Sunday, 30 June 2013

30 June - ideas please? :D

Married for 100 days! Woooooo! :D
Yes, we're newly weds and counting, though I will defend myself and say that we haven't actually been counting, but our wedding website shows it and I just happened to go onto it yesterday. Nevertheless, I got coffee in bed this morning which was a treat. The sun also made a guest appearance for a few hours which was lovely :D

After lunch today we headed off to church; we take the tram and it takes about half an hour which seems pretty average for getting most places :) We really enjoyed the worship and the preach (NCF-ism!). The topic was Gentleness, following from last week's topic of Humbleness. These topics are SO relevant and Malcolm and I have really been tested in these areas, especially since getting here. We're not a shout-y couple, and our arguments are usually slow-motion, passive-aggressive and rather sarcastic. Fortunately we don't fight very much and over the years we've become quite good at solving issues. But, since getting to Germany it's become SO important to us, more than before, to do and say everything in love - in humility and gentleness - because we're very aware that there isn't really anywhere we can run off to and we're very much stuck together ;) Happy to be "stuck" with my best friend!
Today's message really reminded me of a message I heard preached at NCF North earlier this year, about deciding that Jesus is Lord, and nailing that to the mast above all else. I agree with whoever it was that preached that day, that if that issue is decided then all else should fall into place - if Jesus is my Lord, that humbles me and reminds me of His gentleness, which I should then remember when interacting with everybody else. Praying that I remember each morning who my Lord and Saviour is, and act accordingly. (I realise a lot on this blog is actually a reminder to myself!)
As I was in the service today, as much as I enjoyed it, I got hit by such home-sickness for NCF and our family there. I also miss Cornerstone, where I was for 4 years. IBCC reminds me a lot of Cornerstone - many of the songs we sing here I first learnt there, and small groups here are called Life Groups too :) I miss you all so much!!
IBCC, picture from their website because we
 haven't taken one ourselves ;) 
The home-sickness did subside a little though when afterwards we hung out and chatted... there are amazing people here and so welcoming! We've been missing the Life Groups on Tuesdays partially because of the travel-cost and partly because we forget (the shame in admitting that!!!), but we're determined to go this Tuesday when I have a month-ticket for transport :D
We've also been invited for a South African dinner soon-ish, and we're taking something South African... the problem is that in SA, SA food is food (like Chinese food in China is just food, right?). So I'm not totally sure what counts, and I think one of the reasons something becomes typical of a place is because it's readily available... which means that it might be tricky getting hold of some ingredients here.
So I need your help!!! Ideas for South African dishes??? (I'm leaning towards desserts because it may be easier to transport?) Help us out with your brilliant ideas? :D

Saturday, 29 June 2013

29 June - Milestones

I cannot believe that we've been here a month, that the 29th May I was locking up the flat, saying goodbyes, driving out of PMB, having coffee with family, sobbing goodbyes, and leaving South African soil. It sounds quite dramatic.
I'm not sure if everybody reading this knows what a drama it really was getting here. If you do, skip ahead, otherwise, read on - it's like an action movie ;)

So last year September Malcolm applied to DAAD for a scholarship to do his doctorate here, after years of praying and dreaming about it. We'd been engaged for 9 months and we finally decided that we just had to set a date and have some faith that things would be ok. So we went ahead and set our wedding date for the 23rd March - at this point Malcolm hadn't finished his masters yet, he was unemployed, we didn't know if and when we'd leave South Africa, I was working mostly part-time and our parents were still supporting us. It really was a major leap of faith but we knew God was with us.
In November, Malcolm heard that for his DAAD application he needed proof of his master's submission by the 31st December, which meant that in a week and a half he had to finish up the writing and get everything read through to submit it before Varsity closed on the Friday the 15th. On the Monday Malcolm went to faculty to find out if everything was on track for his submission on the Friday, only to find out that the office was closing on the Wednesday at midday. It was a crazy two days, but Malcolm managed to submit his thesis in literally the last hour.
sleep-deprived Malcolm about to
submit his thesis :D 

DAAD was quiet for a long time and wedding planning went on. Malcolm heard he needed his marks by a certain date but they were still unavailable and his application was reviewed without them.
In February Malcolm got a job with Talbot after about a week of job-hunting. I think it was also in February that we heard that he got the funding to go to Germany! What a roller-coaster!
We also found out then that we'd need to be in Germany in June (though there was the possibility of it being December). The whole Germany-thing was put on the back-burner a bit during March as we were preparing for the wedding - the most magical day of my life- until we found out on our last day of honeymoon that it was definitely June.
What ensued was a rush of getting police clearance, sorting out accommodation, getting biometric photos, looking into health insurance, researching tickets, etc etc etc. Every time we thought we had things under control something would go wrong, and each time we submitted it to God and trusted that this was His plan for us, the situation turned around. Generosity in our wedding was incredible (both in the actual wedding and in gifts), people were so generous with helping out as we prepared to leave. Documents came in the nick of time, authorities were strangely kind, doors opened.
our reception venue in progress, which we used for free.
 And tables, chairs etc etc etc were also free.
Looking back at the last 9 months I am astounded at how far we've come, how God has sustained us and provided for our every need in one way or another. It's mind-blowing just thinking of all the things that have happened, the favour that we've had. I'm terrified to forget it all and to become cold to what God has done. It's truly a miracle that Malcolm and I are sitting in our home, in Germany, happily married and taken care of.

So although we miss home and our friends and lives there, we're so excited to be here and to see what we're here for. It's an adventure, and we're so blessed to be in it together :)
Anyway, so today we didn't have much planned and (stuck record alert!) it was cold and miserable. However, we picked up a brochure about Dunnwald and set off determined to see some of the things featured.

one of the "hochkreuze"... we must have walked
 past this many times but only noticed it today! 

The wheat in the fields is growing and
looking really beautiful. 

this is the entrance to the "Kloster"

St Nikolaus. The oldest grave there is
dated 1572 for Joha Halfma" 

It was really nice, walking around the town seeing things we didn't know were so significant, there seems to be history in everything and monuments all over. 
We spent the afternoon at home and then after supper we went for another walk around. Usually in the evening when the sun comes out we walk in the forest, but today we decided to rather head into town and see what was going on. It was nice to hear people laughing in their homes, see people gathered out on their balconies, braaiing in the garden, meeting in pubs and restaurants... It was a really nice atmosphere and it was amazing when it would hit us "We're in Germany!!!" 

28 June - 4 weeks in!

Friday! Malcolm had a fare-well tea at the CDC for some of the students that were leaving - it's the end of the fourth week of the course and I can't believe how much he knows! The farewell meant that finally they took a photo together! Hooray! So here's the happy bunch of them... 

the lady on the left is their teacher, the guy sitting
 with his arms crossed is Malcolm's friend, Hanok,
and the girl on the far right is Ruth :) 
Malcolm and Hanok often go walking around Hansaring during their breaks, so they explore the area as much as they can in 20 minutes a day :)

It drizzled the whole day and I stayed cosy, researching jobs and watching mostly CNN. Seeing South Africa from outside is quite depressing - news is usually bad or at least serious or worrying, and if that's the only info one gets it's quite scary! Watching the coverage of Mandela, reports about the economy, hearing of petrol price increases... I remind myself that life is also carrying on as usual and that security comes from God, not money or the economy or the system or the police, or (dare I say it?) Mandela. 
But anyway, feel free to share happy news of South Africa with me!!! :D 

Friday is also convenient-food day... in my attempt to try new things and discover what is actually tasty! It almost got rained out though because I didn't feel like walking or riding in the rain just to buy "convenient food" when we had normal food in the cupboard. However, when Malcolm got home it was only drizzling lightly and everything is more fun together, even walking in the rain :D So off we went and bought a tin of food and paprika potato chips.

The chips were actually pretty good, and I've decided to see them as a tasty new flavour as opposed to just about the only option we have! As for the tin of food... 

I was pretty apprehensive about this tin of tomato and noodles and "real meatballs", as was on the label. However, I was surprised by it (despite the fact that there was more tomato-soupy-ness than noodles) and it was a happy ending as Malcolm and I sat watching series on his laptop and eating our dinner :) 

p.s. what is it with German series? They show at least two episodes of a series (eg. Star trek, 2 and a half men, scrubs, big bang, how I met your mother...) at a time which means they go through them soooo quickly and then just start at the first season again...? And their ad breaks are about 10 minutes long so a movie lasts at least 3 hours. Ani, German TV needs you!!! :D (still grateful we have a TV though!!)

Thursday, 27 June 2013

27 June - keeping cosy

If this is summer, I'm really confused :/
It's been rainy and cold most of today. Malcolm was wrapped up when he left to the CDC, where he had a productive day. He managed to say the sentence "one may not have a hostage at home", which may be useful one day! He's actually capable of saying a lot, but gets tongue tied when faced with Wolfgang speaking German! Very impressive is my man! Mein mannlicher mann!
I finished the last on my TEFL course (I've only had one assignment left to do but I've been putting it off since Monday!) so I'm looking forward to applying for a job or two next week and seeing where that will get me. I was originally signed up to do the combined course which involved a 20hour classroom session, but they cancelled the dates I booked for and the alternatives were unsuitable so I'll be refunded for that and it'll have just been an online course.
I went out to meet Malcolm at the bus stop this afternoon...
this is where I sit and wait for him :)

This afternoon we walked around the Wildpark, we saw some cute animals...

like this little goat-buck-thing :)

and a MOOSE! We haven't noticed them before! :D

The buck go absolutely crazy when people feed them.
 One can buy animal-feed for them from vending machines.

We also saw a squirrel!! :D It was too far up a tree and it was too quick to photograph, but it was really cute! I think we may have blown our "we're German" covers by getting so enthusiastic over what is considered by many to be just a pesky rodent. So we blew our cover some more by posing on the little bridge like tourists :D

This afternoon Malcolm did his homework, and I read through what he's done already to catch up. The cold and dreary weather made me really want a nice warm mug of hot chocolate, so I made us some cocoa. As I've mentioned previously, we have a fully-furnished flat that has most things but not coffee-mugs. I just couldn't bring myself to make cocoa in tea-cups so I resorted to the next best thing... beer glasses. (yep, we have been provided with wine glasses and beer glasses, but no coffee mugs...?) It looks pretty fancy right? 

People were seriously generous for our wedding and gave us money, which we've brought over to use when we get to Marburg to make our home home-y... we'll definitely be buying coffee mugs! I would do so here, but that means we'd need to schelpp it all and we've learned how horrible it is travelling with loads of luggage!! 

Hope everybody is keeping warm and planning a fun weekend - its Friday tomorrow! Weeeee! :D

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

26 June - dedicated to Chon :D

Today I finally made it to the beeeeeg shop! This morning I really felt like baking but needed cocoa and hazelnuts so I set my mind to it and cycled off to the shop about 2.8km away (not too bad actually!). The main reason I've been putting it off, besides the weather, is because I'm scared of traffic. But, I was happy to discover that there's a cycle path all the way so no cars even get near me! Hooray!! :D

It didn't take too long to get there and I was delighted to finally get to wander the isles and see some normal stuff. The prices are higher than the shops I usually go to, but for the odd thing it's alright. I was fascinated to find only one brand of peanut butter at a price that put me off, and to discover that they still stocked nothing resembling popcorn.
They certainly had enough pizza though!
So you see the sign saying "pizza"?
the rest of the red signs behind say
exactly the same....
 It was baking heaven too and I found the goodies I was looking for, and had I not been on a budget, I would've tried everything along here.

When I took these pictures I was standing in the middle, and everything to the left and right of me was aaaaaaalllll baking stuff and pudding-y things :D 
I wandered around for quite a while, searching for popcorn and to try discover things, then eventually headed to the tills... 
tiny bottles of alcohol at the tills, right there with fisherman's
friend and chewing gum...

My legs were a little wobbly when I got home (haven't cycled much in a while), but I was motivated to get home and get baking!
A couple nights before we left Chon invited us over to feed us, and she made the most amazing cookies. She sent me the recipe and they've been my main reason for longing for cocoa! Thank you, +Chantelle Cloete , the cookies were so easy to make (discounting the 6km cycle) and made me think of you!
TA DA! The chocolate bits melted away a bit but the nuts
and gooey-ness are amazing. Thanks Chon!!! 

My timing was perfect, as the last ones
finished cooling and I took them off the
 tray, Malcolm walked in.
Feeling like a pretty good house-wife ;)

Malcolm fixed his bike with the help of Wolfgang and his seemingly endless boxes of spanners, and then we made dinner together. Again, inspired by the supper Chon made us :D 
It was also really cool chatting to Mom and Dad Bartlett on Skype, and we got the chance to show them around our flat and show off how cool the windows are here!! (You're curious.) 

Pretty good day, all in all :D

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

25 June

Tuesday! How many days til the weekend...? ;) 

It was a pretty cool day - I did good house-wifely things seeing as I found where the broom is! :D Also contemplated baking cookies, which meant I needed cocoa, which meant I needed to get to a different shop, which meant I needed to cycle a few kms or walk a km and catch the tram. And all this was far too miserable to do in the rain so I baked no cookies. 

However, when Malcolm got home I did make a good supper which we ate outside because the sunshine came out and at about 6:30 it turned into a beautiful "day"! 

Malcolm had a good day at the CDC and has to look for family photos just now to take with him for homework, so we're suspecting he'll have to do some sort of presentation. He also ensured our well-being for the next few months by fixing our coffee machine (what's life without that first cup of coffee...?) which had got blocked up. I though he was quite brave unscrewing it when it's not ours, but fortunately it's working perfectly now :D 

Note the teacup: our flat is fully-equipped with just about everything except a cutting board and coffee mugs, so we've been feeling very civilised the last few weeks drinking everything out of teacups :D 

The other highlight of my day, perhaps more so than having my daily cup of coffee available again, was getting skype sorted out!! I've been wanting to for a while but also have been nervous that it would make me miss everybody more actually seeing them. But, it was wonderful! I spoke to Ani for a long time (She's graduating tomorrow!! CONGRATULATIONS my friend!!!) and then this evening we had a brief chat with mum and dad, followed by a call from Martin. It was really cool because he was on his phone he could show us my room - I've been curious about how our things are fitting in there! It was really great and we're looking forward to many more skype sessions (at least while we're in Cologne and have internet, we'll see what happens in Marburg!). 

Hope everybody has a wonderful wednesday - it'll be halfway through the week already!?! 

Monday, 24 June 2013

24 June

Mondays are often quite a let-down after a great weekend...
Malcolm went to the CDC and had a pretty cool day. They finished the first book (A1 part 1) and are now on A1 part 2! Then he came home and got down to homework and teaching me stuff. It's really cool that now I can use his A1 book to learn while he's away :)
I rode to the shops this morning - it was really chilly and windy, and it's still quite scary cycling with cars, especially along narrow streets. There are ususally cars parked along the road and then there's only a narrow part to cycle on, and cars have to cross over the line to get through... not nearly as orderly as you'd expect from Germans ;) There's a traffic circle near by that terrifies me and I really just have to say to myself "I'm a car I'm a car I'm a car I'm a car" as I enter it. All in all though, I'm getting the hang of it - one day I will be able to look like a local and carry bouquets of flowers while I cycle or eat snacks from the basket as Malcolm has seen in the city.
Anyway, not too much exciting today...

Sunday, 23 June 2013

23 June - love in Cologne

We've been married a whole three months! Hooray! In a celebratory mood despite the gusty, cold and drizzly weather (which was forecast for the rest of the day too), Malcolm and I set off to enjoy the city :)

We walked about a km to the UBahn because the buses only start running late morning/afternoon in our area. After waiting just a little we took the tram to the main station...
waiting for the tram... 
We got off at Koln Messe-Deutz, and decided to walk along the bridge over the Rhein. Along the way we saw a man-on-a-horse-statue, which was pretty impressive. There are 4 very similar statues in the area, but one is Emperor Wilhelm II, another is Emperor Wilhelm I, the third is Emperor Friedrich III and the fourth is King Friedrich Wilhelm IV.
The statue of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV

The weather turned in our favour and the view was really beautiful from the bridge!

The trend of "love locks" spread to this bridge too, and it's railings are covered in all kinds of locks with couples' names written or engraved on, which are attached and the keys thrown into the river. It was really interesting to see all the different kinds of locks and we also saw a couple attaching theirs and tossing the key. We plan to do the same sometime, but we need to find a pad lock first ;)

you can see the Cathedral in the background

When we got to the other side we found that there was a fleamarket all along the bank of the river. Loads of antiques, collectables, clothes, bags... lots of little goodies. We found a copy of Asterix in German which will be cool for us to read because it's easier to understand than a book!
While at the fleamarket it got to lunch-time, so we finally experienced our first German sausage, we had high expectations! 
and our expectations were met! (yes, Malcolm also thought
 I was weird for taking a photo of our lunch.)
 On our way back to the bridge we came across this company and couldn't help but think of SA. However, this is the company that cleans the streets of Cologne, as opposed to being a far-fight separatist movement in South Africa.

It was great just wandering back over the bridge, enjoying the view of the Rhein, thinking how amazing it is to be here, considering how much has changed since our wedding day, and how much hasn't! We got back to the Messe-Deutz station early so we wandered around for a while and found... Lays chips!! (not paprika, but they still taste different to SA's lays... why??)

We also found a photo-booth and decided we just couldn't pass up the opportunity to squish into it together for a picture :D 

After that we still had time and sat around for a while... 

From there we caught the train and then the tram to church (church is at 2pm). Really love the warm and friendly atmosphere there! They needed volunteers to help in the Nursery and, thinking of all the dear kids I looked after at Noah's Park in the North, and all the kiddies I taught ballet, I went along to see if I could help. They only had about 3 people on the roster, and 14 volunteers came along to offer help, but then Sunday school for 3-6year olds also needed help so some of us put our names down there. I have no idea if I'll just be assisting or if I'll be teaching (and if it will be English or German??), but I'm so excited to get involved and serve here, that's if they still need help at all :) We stayed afterwards and chatted so we only left at about 5pm, and then decided to go back to the Aldstadt area to find a restaurant to dine our for our 3 month "mensiversary" (because it's earier to phrase it this way than "0.25 anniversary"!). 

We had to wait ages, about half an hour ;), for the train to come and the wind was really cold on the exposed train-platform.

Malcolm doing the "I'm cold but
 really I'm hot" look ;) 

Despite the cold, it still looked beautiful though!!

We eventually got to the Aldstadt and were faced with the enormous task of choosing a restaurant, knowing that it's a touristy area but not wanting to be completely ripped off, all the while not knowing what a reasonable price is here! There were soooooo many restaurants... 

this was just one of a few squares of restaurants!
Restaurants all around the square! 

we eventually went to the "pfeffermuhler", the only
place in this photo that's in the sunshine :) 

We got the menu and chose some good German food. When we turned to the drinks page we realised why it may be that people here drink so much beer... it's simply the cheapest! So, we gave in and bought beer just because we'd have to pay for water, were terribly thirsty, and it was the cheapest thing on the menu. It tasted better this time than last time, I think because last time we were sharing a coke and a beer and the coke made the beer slightly more bitter than it actually was. Anyway, it was really refreshing and the food was absolutely wunderbar! 

There was another horse statue here! There are statues all over!

After dinner, we were exhausted and my feet were so tired, so we headed home again. This photo is taken at the Ubahn in Mulheim, it was really beautiful.

again, the sky was amazing as we walked back up from the Ubahn... it's constantly changing and because we're not surrounded by hills like we're used to in KZN, it just seems so BIG! 

After the long walk uphill, it was really cool to get
 home! (still weird that this is about 8:30pm??)

... and finally put my feet up and have a block
of chocolate on our balcony :) 

It was a really great day, feeling so happy and so blessed and I really do think I might be the happiest wife in the world.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

22 June

Despite being in this HUGE city full of cool opportunities, the weather today was just so miserable, and with Malcolm working so hard it's nice for him to just be home and for us to hang out... so we mostly stayed inside watching series :)

This morning we went on a mission to try to find popcorn kernals... we've found ready-popped caramel stuff, but we really just would like kernels... which we cannot find. After a Google search of "Popcorn in Germany" we discovered that it does exist, but that our frustration is shared. As is our frustration with what seems to be a paprika-flavour obsession... the cheaper brands of chips (so about 1.4euros) only seem to come in paprika...? Missing Simba!!

However, we can't complain too much... not when the best-valued cookies look like this...
they're tasty and...

provide Malcolm with a mustache and me with
entertainment! :D
Our other mission today was to get into the garage because we couldn't find the key... so we figured it must have been locked inside (one unlocks with a key and the doors automatically open, then to close it when leaving there's a button so one doesn't need the key). To get in we needed to use the back door to the garage, which involved getting into the garden. There are 2 ways to get into the garden; go through the garage OR jump off our balcony. Obviously, we needed to do the latter (and by "we" I mean Malcolm...). It's really not that high, but because the railing has a pane of glass we were scared to break it! But, Malcolm bravely jumped off, got into the garage... and couldn't find the key after all. Turns out the key was in one of my pockets in the laundry basket... oops! But at least we had something to occupy us!

It's also 3 months since our oh-so-ceremonious wedding at Home Affairs, which means that tomorrow we'll have been married for 3 whole months (yes, we're cute to be still counting the months!). Very keen to get out tomorrow and celebrate it :D Holding thumbs for some sunshine!