Alan and I are so thankful that God orchestrated a fantastic week with the group from our sending church in Watkinsville. The team from WFBC worked hard each day to complete an indoor football court (soccer) for the church here. They also did some painting, plastering and clean up work needed. In addition to their work at the CVJM the girls made it to Heidelberg two days to volunteer at the ProLife organization, the Birke. They folded leaflets, stamped folders, assembled baby bottles and generally helped in any way they could. It was a great week of fellowship, fun and activity. Here is the run-through of the entire week with some pictures. I'm waiting for a new connection cable to upload the ones from my camera. Should be up in a couple of days.
Here it goes...
Friday at 7:45am the group arrived from Atlanta. Alan picked them up and they were exhausted but eager to see Germany and where they would be staying and working for the week. The team got to the CVJM by 9:30 and were welcomed with a traditional German breakfast - fresh breads, rolls, meats and cheeses, nutella, butters and jams, hard boiled eggs, fruits and juices. Ok we did throw in some peanut butter too. :) The team was then off to settle into their caravans (Brennen and Darren in one and Christopher in the other) or into the girls room inside (Brooke, Katie, Rose and Sarah-Lee). Alan and I went home and came back around 4pm to pick the team off to head to Sonja and Reinholt Aberle's house. This is where Sarah-Lee has been living since arriving in April. Sonja made what many on the team said was the best lasagna they'd ever eaten. She and Reinholt worked all day to make cakes, salads, cheeses and setup seating for the group both inside and out. They even invited some of their English speaking friends (from Texas) over to join us. One of the sweetest things was Sonja handing out verses and chocolates to each person and reading them aloud before we ate dinner. That was special for everyone I know. After dinner it was back to the CVJM for Ten-Sing, the youth talent show whose practices take place every Friday night. The group gave a few short testimonies during devotional time and hung out with the gang thereafter to watch Germany play football on the big screen.
Saturday the group was up early for devotions, a traditional German breakfast again, bible study (led by Alan) and then we had a short talk from Klaus (the pastor) about the CVJM, its history and the work being done there. Then it was work day. Everyone pulled together to get the desired indoor football field cleaned as there was a deep layer of dust EVERYWHERE. They even used mops to play a sort of hockey type game cleaning. We had some cute shots of that... :) That night Annette and her husband Rene made dinner for everyone and then the group (minus Alan, Chloe and I) went into Heidelberg to take a look around.
Sunday we had chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, bible study (led by Christopher) and church. Following church was lunch of about 1000 pizzas bought by the CVJM and then free-time so the gang went to play football with a bunch of folks from the church. I stayed at the CVJM to clean, organize and relax and also to watch Chloe and get her a nap. That night was dinner (leftover pizza and sandwiches) and the first fellowship which ended up being some crazy German games where you say all kinds of weird words and then you draw dots on people's faces if they don't remember their name. It's confusing. Sarah-Lee has tried to explain it to us before but seeing we went home to put Chloe down we still don't quite get it... :) They also played Sardines which is like hide and seek apparently but as soon as you find a person you have to hide with them while the rest of folks come and find you. Fun! Saskia and Corina were in charge of the nightly fellowships and they did a great job. I think
Monday was breakfast, bible study (led by Rose) and another work day. Today though the girls went into Heidelberg (Mary, Chloe, Rose and Brennen by car and Sarah-Lee, Katie, Saskia and Brooke by train) to work at the Birke. They were thrilled to have us and we spent the day there trying to help in any way we could. We brought our lunches and enjoyed getting to know the folks that work there. The guys stayed back and continued work on the floor of the football court. Alan said later that at some point everyone (minus Chris) working "lost their rag" at least once during the day. That's a British phrase I guess for "got extremely irritated". I think there was too much testosterone flying around and way too many chiefs. The Indians were at the Birke apparently! :) Monday in the early evening the team went canoeing from Meckesheim to Eschelbron (sp?) but apparently the stream was blocked with trash and they had to turn back. We had spaghetti for dinner late and I think we were all pretty exhausted by this point. I know I was.
Tuesday was breakfast and then we were off to go sightseeing. We took the mini-van to Neckarsteinach and boarded a boat that would take us into Heidelberg. By now the whole group was pretty much in love with peanut butter and nutella sandwiches so we had a sandwich on the boat. When we got to Neckarsteinach the group split up with the great majority going to the Heidelberg castle and to ride the Funicular. Alan and I accidentally left diapers for Chloe at the CVJM so we had to go in search of diapers for Chloe. Rose went shopping in preparation for going to see her friends and her Oma and Opa (grandma and grandpa) the following day. We ate lunch in Heidelberg and had an iced coffee and then boarded the boat back to Neckarsteinach. Chloe and I then left to go home and get her down while Alan drove the mini-bus of folks to Petra and Jorg's house (a family in the CVJM) for dinner. Apparently they had a great time with Petra's two sons and they enjoyed spaetzle and pork for dinner.
Wednesday we had a traditional southern breakfast followed by bible study (led by Brooke) and another day of work at the CVJM for the guys. Sarah-Lee had taken Rose to the Heidelberg bahnhof so she could catch her train to see her family and then she was going by the Volkhochschule to register for a test she had to take to get into the next language class. She met the girls and I at the Birke and we worked there the rest of the day. The employees at the Birke bought us all lunch and Brigitta (one of the directors there) told the team all about the work the organization does. That night we got back and the floor was about 1/4 of the way finished. Apparently it was really hard and tricky work because the glue used the put the floor down was extremely expensive and dried really quickly so once they opened a 5 gallon can of it they had to use it all before they stopped work. Wednesday night Claudia and Heinz's wife made the team dinner and that was a nice treat. The group then shared testimonies at the volunteer service they had that night.
Thursday was our evangelistic day so after a quick breakfast and bible study (led by Katie), Rene showed a video of how important evangelism was and then we set off to Heidelberg. Katie, Brennen and Lisa went with me to the University to survey the students about their spiritual backgrounds and interests while Rene, Alan, Darren and Jonas handed out tracks along the Hauptstrasse. Rene then sent Sarah-Lee, Brooke and Christopher to hand out tracks in folks mailboxes. Later that day they were able to do some surveys as well and then we headed over to the park by the Neckar where the team met up with a couple of folks from Campus Crusade for Christ who helped create a program to hand out food and drinks to children and also hand out materials about God, faith and Christianity. That night we had taco soup for dinner and then the group watched the football match in the office (or so I was told). Unfortunately Germany lost to Italy so the mood on Friday wasn't that great! :)
Friday and Saturday's were work days where everyone stayed at the CVJM to finish the indoor court, paint, plaster and do anything else we could do. Bible study on Friday was led by Brennen and Darren and I did bible study on Saturday. Because we got done a bit early on Saturday afternoon we decided to take the group to Dilsberg for some additional sightseeing and to the Afrikan Market in Heidelberg as well. We ended up eating dinner there Saturday night at a German restaurant near the old bridge because everyone wanted to try schnitzel. It was pretty good. I then took Chloe home and Alan took Brennen and Darren and Rose back to the CVJM while the remainder of the team stayed in Heidelberg and caught the train back later.
Sunday we had pancakes and muffins, Sarah-Lee did bible study and then the team ran through the plans for the service they would run that night. They had worship practice at 2pm and Brennen (playing the saxophone) and Alan (singing) joined Lisa and Saskia for that. The rest of the team cleaned, rested and packed in addition to preparing for what they would say that night. The Sunday service was awesome. It started with Brennen playing on her saxophone to welcome everyone in. Then the worship band sung a song, Darren thanked everyone for coming and then introduced Christpher and Christopher preached on "The real God". He used about 100 scriptures which was awesome and Trudi translated for him. Then there was another song, Katie shared her story of why she came to Germany and what God had taught her and then there was about 3-4 songs. You could just feel the spirit of God in the room. It was awesome (did I say that already!?). I got up and thanked everyone for their roles in making the week a success and then Klaus got up to thank the team for coming. They then gave us all candles and cards for the light we had brought to the CVJM that week and prayed over us. Then there was the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new football hall we had finished. Everything was dark and on the floor they had used glow sticks to write out the words Thank U! It was really nice. They had orange juice and champagne and the whole church listed while Brennen played How Great thou art and Amazing Grace on her saxophone. Double awesome! Trudi gave everyone on the team CVJM t-shirts and then we hung around and had dinner together as a church. By this time it was already 9pm and so we said our good-bye's to the team (well Chloe and I did, Alan would be picking them up to take them to the airport the next morning E A R L Y!). It was a terrific week and we felt so blessed by it all. God orchestrated it, breathed life into it and blessed it abundantly.
Alan and I feel more enthused about our role here and our work and the whole church left Sunday night not just with a new football court but also with an encouragement that we hope will last forever.