Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Last day in Germany and trip home

Our last day in Germany, Monday, July 29, was spent visiting some places that were special to Dad.  Neundetelsau was a Lutheran seminary town that Dad attended school in.  He was at one time studying to be a Lutheran minister and had some significant things happen to him there.  He recommended we go to the main church there and see the altar at the front of the church.  It had a symbol of Jesus hanging on the cross and on each side of him were 3 golden angels holding candles.  As we sat there quietly contemplating what that meant to Dad, we also thought about what that scene meant for us.  For me it triggered much gratitude for the legacy Dad started for his whole family there as he made his decision to forever be connected to God in spite of what life may bring.  We held hands and had a family prayer of blessing right there in the empty church (most churches are open in Germany for people to just come in and pray or look around) thanking God for what He has done for our whole family through the decision Dad made there for Him.  We also asked for guidance in the next phase of our lives since there will be many changes happening now that our house is sold, Tiffany and Grant both have graduated, etc.  I found the church bulletin there from the service the day before and looked in it.  It seemed quite appropriate for where we are at in our lives right now.  A good verse for getting our  priorities straight :-)

Here it is:

44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.  Matt. 13:44-46

There was also a prayer printed in it that was special to me.  I'll write it in German and if you'd like to know the English translation, just let me know.  I'll get it to you :-)
Was Du mir schenkst, ist so kostbar, dass ich es nicht fassen kann.  Ich kann nur staunen und dankbar empfangen, welcher Reichtum durch Dein Wort und Deinen Geist in mein Leben gekommen sind.  Ich will mich Dir ganz schenken.  Alles soll Dir gehoren.  Ich bin Dein und Du bist mein.  Amen.

Next we drove down to Dinkelsbuel--a cute little town with a story behind it and had some traditional food in a little restaurant there for lunch. They have a festival every year to commemorate a special event that took place in the town's history. A teenage girl and some children saved the town from attack by simply approaching their enemies as friends.  Here's a small paragraph from Wikipedia about it:
"Every summer Dinkelsbühl celebrates the city's surrender to Swedish Troops during the Thirty Years' War. This reenactment is played out by many of the town's residents. It features a whole array of Swedish troops attacking the city gate and children dressed in traditional garb coming to witness the event. Paper cones full of chocolate and candy are given as gifts to children. This historical event is called the "Kinderzeche" and can in some aspects be compared with the "Meistertrunk" in Rothenburg. The name is derived from the German word for "child", and is called such because of the legend that a child saved the town from massacre by the Swedish Troops during the surrender. The legend tells that when the Swedish army besieged the town, a teenage girl took the children for begging the general for mercy. The Swedish general had recently lost his young son to illness, and a boy who approached him so closely resembled his own son that he decided to spare the town."

The last thing on our agenda was to see Rhothenburg.  I remember visiting it when I was about Grant's age with my Dad and meeting Dad's friend from Lutheran seminary, Hans Rau who served as a minister in the town's main Lutheran cathedral for many years.  The town has a wall around it that is still in very good condition.  It has a walkway on top of it that people can walk on for quite a long way which we had to try out of course!  We did see the church where Hans Rau officiated but couldn't go in because it had closed for the day--I guess it had become a tourist attraction and they were now charging an entrance fee--hence the need to close it down.  We also romped through the streets photographing the amazing medieval architecture and purchasing some treats to bring home and share.  They have a well-known treat there called "Schneeballen" --snow balls.  It's a pastry that Rothenburg is known for.  Pretzels were also a big thing there.  We wished for me time to wonder and window shop but had to get back and pack so that we could get on a plane the next morning.

We were up bright and early yesterday morning to prepare for our long journey home.  We also reserved about an hour to spend with Uncle Gerhard to celebrate his birthday in the morning before leaving.  We sang him happy birthday and gave him a very practical gift that would come in handy for him topped off with a "Schneeball" from Rothenburg :-)  He really appreciated it and as we sat and shared pictures with him and discussed our time together, we all realized we had grown closer and gotten to know him better as we romped and explored together with him.  He said he felt younger when spending time with us--especially when he sat in the backseat with Tiffany and Grant and took on the challenges of the trail that Grant led out in :-)

Our trip home was long and quite exhausting but for the most part went quite smoothly.  They were taking extra security measures so we felt rung through a wringer in that regard.  It seemed our passports and boarding passes were checked double as many times as usual and we had to claim our baggage in Philadelphia and recheck it which we didn't have to do on the way over.  When going through security, they were asking for extra favors from us that I don't remember on the way over.  In the process of emptying my pockets multiple times, I lost a couple things but nothing too important, thankfully.  As we were flying into Portland last night, the sunset was so beautiful with the mountains all aglow--Mt. Hood was so close, it felt like we could reach out and touch it!  But it was on the opposite side of the plane.  Our side had Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and the Columbia River on it.  Wow! What an awesome reminder of what a beautiful area of the world we live in!!! And what a relief to be back in the good old northwest region of the USA!!!!

As Gerhard put it, "You have been many places and experienced many things in a short period of time.  Now it's time to soak it in.  It's like you have just eaten a meal of many delicacies and now it must digest."  Yes, I agree with him.  It will take a while for all that has just taken place to really digest.  It was life changing, educational and truly a blessing in every way!

What's next?  Well, finding another house and moving in the next 30 days.  Please pray with us that we will know God's will in regards to this whole process.  Thank you :-)

These pictures are from our last day and the view of the sunset as we flew into PDX,  Enjoy!!!

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