Nov
28
2009
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MMT 21–Slovakia

Our time in Slovakia could hardly have been more different from Prague. We went to work with a little mission in the village of Sus. Our hosts there are missionaries sent out by Swiss Faith Mission, so they speak German (and some English, fortunately!). The people in Sus are all farmers, so the missionaries farm too. I think our time in Sus would have been quite shocking if we hadn’t been to Guetli already. Sus is kind of like Guetli, but more primitive.

Saturday evening we sang at a church in a nearby village. I gave my camera to one of the girls from Sus, so I have lots of photos of that service (for a change). We were a little nervous about that service since it was our first time singing in Slovak, but the people were very kind (and said that they could understand us!).

Saturday was July 4th, and on the way back from our concert, we had a private celebration in our van. Amy Corey brought glow sticks, and we turned up the patriotic music. Strangely, I think it was the best July 4th celebration I’ve ever experienced. I guess being in rural Slovakia helped me see how much I should be thankful for my country.

We had our own service at the mission Sunday morning, and then Sunday afternoon we helped with the mission open house. Normally, they invite all of the village people to come over for a Bible study and have refreshments afterward. Since we were there, we sang, and then someone from the mission preached, and then we had refreshments. It was an exciting day, because lots of the village people came! Unfortunately, we didn’t get to stay to talk to people afterward because we had to be in Bratislava that evening. I think most of them probably didn’t speak English, so we couldn’t have talked much anyway.

Sunday evening we sang at a church in Bratislava, the capitol. We gave a concert after the evening service, and not everyone stayed. At first, I felt a little disappointed, but I remembered that God can work no matter what the size of the audience. We sang “It is Well” that night, and several of the audience members seemed especially moved by that song. Actually, it seemed to be a favorite all summer, in all languages.
the church in Bratislava
The Saturday evening concert
the 4th of July celebration
Slovakian countryside

Nov
27
2009
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MMT 20–Prague

After Kirchberg, we had to drive to Slovakia. It’s a long way to Slovakia, so we spent the night in Prague. It was a terrible trial, and we suffered greatly, I assure you. We especially suffered during the several hours when we went sight-seeing in Prague.

I love sight-seeing in Prague, but I can’t say that I love Prague as a whole. There’s a lot of dirt in Prague, and a lot of scary people. And it took three different keys for me to get into my hostel room. Three keys! I can’t decide whether that makes me feel very safe (No one’s breaking into my room!) or freaked out (Why on earth do we need three different keys??).

But still, it’s Prague. It has lots of shopping and old buildings, which make me happy. I wish I had a good picture of the market where we did most of our shopping, but I was too busy shopping to take pictures. Funny how that works . . .

I do have obligatory pictures of the astronomical clock, the St. Charles bridge, and a church. There’s also a picture of the cafe where we had pizza for supper. It was a nice day.

church in Prague
astronomical clock
on the St. Charles bridge
pizza supper

Nov
15
2009
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MMT 19–Kirchberg

We spent several days in Kirchberg, singing there and at other churches in the area. Unfortunately, my computer ate my pictures from those days. Since my pictures are gone, my memories are a little fuzzy, too.

In Kirchberg, we sang across the street from the market, and then went into the market to pass out invitations. There were several vendors who were unhappy about our presence, so I was very excited when the bakery stand lady stopped me and said, “If you will give me a stack of the invitations, I’ll give them to my customers.”

We had several good concerts in the Kirchberg area, but I don’t remember much about them. I met an interesting lady who teaches handicapped children. We sang in a town square and a shirtless man who acted drunk sat on the fountain in front of us and kept clapping and talking to us.

We had Bradley’s birthday celebration (not during a concert). It was so funny that I cried.

Oh, and food. I do have lots of Kirchberg memories centered around food. First, there are the sandwiches.

I’m sure our hosts from the previous stop gave us sandwiches to eat on the way. When we arrived at Kirchberg, they said that we were going to have kaffee and kuchen, but it turned out to be kaffee and sandwiches. That was ok, but for some reason, the team seemed to have reached our sandwich limit. So we didn’t eat very many sandwiches. But, the church people kindly left them at the church so we could have them for a snack later.

That evening, we were singing at a church in another town, and having supper there. When we arrived, there were lots of bottles of Fanta and beautifully arranged platters of sandwiches. It would have been funny, except that I think the church ladies must have made 7 sandwiches for each of us, and we were only able to eat about 1.745692 sandwiches apiece.

It’s not that we have anything against sandwiches, especially the beautiful ones that the German ladies make. And really, we were ever so grateful for their hospitality. It’s just that American young people can only eat so many open face salami (or cheese or egg or smoked salmon or bologna) sandwiches with a bit of butter and an artful slice of pepper or cucumber.

We also had sandwiches at a different church, and hot dogs at another. I thought we did a great job of eating the hot dogs, but one of the serving ladies didn’t. I think she cried when she saw how many were left over. I felt sad for her, but really, they didn’t need to make approximately 87 hot dogs for us. I think they got confused and thought they were feeding starving children from Africa. That, or a basketball team. At any rate, they expected us to eat ten times more than we actually can, and to eat it 30 minutes before we were supposed to sing an hour-long concert.

We were all staying at the church in Kirchberg (not in host homes), so when other churches weren’t feeding us, we cooked for ourselves. That was fun! We had pizza one day, and schnitzel another. Oh, and Dr. Dad made scrambled eggs for breakfast. Germans don’t generally make scrambled eggs, so this was the only time all summer that most people on the team had non-boiled eggs. And yes, we did eat those like we were starving. I think Dr. Dad made 100 eggs for the team. It was something ridiculous like that, anyway, and I think we ate them all! We did skip lunch that day, though.

Finally, there was an actual kaffee and kuchen (this one included coffee, and cake, and no sandwiches at all). There’s a very sweet couple in the church in Kirchberg that hosted me and Tim last year. This year, we stayed at the church with the rest of the team, but they invited us and Heather Davis and the Drs. Parents over for kaffee and kuchen.

Dr. Mom wasn’t able to go, because she wasn’t feeling well. So, there were just 6 of us at the table. But for the 6 of us, there were 3 kinds of ice cream, and a huge strawberry cheese shortcake and pastries and bread with butter and probably other things that I’m forgetting. We were expected to eat the entire strawberry creation, along with huge quantities of icecream and pastry. These people are so sweet, but I’m glad that they aren’t my grandparents. If they fed me on a regular basis, I think I would be dead. Oh, and on the way out, the lady gave me and Heather a box of chocolates!

Nov
08
2009
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MMT 18–Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

Some people cry when they visit the concentration camp, but I didn’t. I felt stunned and a little sick. I’ve heard people say before that something left a bad taste in their mouths. Just thinking about the things I saw at Sachsenhausen makes me want to spit.

We visited on a sunny day. It didn’t seem right that the sun was shining and flowers were growing on ground where innocent people were tortured. Our bodies protest the injustice. Shouldn’t the ground protest too?

It was chilling to see buildings, guard towers, and barbed wire. What I remember most was an exhibit that documented person after person. It told a little bit about their families and profession, and then what we know about how and when they died. Person after person. Doctors. Shopkeepers. Innocent people who one day disappeared, and the next day were murdered by rifle or by gas.

In a way, I hated visiting Sachsenhausen. I don’t want to think about such terrible things. Yet, I think it’s good to visit. It’s good to remember the people who died there.

As we left Sachsenhausen, I thought about how it’s important for us to remember the Holocaust, to remind ourselves about how terrible it was, and to keep anyone from repeating it. Really, how could anyone do things like that to another human being? And why did people have anything against the Jews, anyway? They weren’t hurting anyone.

The Holocaust seems unimaginable, but is it? Don’t we look down on other groups of people who are different from us? Don’t we get frustrated with people who get in our way? I’ve never considered murder, but I have despised other people. But God’s standard is for us to love others as ourselves. That standard applies to everyone, whether they are like us or not.

So now, when I think of the Holocaust, I remember Sachsenhausen, and the terrible things that happened there. I pray that nothing like it will ever happen again, and I pray that God will give me grace to love the people around me.


Nov
08
2009
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MMT 17–Berlin

On Saturday (during our stay at Oranienburg), we went to Berlin! Saturday evening we gave a concert at a church on the outskirts of Berlin, but during the day, we had time to see the Pergamon Museum, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Brandenburg Gate.

Our visit to Berlin began on a disturbing note when we were accosted by a gypsy woman. By this point in the summer, we had seen lots of beggars. Usually, they sit quietly on the sidewalk with their cups. This woman wasn’t quiet. We weren’t even out of the van when she came up and started asking for money. When we politely refused, she became more insistent. She actually blocked the doorway so that we couldn’t get out, and stared into the van as we gathered our bags. We finally had to firmly tell her to go away, and then we had to leave someone to guard our vans. We didn’t have much stuff in them for her to steal, but we didn’t want to risk a broken window.

The Ishtar GateAfter we dealt with the gypsy lady, Tim and I took a group to the Pergamon Museum. That museum has two exhibits that are right out of Bible history. The first is the Pergamon altar, which gives the museum its name. This altar is from the city of Pergamum, which is mentioned in Revelation 2. The second is the Ishtar gate from ancient Babylon. I don’t think the gate is specifically mentioned in the Bible, but Daniel probably walked through it when Nebuchadnezzer brought him to Babylon. German archeologists unearthed the ruins in Iraq, and then rebuilt the gate inside the museum using as many original bricks as possible. For me, it’s absolutely amazing to stand beside that gate and think, “Daniel saw these blue bricks and animals. I’m seeing what Daniel saw.”

At Checkpoint Charlie (the entrance to the American sector in Berlin during communist times), it was hard to process my thoughts. I’m just old enough to have vague memories of the wall coming down. I remember seeing the footage on tv of people standing on the wall, cheering, breaking it down. In some ways, I don’t understand it any better than I did back in 1989, when I was 6. When I walked down the sidewalk and read the sign that says, “You are leaving the American sector,” it was hard to imagine that people couldn’t always walk there. It’s hard to imagine the barricades and the guns. Twenty years haven’t taught me why some people would want to build a wall that would separate families and ruin lives.

The Brandenburg GateFinally, we had a few minutes to see the Brandenburg Gate. I studied Kennedy and Reagan’s speeches in my rhetoric classes, so I was really excited that I finally got to stand there and see the place for myself. It’s ironic, but I have the least to say about my favorite place. I wanted to see it so badly, and then, when I did, I just walked around, trying to absorb everything, and that was all. Well, except that I wish I could go back. I did go back later in the summer (after team left, when Tim and his parents and I went sight-seeing for a bit). Then I got to see the gate at dusk!

The most special thing about our Berlin trip happened after all of the sight-seeing. We had to rush back to the vans after seeing the Brandenburg Gate, but when we got there, I didn’t see the team. We started unlocking the van, and then someone came up and said, “Quick, get your music. We’re going to sing!” We were puzzled, but we did what we were told. On MMT, you must always be ready to sing.

It turns out, that while we were sight-seeing, the McCauleys went to a cafe for some schnitzel or something. As they were sitting there, they saw a group go by with some instruments, so Dr. Mom ran out and asked what they were doing. They said that were going to sing and pass out tracts, and they gave her some of their literature. They were from some churches outside of Berlin. Later, when the team started converging at the vans, they heard some music and found out that the other group was singing on a square right by our vans! After the McCauleys talked with them some more, they invited us to sing, and then asked if we had a preacher. So, Tim got to preach a short gospel message. It was really neat that God brought our two groups together. I should also mentioned that it wasn’t anything like the street protests and street preaching that you hear in America. We sang (and Tim preached) just like we normally would. Maybe the gypsy woman heard that God loves her.

So, our Berlin trip had a disturbing beginning but encouraging end. And in the middle, we saw 3 gates–the Ishtar gate, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Brandenburg Gate. It was a good day.

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