Had a slow-ish wakeup today, our first complete day in Bielefeld. Felt great to take the time to have a couple cups of french press coffee & to read my normal Bible reading plan with no rush to be anywhere or do anything.
We got ready around noon & headed into town. First stop was the Christus für Alles Foursquare church; we had never been in their ‘newish’ building so we got to see the office space, the sanctuary, & the myriad classrooms, workrooms, storage areas of a church that is literally used every day, most of each day. This church is instrumental in reaching “the ‘stans”, including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, & all the other ‘stans’ in the region. They’ve got 4 translation stations set up in the sanctuary for English, Russian, & any other languages for people groups that happen to be in demand at that time. Got to hear quite a few of the stories from the last few years; was especially interested in hearing how they navigated ‘Corona’ (as the majority of people here call “theCovids”) & how the church in general has bounced back & reinvented themselves as they work to reach the people in their communities. I’ve been at 3 different churches over the last week & have heard 3 radically different ways they ‘rolled with it.’ Truly inspiring to see how God works in each people/church in each community.
After walking through the city for about 90 minutes with our hostess, Anna Marie narrating the whole time (as good or better than any US Park Ranger Guide I’ve ever had) we voted to stop & eat at one of her favorite Turkish döner shops. Bean got lamb skewers & I got a lahmucun döner with extra meat. So good. I finished mine but theBean had a skewer left over; I called ‘dibs’ for it to eat for dinner.
From there we took the car up to a scenic overlook of THE place to see in Bielefeld: the Sparrenburg. Click on that link & take a look – VERY cool & a great way to overlook the city & also to hear the stories about the founding of Bielefeld as a trade route to distribute the linen for which it has been know for several hundred years. (The link above will take you to the “Linen wear factory museum”. )
It was windy & cold-ish, so we decided to move on to the next phase of the day – meeting up with Anna Marie’s friend, Petra, to go visit a housing project to walk through/around it & pray. It’s a place that they (& the church) have been targeting for prayer & worship with the hopes of being able to reach the myriad people from all over the world who happen to live there. We talked & prayed into the darkness… & then went to a spot in a courtyard where Petra played her violin & Anna Marie played her guitar. The sound of the violin bounced back & forth off the buildings like a comforting hug from Jesus, & the two instruments together melded & harmonized beautifully.
Tomorrow late afternoon/early evening is “Street Church” – a church/outreach Anna Marie has been leading for the last several years. So, we went with her to the grocery megastore (think Target meets Best Buy) & shopped for some breakfast items while Anna Marie & Petra stocked up on essentials for feeding the Street Church congregation.
There is nothing like feeling like a fish out of water like being in a grocery store in another country. Just familiar enough to lull you into feeling comfortable, but radically different enough to royally mess with your brain when you go looking for anything specific that you want on your list. My heart was happy though, because I found legit Skippy chunky peanut butter in the jar. #FTW
Came home & ate leftovers (lamb skewers & soup, & some chow mein that theBean scrounged up.) We’re now relaxing & having what Anna Marie calls “Baboon time,” aka “time set aside to stare at the wall & decompress, think, & relax.”
I like that. Baboon time. I do that already, both in the morning & the evening.
We walked more today (approx. 8 1/2 miles) than we have in the last 5 days combined, so I’m feeling it tonight. Heading to bed soon – thinking of loved ones, praying for Hillside & our Hillside family, asking for divine appointments over the next few days (esp. tomorrow on the Street.) Would appreciate your prayers.