Reflections From A Wittenberg Coffee Shop-Life As It Is

Life in Wittenberg continues to be interesting.  Part of my ministry here is to be in an outreach mode with tourists and residents of WittenbergImage 1.  I spend a great deal of time “on the street” meeting and interacting with people.  I am getting to know a number of Wittenberger’s and it is fun, later, when I encounter people that I know   For some, I think I am beginning to be accepted as a Wittenberger.  I love it.

Good news!  I found out that I am here long enough that I need a visa.  Thanks to some very helpful Wittenbergers who have helped me with translation at the visa office, the paper work is in and I have a temporary visa.  This is good.  I guess that if I had not done this I would have had trouble getting back into the United States.  Too bad I had to find out about this as I was entering Europe, but, no problem, and all is well.

It has been hot this week.  Two things about Germany.  Very little is air conditioned and very few windows have screens.  So, what does this mean?  It means that, at times, my apartment gets warm and it also means that I have a close and personal relationship with the mosquitoes of Wittenberg.  The oscillating fan purchased by LeRoy Wilke when he was here has been a life-saver.  I have now learned that if I crush cloves of garlic and put them on the windowsill, and, on my night stand, the mosquitoes will not come near.  At this point I am ready to bathe in garlic if that would help.  The floods this year have produced a bumper crop of mosquitoes.  We are, at this point, developing a friendly relationship and all is good.

The English Stamtisch (round table) on Thursday night was awesome.  We had English speakers from Wittenberg, USA, Canada, Russia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, UK and other parts of Germany.  I learned more stories of the GDR AND I learned about the formation of political communities in Germany which has given me great insight into some of the people that I have connected with this summer.  One of the “regulars” for the summer is a retired ELCA Bishop from Texas.  We do have great diversity.

Today it either reached 100 degrees, or came close.  Highly unusual for Wittenberg.  So, I went with some of the international students in town (actually students from Concordia-Wisconsin) to the Wittenberg swimming pool.  WHAT A DELIGHTFUL DAY!  We rode our bikes out to the pool (about 4 kilometers) and enjoyed the day.  The water was perfect, but, so was the company.  We had a great time!  Paul demonstrated his skill on the 5 meter diving tower (I only watch) and Nathaniel and I enjoyed laps and treading water.  All three of us went down the water slide.

While in the pool we met two men from Ohio visiting a friend in Wittenberg.  The one man is the brother-in-law of the former president o14976299-water-reflection-of-swimming-poolf Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary.  We had a great talk.  Then, while swimming, I literally ran into folks from Wittenberg who sing in the Castle Church Gospel Choir.  I have joined the choir and so got to know them through that experience.  They invited me to come to the Gospel Choir booth that will be at the Wine Festival next weekend.  They are selling desserts as a fund raiser for the choir.  Amazing who you can meet while swimming.

The pool is fun.  I plan to go back.

Last night, the English service went well.  The pastor, The Rev. Steve Leinhos, from Temecula, CA did a wonderful job and offered a powerful message.  In attendance we had people from Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Canada, United States, Norway, and points in between.

At the service I met David who is from the northern part of Norway.  David was riding his bike through town and saw our sign, so decided to stop for the worship service.  David is in the process of riding his bike AROUND THE WORLD.  He says that in order to be recognized for doing this he must travel on at least four continents.  He passed through Wittenberg on his way to Turkey.  I must admit to being insanely jealous.  Would love to have joined him.  But, there is the business of sleeping in a tent in the jungles of southeast asia………snakes.  No, thank you!

I have enjoyed my time at the gym.  It is amazing to me how comfortable it has been to work out at the gym.  The gym is NOT air conditioned and it has been a hot week.  However, they have such excellent ventilation that it is not too noticeable.  People there  have been great and I enjoy the opportunity to work out.

The time here continues to be powerful.  I am meeting people who challenge me.  I am reading books that are driving me to reflect and ponder.  I am wrestling with thoughts that are life-giving.  I am so deeply thankful for this opportunity.

More to come…………….

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