Thursday, January 29, 2009


Truth... with a capital "T". God's Truth.

We are going through the Truth Project which is a 12-session series on the different aspects of a Biblical worldview. It is phenomenal and I would wholeheartedly recommend that you go through it if you get a chance.
Partially because of the study and partially because I think God is rearranging things in my head, I have been spending a lot of time deep in thought about what God's Truth looks like in my life. Not what truth is to me, but what my life would look like if I lived it according to God's Truth.
The Truth Project proposes a haunting question: Do you believe that what you believe is really real? It is haunting because we are quick to answer "of course, I do!" but the more you think about it, the deeper you go into your attitude and worries, the more it haunts you. It has been haunting me. And I have begun to ponder: how would my life look differently if I really, really, really believed that God is...
the only Provider. Would I worry? Would I covet someone's cute earrings? Would I spend more than I had? Would I spend money on stuff that has no real value? Would I buy something just because it was on sale?

omnipotent. Would I obsessively make to-do lists? Would I bemoan the economic downturn around the world?

the Answerer of Prayers. Would I complain less and pray more? Would I pray for things that seem silly, like parking places, without feeling silly? Would I go from having trouble concentrating while praying to having trouble stopping? Would I ever say "I'll pray for you" and then forget?

And on and on and on. Everything we "believe" to be true about God, about man, about sin, about the world, about work, about marriage, about everything could be listed here. If we really believed it was true, why do we live like we don't?

Needless to say, pondering the practical outpouring of God's Truth in my life has filled numerous journal pages and caused me to spend many hours wrestling with ideas. Allow yourself to really ponder this question, to allow it to soak into your thoughts and penetrate to your core; it will change your life.


Saturday, January 24, 2009


Now that we are looking for differences to blog about, we seem to be finding them everywhere.

Difference # 6: parking.
You can pretty much park wherever you want... on the sidewalk, on a very narrow, curvy, road blocking the flow of traffic. Just pull over, and throw it in park. People will just sit behind the parked car until it is clear to drive around. So dangerous! But no one honks or seems upset. They just wait patiently until the other lane is clear.

Need a spot? Just stop right there and park.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


P.S. Don't tell Laura I posted these. She doesn't know, probably won't like it, doesn't like the new style, and will be angry with me. Any bets on how long it takes her to find this and delete it?

telling you how it is

Laura here.
It is getting harder and harder to think of differences between American and German experiences, not because there aren't many, because there are. I distinctly remember when we first arrived and thinking that I radiated American-ness and that the Germans could see me walking a mile, I mean kilometer, away. But now, things are starting to seem normal...
except for when Germans confront you. It is very culturally acceptable in Germany to tell someone if they are doing something wrong, or if there is a better way. Even if you don't know them. Even if they don't speak German.
I experienced this in a very real way. I was driving home but there was a detour because of some trees being cut down. Now, I got a little turned around and was driving on a road that is normally private. But, there didn't appear to be any other way up the hill to our house. About halfway up the hill a man stood in the middle of the road wagging his finger at me. He motioned for me to roll down my window and proceeded to wave his arms and yell in German. I tried to explain in my broken German how sorry I was but the main road was closed, I just needed to get home, etc. I tried to look as pathetic and apologetic as possible. He finally moved but not until I knew that I should NOT be driving there.
The next experience with German confrontation happened to a friend of ours. He was minding his own business in the produce section of the grocery store when a German woman started addressing him in stern, loud German. He was sure she couldn't be talking to him because he was literally doing nothing, and especially nothing wrong. She continued to talk at him, he continued to hope she wasn't talking to him. She finally took him by the sleeve to the other side of the produce section and pointed at avocados. He had been looking for a good avocado and she wanted to make sure that he knew there were riper ones in the other section. He probably would have been happier with his unripe avocado, but instead, he got an earful of German and a good avocado.
They are not afraid to be involved and tell you that you are wrong, they know a better way, or you should go here, buy this, turn here, etc. It is a little intimidating. German isn't really a friendly sounding language. But, I suppose it is refreshing to never have to wonder if you are doing something wrong, because someone is going to tell you.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dinner in Germany

Adam here and I've got another difference between this culture and our home culture: eating out is a polite, but not always so private, experience.

There are two specific things that take place when we go to eat out. First of all (and this isn't one of the differences I am focusing on, though it deserves mentioning) the restaurants here are usually quite small, especially the ones in Kandern. They usually have room enough for just a few tables and maybe 20 people if you pack it in tightly. As a result, when someone walks in they greet the entire place with a hello or a good-evening. No one responds but it is just the polite, social rule. You walk in and say hello. On your way out you wish all a gutten abend and a tschus, a see ya'll later.

The second observation is so completely contrary to the American customs I am used to that it always surprises me. Because of the limited seating diners often sit at a table with complete strangers. This has happend to us a few times. A couple, like Laura and I, can't take up a four person table if it is busy. Another couple will sit down. If there is a longer, rectangular table for 6-8 people and there are four at the end, it is totally acceptable to take the seats at the other end of the table.

There are usually general pleasentries exchanged but no need for the awkward "get-to-know-you, stranger" dialogue. You can still keep to yourself for the most part but sitting at a table with strangers is a very common experience.

Last night, Laura and I took a break from the BFA basketball games and went to Asia Wok, the best (only) chinese food place in town. No one joined our table last night, though for a while the only 2 free seats were at our table. It was during dinner that we thought about these differences and wanted to share them with you.

[P.S. Asia Wok is actually really, really good. Next time you're in Kandern be sure to get
funf und vierzig! breaded chicken with sweet and sour sauce and a side of rice, soo gut!]

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Why not? I have 20 minutes til class...

Laura says:
1. Where is your cell phone? on vacation at my parent's house... no AT&T service in Germany
2. Your significant other? is sporting a full beard, makes my coffee every morning and heats up my side of the bed at night
3. Your hair? needs a trim
4. Your mother? is the best... EVER. She makes being in Germany possible- babysitting the dog, sending me coffee creamer in the mail, sending bday gifts for me, checking my mail. AWESOME!
5. Your father? needs to retire and spend his days making sawdust and walking the dog
6. Your favorite thing(s)? Chili's chips and salsa, getting mail, and the Internet
7. Your dream last night? about my class
8. Your favorite drink? cappuccino
9. Your dream/goal? keep it simple: to find exactly what the Lord wants of me, and do it
10. The room you’re in? my meat locker of a classroom... brrr
11. Your fear? being useless
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? content...
13. Where were you last night? Maugenhard dorm, making 10 batches of pizza dough and a quadruple batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
14. What you’re not? warm, perfect, or a morning person
15. Muffins/donuts? banana muffins
16. One of your wish list items? a raclette grill
17. Where you grew up? really, what does that even mean... I grew up in college
18. The last thing you did? Bible Study and journal
19. What are you wearing? slacks, tan sweater, boots, big coat and scarf (I told you it was cold in my classroom)
20. Your TV? German... never used
21. Your pet? Bobby the dog, survived his first encounter with a skunk... he is camping at my parents' house
22. Your computer? laptop, love it!
23. Your life? looks very different than I would have imagined...
24. Your mood? bored
25. Missing someone? so many people!
26. Favorite pastime? cooking for people who love to eat
27. Something you’re not wearing? toenail polish (what a dumb question!)
28. Favorite Store? Nordstrom Rack, how I miss it
29. Your summer? will hopefully be spent in Europe
30. Your favorite color? Green but I am loving orange, and what's not to love about black
31. When is the last time you laughed? this morning talking about German smells
32. Last time you cried? Christmas
33. Who will re-post this? anyone looking for a reason to procrastinate
34. Four places I go over and over? work, the Internet, Hieber's, and the bank
35. Four people who e-mail me? Jen, my mom, Linda, Robin
36. Four of my favorite foods? tacos, chips and salsa, salad, dried cranberries
37. Four places I would like to be right now? in bed, Cinque Terre, Australia, California
38. Four people I tag? I tag everyone! So there, blogger.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Difference #3. Everything is closed on Sunday. You cannot buy groceries, toilet paper, tylenol, or paint. We have heard rumor that there is a gas station about half an hour away that is always open, but you get the picture.
In one respect, it is refreshing to be somewhere where Sunday is different from every other day. You have to plan for Sundays, and plan to relax, because there is nothing else to do. Except walk (see previous post). Other times, it is frustrating- like when I misjudge how empty the milk container is. Or you decide at 5 PM you want to make pizza for dinner.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Another German thing

Nordic Walking

Sundays seems to be the national "Go for a Walk Day". Even in the rain or snow. The German people will be out, all bundled up in coats and gloves, walking. And they don't just walk, they Nordic Walk! With Nordic Walking sticks. They fly past us on the hiking trails like we were standing still. Old people, young people, all of them.
When we first got here in August, our joke was "How can you tell the Americans from the Germans? Just see who is huffing and puffing up the hill." And that person is never a German.

These are actual signs explaining in German how to Nordic walk. And how to properly stretch in order to not hurt yourself while Nordic Walking. Like I said, walking is a big deal here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

So, what is German, anyway?

Adam here- A while back I was talking with my father and he mentioned that he wanted to know what some of the differences might be between German life and Americn life. So, Laura and I have been living here long enough to notice some of these differences and I am going to try and identify them.

So difference number one: Christmas stuff.

The Christmas lights here come in the thin, rectangular box that was very familiar. However, the tiny white lights within had a surprisingly different connection. The lights were one big, connected loop. This made it very interesting to place them on the tree. We had to lasso them around the tree rather string them along.

As for the Christmas tree stand, this too, was very different from anything I have ever seen. But it is amazing! It is one of the best German things we have encountered so far. It doesn't require any hammering of the tree trunk. It doesn't require any awkward belly slithering to get to those confounded twisting screws that take forever to screw into the trunk (only to find that as you did this the tree tilted), and it doesn't require any guessing about whether it is full of water, and therefore, no spills. It is one heck of an amazing invention. The German christmas tree stand is so simple. You place the trunk into it, have someone hold it straight, then crank the handle until the tree is secure. The crank pulls on a wire loop that forces four posts tightly against the trunk. Then, simply lock the crank in place and you are done. Literally it takes a minute. When you want to take the tree down you simply unlock the crank and take the tree out. Brilliant!! And as for the water, there is a little red knob that pops up when it is full. So, you just pour until the red pops up and then stop. Every other day or so, check if the knob is still up. If it is down, add water. Brilliant!!

Check back soon for more differences.

Monday, January 5, 2009

check, check

How much does it cost to check off something on your Life List of Goals, known in our home as the DeClercq List of Accomplishments?
Number 33: See the Matterhorn
securing the last room in town, literally... 210 CHF
roundtrip train ride to Zermatt from Täsch... 30 CHF
lift tickets to Rothorn, roundtrip...120 CHF
cappucino at the top...4.50 CHF
magnificent views of the
confused looks from snow sport enthusiasts...also free

It was worth every penny!

Sunday, January 4, 2009


We had the opportunity to travel to the south of France for a week. We stayed in another missionary's apartment and used that as our home base for our travels.
We visited so many cute French towns and markets, they are starting to run together. However, some of the highlights were:

buying antiques in l'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
drinking wine in Chateauneuf-du-Pape
buying fresh baguettes and croissants everyday
eating steak in Marseille
hiking the Calanques in Cassis
On our way home, we decided to stop in Zermatt and fulfill one of Adam's longtime goals- to see the Matterhorn. And see it, we did. But I think that warrants its own post...