Thursday, October 29, 2009

'Tis the Season

You may be wondering what brings on the Christmas season for me here in Germany. Well, all the German Christmas chocolate, advent calendars, and sweet treats have been in the grocery stores for a month now. It's a bit ridiculous...I'm supposed to start buying Christmas chocolate and pastries at the beginning of October, really? So, no, that's not what has brought on the Christmas season for me. What has? BANQUET ASKING!!! What is that? Well, the last Saturday in November is the annual Christmas Banquet at BFA. That means that the last week of October is when the boys start getting really creative and extravagant in asking the girls for the honor of sitting next to them for dinner one cold night in late November.

Earlier today, I found out one of my small group girls had been asked to banquet. I was excited for tonights small group time to hear the story. I figured I should go ahead and plan for the majority of tonights time together to revolve around talk of banquet asking. I was right. Before it even began, one of the girls came in to tell me that two boys were planning of asking two of my girls during small group time. So, we started the evening by hearing 'C's story of how she got asked...she was 'kidnapped' and taken to a park where her date had lit a bunch of tealights placed in the shape of a question mark. When she took her blindfold off and saw the candles, he asked her to banquet. Soon after the story was over, 'EJ' was asked to come out into the hallway, were a boy was waiting for her with a plate of cupcakes, with frosting decorations spelling out "Banquet?". Then we all got to eat the cupcakes! They were super yummy and he baked them himself. Finally, a half hour later, after I'd given them my banquet speech, about how it really is just a relaxed time of sitting next to someone at a table with 9 other couples. Just have fun and talk to the boy...another boy burst into our classroom with guitar in hand and sang a song he and his sister had written for 'E' asking her to banquet. It was quite funny and I had to give him props for going all out, even packing a bouquet of flowers into his back pocket. His whole small group stood outside my classroom windows watching the spectacle. Good times!

So, now the school is abuzz with who is asking who, and what they will wear for the Christmas banquet. So, although I'm in no way in the Christmas SPIRIT yet, there is not doubt I'll be hearing the word "Christmas" every day from now on. Just wish I had known the plans before I'd left home. I would've taken my camera and given you a taste of what it was like. These boys can get rather creative!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I might be the strangest person you know

Now, I'm not strange in a Phoebe Buffay kind of way. But I am such a strange mixture of dichotomies and contradictions, I can't even keep track of myself. What brought on this declaration, you might wonder? Well, I was walking home from church today thinking, as usual, how much I love walking everywhere I need to go in town. I love walking! I love that when it's time to go to work, I bundle up, put on my huge red backpack and head out for my 15 minute walk to school. I love that at the end of the day, when I'm not in a hurry I can take the long way home that leads me along the creek that runs through the middle of town. I love that when it's grocery shopping time, I load up on reusable, cloth bags and walk to and from the store. I love that I finally have a form of exercise that I actually do. I love that my muscles and feet can now take long days of sightseeing without being in pain. I love that whenever I walk out the door, I am blessed with the opportunity to walk through a quaint and beautiful town in the Black Forest of Germany. I love it, I love it, I love it! So what's so strange about that? I really don't like walking. I'll hardly ever go for a walk just for the fun of it. I don't go for hikes on the many trails our area is famous for. If I had a car, I know I'd end up driving to school cuz I got ready too late. If I have some spare time, or I want to hang out with a friend, I'll never suggest going for a walk. (I'm going on a hike with a friend tomorrow, her suggestion. I'll enjoy it, I'm sure. But I would never choose it on my own.) How can I love to do something so much that it makes me smile and be happy every time I HAVE to do it, yet never want to do it when I DON'T HAVE to?

This is not my only personal contradiction. I'm split right down the middle on being an introvert/extrovert. I love being social and hanging out, but I am quite shy and love being home alone. I can't fathom the idea of living in a country long enough to learn the language without doing so, yet I can't get motivated to learn a bit more of German. I miss home like crazy, but I absolutely love being here! The list goes on but you get the picture. OK, maybe that doesn't make me the strangest person you know, but I'm definitely weird. As a teenager, one of my favorite sayins was: "If you're not weird, you're not worth knowing." I hope that means I'm worth knowing. :-) (My other favorite quote was: "You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose.")

Looking forward to my next purposeful walk,


Sunday, October 11, 2009

I'll be home for Christmas...You can count on me!

I JUST BOUGHT A TICKET TO GO HOME OVER CHRISTMAS BREAK. I was, just the last few days, trying to resign myself to not going home over Christmas break. I didn't last year and I had a really great time here in Germany...very relaxing and peaceful, not bad at all. But over this summer, I had kind of decided I wanted to go home for Christmas. I wanted to be at my home church on a Sunday when most of the congregation was there (something that never happens over the summer!) Plus, so much of what is Christmas tradition for me, happens only in the US at my church. I want to help with Christmas kettles, drive the bell ringers to their spots, count money, go Christmas shopping at all my usual spots, help with Angel Tree, stay up ridiculously late wrapping gifts with my sister while watching the 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story, etc. etc. and so forth.

But the more I looked for affordable tickets, the less I found them. I had kind of given up hope and was trying to wrap my brain around staying here, trying to get excited about the good things about staying: a lot more rest and down time, hanging out with friends like we can't during the school year, the peacefulness, etc. I just figured I'd keep looking and if by some miracle something turned up, I'd take it. Well, today, when I was about to sign off the internet, I decided to check again. And there it was....the cute little gnome was my friend today. He found me a ticket that was cheaper than anything I'd seen for the days I wanted to travel. Its not everything I wanted in a ticket, but its almost everything. And on a Sunday, the day of the week I miss home the most, it was an offer I couldn't refuse!

So, I'm going home! Hope to see many of you there!