Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Subtitled: I Can't Keep This From You


Our landlord Tomas came up to introduce his family to us last week--his wife Birgit, his son Alexander, and his daughter Katharina. Thomas was telling us about rent and how to get DSL, Birgit was listening, Alexander was hanging on the stairwell railing, and Katharina stood in front of her father beaming up at us.

Alexander looks just like the little kid in Jerry Maguire of "The human head weights eight pounds" fame. Katharina is just too cute for words. They're both in elementary school, which I think starts this week or next. So, of course, when I made cookies last Friday for my students I had to make some for Alex and Katharina, too! Alex answered the door.


"Diese sind für Ihnen."

"Ah, ok. Danke!"

"Bitteschön! Schönen Tag!"`



It was a short conversation as he was apparently entertaining a little friend who was over for the day.


Gena and I were walking to our apartment from our new parking spot--right up against the clock tower on the cobblestone square. A teenage boy was sitting on a park bench with one of the largest dogs I have ever seen. It was laying down, but all we could see was brown fur.

"Wie heißt er?" (What's his name?)

"Er heißt Elton John," he replied with a grin.

Gena and I started laughing.

"Er sieht ihn aus!" (He looks like him!) I smiled.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


"What am I doing?!" In front of me was yet another steep slope in the mountain trail. "I don't think I can do this anymore," I thought to myself but wasn't about to say it out loud. Most of the cross country kids were a good way ahead of me, but Kathryn from Personnel had stayed back to make sure I didn't lose my way.

"This should be the last steep one before we get to the llamas," she shouted over her shoulder. "Okay," I panted back.

"Go, Happy Camper! You're doing great!" One of the cross country guys had stayed behind on a log to nurse a bad ankle. He didn't know my name, so he was cheering me on by the lettering on my tshirt. I smiled at him. It was a brief smile, however. His log was right in the middle of that hill.

I made it to the llamas where the rest of the team was already stretching. My face was as red as my tshirt, and there were a couple happy-camper jokes. There were no llama jokes. I wanted to make one, but I wanted to puke more than I wanted to think about llamas. So I did.

"I feel so horrible that I just don't know if I ever want to run again ever, and if that's true, how am I going to get down this mountain?" I thought to myself. So I just started walking. After a few hundred feet, I started jogging, then I began running. The next 25 minutes were gloriously beautiful. The trail weaved back through the forest, into a glen, past the public pool and camping grounds, back through a cute little neighborhood, across Haupstrasse, and onto school grounds. I had a big smile on my face when I joined the team's stretching circle. It was as if I had completely forgotten how much pain I had been in.

These first ten days in Germany have been fast-paced and fun, but they have been hard, too. You can read and prepare for culture shock as much as you like, but there's really no way to be completely prepared for it.

I think the biggest struggle for me right now is just how long it takes to get simple tasks done. Going to the grocery store takes longer because I'm not familiar with the items on the shelves. Getting tasks done at school takes longer because I missed orientation, and I don't know how to do simple things like print out a schedule. I must limit my non-food shopping errands to one or two stores a day because stores in Germany close at 6:00 p.m. I'm in kindergarten all over again and find myself doubting my worth and abilities. I think I find a lot of self-worth in multitasking. But I really think that this is just the initial uphill climb. There are genuine moments of beauty that deserve attention as well and God has been good. My next post will include these moments.

For now, if you could pray that my body would be quickly healed of the same bug that I had before I left for my Germany trip last March, that would be awesome. I start lessons with students on Monday, and my schedule is almost complete. They will be coming to my studio on Friday for lunch so we can chat and mingle. Many of them are very advanced, and I am nervous and excited all at once. I will have pictures as soon as I can download my camera software.

Thank you for your patience with me.