Monday, December 27, 2010

The End....or the Beginning?

A chapter in my life is closing.
As I write this I am lying in the place where I spent my first night in London (and a few weeks). Actually...same bed different place as it has been rearranged in the room.  However, that is not the point.
The point is. I am coming back to the United States tomorrow.
I am so excited I wish I could blink, snap, or travel the "Purple Panda" way (Mr. Roger's reference) and arrive faster!
So  much has happened during these past seven months and two days.
I have messed up, learned many new and old lessons, made new friends, gotten to know family, learned how to live in new countries, and the list could go on and on and on.......
However, tomorrow I am flying home.  I am going back to the familiar, the comfortable, and my family and friends.  I am thrilled!  I miss everyone! Yet, I do have moments of wondering what it will be like to know I can speak to everyone and be understood (easier in England than Germany), if I will remember how to drive a car properly, and if I will lose friendships because of changes that have happened while I have been gone.
I am praying for clear weather tomorrow so I can fly to Newark and see Chris and hopefully Marie!
I get home New Years Eve and will begin the wonderful and blissful chaos of seeing family!!!
I think I will reflect more later...I have to an extent but I do not think I am fully able until I have officially ended my travels and can take a breath!

Please pray for no delays!
Goodbye Europe! It has been great!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sick, A Good Story, and Home...

I'm still sick.  Ugh.  It is awful!  If I have to be sick I want to be sick at home so Mama can take care of me!!!

Because I am sick....I am still awake.
Another bummer because sleep this week has been rough.

Ok. There is my complaining.

It began snowing in London this evening!  Twas beautiful!!!  I have decided I would love to live in Kensington (or Chelsea? I think we drove through).  The shops are quaint and it is just a very nice area!

If you want a good, old, dramatic shortish story to read....this one, by Louisa May Alcott is enjoyable!

http://www.literature.org/authors/alcott-louisa-may/the-mysterious-key-and-what-it-opened/

Less than two weeks till NYC and the states! I had a dream I turned on my phone and had 695 texts waiting for me.  Yes. I am excited to use my phone again!!!

I am so excited to see my family, friends, school, and eat at Punjabi Dhaba! Roommate Date with Abs!  Yay! I love my roommate!!!!!!!
Prayer for fast healing would be wonderful!
I just keep feeling hot, stuffy, and just blah.

I would like to just say how much I love emails!  They are not quite so personal as letters but I love them because they are quicker!  Since so many people use FB now an email is quite the treat!  Yes, if you ever want to brighten my day....email me : )

Until the next time, I bid you adieu....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Have No Good Title

I am in Bristol visiting Grampaw.  It is my last night and then I head back to London.
I have been sick since I arrived....and I might be beginning to look like Rudolph.
I will be spending the weekend in London just being and visiting Uncle Gavin, Lisa, Ellen, and whomever else may be there!
Less than two weeks until I cross the Atlantic. Oh my word! I am so so so incredibly excited!
I feel as if I may explode sometimes with impatience!
I get to see Chris and Marie!!!!!!!!!!!
Then, two days later HOME!!!!!!!!
Yes, I cannot wait!!
But, for now, I am going to enjoy England!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Stranded By Snow...and God... in Berlin : )

I left Szczecin, Poland at 12:00 PM on Thursday.  I said goodbye to Uncle Michael, Tanya, and Mark and was off for the airport.  I arrived two hours before I could check in so I grabbed some lunch (terrible burger) and then sat and read Emma.  I got in line to check-in twenty minutes early and twenty-thirty minutes later I found out my flight was canceled.  So, I found an internet spot and rescheduled my flight.  I then proceeded to phone Uncle Gavin who was supposed to pick me up in London and Daddy to let him know what was up!  After much discussion we had a plan.  However.  A little bit later I found out all EasyJet flights had been canceled because they did not have the deicing fluid they needed in order to make the planes flyable.  So, I got in line to reschedule.  While waiting (for almost 2 hours) I met two nice Italian guys.  It was nice to have someone to talk to while waiting in line.  Then I rescheduled for the next possible flight...SATURDAY evening!  Shoot.  I had plans in London!  Well, earlier, just before I found out that all flights were canceled I had decided I was going to enjoy the delay because it was an adventure and would be a good story to tell later.  Then, BAM, I was now "stuck" for an extra two days in a city that I had said multiple times to myself that I really wanted to have a chance to see, again, for more than four hours.  So, bummer, but, a nice little present from God.  And, I mean, I couldn't change anything.

So, after finding out where they were sending us I got in line for a shuttle.  In the line I met a very nice girl (a little older than me) who was from Sydney, Australia and was on holiday in Europe.  She told me some things to see in Berlin and then we got in the shuttle.  The shuttle took us to a hotel in the Middle-of-no-where-outside-of-Berlin.  It was a very nice hotel.  So, I was excited to stay there but figured I would not get to see Berlin...ok, a relaxing day.  Well, they had given the first ninety people numbers.  Yours truly was not one of them.  So, 3 1/2 hours later I was told there were no more rooms and there was no shuttle so we had to take a cab.  Blah.  Money.  Well, I had been talking with people throughout the time and there was a group of Brits from Leeds that I had become acquainted with.  I then asked them if it would be alright if I shared a cab with them!  They said that would be fine and I was one of the first to leave the hotel.  The hotel they were taking us to was near the Potsdamer Platz!!  Hello!  As I was to find out, I was an easy 15-20 minute walk from the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, and the Jewish Holocaust Memorial (all of which I had seen but revisited).  Anyway, I got in, got in line, and about 15 minutes later I had a room for two nights ALL to myself!!!  It is such a nice room!

The next morning I woke up blazing hot because the heat was so high!  I saw no place to turn it down so I very sleepily called Reception to find out what to do.  They told me the quickest way was to open the window and then to change the thermostat ON THE TV!  So, I did both.  *Aside* The window is a prime place to commit suicide.  One easy jump and you are dead.*
Alright.  I turned on the TV and changed it!  Very cool!
Then breakfast, shower, and then one of Grampaw's friends phoned me to say his son spoke better English than he did and would it be alright if he met me later and showed me around.  So, I went out on my own for a few hours, then phoned them back to set up a time, and at 4:35 I met Konrad.  We walked around the city and then took an S Bahn and a U Bahn several times throughout the evening and I went into other parts of Berlin!  Very fun!  I learned some fun facts....and some that I didn't really care to know.  Like this.  Konrad: "Well, something that probably won't interest you...but, that building on the corner is the largest porn museum in Berlin (and maybe Ger,any?)."  Me: "Well...you are right...that doesn't really interest me...but, good to know."  Haha.  Anyway.  We got sushi that floated by us on little boats and then headed back to the hotel.  Just as I was going to say goodnight...he mentioned the Berlin Philharmonic.  Ok, well, in one of my favorite series one of the main characters played with them...so I wanted to see the building.  But, I did not realize the original building had been bombed in WWII.  I got really ticked off inside when I realized.  So, it was rebuilt in the '60's which means....1960's architecture.  Yes.  You can tell.
But, I can now rest easily knowing I have been there!  It just irritates me that they don't make it look more appealing.  The entrance looks like the entrance to a bowling alley!  Hello.  The Berlin Philharmonic should be nicer than a bowling alley!
Anyway, then we headed back and said goodnight and I attended to some business and finally went to bed exhausted!! (Because the night before I went to bed at 3:30ish and woke up at 9).

So, I am now packed, writing this, and then eating lunch!
Then, off to the airport!
I really need sleep. BUT I can sleep when I am dead.  Or, tomorrow night : ) Because I want to see Katharine who is leaving tomorrow : (

Well, auf wiedersehen!
It looks as if I am not leaving Germany!
It has been grand!
I will still write a summarization and thoughts on my whole time....but later!
And now....to make sure I am organized!
Anyway, Berlin was nice!
I suggest visiting....when it is warmer! Although, the snow and Christmas Markets make it look nice!

Basically, this whole time seems to really be God orchestrating it!  I know he has gotten me to Germany in the first place, but I really wanted to see Berlin and I got to....and EasyJet paid ; )

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Journey Continues...

As one part ends another begins.

This chapter was a short chapter.
It only lasted one week.
One week ago tonight I was in Regensburg enjoying the company of my fellow students.
We were doing last minute packing, trying to find a lost brother, and discussing the semester and what we had learned.
Tonight I am lying in a cute little room by MYSELF.  The heater is barely on (but the room is smaller).  My bags are mostly packed.  I am leaving with a few extra items.  I am hoping the snow does not cause any delays.  I have had a wonderful time and now have a more adult relationship with my Uncle in contrast with the child relationship of old.
Poland.  I really cannot say much.  It is cold, snowy, and gets dark early!
If you are planning a visit....wait for the spring, summer, and autumn.  Winter is nice but not if you want to do a lot.
I have been pushed to think about matters and situations I have not had to in the past.
And, I have grown to love my little cousin that I met for the first time a week ago tomorrow night!
He is such a sweet and darling little boy!
His kisses are wonderful!

Until the next time Poland!
*Raises a glass of gluhwein* ; )

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Agony of a Social Being...Ok, Exaggeration...Slightly

Officially one of the worst feelings is life continuing in such an exciting way without me!!!
My friends are engaging themselves to each other.
They are dating each other!
And my cousin's tummy is getting bigger with a new baby!
It is just so hard to be on the other side of the world sometimes!
I mean, I love it here!
I am even slightly loath to leave. 
But, I am still a person who greatly loves socialization and this is a trying time to my relational being!

However, after a lovely chat with the lovely Rebekah Fern Somerville...I feel better!
I miss that girl so much!
I cannot wait to see her!
We are kindred spirits. 
You know, like Anne Shirley and Diana Berry.
I don't know who is who.  I think we might both want to be Anne : )
Oh, I love her dearly!

Monday, December 6, 2010

GoGoGo!!

I am in Poland.
What is Poland like, you ask?
It is relatively flat, white because it snowed, and many of the buildings cause me to think they were here during the USSR.
I have a slight dramatically, romantic obsession with the idea of the former USSR. 
The secrecy, the isolation, the spies (yea! MacGyver!)!
And...I feel extremely north.  That may sound odd...but I just feel north.  I looked at the map and I am equal with Newfoundland.

Wow.  Europe.  I am still here.  Would I like to live here? Of course!  Maybe. 

I still have not sat down and processed the last three months.  I don't miss people very much...yet...I am still busy.  I am spending time with family I have not seen in a long time.  I am playing with my cousin Mark.  He is 19 months.

I come home in 21 days, 20 hours, 29 minutes, and 20 seconds.  Approximately.  That is around the time I will land in Newark!

Oh, and, Lauren is engaged!  Yes, I am thrilled! 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Is Ignorance Truly Bliss?

Something I have pondered the past two days is the question, "Is ignorance really bliss?"

My thoughts:
It depends.  If the situation is one that is good and knowing would be pleasant, then knowing would be "bliss."
In cases of wanting to surprise someone...well, they don't know they don't know something and it is a good something....so, they can wait.
If it is something that can cause pain, it is better to not live in a delusion.  Well, if I choose to not know something so I can keep believing what I have always believed, I am making a choice to not live in reality in that particular area.  If I choose to know I am opening myself up for potential pain.  In some cases my very foundations may be shaken.  Do I want to know?  Do I want to have to work through the pain?  Do I want to learn to deal with that and take the time to process it all?  Of course not.  However, I don't want to live in a delusion.
So, at what point is it wrong to choose to live in ignorance?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Rest of My Semester!

So, this is going to be murderously long.
I suggest a cup of tea and a hob nob.  And, possibly reading it in sections!
It was what I wrote for my journal for class.
I will be writing an overview of my time at some point in the future!
Highlights, etc!

9 October 2010
The first day of the AmBex Reformation History academic study tour was spent traveling to Dresden.  However, there was a brief stop to visit the Flossenbürg work camp.  The ride to the camp was full of autumn beauty and clear blue skies!  It was surprising to arrive at the camp and find that homes have been built right up to the property line.  The camp was very physically different than Buchenwald.  On one side it was surrounded by beautiful forests while on the other private homes encroached on its property line.
There was a building that provided a history of Flossenburg the town as well as Flossenburg the work camp.  There was a quarry in Flossenburg which was where the prisoners were sent to work…work to death.
It was at this camp that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hung.  Walking through the building where political prisoners were held (and Bonhoeffer may have been) was thought provoking.  It was interesting to walk through the rooms and imagine them being there and what it may have been like.
The fall colors were beautiful!  It was hard to take it in because just as a thought regarding and rejoicing in the beauty would come to mind a sobering realization would hit that this was a work camp.  It almost seemed disrespectful.  Yet, looking back, God created the world, the autumn leaves, eyes to see, and hearts to appreciate the beauty!

10 October 2010
Dresden is the capitol of Saxony which is a state in Germany.  It is a beautiful place and considered the Florence of Germany (this is probably due to the amount of art that is in the city).  Florence was where royalty lived and there was a great amount of wealth.  This can be seen in the buildings, the art, and the Procession of Dukes which is a mural made of porcelain that stretches the length of a street block.
There is a famous church in Dresden that has survived many tribulations.  The Church of Our Lady is a Protestant church in the center of Dresden.  It was too small for the number of people attending and was rebuilt to house more and as an act of defiance against Augustus the Strong for converting to Catholicism.  During WWII the Air Raid of Dresden occurred.  The church was hit and the lantern at the top of dome fell.  It disintegrated and the pews burned.  The church was reconstructed afterwards and now on the 13th of February every year people gather to commemorate the people who died in the air raid.  Many people now use this church as their place of gathering or worship, including:  Catholics, Protestants, and those of Eastern Religions.
When the Frauen Kirchen had been erected in 1726 Augustus the Strong decided a Catholic equivalent needed to be built.  Thus the Cathedral was built.  It is now the burial place of the Veten’s (Royal family) and Augustus the Strong’s heart.  His body was buried in Poland but his heart in the Cathedral.  It was rebuilt after being bombed in 1945. 
Dresden is known for its porcelain.  The nicest porcelain is Meissen porcelain and their symbol resembles a necklace with two almost connected X’s as pendants.  Across the street and on the following street block after the Meissen porcelain store is a mural called The Procession of Dukes.  It is entirely made of porcelain and documents different royalty.
 The Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden is in a beautiful building with lovely gardens in the courtyard.  There are multiple sections to the museum including science, math, art, armory, and porcelain.  In the art section there was a Vermeer exhibit that showed many of his famous works, including A Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window.  They created a life size model of the picture with a certain place to look so that the viewer could have the proper perspective. 
Dresden was beautiful!  A visit in the future would be a wonderful thing!  The river was lovely and the river bank was just asking someone to have a picnic on it!  The courtyard of the museum was beautiful!  I loved just observing everything!  The old architecture and manicured garden just creates old thoughts in my head!
11 October 2010
Check Point Charlie.  The point where people went to and from East and West Berlin and where many people attempted to escape from the East to the West.  There were plaques documenting successful attempts as well as the failures.  It is sad to think that people would have to hide and try to escape.  They were not free.  The East Germans were cut off from their family members in West Germany.  They were provided for but were dictated to.  They were not free.
The Berlin Wall.  A symbol of division, oppression, dictatorship, and sadness.  The Red Army liberated Berlin and destroyed over half of the bridges in the process.  Then, when dividing Germany among the French, British, Russian, and American the United States gave up a portion of their area in Germany so that they could keep a presence in Berlin and the U.S.S.R. would not have complete control.  The wall was 99 miles long with watch towers at certain intervals.  This made it practically impossible to get over.  If caught attempting to escape the guards would shoot.  The wall fell in November of 1989.
The group visited the Berlin Wall and spent some time walking around reading plaques, viewing photos, and seeing the remains of the wall.  It was a thoroughly interesting time and much was learned!  It was so strange thinking that there was a time when people could not cross.  In fact, a street was divided.  Half was free and half was not.  This street was Bergstrasse.  It was one of the first streets in Germany to have the wall built on it. 
The Reichstag is the German Parliamentary building.  The ground on which it was built (the city park area) used to be the hunting grounds for the royal family.  The building took ten years to complete and was finished in 1894.  The dome was finished in 1890 (I believe).  The inscription on the dome reads, “Of the German People.”  The people are at the center and are most important.  The building was burned in 1933 and had to be rebuilt. 
The Brandenburg Gate was an Athenian structure that was completed in 1791.  The décor was added in 1795.  Most of the embassies in Berlin are on this same street (Under the Lime Trees).  It is crowned by something called the Quadraga that Napoleon took.  It was returned from Paris to Berlin in 1814.
The Pergamon Museum houses the Pergamon alter and many other treasures that the Nazis stole from Turks while helping build a railroad.  The Pergamon alter is over 2000 years old having been built in 170 B.C.  It was built to show gratitude to the gods for their blessings.  It was a huge structure (half a structure) with many steps leading up to the alter area.  Along the wall of the exhibit room were carvings that showed gods fighting and other scenes from mythology.  One in particular was of Zeus fighting three giants and Athena fighting the son of the earth god.
The Pergamon Museum also housed the Gates of Babylon which were beautiful!  Blue and gold covered with symbolic images!
The museum was fantastic!  It would be wonderful to return someday and really walk through and take more time so see everything.  There was an Islam (I think) exhibit that was so interesting!!! 
Berlin was a fantastic city!  It was so awesome to visit this city where so much history has occurred.  It is definitely a city that requires a second and more detailed visit! 
At the end of the day we reached Wittenberg.  That evening we watched the Martin Luther movie.  At the end it hit me…I am right next to the church where he nailed the 95 Theses to the door!!! I am in Wittenberg watching a movie about Luther and Wittenberg!  I was in awe as I thought about it!
12 October 2010
Wittenberg.  The city where Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Castle Church doors.  Contrary to the belief of many, this was not an act of rebellion.  The church door was the community bulletin board.  When people wanted to let the town know something they would post it on the doors.  Luther posted the Theses to probe people into a debate. 
The Stadtkirchengemeinde (The City Church) was where Luther preached many of his sermons.  In his lifetime he preached over 2,000 sermons.  The Castle Church is where the nailed the 95 Theses.  It is on the outskirts of town where as the City Church is in the center of town.  He preached at both churches but he is buried in the Castle Church. 
Luther’s house was formerly an Augustinian monastery.  It was given to him by Frederick the Wise.  Only part of the monastery was actually used by the Luther family as their place of residence.  Luther’s family owned the most livestock in the town because of the great number of guests and students that they housed.  His wife Katharine had a great responsibility caring for their family, students, and guests as well as taking care of most of the family accounts. 
From 1513 to 1518 Martin Luther lectured on four complete books of the Bible.  This showed his progression of interpreting and understanding the Bible.  The books included Romans which showed him salvation through faith (his tower experience).  In 1515 he became the district vicar of eleven monasteries in Dresden, Magdeburg, Wittenberg, and Erfurt.
The Castle Church doors on which Luther posted his 95 Theses were burned by the French in the Seven Years War.  Both Luther and Frederick the Wise were buried in the church.  The details of the church were very beautiful, especially the stain glass windows.  The detail was not overwhelming but very beautiful to look at.
Wittenberg was incredible!  As far as small towns go it is not one of the more interesting (after walking around a few times it becomes boring) BUT the best part was having the ability to walk outside and read about the Reformation right next to the Church where it all began!  How many students have that opportunity?  Not many!  Also, the view from the top of the Castle Church tower is beautiful!  It was very special to sing A Mighty Fortress from the top of the tower!
13 October 2010
Erfurt has been considered the Rome of Germany.  It was an intellectual center at its university in 1392.  According to Luther, whoever wanted to study needed to study in Erfurt.  In the cathedral in Erfurt Luther held his first lecture.
The Augustinian Monastery in Erfurt was beautiful!  Honestly, the quiet peaceful atmosphere was very appealing (the same can be said for the convent in Salzburg).  The beauty of fall with the lovely architecture of the buildings was wonderful!  The history behind the monastery was very interesting as well.  In 1656 the last Augustinian monk died which ended the activities of the Augustinians in that monastery.  Since 1996 Lutheran nuns of the Benedict order have lived in the monastery.  The main order is in Wurzburg.
It was such an interesting tour to walk through and be shown where they ate their meals, where they had chapel, where they studied in their cells (especially Luther’s).  Although the building burned and was rebuilt so Luther’s room is not the actual place he studied but a rebuilt room. 
There were several other people in the group.  One of them was a German Lutheran pastor.  He thought it was interesting that everyone was taking such furious notes.  He wondered if we were going into the ministry.

14 October 2010
Luther began school at age four and a half and continued without pause for nine years.  He was not allowed to speak German as that was not the language of the scholars.  He continued his education in 1497 by attending a Latin school in Eisenach.  From there he went to Erfurt.  A little over twenty years later Luther preached at Georgenkirche in Eisenach.  Bach was also baptized at this church. 
Some background to the history of the Wartburg Castle was Elizabeth married King Ludwig IV in the thirteenth century.  She built a hospital at the bottom of the mountain for the townspeople.  Her husband died shortly after they were married.  She then devoted herself to working as a nurse and helping the poor.  Later she moved to Marburg.
The castle was also where Luther lived for 10 months.  It is a beautiful and old castle that was added on to during different periods of time.  It was an overcast day and the fog was very thick on top of the mountain.  However, toward the end of our tour the sun had come out and the view from the castle was incredible!  It was similar to the mountains in Virginia.  There was one particular room that would be perfect for a wedding ceremony or reception!
Bach’s house was a very beautiful experience!  There was a demonstration of different instruments from different time periods. Also, throughout the house there were displays of violins, a finger harmonica, and many other interesting items.  However, the two most wonderful aspects of the Bach Haus were the garden and the music room.  The garden was incredibly beautiful!  The flowers were in bloom and there was a very quaint gazebo in the back of the garden that would have been a perfectly lovely place to sit and read or do work!  The music room was a room full of clear bubble chairs hanging from the ceiling by a chain.  Attached to each hanging chair was a pair of large headphones.  From each set of headphones was playing some musical piece by Bach.  It was amazingly beautiful!  The view from the window was lovely and the music was so relaxing!  It would have been so lovely to have just sat there and listened for a much longer time!
**A few personal observations and feelings from the Bach Haus.
On 11 March 1828 Bach’s St. Matthew was performed for the first time since Bach’s death.  March 11 is my mother’s birthday.
Bach went to school in Luneburg.  Luneburg is where my Grandmother grew up.
Below is something I wrote as I was listening to Bach in a clear bubble chair while looking out the window at the mountain:
“How lovely it is to be sitting in a clear swinging chair while listening to Bach and gazing out a window into the hills that are tinged with fall colors of yellow, red, green, and orange.  I see two steeples peeking through the window.  I feel almost as if I am in another time.  Harpsichord playing in my ear with strings and horns.  Tis so lovely. 
Eisenach is a lovely, quaint, and old place.  The garden behind Bach’s house is trés bon.
This all makes me want to watch Sense and Sensibility.”
15 October 2010
The Gutenberg Museum was very interesting!  There were many different printing presses on display that allowed the viewer to observe the progression that was made over the years.  The ability to print is mass amounts provided a need for greater literacy among the people.  The need for literacy created a need for education.  The printing press did many things for the world.  In the immediate world at the time of its invention it created a way to print the Bible so that the common man could read for himself the word of God.  In the future it created an inexpensive way to make many copies of writings so that people everywhere could read them!
16 October 2010 (I personalized this entry because this day was very special in a personal/family way)
Spending time in Heidelberg was AMAZING!  This was the city that was at the top of my list the entire week!  My family lived there for several years so I had heard many things about it and I wanted to experience it myself.  We walked downtown and saw the University of Heidelberg as well as the student prison with all of its decoration.  It turns out it became an honorable feat to say that one had spent some time in it.  Next we walked along the Hauptstrasse and walked along looking in shop windows before reaching the church.  The church was alright but I do not remember anything that jumped out. 
Next we decided it would be a fun idea to walk to the castle and see the view.  In the mean time it had begun to rain so we were all walking around with our wonderfully cute umbrellas.  As we made our way up the steep hill (very steep) one of our group members came down to tell us that there was a fee but the view was a nice one.  We decided to keep going.  The view was definitely worth it!  From the top we could see the entire city, the stone bridge, and the beautiful mountain sides!!!  It was incredibly beautiful!  Then, to our great surprise, Mr. Jacobs came out and handed us tickets of entry to the castle.  So, after taking some photos and hearing a brief history of the castle we went inside! 
The castle was beautiful!  It is definitely one of my favorites!  The architecture and walled city feel was so lovely!  We went into the wine cellar and were able to climb on top of the wine vat!  It turns out there is enough room for 25 people to dance on top of it, if they were to so choose.   We all walked around some more, I went inside the pharmacy museum for a brief time, and then we made our plans for the evening!  All in all it was a wonderful day!  However, my camera did not have batteries so I was unable to take my own photos.  I did not think I would be returning.  Yet, to my surprise, the following weekend I returned to Heidelberg for the day with some Swiss acquaintances and was able to show them around AND take pictures!!!
Heidelberg is a very beautiful city!  It is surrounded with lovely mountains, vineyards, rivers, etc.  The buildings are beautiful and the castle is amazing!  Although, the Salzburg Fortress very possibly topped the Heidelberg Castle!
Semester Break: October 17-24
Semester Break was spent in Mosbach, Germany.  Mosbach is a small town about an hour by train from Heidelberg.  The plan was to arrive and help at the Operation Mobilisation hostel for the week!  It was a grand time!  It was new to learn how to clean the “German way” and to be around Germans so much of the time!  I learned some words and was around people from many different countries!
Cleaning toilets was the specialty of the week.  Getting to know people and making friends was fantastic.  I was able to meet and get to know Germans, a Kazak girl, a Mexican guy, some Swiss people, a lady from Argentine (I think), a Welsh man, and even a couple of Americans.  It was such an awesome time! 
We talked about cultural things, what they do with OM, how long they are with them, and what it is like being on the team.  It was definitely something that has made me wonder if it is something that I would like to do someday.  I met quite a few people who have been on the ships.  OM has a ship ministry and they travel to many countries a year, by invitation, to tell people about Jesus.  My dad was on the very first ship, the Logos, and I have been thinking for a long time about doing the same thing.  It was nice to be able to talk with people who have recently been on the ships about what it is like, what they do, etc. 
On Saturday a group of Swiss and I went back to Heidelberg!  It was so much fun!  I had my camera and I was able to show them around a little bit.  Then we split off and I was able to just wander around the town exploring, shopping and enjoying. 
The hardest item for me to pass by is old books.  Being in Germany has helped since the books are usually in German so I can’t read them.  However, I happened to pass by this very cute little book shop that had a curling staircase in the back corner and I decided I wanted to go in.  Oh, had I been able to read German I have a feeling I would have walked away with an arm full…except I have to get them back to the States.  Anyway, I found one book in English by Catherine Marshal (the author of A Man Called Peter and the Christy book).  So, that was my one book purchase.  No more….until maybe England!
Over all the day was fantastic!  We had a great time and I learned how to say shirt in two different Swiss German ways (I do not remember anymore).  Good memories were made that week!  It was just so nice to be around people who love Jesus!  It was nice to be able to experience time with the organization that influence both of my parents so very much.  In fact, had God not used that organization I would probably not be alive.  My parents met while working with OM.  So, it was nice to be there on top of just spending time with new people!
14 November 2010
Salzburg was amazing!  Our hostel was a quaint building that was seated upon the top of a hill with a beautiful view of Salzburg!  Salzburg is a lovely city!  It is not terrible large but is large enough!  To the right of the hostel was the Salzburg Fortress that was AMAZING!!!  It was decided to go into the city, explore, and then go to dinner.  After wandering around and eating an awful chicken döner several people went exploring.  It was great fun to walk around the city and see the sights.  Suddenly we stumbled upon a set of stairs.  Up, up, up!  We kept walking!  It was only the thought of what might be at the top (and Kacey) that got us to the top!  We walked around and saw the convent (we did not know it was the convent at the time) and then decided to keep walking.  We reached the split in the road that would either take us down or to the fortress.  At the urging of Hannah E. we began the ascent to the fortress.  The road was so steep at times I wondered if I would make it to the top.  We all did.  Some slower than others.  The view was absolutely spectacular!  The fortress is now one of my favorites!  It is as if there is a small city within the confines of the walls!  My goal was to reach the top of the turret.  However, I was unable to get through the locked doors.  Needless to say, at the end of the day I had been filled with wonderful and romantic views of Salzburg and exploration of a dark fortress!!!
15 November 2010
Salzburg.  The Sound of Music, Apple Strudel, Mozart, and much more!  It was a day full of dreams becoming reality!
The morning was spent walking through the Alps of Bavaria singing “The Hills are Alive!”  How many people dream of doing that?  And who got to?  Exactly!  It was incredible!  It was a day that will be remembered forever!  Wearing a dirndl in the Alps singing and to all the famous locations!  It was as if it was another time period (which I love!)!
I have never seen mountains in person that are like the Alps!  They are so tall and magnificent!  The ride up in the background contrasted against beautiful blue sky with snow capping them!  The grass was covered with dew and manure of some kind…not very pleasant but dealt with!  The view was spectacular!  The company was grand!  The songs were invigorating!
For The Sound of Music Tour we visited the lake where Marie and the children fall in!  It was so amazing to be STANDING right there!  Really, the view was so lovely!  Then everyone walked around the lake and took pictures from a distance!  The house reflecting on the water was beautiful!  Next was a visit to where the gazebo had since been moved at the request of Harvard who owns the property where it used to be (in the garden of the lake house).  It was moved to a park.  As you walk through the opening in the wall and look to the right, there it is.  We took pictures, sang “I am Sixteen,” and Steve and I were called upon for a picture that was very awkward!  We created quite a spectacle and people stopped to watch, record, and maybe even snap a picture!  Next on the list to places to stop was the home that was used as the outside of the house, front and back!  In order to get to the walk outside where “I Have Confidence” was sung we had to walk by a field filled with beautiful yellow flowers!!!  Then….we were there.  On the path that Maria (Julie Andrews) walked on to reach the gate (that we touched) before she ran singing up to the porch to ring the doorbell!  The only disappointment was that the house was covered in scaffolding!  However, songs were sung and great fun was had by all!  Lastly we visited the garden and took pictures,  sang the songs (even some random tourist chimed in), ran singing through the arbor, walked around the fountain, and each took a role on the stairs (I got to be Maria : ) )!  It was grand!  Then, right before we left Monday morning we climbed to the convent where the gate scene and some others were filmed!  It was so beautiful and peaceful there….I almost wanted to become a nun….for a week : )
All in all the time in Salzburg was a positively enjoyable experience!  I would love to return someday! 
16 November 2010
Italia!  Venice!  Words that bring romantic thoughts to mind.  Not just romantic in the love idea but romantic in the adventure, story, and beauty aspect as well! 
Alas, the day dawned dripping wet that was chosen to go to Venice.  It definitely put a damper on the time.  It was an incredibly beautiful city!  Canals and bridges were everywhere!  However, between the rain, taking photos, and trying to keep up memories are not as clear as they should be and a good bit of the day is muddled with wetness.  However, when time is taken more can be remembered from the day and it is seen that it really was not all that awful (except in the moment of wetness and cold!  That was not fun!).
After being lost for almost an hour San Marco’s Plaza was reached.  There was a line for the Doge’s Palace so while tickets were bought students scattered and looked around a bit.  Then, with tickets in hand we went in.  As the history of where we were was vague as was what the building was it was difficult to really see the relevance of why we were spending all this time walking around.  Someday, if I get the chance, it might require another visit. 
Following the Doge’s Palace people scattered to find lunch and go shopping.  All the shops seemed to have the same thing!  Some people will haggle…and some will not!  The change purses were beautiful! 
Next was a visit to San Marcos (The church).  It was a very large church with murals everywhere showing Biblical scenes!  It was very dark inside and there were signs around asking people to please be silent.  The darkness was due to the fact that they only turn on the lights at select times throughout the day and it was not one of those times when we were in there.  There are not many windows.  Thus, it was dark.  There were a few things that they charged people to see.  One of these things was to see where St. Peter (?) was buried.  Whether or not it was actually his bones….we will never know.
When departure was taken from the church and everyone walked outside the sun had come out!  It was beautiful!  Sunshine makes such a huge difference!  San Marco’s Church looked lovely, the Grand Canal was incredible, and the entire plaza just had an entirely new look!  We were able to walk along the Grand Canal and smile and wave to the people riding by in the gondolas!
Then, the groups split up.  Some went shopping while others went sightseeing.  Since Venice is known for their carnival masks it was so much fun to try them on!  There was quite a cariety!  Some were small and cheap while others were very large and dramatic (and expensive)!  We then went to dinner and had a fun relaxing time.  However, that was not so easily found!  Eventually it was and we crashed at our hotel!
17 November 2010
Tuscany is beautiful!  It was so incredibly beautiful to drive through Tuscany and just soak in its beauty!  When the group arrived at the hostel just outside of Florence it was an “awing” few moments to walk through the courtyard to the hostel.  It was even more amazing when upon arrival in the room the view was sighted from our window.  Breathtaking.  Positively breathtaking!  It wanted an entire day to just be dedicated to wandering the hills, relaxing in the garden while reading a book, and just resting!
That night was spent in Florence being showing around to some main points of importance.  St. John’s Baptistry, the Duomo, San Marco’s Piazza, Palatzo Vaceo, and Dante’s house.  The Baptistry was where we spent some time viewing and talking about the paintings inside.  The Last Judgement scene that showed some dead rising to Heaven and others to Hell while the doors showed Biblical Stories.
The Duomo is the main church in the square.  It is part of the baptistery grouping.  As far as churches go, it was not hugely impressive, however, the dome itself was lovely, and the story behind it is very great!  It showed a step of progression artistically and architecturally.
Dante was from Florence.  That was a fun fact from the first night.  Having read the Divine Comedey (in part) it was very neat to be able to see the house where such a great writer lived!
The Palatzo Vaceo was a very interesting plaza area.  There was a government building as well as an Greek looking building that was full of replica statues.  There was also a replica of Michelangelo’s David outside the government building.  After visiting the palatzo the main bridge was next on our list.  It was, indeed, a beautiful bridge that was well lit!  It was full of shops, especially jewelry shops!
18 November 2010
Art Overload.  If this is something that has never been experienced, let me give an explanation.  When a person spends many hours in a museum seeing countless works of art, many of which look very similar, there comes a time when a saturation point is reached.  We reached that.
However, the Uffizi was very awesome!  It was not my favorite time period of art but much was learned!  Some of the art was very beautiful and the sculptures were very nice!  As everyone was wondering the rooms and halls a thought struck me.  I was in Italy learning about Art first hand!  It was very neat!
The Academia was visited after eating some lunch, walking for ages in the rain to a Franciscan church/monastery.  The church was very beautiful and many many famous people have been buried there, including, Marconi, Michelangelo, and Da Vinci.  The Academia was the place that held the most excitement because it meant the David, Michelangelo’s David, was going to be seen!  I was not covered with chills as I might have expected to be as I walked toward the great statue, but, once I was able to stop and observe the magnificence of the renowned statue I realized what an amazing sculpture it is!  The detail that Michelangelo put into it is amazing!  He carved the vains in that run in the crook of the arm.  He put in the sternum bone.  It is just an incredible piece of art!
Florence was a nice city.  Spread out but not nearly so much as Venice!  It seemed very commercialized.  Perhaps it was where we were during the day.  It would be wonderful to be able to go back and visit different areas and see more of the culture of the people.  Also, it would be very nice to go back someday and revisit the museums, especially the Academia.  Not much was seen since everyone was so tired.  Everyone wanted to see the David (of course) and after that we left!
  The night was ended with walking around in the pouring rain, walking through a market, and eating a scrumptious dinner at Pizzaria Mama Mia Restaurante!  It was delicious!!!  The ambiance was lovely!  Classy music played in the background as we all chatted and laughed!
19 November 2010
Pisa.  The Leaning Tower of Pisa.  A statue that children (at least American children) learn about in school from a very young age.  Would it be famous if it was not leaning?  And, only the tower is spoken about.  I did not know until just before our trip that there was a baptistery and church in the same cluster.  The tower leaned within thirty years of being built.  It was built with Romanesque arches, is 200 feet tall, and was made from marble.  The baptistery is the largest in Italy.  It was built in 1152 and is 120 feet tall.  It was begun in the Romanesque style but was finished with a Gothic top.
The tower was beautiful!  The Baptistry was also beautiful but we did not go inside!  We did visit the church.  It was an 11th century building that was built with four tiers of Romanesque arches.  There were a few gargoyles which served two purposes.  The first purpose was to show the evils of the outside world but the church offered shelter from those evils.  The second purpose was a draining system.
The transept of the church was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, built during that time period.  The tomb of Henry VII of the Holy Roman Empire was inside.  The lectern was probably the item of greatest interest, at least for the group, that was inside the duomo.  It was extremely detailed!  It resembled a gazebo and the top was where the priest would stand to speak.  The inside center pillar was the three graces standing with their backs turned into each other.  Many of the outer pillars were people carved into the pillar.  One person was Hercules.  There were carved around the top very detailed Biblical scenes.
The plaza area surrounding the tower, church, and baptistery was very beautiful and picturesque!  The grass is said to be the nicest in Italy.  There was a delicious little deli-like restaurant we found.  The owner was very nice and allowed us to make our own panini’s.  It was scrumptiously delicious!
20 November 2010
Our next stop was Cinque Terre.  Actually, we stopped in Levanto.  The end of our drive was by far the most beautiful part of that day’s travel.  As we began the descent to Levanto the road became very curvy.  There were many quaint clusters of houses along the mountain!  Then, there it was.  The Mediterranean Sea!  I have always wanted to see it!  It was so beautiful!  The hostel was closed so we had to waste some time.  What better way to waste time than to go to the beach! So, off everyone went!  We walked down to the water!  I walked in!  Then, we walked out on this walk way that jutted out in between these rocks!  There were great rocks at the end and the water would crash against them sending a great spray!  It was incredible, especially with the sun gleaming through!!!
We went back to the hostel, checked in, and decided what we wanted to do for dinner.  It was a fun and relaxing evening!  Well, relaxing might be a stretch.  We played an extremely fun game called Signs!  So much laughter and fun!
The next morning was a restful sleep in morning. We lay around for a while and finally headed out for the five towns of Cinque Terre a little after lunch.  The walk to the train station was very quaint and pretty.  We bought our tickets, waited a while, and then took a five minute train ride to the next town.  The group did not actually make it into the town because the view was so amazing along the sea.  Most of the group ended up climbing a huge rock that was on the edge of the sea!  It was so beautiful with the sin setting in the background.  Well, not setting but definitely lowering.  Narnia kept coming to mind.  Especially the scene in the BBC version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when Reapacheep gets in his little boat and sails away in the sweet waters that are covered with water lilies.
The next town was soooo sweet! It was just a tiny little town that had some shops, boats, cats, and a lovely view!  It began to drizzle a little but not badly.  One cat in particular was very cuddly and cute!
The third town required quite the hike to make it to the top.  Along the way we saw gardens, cactuses, and incredible sea views!  We made it to the top and wondered what to do.  So, we climbed to a lookout point that was amazing!  We were able to see the next town that we would go to, the one where we would eat dinner.  It was such a wonderful and beautiful experience!  The best part was I was not alone.  I was able to share the beauty with friends!
Dinner was a wonderful time!  We ended up eating a different restaurant but we met an American couple from California who are living in Italy.  They live there for a year then move back and I believe this was their second time.  Once they have down it three or four times (I think) they will apply for a four year visa!  It was very interesting!  The restaurant was their favorite!  Everyone enjoyed the last evening in Italy together!  It was restful and great fun!
21 November 2010
The drive back to Germany was long and beautiful!  Driving through snow covered Alps should be something that everyone does in their lifetime!  It was incredible!  Reading for Art History was definitely difficult!
It was a good ending to the trip.  Everyone was happy to be home and to get back to a normal schedule.  It was an incredible trip!  A trip that has been awaited for many months (and going to Italy has been waited for my whole life)!!!
The damper was the rain….but it was an amazing experience!
Personal End of Semester Reflections
This time in Germany has been one of great learning!  Learning has been achieved academically, spiritually, personally, relationally, and culturally.  It has been the best semester of college.  There were things I would change but on the whole there was nothing that was detrimental to being able to fully enjoy the semester.
The classes were in a genre that I have not really studied before.  I was stretched, grown, and probed to think and question things I had not before.  I have decided I am not a Calvinist, I am not a feminist, I need to acquire a softer response to people, I need to remember to not judge people by what they do when I judge myself by my intentions, irritations are learned all the more when living with many people all the time, and friendships are formed with people that I may not have been friends with otherwise.
I have been semi-immersed in German culture.  I still do not speak the language.  However, I know a few more words than when I began and I have a desire to learn more!  I have enjoyed meeting people and seeing the stereotype of Germans change.  Yes, it is true, Germans can seem cold or unfriendly, but I have met so many who are so kind!  If you try smiling at them as you pass by some will smile back, other will not return the gesture, and some will do a double take as if to say, “Someone smiled?”  One man I passed by did that to me!
In a country where so many terrible things have occurred in less time than the past 100 years it is really wonderful to see where they have come.  They have one of the strongest, if not the strongest economy in the European Union, they have an established democracy, they produce some of the best cars in the world, they have an excellent (and rigorous) education system, and they care about what they do.  This is not meant to glorify Germany because for each thing I have mentioned I am sure there is an issue somewhere in the networking, however, Germany has done very well, especially considering what they were dealing with sixty years ago, and even 20 years ago…a newly unified country!
As the semester is closing it is hard to know what emotions are being felt.  There is a sadness that has crept in some but not greatly, yet.  There is anticipation of going home in a month.  There is a reluctance to leave. The bottom line is I have learned so much from these three months in Germany!  Now, I must be responsible and follow through with the things I have decided I need to do when I get home in regards to doctrinal beliefs and personal changes in my interaction with other people.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Snow!!!

Dear World,

It is SNOWING in GERMANY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Let me tell you...gorgeous!!!!
I will have pictures to show later!

I leave Germany in 3 days and some odd hours...10 maybe?
I will go to Poland!  Should be a great time!
Then England!
Then HOME!!!
Well, first to see Chris and Marie....CANNOT WAIT!!!
I love them so much!
Then VA!  Rest, family, yummy goodies, and appointments!  I cannot escape those : )
Anyway, I am SLEEPY!
Bedtime!
Good Snowy Night!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Heart Sigh

I have just finished writing a biography on Elisabeth Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary!
I will edit it tomorrow.
It feels good to have it done!

Tomorrow three Greek travelers and one Parisian traveler will arrive and we will partake of SALMON!!!
Ok, I have been craving salmon for over a month!!!
It is so delicious!!
Also, Indian Food!
I want one of my first meals back in SC to be at Punjabi Dhaba!!

Speaking of SC.  I tremendously miss my CIU friends!  Seriously.  I just want to be at CIU and sit and talk with some people!

I am so ecstatically excited about Italy!
The emotions that well up inside of me sometimes want to come out in the form of tears but they get stopped and just well up inside of my heart and cause me to sigh deeply!

Love to you all!

Monday, November 8, 2010

God's Surprise...a Bicycling Trip in the Country!!!!

This should have been published over a month ago!!!!


My Dear Friends,

Today I read an acquaintance's blog and was reminded that God surprises us and His surprises are great!
So, I ran some errands, ate gelato while sitting on a bench along the river, tweeted at some birdies, and went for a short bicycle ride.  I was going to cross the road and head back to my lovely jugendherberge but it was not a safe place to cross.  So, I decided to keep bicycling.  I think I may have even said, "Ok God, I will keep going."  Anyway, I kept going and going and went by all the annoying commercial stuff and began seeing fall leaves and I was slowly leaving Regensburg.  Then, I came around a corner and caught a glimpse of GREEN FIELD!!!  Then, I came onto a path.  Oh it was LOVELY!  Then, I came to a path that had a sign next to it.  It was round with a red circle.  Then, along the road I saw the same sign but it had a bicycle in it.  A car went into the path marked with the car circle so I thought there was a bike lane on the road.  Three feet in and I turned around!  I called Mr. Orr and those road signs actually mean that whatever is in the center of the circle is prohibited.
Anyway, the next part of the ride was filled with beautiful, rolling, green hills!!! Oh, and the trees were turning orange and yellow!  It was a sight to behold!
The scenery was gorgeous and I ended up bicycling a loop that brought me to a different part of Regensburg that is very near our hostel!
All in all, about a 12km loop!  I love it! (I think 12km....although...that seemed a bit much and not that much time).

Hannah, Hannah, and Aaron are back = )

Musings

I have not blogged in a while.  I just don't take the time.  Yet another area in which I need to discipline myself.
I realized over the summer how desperately I needed to become discipline.  I had become lazy, I did not care about things with much passion (if any), and I felt as if I did not have a purpose.  It is not fun to feel that way.

I needed to make some changes.  Saying I would do this meant nothing because I have always said, "I will do better next time..."  and next time would come around and nothing would have changed.
I began asking God to really help me this semester!  I had to do well!  I knew I could, I just had to apply myself and be disciplined.  Well, this semester has been the most beneficial semester of college, yet.  The classes have been wonderful!  I have learned many many new things and have been stretched.  While not necessarily the most rigorous courses I have learned much.  I have learned to get stuff done.  Yes, I have still procrastinated but I have accomplished so much more! 

I was talking with Mama today about the path I will be taking when I arrive back at CIU.  I have been contemplating teaching.  Do I really want to be a teacher?  The thought of teaching rather terrifies me much of the time!  I am responsible for giving these children knowledge.  Yikes.  That is scary.  I then had to question, well, if I switch majors....what will I switch to?  So, while I pondered these things, thought about praying about it, did pray some, and thought some more, God had another twist for me. 

I wanted to register for classes.  I couldn't.  I still can't.  I am waiting to hear back from my advisor again.  However, I now know that I have the option to postpone my education classes until I am ready to begin working on my Masters which gives me two semesters to fill with the remaining classes I need!  This will give me the opportunity to take classes I wanted to take but did not have time!  It means I can become educated in thinking analytically!  Poor Aaron has a tough time talking with me in a debatable fashion because the way we think is SO opposite!  This is not to say I want to completely change how I think....because I like my perspective on things....but it will help me to think in such a way as to see outside the box, around the question, see the reasoning, and not make statements that I wish I could eat as soon as I have said them.

I don't know how next semester will look.  I don't know if I will get to do this.  I really want to!  It is scary.  I have never taken a Gentry class.  I don't know how to write a philosophical paper.  I don't know how to argue philosophically.  But, isn't that what class is for?  To learn.

Anyway, this has been what I have been trying to figure out today.
That, and what December is going to look like!
And then....I get to go home!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ponderings

This week has been a huge blessing!  I have cleaned many toilets, folded many pieces of toilet paper into a point to show it is clean, I have listened to mostly German, I have learned some German, I have made new acquaintances, I have experienced a week of OM.

For those of you who do not know OM it is Operation Mobilisation which is a mission organization founded by George Verwer.  They have ministries in many countries as well as a ship ministry.  The current ship is the Logos Hope!  Daddy was on the original ship, the Logos.  Last Sunday when I arrived I walked up to the OM Deutschland doors and the building next door was the Ships Office!  How awesome!  What a God plan!  Two weeks ago I had no idea what I would be doing...ok maybe two and a half weeks.  I knew God did.  It has been awesome!  OM has always been a part of my life, indirectly.  Now, I have been able to participate!

All of that to say....I am not gung ho about returning to Regensburg tomorrow.  I know once I arrive it will be nice but it is the "camp high" feeling and then the sinking feeling in the stomach when the time comes to leave.  I already have that.  However, I have hopes to see these people again....on earth!  Maybe even on the Ship!

We went to Heidelberg today which was awesome!  Last week I had no idea I would be returning!  I was able to buy batteries and take pictures!

God is so good!

And....I need to read some more theological stuff.
I am really growing this semester and being stretched in academic ways I have not been!  It is awesome...and overwhelming....and a little scary sometimes!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Reformation Whirlwind!

Hey Everyone,

This is going to be brief with a longer one to follow.

I just finished my second class, Reformation History and am now in Mosbach!  This past week has been crazy!  I have been to:
Flossenburg (Work Camp)
Dresden
Berlin
Wittenberg
Erfurt
Eisenach
Mainz
Worms
Heidelberg

Ok, I think I covered everything!  It has been amazing, especially with all the fall colors!  I love them!  Fall is such a romantic season!

Yesterday we explored Heidelberg which I was SO excited about since that is where my cousins lived!  Then we went to Hard Rock Cafe....which I just checked....and it does not appear to be the real deal.
Anyway, we had a good time out, just the girls! 
I am listening to Wuthering Heights in German. Ok, not really watching, clearly, I am catching up on my life and telling my parents where I am!
Wittenberg was amazing.  I read about the Reformation on a bench next to the church where Luther posted the 95 Theses!  Yes, way cool!

Also, if anyone wants tours of anywhere in Europe, please contact "The Ambex Fall 2010 Tour Guides: The Real Deal with Aaron, Phil, and Partners."  We do a splendid job!

Auf Wiedersehen.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Baby Cousin : )

I am going to be a cousin again : )
Elizabeth and Michael are expecting baby #2, or, as she will now be called, Amelie Alexis McLain!!!!!!

See her feet and her arms?  And her little nose and eyes and ears are developing!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What a Whirlwind!

The past week has flown by!  Last week was a reading week that I spent in Regensburg!  I explored, bicycled in the country (which was BEAUTIFUL and sent joy to the core of my being!), relaxed, watched movies, and on Sunday...went to Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest was not at all what I expected.  It was a carnival...with expensive rides.  I rode the Ferris Wheel.  It was 6 Euros!  Well, anyway, it was great!  I missed the train but was able to do some reading : )
This week began Reformation History.  It is an excellent course!  I love it!
I have been having problems with my eye.  Yesterday I went to the eye doctor.  That was an experience.  The doctor would say something to me, Kelley would translate, I would reply, Kelley would translate.  Repeat a lot.  Waiting for the verdict was so difficult!!!  Anyway, it turns out I have 30% vision in one eye and 100% vision in the other.  The vision in my left eye...or lack of...is a result of a virus I had in it over the summer and it caused scarring. I have gel drops to help!
This Saturday we leave for our Reformation Tour!  Which includes HEIDELBERG!
And, yesterday, I was given basic conversational lessons in German, Italian, and Turkish : )
This is my life up to date....mostly.
Well, I love and miss everyone dearly!
I am looking forward to returning to the USA....when I am done here!
Much love to you all!

Auf Wiedersehen!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wet Rain

Today was just wonderful....minus missing breakfast (my favorite meal).
It was raining so after lunch and watching a movie I decided to go for a walk and explore Regensburg!  Doning my wellies, pea coat, and satchel purse I was on my way.  Oh it was fun!  I found some cute shops and did not get Gelato : ) I kind of wanted to get some hot chocolate but decided not to stop today.  Maybe another day!

I met this Korean man who is staying in the Jugendherberge.  He is an Opera singer and is a guest singer in a Richard Wagner opera at the Regensburg Theatre!  It is sometimes a challenge communicating but it has been helping his English.  Oy, if I could only speak German!

Tomorrow Hannah, Hannah, and Aaron return! 

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Jungle Trek...through Stinging Nettles

I am left to my own devices until Wednesday when three of my fellow students return.
Today I thought it would be great fun if I went for a bicycle ride along the river.  Sounds lovely, right?
Then I thought, oh, it is only 12km or so to Walhalla.  Why not try and make it there?
I packed my backpack, pumped the front bicycle tire, and began to ride.  Shoot.  The seat was too low.  Ok, finally able to fix that.  Off we go.  Stop.  The seat is massively uncomfortable.  Ok, fixed.  Here I go.  What an adventure!  See the beautiful river!  Whoa.  Wait!  What is this?!  A teensy trail to ride on.  Oh, now I have to off-road with a BIKE!  Ok, keep going.  Ooo, ow, pricklies.  Goodness, this is going to be an intense ride.  Wait, wait, what is that?!  Oh blast!  It's the end of the island!!!
Ok, brilliant me forgot I am on an island.  So much for Walhalla.  Time to back track.
I did feel the water.  Not too cold.

Ok, back on the main road...finally.  Now, down this set of stairs, up these stairs, onto a smooth path!  Whoa, this is going to be nice!!!  *Ladee-dee LaLa* Ok, turn here, keep going.  Wait, where is the path?!  Ok, here goes again.  Keep pushing through tall grass, past trees, avoiding sticks, THROUGH stinging nettles.  Lots of stinging nettles.  Shoot.  That is a rock.  Ok, over that.  I cannot ride through here.  Ok, off the bike.  I will just push it through.  Oh No!!! Are you kidding me?!  A marsh?!  Ok, maybe not.  Careful now.  Yes.  A marsh.  Ok, turn back.  Push the bike.  Finally biking again.  Make it out of the jungle (aka forest along the river).  Peddle peddle.  I just want to find a pretty place for my picnic.  Well, I could head back.  Ohhh I will see where this nice smooth path leads.  Ahhhh pretty grass along the river.
Lovely. 
The End

(At the end, through a series of turns and seeing new parts of Regensburg, I made it back).
Now, I am still all tingly.  Darn nettles.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My First Three Weeks in Germany!

Dear Everyone,
I have not updated in about three weeks...so sorry!  However, this means I have SO much to tell.  Rather than rewriting it all I am just going to copy and paste what I wrote for my academic journal.  It is not in first person, but tells what we have done and it has pictures!  So, I hope you will read it and enjoy!  It is very long....but...I hope you will read it anyway!

Also, I do apologize for the way some of the pictures are.  They did not want to cooperate!
Enjoy!

Sincerely,
Kirsten

4 September 2010
Germany.  The land that is at the geographical center of Europe and in the past century has dealt with two world wars, depression, division, reunification, European Union, and currency change (list idea courtesy of Kelley Orr).
A brand new country to explore and learn.  The wheels of the airplane touched the ground and a new adventure had begun.  As the people walk off and make their way to the shuttle it is clear from the language of the signs that they are now in Germany.  Customs was an easy walk through.  Once luggage had been collected the group met up.  Exploration began with downtown Munich.  The park was lovely with an interesting attraction most parks do not offer.  River surfing.  Three men with their surf boards would jump on the white water as it came under the bridge and would surf until they lost their balance.  While walking through the park the trees just exuded beauty!  It was incredible to think…this is Germany!!! 
Downtown Munich was extremely busy due to it being a long Saturday.  One Saturday a month the stores stay open all day instead of closing in the early afternoon.  There was no parking so while driving around a small area of the city was able to be observed.  Mainly the nicer shopping area.  Once a parking spot was found the centre of the city called.  There were painted people posing as statues, street bands playing, and vendors selling their wares.  The buildings were beautiful and the flowers decorating them brought the feeling of a different period in time.
The hofbrauhaus was the stopping place for dinner.  It is a typical German cultural experience of dining.  People sit at large table, even if they don’t know each other, and drink their beers (or apfel schorle) and partake of their yummy, hearty dinners!  Sometimes they will sing a traditional German song _______ and as they sing they all raise their glasses, sing, sway, and then toast their drinks (but never toast and empty glass)!!!  All in all a good introduction to German culture, however, I would suggest returning when the jetlag has diminished and you are more familiar with German culture to perhaps appreciate it all the more. 
The Youth Hostel, or the Jugendherberge as it is called in German, in Regensburg is very nice.  Having now lived in two, the Regensburg Jugendherberge is much appreciated!  The rooms are nice and clean and the meals are very good.  There is a “German” way to make the beds.  The sheet is not like a normal bottom sheet.  Rather, it is the same as a top sheet but is tucked in all around.  The comforter goes into a cover that is inside out which helps to get the comforter in properly.  The pillow has a case with a hole in the top and a kind of flap that closes over the pillow.  Very comfy to sleep on!

5 September 2010
Sunday was the first day of German travel.  Amberg is beautiful!  It is a walled city that used to be surrounded by a moat (now it is just grass).  The town is very quaint with cobble stone streets and small store fronts.  The town centre is lovely.  The “court house” is beautiful!  When a couple wants to get married in Germany there are two ceremonies.  One is in the court house and the other is in the church.  Another interesting marriage fact is, many years ago couples who wanted to get married were required to own property.  There was a very small house that one couple would buy, get married, and then sell to another couple who wanted to get married.  This house is now, supposedly, the world’s smallest five-star hotel : )  There are yummy places to eat, pretty shops to see, lovely flowers, pretty water ways, and even an ivy covered dentist office in a beautiful, old building!
On a hill overlooking Amberg is a beautiful church with a monastery attached to it.  The view from the top of the steps is magnifico!  There is also a restaurant next to the church that specializes in desserts but mainly massive cream puffs!  These cream puffs are not like the American cream puffs that are small with a thin pastry shell that is filled with scrumptious cold cream.  Rather, they are giant pastries with a soft bread inside and an indention in the top.  The indention is then filled with real whip cream and drizzled in either cherries, chocolate, or with ice cream!  The opinion of those who partook of these delicacies said they were good!
6 September 2010
The Regensburg Jugendherberge is on an island surrounded by the Danube River.  On one side is the old city and on the other side is the new city.    The mall is in the new city and is rather different than in the United States.  There are the shops but some of the shops are different and the food places are scattered around and there are more of them.  One fantastic looking place was a stand that sold bread.  The bread smelled delicious. 

7 September 2010
Old City downtown Regensburg was absolutely incredible!  The architecture was amazing and the overall feeling of the city was old.  It is a walled Roman city and the walls are still there.  No, it does not look like a fortress but it is mainly stone.  The streets are very narrow and are not paved but are cobble stone.  Bicycles are a regular sight and mopeds are not in the minority.  Yes, there are many cars but it is possible the bicycles may have them out numbered. 
There are many quaint café’s with outdoor seating, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and a wonderful little gelato place that sells three scoops for the price of two.  Shoe and clothing stores are numerous as are churches.  There is a train station (bahnhouf) that is on the outskirts of the old city and the University of Regensburg is past the train station.
 
8 September 2010
Rothenburg is also a walled city North West of Regensburg.  However, the wall goes around the entire city so a person could walk around the entire thing if they so chose.  The town is the epitome of a quaint German village.  Small houses and shops line the streets.  In front of the shops hang their signs or guilds which show what they do.  In times now gone forever a shop must belong to a guild (now a day union) in order to be in operation.  The guild helped keep prices about the same across the board so no one could charge exorbitant prices.
For those people who like Christmas, Christmas-esque towns, and Christmas shops will be quite content here.  There are three Christmas shops and the entire town looks as if it needs snow dumped on it and Christmas decorations hung from all the roofs, store windows, and the town square.  There is even a Christmas car that sits outside one of the shops.
Rothenburg also houses a museum about torture during medieval period.  It is a depressing museum but very interesting.  The top floor does hold some funny little stories.  There are pictures with notes next to them explaining what form of discipline went with what crime.  Some of the crimes were so ridiculous.  One in particular was about drinking coffee and the common folk were not allowed to drink it.  Only the upper class people were allowed to drink coffee.  Another crime was bickering among women.  When two women would argue they would be put into a contraption that went over their heads and held their hands together.  The catch was, it was all one piece.  There were also masks that people who broke certain rules had to wear.  A person who acted like a pig had to wear a mask that resembled a pig.

11 September 2010
Neuschwanstein is a castle that was built by King Ludwig but never finished as he died in 1886.  The cause of his death is not known.  The possibilities are suicide, murder, or an accident.  His doctor died with him.  Just the day (or days) before King Ludwig had officially been declared insane.  This probably had something to do with his untimely death.
The train ride from Regensburg to Neuschwanstein was quite the adventure.  The first train was from Regensburg to Munich.  It lasted about an hour and a half and some school work was accomplished.  From Munich there was a one stop transfer which lasted about two minutes.  As there was construction on the track for a while buses were provided to transport people from that station to the station where they could catch the train that would take them to Neuschwanstein.  The train car looked as if it was from a different time period and the whole group was practically by themselves.  The scenery was absolutely phenomenally beautiful!  It was the most amazing to see the Alps come into view for the very first time.  They are magnificent and stand high above everything else.  Green, rolling hills with quaint houses and the occasional lake were lovely.  One of the best parts was passing a crowd of men all dressed in lederhosen and were herding cows that were wearing ornately decorated cowbells.  It was very exciting! 
When the bottom of the mountain had been reached it was time to search out a bathroom and buy tickets.  Tickets were bought but the tour time was not until 17:30 which would just barely give time to catch the bus back to the train station.  Toilets at the bottom of the mountain were 50 cents and at the top they were free.  However, when nature calls….well, it calls.  So, 50 cents was doled out and the toilet was used.  Next on the list was food, however, there was only time for one bratwurst to be bought because it was time to meet at the most lovely and beautiful lake!  Coming up over the hill and seeing the sun shining over the mountains and reflecting off the lake was practically breathtaking!  It seemed as if it could have been out of the book Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley.  The swans provided entertainment to the tourists in the area.  At one point a dog trotted by attached to a lead and several of the swans raised their heads, opened their mouths, and hissed loudly until it had walked by.
The hike up the mountain was very lovely and took about 10 minutes less than the pamphlet had said.  However, it depends on the pace of the people walking.  Half way up there is a place to take photos, however, save the camera space and go to the top where there is an overlook that provides views over the whole land at the foot of the mountain.  If there is a desire to see the castle from the top keep hiking and half way up that hike there is an even better view of everything below.  Then there is a swaying bridge that provides a lovely but very crowded view of the castle from above.  It is only crowded because of the mass of people who squeeze onto the bridge to capture on their camera’s the magnificent view.
The castle was lovely.  The outside was beautiful and the inside was magnificently decorated.  King Ludwig was a fan of Richard Wagner’s operas and had the room in the castle painted to depict the myths that the plays were written after.  The castle was unfinished as King Ludwig died before its completion.  The intricate detail that was put into the castle was magnificent!  His private room was very lovely as well.  He would have had magnificent views from his breakfast corners had he lived to be able to enjoy them.
Note to all who want to embark on a journey up Neuschwanstein.  Wear comfortable shoes, especially if it is thought one may have to run down the mountain.  Loafers simply do not cut it!
17 September 2010
A slightly overcast day makes for good traveling as do good company.  Leaving Regensburg and driving to Weimar takes a bit over four hours, including stops.  Weimar is considered the Athens of Germany and has been home to many influential people in the intellectual, artsy, and religious world.  Nietzsche came to Weimar to die, Goethe lived here and did much writing, Martin Luther lived here, Hans Christian Anderson, and Bach spent time here.  Nazi Germany also had a place in Weimar history.  Weimar is also in East Germany and therefore was under U.S.S.R. rule.
Nietzsche’s house is now home to students in the upstairs, but the downstairs is essentially the way it was when he lived there.
Goethe’s original house was along the Ilm River and is now labeled “Goethe’s Gartenhaus.”  It has exquisite gardens that are filled with rows of beautiful flowers, lovely meadows, and an interesting and fun climbing tree.  His house is on the edge of an absolutely wonderful park that is full of greenness!
18 September 2010
Goethe’s town house was given to him and is on the street facing a small town plaza.  It is incredible that his house is behind that street front.  It does not look as if it houses a courtyard, large house, and extensive gardens all in town.  It does.  Goethe’s carriage is beautiful and it was strange to imagine it was the very carriage he would sit in.  The decorations in his home are very interesting.  The rooms are filled with statues, busts, and paintings from many famous people and some are even sketches Goethe did himself. 
Weimar is really an extraordinary town.  It is not the stereotypical, quaint German town.  Rather, it has aspects of the quaint small village feel but it is more expansive than Rothenburg.  It is not walled like Rothenburg or Regensburg.  The streets are not as narrow and it has an incredible park. 
The more modern parts are not wonderful and there is a lot of graffiti on many of the buildings.  However, it is thought provoking to walk among the more modern buildings and to wonder who lived there and what it would have been like to live through WWII and the Soviet Union ruling. Part of the residential area is very lovely.  The houses are old and have lovely architecture.  It feels a little bit like walking through Bristol, England or Bangor, Maine…but not really.
There are several building that are very near the park in Weimar.  Two or three of them are part of the Franz List Music School.  Another building nearby was the area where prisoners were brought before being sent off to concentration camps during WWII.  
19 September 2010
Church in the protestant church in Weimar was an interesting experience.  It was traditional, but not as traditional as the Catholic Church.  The attire of the priests seemed as if they were out of a different century which added to the older feel of the church…except when one looked around everyone else was wearing modern clothing (of course).  An interesting part of the service was the very end.  There was a mini concert of Bach’s concerto in G.  That is definitely not a typical ending to a service in the United States (maybe it is not typical here, either, however, it was a lovely ending).


The afternoon was spent in Buchenwald. Buchenwald was the largest concentration camp (in Germany) and was the camp that the others were modeled after.  It was a very sobering visit.  No amount of study in school or preparation beforehand can prepare a person for what was seen there.  It was not very graphic but the thought that where people are walking was where people died is sobering.  Walking into a room and seeing the crematorium full of furnaces where the dead bodies were burned or the outer “room” where their belongings were cleaned in giant sterilization chambers puts new perspective the history lessons learned.  Walking through the building where new prisoners were taken to be checked by a doctor and given prison clothes while actually seeing shoes that were worn by the prisoners was very thought-provoking.  Trying to imagine what the people were like who wore the shoes and what they must have been thinking.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was held at Buchenwald for two months during this time in concentration camps before his execution at Flossenburg.  There were rooms in the entry building where religious leaders were tortured.  So many people died all throughout the camp.  There were many children who died, as well.  It is so sad to think that children were caught up in this brutality.  Everyone was affected.
In the evening there was the opportunity to have a Q&A time with Frau Friedrich who was born and raised in East Germany.  She was able to share what it was like living under Soviet rule.  Everyone had a job and was provided for, however, luxury items were not in great quantity (example: the waiting list for a car was 14 years).  Televisions were allowed but western shows were not supposed to be watched.  They would question the younger school students to find out if they recognized any western characters.  If they did it was assumed they had been watching western shows and their family would be put on a list to be watched.  If they did anything suspicious they could get in trouble. 
When the wall fell everyone was ecstatic!  They could see family again and buy whatever they wanted.  However, after a while the East Germans realized things were very different.  They wanted the wall back up.  They had had everything they needed to survive:  housing, food, job, vacation time, etc.  Why unify?
In retrospective, after researching Marxism, it has become clear that if a communist society was able to function at the perfect level it would work well.  However, since this is not a perfect society it still leaves much to be desired.

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