Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A bit of Routine

Breakfast weekdays starts at 8:30 after the Bewohneren go to the workshop. After that we start morning chores which includes laundry and cleaning just about everything. Sometimes someone goes shopping etc. Then from around 1 to 4 we have a break. The Bewohneren come back around four and we have Kaffee und Kuchen Zeit. Then its whatever is needed until dinner. I mostly Spaziergang machen with Lena, Sophie, and/or Fieke. Recently just with Fieke. She is Blind but loves music...shes singing all the time (even when we should have some quiet time) Most recently its been “8 Days a Week” by the Beatles and “Empire State of Mind” by JZ and Alicia Keys (because I'm from New York, Süß na?) She only recently has been able to come up with my name...I'm still new you know. After dinner we have evening prayers together as a house and then bed, generally around 9ish if we can. I'm only starting to help out with bed time and it'll be a while before I start doing wake up Dienst(which is pretty early so I don't mind. Starts around 6 and gets the Bewohneren up and ready for work.). After everyone's in bed we do some end of the day tiding up, set the table for breakfast and then

Saturdays and Sundays are different and things change. Sundays we split up and some of us go the Catholic Church and the others go the the Evangelical Church. I've gone to the Catholic Church both Sunday's I've been here. There are two Priests (who's names I don't have down yet) one is ethnic German and the other is from India, both are good friends of die Arche. This past Sunday the German priest had quite an interesting homily. He called out the Church's hierarchy. He talked about how Jesus saw us all as equal, that we should treat each other as equals, yet there are great divides between us. He ended by asking us “If Jesus came to us today, what would he say about the Church.” The next evening I was in the Evangelical Church with some of the Bewohenern for Reformation Day....cute right? But it was a good experience, they have a fabulous choir. It was also a good bye service for their Pastor who was called to another church. At the end of it they played “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python's Life of Brian...I hope my boy Eric Idle picked up some royalties... it was pretty awesome.

Note: Names have been changed to protect the wonderful folks I live and work with :D

Monday, 24 October 2011

First Few Days

Ok...its Monday and this morning I had frei (free) so I went exploring Teckels on my own. I have since my first night gone on a few little walks (Spaziergang) with the Bewohnern and Chirstina my lovely Romanian housemate. She has been very helpful at explaining the ins and outs of die Arche to me while I wait for my official orientation and anmelden in Tecklenburg tomorrow with the volunteer coordinator for our Gemeinschaft.

I feel like I have already gone through all the emotions / up and down feelings that we talked about in orientation. From Honeymoon to asking “what am I doing here.” so now that that is all out of the way I can get to work right? Haha. Its been an adjustment for sure. I have been in Europe officially for a week today and its my third full day in Teckels. I enjoy being immersed in German but I do get frustrated when I have to ask someone to repeat themselves more than once or I can't explain something myself. (Its hardest when I want to tell a joke and it comes out wrong/too slow/i get really puzzled looks) My break today was good because I got time to put things into perspective write a sad poem in my journal and move on.* I also got a chicken sandwich at the Backstube. It was frozen I'm sure but I haven't had chicken in a while so it was nice. One of the weekend assistants is Vegan and a good cook...I can't believe how much I enjoyed the tofu dinners we had...but sometimes you just need some cooked animal flesh.

The other night we watched the Chronicles of Narnia. I made popcorn on the stove top that was just ok but everyone said was really good. It was a great night and I felt like I found a niche in the group (even if its popcorn lady), but I still have a lot to learn (ich sage immer, "Ich lerne noch.") I have yet to do a real full days Service and find my groove aber so weit so gut (but so far, so good).

I have Dienst (service) this evening which means I help set up for Kaffee und Kuchen and Abendbrot (dinner...but quite literally its just evening bread) and then we have a prayer circle. I don't know the songs yet but I'm learning. Last night there was a student prayer service in Münster that I went to with some of the Bewohnern and Assistants that was a similar deal. Lots of songs (many in English, go figure) and a few readings. It reminds me of Hunter's justice prayer group at Canisius :D

*no poetry was actually written see this link for more explanation:

Friday, 21 October 2011

I made it!

This morning I woke up in a little attic bedroom with fresh flowers on my night stand and my half unpacked, monster of a suitcase on the floor. I'm in Tecklenburg baby, and I'm here for two years (provided: a. they let me stay and b. I can hack it auf deutsch). Teckenburg says its a Stadt (city) but its really a Dorf (village) So far I have only seen it in the dark so I have nothing to report there except there is a school next to our house. There are three houses in this Arche Gemeinschaft. The first big house, the Apfels, the second house, the Bodels, und wir in the third house, are the Campers (süß das es A,B,C ist).

I arrived here from Geneva after three days with the legendary Krisin Flroy. I loved our visit/ European orientation. Geneva has a great international flair owing in part to it being the seat of the European UN. It is mostly french speaking, but you hear smatterings of German, English, Spanish, Turkish, Japanese etc. on the trams (or just around Kristin's office). Its also a very friendly place. Everyone smiles and says “Bonjour” on the streets. The lake is beautiful, especially on a clear day (we had one :D) when you can see the mountains in the distance. One night Katarina and I went exploring on our own and (after getting a little turned around in a mall of all places) ended up just sitting on a bench by water, listening to it lap, the swans yapping at each other, and the people passing by.

On our last full day it rained (boo) but we were inside for the worst of it. In Kristin's office we went over other details about our upcoming projects and watched some videos that past volunteers had made (as well as official ones from the projects themselves). There weren't any on die Arche in Germany but we watched some l'Arche Belfast videos and I got all psyched up. After that we went to the UN to meet up with Kristin's husband, a journalist with an office there. He gave us a very nice private tour and tolerated the silly pictures we took in chairs we probably shouldn't have sat in. Outside the main building is a monument to Woodrow Wilson, who's League of Nations originally meet in Geneva (down by the lake). We ended the day with traditional Fondue in a cozy place called Cafe du Soleil. There are all kinds of rules for eating it properly, including one where if you drop the bread in the pot you get thrown into the lake...oops!

After a full day on the trains, changing in Hannover (Lena's hometown) I arrived in Ibbenbüren. I was meet on the platform by members of my house and an assistant from A House. After driving into Tecklenburg everything is a blur because I was exhausted. I was introduced to a lot of assistants and Bewohnern and shown to my room where I collapsed. I live ganz oben in the house with another volunteer. She has been here for a year already. We have a kitchenette and a bathroom just for us up here which is very nice.

Today I am "frei" which means I dont have any work to do...kind of a recover/observe day. I'll be worked into the regular rotation soon (I hope) ich lerne noch....