Archive for May 31st, 2009

Bad Pyrmont, Germany

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Evelyn Gossen and Simon Kolle, both from Bad Pyrmont, Germany, spent last year in central Ohio as exchange students. They lived with families from our church, went to school with my younger siblings, and became involved in my youth group. Before they returned home I (David) told them of my plans to be in Germany this spring, and told them I would try to visit them. They both seemed quite excited to have me visit their area of the world, and when I emailed Simon about the possibility of meeting up with them after our trip actually started, I quickly understood that they would do everything in their power to make our jaunt to Bad Pyrmont be as enjoyable as possible.

We had to overcome some travails in finding Simon’s house, but we arrived just in time to go to his youth group’s Bible study with him. We made him late, and as we were on our way, Simon’s sister Anna-Lena? Called to say everyone was waiting for us to arrive. We arrived at the church and introduced ourselves and tried to remember everyone’s names (without success). Before the Bible study we ate a meal of hamburgers (American-style as Simon called them). They were delicious and they kept bringing out more and more of them. They had cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, dried onions, ketchup, and “hamburger sauce” to dress up the burgers even more. I found it interesting that the hamburger sauce proclaimed itsself as being “American” and had a picture of the Statue of Liberty on it, but I have never seen any such sauce in the US.

After supper we started Bible study off with a time of worship. About half of the songs in their chorusbook were in English so we sang mainly English songs. They have a cajon, a wood box that you sit on and hit to make drum noises, and Simon insisted that I play it. (He remembered that I would always bring my djembe, an African hand drum, to Bible study back home.) After singing and a long period of sharing, Simon talked about David and Goliath. Evelyn translated the message for us to help us understand what was being said.

After Bible study the youth group decided they should take us up to the Spelunkerturm, a tower overlooking Bad Pyrmont and show us the lights of the city. It allowed us to further connect with the youth group and hear more about their lives and town in which they live. We learned that Bad Pyrmont is a popular retirement community because it has springs of natural mineral water that “is good for the blood.” We joked that their tower was much more impressive than the Eiffel Tower that we had just visited and that Bad Pyrmont is much more impressive to see than Paris. After getting down from the tower we drew manes out of a hat to determine which two of us would spend the night at Simon’s house and who would stay at Evelyn’s house. Dan Ziegler and I ended up at Simon’s while the others went to Evelyn’s. Evelyn’s father, Walter, told us that Simon’s father, Bernhard, had heard a noise from our car and suggested we check it out. We had been wanting to have a mechanic check out our car anyhow, so we agreed. Walter said he would call his mechanic in the morning and get it looked at.

We got up Friday morning and discovered that the shop that Walter planned on using was booked full. We discussed our options over a delicious breakfast prepared by Simon’s mom, Damaris. Matt and Dan Shenk showed up at 10:20 and we decided to try out some other mechanic shops. Bernhard and Damaris went with us and the third shop we tried was able to look at it right away. They informed us that our tires were illegal because they were too bald, which did not surprise us, but they were able to sell us used tires to help keep the cost down. We also got them to change the oil for us and replace the rear rotors, which were in really bad shape. They also suggested we replace the suspension because our car was “bouncing like a Citroen.” They did not like the fact that our finely-tuned piece of German engineering was preforming like a French car. We decided it wasn’t worth spending money on our car to keep it from bouncing (especially since they told us that it wasn’t compromising our safety). Bernhard was extremely helpful translator for us; without him it would have been much more difficult to understand what needed to be fixed with the car. We were relieved that nothing major was wrong with our car and thankful that our prayer in finding the right shop was answered. Our troubles were inexpensive to fix (we saved a bunch of money buying used tires, which most shops don’t sell), and having the car ready in only several hours.

We walked back to the Kolle’s house from the shop with Bernhard and he showed us some beautiful spots in Bad Pyrmont. He also took us by a natural spring of mineral water and we all got a drink. He told us that a company bottles Bad Pyrmon’s water and sells it throughout Germany for exhorbitant prices.

When we got back to the Kolle’s house, a large, delicious spaghetti meal was waiting for us. After lunch Dan Ziegler and I went with Bernhard to pick up the car. We also tried to buy some roof bars to properly attach our roof box, but they wanted €110 for them. We politely declined and moved on. We got back to the Kolle’s house and went inside. A few minutes later, Bernhard came into the house beaming and told us he found an old set of roof bars in his garage that don’t fit his new car, and we could have them. They fit our passat and we installed them right then and there. What an answer to prayer! Bernhard also gave us locks for the roof bars. He could still use them, but insisted we take them.

Then Simon, Evelyn, and Simon’s sister, Sarah-Lena took us to several castles, but we weren’t able to enter them for different reasons. Apparently someone lives in the one castle and didn’t want visitors, and the other had a special event. A classic rock cover band was playing and we heard them play several Beatles songs before they played “Hang on Sloopy.” It was odd hearing Ohio’s state rock song being played in Bad Pyrmont, Germany. Simon, Evelyn, and Sarah-Lena then treated us to some ice cream. We went to a specialty ice cream shop that makes their ice cream look like other foods, or covers them in fruit or sauces. I got a dish of vanilla, strawberry, and raspberry ice cream covered in blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Dan Ziegler got a dish similar to mine but had kiwis instead of mixed fruit. Dan Shenk got a cappuccino ice cream/drink mix, and matt got a dish of ice cream that looked like spaghetti. It all tasted absolutely fabulous.

We arrived back at the Kolle’s house with full stomachs, but found a small supper waiting for us. After supper we prayed together as a large group and took some pictures before finally leaving for Denmark. We got off later than planned, but we all agreed that Bad Pyrmont was one of the top highlights of the trip so far. We are finding that our most enjoyable experiences come when we are interacting with others.

We were greatly humbled by the generosity that was lavished upon us. Bernhard mentioned that we need to take care of other Christians, and he took this principal to heart. They gave us wonderful food and comfortable beds, but helped us get our car fixed, gave us roof bars and locks, payed for our ice cream and a car wash, and went out of their way to help us out in whatever way they could. It was a great reminder of how we need to act and help others whenever we have the opportunity.

david miller