Monday, March 29, 2010

very very late blog on Germany in January

Planes, trains, and a bus. My whirlwind, 6-day, trip throughout Germany flew by--half the time being spent travelling; nevertheless, it was a truly special time. I first arrived in Berlin where I was met by long-time friend Matt Lankenau. With Matt carrying the heaviest of my bags, we began  our trek through the city, taking S-baun and U-bahn trains and dragging my bags through the snow-covered sidewalks to Matt and Bethany's apartment. We could not let out a sigh of relief, however, until we made it all the way to the top of the four flights of stairs leading to their apartment.  It was so nice to be in their beautiful, old world, apartment agian. I was there in September when they first moved in, so it felt special to be back again now that they were a little more settled. Soon after our arrival, Bethany got home from work and after making a big deal over her baby belly we caught up a little on life. Bethany and Matt have been 2 of my best friends since highschool, and I love the fact that we are all on the mission field now. I spent 2 days in Berlin and had a great time, though it was too short. My best memory was spending the day with Bethany walking through the snowy streets hunting down tiny fabric shops in a Turkish part of town. They took me to the train station and helped me figure everything out after we realized my train had been cancelled. We said our goodbyes, and as I rode away I thought about how the next time I see them they will be parents and have a precious little baby girl.
The travel from Berlin to Dresden was worthy enough of its own blog. I'll just say that when a bunch of trains are being cancelled and you are told you will have to continue to stand in the cold for another hour for your train and a random train from another country pulls up and you hear someone say that it stops in Dresden and so you don't think but just jump on and then drag your bags through the tiniest of aisles and find yourself wishing people were speaking German because it at least would sound more familiar, well, then you can really feel like you are on an adventure travelling alone in Europe. When you start to think about the fact that this train is not originating in Germany and so your ticket may not be any good and you have no money, well that's when the panick wants to set and and you begin to really see the Lord as your protector. This was my experience, but I shall rejoice to say that I was soon enough greeted by a friendly Deutchbahn employee who gladly accepted my ticket with no problems--thank you Lord! The adventure continues upon arrival. Because I did not wait for my scheduled train but hopped aboard a Hungarian train, the people picking me up were not expecting me for another hour, but it all worked out in the end and I was greeted by my dear friend Livia and her father and brother. That night I spent with Livia and had breakfast and lunch with her wonderful parents. Dresden was the shortest part of my trip as I arrived late at night and then we left for the bus station after lunch that day. I was still so happy I went because I loved getting to see Livia and get to know her family a bit more (not being in a big group but by myself this time). At the bus stop, they helped me by carrying my bags all the way onto the bus and then we waved goodbye. The bus drive was beautiful! I couldn't fully relax because I wasn't sure exactly how long it took to get to my stop and I was very wary of missing it. I loved just sitting there and watching out the window at the blanketed white countryside. We drove through villiages and country side and forest. At my stop a very nice girl who spoke a little English helped me get my bags off and I was met by Francesca, Katharina's sister.
We went and saw Katharina at "My Bookstore" and then drove out to their perfectly cozy house in the valley. This is one of my new favorite places on earth. The house was nestled in the midst of the snowy valley between the forests. I was greeted warmly by my German mama and papa, the Grundigs. They had left all of their hand-crafted Christmas decorations up way past the usual date just for me! It was so special. We had a delicious snack before Katharina came home. On Saturday, Katharina and I walked to Michael and Kristina's house in the next village over. We walked through about a foot of snow over the hills and down into the valley of the next village. It was so invigorationg. I love the way my cheeks felt from the fresh, crisp air. At the Mehner's house, I was also warmly greeted by their parents. I really love them too and just felt so welcomed. We had a wonderful time of coffee and cake and I got to taste the traditional Christmas cake with raisins and powdered sugar--yummy! With both Katharina's parents and the Mehner's we could not have much conversation because of the language difference; nevertheless, I really feel that the Lord has connected our hearts. I am so humbled by their kindness and hospitality.

A few other things to mention from my time in Germany: I had a most wonderful and special erev Shabbat dinner with Katharina at Verner and Claudia's house in Seiffen (a total Christmas village). Verner and Claudia are such a special couple and their kids are soooo adorable! I was happy that the children remembered me. Usiel (their youngest) was showing us this picture book of the history of wars fought. I found it interesting that he pointed out all the soldiers and maps of the battles while his sister Elenor pointed out all of the funny fashion and hair do's. After the kids went to bed, we sat up with Verner and Claudia and laughed so hard till midnight as we shared funny stories. Claudia was especially hysterical and so fun.  
    • Below: Verner and Claudia and kids                               Livia in Dresden

We also went to the youth group in Marienberg. It was so wonderful to be with them again and see what God has been doing in their lives. The other really special thing that God did on this trip was to show me some of the fruit of our time last summer. So often I go on a mission trip and then never get to go back to really see any of the fruit, but coming back to Germany was so encouraging! First of all, the poem the Lord gave me last year about Germany, "Break Forth," (you can read it if you search old blog posts of mine) is still encouraging the people. Several times on this trip I came acrosss copies of the poem in German and people shared that it is still an encouragement to them today. Also, when we arrived at Verner and Claudia's house, I noticed a replica of the wood carving of the seed breaking forth out on display outside his shop window. (see ). Well, as I came closer to look, I saw that beside the carving was a plaque with the poem in German! The Lord gripped my heart in that moment. To see the way that He has used this simple poem written during a time of worship to touch people and even to be proclaimed on a village street for all to see, I cannot express how grateful I am. Verner and Claudia shared testimony with us that he was able to share the message of this poem with people. He did the carving during the Christmas market and shared the story of the poem with curious shoppers. They were touched by the message of hope it inspired. Also, they got to share it with a lady who was just passing by on the street and saw the carving and the poem. For me, that is what very short and fast-paced trip to Germany was about--connecting with friends, deepening my heart for Germany, and being encouraged by the testimony of the fruit that God is continuing to bring. I am still so stirred with God's love for this land and praying to see these people break forth into their destiny and inheritance in Messiah Yeshua.  

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