Reflections from a Wittenberg Coffee House – What A Day!

WHAT A DAY!  Jet lag is a strange partner.  I woke up at 5 a.m. listening to some of the most beautiful bird calls ever and began to prepare for my day.  Had a wonderful German breakfast and then it all started.

I had this one day to be oriented to what I am to be doing for the next three months.  We walked the length of the old city at least twice (I think I lost count) and then I had my orientation to the paperwork and procedures.  Those of you who know me will recognize that I lasted for an hour before becoming a deer in the headlights because of my deep love for paper work and details.  I learned it though, and I AM READY!

When I was having lunch at Tante Emma’s facing the Market Platz I had a German couple, about my age, who asked if they could sit with me.  What a joy!  The woman had been born in Wittenberg and grew up here but now lives just outside of Erfurt.  With her English (much better than my German) and my German, we were able to have a nice conversation.  Yes, I became brave enough to use German in a conversation. 

I assisted with the English devotional service this afternoon and was surprised when I was called forward for prayers and blessings in becoming the Deputy Director.  The current Deputy Director leaves tomorrow and I am on my own.  At the service today the Hungarian pastor who serves a church in Australia was there with his family along with a graduate student from Hong Kong, a couple from Australia, and, a couple from Ohio.  What an interesting group.  The service was held in the Kappelle located next to St. Mary’s Church where Luther was pastor.  Beautiful and meaningful setting.

The highlight of the day was a program that took place tonight, and every Thursday night, called Stammtisch.  This is a time when tourists, English speaking students, and Wittenbergers who want to speak English come together for an evening of fellowship and conversation.  The rule is that no German is to be spoken and only English can be used.  Tonight there were at least twenty who gathered and it was so fun to engage in conversation and learn the stories of those who were there.

For example, a student was here from the United States.  He is from St. Louis, studies in Chicago and we became friends on Facebook last February because he is friends with one of my deacon buddies.  Well, we finally met tonight and began great conversation.

I was able to meet with a number of Wittenbergers my age who grew up in the former East Germany.  We had some wonderful conversations as they shared their stories.  One of the Wittenbergs has invited me to join him in a cross country bicycle trip this summer AND he is a former college teacher (retired) who teaches painting at the Cranach Institute here in town.  I may get to taking the painting lessons that I want to take.  OK, WOW!

So here are some points:

  • I walked Wittenberg today and was able to shop and interact with the people who live here.
  • I sat in conversation with Wittenbergers and we were able to share our stories.
  • I celebrate that today was a day for meeting people and building relationships.

When I have been here numerous times in the past I have had little opportunity to build relationships.  Usually, as a tourist, we would say, “Oh, look, there is a Wittenberger.”  I hate to say it but in many ways it was like visiting the zoo and looking at those who live there.

Well, this time I am able to see people AND engage in conversation in order to learn their stories and share in their lives.  I haven’t been able to do this before and I believe it to be important.

Now, this is reaffirming something that I have been doing in the United States.  When I meet people I try to inquire about them and say very little about me unless they ask.  This has been a blessing in the US and it is certainly a blessing here.  I learn that people usually want to tell their stories and that my most important ministry is to listen.  I am ALWAYS blessed by the encounter.


1)  Whose story have you listened to today?

2)  How have you been blessed by interacting with others?

3)  What is your way to connect?

4)  How has God been present in the relationships?

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