15 November –
Woke up early on Sunday to have a breakfast with Alex & Linda – she made her famous pfannküchen (pancakes.) Very nice.
Alex dropped me by the TPLF Sunday a.m. service – I enjoyed time with friends; the room was totally packed to the point where it was standing room only. Eddy spoke on “Faith.”
There was a bit of a rush to the Hauptbahnhof “main train station”, mostly due to my incredible ability to take the simplest of train switches & complicate them. I am convinced that this just may be my superpower, which will be wonderful & make me totally fit in if I every meet up with the cast of Mystery Men in a real life adventure that requires getting lost in a train station I’ve been in 100 times. And a special shout out to the nice police officer that tried to send me to Munich.
Got to the station & met Shawn & Matt by our favorite cigar shop – it’s a landmark… Ate a döner in the food court, & caught up on the boys trip to Berlin. Especially fun was hearing the story about how they narrowly avoided getting into a fight with an irate (& very large) Englishman. It’s their story to tell, but suffice it to say, the moral of the story is: be careful who you sit by, especially if they are a loud-mouthed American from the Bay Area that wants to rip on England, English food, & worst of all, English soccer.
Made our way to our train – the ICE. Its interesting to ride these for me, because there are no assigned seats – except for the people who HAD assigned seats. Meaning, some people had paid extra couple Euros. Its kind of a gamble to find a place & sit down, then hope that no one comes to kick you out of the seat by an extra paying customer…
It only took us about 1:20 to the Southwestern burg of Baden-Baden. It’s as different from Frankfurt as Napa is from Reno. Julia picked us up – it was so good to see her in her element. She drove us (quite safely actually) through several villages to her home in Achern. Absolutely beautiful, esp. as the light rain that has accompanied 90% of our visit continued to fall – not pour, but mist & drizzle.
We were greeted by her parents as long-lost friends with many hugs & tears. Made me well up a bit myself, & also to give thanks to the LORD that we were nice to Julia while she lived with us ☺.
The Kern family has an absolutely beautiful home – & the first thing we did was all sit around the table for coffee & marmot-cake (which is named because it looks like a mole-hill.) We spent an hour talking with the family, with Matt & Shawn getting to know Klaus & Pia (the parents) & Linda (the sister.)
We made our way to our rooms – which were prepared so wonderfully & with great care. The hospitality we are being shown is truly humbling.
While dinner was being prepared, the boys & I spent an hour talking; we’re helping Matty prep for his impending nuptials – only has 5 months to get ready ☺. Really good talks, with lots of questions from Matty (go figure!) Shawn & I laughed a lot.
For dinner we ate sauerbraten, sessel (potato/bread cakes,) & garlic laced salad greens, accompanied by a tasty spätburgunder rotwein. We sat around the table for several hours of eating & conversation.
The thing that has stood out to us the most is the familiarity & connection that Jesus brings – across cultures, languages, & life-experience. I’m thankful for that – Matty said this was his favorite moment of the trip so far – for me, it was waaayy up there too.
Couldn’t keep my eyes open any more, so I made my way to bed around 10, making it the earliest night in 4-ever.
Woke up to the sound of falling rain – which, if I lived here would probably get old really quick, but for a visit, it makes for quite the experience & backdrop for our adventures.
Ate a typical German breakfast with Pia – she wanted to take a picture of Matty eating the soft-boiled egg. She laughed & laughed as he made a mess of it on his plate – good ol’ Matty.
Over breakfast, we had a good discussion about auslanders (foreigners) growing to the point where they will soon be outnumbering Germans; partially due to immigration, mostly due to a much higher birth rate. It made us reflect on Reno (& the States) & our own rising immigrant & non-US native population… & how it affects us & changes the culture of the city with the added language, experience, & change that comes as the population grows… It was a good talk about politics, economics, life choices, & the kingdom of God.
Made me think & reflect on the discussions that we’ve been having with a local-Reno Spanish speaking church. And how connecting with them gives us an opportunity to connect with another facet of Reno; to intentionally be making choices to reach Reno for Christ as it grows, changes, looks, & becomes different than me. I’m reflecting on the fact that my commitment (& the commission to Christ-followers) isn’t to perpetuating me & my way of life, but to see people come to know Jesus, & to grow into finding, understanding, & following His plan for their lives…
We have lunch coming up shortly with Roland Lorenz, the pastor of the church that the Kern family attends – he’s the initial point of contact that I’d had from the German pastors conference of years past. Looking forward to it, then a quiet afternoon together, maybe a walk in the rain, & then finally dinner with the Kern family…