Hilda Gutwein, the youngest of eight children born to a German farmer, grew up in a war zone--the Balkan States. Her family lived under socialism, communism, and Hitler’s Third Reich. Eventually, they were caught between two totalitarian forms of government, and Hilda’s father had to make a choice for his family: stay and defend their homeland or leave everything behind.
Follow the story of Hilda’s journey from a land controlled by fear and brutality to a land of freedom. Moreover, it’s an account of unwavering faith in the One who is trustworthy and unchanging no matter what comes.
Through Hilda’s accounts, you’ll gain insights about:
Beyond an inspiring account, each chapter ends with a “Connecting the Dots” section in which you and your family can begin to think about it, transmit your values, and formulate your own plans to mind the minds, souls, and virtues of your children, your community, and your nation.
In light of the climate of your country today, where will you look for your family’s future? The time is now. It’s your turn to choose.
From Chapter Twelve "The Reason Why"
My dad came running into my room early in the morning, just as the sunlight was trying to peek through the curtains. He tore the covers off of me, saying, “The cows are out! Go after them!” I knew what that meant. I hastily threw on my brother’s shirt and pants, along with some shoes that were much too large for me to wear. Then I ran for the door. My mom quickly gave me a piece of buttered bread with jam on it as I left the house. Once I was outside, I ran through the stubble from the harvested wheat fields, hoping that the cows had not yet made it to the clover. As I rushed through the stubble of the wheat fields, the thorns from the berry vines under the wheat remains tore at my ankles. I could feel the thorns and burrs slicing my flesh and the blood beginning to ooze. The debris was sticking to my open wounds, but I couldn’t stop because I had to catch those cows. It was early, the air was heavy with moisture, and there was still dew on the grasses. The clouds began to darken, the air was thickening, and it smelled like rain. Trying to catch the cows in the rain would be even worse. I ran for about ten minutes, panting to catch my breath. At one point, as I was running, I lost a shoe. I had to go back to get the shoe because the vines, stubble, and burrs were cutting my feet. The sky continued to darken, the wind picked up, and I knew we were in for a storm. After quite some time and, thankfully, before the cattle had gotten to the clover, I was able to reach them. I led them back, still keeping a hurried pace, trying to reach the corral before it began pouring rain. I got them all in the corral just as the first raindrops hit me. Despite my success, I was extremely upset and very angry. Usually I did not get that way, but I was fuming. I had blood dripping from my legs, ankles, and feet, and the cuts were caked with all sorts of burrs and dirt. I was hot, stinky, sweaty, and crying—I was such a mess. When I walked to the porch with bleeding feet and sore soles, my mom saw me and asked, “How did things go?” I replied, “I have the worst dad anybody has ever had. How could he do this to me?” I don’t recall any other time when I responded so rudely to my parents. Normally, I honored them. My mom’s response was something to the effect of, “Wait until your dad finds out what you have said.” I looked at her questioningly and asked, “You won’t tell him I said that, will you?” She sympathetically nodded her head and said, “Mein Kind, my child, you know I will need to.” I was a miserable wreck the entire day. I went about my chores, hoping and praying that Mom would change her mind—or, better yet, forget. But Mom never forgot anything. All during dinner, I kept watching my parents, trying to overhear any passing conversations or subtle glances. When dinner was finally over and it was time to clean up, I thought that just maybe I would escape any discipline. Then I overheard Mom tell Dad what I’d said. “But Ludwig, look at her, go easy on her, bitte,” she interceded. I knew that I was in big trouble because Dad told me to come into his office. I was scared to death, but I went. I was ready for a big whipping. I was twelve years old, and I had never received a whipping from my dad. With dread, I went into the office. To my surprise and horror, Dad was really kind to me. He very nicely said, “Sit down.” Oh, I thought, I’m in bigger trouble than I even expected to be. He sat down in a chair, faced me, looked me in the eyes, and said, “I love you. I love you very much. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. I spent seven years in the military, including World War I. I want to teach you how to work and how to do things so you can defend yourself and be ready if war comes and you have to do so.” He knew that we were on the brink of war even then. He wanted me to be strong. I told him that I was sorry and asked him to forgive me. I am sure he did because this incident was never brought up again. He really was a great dad. I left his office, went out to the chicken house, bawled my eyes out, and prayed to Jesus, asking Him to forgive me. Connecting the Dots . . . Talk to your children about your responsibility as their parent. Share with them why you teach them the things you do and why you require certain behaviors from them. How often do you look your children in the eye and tell them that you love them? Is their preciousness reflected on your face? Do you make eye contact with your children in most of your conversations? Do you stop what you are doing, walk over to a child, look him or her in the eye and parent him or her up close? Try it; it works. Think about it.
Dawn Gutwein Kazmierzak, Hilda’s daughter, has a bachelor’s degree in biology and a doctor of optometry degree. She’s been privileged to learn history while watching her mother model a life of unequaled trust in God and connecting those dots with insight for future generations as she teaches her young daughter to think and make wise choices.