Guten aben! (A great site to check out is www.odge.info -- if you ever wonder what these words are that I'm learning!)
Thursday evening I visited an Abbey and went to dinner with the German American Friendship Club.
The Abbey was just like out of a movie -- think "Sound of Music." I went through the gate and just stood there for some time taking it in. Then I broke into song as I went twirling down the gravel walkway, my habit in hand... no, just joking -- okay, so I really did in my imagination... I know, I just can't help myself. Anyway, I know where I'm going for my next little all-by-myself get-away retreat.
Then we went out to eat. My new friend, Hilary, has been here six and a half years and speaks fluent German so she helped me order. I told her it would be easy, "Just tell me the most German dishes." So she did. Now I can say I've eaten Wild Boar and Venison, Sweet and Sour Sauerkraut (got that?), and Apple and Lignonberry Sauce. And that's just the beginning! Everything was delicious. The meat was yummy, not gamey, the sauce was just the right amount of sweet and the sauerkraut... I was so intrigued by the "sweet and sour" part of the sauerkraut that I never really decided exactly what I thought of it except that it was wonderful.
On Friday we took a trial run of the "Let's Backpack Across Europe!" discussions that our family has been having for the last ten years. Hm. Note to self (as Isaiah would say), If you want to hear everything the tour guide is saying make sure you have enough snacks on hand to keep stuffing in your children's mouths while the guide is talking. Otherwise, hope that one of the older four in the group -- meaning, not Ezekiel or Israel -- is listening so that when you ask later, "What exactly was the significance of the foot statue?" someone can clue you in. We went early in the morning and returned late afternoon. Not one time did anyone say, "I'm tired." Although, I can't count the times one of the children asked, "What are we doing next?" as we're standing in front of Germany's oldest landmark, thousands of years old, the tour guide telling us all kinds of interesting details -- at least I'm pretty sure that's what she was saying to the group as I looked over and saw her mouth moving while I said, "Shhhh, she's telling us really interesting information and history" for the zillionth time. It doesn't do any good. I took in what I could take in and now I'm reading books on how to apply history to modern day needs (i.e. "I'm hungry," and "I have to go to the bathroom") and interests (i.e. "That's your 5th sample of Gummi Bears -- no more!" "But the lady keeps handing more to me!" "That's because you're standing in front of her, smiling!") in a child's life and then I plan to go another round... As always, I'll keep you posted.
Trier is the very first city in Germany, founded in 16 BC. We saw the original city gate, the Porta Nigra -- or, Black Gate -- that was built by the Romans. This entire area was first founded by the Romans and Trier is even called "Little Rome of the North." We visited the first church that was built in Germany and even went in one church that was 1,700 years old.
I am delighted to report that German culture and language are very much alive and well and that it is not nearly as "westernized" as some people reported. Everyone speaks German and there are many who do not speak English (this is very good news for us!). Also, all the signs are in German and most often do not have the English printed below (again, this is great news).
I am still struggling to find words to describe the romance of the city square, the cobblestone streets, the colors everywhere, the art, the aromas of fresh baked breads, the warmth of the local's attitudes, the way people go out of their way to accomodate, the quaintness of the villages, the architecture, the strength of values and traditions, the village church bells sounding at regular intervals everyday... Suffice it (for now anyway) to say that I can see why people who visit here never want to leave.
Church was fabulous today! Awesome worship, great teaching, and fun fellowship. The pastor's wife, Fran, picked us up and took us over to their village for church. We were two of all 19 (I counted -- I just had to!) adults in the congregation. The children absolutely loved it and requested to return. We had lunch with the pastor and his wife and two other families afterward and were completely blessed!!
Truly, we are spoiled rotten. We are so incredibly grateful for this season! We can see God's hand at work every time we turn around. Which brings me to another praise: We've been referred to "one of Germany's best" pediatric orthopedic specialists for Isaiah's scoliosis. His practice is in Trier so he is close, too. We've even heard that he's seen many children who are referred to him by American doctors because of his expertise. So, again, we feel spoiled.
There's so much! Please know how much we love you!!
God bless you!!