Between a delayed flight and a "lost" bag (United knew right where it was...NOT with me!), I got home just before 5 am on Sunday morning. As you might imagine, I got a fabulous night's sleep last night and am taking it easy today. Lucky for you, continuing to blog my experiences of the past two weeks falls within that. 

I picked up a few words in German. Stadt = city. Lutherstadt, then, is an apt addendum to the name of Wittenberg's main train station, but the Reformer's likeness is just as ubiquitous in the surrounding region. Exhibits A and B are below (no, that wasn't our train, just one on a nearby platform). 

Fellow missionaries Ashley, Chelsea, Courtney, and I spent three extra nights at the Old Latin School immediately following the Volunteer Coordinators Conference nerding out on Lutheran history. I grew up 10 minutes from the Purple Palace (aka LCMS International Center) and visited Perry County while support-raising in April 2018, but walking in the footsteps of Luther and company gave me goosebumps. 

First up: the Castle Church, where 33 yr. old Marty nailed the 95 Theses 504+ years ago, on October 31, 1517. 

The tower, which we'd later climb, bears the words EIN FESTE BURG (A Mighty Fortress). 

The original wooden doors were destroyed by fire; the metal ones there now are a decorative reconstruction.

L to R: Ashley, me, Chelsea, Courtney.

One of two panoramic views from the top in this post. You'll see later why the other is at the end.

The man himself inside the church, which we explored after our climb. Note also the Moravian star on the left of the photo. Moravian stars are a traditional Christmas decoration in Germany. Already on the way from the Wittenberg train station to the Old Latin School I noticed them in many home and apartment windows, and I enjoyed spotting them at businesses and residences in every city we visited. I bought myself a much simpler, 2D one at a Christmas market in Berlin.

Luther's rose on the ceiling. 

Friday night, we had the privilege of attending a free Advent organ concert at the city church, where Luther was a frequent guest preacher. Luther's contemporary Lucas Cranach painted the widely recognizable altarpiece.

I liked this view of the Christmas market on the way to dinner afterwards. 

Saturday, we made the trek to Wartburg Castle. Walking back from breakfast in this, I momentarily questioned that decision. 

Another sighting, this time in Eisenach, the town nearest the castle where we disembarked from the train and boarded a city bus.

While it made for a long day, much of it spend on public transportation, I have zero regrets about choosing this out of all the possible sites that figured into Luther's story. 

Steph (left) had to make an unplanned day trip to Munich and couldn't come, but she joined us for drinks at the Charles Bar when we got back. 

Sunday's Divine Service in Persian...was a highlight of the trip. We got to witness a Baptism!

The rest of the day didn't go exactly as I had expected or hoped, but it was a joy to spend more time with Kim and Rachel and see some of their city, like this church where Bach served as cantor for 28 years. 

The Christmas market should have been in this square, but like many throughout the country, it was cancelled. 

Courtney and I spent Monday morning wandering more of Wittenberg's cobbled streets. We saw the university where Luther and Philipp Melanchton taught, Melanchton's house (practically next door), and the Lutherhaus. Being a Monday, it was closed, but his wife Katie was hanging out in the courtyard.

Our last stop was a pop-up panorama exhibition on display until 2024. It's a lifelike, 360 degree mural installation complete with light and sound designed by Yadegar Asisi, whose other pieces include 9/11, the Titanic, and the Great Barrier Reef. Courtney & I were struck by the fact that we'd walked some of the same streets pictured (L: the view from the Castle Church tower; R: the same view from the panorama). 

By that evening, we'd find ourselves a world away from the solitude and stillness of small town life...until next time, blessings!