All Things Wireless & Letterpress

All Things Wireless & Letterpress

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Mission Accomplished: Installment Nr. 3

Die Mauer (the Wall), and a Sidebar History of Berlin.


Berlin has a tragic past, mostly owing to it being capital of not one, but several countries that tended to have unhappy histories.  To be sure, it had it's bright times.  But so the modern, post 1500's European history goes, so went Berlin.  Berlin was at one point a self governing free city on one side of the Spree.  Later it became the patron city of Dukes, Herzogs, and other local rulers.  It became the capital of Prussia.  It saw the enlightened despotism of Fredrick the Great (Onkel Fritz).  

It endured the occupation of Napoleon in the second decade of the 19th century.  It became the capital of the North German Union (Norddeutsche Bund, NDB) in 1868.  It became the Capital of a United Germany, the Deutsches Reich under today's tricolour in 1871, having absorbed the buffer Rheinland states after defeating France in the Franco-Prussian War (my great granddad fought under Bismark in that war.)  - plus signing an agreement with King Ludwig II of Bavaria, admitting that ancient Germanic country into the Union, yet retaining it's royal Family, self rule, and maintaining it's own army, currency, postal system, parliament and banners.  

Germany, and by extension the Capital Berlin, suffered huge losses during the First World War, singularly being held responsible for reparations incurred by all sides of that war, having it's iron, coal, and mineral regions stripped from her, having her army stripped from her, having had all powered aircraft banned from her by the League of Nations, and having a food blockade surrounding her ports until 1921, a full three years after Armistice, creating a deperate food shortage.  Berlin crumbled under the devastated economy, the Red Wave that suddenly overwhelmed the country, very nearly pushing it into the Red Soviet Bloc, her currency worse than worthless, a democratic post war government formed at Weimar, convening in Berlin, with almost no power to finance reconstruction because of the overwhelming war debt, factions tearing the whole societal order to pieces, being reduced to the barter system. We lost all our money at that time.  (Good thing my grandfather was playing in Germany's first popular Jazz Band, "Capella Malzheimer".  But that's another story.)

Then - the stock market crash, further forcing a devastated post war Germany to seek drastic measures for survival, creating the spawning ground for Nationalist Radicals such as the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) to win over an impoverished nation with promises of a return to the Glory of Germania, a "Thousand Year Reich". 
.



"Schlacht bei Tannenberg", WW1, my grandfather was awarded the Iron Cross here.

Then within twenty years another devastating war.  A Jewish genocide. A Holocaust. Another wholesale defeat, another complete disintegration of an economy, a societal and governmental breakdown, another complete loss of everything, all within a couple generations.  Another occupation by foreigners.  Defeat at the hands of the Soviets who exercised violent retaliation against the citizens of Berlin, most of whom were women and children.  My mother saw as the Soviets rushed to Hindenburg's tomb, where his body lie enbalmed, cutting off his head, mounting it on a pole and marching it through the streets of Berlin (as if Hindenburg, who died in 1934, really cared.  The citizens thought it was a rather bizarre thing to do.)

Then came the partitioning of Germany, and the partitioning of Berlin itself into French, British, American, and Soviet zones.   Since Eisenhower agreed to let Russia take Berlin, the USSR was given a full half of Berlin to occupy.  This mirrored the rest of Germany, where a full half of Germany Itself became a Soviet Zone, while the Western half divided between the French, British and American.  I lived there during the latter half of the  occupation.  My father worked for MI as an agent handler.  His field of operation: Berlin, mostly.



But the pressure on Berlin did not end there.  With West Berlin now finding itself an island of democracy in the middle of a Soviet Block Country, the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republick, the German Democratic Republic, fondly referred to as "East Germany"), the USSR backed satellite regime of East Germany, decided to close down all canal access, Autobahn, Rail and Air corridors into West Berlin in 1948, in an effort to lay a modern day siege to her citizens, forcing her capitulation to Soviet Control.  In short, they tried to starve West Berlin  into submission. For what reason?  

West Berlin used the West German Deutschmark!  It had greater purchasing power, and had greater stability.  The German DM helped to bolster a successful and growing West Berlin Economy, and that Deutschmark was recognised by banks the world over.  If they were forced to use the East German Mark, that would place West Berlin's economy in the hands of the DDR, effectively "easternizing" West Berlin for all intents and purposes.  It would literally kill the economic prosperity of West Berlin.  The DDR would lift the siege if the western Allied Nations withdrew the West German Deutschmark from West Berlin.  



 Berlin Air Lift, 1948: C-47 at Templehoff, from my private family photos.


 Berlin Air Lift, 1948: French Nord Atlas, from my private family photos.

This led to what is now known as the Berlin Air Lift, with Douglas Skymasters and big DC-47's risking soviet fighters to fly narrow air corridors into Templehof Air Port with provisions for the rescue of West Berlin!  Finally, after almost a year of siege, the DDR Soviets relented.  The photos above were taken by my Onkel Kurt, Luftwaffe, who joined the Reichsluftwaffe during the War, after the war was re-admitted into the Bundesrepublik's newly reconstituted NATO backed Luftwaffe at his original rank at the time of capture.  He retired in 1971, after 26 years total service.

Special surcharge of 2pf. to get mail into and out of Berlin during the Air Lift.


Oh, but it doesn't end there.  In 1961, without warning, Volkspolizei (VOPOs) closed all throughway between East and West Berlin.  Nobody was allowed in or out of East Berlin.  Overnight, layers and layers of razor and barbed wire pulled along the shores of the Spree, across Unter Den Linden, driving a wedge of separation between the East Occupation Zone of Berlin and the rest of Berlin, which is where we get the name West Berlin, actually.  You see, before the wall, while the Soviets did occupy the eastern half of Berlin, travel was permitted, just as it was between the American and British sectors or the British and French occupation zones.  The wall actually sealed the two halves of Berlin off from each other completely.  The Western Allied occupation zones of Berlin were already sealed off by the DDR at the city's western, southern and northern boundaries. Now it was further split in half.  It went up so quickly that families caught on one side or the other were stranded, unable to get back home, to family, to schools, to jobs.  VOPOs shot at anyone attempting to cross the layered barriers.  The outermost layers of the wall were masonry, built under arms, the workers guarded by armed VOPOs.

The wall finally came down, as all of the DDR dismantled in 1989, after forty-four years of Soviet occupation, and a completely redirected economy and society.  A full generation and a half.  

And through it all, Berlin remains Berlin.  She knows what it's like to have everything destroyed, families separated, killed, oppressive governments, foreign occupation, murder, genocide, dictators, &c.  While the generation alive today may have not personally experienced such, I believe it still resides in the social consciousness of Berlin.  I think that Angela Merkel, daughter of an East German pastor, has a sensitivity in this area.  Maybe this is why there has not been mass resistance to the recent refugee waves.  Perhaps it may be recognised that it was not too far back.... my parent's generation.... when we, too, lost everything and had to hit the road with everything we had in one "Koffer", and walk for days and weeks, dodging bombs, aerial strafing and experiencing the backs of those who could have helped, but did not. 

Today.
Today, the wall no longer cuts Berlin into halves.  Today you can pass under the Brandenburger Tor, and stroll down Unter Den Linden any time you wish.  My mother used to live just a couple blocks down from the Tor, in a section once known as "End 20".  She has some pretty cool stories about living there in the early 1940s.  During our time in Berlin I was able to revisit where I once stood fifty years ago, as a child of twelve.  It was interesting, but to spice things up even more, Tropical Storm Xavier hit right as we passed under the Tor, with seventy-plus mph winds at 49 degrees Fahrenheit!  Yow!  Here are some photos I managed to squeeze off during this visit:

.

The Brandenburger Tor.  What does it commemorate?  Well . . .  actually, it originally was built to mark the end of Unter Den Linden, the "Ost-West Axel", or the main East-West thoroughfare which terminates at the Victory Angel, the "Siegessäule", which actually does commemorate something. I think it's the victory over France, 1871.  But alas, we could not visit it because Xavier hit!!
 .


 Passing under the Tor - something I never dreamed I would ever do - sent a chill down my spine.  My last memory of this gate was what you see in the top photo, you could not even get close to the Tor, for the VOPO guards and military security presences, the Barbed Wire, the concrete "maze" which the checked-through traffic had to negotiate, the VOPOs sliding mirrors under the busses to make sure nobody was clinging to the undercarriages in efforts to escape.  Now, here I was, walking under the Tor, just as if there was never a wall.  Wow.  That's all I can say.

Ok, so we walk around where the wall once stood, where the houses that once butted up near the wall  zone had murials painted on them depicting escapes caught on footage in newsreels, then suddenly: 


Boom!  I think Juan's face says it all!  I was wearing a woolen sock hat, which peeled off  my head like invisible fingers rolled it off, and blew it at seventy mph across a lawn area!  Thanks, Chris, for diving after that hat!  Man, it was below fifty degrees!
 .


We were all pretty much caught by surprise!  Folks on the sidewalks were looking around themselves with a "WTH??" look, and these two folks in the middle of the street we going lickety split to get out of there.  Somehow that crane in the background stayed up!  But large metal signage was torn off the tall buildings and came crashing down to the street, one very nearly hitting Bette, one of our team members!  
.


Yeah, just try to hold that camera still, Mate!  We actually had no idea this was Tropical Storm Xavier, neither did we know such a storm was even in existence!  In one thousand years of Berlin History, this was the first such storm to ever hit Berlin!  And we were there just in time for a ringside seat!
 .



This was a common sight.  Had these bikes not been chained, they would have gone airborne!  Xavier took out all surface transit systems, forcing us to use the U-Bahn system which was not meant to carry the crowd that poured into the underground stations!
.


If this gives you an idea, the rows were six to seven persons deep.  That station normally sees maybe a two persons deep crowd at the worst.  It was an insane scene, and each train that pulled up was equally stuffed with people.  We managed to negotiate by taking a train the opposite direction, getting off at a station that didn't have as many folks, and then taking a return U-Bahn to our destination.  It was still overstuffed, but we got aboard!
.


One of the buildings with the murals.  This was a famous image, a VOPO, caught on film by a National Geographic Photographer who just happened to be filming the wall construction.  This VOPO looked this way, then that way, then slinging off his firearm, he skipped and hopped over the barriers (they were low, still being constructed - he knew he had only that moment to take advantage of the situation!)  
 .


Ross and Juan pose by a wall remnant.  This was taken only seconds before the wind hit.  It was a bizarre day, to say the least.  I found out it was actually a named tropical storm the next morning!
.


We sheltered in at the Wall Memorial Museum.  This was part of a video showing a boy... my age at the time I was there... watching the VOPOs guarding the wall construction crews as they slowly wall off his world.  Right after this I was told by an attendant that photography was verboten because all these images are copyrighted.  All the while everybody in the room was taking photos.  Go figure.
.



Another all too familiar image.  An East Berlin mom is passing her baby over to a West Berlin relative, probably an aunt, so that her child might have a shot of growing up in the west, and not under a Communist Socialist State.  I have these images burned into my mind, and they surface here in the States when I hear folks talking up Socialism.  Yeah.  It's so wonderful they had to build a wall to keep folks from escaping the wonderfulness.
 

 The Point.

What was the point of this Installment, and why is it included in "Mission Accomplished"?   Maybe it's because I felt a need to explain why I have such a connect with Berlin and Germany.  But more:

As we toured the Kaiser Wilhelms Memorial Church in Berlin,  Pastor Juan remarked his amazement of what Berlin, and indeed what the whole of Germany has gone through, in particularly the past century.  He had no idea!  And indeed, most folks in the West today do not.  To get a true glimpse, even a fleeting one, of any people, we must know something about where they have been to know where they are now.  It is true with the Refugees, and it is also true of  Berliners, and indeed, Germany itself.

You can check out everything I've narrated against your own sources, I may be a little off on details.  A lot of what I know comes handed down from generation to generation in my family.   What I have attempted is to build a larger impression.  

Berlin is an amazing city.  Berliners are an amazing people.  Pray for a great awakening of these people to the truth of the Word that Dr. Martinus Luther strove so heavily for, 500 years ago!

*   *   *   *   *   *   

Well, that's it for this installment.  A little history narrative, I hope it was beneficial, and may provide some insight.  Obviously there will be more installments!

Stay tuned.
 

Mission Accomplished: Installment Nr. 2





We enjoyed each other!  This must be clearly understood for anything truly wonderful to manifest.  The Fellowship of the Saints is a supernatural thing, and this was, indeed, a supernatural experience.  (thanks for the line, Charles Dickens!) 

Some of us stayed with the Phenecies at their home in Pankow.  Some stayed at the Lighthouse itself, which has all necessary facilities, showers, &c.  We had breakfast at our respective lodgings, but joined together soon thereafter.  Almost always we ate together.  When we had time, we went out into the neighborhood together.  We prayer walked. We ate together at the local restaurants, or more frequently, ate dinner at the Lighthouse: Cheryl is an awesome cook!  Cheryl and Darrell have over 37 years background working in the Syrian culture, they know the folks they work with.  They are fluent in the language.  And we were treated to a lot of Middle Eastern cuisine. We also visited local middle eastern "Stuben", local eateries owned and staffed by people from the Palestine/ Syria/ Lebanon region.  It was great, and the people were awesome.  And by golly, as I noted their clientele, almost half of the folks waiting in line, in the rain, at 52 degrees Fahrenheit, were the local Berliner Einwohnern! ( the Berlin "locals") 

 We were introduced to what is currently popular by way of music and dance in Syria and environs by one of the Lighthouse team members.  I made a short clip of some of the folks  in our group learning one such popular Palestinian dance, which looked like a whole lot of fun, and not too simple footwork.  In fact, a lot of the dancing I witnessed reminded me of Riverdance, believe it or not!   This is one such clip.  I hope it loads and plays properly!

video

Middle East Impact upon Berlin.

No Societal expert here, but I have made a point to observe a few things relative to the Berliner "day-to-day", their "Alltage", and attempted to compare this to what I remember of Frankfurt a. Main and Munich back in the 1960s, when I lived there.  I was surprised at a number of things which can clearly be attributed to the influence of the Middle Eastern  inhabitants.  One example is the Iconic Berliner "Currywurst".  The name itself should be a give-away.  This, from what I heard, actually has it's roots in the cold war, along with another Berliner Icon,  the Döner, or more properly, the Döner Kabob.   Every street corner downtown has a Currywurst or Döner stand, or 'Imbiss'.

.

Currywurst, to me, tasted sort of like a larger Vienna Sausage (hello, "Wiener"?), only served with "Rot u. Weiss", or "red and white".   And just what was this red and white??  Why, good ol' Ketchup and Mayo!!   Now, the particular stand I got my Currywurst at did not automatically give you the mayo, you had to pay extra for the little packets - which we get free as a condiment in the United States, but must pay for here.  Yes, gang, you pay for those little packets!  Anyway, what did my 1960's era German Background tell me?   

Wow.  70 years of US occupation in West Berlin really left an impact!  Ketchup and Mayo were considered rather disgusting when I was a kid.  We would have it at school lunch, an American School for US military, Emabassy, and Diplomat kids, so we had a real cultural mix.  The German kids and teachers really had their opinions about Ketchup and Mayo.  Frankly, I am not a big fan of it myself.... but wow!  My CW (Currywurst) comes literally slathered in Ketchup.  That, friends, is a quantum change in German Cultural Taste!

They slice your Currywurst up for you, too!  It does not come automatically whole, on a bun, but I have seen it come that way.  I prefer the way I get it on Kurfurstendamm, the main downtown strip, all sliced up, and with a fork.  Oh, and the artwork on some of these Currywurst stands are crazy:
.



If you do a close-up of the paintings here, you might have some questions about what you see portrayed.  Berlin has a very high tolerance for alternative lifestyles, as reflected on the painting that surrounds "Fritz & Co."'s Currywurst Imbisstube.  Hetero couples, Gay couples, Trans/ drag couples... yup.  All are portrayed in what looks like Bob Montana's comic book styling.  Do you recall Archie Comics?  That's Bob Montana.  I half expected to see Betty and Veronica on one of the sides, with Jughead and Archie on the other.  Heh.   We were working in what is known as "The Triangle", the Schöneberg-Nollendorf area, the oldest Gay community in the world.  Our street is Motzstrasse, home of the largest gay-parade in the world.  It is also ground zero for arts, music, and literature.  Marlene Dietrich got her start here.  My grandfather played the cabaret circuit in this area.  Movies are filmed on location here.  And I had an unusual fondness toward this triangle, prayer walking it as often as possible.  These people who live here are "echt Super".  And like everyone else, they are looking for identity, love, friendships, and a human touch.  Not unlike the Refugees.  Only, they look to the world to satisfy what only God Himself is able to do.

I get that.  I was there, once.

Ok, here is another type of Currywurst stand, a bit more conventional:
 .


I had to get that Kurfürstendamm street sign in there.  Back when the wall was still up, "Ku-damm" was representative of all that was progress in the Western World.  The large shopping complex/ building "KaDeWe", was a National Symbol of a western commercial beacon in a dark, Eastern Block world.  KaDeWe means "Kaufhoff des Westens", or "Shopping Center of the West".  I do not think today's generation gets the import or iconic and historical value of KaDeWe, but I sure remember.  We even bought post cards featuring it back in the day.  It was one of the "Sehenswurdigkeiten", or "Sights to See" in Berlin back in the 1960s.
 .



Back on the subject of Middle East influence on Berlin, here are a few scenes from the street of small shops that commonly dot the Schöneberg/ Nollendorf, and other Berlin side streets:
 .




These storefront displays feature not only conventional Northern European fare, but also Middle Eastern foods.  I photographed these because I know they are owned by Arab/ Middle Eastern owners and are staffed accordingly.  I observed the clientele, which was very mixed.  Germans love exotic things, which makes it no surprise that these shops thrive here.  That last photo is from an open air food market, much of which is, in fact, Eastern or eastern influenced.  The very presence of Curry on Currywurst attests to this.  The man in the foreground is eating a Currywurst on a bun.  When they do a bun, at least from what I saw, almost half the wurst sticks out on either side!  I guess they just like it that way.  The presence of a "Coney Bun" in Germany is a very American thing.  You did not purchase Coney Buns in your local Neckermann in Germany of 1965!  Any American food back then came from the US Military PX or Commissary.

And then there's the . . . 

.

Ok, I'm gonna guess Greek, here, but from what I have read, it actually not only comes from a middle eastern influence, but was also introduced to Berlin by an American Army Dependent Housewife!   I think she was from Turkey by birth.  The shaved meat reminded me a little of a Gyros.  But no, it is definitely a middle-eastern item, and is very, very popular in Berlin.  It's actually a type of pocket sandwich, and it's really great, especially with a
.


Schultheiss!  This is a Weissbier, I think.  It is locally brewed.  We passed by the brewery every day on the U2 from Pankow to Nollendorf Platz.  I think it's before you get to Potsdammer Platz.   Ok, the jig is up.  Yours truly loves a good German or Irish brew.  Good beer, I insist, is proof positive that God loves men.  (vid Friar Tuck, the Men of Lincoln Green) A good cigar, likewise.   One heckuva lot healthier than Coke and a candy bar!!  But I digress....


The Point
Ok, so what's the point of this segment?  It was something that was said to me while I was there.  Something about the refugees not being particularly welcomed, which I can understand.  A country and a City that is still trying to regain it's "sea legs" after three generations of Soviet Oppression, being divided in half, and having the walls come down, instead of the west going into the east to rebuild the infrastructure, the east literally fled to the west... as if the wall was going to go back up!   It drove the unemployment sky high, and rocked the German economy!  Only now are they stabilizing, and it is at this point that Germany is absorbing a huge influx.  So I get that.  But....

Germans are doing what I have always known them to do.  Make it work somehow, and they do so by adapting.  By taking in new things.  It may not be always what they want, but they do what they need to do.  And from what I see of the locals patronizing these obviously middle eastern shops and stores, I'd say that by and large, things are moving right along.  But the way of the Refugee, and the status of the Refugee, is nonetheless tenuous, debilitating, and discouraging.  This condition does have one silver lining:

It makes the refugee look outside of his or herself.  It makes them to look beyond their own world, and into a new and strange world.  It makes them to see others not like themselves holding out a hand of help and, where possible, friendship.  And it makes them ask questions they otherwise would never ask.

That is why we were there.  To answer.

Thus concludes installment Nr. 2.  Stay tuned!


Waiting for the U2.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Mission Accomplished! Installment Nr. 1

ARRIVAL!



Finally, after a major rescheduling from June, October 1 arrived, and we finally left for Berlin!  We departed from MIA on Monday afternoon on Air Berlin, and flew through the night, arriving at Düsseldorf am Rhein the next morning, laying over for a connecting flight to Berlin Tegel.  After arriving in Berlin, going through customs, getting our baggage, catching a bus, taking the U-Bahn, we made it to our destination: the Berlin Lighthouse.

Our immediate purpose as a mission team was to partner, assist and facilitate. The purpose of the Lighthouse itself is to serve as an assistance, counseling, and educational venue aimed at helping Syrian and other M.E. Refugees in negotiating the arduous process of admittance and assimilation. Having endured the tragic circumstances which forced their refugee status, loss of family and loved ones, loss of home and possessions, loss of profession, job, being denied security and safety, indeed many fearing for their lives, they arrive from several directions, from west and east of the Adriatic, through Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, alternately from north Africa, across the Med, through Italy.... facing delay, separation or even deportation with every crossed border. They are taken advantage of and often defrauded of what little money they may have, in their attempts to reach a final destination. Rarely they are welcomed, always being eyed with suspicion.  When admitted, these people are placed in concentrated housing and permitted a minimal stipend.  They are permitted a period of time to learn the language, to learn skills if needed, and to find a Job.  Failure to achieve all metrics set before them initiates deportation processes.

In Germany, the law requires a specific knowledge and fluency with the language in order to have any job at all, making Deutschkurse, German Courses, essential.  As such, a man who has a family must deal with several bureaus, or "Ampts" regularly, plus attend classes, plus provide for his families needs in a foreign land, plus make sure his kids are secure in their schooling, which is permitted to those holding refugee status.  It is essential these children are successful in adapting to and adopting their new country and culture, which is wholly and entirely different from whence these refugees came. The sooner these kids adapt, feel accepted, feel confident, make friends, and find their way socially into their new world, the lower the threat of radicalization. 

The challenges facing these people, the families in particular, are almost insurmountable.  The very family unit itself is prone to collapsing  under the pressure, and in many cases, have.  

Our job involved helping to prepare the Lighthouse to receive guests and visitors, all of whom are, of course, Muslim,  for the various offerings of the Light House.  Craft activities, German (two levels) and English classes, meet and greet, counseling, and providing a social environment where people can meet each other are among the many facets of the Berlin Lighthouse, established by Darrell and Cheryl Phenicie.  

Click here to read their Blog. 
.


The Lighthouse is supported by CMA under the agency of the Missions-Allianz Kirche Deutschland, the MAKD, which are in turn, funded by individual CMA member churches.  They receive no Federal subsidies from the Bundesregierung (Kirchensteuer, or Federal Church Tax).  As such, they are no burden to the German economy, which is recognised.  

Many of our guests spoke excellent English and German.  As such, we were able to engage many in conversation, fielding many questions as to who we are, and why we are concerned for them, enough to fly over from America.  Many are interested in the motives that drive our concern and care.  

These activities kept us occupied for ten full days.  We touched them, but even more, they touched us.  These men, women, and children provided faces and names, eyes to look into, hearts to touch, hands to hold.  I will never be the same.  And many things that loomed so important back in the States faded by comparison.  It is no longer a Left wing / right wing issue, not a conservative / liberal thing.  The situation at hand is a Human situation.

It is in this environment that we engaged.

.

Of course, we were assisting workers who were already there (Hallo, Kelly, Scott u. Lubna!  Es freut mich ganz sehr euch kennen zu lernen, y'all!! )   I think who really grabbed my heart were the grade-school kids.  These little guys and gals, especially between ages 7 - 13, attend "Grundschule", German grade school.  These kids are, thankfully, very conversant in German.  English is good, but German is critical.  Before they ever learn English, they must do well in German, and they do!  I could engage the kids at a fairly basic level, and talk with them about their interests, how they were doing in school, their fav subjects, &c., and they could ask me questions. Of course, their parents spoke to them in their native language.  German comes somewhat harder for the adults.  Case and point:

When I was providing music for "Family Day", I took a break, and as I was setting the guitar down, there were a group of ten or twelve year old boys standing nearby, looking at the keyboard and the classical guitar I was using.  I said to one "Ach, so!  Geht es dir gut?"  (So, are you doing well?)  - suddenly all their eyes grew wide!  "Oh, du spricht deutsch??" came the response.  

"Ja, oine biss'l " ( "yes, a little", in a heavy, heavy Bavarian accent.) ...I responded.  It was my auto-response, out my mouth before I knew it.  They giggled.

Suddenly, they were all around me. 


Usually, those who are in attendance and many of the functions are predominately women and children, as the men are out doing those things they must, which occupies them entirely, and the older kids are in school for a good part of the day.  We were able to help out providing projects and fun stuff for the kids, so that the moms could have time with each other, and time for counseling or classes or just plain fellowship with us and among themselves.


The really little kids were doll babies!  Oh my gosh, this little gal just wanted to sit in Cindy's lap!  Because of the superimposed family dynamics, owing largely to current circumstance and to some degree to cultural dynamics, the kids really crave attention.  We were able to be an extension of the workers already there to help give that attention, especially during a special "Family Day", which included live music (provided my myself and Anne Fraune, who is a recording and performance artist / vocalist / musician.  Wow.  I got to share a stage with Anne Fraune!) -also, games / Fußball (soccer) for the kids, food, fellowship, it was amazing.  In fact, Saturday's Family Day had record attendance, because we were there.  Because YOU, dear contributor, made it possible for us to be there!  The above and most of the following photos were taken during "Family Day", or "Familientag".

.

Of course, what activity-day would be complete without Fußball?  The most international sport on planet earth!







For those of you familiar with Berlin, the backdrop here in these photos is none other than Viktoria-Luise Platz, which is sometimes also used as a movie backdrop. 

I mentioned Anne Fraune, who also records as Annesuu.  Those of you who follow me on FaceBook probably already know I am a huge Schlager fan.  Now, it's not that Anne is a Schlagerin (Schlager singer) - in fact, she's more a jazz vocalist and instrumentalist - but wow, her voice and vocal styling is amazing!  I hear a touch of Elle Endlich here, in fact.  Anne attends, I believe, the International Kirche in Berlin, and is part of their music ministry.  She also volunteers her time at the Lighthouse as a German teacher.  

I had the privilege of sharing venue with Anne, and made a short video clip as she played my break:
.

video

Thus concludes my first installment.  

There was more to this trip for me, which I will share in subsequent installments, involving the German People themselves.  As an Ami-Deutscher, German family, born on a US military installation stateside, yet living my most formative years in southern Munich with German Family, I see these people as my bone and flesh.  I believe Jesus had a purpose for me to be here that reached beyond the Lighthouse, onto the street, and into the Nollendorf "Triangle", and to points beyond.

More to come.  Stay tuned!