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Oct

On our way to Magdeburg, Germany, we stopped in a village that still has a section of the East/West wall. We walked along in the no-man’s-land, taking pictures of the guard tower. It was hard to imagine that not so long ago we would have been shot (no questions asked!) for standing there.

Freedom is beautiful.

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Sep

We weren’t sure what to expect in Hannover, since it was the MMT’s first time with this church. However, we ended up having a great time working with national believers there.

We arrived just in time to eat supper and get ready for a service. Afterward, we had a coffee and cake fellowship time. It seemed like the people there were especially friendly, and we had some good conversations (especially with the young people).

Our host told us an interesting story about how the Musical Mission Team gave him an opportunity to witness. He was telling one of his coworkers that an American choir was coming, and two of the choir members would be staying with him. His coworker said, “You must not do that! You do not know those people. You cannot keep strangers from another country in your home!” So our host was able to explain to his coworker that it was safe, even though he had never met us before. We are his brothers and sisters in Christ, so he was glad to welcome us into his home.

On our second day in Hannover, we had another evening concert at a nearby church. During the day, we went into town to see the sights. We visited the town hall, where our hosts had arranged for us to have an English tour, and also saw the cathedral. In the evening we gave our concert, and met even more friendly people during another dessert and fellowship time.

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Sep

I think all of the second-year team members were especially happy to arrive at the peaceful House Felsengrund. This Christian hotel is located in the little village of Zavelstein on the edge of the black forest. In Zavelstein, Tim and Kevin preached another Bible conference, and we provided special music. We also gave one full concert.

In our spare time, we enjoyed walks in the black forest, visited a wood carving shop/museum, and caught up on sleep. This visit to Zavelstein was memorable for me because we celebrated my birthday here in full MMT fashion. My celebration included the birthday song performed by the “9 Flamingos” (6 mission team guys wearing sunglasses), and an awesome story composed by Caleb and Mike. For the rest of the team, Zavelstein is memorable because of some very unusual fish.

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Sep

In Sinsheim, we worked with missionary Fred Foster and his wife, Tabea. We had services in two nursing homes, and a concert in the stadthalle (like a city hall). Before the concert, we passed out tracts and invitations while our brass group played in the pedestrian zone downtown.

Before we left, some of the team members took the opportunity to visit the Sinsheim Technik Museum, which has lots of planes, cars, and other vehicles.

sinsheim technik museum (192)

Sep

Please forgive me for taking so long to post the rest of the MMT updates. I do intend to finish them.

In Kaiserslautern, we worked with a national church. This church, like many that we visit, consists mainly of Germans whose ancestors relocated to Russia (or Romania or Kazakhstan) during the reign of Catherine the Great. The families got stuck in the Soviet Union when the Iron Curtain fell and then returned to Germany in the 1990’s. (In the future, if I talk about Russian Germans, this is what I mean. They might actually be Ukrainian Germans, but sometimes I have trouble with those details.) It’s always fascinating to stay with these people and hear their stories. (more…)

Jul

At Nürnberg, we had the opportunity to sing at a tent meeting. The trip from Zurich took a little bit longer than we expected, so we had to inhale our supper, change our clothes in record time, and rush out to the tent. The meeting had actually started before we arrived, but the people were singing hymns and waiting for us. We were thankful that the people were so patient, but a little bit flustered about having to rush in and sing right away.

The next day we were supposed to sing in the pedestrian area and pass out invitations, but it was raining, so we went to the documentation center instead. The documentation center is a museum about the rise of the Nazis and WWII. I was particularly interested in the part that described the rise of the Nazi party and the propaganda efforts. It really helped me to understand what people were thinking and feeling at that time. It’s also interesting to see how Hitler used everything from architecture to festivals to make people feel that they were part of something special.

In Nürnberg, we stayed with a sweet family of German speakers. Usually, our hosts know English, so we can be lazy. But this time, we got to stretch ourselves and attempt to communicate in German. It was a great experience, and Tim made great use of his dictionary application on his phone.

Jul

Midnight Call is an organization located near Zurich with a church, nursing home, printing division, and radio ministry. We spent the night in their hostel (which used to be a barn), and toured their facilities. The purpose was for the Musical Mission Team and Midnight Call leadership to meet each other, so we also sang a mini-concert for the coworkers.

Since we were in Zurich, we took a few hours to look around. Our first stop was the Grossmünster, where Zwingli started the Reformation in Switzerland. Several of us paid 2 francs to climb up the stairs in the tower. From there, we could see Zurich’s many famous clock towers.

We had been several days without internet access, so we were all eager to check our e-mail! The i-pod/i-phone users explored the city, bearing their devices like divining rods. Once they successfully found an unsecured signal, we halted until they could download their e-mails. Fortunately, there was an H&M nearby.

Jul

I finally have internet tonight,  but it’s midnight, and I just traipsed all over Prague. So, I think that I need to go to bed instead of writing a post about our journey. Tomorrow we have our first opportunity to sing in Slovak. Guess what we’ll be saying in the vans on the way out of Prague? “I za mna Ježiš prelial krv . . .”

Today, I realized that I don’t know Czech. We’re not talking the “I don’t know the language except for how to say hello, my age, order a meal,  find the bathroom, and generally carry on conversations as if I were a 2-year-old.” No, that’s how I don’t know German.

Seriously, I don’t know any Czech words. Well, except for one.

zmrzlina

It means icecream.


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Jun

After our time in Metzigen, we crossed back into Switzerland to minister at the Güetli. It’s hard to explain what the Güetli is, because I don’t know of anything like it in the States. It’s a combination of a farm, hotel, and Christian conference center. They also grow flowers and have a flower shop to help support their mission work.

At Güetli, Tim and Kevin preached a Bible conference. The choir sang a few songs for the conference services and had a concert/service on Sunday afternoon. When we weren’t singing, we helped out with the work. Some team members were in the garden, or helped with the cleaning. I helped in the kitchen. Saturday morning, I helped peel kohlrabi. I think my group went through 50 kilos of kohlrabi (25 kilos were for Saturday lunch). Saturday afternoon, I cut and washed lettuce from the garden. After these experiences, I have a renewed appreciation for people in the food service field.

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Jun

While we were in Metzigen, we took two short day trips–one to Tübigen and one to Stuttgart. In Tübigen, we passed out tracts, did some shopping, and rode a paddleboat on the Neckar River.

In Stuttgart, some team members went to the Mercedes museum. Since I had been there last year, and since I’m not a big car fan, I opted to walk around the town instead. We went shoe shopping with one of the girls from the youth group, then ate lunch in a park, and visited the lobby of the opera house.

Then we had an interesting experience in the Protestant church. When we first walked in, we weren’t planning to spend much time there, so we were looking around, trying to take it all in. An older man with a name tag approached us and started offering information about the church. At first we weren’t sure if we wanted to talk to him (I was afraid that he might try to get us to pay him for a tour or something), but he was so kind and friendly that we listened to what he was saying and started examining the objects he referenced in his comments. After he showed us a display with the history of the church, he took us to the front and pointed to some sculptures. Did we know what they were? Yes, they portrayed the Christmas story.

Then he started asking about the different figures. Did we know who this was (Mary and Elizabeth)? What did this portray (the wise men)? After the sculptures, he started explaining the panels on the stained glass windows. He named Bible story after Bible story, and I started to think that this man’s knowledge went deeper than tour-guide level.

Finally, one of the girls in the group asked the question that was forming in each of our minds. “This window is about Jesus. Do you believe in Him?” He told us that he did believe in Jesus, that many people in Germany and even in the church do not believe, but he does believe. Then he explained why he volunteers in the church. He stands there and tells people about the statues and stained glass so that he can explain the Bible to them. Many people visit the church, even Buddhists and Muslims. In this way, he witnesses to them all.

I hope that this man truly is trusting in Christ alone for his salvation and that one day, I will see him again in heaven. I was challenged by the fact that all of us had the same reaction to him. We could all tell that he had an intimate, real knowledge of the Bible. Hopefully other people have similar thoughts when they hear us sing.

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