Friday, March 06, 2009

First week in Germany

Hallo Zusammen!
......which means hello everyone. My deepest apologies for not writing sooner. It has been a crazy ride. As you know already, my flight to Atlanta was canceled on Friday, meaning I had one extra night in GR with my family. Frustrating, but OK in the end, as I got a direct flight to Stuttgart out of the deal. Had some nice seat partners on my flights, and even arrived early!

(Click the caption bubble on the left to see captions, click the Picasa icon on the right to go to the website with my photos [bigger pictures])

Etienne picked me up at the airport and we were right away back to our old tricks -- he drove and I read the map and gave directions -- never mind that I just flew over the ocean for 8+ hours, never mind that I'm not used to European street signs, not to mention that I can't read German!

With our combined intelligences we finally arrived in a nice park in Stuttgart where we could walk around and talk, and later went to lunch and into the pedestrian downtown area. The weather was beautiful and I was reminded of how, in Europe, you can have 500 + people in one place and still have quiet.

On the other hand, I will venture that Germans seem to me much more expressive (louder) than the French. Take example #1, Valerian, my coordinator at CVJM (the Y)...

After tea and some delicious cakes at the Bullard-Werner household (my compliments to Dieter and Nancy on your baking skills and thanks to American friend John for your pleasant company!), I moved into my new room at the Y and met Valerian. Valerian is like a kinder version of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. He's big and strong and happy and he has dark hair and often wears a red shirt. He (understandably) coordinates the sport aspects of the Y in Esslingen.

Dieter, my other "boss" is not quite as high-energy as Valerian, but he is no less kind. Dieter sort of reminds me of my Uncle Cliff. Tall and lank, and his hair is sometimes messy but who cares because he is overwhelmingly encouraging, sympathetic, wise, and also goofy. I think I am lucky to have such a balance between two wonderful coordinators!

I'll work M/W/F at CVJM (where I'm living), and T/Th with EJE [you can see more info about each on the links on the side of the page]. I am still learning a million new things every day, so I will save my "job description" for another, shorter post (when I know more what I'm doing!)

EVERYONE here has been so welcoming. I am telling you, if you are going to travel the world, the way to do it is visiting Christians. It has worked really well for me. Each person I've met here is excited that I'm here, incredibly patient with my slow-coming German, and just plain joyful.

Esslingen, the town, is gorgeous. The downtown pedestrian center dates from the middle ages and the half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets are breathtaking. This is only one of the reasons, I think, that so many people I've met grew up in Esslingen and have chosen to stay her. It's a GOOD place to live!

I have so much to tell you, but I know this is getting long, so I'll end with a few ways I've seen God this week. (Thanks for praying for me -- I can feel those prayers. Keep them up, I need them!)

1) Of course, the reception I've been given by absolutely everyone. Ah! They are amazing!

2) Taking the bus home from one of EJE's youth centers on Tuesday, I noticed a sign denoting Esslingen's "Sister Cities."
I laughed out loud when I saw the city in the USA - Sheboygan. Ha! Perhaps Sheboygan, WI, since Cheboygan, MI is spelled with a C. All the same, it made me think of my family and Mackinac Island and I was overjoyed.

Then I laughed a 2nd time because Udine was the Italian sister city! Udine is the town where my best friend Bess worked as a missionary teaching English last year, and is one of three whole cities I've ever visited in Italy. Would you belive it? This is God reminding me of who is praying for me, I thought.

3) On a similar note, one of the china plates in the mis-matched kitcenware that I share with my 5 roommates has a picture of "Chatsworth House, Derbyshire" on it, which is an old English manor a few minutes away from my friend Becky's house in Staffordshire. Her Mom (er, Mum) is always bringing visitors there, says Becky, and it is my most cherished desire to visit one day! (Also, Kiera Knightly's new film The Duchess was vilemed there).

4) This one is a bit more embarassing. It happened on Wednesday, one of my crazy days when I was running from meeting to meeting. I was coming back from the EJE because I was invited for lunch at Valerian's family's house. I got slightly turned around, and spent at least 10 minutes walking up and down one side street that happened to be about 50 meters off from their street, but which I was certain was correct. After said 10 minutes walking around like a chicken with its head cut off, I started praying that God would help me find the house, because I was bordering on late (which is NOT kosher in Deutschland, as I knew, but was more keenly made aware of Thursday when I missed my bus). Anyway, I wandered and wandered, trying to think, without a cell phone, what I was going to do if I didn't make it, if Valerian would come searching for me (after all, I was walking in a 10m circle), or if I'd end up rudely standing them up and totally embarassing myself.

Finally, as is headed down one street which I thought led to another that would turn into the street their house was on. I stopped in my tracks and thie door was in front of me. I am not kidding you when I say I had NO inclination that the door was there. I was completely turned around in my orientation. I felt like I was in a Harry Potter book - medival European town, doors appearing out of nowhere, you know the drill...

God's grace is good.

Thanks for praying for me keep me updated on your lives, pl;ease!

More to come soon.

Bis Bald!



Anonymous said...

Hi Amanda and Etienne!

Great to hear from you Amanda!
Etienne, let me know when it's possible to talk on the phone again!


rayshauna said...

is a picture of you donning lederhosen too much to ask for? do they even rock those anymore? are they the polyester bell bottoms of germany? dear god, so many questions.

and with your skype, gmail, mailing address and blog, you are sooooo gonna wish you hadn't given me so many portals by which i can stalk you.

well, cause that's what i do. hope you're having an amazing time, amanda.

Mom said...

great pictures! Keep them coming!

Maureen said...

That is crazy about Udine!!! It's so good to read this! I love you I miss you!

Maureen said...

By the way Maureen = Bess. I still haven't figured that one out.

Arika TVD said...

YAY for Amanda's latest world-traveling adventure that the rest of us can live through vicariously by virtue of her unparalleled command of the English language (not to mention German, French, and probably a few others)!

Mom said...

Was the zoo you went to the Wilhelma? Dad and I were there last year!