Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Success???? Oh contrar! (sp? - it is French ya know!)

I just had to share!

The order with the German man -- Yeh! That order that I thought I had done successfully- Friday last week! NOT!

I waited at home all morning, from 7:00 to 12:00. No SHOW! I called the number, begged for someone that spoke English and found out - no order had ever been put on the books!

After many tears (while waiting for the call from the English speaking guy) I finally got a return phone call - I had 3 promises of return calls earlier from German speakers, but they didn't call back, one even just kept repeating a number REALLY fast and hung up. It was exasperating.

I cannot blame the Germans - I am a visitor in their country. It is my job to learn the language - I just wish that so many things didn't have to be done without my mastering the language yet. And mastering it is a loose term - without my even grabbing it for a few seconds!

My daughter keeps saying, "Mom, you've only been there for 4 months." I know, I know, I know. But oh how I want to talk to the man at the Bakery, and TALK to the Butcher, and TALK to the waitress at my local cafe'. I'm asking God for patience in the same breath I am asking Him for knowledge of this language.

It appears that the English speaking guy realized that I was needing help. He called back. We set up an appointment for next Thursday. They will come and put my shrunks together and my bookcases.

I told the guy how much I appreciated his kindness. I told him that I was sorry I didn't know the language any better. I told him I would try to learn it. I told him if he was close I would buy him lunch! He grinned (I heard the grin on the phone!) and said Guten Tag!

Maybe by Wednesday of next week I won't have 24 boxes in my living room :-)

I'm just thankful I have 24 boxes, have a living room, have a bed - found an English Speaker!!!!!

your mutating missionary

Sunday, May 21, 2006


I’m dealing with another desire to ‘media’ myself to death. What I mean by that is that I want to cave in and go to my ‘cave announcing to myself that I need cave time, but not really getting cave time, but ‘plugging in’ and getting media overload!

Internet is a great thing, DVDs are to be celebrated, but when they become your friends they are to be avoided. When I would rather watch a movie than walk to the nearest café because I will have to interact with a culture I don’t know or feel comfortable in, I must rethink my media temptation.
When I would rather read BLOGS of people that I don’t even know, than write my own, my creativity is being jeopardized.

Loneliness is tough. But I wonder if the purpose of loneliness is to drive us into community. When we fill our time with movies, radio, music, or simply come home from work and ‘PLUG IN’ we forfeit real life relationships. On the internet we can BLOG but can we catch the quiver in the voice? The tiny wisp of a tear? The hunger in an eye? Or even receive the much craved hug?

One of the first sentences I am learning here in Germany is, “Ich brauche eine Umarmung.” .A child in Grade 3 taught me this sentence. It is not said often in Germany, but my friends here are hearing it often from me.

Friday catapulted me into a ‘PLUGGED IN’ evening. Going to the local grocery store I put my bravado together – you know this face – you have probably used it upon going in for a job interview, entering the first day of class, or going to a new church or group of some kind. I must use this it anytime I step out of my door. It is the face that faces the unknown. Every time I leave my house (unless I am headed into the office) I must put this ‘bravado’ on!

I call it – OK God, it’s You and me!

Well, this past Friday I went into the grocery store with a bit more confidence than usual. Pulling into the parking lot with Carol King’s Tapestry humming from the CD player, feeling the incredible evening air and pretty much thinkin’ – ‘I’m doing pretty good.’ The day had been comfortable. I’d been to the office. I’d spent the day living and breathing ‘America’ within those safe walls.

I had successfully set up an appointment with a German for assembling some shrunks (closets) from IKEA, by PHONE, unable to see his frustration with my limited German; I came away only a tiny bit scathed.

So all in all, it had been a great day. Entering the parking lot, as I said, with ‘I feel the earth move under my feet’ playing and pretty much feeling like the 15 year old memorizing the lyrics for the first time – I was feeling life ‘plugged in.’

I confidently took my euro from its holding place in my car
Check! Yes, euro needed for shopping cart!
Cultural experience #1 mastered!
Check! Yes, shopping bag in the trunk – ready and waiting!
Cultural experience #2 mastered!
Check! Milk, crackers, soap, laundry detergent, weighing and pricing the veggies, knowing what words mean when I look at the jars of jelly, packages of cheese. Even the cleaning items weren’t so scary.

I approached the meat counter, hackfleisch – hummmmmmm would I really want more chili or should I go for broke and get rind hackfleisch and make a burger for the evening?

And then I saw it. A seasoned ‘Texas Steak.’ Now, I wasn’t as naive as I had been 3 months ago. I read the small lettering underneath ‘schinkensteake’ which let me know that no matter what the seasoning might be on this ’Texas Steak’ the meat was from a pig and pigs cannot be camouflaged as ‘sweet Texas beef’ after the palate gets hold of it. I digress…

I ordered the Texas Steak knowing what I was getting. The butcher didn’t even blink giving it to me and saying something about the meat and to have a great day. Ah! Sweet success – she had not discovered I KNOW nothing! I smiled and wished her a ‘Gute Abend’ pushing my cart to the register. Placing everything on the conveyor belt I got the bill, paid it with confidence, bagged my groceries into my own sack…
Check! Yes, it all fits in one sack (meaning I had not waited too long to go to
the store this time :-))
Cultural experience #3 mastered!

Heading for the bread counter, I looked down. The meat! It sat there in the corner of the cart! It sat there and I had not paid for it.

Turning around I saw the lines of people at the cash register, Friday after work, people preparing for 3 days of groceries instead of 2 – I couldn’t leave without paying. So, I walked back “Enschuldigung, I didn’t pay for my meat.”

Then it happened…
The blank look I have come so to recognize
She doesn’t speak English. My heart sank. After much scrambling an English speaker was dragged out of the back holding a carton of Pringles, imagine that! He translated, the woman disagreed, the crowds stared, escape was considered – but finally it was tackled and I left – shaken.

All the way home I beat myself up over just 7 words. “I need to pay for my meat.” Put in a tough situation I had frozen, I couldn’t even remember the word for meat, much less for pay. In fact, NOTHING had come up from my gray matter except “Enschuldigung!” over and over again.

I spent Friday night ‘PLUGGED IN’ - NO German, NO going out, NO walking.

Saturday morning I ‘PLUGGED IN’ again. I unpacked boxes, and listened to music. AMERICAN music!

Finally, I got a bit hungry and went downstairs for a cup of soup ‘PLUGGED IN’ with my nano. My Chinese friend had to tap me on the shoulder to get my order. A German shopkeeper I am getting acquainted with came over to sit with me, but I was ‘PLUGGED IN’ and she didn’t disturb me – and I was glad – I was soooo tired of German! Not Germans, but German!

Eating, listening to David Grey ‘White Ladder’ writing and waiting for my soup I wrote in my journal OH GOD, I NEED a hug!
Ich brauche eine Umarmung. I wrote it in English and in German.

I returned home to a note hanging on my mail box. “Robyn, I brought Kaffee and schokolade kuchen. I will be back, went for a walk 14:20. (signed -- one of my German friends)

I cried! Isn’t God good? Isn’t flesh and blood, heart and soul relationship better than any internet, radio, TV, movie, or even Carol King or David Grey?

Later that day my friend downloaded lots of stuff needing lots of prayer – when she left I said “Ich brauche eine Umarmung.”

She needed one too.

? I don't ever want to be too 'PLUGGED IN!'

Friday, May 19, 2006

Elevators - OHHH how I remember the days :0)

Elavators? I haven't been on one of those in a coon's age.
We don't have many here. I live in a world that decided not to put them in! Well, I must admit that I did ride on one. It was at an apartment complex that I considered. The place was nice, in fact one of the missionaries that is coming over in June will be taking the flat, but it just didn't have the character of my place. So, I opted for character. In light of that I got a real kick out of these ideas of what to do on an elevator. I am taking these under consideration and will try them out the next time I am in the States.
I read this elsewhere and it made me snort.

Things to do on an elevator:
1) When there's only one other person in the elevator, tap them on the shoulder and then pretend it wasn't you.
2) Push the buttons and pretend they give you a shock. Smile, and go back for more.
3) Ask if you can push the buttons for other people, but push the wrong ones.
4) Call the Psychic Hotline from your cell phone and ask if they know what floor you're on.
5) Hold the doors open and say you're waiting for your friend. After awhile, let the doors close and say, "Hi Greg. How's your day been?"
6) Drop a pen and wait until someone reaches to help pick it up, then scream, "That's mine!"
7) Bring a camera and take pictures of everyone in the elevator.
8) Move your desk in to the elevator and whenever someone gets on, ask if they have an appointment.
9) Lay down a Twister mat and ask people if they'd like to play.
10) Leave a box in the corner, and when someone gets on ask them if they hear something ticking.
11) Pretend you are a flight attendant and review emergency procedures and exit with the passengers.
12) Ask, "Did you feel that?"
13) Stand really close to someone, sniffing them occasionally.
14) When the doors close, announce to the others, "It's okay. Don't panic, they open up again."
15) Swat at flies that don't exist.
16) Tell people that you can see their aura.
17) Call out, "Group hug!" then enforce it.
18) Grimace painfully while smacking your forehead and muttering "Shut up, all of you, just shut up!"
19) Crack open your briefcase or purse, and while peering inside, ask, "Got enough air in there?"
20) Stand silently and motionless in the corner, facing the wall, without getting off.
21) Stare at another passenger for a while, then announce in horror, "You're one of THEM!" and back away slowly.
22) Wear a puppet on your hand and use it to talk to the other passengers.
23) Listen to the elevator walls with your stethoscope.
24) Make explosion noises when anyone presses a button.
25) Grinning, stare at another passenger for a while, and then announce, "I have new socks on."
26) Draw a little square on the floor with chalk and announce to the other passengers, "This is my personal space."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Culture Shock

January being the last time I posted, I believe I have a lot of catching up to do.

I entered Germany on January 15, 2006. Staying in Kandern with my co-workers for two weeks was a good entry into the country. Moving into another co-workers home, while they are on leave to the United States, the culture shock that many talk about began to slip into my existence. It is probably good that I could not blog during this period of my life. I struggled with many things.

After five months of living in Germany, I can honestly say I am not over culture shock. The way things are done is still confusing to me. I was listening to a CD of a speaker I heard before I came in November. Jill Briscoe and her husband have a world-wide ministry to missionaries and pastors. They are from England, but moved to the United States many years ago. There children were young teens and she commented on the struggles that she went through, "Was it safe to ride their bicycles throught the park, what about driving a car, they would never have had to deal with their children driving a car at this early age..." the list goes on. She said that she just didn't know what was safe and what wasn't, what was good and what was bad. She struggled, as does anyone that picks up and moves into a new culture. It is easier if you understand each other's language, but even moving from the eastcoast to the westcoast is a culture shock. Just watch Legally Blonde. :-)

I say this repeatedly, and I believe that I will continue. It is a phrase that says it all. I live in a picture puzzle. The flowers are incredible, the Black Forest enchanting, my little town quaint.
God blessed me with a car that I am thankful for daily. I live in a wonderful flat overlooking a castle from one view and the French mountains from the other. I live in the Black Forest.
By the way, Black Forest Chocolate Cake is not really understood, until you eat it IN the Black Forest! Then you know why it is famous.

I should be having my washer and dryer delivered today.

Language is interesting and I am beginning to get the hang of it. But, it will be a long investment of time and energy. My furniture arrived on Tuesday, a week and a-half ago. Needless to say I am still unpacking.

I finally got hooked up the internet from my flat, yesterday. I hope to keep the blog updated more often since that hoop has been jumped through. :-)

mutating missionary