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Mini-Reformation Tour, part 5

Reformation Day!

To be in Wittenberg for the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the nailing of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses was truly a dream come true.

In order to make spend this special day to the fullest, we left our AirBnb early in the morning. An English service was being held at Schloßkirche at 8am and since Stephanie hadn’t yet seen the church, we decided to attend.

We arrived shortly after 7:30am and things were already PACKED. High security measures were being taken because of the large gathering as well as the anticipated attendance of political figures such as Chancellor Merkel for the afternoon services.

Schloßkirche seemed at capacity when we arrived, but the ushers actually led us all the way to the front to sit in the choir chairs. Actually, we got to sit in the ancient chairs of the knights and ruling lords who would attend services there. It was super cool!




Our advantageous seats allowed us to have perfect views of everything going on.


The service was very different from what I’m used to. For one, there was considerably more congregational participation. A stalwart aspect of Luther’s ideology in how worship services should be conducted, it was definitely highlighted in the program through readings, written prayers, and songs. I had never heard a chanted Psalm before, so that was pretty special.

The sermon was quite thought provoking. I’ll share my opinions about it in a future post.

To end the service, everyone joined together to sing (what else?) Ein Feste Burg. What a special moment to be singing this powerful hymn on this special day in the church that “started it all.”

Once the service had finished, we were encouraged to leave quickly in order for the staff to prepare for the 10am German-language service. This time we did get to walk through the Theses Door, which was very cool.


After leaving the church, we made our way to the other side of the village for breakfast and then to a special 360-degree panorama art installation by Yadegar Asisi. The work is enclosed in an enormous cylindrical building attached to a smaller building with an introductory exhibit that leads to the installation.


The panorama was at least two stories tall, and featured the village of Wittenberg as Luther would have known it. It looked like a combination of painting, photoshop, and some other medium I can’t quite name.

Lights and sounds were used to enhance the experience and make the viewer almost feel as if they were there in the early 1500s.

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We then returned to the Lutherhaus so Stephanie could enjoy all the wonderful artifacts and history that we saw on Sunday.

Right next door is the Melanchthonhaus, where Luther’s friend and colleague, Philipp Melanchthon used to live. This house wasn’t as crowded and seemed to have a better flow of foot traffic than Lutherhaus. The entire exhibit was more engaging, interactive, and appeared to be geared towards children.

Mommy, who had always liked to read and learn about Melanchthon, was surprised to discover that he was only 1.5 meters tall–just about her height!


Afterwards, we popped into Stadtkirche, or St. Marien’s Church. The sanctuary is enormous! Much larger than Schloßkirche, though not necessarily as detailed. This was the church that Luther worked, preached, and was married in. So much history everywhere!


There were other museums and lectures that we could have attended, but by the time we left Stadtkirche, we were all rather hungry.

We decided to dine at the Wittenberger Kartoffelhaus and enjoy as traditional of a German meal one can have being vegetarian. Fried potatoes and eggs, yes!

The rest of the evening was spent wandering around the festival. Theater performances, booths, and music were everywhere! Many people were dressed in period costumes, which made me wish I had something special to wear. Should have gone to the Maryland Renaissance Festival this year… oh well…

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Overall, the day was special, festive, and thought provoking.

I’m so glad that Mommy, Stephanie, and I were able to be in Wittenberg on this high day of celebration. I’m incredibly thankful for our AirBnb hosts that made it possible for us to visit this wonderful place and who were so kind and accommodating to us.


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our adventures and enjoy the pictures. I recorded several portions of our trip that I hope to put together in a short video. Be on the lookout for it!

Until the next adventure–Auf Wiedersehen!

–Wandering Minstrelette

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Mini-Reformation Tour, part 4

Today was a true history lesson!

Mom, Stephanie (who was finally able to join us after being stuck in Berlin from the wind storm), and I made the trip from Wittenberg to Eisenach today to go visit the famous Wartburg Castle.

What none of us realized was that Wartburg is has significance far beyond it’s association with Martin Luther. 

Getting to castle is quite the hike. It lies on a large hill on the other side of Eisenach from the Hauptbahnhof. Along the path are signs with several important events of Luther’s life leading to the foot of the hill. Once you get there, it’s another good 30 minutes of uphill treking before reaching the entrance to the castle. 


The traditional way to visit the castle was by donkey, and the donkeys were actually there! Unfortunately, it was voted against actually paying to ride them, so I had to settle for taking a picture of their cute little faces. 


The castle is quite striking as it comes into view and looms ever larger the closer you get. 


The courtyard of the castle was bustling with visitors of all ages, and had some special attractions itself. A nice touch for those like us who had hiked the whole way up. 



The best one involved steps (hooray…): the south tower gave an amazing view of Eisenach and the surrounding hill country. It was definitely worth the Euro and the adding walking.



To go inside the castle, you had to purchase a ticket. The price included entrance to some special exhibits that were curated for the Reformation festivities as well as the regular rooms of the tour. 

Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed inside the castle. But what we saw was simply amazing. 

The castle was built around the year 1200, and had become well known not long after for the Hungarian princess, Elisabeth, who married the ruler of the castle and chose to use her status for the benefit of the common people. She was canonized after her death for her short 24 years of life in service. 

The next major event at Wartburg was the reason most people were there: Martin Luther’s “kidnapping” and safekeeping after his refusal to recant at the Diet of Worms. At one point in the tour, you get to see the room where Luther worked tirelessly on a German translation of the New Testsment. 

Fun fact: several German versions of the Bible already existed before Luther’s, but most were quickly confiscated and also not of great quality. Luther’s not only had popularity and clout, but was well researched from the original manuscripts and actually informed much of the development of the modern German language. 

Wartburg Castle continued to hold significance throughout the centuries. It played a central role in the call to a united Germany after the Naploeanic Wars. It was seen as an important an valuable symbol during both World Wars. 

In short, Wartburg has become a stalwart of German history and identity. It was a blessing to come and learn not only about Luther’s time there, but all that it has meant through the history of Germany. 

We spent so much time at the castle that we didn’t get a chance to see anything else of Eisenach. But that’s ok, it just means we have to return. 🙂

Tomorrow is the big day! Look forward to some great pictures and stories! 

-Wandering Minstrelette

Mini-Reformation Tour, part 3

First, I would like to say that my mother and I are safe. The wind storms that have been blowing through Northern Europe and Berlin has announced a state of emergency. Here in Wittenberg, we had rain and strong winds, but nothing too extreme. 

Secondly, WE’RE IN WITTENBERG.

Schloßkirche, or Castle Church

I have wanted to visit this historic site for years, and the fact that I was able to come at such a high time is amazing. 

Our AirBnb hosts, Michael and Gudrun, have been wonderful to us. Not only did they pick up up last night, but Gudrun dropped us off early this morning in the middle of town to explore. 

And I’m so glad! It allowed us to visit Schloßkirche (Castle Church) before the crowds began to arrive. Let me tell you, standing before the Theses Doors, where Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on October 31, 1517, has me a little “star-struck.” 

The original doors are no longer there, unfortunately, but the new ones fully depict the Theses and caused me to pause and imagine the moment that a rebellious, truth-seeking monk acted out a thought that would change the world forever. 


There’s a lot more I could share, but I think I’ll save that for the end of the trip. 😉

After visiting the visitor’s center, we discovered that the church was holding a service, so we decided to join. The inside of Schloßkirche is very beautiful, and it seems to have had a lot of work done on it since Luther’s time. 



Both Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon are buried there, and an original printed copy of the Theses and a few other documents are on display under the magnificently carved pulpit. 

Luther’s Theses printed by Jakob Thanner in Leipzig in 1517; only 87 are on this page. I believe the others are on the reverse.

Mommy and I would have had a chance to go through the Theses Doors if we (meaning I) hadn’t spent so much time looking at things. But we ended up discovering a visitor’s center/museum attached to the church filled with amazing images and information. 

You know, as a child I never enjoyed history. Now, I can’t seem to get enough of it. Somewhere along the way, I made the connection of how the past affected my present, and it’s relevance suddenly helped me not only find it interesting but enjoyable to study. 

So going through this center was like being in a candy shop for me. Not only was there a lot of information about Luther, but other lesser known Reformers that had just as significant of a role in spreading the new found truths of Scripture to the world. Not everyone got the limelight, but that does not in any way diminish their work or accomplishments. 

Many of these, such as Jonas Justus, Johannesburg Bugenhagen, Lucas Cranach, Johannesburg von Staupitz, and others were remarkable educators, supporters, and believers of Martin Luther and the mission God had endowed him. 

It’s important to remember that the Reformation was not a one man show, but a movement that began long before Luther and is continuing long after. Being here in Wittenberg, where Luther worked and lived, has helped me understand this more than ever before. 



The afternoon was spent walking around the city, enjoying the other historic attractions and watching people prepare the medieval market place that tomorrow will be filled much celebration. I’m going on Tuesday, so no worries–there will be pictures. 





We also visited Lutherhaus, on the opposite side of Wittenberg from Schloßkirche. A museum made of and built around Luther’s home, it was filled with artifacts of his life, told his story, and shared his legacy. 

A very fancy pulpit
A copy of Luther’s German New Testament with woodcut images. This is depicting a scene from Revelation.
An original copy of Luther’s “Table Talk,” written conversations that Luther and his friends had around a table discussing theological ideas.


The remains of what used to be Luther’s study room.

When I saw one of the letters written in Luther’s own hand, I will admit I teared up. Not necessarily because the document of great historical or theological significance, but the fact that it was something Luther had touched… It made me wonder about the person he was, the thoughts he had, the emotions he felt, the trials he went through…

It was not unlike the feel I had standing before the Ishtar Gates when I was in Berlin two years ago. 

I felt I was before some sort of timecapsule, and it was incredibly humbling. 

A letter to Kaiser Karl V from Martin Luther explaining why he chose not to recant at the Diet of Worms.

Have you ever had a moment like that? 
So, we had a day full of Luther today and will likely have it so again tomorrow. 

Barring any train cancellations, we hope to be in Eisenach to gain some more insight and for some new adventures. 

Until tomorrow!

-Wandering Minstrelette 

A Day for New Friends

What an interesting and exciting day!

A good friend of mine told me that a friend of his that he had met while studying abroad was going to be in London the same time as me and decided to connect us. 

Today I met Bruno, along with Barbara and Jennifer, for an amazing whirlwind of a day.We met at the National Gallery and got to know one another a bit as walked through the exhibits. 


There were fantastic paintings from well-know and not so well-known artists. Probably my favorites were Paolo Veronese’s “The Adoration of the Kings,” and Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.”



After seeing what we wanted at the Gallery, we decided to head towards the British Museum. Except… I lead us in the wrong direction, and with plans later in the day, we wouldn’t have had the time to do everything we wanted. Thankfully, we ended seeing things that some had not had a chance to see yet. 

We crossed the Waterloo Bridge and then around to the Eye, back across on the Westminster Bridge up into Leicester Square. It reminded me very much of New York City, with all the lights and enormous stores, including four stories of M&Ms! Such a ridiculous amount of chocolate. 


Our group began to dwindle a bit as we began a walking tour. Not even 10 minutes into the tour, the three of us left decided we would rather spend our time doing other things. So we headed to Piccadilly Circus. 

What a gorgeous, expensive, and very busy area of London! If I thought Leicester Square was like New York City, Piccadilly Circus was even more so. The tight, constantly shifting crowd, the bright lights (including Europe’s largest LED screen, smaller only than the one in Times Square), and the shopping were all so reminiscent of the Big Apple. 




It’s this kind of thing that I don’t mind experiencing once in a while, but also makes me never want to live in a large city. There is simply too much going on all the time, and I know I need to relax my senses once in a while. 

After helping another of our friends get home, Bruno and I were left together to meet with Pr. Vili, the director for media ministry of the Southern England Conference and a pastor at Newbold College. 


Pr. Vili absolutely spoiled us by taking us to the largest mall in Europe, a Westfield, no less, for dinner. The shopping center was stunning and the food was fantastic. After spending some time together getting to know each other, Pr. Vili left for home and Bruno and I were left to wander the halls of the mall. 

A macaw made from tiny Havaiana flip-flops!


We popped into some stores and watched people skate in the indoor ice rink, but probably the most memorable moment was at the Sky TV kiosk. They have a machine that showed some well-known characters from children’s films (all of which I know, of course) in different poses that you had to match. It was too adorable not to try, and they had pictures from Zootopia (known as Zootropolis here), so I had to do it. 

On my first round, I had 100% success at matching the poses and the salespeople running the kiosk were so impressed that they decided to buy Bruno and I tea. We were so taken aback, but completely appreciative. 

We ended up hanging out at the kiosk for several minutes just chatting and left feeling like we had made new friends. What a blessing!


Getting home late several nights in a row is starting to get to me, but I am just so thankful for all the wonderful things God has blessed me with and used me to be a blessing to others. I pray that the rest of my time here in London will continue to be the same. 

-Wandering Minstrelette

Into the City!

It was a bit hard to get out of bed this morning, the warmth of the electric blanket just kept making me doze off. I should buy one for myself at home. 

But I was excited to spend my first full day in the city, and felt doubly blessed that I was able to spend the day with my friend Brianna, who happened to be in the area visiting family for the holidays.


The day started with one of the things I had been dying to do since I came in 2009 – ride the London Eye. 


Let me tell you, it is so not worth buying a ticket and then waiting in line for a printed version. Being one of the most popular attractions in town, it really makes sense to ask for the ticket to be electronic to just get into the queue for the Eye itself. Thankfully, I thought to take a screen shot, because not having constant service or wifi can make downloading things online rather difficult. 

The view was wonderful. The late morning sun shone a golden touch across the Thames and the buildings, including the iconic Big Ben, stood proudly in its light. 


Thankfully, the wheel turns slow enough that everyone in the glass enclosed pod can walk around and have a 360 degree view of the city with fighting for window space to snap a photo. 




I’m so glad to now be able to tick that off my bucket list. 🙂

Lunch was spent in Box Park at East Croyden where I had the chance to meet with Richard Daly, director of Hope Channel UK. What a pleasant gentleman with a true heart for ministry through media! It a pleasure to hear about his plans for the channel and its programming here in the UK and discuss ideas of how to make it happen. I pray that the Lord will bless his efforts and those of his team as the move forward in this amazing and important project. 

Box Park is like a covered, but open air food court with all sorts of delicious options. They even had heat lamps to keep the cold away! Very cool find!

If you are interested in seeing any of Hope Channel UK’s programming, you can find them on Roku or on Sky 581, Revelation TV.

By the time Brianna and I were back on the train to Central London, the sun was already setting. But 4pm was simply too early to call things a day, so we decided to continue our adventure. 

And what an adventure we had! We passed well known and lesser known landmarks of London. We, of course, had to stop by Buckingham Palace, where I attempted to recreate a photo from when I had come before. 

My friend Michael and I in 2009


Then we came across two war memorials. The first was fairly new, unveiled in 2012 at HM the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to honor the British and other Allies bombers who served during World War II. The detail in the statues was simply remarkable – they almost looked alive!

This memorial touched me because my uncle served as a tail gunner in a bomber during WWII. I’ll have to be sure to show this picture to him once I return to the States. 

The second was for those who had served and died in World War 1, and had become a place to honor British soldiers across the years who had lost their lives serving their country. It became especially sobering when we came across a wreath laid on the steps of the memorial for a Tom Sawyer. His young face in the photo made it all the more poignant. War is so awful…



Not wanting to end our evening on a sad note, we walked past Wellington Arch to Hyde Park that had been completely bedazzled in order to become: WINTER WONDERLAND!


I truly have never seen a fair of such enormous proportions. There were lights everywhere, with more food and rides than anyone could ever know what to do with. 




There were sections of this pop-up theme park: Santa Land, Bavarian Village, Ice Mountain, etc. Everything was so absolutely extra, it was nearly overwhelming. 

Brianna and I decided simply to walk around and take in the sights (as there were so many to take in), stopping periodically to eat or take a closer look at the craft stands. We got into the park at 5pm and didn’t exit until nearly 8:30pm. And we might still have not seen everything, although I’m pretty sure we saw a good 98 percent or something. 

We would have stayed longer, but by 8:30pm, the cold was starting to settle in, encouraging us to say that now was a good time to call it a night. 

Truly a fun and blessing-filled day. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for tomorrow!

-Wandering Minstrelette

Impromptu London

For the first time in my life, I’m spending Christmas at an airport. 

Detroit Metropolitan Airport, to be exact. 


It all came about rather last minute. 
For the first time, I have a full time job that requires me to make proper vacation requests. Originally, I had wanted to travel to Eastern Europe in February, but circumstances made that very difficult, so I decided to take advantage of the two weeks of vacation for the “price” of one.

I looked into trips to South America or Asia, but not seemed to quite fit or work out. Finally, I decided to do what I should have done from the beginning–pray and ask God where I should go. 

The answer came much quicker than I expected: “London.”

I had been before, back in the summer of 2009 with the New England Youth Ensemble of Washington Adventist University. It had been a blast and I have wanted to go back, but was kind of hoping to go somewhere new. However, the answer was clear. 

Some friends and I from the 2009 NEYE tour.

Unsure of why, but completely sure this is what I needed to do, I made the necessary arrangements just before Thanksgiving. Quite tight in terms of a time frame for finding a plane ticket, accommodations, etc., but you know? Things fell right into place. 

Which brings me to today. It was a short flight from Washington DC to Detroit, with a seven hour layover before my flight to London. 

Leaving DC
Entering Detroit

I spent a lot of that time walking (I don’t think I’ve ever reached my step goal so early in the day!), observing people, and thinking about what is in store for the next two weeks.  


I have made some connections with people in London/Southern England and have some friends who happen to be in the in the city that I plan to meet up with. I did plan one official tour (can’t wait to see Stonehenge!), but otherwise my days are very free.

God is sending me here for something. Guess I’m just going to have wait and see what He has in store for me. 

Oh, and I’m completely open to suggestions of things I should see or do while in London. Please, comment with suggestions and I’ll see if I can actually see them through!

I pray that each of you are spending your Christmas (or Hanukkah) exactly where you want to be–with your loved ones, making wonderful memories to cherish for a lifetime. There is truly few blessings greater than that. 

Merry Christmas! 

-Wandering Minstrelette

México Amoroso

I’m traveling again! 

God has blessed me with the ability to travel to many parts of the world. Even more so, He has blessed me with friends wherever I go whom I cherish. 

Christina is one of those friends. We met in college and after she graduated, she returned to her hometown of Mexico City. We haven’t seen each other since, so when I found out she was getting married I knew I needed to attend to support and celebrate with her. What’s more, several other friends whom I haven’t seen is ages are making their way as well – it’ll be a reunion of the best kind!

Finances worked out and plans were made several months ago, bags were packed last night, which brings me to the present: sitting in the terminal, waiting to depart. 

   
 It’s been four years since I’ve seen Christina, six since I’ve been to Mexico – I’m ready and looking forward to an adventure. 

Next stop: Mexico City!
TRIP DETAILS

Destination: Mexico City

Airline: United

Duration: 3 full days, plus travel days 

Luggage: 28L day pack and carry on suitcase

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