Monday, September 29, 2008

danke shoen, darling danke shoen

I am back from a whirlwind weekend trip to Berlin for my good friend Andrea's wedding. It's crazy that it's easier (and cheaper) to travel to Germany from here on a 2-hour flight than it was to get from Atlanta to Houston in the states! I took Joanna, one of the young people from Fitzroy who is also close to Andrea, and we had a fantastic time. I went a little crazy taking pictures--I hope you enjoy them!

-Experiencing the joy of a German wedding as Andrea and Tilman got married. The reception lasted for hours and hours and was comprised of speeches, food every couple of hours, skits by friends of Andrea and Tilman, live music, a video made by the bride and groom and lots and lots of dancing. People take time celebrating in Germany, and instead of rushing through it, take the time to really honor the couple and what they have together.

-Andrea and I were good friends in Belfast when we both last lived here, and seeing her again was surreal and wonderful. It was so great to be a part of such a special day and to slip into our old patterns of humor after such a long time apart.

-Seeing Larissa again, who was also in Belfast when I was last here. Her, Joanna and I had the most fun exploring the city together, eating Haagen Dazs ice cream and dancing at the wedding.

-Rainbow-colored light splashing the walls with vibrant hues.

-A tiny Villeroy & Boch logo on the tiles of the subway. I have no idea why it was there, but think it might mean the tiles are made by them. I immediately thought of my Mother and Grandmother, who love Villeroy & Boch china. If they were with me, they might have tried to take a tile home with them! :)

-Walking the streets and playing on a huge water pump (which was thankfully dry).

-Going to Checkpoint Charlie and seeing remnants of the Berlin wall and art, stories and acts of bravery inspired by resistance against it.

-Reading amazing stories about courageous everyday people who resisted the division of Germany. One story was written above this bag explaining that a woman whose child was not permitted on her side of the wall smuggled him across in this actual bag covered with a cloth. The picture of the two of them smiling once they reached the other side taught me of how resisting division is a joyful act. Every picture of families using homemade hot air balloons, tunnels and crates to cross the wall showed people smiling brightly and facing daunting odds bravely because they were driven by love and family.

-The lovely sights of Berlin sweeping past me as I rode the train.

-Lovely domed buildings with warm sunlight shining on them.

-I always find that trees look differently in each country I've been to, and German trees have really dark, smooth trunks with shimmery sage green leaves. So beautiful.

-The ceiling of a church entrance covered in intricate and holy carvings.

-Seeing the famous gate of Berlin that used to be such a symbol of oppression and now has people freely flowing through it.

-Fall is in full bloom already in Berlin, and everywhere walls were adorned with bright leafy vines.
-A swirly and whimsical staircase with beautiful daffodils (I think) decorating it.

-It's wierd, but buildings actually seem taller in Berlin than anywhere I've been. I loved the layered walls with narrow paths between them.

-Going to a tiny Anne Frank museum that was hidden away down a graffiti-covered alley. It was painful to see the images and hear the stories, but so important.

-Seeing the first baby picture of Anne Frank.

-Looking at what I think is a facsimile of Anne Frank's diary. There is such power in words--especially hers.

-Reading old newspapers proclaiming the end of the Nazi regime and trying to understand the feeling they captured and the hugeness of that moment.

-Walking through bricked pathways with Joanna and looking at all of the lovely scarves and what is called "bric a brac" in Ireland. I ended up bartering with a man selling all sorts of random things in the street for a lovely little bright green wind-up clock. It's exactly what I was looking for, keeps perfect time, ticks soothingly and even says "made in Germany" in tiny print on the face.

-Shopping in a bead shop with Joanna and finding a gorgeous large sunflower bead which I had attached to a clasp to make it a pin for my coat. I also found a couple of beautiful beads for my friend Jessi who makes jewelry (you'll get them in a couple of weeks, Jessi!).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'm off to Berlin for the weekend for my friend Andrea's wedding, so I'll be sure to blog when I'm back on Monday with pics from Berlin. Have a great week! Whit

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

my wee house

Hello! Here are a few pictures of my house in Belfast. I really love it. Miss you all. :) Whitney

Front door

My little reading area in my room :)


My bed/table

The bathroom

The kitchen (where all the magic happens)

Monday, September 22, 2008

look after

-Edward in the charity shop asking about my call (female ministers are a new thing for him) and listening respectfully as I shared my story. Then, when we finally got around to why I was in the shop, he found two lamps that were exactly what I was looking for and gave them to me for only 5 pounds, saying "we have to look after each other in ministry."

-An ice-cream cone from a 105-year-old ice cream shop.

-The thrill of receiving a call from Ash and Clay on Skype (while I had brief internet) and hearing their voices and Natalie's enthusiastic musings in the background.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

hands on

-Having hands layed on me and hearing the whole congregation singing "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" behind me as I was commissioned for my work at Fitzroy.

-How leading youth in a discussion or activity just makes me feel like myself.

-Being greeted as I left the church by Gemma, a girl I worked with at Mornington years ago. She came up and said, "Aren't you called Whitney? Didn't you used to work at Mornington?"

-Mom saying she missed and loved me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

old and new

-The sights, smells, sounds and tastes of St. George's Market. It was also nice to be there with a good friend and run into old ones.

-Having a barbecue with Jonee and Jason and including our neighbors and some of their friends. Everything from buying a grill for 5 pounds to eating was full of laughter, banter and "good craic."

-Watching the Romanian children dance at Frenzy (the children's club on a Friday) and thinking that this was part of why I was called here. I even saw three of them on the street the next day and they were so excited to see me and asked when they could come back to Fitzroy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

and so it begins...

-Enjoying my first day of work, especially the part where Chris and I went for coffee to discuss Bible studies and the youth.

-Going to the Queen's Film Theatre with Jonee to see The Duchess. I love British period films because they often remind me of buildings and scenery here. It was a great feeling to recognize a building style and know that as soon as I left the theater I would see it in the buildings of Belfast. I also really enjoyed coming out of the cold into cozy, oversized red theater chairs with a warm cup of creamy hot chocolate in my hand.

-Being given a fantastic little portable bike by a member of the church so I can make my way around town quicker. It's really fun and quirky.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

wireless wonder

By some miracle, I seem to get sporadic wireless access in my room! So, here's some glimpses from the last wee while:

-The first glimpse of Ireland from the plane.

-Walking along the rocky seashore and feeling the crisp air and looking out on the ocean with the surreal notion of which side of it I'm on.

-Vibrant yellow lichen-covered rocks.
-A lovely sunny day spent catching up with Jonee and Jason.

-Staying with Heather and enjoying her hospitality and family. Standing in the kitchen, washing mud off of potatoes and watching the soothing rain, I felt very much a part of the place.

-Watercolor-hued hydrangeas dotted with fresh rain.