"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
July 11, 2012
Jon and I had some interesting communication situations while we were in Germany. We found that some people knew a few English words or phrases, but very few were fluent. But our mindset was that we were the foreigners visiting their country, so it was our responsibility to try and communicate with them and adapt to their culture. So instead of getting frustrated or upset, we decided to look for the humor and consider our experience a fun adventure. We learned enough words to figure out whether our food contained pork, mushrooms, or potatoes. We learned how to say thank you and goodbye to shop clerks and waiters, which in Celle was generally "danke" and "ciao".
We found that people are pretty much the same, regardless of the language and culture, and that there are ways to communicate and get your point across, whether it be through hand gestures or tone inflection or facial expressions. We also found that the Germans were not intimidated by the language barrier and would converse with us regardless.
Here are a few examples of German/English situations we found ourselves in:
The first time I went shopping at one of the department stores, I was trying to figure out the sizing. I also discovered that I didn't like the high numbers on the ladies clothing! The smallest size I saw was a 34 -- and it went up and up from there. I walked around until I observed where the "plumper" women were shopping then figured it out by trial and error from there. An older woman standing nearby tried on a jacket and was trying to look at herself in a mirror that was hanging on the end of the rack in order to see how it fit. She looked at me and said something, which I assume was in German, then turned around so I could see her back. I nodded yes and responded in English that it looked fine. She turned to the side and gestured to her backside, asking another question, which I assumed was whether or not the jacket fit too tightly over her hips. I again answered in English. Then she took the jacket off and held it up, as if she were asking whether or not she should buy it. She smiled, said "Danke" and headed to the cashier to pay for her new purchase.
Even though we may not all speak the same language, women are universally the same. Before they buy a piece of clothing, they want another woman's opinion about how it looks on them. I have had enough similar conversations over the years to pretty much know what this lady was asking, without understanding the language.
Another day I was shopping for a lightweight jacket. I had taken a heavy jacket that ended up being way too warm. When we arrived in Celle the temperature was generally in the 50's or 60's during the day, then by the time we left it had warmed up into the 70's. But the weather was so ever-changing (even more so than Missouri or Oklahoma) that it would be warm and sunny where you didn't need a jacket, then suddenly it would cloud up and the temperature would drop 10 degrees and along would come a quick rain shower and it would be quite chilly, then 10 minutes later it would be sunny and warm again. The first two weeks we were there, this weather pattern would occur numerous times throughout the day.
A lot of shops had a couple clothes racks sitting outside their door. I was looking through some jackets at a particular shop when one of the workers came outside to hand out flyers to ladies passing by. She walked up to me and handed me one of the papers, and went into this big spiel. When someone started speaking to us, out of courtesy, Jon and I would respond by saying, "English", to let them know that we were not understanding. So that's how I responded and she pointed to the flyer and said, "A present for you." I knew that if I bought something from their store then they would give me some little gift (which was a pencil set). I found a jacket I liked hanging on the store's outside rack, so headed inside to pay for it. The lady proceeded into the shop ahead of me and in German told the two young clerks that I spoke English. I could see the two girls get a panicked look on their face as they questioned one another if they could speak English; which neither of them could. I smiled and assured them that it was fine. The young clerk and I had a lot of laughs and carried on a conversation -- her in German and me in English -- while she was ringing up the transaction. I could tell by her voice tone that she apologizing and I was assuring her it was okay.
One Saturday, Jon and I were walking around the town. In the street, in front of the old church, is a horseshoe embedded in the bricks. Many, many years ago they used to hold jousting matches there in the street. A famous duke was killed in one of the matches, so they took one of the shoes off his horse to embed in the street, as a memorial for him. Jon and I were looking at the horseshoe and this older couple came up and he begin telling us the story behind the horseshoe; we assumed this, because of his gestures. Jon told him, "English," which only led the man to tell us a long story (in what we presumed was German). What was humorous was that he would forget some of the details of his story, so would ask his wife for help; which we have seen a lot of older couples do. The only thing we "think" we got from the story was that he had a sister who married an Englishman and they lived in a big house.
I'm not sure whether or not Celle is just an overly friendly town, due to them having a lot of foreign visitors and being used to dealing with tourist. We don't know if all Germany is that friendly and helpful, nor do we have any knowledge how any other European country would be. But we had a positive experience in Celle, which made our trip exceptionally awesome. We were not hindered from doing what we wanted to do because of the language barrier. And we weren't intimidated by the communication differences. We thought it was an interesting, fun adventure.
I've heard people comment that they don't know how to pray or how to talk to God. Therefore, they don't even try, so miss out on the greatest relationship possible. Possibly they have pre-conceived notions that they have to act or talk or look a certain way before they can approach God through prayer. They may think they have to be sinless or perfect before God will listen to them. Some may think that praying will be too much work and take too much effort, because they have to say things a certain way or they have to be careful what they say to God.
What they don't seem to realize is that God is approachable and wants to hear from them. He doesn't care if you use fancy words; in fact, I think God would prefer that we speak from our heart and be ourselves with Him.
Jon has often laughed at how I pronounce words or how I sometimes mangle the English language or at some of the sayings I come up with. Growing up in a little hick town in Missouri, I spoke like everyone else around me (except those few "foreigners" who moved in from other states) and how I talked and my countryfied accent were not an issue. I spoke like everyone else in my family, all my relatives, and all my friends. I didn't know that I was saying things incorrectly, because it had never been pointed out to me. Then after I got married, Jon would laugh and say, "You're so cute!" That was my cue that I had mangled something in my speech. Sometimes it still seems like no matter how hard I try, I will still say things incorrectly. But after being married 7 years it doesn't bother me (well, most times it doesn't) when Jon chuckles at things I say. He knew what he was getting when he married me!
But what if I refused to communicate with Jon because I was intimidated by my hick way of speaking and was afraid he was going to make fun of me and think of me as being unlearned and ignorant? That wouldn't make for a very successful marriage. Our relationship would soon deteriorate by our lack of communication. If my way of talking grated on Jon's nerves and he ridiculed me, it would break down my self-confidence and humiliate me. That wouldn't make for a healthy relationship. And let me add that Jon has never done this and he is not chuckling to make fun of me, but he honestly finds me humorous and funny. And I like to hear my husband's laugh, so I am not in the least bit offended nor does it hurt my feelings.
God is not sitting in heaven, looking down on us, waiting for an opportunity to ridicule or humiliate us. He never laughs at us. There are never any language barriers, regardless if we speak English, German, French, Italian, Russian, Spanish, or all the other languages and dialects.... including country hick and hillbilly. God wants to hear from us and loves it when we talk to Him from our heart.
I don't know very many fancy words, and generally mispronounce them when I do try to use big words. When I pray, I talk to God using the very same words that I use in my every day speech. I don't worry about whether or not I'm always using proper English or the right word tense. I have a conversation from my heart directly to God; and He hears and completely understands. That's what He desires from us all.
How frustrating and sad would it have been had Jon and I gone to Germany with the pre-conceived notion that everyone would be able to speak English and we would have no language barriers? Once we arrived, had we tried force others to speak to us only in English and not put forth an effort to understand their language and communicate, it would have been a miserable trip. We would have come back home extremely disappointed. But we knew that likely most would only speak German, and knew that we would need to work at understanding and communicating. We knew that ordering food would be an adventure, and that the end result would be a lot of surprise meals. We knew that should be decide to ride the train, we would have to figure out the train system on our own. We were prepared to adapt to the German culture. Therefore, we had an awesome trip and our time there was amazingly wonderful! We made the most of our two and a half weeks in Celle and thoroughly enjoyed our great adventure. In fact, we would love to visit Germany again some day.
Many people have pre-conceived notions of what God expects and believe that they cannot live up to His expectations. Therefore, they end up missing out on the greatest relationship they could ever have. The only requirement that God has for us is to ask forgiveness of our sins and accept His gift of forgiveness. Yes, we will continue to make mistakes thereafter, but His grace and mercies are new every single morning and we can continue coming to Him and ask for forgiveness. We can ask for God's help to do better and live our lives in a manner that would be pleasing to Him. God doesn't expect us to become perfect, then come to Him. But He wants us to come, just as we are, and allow Him to help us become better people. It's not something we can do on our own, but with God's help we can overcome those areas that we know that we need to work on and improve.
Enjoy life and embrace the adventures that God gives. Enjoy the opportunities He makes available. But take time to daily communicate with God and speak to Him from our heart. Make your time on earth an enjoyable adventure; not something you have to simply endure.
The German word for large is "grosse". We usually had the smaller gelato, but once splurged for the "grosse kleine".
There was a store in the town square that sold clothes for "Grosse Frauen". It didn't look like any English speaking women shopped there.
We kept trying to order chicken in one kind of food after another. But every time we ordered something like "pizza mit schinken", it came with ham.
For the first couple weeks we avoided food with "champignon". Then we found out that was just mushrooms, nothing to do with champaign. But one of the very best dishes we had the whole week was "champignon suppe".
All we needed to do to fix all those misconceptions was ask around, or look it up. It's easy to go through life with a long list of assumptions, without ever asking around.
How many people make assumptions about God? They may assume that He won't forgive them for something, or doesn't love them. And they miss out on the greatest thing of all.
(I posted this once before (I think) but it is a really good summer dessert and my new go-to recipe when I have company or need something special. Plus it's easy to make.)
3 cups cold milk
2 small packages instant white chocolate pudding mix
1 French Vanilla Cake mix (baked according to package directions)
fresh sliced strawberries
12 ounce Cool Whip, thawed
Bake cake according to package directions and allow to completely cool. (Original recipe says to use angel food cake, but I'm not a fan and like the french vanilla cake better.) When cake is cooled, cut into 1 inch squares. In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Place a half of the cake cubes (or enough to make a thick layer on bottom of bowl) in a 3 1/2 quart glass serving bowl. Top with half of the pudding. Liberally spread the strawberry slices and blueberries on top; add a layer of Cool Whip. Repeat the laying of cake, pudding, strawberries and blueberries, then top with the remaining Cool Whip. This is best if made the day before or at least several hours in advance. Cover with Saran Wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
*** If you have an egg slicer, that is perfect for slicing strawberries. You can also make this cake in 3 layers, but I think it's just as good and easier to do it in two. You could also use different kinds of fruits, if you prefer. I have only used strawberries and blueberries, but think it would be good using fresh slices peaches or using pineapple.
Things that make me smile:
Jon snoring and when I gently nudge him and say, "Honey, you're snoring!" He says, "Uh-huh!" in a tone of voice that sounds like I just gave him a great compliment and he is quite pleased with himself.
Listening to Jax play trains and saying, "All the board!" Pretty sure he means all aboard and not all the bored.
Watching Devin's facial expressions as he tells (signs) a big story full of details to my sister. He has grown quite animated!
Listening to grandparents who get together and try to outdo one another with cute grandkid stories. "My grandson said....." "Well, my granddaughter did this....."
Eating juicy watermelon where the juice runs down my chin.
Character is who you are when no one else is looking.
You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. - James D. Miles
We love you!
Loretta & Jon