Sunday, May 29, 2016

Around the World in 15 Days : Seriously!

Our oldest son finished his PhD last year and signed up to walk at graduation.  Problem was, he graduated from the University of Auckland, in New Zealand!  

Before we got our mission call, we told him we'd love to be there with him, and made plans to rent a camper van to get around on the North Island.

Then we got called back to Germany!  So, the first week of May, we flew to Auckland to be with Mike.  That is virtually halfway around the world : 11,250 miles; 24 hours of flying. We flew through Shanghai, China.
Luftansa flight : Left Thursday about 4 pm ; flew for 12 hours, but I had ALL FOUR SEATS!  I laid down and slept.

Proof that I was in China. . .  for a few hours. Bad hair day after 12 hour flight.

At least I can get SOMETHING out of German, French or Greek.  THIS is foreign.

Air pollution like Salt Lake with an inversion and a forest fire. You cannot see the building across the street.

Second 12 hours on board : one seat, little sleep, but fun surprises because it's Air New Zealand.  Like, ALL the Lord of the Rings movies and Hobbit movies, so I could brush up on scenes in the Shire.

Surprises like the wall paper in one of the bathrooms (I tried them all in 12 hours): look closely at both the butterflies and their names.

We arrived in Auckland Saturday morning about 6 AM
Proof that we are in New Zealand, or Middle Earth.

Mike met us and bought some McD's so we could sit at the table until the Jucy office opened at 8 and they came to the airport to pick us up
Our adventure started here at Jucy rentals. We rented and spent the week in a Jucy camper van.
Included : two queen sized beds with pillows and linens for 4; sink, stove, refrigerator, table, 4 sets of dishes, silver and cups, pots and pans, even a toaster, DVD player and an assortment of DVDs (never watched any).  Surprisingly comfortable.  Notice the sign on the side: "The cup is half-full. . . and the other half was delicious!"  Great sentiment.

A fellow traveler at the Jucy rental.
First we drove to Mike and Miriam's old 'house/apartment.' This is where they lived when Marty and Will were born.
Side Yard
Flowers.  Everywhere flowers.

The neighbor's house, still surrounded with beautiful plants.

Angus!  Notice the boxes: they were MOVING that day.  If we had waited until Monday or Wednesday to visit, we would have missed seeing them and getting a forwarding address.  Tender Mercy.

Mike showing photos of Miriam, Aidan, Marty and Will to Eileen.  She is still a sweetheart and so generous: gave us a jar of homemade preserves and a pattern to do humanitarian knitting.

A&E's entire backyard.  filled with flowers, and FRENCH stuff, including a frog.

Angus and Eileen with Napoleon.  SOOOOO glad we got to see them.
Next stop : Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill.

One Tree Hill is one of the extinct volcanos where the Maoris built their fortified villages and cultivated the hillsides.

AUCKLAND from One Tree Hill : Pacific Ocean to the east and Tasman Sea to the west.

One Tree

Kauri grove in Cornwall Park.

Leaves like giant olive leaves

Another ONE tree : this is a Morton Bay fig tree.

That's Mike on the roots on the right: notice the scale of this tree!

Some of the roots are 5 and 6 feet high vertical walls.

Driving north: I have never been north of Auckland before!

It is Middle Earth, or at least the Shire.

Another ONE tree : this is a Norfolk Island pine.  They are like Redwoods.  Norfolk Island is just north of New Zealand.  This is the tree I have growing in a pot in my frontroom: I have had it for almost 30 years now!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Long History of Refugee Aid in Germany

As we were sorting a mountain of bags and boxes of donations for our Welcome Bags project, an American friend who has lived a long time in Germany sent me this sweet story.
I have tried to remove identification as he requested.

DDR kids

Reminds me of the years 1984 to 1989. When we were going into the DDR [ Deutsche Demokratische Republik or German Democratic Republic or East Germany] 4-5 times a year and as I would go on my business appt.s I would tell those who I visited [with] about our driving into the DDR and meeting with various ministers and contacts that welcomed [receiving] clothes item. 

So I would come home with various clothing items and [my wife] would wash or send them to the Dry Cleaners [and do] what needed to be prepared to take [them] in [to the DDR].  
Grandmothers waving to their children and grandchildren across the wall
[My wife]  wore out two washing machines during those years.
Looking with longing

The contact we worked with enabled [my wife]  to have access to records in order to set up appointments with the different churches where the records were.


I remember our 2 and 1/2 car garage was filled with clothes at one time so we parked the cars outside until all of the clothing items has been prepared to go in[to the DDR] to the families and church ministers that we had contact with. 

When I saw the stage full of items that needed to be sorted it brought back some memories of our smaller piles, although without the bags. 

East and West