Glimpses

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Glimpses are wonderful and deceiving at the same time.  Take this glimpse into one of the rooms at Schloss Imbshausen (a Christian Conference Centre).  Does it not just make you want to explore the room, and the whole place?  Don’t you just want to make up a story (or even stories) of life there in days gone past?

Yet go beyond the first glimpse, and you see the work that goes into keeping the place look good.  The cleaning, tidying, repairing.  Far less glamorous and attractive.

That somewhat describes this week for the team.  We gave them a glimpse into the wider ministry in Germany by having them come along to part of a staff conference.  They got to meet fun people and hear great stories.  They got a glimpse of the huge need here – so few staff for a country this size!

At this stage, they don’t have to deal with the nitty gritty of planning, discussing, organising.  That will come later.  For now, let them enjoy the excitement of placing their ministry in a wider context.  And of having stayed in a German castle!

Discovering Berlin

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We have some seriously gifted photographers on the team! Making S Bahn Yorckstrasse look interesting and attractive is no mean feat!

This week, the guys have started to settle into some kind of routine.  And we finally let them loose on campus!  Mensa food and talking to students – some of the staples of their year.

So they have been (re-)discovering the different campuses, remembering how to top up their Mensa cards and how to order food, and also doing some touristy stuff (as well as still going to language school every morning).

We have also started a new project which will be something we’ll be working on for the whole year: developing a “cultural map” of Berlin student life.  I’ll talk more about that later.  This week, we took some time to gather questions we have about what makes students tick.  I was incredibly impressed with their thoughtfulness!  What they came up with was anything but superficial stuff!  I think we will learn and discover an awful lot this year.

A week of discovering Berlin on all different levels!

Making A Home

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Week 1 in a new city.  What do you do to make the place home?  What do we encourage the team to do?

Language!  Everyone understands that learning the local language is important.  And we have learned from previous experience that once the new semester starts at the university and students are back, nothing much of that happens.  So we have enroled the team in language school for 5 weeks.  So far so good.  Everyone seems to be getting on well and eager to learn.

Bureaucracy!  Oh yes, the joys of registering with the city.  Nothing quite like making it through the maze of red tape to feel like you’re winning!

Opening a bank account!  “Opening a bank account?  Why are you making me do this?  I already have two accounts in the US, I can easily get money out here, so what could possibly be the point?!  It’s just more scary stuff in a language I don’t speak.”  OK, so the guys are way too polite to actually say this but I’m sure quite a few of them were thinking it.  And in some ways they were right.  They probably could get by without a German bank account.  But we would love for them to realise this year that they can actually do “life” here, not just ministry.  Finances are a part of that.  With the previous team, that led to the introduction of a new word into the Englsih language: to überweis.

Ikea!  Well, it doesn’t have to be Ikea but some place to get those little things that help turn a house into a home. Amazing what difference it makes to be able to shape a place, even in small ways.  You feel less like a visitor and more like you belong.

Phew, I think we have achieved quite a bit in just one week!  Well done team!

Fun story of the week!  A lady eyeballs Steph from across the street, makes a beeline for her, and tries to hand her a kitten.  Somehow Steph manages to communicate that she couldn’t possibly take the kitten.  At which the lady looks quite horrified and explains that she had never meant to “give” the kitten to Steph but rather was asking her to hold the little thing while she was putting on her coat!   Quite what language they used to sort this one out, I’m not sure.  Anyway, what had started out as one of those very stressful “I have no idea what’s going on here” moments, turned into a fun time of playing with a little kitten.

Three more people arrive Monday – the team will finally be complete!  Oh and I gather the team have started to take bets on who will be the first one to have a meltdown 🙂

They’re here!

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Yup, they’re here.  And immediately all good intentions about posting once a week go out the window…  And I’ve not taken a picture yet either. O well!

After two pretty frantic days of trying to turn a beautiful but completely empty apartment into something resembling a home, we collected 6 of the team from the airport.  Those names and photos suddenly turn into real people!  Very tired, jet lagged and slightly shell shocked people.

We take them to their new homes and go shopping with them for the basics.  Decisions aren’t their strong point at this stage.  Understandably.

In hindsight, we probably should have made sure each one knew ahead of time where they would be living.  But then we didn’t really know ourselves until the last minute.

Team BBQ on Sunday.  All very quiet somehow.  We’re all getting used to each other.

Monday is going to be a big day.  They start language school and anotehr team member arrives (3 more in a week’s time)

T Minus 1 Week

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So in just under a week these lovely people will be joining us in Berlin!  Most of them I have never met yet I am making major decisions for them.  Like where they will be living.  And who they will be living with.  Kind of important stuff.  Scary!  And amazing how much they trust us.  I guess in some ways they don’t have a choice.

I can feel the tension rising.  The tension of still missing last year’s team while getting ready for the new people to get here.

The tension of ‘THERE IS STILL SO MUCH TO DO AND SO LITTLE TIME!”.  How will we ever manage to shift all that furniture around???

The tension of not even having enough places for them to stay yet.  And the housing market not making that any easier.

Tension, yes, lots of it.  But also excitement!  These guys have done so much already, just to get here!  They have had to trust God in major ways – in the application process, in talking to family and friends, in raising support, in saying good bye to people and a whole way of life.  In all that they have not given up and that gives me so much confidence!  I can’t wait to meet them and to hear their stories!

OK, so they really will be arriving next Saturday!  And we will be ready for them!  I hope…

Now for trying to learn their names!  And where is that to do list gone?