We just passed the one month mark in our move to Germany and honestly, life is a new adventure everyday. As Krista puts it, things are a lot like the US except for about 15% and that 15% is what you have to watch out for. Its like when you are driving. You can easily see the similarities between driving in the US and Germany except when you come to an intersection. You have to look for a yellow diamond or dots on the road to know if you are a primary road because if you are not a primary road, the car on your right has the right of way (and the Germans don’t even look left to make sure you are yeilding to them). One nice thing though is that there are very few stop signs in our area – they are all yield signs which goes right along with my driving habits. Also, when you do see a stop sign, it literally says “STOP” on it instead of the German word “HALT”. I figure they use so few of them that its cheaper to import them rather than make their own. (However, they seem to have exclusive rights to the sign that means “No speed limit” — 😉 )
Just to let you know some of what we’ve been doing over the past few weeks (sorry for not blogging but we just got our internet connection this last week).
1) Alex started Kindergarten soon after we moved into our place three weeks ago and has been having a lot of fun. Kindergarten here is not like Kindergarten in the States. Its much more of a hands on learning approach and they are not yet learning reading or writing but are learning dexterity skills. Alex is just finishing his certification to be able to be in the woodshop. Yes, they have a woodshop where the kids can make things using saws, hand drills, hammers, etc. I know the thought of giving sharp tools like this to 3-6 year olds is foreign to most Americans but here they expect the children to obey the rules and at the first sign of not obeying them, they lose the right to be in the shop. I haven’t heard of any accidents or even a cut in there.
2) Krista and I are in school as well. After we moved into our apartment, we started looking at language school and figured out that the next classes we could jump into wouldn’t be until April if we didn’t jump into the one that had just started. So we had hoped to wait until February to start German classes but instead we started two weeks ago. We are actually going to Basel, Switzerland Monday thru Thursday for three hours of classes (its only about a 40 minute drive due to traffic and border crossing). We started the class a week late but we have easily caught up and are enjoying it. Although somedays we go home and are just completely brain wiped. It has been funny as we have started to use some German words around the house.
3) The week before last, our eDOT team here in Germany went to Switzerland for a strategic planning time. I was able to join them in Beatenburg, Switzerland (which is near Interlaken) while Krista and Alex stayed home to keep on the same rhythm. If you ever want to see a beautiful site, the Interlaken area in Switzerland is just gorgeous (see the photos in the Photo Album in the Germany/Switzerland area). During this time, I really got to see my role in eDOT shape up more and to see where there are some needs that I can help with. I’ll talk more about my role another time; especially once I get thru language school and dive into ministry.
4) We bought a car a few weeks ago. Its a 2004 Ford Focus station wagon. Its not the size of a US station wagon but it is larger than the really small cars here also known as Smart Cars. Its a Turbo diesel which means it gets about the equivalent of 35 mpg but has great torque so you can get up to speed really fast. In Germany, you drive fast then slow then fast again and you are expected to go as fast as you can until the speed limit lowers and when it goes up, you better be up to speed. Even the traffic lights flash the yellow light before switching from red to green so that you can be moving by the time it turns green.
5) We have been slowly but surely getting our apartment set up. It can be a long process. Jumping into language school has slowed things down. Just this last week we were able to borrow a vechicle that was long enough to get our schrank (read that as warddrobe) for our bedroom. Then it took me all of Friday with an electric screw driver to put it together. IKEA is great except for the fact that eveything has to be assembled. Saturday was unloading a bunch of clothes that we still had boxed up and loading them into the schrank. We did get our DSL (Internet) connection installed this last week and we purchased a TV with a DVD/VCR and a satellite receiver. Its nice being connected to the world again and being able to get news. With our satellite, we are able to get channels from all over the world including Tunsia, the Middle East, Cuba, and of course Europe. What we don’t get is any US channels (except for CNBC). We get about five channels in English – CNN International, CNBC, Sky News, BBC (these last two are British) and Al Jeezera English (honestly, Al Jeezera is fascinating to watch). So if we want English, we are watching the news. But we do get to watch things in German, French, Spanish, Italian, Czech, Polish, Russian, Arabic and several other languages that we haven’t identified yet. The DVD player was set for “Region 2” which means it would only play European DVDs and DVDs that didn’t have a region code. (USA is Region 1) But thanks to some great websites out there, I was able to find a hack to be able to make it play all regions. Now the DVDs we brought from home work just fine.
Overall, we are working through adjusting to life in Germany pretty well. I’m not going to say its totally smooth sailing but then what fun would that be. I like roller coasters and honestly, that’s the life God has for us right now. So as we throw up our hands in the air and scream “Weeeeeeeeeeeeee”, will you keep the following in your prayers:
1) Pray for us to stay healthy. Alex had an ear ache a week ago and the doctor said that his ear was completely blocked with wax. We have medicine now to loosen and dissolve the wax but we want him to stay fine. Also there’s a lot of flu stuff going around and Alex and I are already coughing and sneezing (Krista has always been the more healthy one but keep praying for her too).
2) Pray as we continue to work on language school. While we don’t need to know German to work with eDOT, but it does make life easier for us living in Germany plus we want to be a part of the German community that we live in. Kandern is a beautiful town with a rich history (it was deemed a town in 1610) and the people here are wonderful. We want to get to know them better.
3) Pray for our family relationships. During this time, our stress levels are higher and we are tired much of the time. Pray that God will give us the strengh to build each other up rather than take the easy roads in working on our marriage and parenting.
God bless ya’ll
(I’m still in the south – just Southern Germany).