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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.
After 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.
Finally, 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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