Tuesday, December 18, 2007

C.S Lewis

What Christmas Means To Me by C.S Lewis.

Three things go by the name of Christmas. One is a religious festival. This is important and obligatory for Christians; but as it can be of no interest to anyone else, I shall naturally say no more about it here. The second (it has complex historical connections with the first, but we needn't go into them) is a popular holiday, an occasion for merry-making and hospitality. If it were my business to have a 'view' on this, I should say that I much approve of merry-making. But what I approve of much more is everybody minding his own business. I see no reason why I should volunteer views as to how other people should spend thier own money in their own leisure among their own friends. It is highly probable that they want my advice on such matters as little as I want theirs. But the third thing called Christmas is unfortunately everyone's business.

I mean the course of the commercial racket. The interchange of presents was a very small ingredient in the older English festivity. Mr. Pickwick took a cod with him to Dingley Dell; the reformed Scrooge ordered a turkey for his clerk; lovers sent love gifts; toys and fruit were given to children. But the idea that not only all friends but even all acquaintances should give one another presents, or at least send one another cards, is quite modern and has been forced upon us by the shop-keepers. Neither of these circumstances is in itself a reason for condeming it. I condemn it on the following grounds.

1. It gives on the whole much more pain than pleasure. You have only to stay over Christmas with a family who seriously try to 'keep' it (in its third, or commercial aspect) in order to see that the thing is a nightmare. Long before December 25th everyone is worn out--physically worn out by weeks of daily struggle in overcrowded shops, mentally worn out by the effort to remember all the right recipients and to think out suitable gifts for them. They are in no trim for merry-making; much less (if they should want to) to take part in a religious act. They look far more as if there had been a long illness in the house.

2. Most of it is involuntary. The morern rule is that anyone can force you to give him a present by sending you a quite unprovoked present of his own. It is almost a blackmail. Who has not heard the wail of despair, and indeed of resentment, when, at the last moment, just as everyone hoped that the nuisance was over for one more year, the unwanted gift from Mrs. Busy (who we hardly remember) flops unwelcomed through the letter box, and back to the dreadful shops one of us has to go?

3. Things are given as present which no mortal ever bought for himself-gaudy and useless gadgets, 'novelties' because no one was ever fool enough to make their like before. Have we really no better use for materials and for human skill and time then to spend them on all this rubbish?

4. The nuisance. For after all, during the racket we still have all our ordinary and necesary shopping to do, and the racket trebles the labour of it. We are told that the whole dreary business must go on because it is good for trade. It is in fact merely one annual symptom of that lunatic condition of our country, and indeed of the world, in which everyone lives by persuading everyone else to buy things. I don't know the way out. But can it really be my duty to buy and recieve masses of junk every winter just to help the shopkeepers? If the worst comes to the worst I'd sooner give them money for nothing and write it off as a charity. For nothing? Why, better for nothing than for a nuisance.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More Pictures

Yeah, yeah here I am.
Puschel having fun with bubbles.
Doing something with Puschel!
Ha ha ha "nine, nine" ha ha!
Hmmm Johannes and the Palmello
Puschel with her drugs!
Salome and her Oma, Eva Marie.
Puschel and I going for a walk.
Puschel and Salome
Puschel and her Mom.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Here we are again!

The OM boat was big, standing next to it at the dock we felt like little munchkins next to a giant. Staring at it we gasped and gaped like so many country bumkins, craning our necks back to see the top and then back down to watch all the busy little workers rushing in and out with boxes of things.

We had arrived in Kiel after four easy hours of driving; dumping our stuff at the hostel we headed down to the water to see if we could find the Logos Hope, on which our German friend Michael and his wife were working as jacks-of-all-trades. God was good and the first boat we saw was the sister ship Logos 2, which seemed big untill we spotted Logos Hope. Parking right in front we went over to the little OM kiosk and asked if they could contact Michael for us. Apparently they didn't have a phone line up and running yet so were a little at a loss as what to do with us. Three people later they let us have a badge and told us just to walk over to the boat and find the gangway dude and he would tell us what to do. So away we went to stand once again in confusion while people rushed around us. Finally Donzel snagged a guy and asked him if he knew Michael and would he be kind enough to show us the way? He was kind enough and in two shakes of a lamb's tail we where hopping on board the boat. Leading us through a maze of stairs and coridors we found Michael at the stern of the ship. When our guide hailed Michael and informed him he had a few guests, our Skipper just walked forward a few steps, dropped the hoses he had in his hands, stared at us and said something like "what..who...it...wher....Liesl! Donzel! Markus! Brian! where did you come from!". We found out then that he hadn't gotten our email telling him that we were on our way and would be there in the afternoon, but all was well and he was so excited to see us. Then we had a coffee (standered Michael) and met his wonderful wife Brigitte, who is just one more amazing German on our list of friends now.

Giving us a tour of the boat he told how they had worked for fifteen mounths getting her ready to sail, moving tons of trash, stripping, sanding, resanding, painting, repainting, reresanding, rerepainting, de-rusting, cleaning, ripping out and replacing they overhauled her. Almost every surface had to be stripped of rust.....by hand and on a boat that can sleep 400 people that is no small task. All the air vents had to be redone, the electrical, the engine, the interior ceilings replaced, floors put in, outside stairs fixed, smoke stacks cleaned inside and out. In short: a mind boggeling, stunning amount of work was put into that ship and even though she looks much better there is still quite a lot to be done.

It was a very wonderful three days spent fellowshipping with Michael and Brigitte, it was encouraging to see them and hear how they are doing. We are looking forward to seeing them come to the states next year. The only downside to the boat was due to the lack of fresh air flow and natural light and possibly some bad nuts at the market I got sick and threw up more then I have since.....ohhh ever? In fact as we left the boat for the Holmer's house I was still throwing up, but God was good once again and by the time we arrived Bulow (six hours later) I was ok.

We spent the weekend of the first and the second with our friend Puschel in a little town near Berlin. Well actually we got there on Friday and had supper with Silas and Eva Marie, then collapsed into bed and slept the sleep of the dead ((((with natural light and fresh air!!!!)))). The next day, Saturday we got up and headed out for the big City with Silas to see Puschel in the hospital where she was getting her last shot of chemo. When we arrived she was napping so Johannes took us out to see the sites, both Donzel and I had already visited once before and we so enjoyed seeing the things again. We went to the Brandenburg gate and government buildings then saw the Hotel where (famously)Micheal Jackson hung his baby over the balcony and scared the crowd. We also saw Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks. Yeehaw! ((( Can you believe poor Silas has never been to a Starbucks? This we did not know, or we would have remedied that deprivation!))) Then we drove all over Berlin looking for a parking spot so we could have pizza, but there was no parking spot for us, however we saw about a million Smart cars. Which by the way has been a game with us since the begining of our trip trying to spot the Smarts before anyone else does. And Berlin is full of them and in my car (I was riding in the Holmer's van) Silas saw most of them.

On Sunday Puschel came home early as a surprise for her Mom on her Birthday. I however missed out on all the excitment because at 7:30 that morning just as I was waking up something popped in my neck. And my left side was instantly riddeled with pain, by the time Donzel had brought Dad up to see me I couldn't turn my head to the left. I was crying partly because of the pain and partly because I had no clue as to what was going on. We prayed and then I calmed down a bit and decided that I must have just (ha ha just!) pinched a nerve in my neck. Possibly due to landing on my head last year while skiing. So Sunday morning in Germany was spent laying in bed eating asprin like candy and having Donzel and Dad read Job to me. By the mid afternoon I was able to get up and eat something but being VERY careful to always keep my head stricktly to the right. Puschel and I chatted by cell phone for a while and that was fun then Markus showed me all his pictures from the USA trip. Stating that he didn't often get such a captive audiance.
Then on Monday Donzel, Dad and Markus left for Stuttgart and I stayed behind to visit Puschel for the week. Which was a total blast, even if my neck still killed, I enjoyed the Holmer family to the fullest. Silas and I had so much fun goofing off together and even if we didn't always understand each other it was good. Puschel is doing quite well under the circumstance and she keeps busy painting and playing with her niece Salome. Often times she is tired and nauseated due to the Chemo and the other drugs she is taking, but through it all she is cheerful and up beat, praising God and enjoying herself. Johannes and Silas take much care that her room is invalid friendly, contecting everything so at the push of a botton she can turn lights, the TV and music on or off. At the push of one botton the bell in the kitchen rings, at the push of another the bell in her Mom's bedroom rings; making it possible to call someone when ever she needs it. Not only that they all carry cell phones so just in case they don't hear the bell she can get a hold of them that way.

On Friday I was going to get a ticket from a little town near Bulow to Berlin, but due to Puschel's white blood cells being at zero they took her to the hosptial to get some blood. We arrived there at 4:30 and she settled in, four hours later when I left for the train station she still hadn't gotten the blood. When I called the next day I found out that they hadn't brought it to her until 11 that night and they didn't get home until 1:30.am. That was rather a trial as she hates going to the hospital for any reason and getting stuck there for that long for no reason was rather irritating. But she is home now and (God willing) won't being going back till after Christmas on the 27th. So please remember to pray for her as she has quite a long way to go yet.