I know I said I would post each day, but that’s proven to be difficult. Maybe you can see why by reading these posts. The main problem is it takes a few minutes to get the text and the photos ready and coordinated. Also, I have to be at the Millers to have the necessary access to the web. So here’s three days worth. We’re getting a lot done. In the coming week, I’ll be sitting down with Terry to develop our plan for future trips. Thanks for your prayers.

Wednesday, July 25…  Talking with Ellen

ellen-interview.jpgellen-interview.jpgellen-interview.jpgellen-interview.jpgellen interviewToday, we continued getting the basic video we need by conducting an extended interview with Ellen. She shared about some of the challenges of serving here in Germany. Most of these are a lot like the challenges of serving anywhere. One thing you come to understand when you spend even a small amount of time with the Millers is that they are regular folks living an ordinary Christian life—the same sort of life that any Christian might live anywhere—just trying to be faithful and obedient to the Lord.

You’ll be blessed when you see the video, and you’ll be challenged to think of yourself as an ordinary Christian—trying to be faithful and obedient to the Lord—called to be a missionary in your own setting of life. Life is, after all, a short term mission.

The setting for Ellen’s interview is the Miller’s living room looking out to their small back yard. The Millers live in a simple home with kitchen, dining room and living room on the first level. There’s a nice patio out the back door with the aforementioned bit of lawn surrounded by flower beds. Behind that is a tall hedge that buffers the noise from the street on the other side. There’s also a railroad track crossing over the road, so periodically a train will speed by.

The bedrooms and Terry’s office are upstairs. Currently, the Millers are hosting teenage students from all over Europe who have come to Augsburg to study German in a special program called “German in Germany.” It’s kind of a summer camp program people send their kids to, only the kids stay with local families to practice speaking German. According to Terry & Ellen, this particular crop of students is not very talkative, and two of them are always speaking Spanish to each other, so the Millers aren’t sure they’re really maximizing their opportunity. Some things are the same everywhere.

roadtrip1.jpgThursday, July 26…  Road Trip

We wanted Jeff & Kristy to have one day off for pure sightseeing while they were here, and they wanted to see Switzerland and invited Andrew & I to go along. So we rented a car and left early this morning to drive down to Interlaken in the middle of the Swiss Alps. Can you say “scenery overload”? Wow!

We arrived in Interlaken at about lunch roadtrip2.jpgtime, so we began the quest for a parking space. We finally found a spot, which required us to purchase a ticket from the nearby dispenser. We didn’t have the necessary Swiss francs (the machine wouldn’t take euros), so we began the quest for an ATM. While the others waited at the car, I hiked over to the nearby train station and found an ATM which was willing to give me money—two 100-franc notes.

roadtrip3.jpgSo began the quest for change. I looked around and spotted a bank across the street, so I walked over to the bank, but the door wouldn’t open. The bank was closed between noon and 1:30. It was about 1:15. So I walked back to tell the others why this was taking so long, and then returned to the bank to get change and then returned to the ticket dispenser and then to the car. So after about an hour we had succeeded in acquiring our parking space.roadtrip41.jpg

So began the quest for a place to eat. Fortunately, most of the restaurants posted their menus outside. Unfortunately, the prices on those menus were just flat outrageous. Eventually we just gave up and chose a place. We ate outdoors—the weather was amazing!—and everyone enjoyed the food. We felt fortunate that our server spoke English well.

After lunch we did a little shopping for roadtrip5.jpgchocolate and other souvenirs and decided to head out for our final destination, the top of the Schilthorn, where there is a restaurant called the Piz Gloria, which was featured in the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Schilthorn can only be reached by aerial tram, which originates in the village of Stechelberg in the Lauterbrunnen valley, about a 30 minute drive south of Interlaken. When we got to Stechelberg, we discovered that the roadtrip6.jpgtram ride to the top of the mountain would cost us 89 francs apiece, or roughly $75, which we all agreed would not be worth it. Fortunately, in Switzerland, there’s amazing scenery everywhere, so we were only mildly disappointed. Besides, it was really time to think about heading back to Augsburg.

As we returned, we were stopping along the way to get video of some of the amazing scenery, so the trip back took much longer than the trip out. After we stopped for supper, it was my turn to drive. Soon it was getting dark. This was when I learned something about Google-maps driving instructions. Don’t print just the directions of how to get there; you also need the directions for getting back. After looking at the road atlas Terry loaned us, I took a “short-cut” to get back to the autobahn. When we got there, we learned that the only on-ramp was aimed in the wrong direction. This added about 30 minutes as we wandered around looking for another on-ramp.

By the time we got back to Augsburg (3 hours and two wrong turns later) it was about 1:30 in the morning. Now I was nervous about missing my exit, so I got off the autobahn at the first thing that said Augsburg. Like many cities in foreign countries, Augsburg has that interesting characteristic of switching North and South around at night, a true test of orienteering skills. In spite of several hours of map-studying and driving around town over the last few days, it took us another hour to finally find our way home. We’ll be sleeping in a little tomorrow.

Friday, July 27… Filming in Augsburg

After sleeping in, we got over to the Millers in time to take them out to lunch. We went to a little German biergarten just around the corner. Most of us ordered a dish called schnitzel, which is basically a pork chop breaded and fried. Both Jeff & I ordered the “Schnitzel XXL.” It was the size of a dinner plate (must have been at least 16 oz. of meat). Our server, an older lady, told Terry that she liked it when the Americans were around (there used to be lots of U.S. soldiers stationed near Augsburg) because they spent a lot of money.

aug2.jpgAfter lunch, Terry & Ellen needed to attend a funeral service, so they turned us loose on the city of Augsburg to get more location and people shots. After yesterday’s adventure, I was feeling a lot less confident in my navigational skills, but we seemed to get around okay. We got a lot done in terms of getting video. It was fun to see how people responded to the camera and our little movie crew.

aug3.jpgWe shot at St. Anna’s Church, where Luther stayed when he told the pope’s emissary, Cajetan, that he was not planning to recant on the 95. Then we got lots of people-shots at the Rathausplatz, the plaza outside the Rathaus, or town hall. From there, we made our way down the main thoroughfare, Maximillianstrasse, capturing footage of the people, the buildings, and the statues.

aug4.jpgWe ended up at St. Ulrich’s Church, which is a fascinating place for a number of reasons. One reason is that it illustrates the recent moves toward reconciliation between Lutherans and Roman Catholics. There are actually two St. Ulrich’s Churches, one Lutheran and one Catholic. In recent years, the two churches have been physically joined together. It was also in Augsburg in 1999 that the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic church signed The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, the greatest step so far in the ecumenical movement between the two churches.

The Joint Declaration should really be viewed as the Lutheran Capitulation in most respects. Essentially it says that the differences between Lutherans and Catholics in their doctrines of justification were not really worth dividing over, and it undoes the excommunications of the reformation. While we were at St. Ulrich’s, a group of mostly elderly folks were preparing for mass by praying the rosary, which says a lot about the distinction between Catholic ideas of justification and any truly Lutheran concept. By the way, various confessional Lutheran groups, including the Missouri Synod, have rejected the Joint Declaration and resisted this sort of phony reconciliation.

aug5.jpgAnyway, St. Ulrich’s Church is also noteworthy for its age and architectural beauty. Here’s a website that will tell you more about it.

By the time we were done at St. Ulrich’s, it was supper time, and we decided it was time to find the Jakober festival. It took a little hunting, and an illegal parking incident, but we found it. These pictures should tell the whole story. We consumed aug6.jpgsome great bratwurst and a couple of giant pretzels.

As we were leaving, I was run over… by a little girl (maybe 8 or 9 years old) on a bicycle. She was going way too fast and clipped her handlebars on a trash can, and was working to regain control when her front tire got ahold of my left shinbone. I think she twisted my ankle a bit, cause today it’s a little swollen, stiff and sore. It took us a while to convince her that we weren’t going to have her arrested. The worst part of the whole incident was the loss of the ice cream cone I had purchased aug7.jpgonly moments before. But it was easily replaced, and we were on our way home.

Jeff and Christy are going home tomorrow at 7 am, which means they’re leaving Augsburg at 4. So Andrew and I dropped them off at the apartment where we’re staying and then headed over to the Millers’ to check e-mail and send Cindy a document she needed at CBC. Again, it was kind of a late night.