Deutschland in December

I spent an hour and six minutes on the phone (read: on hold) between Capital One and Visa on Friday, trying to buy an ICE train ticket from Frankfurt to Wittenberg, Germany, on the Deutsche Bahn website. Sometimes, living abroad and having an international number is funnnnnnn, let me tell you. 

I never succeeded, but regardless, I'm leaving for Germany tomorrow, Lord-willing! I share this with you for three reasons: 
  1. I may be quiet on here between now and when I return at 12:57 am on Sunday, December 19 :)
  2. I am excited! The reason for my trip is the 2nd annual (although the 1st was in 2019...#thankscovid) Volunteer Coordinators Conference, bringing together missionaries and International Center support staff whose roles, like mine, have to do with church engagement, which often manifests itself in hosting on-field volunteers. Working with these nine other individuals (seven of whom will be there) is a true joy. We meet every other week on Zoom, but being scattered around the world as we are, it can be 7 am for some and 10 pm for others. The opportunity to sit around the same table, in the same time zone, to discuss how we can best involve YOU in what God is doing around the world is a gift. Also, two words: Christmas markets. 
  3. I am anxious. Germany recently imposed a slew of restrictions to combat the omicron variant of COVID. I should be relatively unaffected as a vaccinated traveler, but as throughout the pandemic, things could change overnight. On top of that, the US tightened its restrictions such that I had to get my COVID test today. I speak zero German and am already intimidated at the multiplicity of rail types and similar-sounding station names in the Deutsche Bahn network. The German government will change hands while we're on the ground. And finally, I didn't even know for sure if the trip was on until Thursday, so I packed and finished my presentation ("Troubleshooting Tricky Situations") much later than is typical for me. 
Here are a few scenes showing how I stayed busy so as to keep from fretting incessantly. 

Gnocchi class! I made ricotta gnocchi for two of our seminary couples sometime in late summer. They - and above all, 11 yr. old Diego - liked it so much they wanted to learn the simple but time consuming technique that I've evidently mastered. 

Gluten-free pumpkin crumble bars for dinner with friends from church after their middle son's soccer game.

Erica & I finished our book study on Life's Big Questions, God's Big Answers over French toast (once the power came back on after over an hour so I could open the fridge to retrieve some key ingredients!). 

End-of-year Service of the Word + picadera in Los Callejones, a community in which I've been supporting my church's weekly outreach to a group of mostly pre-teen girls.

Which brings us to today, a looooooong day in the capital highlighted by a memorable service at Iglesia Luterana Amigos de Cristo that I will share more about in a separate post, hopefully during one of my airport waits tomorrow. I walked in the door at about 8 pm after a rainy, dark drive home; showered; ate a late dinner; and kept my New York Times crossword streak alive at 63 by finishing the Sunday puzzle. Tirzah's taking me to the airport in...less than 12 hours now. Pray! For travel mercies, protection from the virus, fulfillment in time spent with colleagues...and that I won't turn into a human popsicle. 

Until next time, blessings!