Sunday, March 22, 2009

Prayer needed for my friend…

Our friend, Carl Brown, had a sudden heart attack yesterday and died.  His wife and 4 children are in need of prayer in order to make some decisions.  They are fellow missionaries and good friends here in the Black Forest.  Please pray for the Brown family. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Hills are Alive…

Jon and I were walking through the paths along the farmland near our house.   We haven’t seen the sun since November it seems.  The winters are dreary, dark and wet.  During the better part of winter, when we wake up it’s dark and by about 4:00 in the afternoon it’s dark again.  So, I was so happy because it was the first day that actually seemed like Spring.  The sun was out…the snow was melting and we were the only ones on this path out in a deserted field.  So, I began to sing very loud and twirl like Maria on The Sound of Music.  Then I started singing a song that I used to sing as a little girl that reminded me of Germany.  It goes, “I love to go a wandering along the mountain track and as I go I love to sing, my knapsack on my back”.  Then I broke out very loudly with…Valderi-valdera…only to see a man directly in front of me on a ladder in a tree.  I assume that he was doing some last minute tree pruning in his field.  I’m sure that he was thinking how odd “those Americans” are.  Wie peinlich!  (how embarrassing)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Emma and “Deb”


Emma decided to do her own hair today.  When I took this photo, all I could think of is the Napolean Dynamite girl…

napolean dynamite girl

Friday, March 13, 2009

Photos of our village of Sitzenkirch (zit-sen-keerk)

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This is a barn that is attached to a house across from the village chapel.


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This is an old cloister across from the village chapel.  It  was originally built in 1120, burned in 1272 and almost destroyed in 1525 as a result of “the farmer’s war” when the nuns fled to Basel.  In 1722 the ruins were turned into this barn.  If you look closely you can see the fortified window slits in the middle of the photo from the original cloister.


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This is obviously an old mill.  It still runs and was built in 1597.  It was rebuilt in 1755. It was the cloisters mill. 


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This is an old photo that I found of the village church.


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This is a stream that runs down the mountain and down through and along the village streets


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I wish that I could have done this photo justice.  I looked up and saw dozens of airplane trails that made an intricate lattice work through the entire sky.


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This is a wooden stand that is used as a kiosk for one of the elderly villagers to sell her fruit, fresh homemade bread, marmalade, fresh cow’s milk and eggs.


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This is the view from the nearby mountain into the valley in which our village sits.   There is a castle on the top left and our house is just about in the middle.


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This is a photo of the neighboring village of Kandern.  This is where Ryan goes to school.  (The girls are in Sitzenkirch)  It is such a quaint village and has about 8100 people.  We are moving 3km to this town on April 1st.

“Particular” Germans

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If you have ever taken a personality test, you will be able to relate to this blog.  There is a certain personality type that is basically, well…very particular.  This type of person is very organized and very driven toward perfection.  Well, we live in an entire country of them!  There are rules about rules here.  Not only are most Germans concerned with following the rules, they are concerned with making YOU follow the rules.  So, it is not unusual for you to get someone giving you a lecture on “only walking across the street on a green light”, or “not crossing any part of the solid white line while driving”, or “the evils of white bread”, or “how to do yardwork”. ..all of which I have personally experienced.

It seems though, that German cultural morals are only based on laws.  If it’s not against the law, then it’s okay morally.  The lack of what we consider morals is very evident during the carnival time.  The carnival goers say it’s their time to “let loose” and do things that they wouldn’t normally do.  I’m talking about the young and old people alike.  Then we observed that on Ash Wednesday, they are supposed to ask for forgiveness for their collective sin. (This, of course, isn’t true for our friends here that are believers!)

Anyway, the good part of this personality type is that they are very orderly.  The paving stones on the streets in front of houses are sometimes “mopped”, they are meticulous about weeding their gardens, and the speed limits are for the most part observed… yes, that’s right, there ARE speed limits in Germany… as I have also personally experienced a few times!  Above is a photo of how perfect they even stack their wood.  There is “correct way” to do everything here.  All the logs are the same size and completely in line and they are cut exactly the same width/length because they are carefully measured before cutting.

Quaint Germany

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We live in a village of 250 people called Sitzenkirch …(pronounced zit-sen-keerk).  It’s such a quaint village that has only one small restaurant and a wood working shop.  The other “businesses” are from homes.  There are two fruit, jam, egg and fresh cow milk stands.  On Friday mornings, one of the stands has fresh homemade, wood-oven baked sourdough bread.  We walk down mid-morning on Fridays and buy this warm delicious bread for 2 Euros.  It usually is 1/2 eaten by the time we get home. 

The other stand has homemade gifts of crafts, stitching, marmalade and used books. The ladies that run this stand in front of their house are an 80 year old woman and her 100 year old mother.  They, along with the other older people in the village, are seen walking down the paths (with their walkers in tow) every time the weather is nice.  The other Germans walk rain or shine, snow or sleet.  They have such a healthy respect for the outdoors here. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Turn your ”but” around…

I had an interesting conversation with one of my children yesterday. I was explaining a certain problem in math to her.  Every time that I said, “you can do this”, she said….”but” and added some reason that she couldn’t.  I was trying to get her to speak what she wanted to have. (Mk 11) I said, “Say this is easy for me!”.  She would repeat after me and then say “but”… 

I think that when we say the word “but”…you can pretty much forget whatever we just said.  Ex.  I would like to go to the park, “but”…  (meaning: I won’t be going to the park)  We say things like, “I know that God can heal  “but” … 

We are getting this principle turned around.  What we should be saying is, “I feel bad “but” Jesus…   or “my bank account isn’t what I wanted “but” God… 

I want to make sure that I don’t negate the things that I really want from God by saying I know that God can do anything “but”…  When I find myself in this situation again, I will teach my daughter to say, “this math problem seems hard to me, “but” God is helping me learn it anyway.”

Friday, March 6, 2009

Your neighborhood … your mission field

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Every Friday night we eat together with neighbors.  We never know what is going to be for dinner (when it’s not at our house).  This however, was yummy.  It’s called something like Kloese with a green sauce containing lots of parsley.  MMMMMM

We have always made it a priority  to pray for and reach out to our neighbors.  According to Acts, God has an ordained place for each one of us to live.  (Also, Jn 4:1-20 Jesus went to Samaria to reach one lady, who reached the entire town).  In each house we have lived, I believe there has been not only a reason…but a person that God wanted to reach.  Well, in this neighborhood his name is H.  H was born a twin.  As a young child, his mother decided to give him up and keep his twin brother.  His best friend died just two weeks after we moved here last August.  He violently broke his leg a week after that.  Since he couldn’t work, it put stress on his marriage.  So, his wife left and took their two young girls eight hours away…and he can’t afford to travel to see them.  Then, he moved in with his best friend’s widow because he couldn’t afford rent.  Needless to say, he needs a friend right now. 

It’s not always easy reaching out to your neighbors when there are so many things that we need to do.  But, sometimes it just starts with talking to them while doing yard work.  There are so many ways that your neighborhood can be your mission field. We have had street parties, Easter eggs hunts, street and park soccer games, birthday parties, dinner invitations and our biggest evangelization tool has been our trampoline.  We even saw God do a miracle when we got to pray for one of our neighbors for her inoperable brain cancer.  We just told her about how good God is and asked if we could pray for her.  We have made so many friends from those that live around us.  It’s so great to experience life with other people that are so very different from ourselves.  We’ve learned a lot. 

I don’t know how many of our neighbors have actually given their hearts to Christ, but we know they’ve heard through our words and our deeds.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Oops…I did it again!

Okay, Jon’s birthday is today.  I am usually the one that has a birthday present ready for weeks and have the house decorated with balloons the night before so the birthday person wakes up to a party atmosphere.  I’ve been known to even have a scavenger hunt prepared.  But, at 7:30pm last night…..I remembered Jon’s birthday.  My first thought is that there is a grocery store in the next village that is open until 8:00pm.  So, I told him that I needed eggs for tomorrow and drove very fast to the store.  All I could find was a cold coffee drink and some chocolates, and of course, eggs.   I found something to wrap them in and left them on the table for him to see first thing this morning.  He thanked me. I thought I got away with it….until he asked me WHEN I purchased these “presents” for him.  I knew I couldn’t lie, but….

Let me give you a little background.  Jon is such a thoughtful man and he brings me flowers just for no reason.  But, He ALWAYS forgets my birthday until the night before and then I get some grocery store present.  So, after YEARS of harassing him  and giving him lectures about thinking ahead and how valuable I am, etc, etc….  I forget his birthday!  Maybe I won’t be so hard on him next time.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Flying Fire Logs (Scheiben Feuer)

Although we have been living in Bonn, Germany for over 7 years, we didn’t see this tradition until we moved to the southern Black Forest.   Last night (Sat Feb. 28)  we smelled fire and went outside.  At first, we thought about calling the fire department because we thought there was a forest fire on the mountain behind our house.  But then we saw a parade of torches lining it’s way up the mountain.  As the night went on, the fire torches that made their way up the mountain were being hurled through the air into the valley. 

scheibenfeuer We asked our friends that we were having dinner with last night about what was happening.  They told us that every year at the end of February this village has the same tradition.  It is supposed to be on the Saturday after Ash Wednesday that this parade is to happen.  Apparently, the fire is to signify that spring is victorious over winter.  (I can totally understand this because winters here are dark, wet and depressing)

A straw witch is burned in the bonfire (as a result of Christianity influence). And the flying logs of fire are to chase off and banish the winter spirits and welcome spring.  As they hurl the logs or discs of wood, they chant “Schibi, schibo, die Schiebe die soll goh.”  loosely translated… “Schibi, schibo, we will push to make it go.”  This is accompanied by a night of partying & hard drinking.

This celebration is very much like the one for New Year’s & Ash Wednesday where the people dress in large masks with eerie lit eyes that are supposed to ward off evil spirits.  It seems that the Germans look for any opportunity to get together with their neighbors and have some drinks!