"What if MY story were THEIR story?"

March 15, 2017

I know I have shared about Vladimir and his family before from the Ukraine and Daniel from Ghana but hearing a bit more of their story this weekend as well as a few others has prompted me to revisit and share their plight. Vladimir and his family live in a "hyme" or government housing very like the one pictured but theirs is in a very small village out in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately he was able to procure a car from a friend or they would have no way to get to their German lessons or to the store, both of which are in the neighboring town about 5 miles away. But, he says, they are grateful to be alive, for if he had stayed he would have been put into prison and then on the front lines to fight Russia and be killed. All this because he disagrees with the political party now governing the Ukraine. He is not technically a "refugee" in Germany's eyes, so he is having to fight for the right to stay here and he says they pray fervently every night that things will work out so they can stay and they are just grateful to be alive. He doesn't complain about his living conditions..everything is just stated as facts.He has a degree in Economics and Engineering.  It is truly humbling to hear his story and I wonder how can I help?

In the words of our general Relief Society President, What if MY story were THEIR story? What would I want someone to do? Possibly all my basic needs have been met, but I am lonely...I miss my mother, my sisters, my friends. I don't know this language. I need a friend and someone to take an interest in me. How can I help?

Then a little more about Daniel. He left Ghana because of the extreme  poverty there. He and six friends traversed the Mediterranean Sea in a rubber raft to get to Europe and then traveled to Berlin where they were separated and sent to different parts of the country..Daniel going alone to Rostock. When I ask if he was afraid, he just smiles and says "with Jesus you can have peace."

I was praying about what we could do...how could we help with so many refugees in our area here in Rostock? My friend Mary Bologna would probably be making blankets for them, or there are organizations that are teaching the native language, helping with teaching job skills and practicing interviewing. So, I thought, well, why not go to the Visa Office and ask where are the organizations helping in these ways and get some ideas? I prayed fervently that as we were out and about walking and running errands yesterday that whoever might need us would cross our path. As we were getting some pictures developed, there were two lovely exotic looking young women behind us with a baby in a stroller. They shyly smiled at us as we turned and looked and smiled at them. After we left the store, we headed up towards the city and ran into them again; I began speaking to the baby and talking about my grandchildren in America. One of the gals was excited to know I spoke English as she could speak very little German and felt very lonely here; she was from Pakistan and recently divorced so could not go home. Her friend with the baby was from Albania and her husband was in prison; they had both been in a women's shelter and now had a place to live in government housing. The Pakistani gal had just said to her friend that morning..."maybe we should find a church. There are good people there and they might be able to help us." What did they need? They have clothes, they have food. They are lonely. They want a friend. They want a mother. We exchanged numbers and gave hugs, promising to stay in touch. My heart was so moved and I was grateful that possibly we had lightened their load a bit and will pursue helping them and will follow up in a few days. My prayer had indeed been answered.

Then tonight at the church, three men from Syria came to take advantage of the German class the missionaries are teaching. One of them is a veterinarian, the other an engineer and the other getting a degree in Biology. They take the German classes offered from the government but come to this class because they have no work and nothing to do after schooling except go back to the government housing.They like to be able to speak in conversational German with the missionaries. They have invited us all to come to their place for dinner. Again, what do they want? Friendship. Someone to speak German with so that they can eventually find jobs.

I see all of this and I marvel. It has humbled me. It has caused me to not complain so much about my own little discomforts, so minuscule compared to them. Yes, I too am a stranger in a strange country, but I came here voluntarily to serve a mission. I did not come here because I would be killed, or I needed a better way of life, or my family had all been killed or my country was being ravaged by war. I came so that I could serve God and my fellowmen full time for just a short time. And I am with my sweet husband. And I have friends. And I have purpose. And I have freedom.

I think of the talk given by one of our church leaders in April of 2016, Patrick Kearon who said this:
"Being a refugee may be a defining moment in the lives of those who are refugees, but being a refugee does not define them. Like countless thousands before them, this will be a period—we hope a short period—in their lives. Some of them will go on to be Nobel laureates, public servants, physicians, scientists, musicians, artists, religious leaders, and contributors in other fields. Indeed, many of them were these things before they lost everything. This moment does not define them, but our response will help define us."
“Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
What must my response be? What if MY story were THEIR story?!! I am grateful for the opportunity we have to be up close and personal and see these situations in real life. Again, a  quote from our church leader: "The reality of these situations must be seen to be believed. In winter I met, amongst many others, a pregnant woman from Syria in a refugee transit camp desperately seeking assurance that she would not need to deliver her baby on the cold floors of the vast hall where she was housed. Back in Syria she had been a university professor. And in Greece I spoke with a family still wet, shivering, and frightened from their crossing in a small rubber boat from Turkey. After looking into their eyes and hearing their stories, both of the terror they had fled and of their perilous journey to find refuge, I will never be the same."
I will never be the same again either after tonight,  after yesterday and the sweet girls, after Daniel, after Vladimir, after Mosab who lost his mother and sisters in Allepo.  I hope that all of us can look around our respective communities and see who needs us. Who needs a friend? A smile? A dinner?  I am sure that as we all pray and ask to be guided and led to those in need, that prayer will be answered.  That of ALL prayers will be answered. 
And I also pray that our country will once again welcome with open arms as Germany has  those who are seeking  "refuge from the storm."

Great site for some ideas of how you can help in this effort: iwasastranger.lds.org

Days of Wonder and Astonishment

Feb. 24, 2017

                       Canal In Wismar, historical seaside village about 40 minutes from Rostock.

I feel like I've turned a corner in my emotional state and adjustment to Germany and this culture and being so far away from home. Before we left the US I turned to Gentz and said, "I'm scared." To which he replied, "You are about to embark on a wonderful, astonishing adventure." As usual, his words calmed my troubled thoughts. The first few weeks I doubted those words, but am beginning to feel it more every day rather than just fleeting moments of wonderful. It's been hard. It's been confusing. It's been discouraging. It's been wonderful. But through it all, I've had Gentz right by my side and I've felt the love of God with me. For that I am so grateful.

So, I just want to share a few pictures that have filled me with wonder not the least of which are all the great, friendly people we have come in contact with or seen on the street. And of course, our missionaries of the Berlin Germany Mission. They are the most amazing examples of dedication, sacrifice and love for the Lord that I've seen. They give  up two years of their lives at such a young age and come out into a land far from home, and they are always positive! They have been such a strength to us!
Part of the Berlin Germany Mission
Our Elders Keller and Skidmore here in Rostock

Gentz with elders at a District meeting..held every week.

The Mission just had a "Day of Finding". Everyone fasted on Wednesday and on Thursday, they (we) all hit the streets to talk and find those who were ready to come to Christ and might have some interest in our message and/or be of service. It was a wonderful day full of great conversations, happenings that could only be termed divine and strengthened testimonies. When we put our faith into actions, miraculous things occur. "Every day is a good day in the mission field."-President Gordon B. Hinckley.

The following pictures are taken in Rostock. I love seeing the bicycles everywhere...from two year olds on Strider Bikes to seventy or eighty somethings riding home from the grocery store. You have to be very careful when driving and also when walking as they zip past you or in front of you and are so graceful and quick it's as if nobody else exists.
                  Dads and moms and kids on bikes in all kinds of weather and on all kinds of contraptions!
                                                        The ever present Strider Bike.

                                                    No matter the weather, there they are!
            Loved this fun bicycle attached to one of the apartment buildings with the basket on the back.
            There are even Sausage Bicycle Carts and Coffee Bicycle Carts and Pizza Delivery Bicycles!

And here are some of the people we see regularly and have grown to love!
Our neighbor Manya with baby Gretta. They have a compartment that fits right into the front of the coat for the babies. Again, they are then able to go out in any weather.

The Schullers, a couple from our church who invited us into their home one afternoon for tea and cakes...Gentz who never eats chocolate did that day. I only had the fruit tea.

            One of our favorite shopkeepers in the area near our home..I call her Heidi, but her name is                                                    Donny(probably not spelling that right)
 Again, it doesn't matter the weather, there are always tables set up outside the Bakeries and the cafes. And people sitting there visiting.

Typical scene: Mama with backpack and toddler all snowsuited up. I"m surprised he isn't on a Strider Bike!
 Meet Herr Schmitt who I think I wrote about before. He spent 12 years in jail in East Germany after returning from West Germany before the wall came down. He can't get out much after a stroke and loves for the missionaries to visit.
Herr Schmitt's huge dog loving it up with Gentz

Now come with me to Wismar, a historic seaside village about 40 minutes away from Rostock.
                                 Lovely, narrow cobblestone streets and yes, they still drive down these.
                                                                  Just a nice view

                 An old water tower from the 15th century that they have preserved in their town square.
                                          Very old church that they are always working on.
                                                         Doesn't this just look so inviting?
                                                                 The shopping area.
One of Gentz's missionary companions years ago called this "German television". Hanging out of the window just watching life go by.
                                                   Note the 1658 there on the second floor.

Gentz just enjoying the wonderful view. The cobblestone streets, the old buildings, the creek running through town, and the homes beautifully decorated. We definitely need to make a return trip when we have more time and can possibly sit in one of the charming little restaurants and let some time go by.

Ending with three of Gentz's shots of the wharf at the River Warnow just down the street from us in Rostock where he loves to take his walks. Life is an adventure. We are continually amazed that we get to see this beauty and learn more about these people and this country.
I hope you find some wonder and astonishment in your day, for it is everywhere, isn't it?
Thanks for visiting my blog.

Germany's Open Arms

February 6, 2017

Gentz came back from his morning walk a few days ago out on the wharf of the Warnow River and said, "I could live in Rostock!!" Seems he had as usual stopped and talked to some Rostockers and just had happiness and love oozing out of him! He had stopped a couple out walking their dog and their baby which we see so much of! They had the nicest convention..they weren't interested in hearing any more about Jesus Christ, but they wished him good luck on his mission and parted ways, each one seemingly uplifted by their friendly conversation. And that is how these Germans are here. Rather standoffish to begin with, but start a conversation, and they are the friendliest people ever!

There are not just younger couples walking around, but plenty of older couples, hand in hand, arm in arm.
It is truly such a sweet sight.

One of the greatest joys we have over here is meeting people on the street and in our little branch (congregation). We have learned what dear people they are and have endured much. Many saw the wall come down; many saw their parents struggle with the changes that brought. This was  sometimes not so positive as companies closed, people lost jobs and alcoholism began to take over a depressed people. That is one of the reasons we feel  for the apparent stoicism and grim faces we often see on the faces of those we meet on the street. 
I love this quote by Susan Jeffers: 'Remember: You are too important to deprive yourself and others of the power and love you hold within. Sharing ourselves with others gives life meaning and purpose... and a feeling of fulfillment and inner peace."

Gentz is a master at getting to know someone in a very short amount of time. One other morning as he was walking along this wharf he struck up a relationship with a man who was there fishing every day and would stop and talk to him momentarily. On one occasion he noticed that the fisherman only used artificial lures and he asked him if he ever used live bait.(Köder) He said, "That is illegal because it is unnecessary torture of fish." Gentz reflected on this and realized that it is no surprise that a nation that can protect small fish from unnecessary torture would also be the nation that opens its doors to the majority of the refugees coming out of the Middle East and other parts of the world. It IS possible for a nation to "repent" of its "failures" and try through its good works to make an amends to humanity. 
Gentz and Rachko from Bulgaria who is trying to  earn money to bring his family over here.

Nice thoughts. We can all try to be a little kinder, to change, to be a little more like Jesus. In this video link I've included watch as people care for and love one another. At the very end is the short conclusion of a talk given by one of our church leaders in General Conference  about our need to reach out to the refugees and accept them. Following that, another church leader Elder Dieter Uchtdorf from Germany stands to introduce the Mormon Tabernacle Choir but is very choked up, having been a refugee himself with his family in post war Germany as a child. 

Oh, how we hope and pray that our country, the great United States of America will continue to be known for having open arms to those who come upon their shores seeking freedom and a better life. That is what He who is the Father of us all would want. 

Thank God for America!

Several conversations and visits plus of course our most recent Presidential Inauguration that has caused such disruption and divisiveness in our country cause me to take stock of all that I am grateful for in my wonderful homeland of America.

First, let me introduce you to Herr Schmidt (no picture, sorry) whom we visited last week. He is in his seventies and not able to get out of his apartment very often because of a recent stroke. He had no problem speaking though and gave us an hour long version of his life story as well as a lovely looking meal (I declined) of pork, potatoes, peas and carrots with gravy all over it fixed by his wife, Frau Schmidt, who would peek her head through the door of the kitchen once in a while but never joined us.) This was all in German and so I just got bits and pieces shared by my very able German translator:)) When in his twenties, he escaped to West Germany and lived and worked there for a few years. He decided that he missed East Germany and wrote them a letter to see if he could return. They sent him a letter, welcoming him back and said, of course!! When he then crossed the border into East Germany in Kiel, just north of Rostock, they arrested him. He showed them the letter which they promptly tore up. He was in prison for twelve years. Initially he was to only be there for four, but they kept extending his sentence. Politics have been a great disappointment to him both Eastern AND Western.

Friday, we went to a training meeting for missionaries in Berlin. We had just enough time to drive by the Brandenburg gate, but because of time constraints and no available parking, we weren't able to stop for pictures. The Brandenburg gate was built in the 18th century and is located right near where the Berlin wall was; it was on the East side of that wall and became a symbol of freedom and of oppression both at the same time. Several American Presidents have spoken there among whom are John F Kennedy, Ronald Regan, Bill Clinton and Obama. This little snippet is shared by Wilkepedia where you can look to learn more about it if you wish:
A Soviet flag flew from a flagpole atop the gate from 1945 until 1957, when it was replaced by an East German flag. Since the reunification of Germany, the flag and the pole have been removed.
In 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy visited the Brandenburg Gate. The Soviets hung large red banners across it to prevent him looking into East Berlin.
In the 1980s, decrying the existence of two German states and two Berlins, West Berlin mayor Richard von Weizsäckersaid: "The German question is open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed."[9]
On 12 June 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan spoke to the West Berlin populace at the Brandenburg Gate, demanding the razing of the Berlin Wall.[10][11] Addressing the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet UnionMikhail Gorbachev, Reagan said,
General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
Here is a picture of our flying trip past the gate in the morning as well as marks in the pavement where the Wall once stood and one of our missionaries, Elder Keller standing in front of it when he was able to visit that evening. You have to stand on the East side in order to see it properly since the horses face the East.
                                                      View from the west as we drove by

So hard to imagine, that a wall could have stood here dividing a country! See the marks?

Much more beautiful at night from the East side!!! Berlin Marathon ends here as well as many political events. It has become a great sign of freedom. Just down the block is a beautiful monument to Jewish people killed during the Holocaust. So much sadness and strife, yet now more unified and restored.

So, then we move on to yesterday when we had Vladimir from the Ukraine and his family here for dinner after lunch as well as Daniel from Ghana who I shared about in an earlier blog. Vladimir fled to Germany a few months ago  after the political parties changed in the Ukraine as he was a part and active in the opposing/losing party. If he had stayed, he would have been thrown into jail or killed. Now he is fighting with a lawyer (same one as Daniel's) to be able to stay here since Germany says you aren't really a refugee since your country is not at war, there is no political unrest and there is no danger. He begs to differ.

I look at the faces of his darling children and he and his wife....so happy and kind and loving. Yet, over them hangs the threat of possible prison or even death if they are not allowed to stay here. But, they have hope and are learning German and planning for their future here. Vladimir worked in construction for 16 years as did his father and grandfather. Their ultimate hope is  to return to the Ukraine if and when the reigning political party would lose the next election in three years or the election after that. They both still have parents and family members of course back in the Ukraine.
I cannot look at those faces without tearing up. My heart weeps for them, and we pray daily for them that they will be safe and well and that all will work out.

All of these events and visits have caused me to reflect upon how very blessed we are in America!! Yes, we have a new President.Yes, many do not support or like him and are marching and protesting against the man they feel should not be in that office. They are allowed to march. They are allowed to say whatever they want without threat of being thrown into jail or being killed. Maybe we all need to take a step back, lick some wounds and be grateful that our great United States which has ALWAYS been great is a free land.

What have Herr Schmidt and Vladimir and Daniel discovered? Politics have been a great disappointment to them both Eastern AND Western. They  have found that their source of joy and peace is in the gospel of Jesus Christ, showing that man's ideas and ways and politics are imperfect and ultimately will disappoint us at some juncture. But God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever never will.He will never turn His back on us.

I am so grateful for these lessons I am learning that cause me to pause and reflect and thank God for the privileges and freedoms I enjoy and hope that in some small way, we can ease any pain or homesickness that our dear friends who have fled their homelands might be feeling. There is suffering all around us. Isn't part of what makes America great  that we can ease others' pain? That we can reach out with love to one another and resolve differences? Let us all unite in a spirit of love and friendship. That spirit of love is what has made and can continue to make America great!

                                               HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY MOTHER!!

Today is my Mother, Lucille Marker Jones' 100th Birthday. We all thought she would live to see it, being such a healthy 93 almost 94 year old until a stroke brought her down three months before her 94th birthday in October of 2010. She died January 1, 2011.

Yesterday, our daughter Maggie sent me a text saying she wanted to tell her future children about me and how brave I am. I don't feel very brave most days, so I shrugged this off for a moment, then I replied, "You do have brave genes, Maggie. Running through your genes are homesteaders, pioneers, farmers, artists, musicians, coalminers, housewives, teachers, preachers, soldiers, writers, mothers, fathers, builders, cancer survivors, business owners,  missionaries, lovers of children and that is just the few that we know about."

So, walking the streets of Rostock, Germany with my best friend by my side this morning, I thought, yes, I am brave! We all are when we get up each morning and move forward with whatever it is that needs to be done no matter how difficult. I pulled my shoulders back and walked just a little straighter into that cold wind.

So, hooray for all the heroes and brave people in my life! They are too many to mention, but for today, I will celebrate one of the bravest women I know...My mother, the Farm Girl who became a teacher, a preacher's wife, mother to four girls, grandmother to 19 and friend to many many people and always positive!

Two of her favorite scriptures were: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" and "...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (Both in Phillipians 4) She not only recited these verses, she lived them.

The world was a better place with Lucille Marker Jones in it with her cheery hello, beautiful smile and twinkle in the eye that was never missing. Happy100th Birthday dear Mother in your heavenly realm! Know that you are never forgotten down here. God bless us all until we meet again!

An unsolicited Piano lesson in humility

I play the piano...well, I am the only one of four daughters who took lessons of any decent period of time. Rather amazing, since I was not very disciplined in any area of my life back then least of all piano practicing.  But, I had a wonderful teacher in Chillicothe, Illinois, Mrs. Grogan, who was patient with me probably because she loved my parents and I stuck with it for ten years. During my teenage hormonal years I played the popular songs of the day, mostly Beatles and cried out my emotions. Music brought me and still does great comfort.

I truly enjoyed playing the piano as long as nobody was listening, but as I grew into an adult, moved away from home, the piano playing stopped. Then I became a member of the Mormon Church and moved to Jacksonville into a small branch (congregation) where piano players were desperately needed (we are a lay ministry, so no one gets paid for such responsibilities). So, with a prayer in my heart I started playing the hymns for our services, hitting plenty of sour notes, but no one seemed to mind. This has been all the piano playing I have been doing for the last 42 years. No practicing.

So, coming to Germany to a small branch once again, I thought, "well, I can't speak the language, but maybe I can be of service playing the piano...they have probably been singing acapella all these years." Imagine my surprise, our first Sunday here when an angel sat at the piano/organ playing beautifully and singing with a lovely soprano voice. Meet Angelika Albrecht. Later, visiting her home on Christmas Eve where sat a lovely Grand Piano, I learned that she is a voice teacher, and she used to sing and play publicly in addition to some opera. Thankfully, I only need to play when she happens to be out of town on Sunday, but one fateful day when her sister was visiting, I foolishly told her, "oh, sit with your sister, I will play" and so very nervously and self consciously with a few sour notes as always I played the hymns. I would certainly never call myself an accomplished pianist.

Sunday, after church, Sister Albrecht (that's what we call each other believing that indeed we are all brothers and sisters with God as our Father) says, "Oh, Sister Franz, come to the organ, I want to show you something." (She speaks English as well as German) She laid her hands tenderly on the keys and told me how to move them differently than a piano. The fingers needed to glide from one note to the next rather than being lifted like on a piano. Now, instead of thinking to myself, why thank you dear Anjelika for giving me a 2 minute lesson..how I appreciate learning this from one so accomplished!! I will need to practice and get this right. No, instead, I go to "not enough'"...can't speak the language, can't play the stinking organ right, good grief! It's at times like that I just have got to go to gratefuls and "I am enough" but I didn't catch myself right then. You know when I caught myself?  One of the young missionaries here from Idaho, dear Elder Keller who has only been in Germany a month, just a few days longer than us was interpreting the service through headphones for those of us who don't speak German: me, Daniel from Ghana and Vladimir from the Ukraine. This is a difficult task...listening in German and then giving out the English translation. He stumbled a bit and there were long quiet pauses; he's not quite as fluent as his companion Elder Skidmore who has been out a few months longer. But it's very good practice.  Vladimir, who was sitting next to him, said, "you need to be improving in German every week; you don't seem to have improved this week!"
How did Elder Keller respond? Did he say, "Heck, I can't do this! I'll never be good enough at speaking German! What am I even doing here?!!" (yes, that's what I was doing with the "organ lesson") No, he shared the experience with us, laughed about it and resolved to work a little harder at studying the language this week. He is 18 years old. I am 66.

And, so a lesson in humility. Thank you Anjelika, Elder Keller and Vladimir for my Sunday lesson. I am enough. We are all enough. And with God's help, we can improve and change. The learning will continue I am sure.

My Birthday Week in Germany!

Had a great day with hearing from our kids via texts and all of the wonderful facebook messages (gotta love facebook for that, right?) The day ended with a visit which turned out to be a birthday dinner to a couple of families way out in the sticks...darling houses inside..no idea what they looked like on the outside as it was pitch black. Here in Germany you take your shoes off when you go into the house and she had some handmade slippers for us to put on. This was like 7 pm and we had already eaten dinner but out came this huge gnocchi casserole....she is apparently an awesome cook. I had to explain myself of course..well, dad did for me since they spoke no English. Then out came the cake, but I told her the sparkling water she provided (they all drink that over here) was my treat. I guess she didn't understand the flour sugar bit as she sent us home with all the casserole and the cake and a gift bag full of chocolates and jam. Oh, and she also gave me some handknit socks. So sweet! I figure surely that will be my toughest one yet, but they are all so hospitable they want to feed you every time you come visit. Not like that thankfully. I suppose they will get used to me and my "strange" eating habits 😉 But we had a great evening laughing and talking, so it was all good.And I took the food to the missionaries on the way home 😬
We had a lovely walk together over near the Rostock Wall. Centuries ago the city was surrounded by a brick wall for protection. Most of it is down now, but still enough to get an idea and they added a lovely park and walking path right along the wall. On one side of the wall you can see old towers and buildings, and on the other side, tall apartment and new office buildings. We bought a picture today of the tower and the man was telling us that the very street that we were on at the time was totally flattened during the war. It is now a lovely brick street with shops and offices on either side leading up to the town square. I am continually amazed by the stamina and rebuilding that went on in postwar Germany. Gentz and I both got our hair cut this morning and the owner of the salon who is 47 years old was telling us as so many do that things were better before the reunification of East and West Germany and taking down of the Wall back in the eighties. During that time, everyone had jobs because if you didn't work, you went to jail. True, you couldn't travel to the west or anywhere else, but they didn't know any different. So, once communism was gone, people lost jobs, many were depressed and alcoholism took a strong hold. It was a very difficult time for the East Germans; some people from West Germany even came back and demanded that their land be given back to them or their house if someone else were living on it. None of us knew any of this..we just thought it was wonderful that they were now a free people! And I suppose it IS wonderful now, but at the time, it wasn't so great.

Our neighbors, Sven and Manya...he's an elementary teacher and she is an architect, had a baby girl last week and named her Gretta. I can hear her crying through the walls..sweet sound! So many noises I 'm not used to...people walking around in the apartment above us,.traffic outside, children laughing, people walking everywhere, but not minding it..it is all rather invigorating!

We went out to eat at a charming restaurant with a couple, Bodo and Sigrid,  from our English speaking class this week.  Gentz says that the Germans understand gemütlichkeit (try pronouncing that!!) It is cozy enjoyment usually with friends and family. The restaurants are the most charming I've every seen!! The owner always walks about and checks on your meal and how you are doing and even offered us a small glass of vodka at the end of the meal! How's THAT for hospitality:)) (we didn't take it:))

It seems there are little tables everywhere, to sit out or inside and enjoy the bakery that you find in every grocery store and on every street corner. Just within 5 minutes of us there are ten bakeries!!

We do a lot of visiting and stair climbing, since many people live in apartment buildings with no elevators. Here is a picture of Government Housing where Rostock is allowing the refugees to live. It looks very similar to all of the apartment buildings here just not as many stories. It  is in a lovely area surrounded by trees; the only detracting thing is a chain link fence all around it, but I think that is for the protection of those living inside rather than keeping people from going out, as they are free to go wherever they need to go. 
I am very impressed the way the Germans have welcomed these poor unfortunate people into their land. One of our church members who we visit here is from Ghana and calls Germany the "Promised land". He fled Ghana because of the intense poverty there but is having a hard time getting approval to stay here since he was in no danger and there is no political unrest there. He has much faith and patience and keeps saying: "God will provide". We pray for him and hope that all will work out for him as he wants and in his best interests.

We are learning much. I feel like my world is expanding; I just wish my language were!! In my small American mind I'm afraid I just don't understand why everyone doesn't speak English!!:) I didn't even know how to ask for the bathroom at the beauty parlor this morning! 
Thank goodness Gentz was there!! But I am using DuoLingo and another church member is helping me with German, so we will see if this 66 year old brain can absorb anything in the time I am here. But the people are patient with me and I appreciate that! 

Tchüss!! (one of my favorite words....sweet, short goodbye.) Pronounced Chews, but soft s not like a z.

Until next time!! Thanks for stopping in!!