...a blog for the friends and family of dan, jen, worthy, william, calvin & christian

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Berlin Layover (pt 2 of 2)

The rest of the time was spent rather casually.  We did some talking and some silence too. We skipped almost every Top Ten Things To Do In Berlin - after all, we were decompressing.  Pictures of decompressing aren't all that wonderful, so I'll show you some sights we enjoyed while decompressing :)

The Berlin Wall is gone - hopefully that's not a surprise to anyone.  We did see an historical remnant that is preserved.  I gotta be honest - this was really cool to me.   
I vividly remember November 9, 1989 when the wall fell.  I was in high school and it was a big deal. I remember sitting around talking about it in most of my classes - forgoing the regularly scheduled school work. I think it's the first time I consciously watched TV news.

OK - so the wall no longer stands, but around the city there is this cobblestone line that marks where the wall stood.  

And very near here is Brandenburger Tor. I've watched enough Hitler History Channel to know the significance of this place and was excited to see it in person. 

We also went to the Reichstag. It was really decimated during the war, but has been rebuilt with an amazing modern day glass dome.  We stood in line (for a hour or two) to walk up to the top.  It was fantastic!  

Dem Deutschen Volke = To the German People

It was cold up there.  The view was incredible - especially since it was at sunset.  They also had a wonderful picture history of the building.  They were very proud of the fact that Hitler never stepped foot in it. It caught on fire in 1933 before his rise to rule.

Had a lovely relaxing time with a little bit of site seeing thrown in.  
A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down :)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Berlin layover (pt 1 of 2)

We decided ahead of time to do a 3 day layover in Berlin on our way home.  One of the reasons for this was to have some time and space to grieve & decompress before we returned.  On one hand, I was eager to get back -  I was missing our boys a ton.  On the other hand, I really did need some time to process without the looming details of The Move over my head.  The time in Berlin was SO good for us.  We stayed with some new friends - they allowed us to crash there and the freedom to be on our own.

The highlight of our trip was meeting up with a friend of ours from Vienna.  Her family is in Potsdam and she had returned home, so we met up for the day and she showed us her city and her home. (You should know that all of these pictures were taken on the same day - notice the crazy changes in weather.)

We started off walking up to the top of a summer palace (Belvedere auf dem Pfingstberg) for the aerial view of Potsdam.  As we were headed up, we could see the clouds moving in.

By the time we got to the top, we had a quick glimpse before it broke loose.  With the view we had we could see all the patches of rain - very cool.

and it hailed...

Meike & I once the worst had passed
Seriously - this was 20 minutes later
Then we headed up to another beautiful site Sanssouci.  It was lovely to walk and talk.  Getting to spend the day with our sweet friend was wonderful and getting a tour of her city was a great bonus.

Then we had the opportunity to spend the evening with Meike's family.  Her mother is a Pastor at a local church Französisch-Reformierten Gemeinde and has presided over this community since before the Berlin Wall fell (Potsdam was located in East Germany).

Inside we took the opportunity to sing some German Hymns together.  
The acoustics are beautiful.
Dan even got to play a little bit on the Baroque Organ. 

We spent dinner together at a local restaurant and had the most lovely and memorable evening.  They were very open and candid about living in East Germany and some of their answers surprised my Western cultural views.  I felt that in some small way, I was a first-hand learner that history is written by the Victors and isn't always as accurate and exact as it might seem. 

I can't express how much we enjoyed our time with Meike's parents. 
They are such wise and warm souls and I understand more fully why Meike is as kind, generous and delightful as she is. A truly perfect day - despite the weather :)

berlin post will have to wait until later... but it was pretty cool too!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Vienna Goodbyes

This is going to be a hard post to write.  There's just too much to say and I'm already daunted by the idea of trying to articulate even a small portion of the emotions wrapped up into moving. I guess that's because it's certainly more than just the shipping of our stuff from one place to another.  It's saying goodbyes to sweet friendships, familiar places, a settled rhythm of life, broken hopes and dreams and to a city that we've really grown to love over the past 3 years.

We made a difficult decision to leave our kids back in the States with family.  On one hand, we really wanted to bring them to say Goodbyes properly.  On the other hand, we don't have a  trust fund with which to whisk our kids around the world on whims and we knew the idea of packing up our apartment in two weeks with kids under foot would be very difficult so the decision was sort of made for us.  In retrospect, this was a really great thing - despite our misgivings.

Right away we were able to jump into the logistics of prepping for the move.  This involved a lot of cleaning/sorting and organizing.  This was really the easy portion of our trip.  The hard part was the emotional goodbyes.  Every night (and many afternoons & mornings) were busy getting together with friends - taking the time to express our gratitude and thankfulness for their presence in our lives.  How blessed are we to have been surrounded by so many friends and neighbors?!   I'll spare you the Humble Brag, but needless to say we were deeply touched by the sincere words and affections which were piled on us. It was really too much to hear at times and I'm so thankful that God allowed us the opportunity to give and receive these tender emotions and thanks.
a tiny subset of goodbyes
One of the highlights of our time was attending a going away party for Dan by his amateur choir.  Over the last few years, I've had limited access to them, but always enjoyed the contact I had. Historically, Dan would come home from rehearsals and give me the rundown on people's lives, so in a way, I feel like I already knew many of them more personally than they anticipated.  We went to a restaurant that the choir frequents often and we all closed the place out - as only Europeans can do!  There was group singing (it is a choir!), a lot of laughing and sweet goodbyes.  It made me regret that I was unable to be more a part of it in the past.  A wonderful group of people and I'm so blessed to have been so welcomed by them.

Here are two "videos" of them singing that night.  This one is called "Until We Meet Again" and it's in English.
Please forgive the filming... I didn't record this for the visual, but the audio. It was a touching moment and felt that I was infringing on it a little by recording people, so did that once around and switched to candle :)

This is another song they performed too - Dan's singing lead on "Ain't Got Time To Die"

Can't say enough about how much this evening meant to us.  
The singing, the conversation, the laughing are all deeply ingrained in our hearts.

We also made a point of it to enjoy our visit as tourists.  We filled every moment with work so we could take Sunday off and relax without guilt. And the last 2 days - after our apartment was packed up, we were officially tourists.  With the stress of packing up behind us, we were able to visit an art museum and linger over beauty and quiet. And since we were there just before Easter, we swung by the beautiful Easter Market.

And on a lighter side note... I learned an important life lesson - If you ask someone at a bar at 3am to take your picture, the chances are the pictures will be out-of-focus & uncentered.  Hugs to our tipsy photographer :)