Monday, February 22, 2016

Notes from our Saturday in the Snow trip to the Refugee camp

The Limburg refugee camp asked if we could build some additional sandboxes. 
Ever tried to find sandboxes in February?  One place said come back in three weeks; all we have are some old ones left out in the snow all winter.  When Trisha asked if she could buy them, the store DONATED them!
Our job was to buy the wood preservative and paint brushes, the tarp to separate the sand from the rocks, and buy sand.  That was all easy to accomplish on the way home Friday night.  Then we woke up to SNOW on Saturday.  The snow just kept getting worse as we drove up and over the Taunus mountains that separate us from Limburg.  

Randy was the foreman working with our Iranian friends, one of whom is a carpenter by trade.  He LOVED getting to work again!  

Some of the cute kids the sandboxes are for.
For the rest of this BlogPost , I'm quoting from some of my friends who wrote of this day on facebook.  
Melissa Dalton-Bradford was remembering her firstborn, Parker and Trisha Bird Leimer was celebrating her birthday.  The rest of us were along for the ride and the fun.

"Braved a blizzard and went to Limburg refugee center today, Saturday, February 20th. Taught German to my Iranian, Afghani and Iraqi refugee friends. Underneath my lesson about "Die Familie", I remembered braving a similar blizzard in Utah 27 years ago to arrive at a hospital to give birth to our first child, a son we named Parker. Just a week after Parker's birth I was back at it, teaching German to my classes at university. There's a pattern here..."
"I especially like the intensity in Randall's face as he gets whipped in five moves in chess by this boy"

" I think that, when my life is over and I get to review it from the "other side", teaching a 10 year old Iraqi girl to introduce herself politely in German (which will one day be her great-great... grandchildren's language) will surface among the most significant and sweet of any things I've done."

"From the ground in Germany: 3.5 straight hours of cheerleading/teaching German to these lovely, respectful, appreciative, decent students in the refugee camp in my town just outside Frankfurt. I held nothing back, and taught Deutsch like I used to teach aerobics: All-in and high impact. That moment when all 70+ your Afghani, Iranian and Iraqi students are chanting in unison, "Ich bin sehr froh!"  I am very happy    At least they weren't bored, and I left sweaty through to the skin. I also learned some Farsi as a bonus."
"In pantomime and fractured little German phrases, Behrouz and Farazeneh asked about "der √§lteste Sohn", (the oldest son) who disappeared halfway through the stack of family photos I used to teach about "Die Familie." I then pulled out the small keepsake pouch I'd kept separate, and in pantomime and single words –– "18 Jahre alt," "Wasser", "schwimmen", "Freund" –– told the story. They asked me to repeat. I repeated. They were silent. Then Ahmad, one of my favorites I've worked with from the very start in the first center, whispered, "Es tut mir Leid." (I am sorry.)
I handed out hotel soaps and shampoos and little chocolates and felt grateful."

"Thank you Melissa and Randall Bradford , Rebecca and Randy Stay, and  Carlene and Gordon Walker, Vahid, Elias and Mohammad Torkan for building sandboxes in the rain, cutting endless paper dolls and giving German lessons. It was an absolutely perfect way to spend my birthday! I have some really GREAT friends!"

To infuse a special family landmark with meaning, we went with our brothers and sisters to serve our brothers and sisters.

 "Most of my students at my (now-to-be-several-times-weekly) German class in the camp (once high school gym) in my town outside Frankfurt. They've all been living together under this one roof since autumn, IKEA gray metal bunk beds lined up like in barracks, no private space whatsoever, and 200 local volunteers working in shifts to welcome the distressed. Those years I taught Deutsch to scores of young missionaries and so many university students, I could have never in my wildest imagination foreseen this moment. Such meaning and communion for me. LOVE these "
"This is a great photo. Can't help but notice they all are campaigning for peace."

" absolutely. They have left house, family, tradition, language, jobs, their entire history --everything---for a chance at peace."

Sister Katy Ryser: "Portrait of me (including striped shirt and glasses on my head) drawn by cute Iraqi girl at refugee rec center."

"This was the best birthday EVER! Thank you, Axel Leimer and Natasha Rose for getting up early on a Saturday morning and driving through a nasty snowstorm to hang out with the residents of the refugee camp in Limburg."

Elder Walker teaching German
I'm sitting by the door actually guarding the battery pack for the drill/screwdriver which was plugged in and charging.
The kids found me and we made snowflakes for everyone.  I wonder how much snow they get in Syria or Iran?

"This day was all about creating connections. Creating strings of hearts or hand-in-hand paper dolls to be carefully painted in bright colors by children from Afghanistan, Syria and Iran. English speaking missionaries serving in Germany and their brothers and sisters connected by their struggle to learn the strange language of this land they each find themselves in. Men of various ages and ethnicities piecing wood together in the rain and creating playgrounds for children living in tents. A connecting of minds over a chess board where words couldn't have. A smile. Exchanged names. A love for learning. A need to love and be loved. We are all connected and today those connections were confirmed and friendships created. "

What a great day working at the Limburg Refugee Camp. Gordon taught German and I worked with the kids. If you can't read the sign the little girl is holding up it's her name and in big letters L-O-V-E. Says it all, doesn't it?
Can you tell she is enjoying her birthday? !!
Carlene Martin Walker "It was great to be with you and to watch how you treated these sweet children with such love and respect. What an unselfish way to chose to celebrate your birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY "

Rebecca Stay : "This is our wall at home above the computer.  Note the souvenirs from Limburg: a string of painted butterflies (schmetterling) and 3 portraits.  I think the middle one with glasses is me."


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Frankfurt Cemetary

Since it has rained or snowed almost everyday since we got here, we choose to leave the office early on Thursday when there was a bit of sun.  Not much by the time we got outside, but we had a great walk in the huge Frankfurt cemetary across the street.

Das Ganseblumchen : little goose flower, or daisy.These grow all thru the grass, like pretty dandilions.
Yellow crocuses that have naturalized the area.
purple crocuses

Spring is definitely coming, as all the flowers springing up will atest.

Germans are very serious about planting and placing beautiful flowers, greens and arrangements on their family graves in every season. 

 Winter brings lots of wreaths and fresh evergreen carpets. 

 Spring means primroses, crocuses, daffodils and tulips.   The pansies will be coming soon.

We love walking thru the cemetary: it's more like a forest with graves and gardens scattered through it. 

 Each tree is numbered and catalogued.

This is how mistletoe grows : a parasite, it will eventually kill the tree as the branches get too heavy.
German Song Birds to watch for.

A tree dies, and rather than haul it away, they use it to decorate the cemetary.

Back in the Office

We've had a busy 10 days in the office with lots of new projects coming in.  We got a map showing all the stakes so we can keep track of where our projects are.

We have a new administrative assistant in the Welfare department: her name is Constanza and she is a delight to work with, and is a master of creating Excel spreadsheet documents for me to use to better organize our orders.
Constanza and her husband at the Christmas Market
Constanza's desk
The Sharpes - the Humanitarian coordinators who replaced us - meanwhile, have taken 4 days to go to Switzerland to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

Sister Enger, a German member who teaches a weekly German class for us, brought in about 100 photos of birds which her late husband had taken.  Wow.  He was good.  I'm lucky to SEE a bird, let alone be able to focus my camera on it and get a photo.  That is a real art.
Black eagle, the nation bird of Germany
Eisvogel, or Kingfisher

This lovely little bird is a German robin.

 Meanwhile, back in Utah, this adorable girl B. is studying Germany  in Brownies so dressed up for the occasion.  The dirndl skirt is one my mom, Grandma Fawnie, made for Karen about 30 years ago.

L rocking her new glasses.  
 One of the merchants we buy in bulk from offered us an amazing deal on some waterproof coats (150 € coats for 30 € each), which are in really high demand for new arrivals in the camps: apparently it's not this cold or rainy back home in Syria or Iran or Eritrea, although I think the Afghans are used to it!

We ordered 800 from photos, but you always wonder how they will actually look when they arrive.  We needn't have worried.  They are beautiful: densely woven waterproof fabric on the outside, with reinforcing rwaterproofing around all the pockets and zippers.  Inside is a soft and warm zip-out liner with a cell phone pocket.  Almost all of the adult refugees have cell phones to keep in touch with family scattered across the globe.

Members continue to assemble hygiene kits and food boxes.  The Staines Stake in the UK is bringing 18 trucks with 46 metric tonnes of stuff next week.