Sunday, October 13, 2013

October experiences...

The second week of October, I had a unique experience!  Usually Dan does all the driving when we visit another country, mainly because I’ve never learned to drive a stick shift!  But there were guests arriving soon and there was no one else available to go to the grocery store in the next town.  So I was given a list of a few things to stock the fridge AND the keys to the only automatic vehicle and, a little nervously, I drove the few kilometers and accomplished the task.  I delivered the groceries, returned the key, and went back to work, nervous for nothing!

All the missionaries have been very friendly and very kind to us; they’re a great group of people!  Heidi Bowes invited us and 2 other volunteers, Matt and Zarah, over on Saturday to experience her favorite Swiss dish – raclette!  Having a raclette dinner is a very social occasion, a little like a fondue party!  Heidi spent a good deal of time cutting and chopping lots of foods and setting them out in bowls on the table, around a raclette maker. Some machines are electric and some use something like Sterno to heat up the ingredients you choose to put in your individual tray (like a small shovel), topping it with a slice of special raclette cheese. While the cheese melts, it’s time to choose a small baked potato and mash it on your plate. And after the cheese is melted, the tray contents are scraped off onto the potato – VERY delicious! We all tried different combination of food (pears, pickles, olives, slices of salami, mushrooms, olives, cashews) until we had no more room. Then she brought out cookies and lemon gelato for dessert! We talked and laughed and shared; what a great evening spent with friends!  Here’s a link to the history behind it – this used to be done by shepherds over a fire!
While Nancy and Brad were away for a week, some things were added to my regular office duties – cleaning an apartment for the new Regional Director. No problem - we’re here to serve!  I know they didn’t mind missing all the roadwork being done on the main street in Büsingen, just feet from our office building!

Saturday, we borrowed a car and drove further into Switzerland to experience the Alps up close. I think there are permanent indentations in the passenger seat from me clutching it (as I leaned away from the edges of the road), but we made it to Gotthard Pass, took photos of the snow, and enjoyed a lunch of spaëtzle – small, boiled-then-fried dumplings with ham and cheese – a heavenly German version of mac ‘n cheese! Here’s the recipe I’m going to try when we return to the States:

These are only a few of the unique, interesting and (mostly) enjoyable benefits of being available to serve where ever God leads. Even the challenging moments are treasured memories.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Thanksgiving Season

When October arrived, we were surprised at how quickly the time seemed to pass “when we’re having fun” and enjoying our assignment! We’ve been blessed with so many rich experiences!  I think everyone should visit another country and enjoy the cultural diversity of our world and of our church’s servants.

Fall colors beginning
One Sunday, one of the ladies approached me during coffee time after church, asking if I’d help her with decorating the church for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving in Germany is in early October but, since many folks in this international church are from the States, Thanksgiving here will be a season (October 6 – November 28), rather than one day or a weekend.  After discussing the things that would represent harvest and thankfulness on the altar table, Dorothea agreed to pick me up near the end of the day Monday from work and we’d go shopping!  We started at a bäckerei (a bakery), where Dorothea ordered several loaves of sunflower-shaped bread, with extra rolls, so everyone can have some.  She also recommended the Zweibel Küchen (literally, onion cake), so I got 2 slices of the delicious quiche that Dan and I each enjoyed for dinner that night.  Next on our list was a stop at a farm along the road where a farmer had presented for sale, on farm wagons, his harvest of squashes and gourds of every shape and color! We picked out some for the display, then each bought a couple to take home – every section had a designated price and there was a place to leave your euros, honor-system purchasing!

After that, she drove to a farm on the other end of Büsingen where we bought apples and pears for the display and for ourselves, again with an honor system for payment after you weighed what you wanted.  From there, we went to the church (which is right across the grassy area in front of our apartment building). I’m sure it was a sight, two gray-haired ladies carrying the side handles of a basket full of colorful fall produce!  We made plans to carry out the decorating later in the week!
Thursday was a German holiday, so Dan and I drove to Liechtenstein for the day.  Dan always “does his homework” before we go somewhere new, so we had a map and we had a GPS to get us to Vaduz, the capitol city. It’s a charming town, famous for postage stamps and for its castle, where Hans-Adam II, Prince of Liechtenstein, currently lives.  Lunch was delicious at a outdoor cafe and we took lots of photos.  I think it’s impossible to take too many photos of charming stone castles and streets in Europe!

Friday after work, Dorothea and I met to begin the fall decorating in the church, promising to finish up on Sunday morning while the worship team was practicing before worship. Continuing this domestic theme (decorating and cooking, etc.), I spend most of Saturday cooking and baking to get a little ahead for the next few days – squash soup, potato soup, banana bread and cookie dough!

Sunday was quite a treat! Our European Thanksgiving worship service was great and the display was beautiful with so many pretty fruits and vegetables, bread, fall leaves, and chrysanthemums. Afterward, several of us piled into Nancy’s car to go to a nearby town, Gottmadingen, to their semi-annual fair. The Gottmadingen Nazarene Church always has a booth where they sell Thai food (they cook for 2 days ahead, just to have enough, and they always sell out!) to make money for missions. We helped them out, of course, by purchasing our lunch there and spent a couple of hours wandering all the vendors’ booths. There was a real variety of stuff – from traditional clothing to modern clothing, biergartens to cake shops, spices and music CDs. Dan bought a leather hat; he’s been looking for something European for the cold weather, especially since he didn’t even bring any baseball caps with him for this trip.

Between the people and the food, we're being blessed every day! Thanks, God, for giving us another opportunity to be useful while experiencing these benefits!