folksongs from the second half didn’t require as many “pianos”, and the tent was raised slightly, filled with the voices of the youth, as well as the audience, who all joined in whole-heartedly. Songs such as “Widele”, “Ambosspolka”, and “Ein Schlafsack und eine Gitarre” (a sleeping bag and a guitar) loosened many stiff joints as they moved to the beat of the music. To end off, the song “Freunde hat man nie genug” (You can never have enough friends!), sounded across the entire grounds, as it has for so many years, where every youth member pulled out all the stops.
The end of the second half also brought with it the end of an era, namely that of Bernhard Böhmer. The exact number of his years of service in the synodical youth choir remains disputed, but it is certainly high. A huge thank you goes to Bernhard, for all the effort he enthusiastically invested into the Youth choir over the years. We, as the youth didn’t always make his life very easy, yet he always managed to coax the most beautiful music from us, which caused the goosebumps from the cold to only become more intense from the singing. As a final farewell, Bernhard received a well-deserved standing ovation.
With the tune of the brass band’s exit piece, William Tell’s Overture, still playing in the background, it was time for lunch and brief refreshments. From there everybody headed directly to the field for the second half of the day, which began with a traditional polonaise. Many a pair skipped around the field, to the beat of the marches played by the brass band.
After all the participants had gotten used to running in circles from the polonaise, the relay was ready to start. Both the men’s and ladies’ race, ended in an extremely tight finish, bringing the spectators excitedly to their feet. The Wittenberg ladies and Lüneburg men were the final victors.
This year, compared to last, we had the luck of having much better weather, with very little wind. This meant that the volleyball games relied more on skill again, rather than on luck. After two very intense finals between Arcadia and Lüneburg, in both instances, the Lüneburg ladies and Arcadia gents ended up winning.
Of course, it would not be a completed youth day, without the chance to bombard each other (in a slightly brutal manner). “Ball-übern-Strick” (Hoover ball), once again offered this opportunity, which all contestants utilized to the full extent. The final winners (those that were left standing) were, opposite to volleyball, the Arcadia ladies, as well as the Lüneburg men.
While most men were pelting each other with the “Pille”, the slightly faster (and more sensible) gentlemen played touch rugby. While there weren’t many teams signed up this year, it was still very interesting to spectate. In the final, after the score was still tied at full-time, Wittenberg just clinched the victory from Arcadia during sudden death, with an intercept try.
As usual, the highlight of the afternoon was the tug-of-war, in which the ladies also had a brief go against each other this year. The Wittenberg Youth was adamant to lengthen their hard-earned two-year title by another year and managed to get to the final. What they had however not anticipated, was that Arcadia had, for a change, actually trained this year. After a hard, long final pull, the title and trophy both went to Arcadia, where it had not been seen in nine years.
After this exciting afternoon, everyone met again in the church for the evening devotion, with an interpretation of Psalm 145, held by vicar Christian Straeuli. This formed the official closing for the day, but the youth was not done yet. Once again, the fire provided warmth and atmosphere for the evening. The rest of the night is best described by the final lyrics of the last song from earlier that day: “Bis morgen früh um vier” (Until tomorrow morning at four). Simply said, it was “wragtag lekker.”
Gerhard Rencken, Pretoria