Day 11 –
After a great evening of being wined & dined by the Kern family, I slept great. Woke up to coffee & a small German breakfast with lightly sweet bread & homemade quitten geili mit amaretto (aka: quince berry jelly, with amaretto.) Oh so tasty. I ate waaaaay more than I normally would on a Sunday morning just because it was So. Good.
Julia took me to the church in Otterweier – it is the only “free” (non-Catholic/Lutheran) church in the village, & the building itself faces a mammon twin-spired Catholic church. The Arche Ottersweier (Julia’s church) has been in existence for 8 years, & has grown to about 50 people, a testimony to the goodness of God, prayer, & the faithfulness of pastor Roland. It is almost impossible to explain the missionary task that they face – attempting to live out a living, vibrant, loving, gospel-declaring faith in a manner & context that makes no sense in comparison to the traditional way of how things are… it’s not uncommon for church goers in the state churches (& Catholic) to not ever have heard, let alone understood, the news that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was resurrected from the dead, & now sits at the right hand of God the Father. People haven’t heard that salvation is necessary, let alone available to all who would believe, repent from sin, & turn to God through Christ. Roland (& others) are attempting to live out simple, faithful lives, aiming for reaching the next generation with a clear picture of Christ. It’s a life-long vision, which stands in stark contrast to the ‘microwave faith’ culture of a desire for immediate gratification that the Western church can often epitomize.
Julia did a great job translating me – we hung out with the church after the service, & I had the privilege of talking & praying with several people that really just wanted to pray for boldness – that they would live as witnesses for Christ, & not grow weary. It humbles me to think about it.
Headed back to the Kern house for food – & Goodness! there was food. Julia’s grandparents came over – he was quite the character & from the time he arrived until he went home 6 hours later, he didn’t cease to give me a good-natured hard time, going into painstaking detail about why Germany is better than America. Good times. Took a brief nap after dessert, then the whole family went for a walk in the nearby vineyards, (some of which had provided the wine we had last night. Cool stuff.) The vineyards are laid out on hills in ways that defy gravity, & left me wondering HOW the vinzer (vintner) would go about harvesting & caring for the grapes. We walked for about 90 minutes at a leisurely pace; the highlights were 3 generations of family humor, an amazing sunset (the top picture in this post,) & Heiko, the boyfriend of Linda, Julia’s older sister; he wore his Nevada t-shirt proudly, a relic from his visit to the states in 9/2008.
In the evening, I was invited out to dinner by Roland & his regional overseer, Jochen (who I last saw at the Foursquare Convention in Atlanta in May, where we had lunch.) They took me to a local restaurant called, “Blume” – which means flower – & we all got Amerikan Rumpsteak & Paulaner, the world’s best hefeweizen. And it was great, & came with a huge plate of french fries.
We ate to our heart’s content; I was really encouraged talking with the two of them about their strategy for the region – they live in an area made up of small villages – so, they’re attempting to plant smaller, relationship-based churches that share resources. Each one has a pastor, & each church is ‘autonomous’ – but they all intentionally choose to work together, to cover each other with a layer of relationship & accountability that insures no one (& no church) is isolated or solo. Great ideas that left me with all sorts of ideas & inspiration.
Made it back to the Kern’s in time for some late night hanging out & prayer; giving thanks to God for the budding relationship & friendship between us, celebrating the commonality we share with other people who follow Christ. Truly precious.
Day 12 –
Today was a travel day, meaning Julia & I had to head to the train station by 9 so we could make our way north, me to Mainz, Julia to Frankfurt; she’s flying to Norway Tuesday to visit her sister & her family. After a goodbye at the train station, Julia & I navigated our way through the maze & haze that is the DB (German train system.) Our 2nd train connection was randomly canceled, so we were escorted to another train, a high speed one that normally you have to pay big $ to ride on. However, we were assured that because our train was canceled, we’d have no trouble. Right. :)
We made it to the first “ticket checkpoint,” about 10 minutes into the train ride & took a tongue-lashing & dressing down from an uptight DB agent. Fortunately, we were rescued by a supervisor, but not until we had heard how wrong we were to be on such a fast train without having paid the extra money for the extra speed. Good times.
Said a tearful goodbye to our dear Julia, made my way to my meeting point with Jan, the pastor of enChristo church & National leader of Foursquare Deutschland. Normally we do pizza together, but he spared me the anguish of yet Another trip to Italy by taking me to a favorite Chinese place he frequents.
We had deep talks about the state of Foursquare in the US, as well as what is happening in Germany. Good stuff. Both of us were plagued with sneezing & coughing fits, so lots of hot tea was consumed, along with our duck in plum sauce, surrounded by vegetables. Yes really. Can you hear that? It’s me! I’m growing.
Caught the train back to Frankfurt, & walked the last couple blocks to Eddy & Laura’s in the hardest rain I’ve ever experienced in Germany. I was absolutely soaked by the time I arrived. Changed out of my wet things & into my Reed hoodie & sweats, & warm, dry socks. Ahh. Comfort. Hot tea helped too.
Just packing tonight, then heading out with Levent & Ines as soon as I post this. We’re going to grab some Turkish food & celebrate their pregnancy. Ines is about 7 months along if my counting of weeks is accurate.
I absolutely cannot wait to come home & see my family. Hug myBean. Be with my church family at Hillside. Celebrate a good trip with lots of answered prayers. Sleep in my own bed.
Booyah! And thank you. I am grateful, & filled with thanks tonight.
Blessings to you.