Sydney Holt - Letter written on his tour to the United Kingdom and Ireland - August 3, 1985

Dear Friends far and near,

Early Monday morning, July 15th, four of us said our goodbye to the workers in Norway and drove all day going to Skone, Sweden. The half hour ride on the ferry made a nice change when we could walk around. It rained most of the day, so we couldn't see much. In Sweden the roads are built to U.S. standards and they drive on the right side as in all the continent. Surely good to see all the Swedish workers, many whom I have met through the years. Believe convention has been here in Skone since about 1947 and the daughter, husband, and children live here now.

Earle Newmiller, Frank Thomas, and I share a nice roomy cabin in the woods with a wood stove and running water when you run to get it! Some nice days, but rain most days. We have coffee made before 5 a.m. and the stove going full blast! So special to see Dave Pfingsten here and doing so well with the language. Very few workers and he is greatly appreciated. He'll be with Harry Johnson again in Stockholm; David Escola will be with Frank Craigie (Scotish) in Smaland and Blekinge, Sweden. The list came out after our workers meeting Wednesday morning. Harry Johnson is appreciated greatly and Donavon Peterson does a good job looking after things.

Donavon took us into Bjarnum to see five graves of workers in one cemetery. Edith Eklund (1872-1956), along with Esther Hanson were the first workers to come to Sweden in 1910. Edith was from Nebraska and after her home visit in 1920, she remained in Sweden till she died. Henry and Deith Hanson came to Sweden when she returned from her home visit. The other graves were: Wm. Weir (1882-1969); George Hemdal (1890-1971); J. Henry Hanson (1888-1973); and Torstin Hemdal (1894-1977). It was in 1912 that two brother workers came to this area and met the Hemdals and others who professed. There was a big stir in the Lutherans and a group in their anger broke into the Hemdal home and beat up on the brothers, driving them from the area. In those days the workers got a good hearing and many were helped. Today, very few fear God or even attend church. The moral standard is very low and it is against the law for parents to even spank their own children. Children in the meetings are often unrulely.

Like in Norway, there are earphones, so you can get the prayers, testimonies and messages in English. Only about 85 at the start of the convention with 36 of these being workers. Nice to see Brenda Floyd, (Marilyn Wheeler’s niece) here from Phoenix along with Brenda Lackman from North Dakota. Very few young folks in Sweden and the older ones are dying off each year. Nice to see Edgar Massy, wife and daughter here and they are appreciated. So few friends able to help that even the visiting workers helped with the dish washing and other jobs!!

Monday a number of us caught a train in Hussleholm for Copenhagen, Denmark. Iris Murray and Kay McKay (two Scottish sisters) catch a plane tomorrow in Copenhagen for Iceland where they will visit the one saint lady and other contacts for 3 weeks before going on to visit on the Faroe Islands and back to Scotland. Kay labored for 10 years in Iceland and Iris 5 years. They were there when Dave Pfingston was stationed there in the Air Force and so happy to see him where he is today! As we pulled into Copenhagen, the conductor told us that a bomb had been thrown into the Northwest Orient Airline office in the city and a number hurt. When we arrived there Johan Jorgensen met us (coming to California and Arizona for convention) and said he had been in the office that was bombed 1 hour earlier getting his ticket ready to go to the states!

In Copenhagen we said goodbye to some while a few of us caught another train with Calvin Casselman and I going to Odense and the others on to the Danish convention grounds. In the morning we had a half hour ride on a ferry (the whole train is put on) and an hour ride on a much larger ferry in the afternoon. In the morning we got such a grand view of large castle near the waters edge, and it was Shakespeare who wrote one of his plays on a past event that took place in this castle.

Vibeke (Peggy) Schaffabitzky whom I wrote about in my last letter (met Kathy Atkin in college in Ireland) traveled all day on the same train, (she went into the work in 1980). I asked her about what I was told of her giving her testimony to the Queen of Denmark, but she said it really wasn't that way. It is true she met the Queen in Ireland, along with other Danish people.

I had a real good visit with Rasmus Prip who stays in a home for older folks in Odense. He has a room to himself and gets good care. He is 89 years old, but very clear in his mind. He has large map of the world on one wall and maps of the countries he has labored in with workers lists on another wall. Rasmus was hungry for news of different ones in California and sent his greetings to any who remembered him. He isn't very strong, but walked to the car with us in the rain to wave goodbye.

From Odense, Denmark I caught a train for Basel, Switzerland traveling most of the way alone and making two changes of trains. Train service is good and there are compartments for six people, Some make into 6 bunks for night travel, but food isn't much on them. One gets hungry to speak English to someone! The countryside was beautiful and as we traveled south through Germany we saw beautiful farms. The last hour of the journey we came along the edge of the Black Forest and near the French border. Saw ruins of old castles on a number of hills. It got warmer and one began to see fruit trees and vineyards. The train reached Basel about 9 p.m. (on the German-Swiss border) and was I happy to see Graham Snow waiting for me! He had spoken in the last meeting of their convention in the French section of Switzerland that afternoon, taken a load of sisters to the Wahlendorf convention grounds and on an hour drive to meet me at Basel.

Wahlendorf is a very small village (100) about 15 minutes out of the capital city of Bern. This is where Emil Hegg's parents heard the Gospel and convention has been here for 40 years or so. A number of the homes here belong to different brothers and relatives of Emil's. Some of us visitors are staying in the home that has the Post Office in it. It belongs now to Emil's nephew Hans and Christine Hegg and their 2 little ones. All are most friendly and in many ways, it reminds me of California. Convention meetings and dining are in tents and one of the nicest forest of pine I've ever walked in next to the meeting tent. One spot at the edge of the forest where you overlook the beautiful valley of farm crops with the city of Bern in the near distance and the Swiss alps covered with snow seen above the other mountains on a clear day. Seems the farm fields are broken up into small plots of different grain crops and hay. Fields have been handed down from one generation to another and getting smaller and divided more with each generation! Some of the grain was being harvested. Graham took me shopping in Bern one afternoon and I saw a man resetting cobble stones downtown and the famous old clock in downtown Bern. The homes are most interesting with cattle and hay storage all a part of it. Lovely flower planters by windows.

It was arranged for me to go with Jorg Kunzi (Swiss boy just starting out in the work with Graham Snow) and Andrew Offenborn and his mother Hermit, who have their real open home in Vienna Austria. We met them in the beautiful tourist town of Thun by the river Aare. It was in the river two months ago that Albert Hegg (Emil's nephew - 20 years old) drowned in a canoe accident, which has really sobered all the young folks here. At convention 8 took the step of baptism in this same river and one was Albert's brother. (Albert's body hasn’t been found yet.) Sunday evening of convention 9 young folks professed and one was Albert's youngest sister. We took a cable car up to the top of Stockhorn Mountain (2190 meters high). From there we could see the Swiss alps so clearly. Among the many peaks were Eiger (3970 meters), Monch (4099 meters), and Jungfrau (4158 meters). We ate a picnic lunch there and 3 of us walked down to the first lift on a trail much steeper than the Kaibab trail into the Grand Canyon.

We had a Wednesday meeting in the tent with a number of us visitors speaking. Then two worker’s meetings on Friday and convention running from Saturday through Tuesday. Good to have Harvey and Dot Cassidy here. The Naefs (Raymond, Leon, Donald and their wives plus the two Naef sisters) all met here Sunday. Lots of young folks here and a lovely free spirit in and out of the meetings. Graham Snow was my interpreter in each meeting and this was a big help. An older couple from Poland were here and thrilled to get out for a convention. Tuesday three big tents got put away just before the rain started. We leave early Wednesday for Paris, France by train, and the convention near there.

We heard that anger is like a pot of cereal boiling but under control. Wrath is when it boils over and malice is what is left after it has boiled over.

Wishing you all the very best at preps and conventions.

Your brother in Him,

Sydney Holt