The Joy of Baptism

One of the things that I love about being part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is that I can find believers around the world that share my thoughts and beliefs, and sometimes even challenge me and help me grow. I have been so blessed to be given the opportunity to stay with an family here in Berlin that I can go to church with and enjoy in a different and unique way, the fellowship that comes from worshiping together.

Today was particularly special because two individuals, a couple, had decided to give their lives to Christ and publicly announce their decision through baptism. Church members piled into cars and we drove from Berlin to Reichsburg, near where the couple lives, to have a Sabbath celebration of their decision.

Despite the cold and rain that we sat through during song service and the sermon, the joy in our hearts eventually was manifested in the sun shining brightly as we walked towards the lake, singing all the way. Three guitarists and an accordion player accompanied us, adding to the festive sounds of celebration and excitement for the new chapter these candidates would be starting in their lives. It seemed like the singing would never end and in all honesty, I don’t think any of us wanted it to. It was such a glorious event to be a part of.

At the LakeMusicians playing for the BaptismGathering to Pray for the Baptism

Wife getting baptizedHusband getting baptized

Starting a New Walk

The potluck that took place after also deepened our ties with one another, and allowed me the chance to interact for the first time with several members of the church that has become my family away from home. It is an international group – Kenyans, Koreans, Americans, Germans, English, and others. All I could think was how this must be a small portion of what heaven must look like. Everyone, of every race, creed, and tongue joining together singing the praises of God and fellowshipping with Christ and one another for eternity.

For those who are not aware, Seventh-day Adventist believe in baptism by immersion. This takes place once an individual is old enough and cognizant enough to be able to make a personal decision of having Christ as their Lord and Savior. The full immersion of the baptism signifies entering into the death that Christ died for us and consequently entering into a new life, as Christ did when He was resurrected and pardoned us from our sins.

Before the baptismal ceremony, candidates must go through Bible studies with a pastor to ensure that they understand what they are getting themselves into – because being a true Christian means you pay the highest cost: a life of living for Jesus and spreading His gospel. It may be a high cost, but it is also the best thing you could ever pay.

After completing the bible studies, candidates must also proclaim the baptismal vows on the day of their baptism. Some churches do this in private, between the pastor and the candidates alone, but I prefer it when it is done as it was today – publicly, in front of the church body. This is when the true presentation of faith takes place – verbalization of a belief can change one’s whole perspective and sometimes even that of someone else. It is a moment to be a witness in a way we seldom get the chance otherwise.

I am so glad to have been able to participate in today’s events; I was blessed and reminded of my own baptism in a river in the jungle of Belize and what that meant for me and my life. My prayers are with the candidates as they now start anew with new birthdays and fresh beginnings.

Please click here to enjoy our singing as we walked the candidates to the water.

If you are interested in learning more about what Seventh-day Adventists believe in baptism, please click here.

God bless, and until next time – safe travels.

-Wandering Minstrelette

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Wochenende in der Schweiz

I never thought that I was the kind of person who would purchase a plane ticket at the last minute (literally), but that’s exactly what happened this past weekend. It was a national holiday on Monday in Germany, meaning that everyone had a long weekend. I decided to take full advantage and even though it was a little expensive (last minute things tend to be so), I found myself flying to Switzerland on Friday night.

Welcome to ZurichThere are honestly so many words that could be said, but are hard to even piece together about how much I enjoying this trip. The country is so magnificently beautiful and I got to spend good quality time with some dear people. From the city to the country, and the constant Swiss safari (aka, how many milk cows can you count), everything was amazing. It was a blessing in every way…

A few highlights:

1.) I drove a manual car (second time ever) on a highway (first time ever) in Switzerland AT NIGHT. And, praise God, we got home safely. Considering getting a manual for my next car now. What do you think mom? *wink wink*

2.) I met a hang drum player, with both the original and second generation version of the instrument called a gubal. (Learn more about these rare instruments here and visit the official website here.) Yes, I did fan-girl for a good 20 minutes. You can see a video I took of him playing and explaining the difference between the two instruments here.

Gubal Player
Gubal Player in Gruyères

3.) In a country (I was told) where police are apparently rare to spot, I saw 7 cars in one day. ;-P

4.) While hiking in Gasterntal, I saw two female Alpine Ibex (mountain goats) after having expressed the day before how I would love to see one. I tried to take a picture, but my camera couldn’t zoom that far…

Gasterntal Valley
Gasterntal Valley

5.) We picked up a hitchhiker near Bern who was heading in our same direction (Lucerne) who is originally from South Korea and has been traveling around Western Europe for almost two months. Sweet guy, I hope he enjoys his last couple of weeks!

Our awesome hitchhiker!
Our awesome hitchhiker!

6.) And of course, spending time with my wonderful hosts. You filled my heart with joy and belonging – thanks for everything.

Familie Serena

I’m going to let my pictures do the rest of the talking – enjoy!

Gruyères Garten
Gruyères Garten
Gruyères
Gruyères
Hermitage
Hermitage
Swiss Alps
Swiss Alps
Zytglogge - famous clock tower that every half hour rings and the figurines move.
Zytglogge – famous clock tower that every half hour rings and the figurines move.
A 500 or so year old fountain - with potable water!
A 500 or so year old fountain – with potable water!
In Bern, not only do you have regular shopping, but Underground shopping. The trap doors open to reveal steps that lead into a hidden store.
In Bern, not only do you have regular shopping, but Underground shopping. The trap doors open to reveal steps that lead into a hidden store.
Catholic Grotto
Catholic Grotto
Stabbachfall in Lauterbrunnen. Absolutely stunning.
Stabbachfall in Lauterbrunnen. Absolutely stunning.
One of the outside parts of the Trümmelbachfälle.
One of the outside sections of the Trümmelbachfälle.
Lauterbrunnen, a village near Interlaken.
Lauterbrunnen, a village near Interlaken.
Just too adorable to ignore.
Just too adorable to not post.
Gasterntal
Gasterntal
Swiss Village by Night
Swiss Village by Night
Swiss Cows
Just about the extent of fauna one will find – but they’re super cute, so it doesn’t matter.
Kapellbrücke - apparently it's been burned and rebuilt about 4 times.
Kapellbrücke – apparently it’s been burned and rebuilt about 4 times.
Löwendenkmal (Lion Monument): In honor of the hundreds of Swiss who died fighting the French during the French Revolution in 1792.
Löwendenkmal (Lion Monument): In honor of the hundreds of Swiss who died fighting the French during the French Revolution in 1792.
Street in Bern
Street in Bern, capital of Switzerland.
Ueberstorf
Ueberstorf
Thunsee (Lake Thun)
Thunersee (Lake Thun)
Actually got S to do the Yonder stance!
Actually got S to do the Yonder stance!
Swiss Sunset
Swiss Sunset

It truly was a weekend to remember.The only regret I have is that my trip was too short… Well, I guess that just means I’ll have to come back, won’t I? If the Lord allows, I certainly hope I will. Now I am back in Berlin, working and exploring. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers, and be sure to continuing following me on my adventure! May God bless you all.

-Wandering Minstrelette

Checkpoint Charlie

Berlin – for a year my mind has been imagining what it would be like to roam the streets of a city that, in its current state, is technically only as old as I am. Of course, there are centuries of history all throughout the city but it obvious that the events of the 20th century are the most vivid and discussed. A city once glorious, then divided by the very physical manifestation of the Cold War’s tense relations and separatism in the form of the Berlin Wall, is finally reunited in 1989 when the Wall was torn down and a flood of families spilled over to embrace one another after years of separation. It was something I had often heard in my history classes in secondary school – after all, World War II is kind of a favorite subject for Americans, both for the tragedies and the heroism. Now I have been to where before I had only heard and could imagine. My understanding grew and I received a much fuller, larger picture.

  
Checkpoint Charlie (Checkpoint “C”), in the American Sector, was the best known crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. Here, many East Berliners attempted to escape into the west, at least 100 died doing so. Families were separated, unable to have any form of contact for many years.The Wall was tragic and terrible, “fencing in” the East Berliners with little hope for a brighter future.

Diplomats, journalists, and non-German visitors were allowed to pass on a one-day visa and had to exchange currencies before entering. Just before I left Washington, DC for Berlin, I had a conversation with a fellow church member who is part of my mom’s craft ministry. She told me that she had gone through while the Wall stood, and that it was one of the scariest thing she had ever done in her life. The faces of those who lived in the Soviet Sector were pallid and ashen faced, much like their buildings. It was overwhelming and depressing, and she was glad to soon be able to return to the other side once again.

Yesterday I stood in front of Checkpoint Charlie.

  
There was no sign of where the Wall used to be, the division had clearly been mended (at least in the physical sense). Parts of the Wall had been kept as keepsakes and memorials, the graffiti that originally showed displeasure and hatred for the separation it caused were now hung up as art. Pieces of the wall were for sale in all of the souvenir shops (makes you wonder if they are all real…). Portraits of sullen-faced young soldiers, enlarged by several times, were place before the checkpoint – an American face when walking by from the East and a Soviet face when walking by from the West. The Haus am Checkpoint Charlie Museum stood in the corner by the original gate, filled with photographs, video, and most importantly, stories that told of what life was like for the people of Berlin, of both sides, when the Wall stood.

  
  
It took several years for East Berlin to recover from its time under Soviet rule. Even today, there is a rather obvious difference in the style of buildings when one “crosses the border.” However, the stark contrasts of decades past no longer exist – people easily cross from one side to the other. Flourishing business have been placed in both sides and the standards of living have slowly become more equal. This is the 25 year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and by all accounts, healing has taken place.

And yet, a part of me wonders… While I understand the importance of remembering history and the events of the past, especially in the hopes of preventing the awful ones from happening again, I feel compelled to ask if true healing can take place when all that is talked about and displayed is the hurt. Rather like a wound that you keep checking on by lifting the band aid – it will take longer to heal this way than if you had just left it alone. While the Wall is physically down, I have to wonder if it still somewhat exists in the minds of some residents. Of course, I cannot give an accurate opinion of the state of affairs or how things have changed and improved over the 25 years of my and the unified city’s life.

What I hope and pray for is that the wonderful people of this city truly do receive healing from all that they and their ancestors suffered. May the lessons learned from this experience be remembered by the world, but not so discussed that we forget the progress that has been made since.

I look forward to more adventures here in Berlin as I learn more about this amazing city with all its history and importance. I hope you will join me as I write about my adventures – and feel free to leave a comment! I’m here for the next month, so I’m sure we’ll be discovering many things together.

Bis später – Until next time!

-Wandering Minstrelette

Ready to Wander

It’s been too long, but the time has come. The Minstrelette is ready to wander once again. 
My skin is crawling with excitement, my heart beating in anticipation of what is to come. It’s been a year since I’ve been to Argentina and Brazil and the effects of “cabin fever” were almost overwhelming. The grind of the past year, even with its moments of success and joy, have taken it’s toll on me. By the end of this past semester, my mind started wandering far away – away to where I longed to be.  

Now I’m here, sitting at gate B41 waiting to depart on a new and exciting journey. It’s finally happening! My body is ready to go to where my mind has already gone. 

  
 Join me on the journey as I share my experiences and thoughts. Who knows where the path may lead? All I know is, it’s time to wander once more. 

-Wandering Minstrelette