Thursday, November 29, 2007

My Mind

I'm having trouble getting things done.

I'm still reveling in my Germany trip, editing the photos, reliving the fun. But things need to get done. I knew that I would need to get back to teaching the children after the trip, that hasn't been the big problem. The problem is my mind.

Every year the world is putting up Christmas decorations and shopping and thinking about this gift and that gift starting close to Thanksgiving. Even though I do not put up the decorations as early as the world, I usually am mentally preparing myself for the Christmas season. I make lists of gifts to purchase, foods to bake for home and church bake sales, parties to attend or plan; and then I organize how to get them all done keeping my sanity somewhat in tact.

But this year, my mind is still consumed with Germany. And even though I had planned out the gifts ahead of time and therefore can check that off the "to-do" list, I'm not ready for the baking, violin concerts, parties, decorating, etc. that is coming quickly upon me. And why do they all come in the same week?

This is my upcoming week:
Saturday and Sunday: All day swim meet - as in at the pool from 7am until 3:30-4:00pm. Yes I'm going on Sunday because this meet is the closest town to ours and allows us to return home in time for worship on Saturday evening.

Monday: A Looper friend and her 5 children are coming for a few days for our second annual cookie decorating fun. With her husband out of town on business, we use this time to decorate our sugar cookies, let the kids socialize (they're all homescooled, and therefore need lots of that - right?!), and enjoy all the Mom time we can.

Tuesday: We'll spend the day cookie decorating. This year another Looper who lives "next door" will join us. The more the merrier!

Thursday: I'll spend the day helping another lady in the church prepare the meal for that evening's Ladies' Aid Christmas dinner. That evening I'll help with the dinner and then zoom off to hear Hannah play her violin in a Christmas concert with other students of her teacher.

Friday: I'll finish up, or start, any baking for the Ladies' Aid Bake Sale and luncheon, plus make the Turkey Tetrazinni for the luncheon.

Saturday: I'll help at the luncheon all morning and most of the afternoon.

I know others do this and more. But my problem isn't doing it, it is that my mind isn't ready for it, therefore I'm not ready. Yes it will get done, and yes I will have fun, but I'd rather be here:

I think my mind would be up for that....But for now, bake to cookie baking.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

Germany Churches

While in Germany we visited many churches. Some were Lutheran, some weren't. Some were very ornate, some were not. The one thing all of them made me do when I walked inside was look up. The grandeur of the building, the soaring sides to the very high ceiling added to the sense of majesty and holiness of the space.

But the one church that, by far, was the most beautiful and precious to David and I was Christekirche in Erfurt. Not because of the way it looked, because it was the plainest, less ornate church of all we saw, but because of what we received, which was more beautiful than anything we saw.

Christekirche is a member of the SELK, in fellowship with the the LCMS.Through a cousin, Jonathan who spent a year as a vicar in Berlin and who gave Paul a church and pastor's name to contact, Paul was able to email Pr. Schneider and ask if it would be okay for 50 Americans to come and worship with them on Sunday morning. Pr. Schneider was delighted to welcome us.

While in Eisenach the day before, we met another NAWAS group. Pr. Gier, who knew Mark at the seminary, was leading 16 from his church on a Lutherland tour. When he found out where we would be worshipping on Sunday morning, he was able to work it out with his tour guide to join us. Therefore 76 Americans descended upon Christekirche on Sunday morning, Nov. 4, 2007.

We arrived early and had the opportunity to look around at the church and for Paul, Mark, David and Pr. Gier to visit with Pr. Schneider. The church was in need of repairs having been under the communist regime for many years. There were flyers in the narthex informing members of upcoming fundraisers to help with the repairs.

The outside and inside of the church were very plain compared to other churches we had visited and would visit in the coming days. No beautiful paintings or stain glass windows. No ornate crucifixes or pulpits. It was all very "plain" to the eye.

It was also chilly. Stone walls do that. Once all the Americans were settled in the pews and were given some hints as to what to expect, some of the German parishioners began to arrive.

Every one of them came to the vestry to announce to Pr. Schneider their intention of communing that morning. All smiled genuinely at us, welcoming us with their faces. At the beginning of the service, Pr. Schneider welcomed the congregation in German and then also in English.

We had their hymnal, similar in size to the new personal editions of LSB. David was able to follow along and point where we were so that he and I were able to try and pronounce the German liturgy and hymns.

All came forward to receive absolution with Pastor laying his hand on each parishioner announcing God's grace, mercy and forgiveness. He said it in German for his parishioners and in English for us Americans. Notice there aren't any railings, although there is a cushion to kneel upon. That was a bit tricky for some of our older members to get up and down without the aid of a rail.The German parishioners sang and sang well. They didn't need prompting for when to stand, kneel, or respond with an "Amen". There weren't ushers. When it was time for the absolution, everyone came forward to fill a table. It was the same for receiving the sacrament. Once a table was dismissed others came forward to fill the next.

Pr. Schneider preached in German. But he had translated his sermon into English. One of his parishioners stood to the side and after he preached in German for about a paragraph, he would look at her and she would read in English what he had just said. A couple of times he stopped and looked at her, she shook her head "no," he continued. then when she spoke, it was only a few words. Her look on her face made us think she was thinking that we would never believe that all those words he had just spoke in German were only a few in English.

I also loved how many of the chant lines were the same, especially the proper preface. When Pastor Schneider began chanting, I could sing along and know what he was saying. "It is truly, good right and sal-u-u-tar-r -y,....."

After the service Pr. Schneider welcomed us and asked us to stay for refreshments and to visit with the members. Unfortunately we had to go. But we were so thankful to have been blessed to worship with the saints in Erfurt. Hopefully we will again one day on earth, but if not, we look forward to the day we will worship with them and the whole company of heaven for all eternity.

Why was this the most beautiful church in Germany? Because here God came to me in His word preached and in His Body and Blood given and shed for the forgiveness of my sins. There isn't anything more beautiful or precious than that.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I blame it on my Dad

He use to always tell me, "You're dutchy girl." I never really knew why or what it meant. But he even said that about my two oldest girls when they were toddlers.

Your Inner European is Dutch!

Open minded and tolerant.
You're up for just about anything.

Here is where I was for 10 days:

Yep, you guessed it, Germany. This picture is of David and I, Paul, and Lori, and Mark and Beth in front of the castle church doors in Wittenberg. This is a door in the same place where Martin Luther nailed the 95 thesis. The original door was wooden and burned in a fire. The current door is made of metal and the 95 thesis are written in Latin upon it.

We had a wonderful time touring the Luther lands and also some "tourist" towns in Bavaria, with a half-day trip to Innsbruck, Austria. David, Paul, and Mark, all brothers who also happen to be pastors, put the tour together and there were 44 others who joined us, some from their congregations and some family members.

Here is a picture of the family members who came. Gloria, a cousin, is sitting in the back right. Next to her is Mary, the oldest sibling to Mark, David and Paul. (The youngest sibling, Matt was unable to come with us). In the front on the right is Roxanne and her husband, Terry, is sitting across from her. She is another cousin. You can't see David's face, it should be right beside mine, but is hand is right there holding onto his brew. This was our last night in Germany. We all went out for supper at the Augustiner Brewery in Munich. As you can see, we enjoyed ourselves.

I'll post more pictures and stories as the days progress. Right now I'm trying to catch up on life. After arriving back in the states late on Sunday night, the 35 people who flew from our state all were without luggage. Monday morning, I left to drive 11 hours to pick up my kids from my mom's. Tuesday morning, I left mom's to drive back home. David had the unenviable job of trying to deal with the lost luggage and catching up on work. Delta promised that all of our bags would be delivered via UPS to each home between 12 and 2pm on Tuesday. Every one's were except one of our bags and two other people's. David finally drove back to the airport after his 7 pm Tuesday evening meeting and picked it up. I don't think we'll ever fly Delta again, if given a choice. The people at the airport where helpful, but the inefficiency of everyone else put a big damper on our wonderful trip.

Now I have to figure out how to sort and edit in my new Adobe Photoshop program the 200+ pictures we took. I had hoped to do that on Monday, but instead when I didn't have luggage to do the laundry, I decided to drive to Mom's to get the kids instead of waiting two days to meet her half way. Oh well, it will get done sometime. Right?