The volunteer fire department set up the makings of a party ("fest" in German) in our village on Saturday. Actually, in our front yard... By Saturday night, regardless of pouring rain, thunder, and lightning, there were 100 people in our front yard! How fun is that! LeRoy says he loves it when the party comes to us! smile.
Weather does not put a damper on festivities here! Stand under the awning, continue the conversation, have another beer. I ventured out about midnight when I noticed the jovial "white noise" and upbeat music wafting through the open window on the humid night air.
Eli went out with me and for a long time we visited with our friends, Stephen and Heike. After a while Stephen asked where LeRoy was, "In bed??" as if this was beyond comprehension. And, truly, in this relationship-oriented culture, I suppose it was a little incomprehensible. There's people to be with = no time constraints. I'm beginning to see more and more why I love this culture. Americans always "have to go" because "there's somewhere to be." It's true. The times we've gone on a walk in our village and we get into a conversation with the neighbors we come into contact with, it's not chit-chat, "Oh! Would you look at the time?!" It's talk, talk, talk about everything and nothing at all. (I know I was made for this!) The mere suggestion of "Well, we have to go. It's getting late and we need to put our children in bed," prompts laughter from our relational-focused friends.
"Aaghck! It's still light out! It's not time!"
"But it's almost nine o'clock... What time do you put your children in bed?"
Again, they smile, "Later, when the night time comes! It is summer!" By now our children have overheard the conversation and are looking at us like, Finally, someone to talk some sense into our parents!
And so it goes. Have I told you how much I love living here? Or how much I LOVE these people?!
Speaking of that, today makes it one year since our arrival here!! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to us!! smile. (And thank You, thank You, thank You, Jesus, for bringing us here!!!)
So, anyway, I told Stephen that I would try to rouse LeRoy to see if he wanted to come out to visit. "Good! Tell him to come. We'll drink beer together!"
I smiled. "I don't know, Stephen, I'm pretty sure he's sound asleep."
I walked inside the house with Eli. "LeRoy," I said softly. He murmured a little. "LeRoy? Stephen is outside and wants to know if you want to come hang out with him."
To my amazement, he jumped out of bed, a big smile on his face, "Sure, I'll go hang out with Stephen!"
We both went out... with Eli and Isaiah, who heard us stirring and woke up. When we walked up to Stephen, he handed all four of us a drink, beers for LeRoy and I, and Sprites for Eli and Isaiah! smile. So LeRoy and I got a lesson in German culture, complete with the value they place on buying drinks for one another and being with one another with no time constraints. And we got to meet new people! Several times LeRoy and I mentioned the time, suggesting that we ought to go to bed... (old habits die hard?). At last, it was 2:30 when we finally dismissed ourselves (for real) and went to bed. They "partied" on through the night until about 4:30.
The next afternoon, our village along with neighboring villages, filled the yard.
It was so cute! They hid wrapped presents in a large haystack and then let the children search for them. This field is across the street from our house.
Israel's treasure was a bottle of bubbles! (Beth Ann, Israel's dress is the one from Meghan! How cute is that!)
The weather remained gorgeous all day long! The night before, people huddled under the awning, taking cover from the rain.
About 6:30, thunder rolled across the sky, and lightning flashed in the distance. Before long a black cloud covered over, rain cascading onto the party. "It is no problem." People standing in circles talking -- just put up their umbrellas. Conversation continues.
The rock wall surrounding our yard is lined with bicycles. Kuchen (cake).
This past year has flown by way too fast. (We had a feeling it would.) At times we feel painfully far away as we miss our family and friends back home. But at the same time, we feel so "at home" here, thoroughly enjoying the moments, each new opportunity, each new adventure. We love the people here! They are a joy and we have much to learn from them. I am still trying to learn to adapt to the two different cultures here: German and the military. I confess, the German culture is easier. We know the Lord has much for us here. We're looking forward to the year ahead of us, reevaluating our goals, desiring to go ever-deeper in our relationships with the Lord and with the people He blesses us with. We are tremendously grateful -- more than words could ever express.
I awoke this morning, this song in my head:
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided --
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
~ by Thomas Obadiah Chisholm (1866-1960)
Amen and Amen!!