Tuesday, December 29, 2009
A lot of Americans, as you can imagine, head back to the States for the holidays, but a few are like us and had reasons not to leave. We felt that we were not yet settled in enough to leave and didn't know how to make plans for the animals while we were away...so, we'll head home to PA for family visiting later in the winter. We started talking to some of our American friends who were sticking around to find out what people do for Christmas here, secretly hoping to not have to cook at all...and had several lovely invitations to dinners, activities and parties. We also learned that the Army Base Chapel, where we attend on Sundays, has a Christmas Eve service annually. So we started to make plans...
We planned to attend Christmas Eve service, where we were asked to participate by reading and lighting the final advent candle, the Christ candle...then we planned to go home and open our gifts from family so that the next morning we could take our time getting ready to go on a hike to a hutte/lodge where we would eat Christmas dinner with friends who Ben works with and then sled back down the hill...get home, shower & clean up, go to Ben's office to call home and talk to our families (we still don't have our own phone line...any day now!)...before we headed off with more friends to join a dessert party up the mountain in Ettal.
We did attend the Christmas Eve service, AFTER we had what can only be described as an emotional meltdown resulting from the changes, adjustments, stresses and sadness of missing our family and friends. But God is good and we were able to pull ourselves together and make it to the service. Being a part of it felt really special since we are so new here, but it also felt natural-after all, we were with God's family. The Chaplain, Larry Pundt, gave an excellent sermon on how God fooled the devil at Christmas...reminding us all of God's sovereingty. If you google that title, you can find this sermon, apparently it is popular, but Ben & I couldn't remember hearing it before...and Larry is a man of God with a passionate heart and certainly made it his own.
We did open our presents Christmas Eve. :)
Christmas morning it was raining. So we didn't hike. We did stuff around the house, watched a couple of movies, made nachos and talked more about what had caused me in particular to breakdown the night before...but Ben was able to share a lot of what he is struggling with too. Mostly, the hardest thing has been not having good communication with our support systems. I know we have each other, and that is a true blessing...but when you are both feeling crummy about things and aren't paying enough attention to the feelings of the other...or expressing yourself properly, things get mixed up pretty quickly. So after talking about what we were each having a hard time with, we agreed to help each other out, made some goals and we both felt a lot better about our new life here...when you know someone else is missing some of the same things, it helps!
We did get to talk to our families (except my dad who we left a message for)...and our nephew Logan sang to us...something about his bicycle has no handlebars...he is Brook's son, afterall. :)
We did go with friends to the dessert party and had a fabulous time.
So, our Christmas wasn't a happy or spectacular or fun adventure like we had hoped...but it was certainly a time of reflection...reflection on God's love in the form of the Christ-child, reflection on how we are doing after moving to a new country, a new culture, a new life...relfection on the goodness that God shows us-as undeserving as we are. And it was fun!
Have a fabulous New Year...and remember to reflect on God's goodness in your life!
Monday, December 21, 2009
I have to admit that at first I was not so keen on this whole idea of leaving my house, my yard, my dog park buds. In fact, the week of the move, my "people" made me sleep in this small one room house they called a hotel-so I found a secret hidden room that they did not seem to notice and slept in there. I heard them call it a closet, but I think they just didn't know that you could easily fit in there to sleep comfortably...I didn't tell them b/c I wanted it all to myself.
We had one last stop in another big place...but this place was different. It had a lot of nice people, but they talked funny and they just left Rascal and I out in the middle of the floor on a cart with suitcases, so my people didn't find me right away. They walked right past me and I was worried that they wouldn't see me and I was too scared to bark at them. But they did find me and they took me to a quiet room where a nice funny talking man met me and petted me and said something like "Welcome to Munich, Germany" but I just hoped that they would let me out of my crate soon so I could run around.
Over time, I learned to like the new house but I didn't know where my bed or toys went or why we had so little room-it sure seemed like my people had made a MAJOR DOWNGRADE.
It has been a long adjustment, but I think Germany is growing on me. I like the mountains-after all, I am a mountain dog. I also like the snow-a lot. And my people finally moved me into a bigger house where I have a yard right outside of the door next to my bed...and yeah...some other men found the men who stole my stuff and they brought it all back to me...my bed, my toys, even my car! So, it feels a little like home now.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
The view from the Memorial is a good one- you can see all of Garmisch and the ski jump from the Olympics.
After we got our car in Stuttgart, we came and left for a quick day-trip to Salzburg. It was a great starter trip- we'll definitely want to go back for a few days to explore the narrow alleys.
Every other vendor at the Christmas markets sells sweets! The roasted, sugared and cinnamon almonds are our favorite.
Partenkirchen, which is connected to Garmisch, also had a Christmas market. The end of it had a really cool view.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Esther and I at our favorite place for pizza, "La Mamma".
The booths serving brats and gluhwein are just starting to pop up for the Christmas season. Last night, Nov 27, a band played along side.
Storm has found her sleeping corner.
This meal was served at a mountain hut after an hour hike. It was amazing!
The dining/living room windows face south and west, which is great for light and sun.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Laundry is a different subject here too. Staying in our temporary apartment-our "ferienwohnung"-is I guess comprable to staying in a vacation condo in the States. We are responsible for all of our own cleaning and laundry. The landlady will clean our bedding for 5 euro a set (that is $7.50) or we can do it ourselves. BUT we can't use her facility. So she recommended I take our laundry to the Waschsalon-German style laundromat-that is a couple of blocks from our ferienwohnung. So, I did. I packed up our dirty clothes, towels, etc. in a suitcase and rolled it down the street to the only-German-speaking wasch-frau at the Waschsalon. Upon learning that I knew as much German as she knew English, she proceeded to put my dirty clothes in the washing machines for me (wierd), put in the soap and run them (3 loads). She instructed me to come back in one hour. I was confused by this point but willing to go with it-practicing the art of flexibility-so I left and came back an hour later. She had moved some of my things by then to the dryers so I quickly went through to make sure nothing shrinkable had made it in and then moved the rest myself. Once things were set, she started the dryers (at what heat, I have no idea) and told me to sit and wait. So I got out my wordsearches-thank you 3rd grade teachers!-and proceeded to wait. 15 minutes later I was pulling my warm, dry clothes out and folding them nicely into the suitcase. I then went to the counter and waited for the wasch-frau to take my money. I didn't know how much it would cost, so I was prepared for anything. She got out her calculator and added up 3 loads of wash and 2 dryers running for 15 minutes....total=20.80 euros. WHAT? Could that possibly be correct? Ok...being flexible, I paid her (all in coins b/c she wouldn't take my 20 euro bill) and left with my clean laundry. I cannot describe the feeling of shock I had walking the 2 blocks back home realizing that I had just spent $30 on 3 loads of laundry!!! THIRTY DOLLARS!!! Unbelievable. A few days later a friend on base told me that there are laundry facilities on the base camping grounds that take quarters that I can use. So, my second laundry experience was packing the suitcase, taking the bus, walking on base to get American Dollars from the ATM (you can choose Euros or Dollars), walking to the campgrounds, finding the laundry, putting my bills in the change machine, starting 3 loads of laundry myself, putting them in the dryer myself, and then folding it and returning home. All of this for less than $5...go figure. A little more effort and a TON of savings. Some things will just always be better in the States. :)
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Have you ever been in a restaurant with someone that you know so well that you don't even have to talk much b/c there isn't much to be said-especially if he is your only friend on the whole continent...well, that is Ben and I every night at dinner. And normally, I would enjoy a little eavesdropping to pick up on local interests but when they are speaking German, that is out of the question...so many meals, we sit quietly, chatting about our days, making plans and me, trying to pick out words or phrases I recognize that I can ask Ben to translate-if he can. I wonder if I will ever be good enough at German to eavesdrop in the restaurants here...? Should that even be my goal? haha Maybe not. ;)
Speaking of connections to home, we have German Cable TV in the apartment but the only english channels are MTV and CNN, so we are either learning all about world weather and politics or we are watching disturbing music videos or reality TV shows-so the TV is not often on...which is pretty typical since we didn't have Cable TV in Utah. It is helping me to learn some German, though...the commercials crack me up!
Be sure to comment and ask questions-there are lots more things I want to blog about, but I am curious what kinds of questions you have that I can answer. I'm sure I am leaving out plenty of things.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
And below is our apartment from the outside.
Sorry for the short post- we're still settling in. Much more to come!!
Ben and Esther
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
We found a great doggie crate for Storm and have devised a plan for her to play with a really energetic buddy for a few days before our departure. Hopefully she'll be exhausted and will sleep most of the flights. Rascal will hopefully just go with the flow. It'll be interesting to see if we can get him litter access during our 7 hour layover in Chicago.... maybe we can bribe somebody to let us in a closet somewhere.