Back from Germany

We had a wonderful 9 days in Germany, jamming in as many different things as we could in a short time and getting some work done for Transform 2014.  I’m definitely getting excited about the things that will happen next July/August in Rome and across the Mediterranean and I’m looking forward to new experiences leading up to that outreach.  First, a travel log.

We rented this nice little Ford Focus for the week.  It was brand new, had only 5 miles on it when we got it.  1300 miles later we returned it dirty but dent free.  It was a six speed manual transmission diesel that easily ran down the autobahn at 100 mph.  Funny that in Germany most cars are diesel which is less expensive than gasoline.  At the pump there would be one kind of gas and four kinds of diesel.  Less expensive is of course relative.  A gallon of cheap diesel ran almost $8.  Good thing we got almost 50 mpg.

We stayed in Mosbach which is the home base of OM Germany and about 90 minutes southeast of Frankfurt.  This is a great little town with a traditional downtown area that was one of the few not lost during WW II.  Gary and Helena Witherall live there with their 4 kids and we had a great time visiting with them and Gary and I were able to get some work done in preparation for Transform.  We spent most mornings working on strategies that I will be helping with, mostly writing devotionals, and then the afternoons we made a couple of side trips.  We went to Heidleberg one day driving along the river and then walking through the old downtown which is now a bustling center for tourists and shopping.  There is a huge castle on the hillside above the town that has been around for centuries.  It still has unrepaired damage from a battle with Napoleon!  That’s cool!

One day we drove through the Black Forest to Strasbourg in France.  This town has been around for over 800 years and gone back and forth between Germany and France through the years.  There is a beautiful cathedral at the center of town that amazes with its scale and detail.

Gary and his family took us to a castle above Mosbach where it became clear how powerful these structures were in their day.  From the fortress high above the valley you could see for miles up and down the river.  The vineyards below were set on such a steep hill you know that attackers would have had a difficult time assailing the castle.  Today the castle has been converted into a hotel and restaurant.

 

On Friday we left Mosbach and traveled East to Prague in the Czech Republic.  Prague is a beautiful ancient city, but a difficult one to navigate.  Our car GPS had a tough time getting around.  Once instead of telling me to turn right it sent me through the intersection then told me to make a uturn and turn left.  We were right in the middle of downtown and the left turn was no easy task.  I think it was trying to get back at me for not listening to it when we went through the Black Forest.  The old city of Prague includes an historic clock built hundreds of years ago.  The clock draws a crowd every hour when it chimes.  There were several hundred people standing in front of it at 10 pm to see it chime.  How do I know?  We were part of the crowd.

The next day we headed north to Berlin.  One of the interesting things about being in Berlin is how modern the city looks in contrast to so many of the other towns.  That’s because about 80% of Berlin was destroyed in WW II.  There are a few older, historic buildings, but most date from the past 60 years.  I know, in the US a 60 year old building seems ancient, but in Europe there are many structures that are 400 to 1,000 years old.  The colosseum in Rome dates from the 1st century.  We visited the museum at Checkpoint Charlie located right on the border of what used to be the separation between East and West Berlin.  They had many stories of those who dared to escape across, through or under the Berlin Wall.  It is good to be reminded about how precious freedom is and the great lengths those who don’t have it will go to in order to attain it.  Those who continue to take freedom for granted will see it taken from them.  We also got a tour of the remainder of the wall from my cousin Leighana and her husband Mark.  It was good to see family so far from home and we really enjoyed our visit and the nice German lunch.  I had a club sandwich that had a whole chicken breast in it and a fried egg on top.  Interesting.  And  messy 🙂

On our way back to Frankfurt we stopped in Wittenberg to see the Martin Luther museum which is in his former home.  We also saw the church where he placed his 95 theses and where he preached for many years.  This was an inspiring visit.  Luther was a true revolutionary, publishing truths that so many of us take for granted today as obvious.  Foremost among these was the place of faith against ritual and the primacy of the Word of God.  I love this quote: “The bottom line is that of course everything should be done so that the Word is properly proclaimed and does not again turn into a blaring noise.  It is better to leave out everything else but the Word because nothing more important could ever be pursued than the Word.”

Well, that’s the short version.  Call or Text or Comment if you want to know about our McDonald’s drive thru experience.

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