Deutschland #9 & #10

#9 – My good friend Eddy picked me up from Alex and Linda’s with his car full of kids… really fun to see how much they’ve grown, & also to meet their new addition: the adorable & precocious Kira. When we arrived at their home, Laura, Eddy’s wife was preparing a round of gluten-free pizzas to go along with the Dueck’s weekly/Friday “Pizza & A Movie Night.” The pizzas including pepperoni, peppers & mushrooms, hawaiian, & regular cheese. Laura can cook.

While the kids watched “Ice Age,” (which I haven’t seen. Any of them. Not because I hate movies. Or animation. Just because, man. Just because,) Eddy, Laura & I caught up on the happenings of the last couple of years since Eddy left as pastor of TPLF. Most of it I’d already heard, as Eddy & I Skype & pray with each other, but it was great to hear from Laura as well. The Dueck’s are doing great, & it makes my heart happy to see that even in a very trying, difficult situation, they are coming through it with grace & their genuine smiles intact. Also got to meet Reinhard at dinner, a Spanish/German musician from Colombia. We got lost in the labyrinth of musical inspiration & favorite guitarists (started with Jimi & Jimmy, headed to Roland Orzabal, & Clapton, then meandered around through the maze that is modern music. A really fun time that I thoroughly enjoyed.

FRA-bridge-nite800-1Too quickly it ended & Eddy dropped me off to meet Alex & Linda – though I’ve been staying at the house, we haven’t had a ton of time together, so Friday night on the town with the Kriegers it was. They wanted to take me to a favorite place of theirs. From the outside, it looks like any of the entrances to the myriad flats lining the Main River.  A knock on the door (along with the appropriate password/reservation) revealed a 20’s style speakeasy. No pictures are allowed of the inside, but suffice it to say, it was a memorable & tasty experience.

We walked from there to a local pub to hang out & talk – the time flew by as we wrestled through all sorts of meaning of life (& also totally fun) questions, thoughts, & musings. They are musers, like me. Which makes for good talks. Called an Uber private taxi around 1:30 a.m. & went straight to bed & crashed hard.

#10 – Woke up early-ish for breakfast, then packed up a borrowed backpack (so I didn’t have to take the monster bag on my travels) & headed to the train station for my hour long trip to Mainz, the city where Jan, the Foursquare Deutschland national leader & pastor of EnChristo Gemeinde (In Christ Fellowship) is based. Got to see my first “pro-Palestine, death to Israel,” demonstration outside the train station. I will come back to that in a later blog.

Jan picked me up, & we walked to a Lebanese restaurant for Schawarma, & then to a local cafe for espresso. We spent several hours in the afternoon sitting in an open square next to a huge church (St. Martin’s I think) talking about life, & family, & the like. It’s one of many things I appreciate about Jan – when we talk, he starts with the important stuff, (his phrase is “let’s talk like men!”) which to him seems to be focus on the things that are eternal, personal, & precious. Church talk happens too, but it isn’t at the forefront & it surely doesn’t define us.

Spent the last part of the evening outside on the veranda with Jan & Susanna (Jan’s wife) talking more about family, husband/wife relationships & parenting. Sat in the dark with a beautiful lamp throwing the only light. Finally, around 11, everyone was tired, so I headed to my room & crashed hard.

Thank you for your prayers – blessings to you.


Deutschland #8… a Thursday

DAY 7, Part Deux –

I left the house around 12:15 p.m. to head over to the home of Levent & Ines  via the Ubahn. One of the most confusing things about using the transit system isn’t figuring out the trains – instead, its deciding which of the 4 exits leaving the underground to take. Each one leads to a different corner of the block, so choosing wrong can mean that you’re exactly opposite of where you wanted to go, & to make it worse, you can’t just ‘cross the street’ to get where you need to be. Instead, you have to go back down into the underground & guesstimate which exit is the correct one. Today, I ended up going to three (yes. 3) different exits, walking up 2 flights of stairs for each, only to find that I’d chosen…. poorly. There’s just some things you don’t know until you memorize them I guess.

My appointment was for 14:00 (2 p.m. for us ‘mericans) & I was running a little early, so I stopped at a pizza place for a slice. Turns out, ordering was simple – the majority of the staff spoke Spanish; while I’m definitely not fluent, I can have a conversation. And so I did. It was nice, & a little bit surreal to be speaking Spanish in Germany. But at least I got the right pizza. I walked across the street to Levent & Ines beautiful big Green Apartment Building, & within a couple of minutes, I was sitting at their kitchen table, watching 1 year old Samuel crawling around the room, stopping every couple seconds to try to figure out just WHO this person was in his house.

Levent & Ines were some of the first people I met when I came back to Frankfurt in March 2005 – they had just been married a year at that time. Over the years, they’ve added two kids to the family, 3 year old Saraya & the aforementioned 1 year old Samuel. The last 6 months have been very stressful on them, as Samuel has had to be hospitalized with an unknown condition that caused a lot of physical issues, including seizures. I can imagine that the strain of that, plus trying to care for another child, plus trying to work must have been overwhelming. We had great talks, & I was very blessed & honored to be able to be with them today, just a few days short of their 10th wedding anniversary.

IMG_1595After hanging out for a couple of hours, Levent needed to leave to pick up Saraya from her kindergarten, so he offered to drop me at the rendezvous point for my next meeting in Bockenheim, a region of Frankfurt I’m pretty familiar with because it is where the German church we have had relationship with, Treffpunkt Leben (TPLF) is located. (The picture to the left is the Bockenheim Tower, an old military/defensive installation set up on the edge of the city to give warning if any danger approached.) Saraya’s kindergarten is bilingual, using both German & Spanish. It was pretty cool to be able to hear the 3-6 year olds speaking both languages, sometimes in the same sentence. One of the students was a little Korean girl – couldn’t have been more than 3 years old, & she was talking to her mother, a mile a minute, in Spanish, about her music & dance class. It was precious.

IMG_1593Levent, Saraya, & I parked & walked to Leipziger Strasse so IMG_1594that they could buy a pastry, then we said our goodbyes, & I headed up the street & towards Kurfuerstenstrasse 14, where TPLF used to meet. A few years ago, the old church building was torn down, & this was built in its place.

IMG_1592I also went by to see if anyone might be at the TPLF office, but it was too late in the day, so I missed everyone. Ended up walking to the Kurfuerstenstrasse Park & sitting on one of the park benches & people watching until it was time to go meet Steve. Walked back to the Ubahn station just in time to catch him – we decided to head back to the park to talk until it was time to meet his wife, Sarah, for dinner. I had never met her (Steve was only engaged when he was in Reno, & they just celebrated their first anniversary last week.)

We had a great time catching up over the events of the last couple years since Steve visited us in Reno – the time almost got away from us. Fortunately, Sarah called & reminded us that she was on her way, so we walked back to Leipzieger Strasse to get dinner at KISH, a Persian restaurant right off of the main street with a great outdoor eating space. That the owner of the restaurant didn’t want us to sit at. He wanted us inside for some reason – didn’t catch it, but I think it had to do with the fact that it was a ‘prime table’ & we were there a little before ‘prime time’ with no reservations. Not that we needed them at that point, as there were a grand total of 5 other people at the place, & there were at least 40 open tables. He finally agreed to seat us outside, & brought us menus. The food followed quickly.

And then the rain started. It began with rolling thunder & a light sprinkle.

That lasted for about 10 minutes – we were protected from the rain by a large sun shade, so we didn’t think we had to worry about anything. Until the rain began to fall in earnest. Sideways. After a couple minutes of trying to ‘weather’ the weather, we gave up & took our food inside to an open table. And we watched the lightning show. And the rain falling, harder & harder until it seemed like the downpour rivaled the hurricane theBean & I endured in the summer of ’94. Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but I had no umbrella & I forgot my rain jacket at home. IMG_1597

We finished dinner & tea, all the while hoping for a brief respite that would allow us to walk the 1/2 mile or so to the Ubahn station. It didn’t happen, so we decided to make a run for it. By the time we hit the station, I was soaked. But it was a warm rain.

Said goodbye to the Greenhills at the main U station, & we went our separate ways. Fortunately,  I had a beautiful walk home from the station near Alex & Linda’s. I tried to be as quiet as possible so I wouldn’t wake them if they were sleeping, yet somehow in my attempt to turn off the light outside their front door, I managed to ring their doorbell, making their giant Rhodesian Ridgeback bark at the sudden noise. Smooth. Very smooth.

Alex was just finishing a workout, & Linda didn’t wake up, so my faux pas wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Took out my contacts & headed towards bed, & took a couple of minutes to catch up on emails that couldn’t wait to be dealt with until later. It was a great day.

As I think about my yesterday (Thursday) on  this fine morning (Friday, about 10:40 a.m.) I’m musing on how much has changed since I was last here almost 4 years ago. In me. In others. And it feels really good to know that in the middle of all of that, we still have something very, very important: Friendship.

Thank you for praying. Blessings to you.


Monday, Monday, an anniversary, hotness, & water issues…

Remember a couple of weeks back, when we were bemoaning the fact that warm weather seemed to have overslept, & hadn’t remembered to grace northern Nevada with her lasting presence? Well, she’s here with a vengeance. It is just plain hot.

Which reminds me – last Saturday, I did a wedding on the roof of the Nevada Museum of Art at 5:30 p.m. Which meant that the temperature was about 100F…+ an additional 20 or so degrees due to being on the roof, heat magnified & held by the concrete tiles that adorn it. Oh, & I was in a black suit. Which meant that though I tried to stay in the climate controlled museum as long as possible, the 20 minutes I was out in the open on the roof I was absolutely drenched in perspiration.

As soon as I declared “Man & Wife,” I bailed… to head to 7-11 for an icy water… I was absolutely pouring sweat, & setting the A/C to ’11’ didn’t even take the edge off. Walked into 7-11 & headed for the cooler – the clerk behind the counter greeted me, “Hey! How you doin’?” I’m thinking, isn’t it obvious? I’m in a SUIT on a day that is so hot one wouldn’t even need a magnifying glass to fry bugs on the sidewalk… But, in the name of common decency, I simply replied, “I’m hot.”

To which she said, “Wow! Aren’t you sure of yourself!” I was caught off guard… she thinks I’m saying that I believe I am Hot…? Not temperature hot, but capital H Hot.

Goodness. “Uh, no. Not what I meant…” Errr…

The main water line going into the water heater in the garage broke. Again. That makes 4 times in the last month. TheBean mentioned to the plumber last time (or the time before. I forget,) that the PVC pipe piece that keeps breaking might, just might be better replaced with a metal piece. Previously, the plumbers didn’t agree with her, & insisted on using a ‘factory approved’ (read: needs to be replaced on a regular basis…) piece.

This time, the plumber agreed… & went to Home Depot to buy Copper piping material. He cut & soldered & MacGyvered the piece until such a time as the leak was repaired, & the water was returned to our home. Booyah!

Thinking about marriage. Being married. This Thursday is anniversary #21 for me & theBean. We married at 19 & 18, respectively. Thought I knew what love was. What it meant to sacrifice & love another with the whole heart. Reflecting on what I know now, the lessons learned over the last 22 years of life with the girl of my dreams. I’ve learned…

-Communication is more than speaking louder & slower.
-Eye contact is under-rated.
-Sometimes the problem is not enough sleep.
-The real issue isn’tthe toilet seat.
-She really doesn’t want me to fix her. She just wants me to listen. Who knew?
-Sharing food doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as I thought it would.
-Down-time doing ‘nothing’ is the best time there is.
-I think I understand a little bit more what it means that “love covers a multitude of sins…”
-Sitting on the porch doesn’t hurt either.
-Vino is truly a sign of God’s blessing. And enjoyed with theBean, its the best.
-Going through tough things, together, is one of life’s great joys.
-Grace is absolutely beautiful. When displayed, it shines brighter than a diamond in the sun.
-The wife of my youth makes 39 look amazing.

And we just now, this second, verbally agreed (which is binding, don’t you know) on how we’ll be celebrating our anniversary. Makes me smile to think of it: Panda Express (theBean’s favorite), a Stags Leap Petite Syrah, & candles. Lots of candles. Sigh.