Monday, September 13, 2010

Seeing is believing.

Last night in my mind was the thought "How can you explain a relationship with Jesus Christ, to someone who doesn't know him?".

Really, relationships are rather intangible things to begin with, I mean try explain in clear, simple terms why you love a good friend. Express to a person who has never met them, just WHO that friends IS.

It isn't to hard to skim the surface "We both love rock climbing, we have great conversations, we adore putting the smack-down on the same people." But still that doesn't explain why that person brings joy to you, or even an accurate description of their personality. So the only solution is for them to meet, for the one to see the other and come to know them. How much harder is it to express a spiritual connection and adoption?

So in a sense when I try and express through words, who Jesus Christ and Father are it will be rather useless and awkward. I don't mean totally useless since we are to "confess with our mouths" as well as "give a reason for the hope we have." But I think if there isn't more focus on living and less on talking you will never truly show Jesus to someone.

This is brought solidly home to me by one of my friends, Puschel. She is 26 years old, athletic, smart, loving and kind. She took her degree in nursing and then spent the last years working at a Bible school and then at a orphanage in South America. In 2007 she was diagnosed with cancer in her hip, after three years of torturous operations and treatments she is able to walk but is missing half of her pelvis and a bone in her lower leg. And since they had to cut the sciatic nerve she has no feeling in her lower leg and foot. When I saw her in 2008 she weighed maybe a hundred pounds (she is probably about 5'9) and couldn't walk, her younger brother or Dad would carry her to the bed, bathroom or where ever she need to go. It would take a lot of time to explain all of which has happened, the chemo, morphine, blood infection, bones breaking, general sickness, more chemo and finally a reduction in cancer activity. And then, it came back. As a huge tumor on her spine and also showing up in her lungs. So now she is dealing with that.

But the light of Jesus is shining through her. To see her is to see the glow of God's love burning, burning and burning in her. In what should only be a depressed and bitter person, there is peace, laughter, cheerfulness and abundant joy. It just flows out of her and all who see her know that God is walking along side. Through her actions and demeanor this is proclaimed, although she isn't afraid to speak about Him and confess His name to the world. But her actions speak louder then any words ever could, she is focused on living Him and it shows in line of her frame. Rather like Dorian Gray, just in reverse. More and more the old Adam is burned away and more and more Jesus Christ is put in His place.

So I guess I'm taking that home with me,I too need to walk so closely with Jesus that all who see me see Him first without my mouth ever being opened. So my old Adam must die and the new Adam be put in his place.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Also Germans...

When you exit the train station and find a skuzz of homeless punks sprawled on the sidewalk, your best option is to move away quietly. Don't make eye contact, keep your hands at your sides, and don't make sudden movements, or they just might charge. Of course charging would consist of them de-entangling their legs from sleeping bags, putting down the beer bottles and standing up. So really the risk is very low if their to lazy do anything but sit in the rain at the train station then their probably to lazy to do any charging. However when in doubt move away is my motto.

So we did. Then because we weren't sure if we were moving in the right direction we moved back again. Missing our ride because of punks wasn't really a step in the right direction. However, after much careful detective work it was ascertained that, no indeed, this was not the place where we should be. No MacDonalds for instance. Also at this point it became clear that speaking no German (for once) had an upside. Whatever they were hollering out wasn't hitting their target and that gave me a rather warm and happy feeling. I almost wanted to go and pat them on the head and say "You poor little, foul mouthed dude, nothing you are saying means anything to me. Just stop talking and drink more beer." Actually not really, but it was nice we didn't understand.

Also it might be best NOT to buy train tickets for travel on Friday afternoon in Germany. Everyone is going home from work, or away for the weekend. And every child from ages 12 to 17 is in a hiking club that is going hiking. Our second train had roughly 634 of these alpiners on it, they were slouched over under packs as big as they, squashing into the cars with vim and vigor appropriate to their age and healthy pursuit. The club flags and some very odd stick things with small chains attached to them were endangering the train and other passengers. Perhaps they played a game in which you gained points for every unsuspecting person you impale.

And to wrap up our last train ride we met The Guy. He was wearing a sparkly, blue, sequin covered cowboy hat. Carrying a big flower arrangement. And a beer bottle. Sadly the train was really full and that meant he was going to Beer stink was also wafting from him.

Our plan of action was to turn up the music, lift up the books and be really deep in reading. However that didn't stop him from asking for my help to fix something on his hat. I am happy to report I understood his German and knew exactly what he wanted and I'm even happier to report that the German came springing to my lips to say "I speak no German." He was disappointed, but I not. After trying for a long time to fix his hat he went off in a doze or beer sleep for a time, only snapping out of it to attempt to talk with Tivoli. After that I as the intrepid leader decided it was time for us to go, we went so fast we almost took out the flower arrangement. Thank goodness we were only ten minutes from our stop so jumping up and rushing to the door to stand with our packs on wasn't hardship. And so ended our second to last train trip...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Germany for ever!

Riding the rails.

This is what Tivoli and I are doing, and I'm not sure it is quite as exciting as she hoped except for the "We are late and going to miss the next train if we don't run", which then turned into "Darn we got on the wrong train and now have to pay extra" part. Oh well that is life when you are traveling. Sadly right when I feel like I've gotten into the swing of things and can train travel again our trip is almost over. With just two more train rides to go.

We left Switzerland last Friday at 7:51 am, Schyler took us to the station and I have the sneaking feeling that he wasn't totally sad to see us go. Guys and girls travel differently and while our car trip went pretty smoothly, we were given the chance to become kinder more loving Christians at times. Or maybe just us girls were and the boys didn't have any problems.

Anyhow we made it to Stuttgart Germany right on time and hopped off the train into the waiting arms of our friend Priska...well not really. I being American forgot to tell her which train we would be on, not even thinking that yes there might be TWO trains from Switzerland coming in at the same time. Silly me, I thought they just sent one a day....But as Tivoli pointed out "She is German, she is on time and she is here" which proved to be true. After much hugging and some more hugging (yeah we are girls) we went to her sister, Sarah's house for lunch and to spend sometime hanging out there. Priska is doing one of her big tests for her teachers degree this week so had to spend some time studying. No problem, we went to the farmers place to get veggies with Sarah and her children and walk the dog. Their dog is crazy, this is all I can say.

On Saturday we went to the Ritter Sport factory to look at the museum. Ritter Sport is a very cool chocolate bar that comes in a hundred gram square. It is one of my favorite to eat for this reason. Plus they have some really fun flavors and combos. After spending wildly in the outlet shop we headed home for lunch. In the evening we played poker, I lost, and met Priska's boyfriend to whom we gave the old hairy eyeball and he came out just fine. We are going to let them keep dating.

Sunday was spent going to church and then for a hike in the Blackforest which was incredibly green and lovely! It was like drinking in water and basking in soft golden light, drifting through heavenly trees. If there had been no other people on the trail, you might have thought we stepped into Lord of the Rings. After this we went home again for coffee and cake. Did I mention that Germans have coffee and cake every afternoon? Well they do and I think it is a pretty wonderful invention myself. We also took time to bake American cookies and a northern German poppyseed cake, they both turned out pretty good.

Somewhere in here I also bought train tickets, which I did all backwards and wrong. It was frustrating and angerfying, but water under the bridge. Now I won't make the same mistakes ever again, I'll make new ones.

Köln on Tuesday; this is a very pretty city, the Dom (church) is amazing and worth seeing. Tivoli and I agreed we like this one the best, although it's acoustics weren't as nice as Saint Peters in Rome. And no Wesley we didn't try and sing in it...for once. However we did sing on the train in honor of you. Our Opa found us standing in front of the train station, well down from the creepy homeless guys skuzzing it up on the pavement. This was a time it was good NOT to know German.

He took us for a drive around the countryside and then home for coffee and cake. This is also the trip where I got us on the Express train, which was wrong. The poor conductor didn't know what to do with us, when he started to explain in German I put on my "I am totally confused and don't know what you are saying face" and then when he got the jist across I added to that my "I'm just a poor girl who was trying to catch a train while carrying a very heavy backpack, have pity on us" face. It half worked, he only charged for me and left Tivoli (the kinder) out of the deal.

Wednesday saw us once again at the train station ready to roll, dragging an ever increasing bag full of chocolate. For those of you who are going to get said chocolate you should start appreciating NOW what we are bringing you. This bag is a trial and the bane of our lives.
With two (yes count them, two) conections to catch I had put on my running shoes, not that I ever run in them but you never know. It turned out to be pretty simple, Katha found us no problem and we once again had coffee and cake. Then we made dinner, American cookies, and played cards (I won) and then went to bed. I have to say right here that I have the cutest adopted niece EVER, she is so sweet, friendly, and lisps the most adorable German. And oddly enough I can understand the baby German her parents speak to her, that tells you where my German is at.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Photo smack down!

Wesley's parking job.
Schyler in the Crotian sun.
Yes look at my HAIR.
The Glacier.
A field of fennel.
Tivoli is ready to go.
TIvoli has arrived.
Emmi and I.
A drool fest for the guys.
Schyler wearing Latvian fashion.
Yes, that is a skeleton saint.
Favorite picture from Pompey.
Lions and tigers and bears oh my!
I love it. It is so tasty.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Switzerland, Italy, Slovinia, Bosnia, Croatia, Italy and Switzerland.

Fried fish.
Mount Vesuvius.
Fried Fish.
The Swiss Alps.
Our bed.
Tivoli's new hair cut.

That is the order of the countries we passed through in the last two weeks. Yes two weeks ago TODAY (it being Wednesday over here) we left for our grand car adventure. Now two weeks later, much more savvy in the ways of car travel, replete with stories and full of Angel Babies we have come back to Switzerland to regroup and then take off on another adventure. Except we lost Wesley somewhere back in Italy. We have his hat and sunglasses, but the man just up and disappeared. Perhaps he was raptured.

Our trip started out with an epic pan of the Swiss Alps which degenerated into free wheeling around corners when the engine cut out. Try that heart stopper on for size, Swiss Alps, no guard rail to speak of and car with no power steering. Thankfully Schyler figured out what was wrong, the altitude was so much that the engine wasn't getting the oxygen it needed and then when he clutched around the corners the engine died. From there on it was a piece of cake, we only screamed on the REALLY scary corners. The first night was spent at a truck stop sleeping in the car, my concern was not to smash the bread which was in the back with me, Wesley's concern was not to get murdered.

Getting into Croatia was easy we just drove through, didn't even have to show our passports or anything. Driving down the coast was a treat, the lovely sparkling blue waters were so beautiful to look at. And our spirits weren't to dampened by the freakish black, spiny things that lived in the water because it was so warm.

The food was good, good pizza and wonderful, WONDERFUL fried calamari! It was the best.

There is way more to tell but I'll post this right now so you can read about how much fun we are having. Also the pictures are not in order so just guess at what we are taking pictures of.