Deutschland Travels, Spring 2010 – musings from a long day…

The last couple of days have been something of a blur, which usually happens on the travels home from East to West. My core42 processor in my brain is on the fritz, so I’m trying to set myself up to have a ‘reboot’ week & ease back into life at a rhythm & pace that is healthy for me & others, & also engaging. At some point in the not so distant past, I might have tried to hit the ground running, frantically trying to catch up on & make up for the time out of country over the last 2 weeks; an impossible task. So rather than attempt the impossible (& thereby delay the reboot by denying my own limits & humanity,) I’m trying to take it slow. But steady. And a ‘musings’ post…

Checked in to my United flight #901 on Saturday night, & all was right with the world. Woke up Sunday, & double-checked my check in, only to find that the status of my flight had changed from “On-time scheduled departure” to “Cancelled.” No explanations. Just a phone number. So I called.

Unfortunately, the ‘customer service’ had been outsourced, & communication was tough. In 45 minutes, I learned that there were no other flights on my route on Sunday, (Frankfurt to SF,) & that I’d have to hope to get one on Monday. Tried to get the rep to check other potential routes (to Denver, Chicago, Washington-Dulles, & other United International hubs…), but to no avail. Said she couldn’t do it. Sigh. Booked for Monday, then called theBean to explain what was up & recruit her to do what I couldn’t: spend time on the phone trying to get me on another route &/or a partner airline. And expectantly thanked God in advance for His favor & blessing.

Turns out she was just on her way to bed (the 9 hour difference :) & she was NOT happy about me not coming home for ANOTHER day. So, she took the mission & said she’d get back to me.

About 15 minutes later, myGirl called with a revised itinerary – she got the rep she spoke with to switch me to the #1 United partner in Germany – Lufthansa – on a flight scheduled to leave at the same time THAT day as my original, with a connection to Reno through Denver.

Excellent. And THAT is myBean.

The change in plans (& the knowledge that the FraPort would be crazy,) meant a rushed goodbye to my wonderful hosts, the Dueck’s, & a voyage via u-bahn to the airport. And it was a good thing I got there when I did.

My flight hadn’t been the only one canceled, & about 15 minutes after I arrived in the Lufthansa line, about 400 frantic travelers queued up behind me. The LH desk attendant was great, & confirmed my seat on a flight… but told me that I’d have to make sure to get the specific seat assignment at the gate – As she talked, I pictured myself in the middle of the last row on the plane, squished between Gunther & Hans. Banished that thought from my mind, & thanked God again for favor… & a good seat. Which turned out to be a window seat next to a smallish person. Booyah!

Flight was delayed for 97 minutes (yes, I was counting.) Which meant that about 200 of those on the flight to Denver would miss their connecting flights & have to be rebooked by the United personnel in Denver. I didn’t care… I was coming home.

Going through the inconvenience of missing a flight AFTER being on a cramped plane for almost 12 hours is quite the experience. My people watching skills were in effect as I got to observe people from a variety of backgrounds, countries, & cultures in various states of meltdown. The Americans were the best at complaining. Go figure. Loud & often… Go figure.

My rescheduled flight was only 2 hours later than my original flight (thank you Jesus! Again.) So I made my way to the New Belgium Hub for nachos, a stout, & NBA playoff hoops. Nice.

Slept the whole flight. Barely made it through the boarding process before my eyelids crashed together.

TheBean picked me up solo. And we were THAT couple having the reunion in the airport at 11 p.m. You know the ones that I’m talking about.

Thank you all for your prayers in my travels. It was a great trip. And still, it is So good to be in my city. In my home. In my own bed. With my fam. Sigh.

Deutschland Travels, Spring 2010, Day #13

Meeting for breakfast with an old friend, Claudius – took the u-bahn in the brisk morning air to the Willy-Brandt-Platz (named after a German politician.) I got there a bit early, & spent some time people watching. Met a guy from Brazil who is playing basketball at Westerm Michigan U in Kalamazoo, Michigan, & talked hoops a bit. He’s traveling with friends, & I took some pictures of them in the park, standing under the big “E” monument celebrating the European Union.

Claudius arrived & we made our way to a café we’ve visited many times over the last few years. He is something of a ‘romantic’ in that he likes to plan surprises & this time was no different. The breakfast that came out for me was nothing short of incredible, with an American style omelette with all of my favorite ingredients; fresh squeezed orange juice, a croissant & brotchen (little bread) & of course a bottomless cup of coffee. It is truly meaningful to be thought of & planned for. I greatly appreciated our talks, the opportunity to catch up & hear about the happenings in each others lives. Good times.

Made my way to the KonstablerWache (a kind of police station in the downtown of Frankfurt,) & met with our dear friend Dudi (sister of Philip, who I got together with for breakfast a couple days ago,) for my next meeting. TheBean & I connected with Dudi on our first mission trip to TPLF in 2005; over the last few years as she’s been working her way through university, she’s had a couple of opportunities to come & stay with us in our home, most recently this last September. We made our way from the KonstablerWache to a quirky little restaurant called, “Maingold” – reminded me a lot of Reno’s own Java Jungle crossed with Deux Gros Nez…

One of the themes that came up (again!) was fatherhood – the need for positive, encouraging, supportive-without-being-controlling male input in the lives of 20-somethings. Its something that I’m meaning to write about in more detail soon – but hearing Dudi talk about the great need for this encouragement, positive pouring in to help young men & women step into their own calling & stage of life, made me a bit weepy. Its something that I’ve felt the Holy Spirit’s ‘nudge’ about for the last couple of years, & it’s very gratifying to hear the confirmations over & over & over again from such a variety of sources… reminds me that I might be on to something. ☺

Walked along the Main River for what seemed like an eternity – the sun has finally come out after 10 days of wind & rain. I’m just soaking it in, thinking back to the happy times along this river with myBean, pondering my initial ‘tug’ to Germany so long ago that happened in this very place.

It’s Saturday, which means the downtown area is hosting a festival – this time it’s a wein & sausage party with wall to wall people. I took a couple of snapshots & enjoyed the feeling of being surrounded while at the same time being anonymous. Enjoyed a glass of the Dornfelder with a few passersby, & listened to the live music coming from a stage setup nearby. We’re in Germany, so the band must be playing “Winds of Change,” by the Scorpions. I think this just might be the unofficial national anthem of Deutschland

Walked to the Hauptwache (main station) to catch the U-bahn to Alex & Linda’s. Caught up with Alex at the WeisserStein station… & drove to their new flat. Alex & Linda are very special to me, & I always love spending time at their home. This time was no exception. After giving me a tour of their new place, the 4 of us (Alex, Linda, & their dog Jonathan,) took a walk in the park next to their home – felt great to stretch our legs & catch up.

We were all hungry, so we headed home, where I hung out with Alex as he grilled… chicken wings(!) that he had started prepping the day before. Linda brought a great salad, some weissbier, & potato wedges to the table & we spent a couple of hours in conversation. Alex & Linda started a church since I was here last in November, & they are affiliated with the Vineyard movement. I loved hearing their stories of what God is doing in their church, & most exciting to me, with them in their lives as they step out into new areas.

We wrapped up our evening with the most recent episode of the Office, something we always do when I’m here. Shared routines are special too. ☺ It was getting late, so they graciously drove me back to the Dueck’s so I could finish packing my bags & prepping for my early afternoon flight tomorrow.