Today I was to be out on my own. Unfortunately instead of waking early, I got out of bed at around 11:30. After going back to my room (from sending off the missions team) at 4am I wasn’t able to sleep. My body thought that I had finally returned to America and stayed up all night. Poo poo. Plan #1 ruined.
At first I was planning to go into Darmstadt since everyone had been saying Erzhausen was more of a small town than a city. I guess more like a Walnut to LA… or Walnut to anywhere haha. Unfortunately everyone I asked was busy. It’s exam time and everyone is studying, plan #2 ruined (well not completely). I went outside to take a look at Erzhausen. It was quite a nice self-guided tour. Unfortunately, German weather is horrible in that it rains at random times throughout the day. So in between rainstorms I took a walk from one covered bus stop to another.
The fun parts of course were seeing the signs in German, seeing the stores just as I had learned them in class like the Bakerei. I also found this! These interesting looking trashcans set outside of homes. I’m not sure how they work or how efficient they are, but they look really cool, like mini robots ready for action outside of every home. I felt a little strange taking pictures… how would you feel if you walked outside and saw someone taking a picture of your trashcan or your mailbox? Ya – especially since this is a small town and not a place where you might find many tourists.
Then at one point it began to pour so much so that I became discouraged and headed back to my room where it was safe. I decided then that going to Darmstadt might be bad idea because I didn’t have any place to run to over there and I didn’t want to be horribly out of place with my poor German. Instead took another nap because I had only gotten about 3 hours of sleep. When I woke up the sun was shining and I didn’t see any rain clouds! Yay! By this time it was already late so I decided it was better to stay in the area than to go too far away. On the other side of the railroad tracks is a forest that, according to the sign has a trail that is 13km long (multiply that by about 0.6 to get the mileage). So I decided it would be a good time to try out some camera skills, get a good walk, and get my thinking time in.
It was quite fun getting to walk through the forest on my own. Being in Erzhausen is like being at a retreat 🙂 There were many small paths seemgly going into the forest, but they were closed off. Finally I found an open path and took the road on my own. At first it was fun, but then I started getting creeping feelings like a bear might come out and eat me or a creeper would be hiding in the bushes – totally ridiculous, but I think living in Los Angeles as made me paranoid or something.
Eventually I turned back and returned to the normal path. During my long walk I really thought about myself and about life. It’s a little ironic… paradoxical? Something like that… I really enjoy adventures, trying new things and going out and making the most of everything – like going down dark paths through random forests not knowing where they go or what I will see in there. At the same time I’m a very tentative person because I’m afraid of change and not very confident in myself – I like having all my things organized just so, I was afraid of getting a new laptop… I’m definitely a pack rat because I don’t want to throw away memories or regret the change that it causes later since I can’t take it back.
By the time I walked back it was very far past dinner time. I went ahead and bought a pizza and ventured down to the kitchen by myself. I won’t lie, I’m a bit awkward – especially since I can’t speak German very well and a lot of the people I knew had left. Luckily there was one nice guy who spoke English relatively well. He helped me cook my pizza. So I had pizza with lettuce for dinner- also sort of my only real meal of the day hahaha.
Just as I was finishing and leaving, another older student began talking to me. That was one of the best conversations I had in Erzhausen – one that I was expecting at Theological seminary and from a German.
We talked about a lot of things – his ideas on the church, a part of his testimony, his view on the German culture. We discussed how culture really influences a church, the problems of church politics, and in general what it’s like for Christians in America and in Germany.
Its interesting that we see common trends in the church no matter where you are. In the same way that the Chinese churches are having cultural troubles, a lot of the churches here are having cultural troubles with the young generation and the old generation. He asked me if our church had worship or if we played praise songs (meaning hymns versus the more contemporary songs). In the same way that so many of us think that a lot of the contemporary Christian music is all fluff he thinks that there’s been a lot of fluff music entering into German worship. I noticed that a lot of fluff songs were English ones. It made sense to me too… I mean, why do you want to sing worship in a language that a lot of people don’t know – and this was for normal worship. We talked about how we love hymns because they convey the gospel and actually have substance and meaning other than feelings and being loved.
We also talked about how the church has become very legalistic so that the Gospel becomes like a trap rather than freeing. The first thing people told him when he became a Christian was that he was sinful and basically listed out all the things that he need to change , but didn’t fully explained to him how the Gospel frees. Instead of being free in God’s love, he was trapped by imperfections – something common of today’s Christians’ in America. Then it was cool because he shared about how he used to have extreme depression. However, God spoke to him during that time and brought him out of his depression. The gospel did for him what I believe the gospel should. Christ freed him of his guilt and his pain and accepted him as he was. He studied the scriptures for himself what was really required of a Christian and what it really meant to be saved by the blood of Christ and not by works or the law. It was interesting to hear because I know of other pastors or leaders who dealt with depression and don’t seem to have completely overcome it. Talking to this guy, I would never had imagined that he would have felt insecure or depressed ever in his life – he was completely transformed and his sin was overcome by Christ and not by his own power.
We also talked about the need for the perfect combination of reading the word and living the life and using the spiritual gifts. A lot of people have too much of one and not enough of the other. Rarely do we find someone who has both.
Then I got to talk to him about his wife whom he only recently legally married (as in the papers are signed) and will ceremonially marry in September! So exciting! It was really cool hearing from him. I asked him what he loved about her because it’s taken them 8 years to get married. I really liked his answer.
Soon it was getting late and the students needed to sleep so they could get up to study… or to go study so that they can sleep during the day hahaha.
Random note: It seems that all countries except America have realized that sparkling cider is super delicious and should be just as accessible as coke. Here is the German equivalent of Manzana Lift hahaha. The German one is less sweet. Sorry I can’t bring any home.