From March 3rd through March 12th, I took a trip to Germany to help out in the building of a center for missionaries there. The place will be used for training and hosting many people who go to minister to Germans in this beautiful country.

I am so thankful for the opportunity and for the people who supported it and prayed so much as it was coming up and as I was there. It was a crazy-amazing experience, and I will remember it FOREVER.

Because the original post was getting to be incredibly long, I decided to make it into a sort of series. This is the first post, sharing stories during days one and two.

Day 1: Friday

We head off from the church towards the airport. Here is a timelapse of our scenery from the outskirts of Chicago to the terminal.

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Things were pretty chill when we got there; we were totally on time and the airport wasn’t busy at all. Once we checked in and made our way through security (which was actually a lot more simple and less stressful than I thought it would be) we sat down at a couple sunny tables and ate some lunch. Everyone else had Mexican food, I think, but I had pizza. It was good pizza.

Then we boarded the plane. That first one went from Midway to Atlanta, so it was only a two-hour flight. I watched most of The Giver on that flight, a movie based off the book by Lois Lowry, which I haven’t read, but don’t make me feel more guilty about it. It was a good movie. We also got pretzels and cookies, and the little cookies said Delta on them, which I thought was funny.

OH! And TAKEOFF! It was my first time flying in a plane, and… yeah. I just went nuts, it was so crazy. Before I knew it, we had left the ground, and it was getting smaller, and I could see everything because the sky was clear.

Day 2: Saturday

We time-travelled. I’m telling you, that’s what it felt like. Germany is six hours ahead of our time zone, so it was definitely something to get used to. I didn’t sleep a wink on the plane, and there I was in Germany, 9 am, and I had the energy level of 3 am. The nice thing was my mind adjusted to the schedule fairly well. 9 am really felt like 9 am, and the only thing that felt odd was eating lunch and feeling like it should have been supper for some reason.

After we were picked up from the airport, we went to a store called Globus. Here’s a photo I took by complete chance on the way there:

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It’s basically what Walmart is here, but because this is Europe, it has a cooler name and no one wears their pajamas. I loved to hear people speaking in German and I tried to say hallo and danke to the cashier. It was neat to be in Germany and know just enough German and look just enough German to pass as a German. Several cashiers and people at various stores and places spoke to me in German, and I either would pretend I understood and accidentally eat soap, or admit I spoke English. Because they’re so neat, they could just switch to English and talk to me. That was helpful. I bought gummy bears at Globus, or “gummy bearchen.” They were really good, and not the last gummy bears I bought over there.

We took a walk to help us adjust. The scenery was amazing, we could look down and see the whole village, the little white houses and red roofs all smushed together in a river-like formation. Below is a photo I took. I don’t remember why I took it. But I like it.

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That was another thing I noticed. On our side of the ocean, everything was in grids. Ponds, baseball fields, corn fields, houses, even the rivers were overcome by the grid. Then, after hours of starry darkness, as we arrived in Germany, everything went to grooves and valleys and rivers and everything was built around water and farms instead of paperwork and skyscrapers. I like Europe for that. You can tell it’s older than the USA because while they made villages, we made civilizations. By the time we built our country, we had figured out how to do all those geeky geographical things.

When we got to the place we were staying, I was honestly quite surprised as to how cozy and beautiful it was. I had expected… A place more “mission tripy”? Simple concrete walls, cold floors, minimal furniture, a half-completed bathroom. But this place was somebody’s home, and a really nice on at that. I could have moved there and loved it.

We ate schnitzel and drank apfel shorle for lunch. The former is breaded pork, the latter is carbonated apple juice. I loved it, which was lucky for me because it was either that or carbonated water at many meals, and that stuff is nasty. Ever since their economy became more stable many years after the war, drinking normal water has been associated with being poor. Specifically, being poor because of a war that killed 3% of the world and was started by your not-too-distant ancestors.

For supper, I just had a sandwich because I decided to go with the assistant to the pastor we were staying with to a youth group meeting half an hour away. I definitely feel asleep on the drive. There were only about three teens there, but it was really neat to sing with them and listen to an all-German presentation about the armor of God and gangsters. And get this: some of the songs we sang were in English! They all sang them really well. Granted, they take much more English in school than we take German, but it was still cool to hear them sing familiar songs.

Then I went back to the house, stayed up one more grueling hour, and fell asleep in a hammock hanging from the beams of the attic.

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