Friday, 29 November 2013

Week recap: Reflection

It's been a busy week... Malcolm has been attending a conference all week, though it is in town so at least he was home in the evening. Tuesday night we went to the international Haus Kreis after being MIA for 3 weeks, and it was great to see everybody again.

Wedesday evening when Malcolm got home we decked the halls with boughs of Holly, fa la la la la la la la la. Okay, not quite, but with advent and christmas markets starting soon, the house needed some Christmas cheer.

We made candle holders out of nutella jars to avoid setting anything on fire.
Malcolm did a good job of getting stuff to stick to the window.
Our candle holders got Christmas-fied.
I made an advent calender. And included the 25th because I can. 
Thursday morning Malcolm didn't need to be at the conference so we hung out in the Obenstadt together.

The Town market square and the church area are getting ready for the Christmas market.
We had free coffee and chocolate at the Weltladen, thanks to our vouchers.
Mum, with reference to our last conversation, look at the game we found?
They have advent-everything. Including sweets to look like pills for children to take every day til Christmas.
Malcolm found Spock-ears.
Then in the evening he had a grand dinner in the Castle while I went to church. The town looks beautiful lit up.

The streets and lights.
The staircase up to the castle.
The view from the Lutheran church. 
While standing outside the church waiting to go in, I had the most beautiful view of Marburg twinkling below. I was amazed by where I was. But I was also really, really lonely. I'm so grateful to be where I am, but sometimes it just seems so foreign. I could hear the band practicing "Our God" or "So bist nur Du" and it brought me back to times at NCF standing crying out to God - recognising that nothing is impossible for Him, and crying out for Him to make this happen. Asking Him to provide for our wedding, for a job for Malcolm, for the scholarship to be awarded, to make paper work go quickly, get Malcolm's Visa approved, provide accommodation and finances. There was always something. When things looked bleak and hopeless, we relied on God and had such faith. It's amazing how in the toughest circumstances my faith grows, but I grow complacent when things are okay. And things are okay right now - but I'm thirsty for more, for purpose and to know why God brought us here.

6 months ago today Malcolm and I locked up our flat, said goodbye to PMB and people we love there, drove to DBN international airport, met our families, had coffee together (in our case, a very late lunch), prayed together, and boarded the plane on our adventure. 6 months later I'm still not entirely sure why I'm here. But, I've learnt SO much. For example...

- that fighting with each other is no fun and just lonely.
- that while summer in Koln was in mid 30s, winter in Marburg is below freezing.
- that I stored a lot more German from when I was a child than I thought.
- that God does look after His kids: 6 months of neither of us working and we're more than okay.
- that hugs are worth so much.
- that I can walk 2 km, I don't need a car (though it would be nice).
- that making friends isn't easy, but is worth it.
- that not even distance can stop the love that ties us to our family and friends back in SA.
- that I'm not alone and have more support than I thought - not only can I turn to the maker of the universe Himself, but He's given me the Super-Husband-listener-encourager-extraordinaire, easy access to people back home, He's opening doors to friendships here, and the Blogworld is so full of people who exactly what it's like.
- I have a LOT to be thankful for. And a LOT to have faith for.

So I'm in a weird mood of "wow, we've been here 6 months already?!" and "Only 6 months?! I wana go hoooome". We have lots to look forward to this weekend though, and I'm glad for the distraction :)

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Monday, 25 November 2013

The weekend of... provision

I'm watching the snow fall, and although it's really light and will probably stop by the end of writing this, the ground is cold enough for it to stay a little while.

Fortunately, the weekend actually had pretty good weather, which means... we left the house. 

Saturday morning we decided being married for 8 months and having been together for 3 and a half years warrented a date. And we had a gift voucher to use. So, after posting parcels to our parents, showing Malcolm the library, and using a voucher for free bread, we went to the historical cafe Vetters and had free hot chocolate and coffee, and paid for our cake. Can I just say that I am a huge fan of the cake here?

Afterwards we went walking a little bit and enjoyed actually being out together. Then we went home to tidy up and make pizza for the evening when friends came over. It was amusing how they arrived with their own cups of tea because we only have 4 mugs. It was a fun evening, showing each other where we're from on google earth and street view, chatting, and playing games.

Sunday the Wandergruppe aus Richtsberg wandered down to church, and afterwards we stayed for the "November Cafe", which is basically a fete or bazaar or whatever you want to call it. Music, cake, crafts, Christmassy stuff. When we wandered back up and arrived in the apartment foyer, we were pleasantly surprised by a couch being given away. It was just what we needed when the previous evening we'd had to sit on diningroom chairs which aren't very comfortable. It was actually two couches that go together to make a corner couch with chaise longue type thing (I am no couch expert, can you tell?), but we sadly had to break up the set because of space limits. We carried it in and with lots of team-work we managed to figure out how to rearrange out lounge to fit it in. I'm SO happy with it as it makes our lounge much cosier and we have more seating for visitors.

We feel really blessed by how much God has provided for us here - friends, a church, money and other stuff that's just nice to have, like free bread and coffee and a couch. It really is so amazing to see God's hand at work in our lives.

p.s. And it's still snowing and dusting our balcony with white!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Week recap: snivells and snow

Yep, it's been a snivelly week. Since Tuesday morning when I woke up with a sore throat, I have come to experience how disgusting one feels on a bus blowing ones nose and feeling like the kid that nobody likes. I understand why people wore face masks during the SARS thing. I feel like people conspire not to get too close to me. Fortuantely, the social awkwardness was the worst part and I didn't feel too bad, and I'm getting better!

So. Our lives feel a lot less entertaining since moving to Marburg. I don't know if it's because there's less to see, Malcolm has less free time, or we feel less inspired to go outside the house. Probably all of the above. To those living vicariously through us here, I'm sorry but you're going to have to wait for us to thaw a bit and then maybe we;ll be adventurous again.

It was a week of dancing, shopping, Discover-kurs-ing, and nachhilfing for me, and a week of frustrating chemistry for Malcolm. It's a constant roller coaster for him when things work and then turn back to black goo (or that was the typical Master's project problem, I haven't figured out what the typical problem is on this project... yet), and then get saved only to be starting material again. etc. I do my best to sympathise and all that, but really, all I can do is pray for him because I am clueless about it all. Fortunately the creator of chemistry is much more trustworthy and reliable than me anyway ;)

On Wednesday evening I put on my big girl pants bundled up and went out with Malcolm so we could gather a few things to send home for Christmas. It was fun, and the shop is warm so it's only the bits of walking that are challenging. And warm milk and biscuits when we got home was pretty great too.

Unfortunatly, nobody is getting lego from us.
Somehow we just always land up in the toy aisle when we're shopping together. 

Warm milk and honey and Spekulaas to warm up back home. 
On Thursday we had our first bits of snow!

There was sleet in the morning (snow and rain together) which was new to us and interesting to watch.

I kept an eye out all day for snow, but eventually it got dark and I couldn't see anyway and I sort of gave up. But, when Malcolm came home at around 6, he had melting ice on his coat and told me it was snowing. I bundled up and we went outside to see it. Unfortunately the photos are terrible, but it was SO cool.

It wasn't snowing heavily, and it was so pretty and it felt so soft. We stood out in it for a little while, made sure to have our first "kissing under the falling snow" moment, and then came inside because I wasn't wearing gloves and the magic of seeing snow falling for the first time would have been lost if my fingers fell off too.

We've also been praying a lot for Malcolm's dad, and THANK YOU to all of those who've been with us in that. He's still in hospital but he's improving and we even skyped him this morning :) there've been some ups and downs with medication administered but he's in good hands and should be out next week.

Have a great weekend everybody! :)

Monday, 18 November 2013

The weekend of... ups and downs

Malcolm has just left for another week of hard work in the lab, bubbling, filtering and refluxing chemicals. I'm looking forward to a week of job searching and the like.

Friday I left kid's club early to go to the Discover Kurs Freizeit. We met at the church and then got a lift to somewhere in a tiny town. It was nice to smell the freshy farmy air again. We ate supper together and then figured out our rooms. It was strange when they were trying to organise for Malcolm and I to stay together, and we told them to split us up if it's easier. It was just really weird because we haven't been in that situation before and it hadn't occurred to us that they'd try put us together. 
I was also really grateful that Nicole had explained the whole 3-teil-bettuche thing to me and had brought some sheets along for Malcolm and I. 
The evening was spent with an icebreaker of 'speed dating', going through the folders, and then chatting til late. Eventually, even with the worship still going on we tried to get to sleep - not an easy task with lights turning on and off, and doors opening and closing, and bunkbeds creaking with every move. 
The next day we carried on with the discover program, looking at where we're gifted and where we can fit in. It's really cool that there is so much going on to get involved in. It was really exhausting speaking and listening to German all day, and although it was a great time, we were pretty glad to head home to our English Comfort Zone.

Sunday we went to church, and it was so nice to feel like we fit there - we've come to know quite a few people and are making friends. If you've watched that one HIMYM episode with Lilly and Marshal, you'll know how hard it is to find 'couple friends' that you can hang out with without making them the 3rd wheel - so we feel really blessed by the friends we've made here.

However, we also had some good and bad news.

Good news... my parents will be visiting in less than 20 weeks!! How cool is that? We're so excited for them to be here and to show them Cologne and and Marburg and whatever else we find. I. Can. Not. Wait!!!

Bad news, Malcolm's dad is in hospital with abdominal pain; as far as we can gather it's nothing too serious and should be diagnosed today, but it was just horrible getting the news and being so far away.
We're praying that he recovers soon and that everybody is strengthened by the knowledge that Jesus is King always, is always in control, always providing, and always loving.

Hope you all have a wonderful week ahead! 

Friday, 15 November 2013

Week recap

This week seems to have flown by. Time this year in general seems to be going just so fast. I’ve been reminded again this week just how short life is, how important each moment is. And yet, it doesn’t feel like I’ve accomplished much this week.

On Monday it was back to ballet... it was good, again, but the class seemed really slow and we only got away from the barre 10 minutes before the end of class, which demotivated me because my legs at the barre adage were SO low, and there was no time for grand allegro, which I love. But, Monday was successful in that for the first time EVER, I made fudge. Thanks to Candice’s recipe – hooray!

Tuesday evening we went to the church’s Discover Kurs, which is a course that covers the history of Christus Treff, and explains the various places in the church that one can get involved. It was fun and encouraging to see how much the church has going on in Marburg. As an icebreaker, we went into a room and pretended that the room is Germany and each had to go to the region in which we were born. Fortunately we weren’t the only ones who didn’t have a spot, there was a girl from Ireland too. 

Wednesday Malcolm did his presentation on his masters work and plans for his doctorate, which he says went well. I headed off to the Obenstadt to buy ballet shoes. I only brought my pointe shoes and Delcos because my comfy flats had holes and needed to be replaced anyway. My delcos worked for the last two classes, but they are so uncomfortable – especially because they have ribbon on, not elastic. So, new soft shoes that feel as comfy as socks = Hoorah! And then, on my way home, my mood was improved even more by seeing these pretty Christmas trees!

Thursday was pretty normal... though really cold. The town was covered in mist the whole day and it was like living in a cloud. There’s a temperature indicator up the road and at 11:30 it was 0degrees. Pretty cold. I finally went to the Zollamt to collect a parcel from Malcolm's parents - I wasn't sure if I would be able to collect it because it's in Malcolm's name, but it was problem free and I could get it, thank you!! Malcolm had a talk in the evening at the university which he found really interesting. He made it home without frostbite. Hoorah!

This weekend, we’re going on a “freizeit” for the Discover kurs... it’s just tonight till tomorrow evening, and I’m looking forward to it – making friends, Bible study, learning where we can volunteer and make our time here count. Okay and I'm looking forward to seeing a little outside of Marburg! 

Hope you all have a good weekend ahead! 

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Things I've learned about the cold

Since moving here, there’s been a lot to learn. Being a new wife, living in a new language and on a new continent, a total change in routine, new shops, new friends, being so far from our family. I’ve learned a lot in the past few months. I’ve learned the difference between “Ich bin langweilig” and “Mir ist langweilig”. But, in the last month, I’ve learned some things about the cold that I never knew before. Before the chorus sounds, yes, I know it’s going to get colder.

But seriously, I don’t think I’ve lived in an environment this cold before.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

-          Lip ice was invented for a purpose; my usual way of licking my lips when they’re dry makes icicles form.

-          One should wait a few hours between brushing ones teeth and going outside; as if the cold air isn’t bad enough, the minty freshness makes brain freeze a possibility.

-          Even if it’s sunny, it’s probably cold.

-          Gloves were invented for a reason... sure, it means I can’t actually feel that I’m holding Malcolm’s hand, but at least I’ll have fingers come Spring.

-          For safety reasons, scarves should be tucked into a jacket - or they may strangle you when caught on a rose bush.

-          Make sure no shopping is needed after dark – no milk is worth a walk in sub-zero temperatures.

-          Learn to love tea. Coffee alone will result in extra shaking and an inability to sleep.

-          There’s no shame in wrapping one’s face in a scarf.

-          Forget your “no brown with black” rule when getting dressed: survival is more important.

Your turn: Anything I should learn before it gets any colder? 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The weekend of...

There’s really nothing for me to hate about Mondays, seeing as all my days are very much the same. But, I have developed an aversion to the day because it means an early morning and, after the weekend, the day without Malcolm. But, I have a to-do list each day so that I actually get stuff done. Good weekends make it pretty hard though. 

On Friday evening we went with another PhD student and his wife from our building to Malcolm’s supervisor’s house for dinner. He picked us up and we spent the evening with Jorg and his wife and daughter. It was a really enjoyable evening – they’re very familiar with SA and PMB and it was fun chatting. The food was also really amazing... seriously. We were spoiled.

On Saturday morning we headed out and bought some Christmas decorations. A little early, maybe, but it’s been tempting for aaaaaages and we finally gave in. So, lights, candles, tinsel, baubles, and stockings. The stockings are fleece lined and malcolm’s are, strictly speaking, ‘thermohose’, but we chose practicality in this case and I’d much rather wear them than hang them on our non-existant-fire-place.

Then Malcolm went off to the train station and to Frankfurt. He met Petra there and had a whirlwind tour of a few things in the city. He also collected stuff that Mum had sent along – his suit, a fancy shmancy dress of mine, my laptop, and some treats from mum. Jelly beans, Astros, popcorn and mum’s homemade marmalade. The jelly beans are all gone and we made our first pot of popcorn... it was soooooo good. (thanks, mum!)

Saturday night after Malcolm got back we hung out having tea with the friends we made in the building, and on Sunday morning we walked to church with them... the ‘wandergruppe aus Richtsberg’. They showed us a different route to church which is longer but less muddy and the hills aren’t as steep. The afternoon we just hung out, watched youtube videos and movies, and finished the jelly beans.

So, pretty chilled weekend, and a chilly week ahead! 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Week Recap: endorphins

The fact that the only photo I took on my camera this week was of successfully made caramel-almond sauce should not be considered as an indication of how our week was.

Monday morning I went to meet Malcolm on campus and got to see inside the Chemistry building which was pretty cool, even though the building is not pretty at all. Unfortunately, I forgot my umbrella on the bus and needed to go about the rest of the day without one. Sharing bus shelters with those who cannot smoke, text and hold their umbrella means it gets pretty smoky in there. That evening I was shivering while getting ready to go out, and I thought back to how cold I used to think I was in winter. Waiting in the rain and wind takes “cold” to a new level. I was relieved when I arrived at the studio and it was heated. The class went pretty well and even though my legs were at 45degrees most of the time, it was SO good to be back. I did not miss fondues and the adage at the barre, but the turns and the grand allegro, getting to jump and leap across the studio made me really, really happy. The teacher is sweet and fun and the other girls were welcoming. There’s something about being in the studio that felt familiar. I'm SO thankful that Malcolm pushed me; if it weren't for him telling me to work on stretching last week and go back this week, I don't think I would ever have felt ready enough to go back. But, I was fine. And the endorphins were great too.

Malcolm got his fair share of exercise and endorphins this week too, though not voluntarily. The buses have been pretty lame and come quite late or not at all, or are full. Which means he walked a few times to the bus stop which is about a km through the forest – not too bad except when it’s really cold and rainy. Not looking forward to winter!

The rest of the week wasn’t very exciting- I’ve been having some bad headaches nearly every day, but I think it might be because of dehydration – how does one drink water when it’s so cold? And I’m tired of tea...

This weekend should be interesting... it starts with dinner tonight at Malcolm’s supervisors house, then he’s going to Frankfurt to Petra tomorrow to pick up some stuff mum sent with her. Other than that, I’m thinking hibernation. ;) 

I hope that you guys in SA are surviving the heat!!! 

Monday, 4 November 2013

The weekend of... hibernation temptation

I’m not entirely sure how civilisation blossomed up here in the North Pole Marburg because, really, it’s too cold to do anything. But, trying to fit in, we did do some stuff this weekend, despite our instincts to hibernate.

On Friday afternoon I went to see what goes on at the Kids Club which runs once a week for the kids in the area to learn about Jesus and have fun. It’s a great team that works there, and the project is really blessed. At one point I needed to stand and introduce myself to the kids and tell them a little about myself. When I told them I’m from SA I was met with gasps and the question “then why aren't you black?” and “what do you eat there?” and so forth. Apparently our country's tourism efforts are successful in creating a false image of our country. I think I may have been a bit disappointing to the kids, and I certainly felt rather fraudulent, but they were sweet anyway. When one child sidled up to me and asked “warum sprechts du so komisch?”, I even managed to find her cute and laugh it off. I think the kids asked what a lot of adults have wanted to ask, and I appreciate their inquisitiveness – how will they develop a faith of their own if they don’t ask questions and make sense of the world themselves?

Saturday was a whole lot less exciting. Some of you may have seen this picture on Instagram or Facebook... and let me say that had I done a time-lapse video, not much would have changed. 

side note : isn't this photo evidence that we should get a new camera? Sponsors? 
Malcolm was so diligent in working hard all day on a presentation he needs to give on his master’s work this week. I tried to be a domestic goddess and tackled the enormous pile of dishes and did our grocery shopping, though a lot of my time was spent in the chair next to Malcolm, reading. 
But, it pretty much made my day when I was out and ran into people we know up at the shops... having grown up in a small town, and PMB feeling like a small town too, constantly running into people at the mall or at the bank or wherever, coming across people I know has been one of the things I’ve missed the most since leaving. In Koln, I got so used to going out and not seeing anybody I knew, that it makes me SO happy to recognise people – somehow it makes it feel like we actually live here, like we belong a little, and makes it feel a little more like a home.

My day was also made by our skype chat to Malcolm’s parents. It was the first time since we got to Marburg that we had a clear line and no connection difficulties, and even though on our side we had no video feed and our screen froze, it was a great time chatting and catching up.

Sunday was a little busier. When we woke up, it was miserable and rainy and we were rather disappointed that we said we’d be somewhere other than our apartment. But, we put on our big girl and big boy pants and headed out into the Obenstadt. 

we haven't had a chocolate croissant since we got to Marburg, and sharing one made the cold a little more bearable. 

Up in the Obenstadt, we met up with other DAAD students who are studying in Marburg. We went for a tour of a few places in the centre of the Aldtstadt, and learned a lot about the town – from its origins to its existence as a pilgrimage destination, to its role in the Reformation, to the way the buildings were built (we also saw the house with the first toilet in town), to the purpose of stones jutting out of walls, to the reason the town hall’s lion looks like a monkey, and so on. It was really interesting and I just wish I could remember everything. 

Some of the paintings in the Alte Aula in the Old University Building. The pictures show the history of the town.

One of the two chandeliers in the Aula. 

The house where the Brothers Grimm lived in 1802-1803.

The sun eventually peeped out.

The Lutheran Church

After the tour, we went to the oldest coffee shop in town and got to know one another a little better there. It was cosy and warm and the cake, though we didn’t have any, looked delicious. We definitely plan on returning!

We eventually got home and then got ready to go out again. There’s a church service and coffee and cake gathering once a month in the cafe thing (called CenTral) for people up in this area that we went to. It was so nice to see people again and get to introduce Malcolm to some of the people I’d met at the homework club and the kids club this week. People had also brought cake, which was amazing – to them it might be ordinary, but to us everything still looks so exciting and interesting. The worship time was also really good, and it was a very blessed time for sure. Afterwards, after some more chatting, we eventually headed home. There was a welcome party happening later for new people at church, but we were so tired and had met so many people, that we just went home. It’s tricky getting used to the sun setting earlier now, because when we got home at 6pm, it really felt much, much later. But, Malcolm still had time for some more work, and then some chilling before bed.

I think we definitely made up for Saturday’s lack of excitement on Sunday! Now, I can hardly believe it’s already Monday AGAIN, and the butterflies in my tummy are in full flutter for ballet this evening! I hope you all have a wonderful Monday, and a great week ahead! 

Friday, 1 November 2013

Week recap

This morning I woke up with that song "Friday I'm in Love" by The Cure in my head, I did a sort of CanCan in bed before getting up. Why? You'll see!

So, as I said on Monday, I've been thinking about careers this week, what I actually want to do.
I remembered why I initially enjoyed dancing - it was a challenge and a sort of spiritual thing to me; something that I felt I sucked at that I needed to rely on God for. Shona would stop and pray with me in the middle of class when I was struggling. Class was often a prayer of "God, I need you". It didn't come all that naturally, and I do not have the ideal or typical dancer's body. Fortunately I inherited my mum's ligaments and starting at 14 was able to stretch and get pretty supple. Sometimes (okay, EVERY time I did that darn RAD Adv 2 ronds de jambe exercise) I asked myself why I was doing it. But I loved it. When I was teaching a class it wasn't always fun, but it left me fulfilled. And I think that's more important because life won't always be fun, and enjoying one's occupation isn't, in my opinion, as important as getting some fulfillment from it. So. Loooong explanation over, I want to teach ballet. That means first getting myself back into it and getting affiliated to a school. I haven't been to a new school since 2008 and was pretty comfortable there for 5.5years, and now I'm suddenly feeling some a lot of pressure! Which leads me to the rest of my week: a ridiculous (in my opinion) amount of ab-work outs and leg exercises. While I haven't miraculously lost 5kgs this week, I do feel stronger, and, with the help of God (who makes it possible) I will go to class on Monday, and work towards my dream. I'm patient, but determined. And I'm incredibly blessed with Malcolm who supports me completely - it was him that insisted that we cut costs elsewhere to pay for a class twice a week. I'm SO excited and SO nervous. Hence the morning CanCan.

So other than that, the week wasn't all that busy. On Tuesday afternoon I went to the homework club, and was so glad I could help some girls with their English and French homework. It was also great to meet more people from around here, and I'm trying really hard to learn names. That night we went to the SMD's Bible study again. We found ourselves in a group where only the leader was German and the rest of us were 2nd language speakers, which made it a rather interesting discussion which felt like a game of charades and fill in the blanks. But despite it taking ages to communicate what seems like a simple idea, it was a good time. We also finally met the other couple in our building who we keep getting told about.

They invited us on Wednesday to their apartment for a Reformation Day celebration. We hung out there and met some of their friends, had supper together, and then watched the movie Luther. It makes me so sad that Reformation Day is on the same day as Halloween, because Halloween seems to get a whole lot more attention, both positive and negative, than Reformation day - a day that celebrates one of the most significant events in history.

Our Halloween evening was rather quiet - Malcolm had been at a guest lecture at the physics department until quite late, while I hid out at home. Hiding? Yes. In SA Halloween isn't as big as most places, and though it isn't hugely celebrated here, I did hear that some kids here go trick or treating and throw eggs and stuff if they don't get sweets or aren't happy with them. Not wanting to be a victim, I pretended not to be home. When Malcolm got back we continued the hideout after he reported seeing a scary-looking kid in the lobby. Our door-bell didn't ring but we did hear some "whoooo-ing" in the corridors. (Is it weird that I'm still quite excited to have a door-bell? I think it's so cool, even though the buzzing noise it makes always startles me.

This morning we made attempt number 2 at changing my surname here, with no success. We still don't have our full marriage certificate, though mum is back home fighting hard for our cause. So until we have that, I can't do anything about it. It's no big deal, but it would be nice to finally get an ID and to change bank accounts, medical stuff, registration, electricity bills, library details, etc etc etc to Bartlett.

So our weekend shall involve Malcolm working on a presentation he needs to give about his masters work, and we'll see what else that's fun comes up!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!! :D