Saturday, July 6, 2013

Appreciating Archivists

It has been ages since yours truly has posted a blog – this is Ann writing - so I thought I would jump in now as I can.   Most of you know we have arrived safely in Cape Town and have had our hands full in making and keeping appointments.  Today is Saturday and we’re getting a day to regroup, exercise, and rest a bit.  Then this evening we head into the Khayelitsha township for a choir festival.

Yesterday, we made it to Sunny Cove to have tea with Peter and Solveig Kjeseth, but telling the whole story of that visit is worthy of another blog, which might get done tomorrow.  So going even further back I wish to focus this entry on our first full day in Cape Town, Thursday, July 4. 

To best put this day in context, I need to introduce you to Mark and Wendy Astrup, from Howick, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (near Durban).   On Monday, July 1, the Astrups came to visit and do some digging in the Luther College Archives with my friend, Rachel Vagts, Luther College Archivist.  Rachel had tipped me off that these good folks were coming to campus to do research on Mark’s father (Hjalmar Astrup) and grandfather (Johannes Astrup) who attended Luther College years ago.   These gentlemen both came to Luther some 80 and 120 years ago from the Norwegian Lutheran Mission in what was once known as Zululand. 

I had such a nice time with Mark and Wendy chatting about their lives living in the game parks and the many ways in which they know Luther College.   And to be sure, they were just a little amazed when I said that I was flying to Cape Town the very next day, and the many reasons why.  They expressed sincere and kind interest in trying to make connections with us when the course Choral Singing in Namibia and South Africa comes to Cape Town in January 2014. 

Scroll ahead four days to Thursday, July 4, when Gregory, Ethan, and I are visiting The Evangelical Lutheran Church on Strand Street in downtown Cape Town.   Founded in 1780, this church is heralded as the oldest continuously operating church building on the African continent.   Originally a working barn gifted to the newly arriving Lutherans, it was later ornamented, and remains an exquisite facility, beautifully maintained. 

At the door we met Ingrid who remembered us from 2010.  We got reacquainted and had a great visit.  The January concert date was set and it appears Luther College singers will be welcomed once again with open arms. 

During our visit we stopped in the vestry to check on some things and I took a quick look around at the many historical bibles under glass and the photos of pastors past.  Imagine my shock and surprise when I saw the portrait of a young man named Johannes Astrup, pastor from 1902-1905. 

I said, “this pastor is from a Luther College family, I know it!”  Ingrid very kindly insisted otherwise, as she probably does with all crazy tourists who wander in the front door.  And even though it was July 4, a few quick emails back and forth with my favorite Luther College archivist, proved me right.   Rachel confirmed that Johannes Astrup graduated from Luther College in 1893.   He was absolutely the pastor in this photo and who served this Evangelical Lutheran Church.  And since the printed history of the church is really light on the details of Pastor Astrup’s tenure – which reads: a Norwegian, served as assistant minister – it seems we will be able to boost their archives as well when we return in January!    

So we’re about Empowering Learners.  Generally we always talk about our charitable work of empowering the learners we know well in the north of Namibia.  But I wish to close with a timely commentary from this Lutheran church’s current newsletter.

The Chinese say:  If you are planning for a year, sow rice.  If you are planning for a decade, plant trees.  If you are planning for a lifetime, educate people. 

Luther College, Empowering Learners, and the Astrups would surely agree.

Stay tuned friends!
Empowering Learners.

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