bullet Susanna Zeisberger (1744-1824)


Sister Susanna Zeisberger, who blessedly went home on the seventh of this month. She was born February 17, 1744 in Lancaster, where she was awakened by the powerful preaching of the blessed Br. Nyberg. In her sixteenth year she moved to Lititz, where she spent her time happily and in communion with the Savior, who succeeded in making a deep impression in her heart of his love for sinners, until her marriage with Br. David Zeisberger—who was blessed in the Unity of the Brethren and remains unforgettable in memory. After she was married on May 4, 1781, she was confirmed as a Deaconess on May 10, and soon after she embarked on a journey with her dear husband to Indian land. After five weeks of great hardships and some dangers, she wrote, [etc. etc. until the end.]* we arrived happily in Schönbrunn, and were taken in by the Indians with much love. Six weeks were hardly passed when difficult—indescribable even—suffering began for my faithful David and me. It was September 3, at one o'clock in the afternoon, when my husband was captured and led away by warriors. In the night, I was dragged from my bed, and the terrible savages did not even allow me the time to dress myself. They took everything away, the bed was slashed, the feathers emptied by the door, and we were forced—bare of all covering—to run before them in rain and cold, and in constant fear of being cut down with an axe. With a terrible death-song, we were brought into the camp. Afterwards, however, I was given permission to visit my David. The clothes had likewise been torn from his body, and he had only been left with a few rags for covering. That was a tearful greeting as, when came to each other—even the savages were moved. Our feelings remain unexpressed. Out of the lap of the Gemeine, without meals or drink, and without the most necessary covering! If my faithful Indian Sisters had not slipped me food, we must certainly have starved or died of thirst. May God repay them for it. Often they shared their last bites with me, when I had had nothing in the wilderness for eight days, which in the 27 years occurred not uncommonly. There is much to say about the experiences in this period. I think, however, that the history of the missions and the Lebensläufe of other Brethren have already given reports about this. I will simply sit at Jesus' feet and confess that he was my Savior and was with me. On November 17, 1808 my dear David was called into eternity by the Savior, to my searing pain. Only the consolation of following him soon cheered me. With this verse I ended my period of service: My fate too is beautiful and great, and more delightful than one thinks/ Never far from our Lord, who gives himself to us for nourishment/ Never without comfort, never alone, never to be separated from him/ to walk with him daily is not quite heavenly beautiful. On August 10, 1809, I traveled with Br. and Sr. Albrecht to Lititz, where we arrived on September 4. I would have gladly stayed in Lititz, where I had earlier enjoyed so many blessings, but the inclination for spending my remaining days in the Widow's Choir House held the upper hand. On October 20, I arrived here happily, and full of praise and thanks I moved into my Choir House where I enjoy a quiet Sabbath, which is very soothing to my bodily weakness, and for which I will thank the Savior in eternity, as well as for the innumerable proofs of his love for me. Moreover, I feel so insignificant and humbled by the love of so many Brethren and my nearest Choir-relations, and wish for them all a truly friendly sight of the Lord. So far our Blessed Sister wrote in the year 1816. The following was added by her Choir: Our Blessed Sister spent the remaining years of her life in quiet communion with the Friend of her soul, and waited like a faithful maiden with calm devotion for the blessed moment when she should be honored to see him who here in the valley of tears had been her center and support. Her gentle and peace-loving spirit won for her the universal love of all the Sisters, and her childlike and completely Savior-focused mind was all the more edifying, the more clearly it proved how under all the suffering of a weak body, the soul is made happy that lives in blessed conviction. He, my redeemer, knows all my joys and sufferings. A consumptive cough weakened her strength more and more. For about six weeks she had to spend most of her time in bed, and it became increasingly evident that her end approached. On the eighth of this month she received the blessing of the Lord for her homeward journey, for which she was completely present, and a few hours later her redeemed soul went over into Jesus' arms and lap—her age was eighty years, six months, and 22 days.

* This narrative is written in two different hands. This concludes the section written in the first hand,and these words presumably indicate that the third person narrative will stop here and the story will continue with the first person narrative.A second hand then begins,mid-sentence,on the following line.The third-person narrative resumes when the autobiographical portion is concluded.

Transcription and translation by Katherine E. Carté

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