Life in Community

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Life in Community

Hans Peter’s Childhood

May 8, 2018 by

Enjoy the next letter to Kiera from our blogger Eva. This letter is part of a series.

Dear Kiera,

Do you sometimes wonder: Where did my dad grow up? What kinds of things did he like to do? Well, keep asking questions – all kinds!

In my last letter I told you about the young man who asked me a question the day before I turned thirty. Now where did he come from?

I’d never heard of Duisburg until Hans-Peter told me he grew up at the edge of this big German city. He had one sister and he fought with her a lot of the time – do you sometimes fight with your sisters? Hans-Peter’s mama and papa were Catholic; his mama prayed with him every evening when he was your age.

When he was about twelve, Hans-Peter invited his friend Roland over. After a while Roland said, “It’s kind of boring here at your place. Next week I’ll take you to the youth group I go to. You’ll love it there.” Roland was right. Hans-Peter had fun rumbling a large earth ball around with other kids, playing games, and singing.

Once when Hans-Peter pushed some kids away from the ball so he could get at it, one of the older boys called out, “Hey, you’re being a bit too rough there.” Hans-Peter was surprised. This guy was just a teenager but he cared about the younger kids. After that, Hans-Peter went there every Wednesday afternoon. He said it was a lot more fun than school!

I bet you like school, Kiera. Hans-Peter told me he liked art, reading, and discussing things. Sometimes he argued with his teachers. And he was proud of his red hair. He let it grow because he said that the longer it got, the redder it got. Then he got an idea.

Image of Obelix
Marcos Piccin

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Have you ever heard of Obelix? If not, get hold of an Asterix comic book. Obelix is the guy with little braids in front of his ears. I like that, Hans-Peter thought when he was seventeen. That’s different. And he braided his hair to match his hero Obelix. His parents and grandparents didn’t like that – they were worried what the neighbors would think.

“I don’t care what the neighbors think!” Hans-Peter said.

“Listen,” his opa said when Hans-Peter was eighteen, “I’ll give you 1.000 DM (which is almost the same as $1000 now) toward a car if you get a decent haircut.”

Opa kept his money; Hans-Peter kept his long hair. And his bicycle.

During high school Hans-Peter kept going to the youth group. They talked about lots of things, like peace on earth, and no more wars, and how people could live together and help each other. He decided that was how he wanted to live. After high school, instead of learning how to be a soldier, he worked in a house for teenagers who didn’t have happy homes to live in.

When he was twenty-one Hans-Peter went with his youth group to a big Christian conference in Frankfurt. About three thousand young people were there. In this huge crowd, Hans-Peter met people from the Darvell Bruderhof. That’s where I’m going next, he decided. Two months later he came to visit Darvell, in southern England, and that’s when I first met him at the dish sink.

After that visit Hans-Peter went back to Germany and tried to live in community with several of his friends. But about a year later he told them that he wanted to go back to Darvell. His friends didn’t understand – after all, Hans-Peter could hardly speak English! …But, that’s for another letter.

Love from your pen pal,



About the author

Eva Hormann portrait

Eva Hormann

Eva and her husband, Hans-Peter, live at Beech Grove, a Bruderhof in England.

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