A Sun-day in Germany

Felicia, Janell, Regina, Nate, and Brittany in the back of the van on the way to Rothenburg on Thursday.

Dennis and Vanessa: Two of the Young Adults on Friday night at the Young People get together. They were playing ping-pong. Dennis is in his "Civil Service"-all German youth must give something like 1-2 years of service to the community after highschool and before they turn a certain age.

Nate and Kip on the Carosel in Downtown Aalen. The carosel is like one of those in our parks where we run around to spin it and then jump on. Nate and Kip pushed to spin all of us girls so we could ride, and then we pushed them so they could ride on it.

I titled this post Sun-day because for the first day since we came to Germany that we saw the sun! Previous days have been very gloomy outside. Though the country and the red housetops against the background of the valley is beautiful, the sun just set everything shining!

This morning we were picked up for church by John Pappas since the Schurr family (Regina and My host family) only have 7 seats in their mini van (with “children seats” it would have been impossible for both Regina and I to ride along). We were very tired because we were up late the night before, but it was good to see everyone at church. First was the German church service which was 2 hours long. We sang both German and English songs (including Amazing Grace). I have been surprized at the knowledge of English praise songs (though from the 90s) this church has! I was expecting to listen to German songs all the time. John Pappas translated the service for us. He is incredibly bi-lingual and even speaks the dialect of this southern-German region known as “Schwabish.” The Germans say that he does not have an accent (He has been in Germany more than 25  years), and he does not have any kind of German accent while speaking English.

The message was wonderful. It was given by John Pappas’ (the missionary here) son-in-law. Dietmar is German and married to Stephanie (Pappas). He is from a church in Stuttgart. he did a great job preaching on the topic of Obedience from John 14:15. I absolutely loved it. I can tell you all more about it later. It was one of the most mind-blowing things done completely by the Holy Spirit in my life on this trip so far.

We ate some pizza (provided by Dennis’ family) and then had a quick practice of our English church service. This is only the second English service they have had. They said that it was up to us to see if there would be more in the future (sort of kidding, sort of not kidding). We had invited people from the classes and the village to come to the service. There were quite a few people I did not recognize there. Some of the  highschool/college kids also came. There were 2 exchange students from South Africa (who will be returning to South Africa on Friday), and 1 friend of Lein Le (pronounced Le-own-ae) who was from Togo, Africa. We sang some praise songs to start off the service with all of us in front singing, and Janell and Nate trading off playing the guitar. The congregation knew part of the songs, and the words were in English on powerpoint behind us.

Regina and I both gave our testimonies. There was no translation, but we tried to speak slowly (although I think I went a little fast). Regina and I (Katelyn) were talking afterward and found a similarity between our experiences. Both of us had originally prepared something written down word for word to share with the church. However, when we got up there we skipped part of what we had to say and added other parts. This had to be the leading of the Holy Spirit because we did not feel like we ran out of things to say, or were at a loss for words during the time we were speaking. Praise God!

Kip Cone (our Team Leader) also spoke, but he did a 1st person narrative. It was great! He played the role of one of David’s mighty men, Abishi. He told the story of David taking Saul’s water jug and spear while Saul was sleeping. He said that desert experiences are hard and often lead us to want to do things our own way, a convient way that will get us out of the feeling that nothing is happening to get us out of our situation, instead of trusting God, doing the right thing, and then leaving the results to God. He did a great job and I know that for me, it was one of the best parts of the church service!

After the English Service, we stuck around to eat amazing German cake with the congregation after the service. AMAZING desserts, INCREDIBLE people! Then we went to spend the rest of the afternoon/evening with our host families. For Regina and I, this meant a wonderful trip to a German Ice Rink for some Ice Skating. We took two trips because of the lack of seats in the car and it was not a problem. I watched 3 of the kids (Micha, Aaron, and Judith) while Andi (our host dad) went back for Regina, Annika (our host mom), and Lucas (their oldest boy-8years old).

It was the first time I had ever babysat children who did not speak my language. Talk about a fun challenge! There were some minor bumps in the road, but it went pretty smoothly, and showed me once again how incapable I am of doing anything on my own. Take away the commonality of language and you realize how much you depend on it to get by! But I did discover during this time with the kids, that a kiss on a boo boo will heal all ills. The two boys were having a small argument over points in the Fooseball game they have. This was unusual because they are always very well behaved and hardly put up a fuss when told to do something. The older one put his hand down hard on the littler one’s hand and the younger one started to cry and fuss. I instinctively picked up his 4 year old hand (where the “boo boo” was) and gave it a quick, get-better kiss. He stopped crying and went back to the game. Kids are kids even when they are in different countries!

Later we ate dinner and after Andi and Annika put the kids to bed, we drank tea and talked with them in the living room. We talked more about German Culture, American Culture, how they met, and showed them some more pictures of our siblings. Tomorrow we head into the schools again for more English classes.

-Katelyn Mithoefer

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