Sunday, October 24, 2010

CSM Women's Retreat

Last weekend I got to get out of town for a few days and have some great ladies time.  All of the women on the Germany field with Cadence Student Ministries took four days off and headed to the Black Forest for retreat.

On our way down, we stopped in Strassbourg, France for lunch and a quick wander around.  We enjoyed some yummy Flammkuchen (like a very thin crusted white pizza).

It was a pretty fall day to walk around the picturesque alleys and amazing cathedral.  And of course, the stroll wasn't complete without a chocolate eclair.

Then we headed on to the Black Forest and to a new and very lovely Cadence House.  Our dear fellow Cadence missionary, Candy, was our guest "speaker."  The theme was rest.  We explored what Sabbath rest truly looks like and how to make it a priority.  It was thought-provoking and helpful.

The rest of the weekend was spent resting, of course, and shopping.  We found some thrift stores in France and got some great bargains.  We played games and spent lots of time chatting.  Conversation was rich and filling.  I feel so blessed to be among these women and to know them.  And our surroundings were gorgeous as all of the windows were filled with the bold colors of fall. 

While I was away, Anthony got four fantastic days with the kids.  They did well.  However, it was nice to be greeted with big cheers and hugs upon my return.  I missed my little gang.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Last weekend we went to a local Kurbis (Pumpkin) Fest.  We have been going to this farm the last few has sort of become our fall tradition.  However, this is the first year that we thought ahead far enough to make sure to make it to their annual festival.

We were a little hesitant because the sky was overcast and it was sprinkling on-and-off.  We half wondered if they would cancel.  But we decided to venture out anyways and figured that at the very least we would get a nice drive out of it.  As we were on our way, we remembered that Germans do not mind the weather as much as most Americans.  Germans just throw on a few more layers, grab an umbrella, and refuse to let the weather ruin their time.  So, as we approached the farm, we were not surprised to see several fields filled with parked cars.  The place was packed.

There was an extensive farmers and crafts market that was fun to peruse.  We got a jar of "weihnachts backerei," preserves made of pumpkin, vanilla, anis and cinnamon that is Autumn in a scrumptious jam.  We also got a bottle of pumpkin wine and an artichoke blossom, as well as, a bouquet of Lampion blossoms and ivy. 

We had great eats!  Of course, we had to have a bratwurst.  But we also enjoyed this super yummy pumpkin soup, sweet corn cakes with weihnachts jam, and pork steak.  All was fresh and delicious!

After lunch, the kids climbed around the hay playground and, of course, we picked-out a couple pumpkins.  They have dozens of pumpkins in all colors and sizes.

We did not take time for the huge corn maze...we will have to make another trip this fall for that.  We had a sweet time together as a family enjoying the some of the best the season has to offer.  

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My First Parent Meeting

Last week there was a Parent Meeting at Alethia's school.  Initially, I was hoping that Anthony would be able to arrange his schedule so that we could go together and make sense of what we could considering the language barrier.  However, the meeting happened to be at the same time as K-town Middle School youth group, so there was no way for Anthony to come.  He catches much more of the language than I do, so I was just not very confident in my ability to understand anything on my own. 

I approached one of Alethia's teachers about it (the one that speaks English, Frau Valerie), asking some clarifying questions.  She explained that the whole meeting will be in German so I probably shouldn't go, and she could get the information to me afterwards.  Well, I'm just not that kind of parent.  I know that having Alethia in German school will be challenging at times, but I want to make every effort to be just as involved as I would be if she was going to an American school, and there's just no way that I would miss a parents meeting.

So I started brainstorming.  Who could I ask to go with me and help me translate?  I decided to talk to my German neighbor (who lives below us) about it.  Her kids (now teens) both went to the same kindergarten as Alethia does.  So, she would not only know the language, but would also be familiar with the school itself.  If you know me well, you would know that this was a big growth step for me.  I am not one to go diving into unfamiliar settings by myself anyhow, but then to ask someone I don't know well to help me through it is quite a stretch for me.  However, Sebina was very nice about it and said she would be willing to go. 

I quickly figured-out that I was the only American parent in attendance.  In fact, I later found out that the other American parents from Alethia's class (the ONLY other American parents) weren't even told about it.  I guess it was only because I diligently translated the school calendar that I had received the week before that I knew of it.  

Sebina took copious notes as I sat there listening hard for a word or two that I could understand.  Mostly I felt lost and silly for smiling and laughing when everyone else did though I had no idea why.  I was glad to be there though.  And afterward Sebina patiently explained her notes to me and tried to answer my questions.  Then, she took notes about the questions she could not answer and got the answers for me.  I could not have asked for a better translator. 

The best part was at the end.  Sebina approached Alethia's other teacher, Frau Olga, (the one that speaks no English, so to whom I've never been able to speak with myself) to ask some of my questions.  I then, through Sebina, got to ask her about how Alethia is doing.  She seemed pleased to talk about Alethia, which warmed my heart.  She explained that she had assumed that Alethia and the one other American girl in the class would naturally gravitate to one another, so they had intentionally put them together for things, but that they actually prefer playing with other kids.  The other girl is shy and keeps to herself, however, Alethia is so outgoing and friendly.  I then asked, "Does that mean that she is independent or is she playing with other kids."  And Frau Olga said that she plays with other kids and seems to have made two friends in particular.  She has also noticed Alethia starting to understand certain German phrases that they use in the classroom.  And she is finding Alethia to be a good listener when she is asked to do something.  She also said that her and Alethia are helping each other when it comes to the language barrier.  For instance, Frau Olga was reading to her a book about animals and when Olga would point out the animals and use their German names, Alethia would repeat and then tell her the English names for them.  She seemed very pleased that they are able to help each other in this way. 

This conversation alone made my effort worthwhile.  It was good to finally connect with Frau Olga.  And it was wonderful to hear that Alethia is doing well.  And it was a nice experience with Sebina, whom I haven't had much opportunity to get to know.  I know this is just the beginning of these kind of experiences for me, so it is encouraging that this time went so well.  Hopefully, next time, Anthony will be able to be with me too.