We have now been in Berlin for two weeks and a lot has happened.
To our surprise, Pastor Oscar Muriu from Nairobi Chapel was passing through Berlin, so we got to spend a day of site seeing with him as well as hear from him for two evenings. We were very encouraged by what he had to say to us and the rest of the team at the church, and we were able to get some clarity as to how Beth and I will be serving in the church. We feel that at current our primary focus should be in supporting Dan and Nancy, by helping baby sitting Ferdinand, doing house work, praying for them and ensuring they get plenty of time to maintain their marriage. Relationships are a key area that Satan attacks in order to frustrate the work of the church, and so it is very important that we ensure that Dan and Nancy don't burn out, that they have plenty of time for each other as well as for the church.
James was fortunate enough to have been offered two jobs within a week of arriving in Berlin. He has accepted a position at VZ Network, a German social networking site akin to Facebook. The language used to communicate at VZ is German, though the work itself is mostly in English, so James has his language learning cut out for him. Part of the package included intense language classes, which James has already started. Beth has enrolled in a 2 month intensive German course at the Goethe-Institut. She starts on Monday, and will be attending 4 hour classes 5 days a week. In the afternoons she will also be helping Nancy with babysitting.
We have both bought ourselves bikes and are enjoying using these in combination with public transport. Bike is a very common and convenient form of transport in Berlin. Many roads have bike lanes, and for those roads that don't, bikes are considered first class citizens on the road and are respected by motorists, which makes it much safer than riding on the road in Australia. Our bikes have made us far more mobile, we are able to go shopping more regularly, get to the train station with ease, and visit people in the church easily. The church continues to make us feel very welcome with invitations for afternoon tea and dinner to peoples houses. We are starting to make some friends which is good.
We're having fun learning about the culture, and making mistakes as we do so. It seems every time we go to the supermarket we get something new wrong. We've now had a number of encounters with German bureaucracy, applying for tax numbers, registering our address, and applying for a bank account. So far these have gone relatively smoothly. Ordering food at restaurants is getting easier, and we've also found out which cinemas have non dubbed English movies, which gives us a welcome break from German only television. We're enjoying eating German food, including Currywurst (curried sausage, Beth's favourite), Fleischsalat (meat salad, like potato salad but with ham, James' favourite), as well as the dense breads, cold meats and cheese for breakfast, fruit flavoured teas, top quality yoghurt, and plenty of potatoes.
Thank God that:
- He has provided James with a great job so easily
- The starting date for Beth's course was perfectly timed and she got the last available spot
- Oscar Muriu was able to encourage us and the church
- People have been very hospitable and have welcomed us warmly
- God would provide for Dan and Nancy a nanny who would be willing to work for little or no pay, someone from overseas would be great
- We would maintain good habits and discipline as our lives start to get busy with work and education
- Beth would be able to find a job for when her language classes finish
- The church restart service on the 11th of September would be a big hit, and begin to attract new people
The protestant cathedral in Berlin. No wonder no one goes to church anymore.
The welcome we received when we arrived in Berlin by train.
Three days ago we arrived in Berlin, but contrary to our plans of making a subtle entrance, we were heralded with a party of 20 people waving Berlin flags and a big welcome sign at the train station! The congregation of Mavuno Berlin gave us a wonderful welcome, far beyond anything we had expected. After brief introductions, we headed off to a couples place, Sven and Anja and their 14 month old daughter Elea. We had dinner there with Dan and Nancy, and also Ole and Andrea, another couple that have moved to Berlin for the church plant. Our first family German meal was Kassler, salted baked pork, which was very nice, along with potatoes (lots of potatoes) and beans.
We then stayed the night at Sven and Anja's, who have been most hospitable, and we will continue to stay there for a few weeks until we find a place of our own. The next day we headed out for a spot of shopping and sight seeing. James needed black pants for his job interviews and we managed to pick some up with little problems. We then headed to the city to see the Brandenburg Gate and a few other of the local attractions. It so happened that on that day 50 years ago, work started on the Berlin wall, so there was a lot things going on.
On Sunday was our first church service. The congregation warmly welcomed us with a BBQ after the service. We understood very little of the sermon, being in German and spoken quite fast, but we had lots of good opportunities to practice our German at the BBQ afterwards. Most of the congregation speak at least a little English, but we stuck to German as much as possible to practice. We met some wonderful people and look forward to spending more time with them each week.
We are starting to see just how much we need to rely on God, though the people are very warm and friendly, we find ourselves missing our family and friends in Australia already, and speaking simple English or poor German all the time can be quite draining.Thank God that:
- All the people we have met have made us feel very welcomed and at home
- We are learning German quickly and gaining more confidence every day in speaking it
- We would keep trusting God for his provision
- We would be able to build solid friendships with people in the church
- God will guide us in our job hunting and in how we should best be serving him
After two days travel we have finally arrived in Frankfurt, as we write this we are on the 5 hour train ride to Berlin. Our experience so far has been fun but dampened a little by James getting migraines on each of the plane trips - from Sydney to Seoul and Seoul to Frankfurt. Nevertheless today we enjoyed walking around Frankfurt, soaking in the culture and trying out our German.
We've been strongly aware of how, while German culture is at face value very similar to Australian culture, there are many subtle differences that make every experience slightly awkward in some way. At current this is a novelty which we both thoroughly enjoy, but we are sure that in time the novelty will wear off and culture shock will set in.Thank God that:
- we arrived safely in Germany with our luggage and without issue
- we are finding our German is adequate for all communication so far
- we would be prepared for the culture shock as it comes
- we would jump at opportunities to practice our German
- James would be prepared for his job interviews next week
- opportunities would arise for Beth to get a job