Friday, February 27, 2009

German smells

Smells are different here. I have never had a problem with sewer or rot smells in any home in the States. But in Germany, it is just part of life. Garbage smells worse, pipes smell funny, and sometimes we get a mystery smell of death in our refrigerator. We have a refrigerator bigger than most here, but it is still smaller than an American one. Anyway, we usually have very little real food (besides the ketchup, salad dressing, and jar of pickle-type stuff). We grocery shop about every other day and so we regularly cycle through the food. Anyway, yesterday morning we opened the refrigerator to get the milk out and were hit with a wave of stink that I cannot even describe. It permeated the whole house in a matter of seconds. It was awful. Obviously, we didn't have time to clean it out right then, so we just plugged our noses to put the milk back and decided to attack it when we got home.
The idea of cleaning out the refrigerator hung over me all day, the memory of the smell making me wince whenever I thought about it. I was mentally calculating the value of the contents of the refrigerator, and I had decided that I was willing to throw everything away. So, we slowly started taking things out, giving them the sniff test. Eventually, we had taken everything out and nothing smelled. We checked the freezer and still nothing! I decided to be extra sure and throw out the leftover taco meat and the two chicken breasts I was saving for dinner. Better safe then sorry. I even threw out the baking soda that I keep in the refrigerator. The refrigerator was empty. We took out the shelves and cleaned them and still the smell.
So, I boiled some lemons and put the bowl of lemon water in the refrigerator and it helped a little bit. But there is still residual smell. The refrigerator has never been cleaner and there is a funky smell.
I woke up this morning and I thought I smelled it... but I am pretty sure that was a psychological thing. The smell is mostly gone in the refrigerator, but now the whole kitchen smells. We took out the garbage and I am hoping that magically the smell will be gone.
The only redeeming factor is that everyone seems to get these mystery smells. in their refrigerators, hallways, showers. I am sure it has something to do with 500 year old houses and no garbage disposals. Maybe the lack of Lysol is a contributing factor.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How now, brown cow?

Last night was small group night and with two of the guys away at a basketball tournament, we were reduced to a group of four. This made it possible for us to easily return to our apartment for the evening (since I could fit all the guys in my car). When we got here I pulled out the lemon bar dessert that Laura graciously prepared for us as well as some drinks. Now, I'm no culinary student but I can imagine it is hard to pair lemon anything with an appropriate beverage.

(By-the-way, Laura is in no way responsible for the drinks for this evening, or any other evening. She washes her hands on that issue.) My guys, though, are milk-starved. Every week they decimate 3 liters of milk. They say that milk is too expensive for the dorms to keep it in stock so they rarely get to drink just milk. We try to make it up to them by gladly buying a few cartons of milk. There is never any left.

Due to the smaller population for the evening I only bought 2 liters for the night and when I got them out I also grabbed the half-bottle of Coke that Laura and I hadn't finished yet, and placed the selection on the table. My guys got up to get their drinks but by the time I turned around to get my own glass they were serving up "Brown Cows". I asked "What is a brown cow?" I was answered with a milky-brown concoction being shoved into my hand. "I'm not drinking this guys. It looks gross." Ahhh...but since when does 'gross-looking' matter to high school boys? I was informed that I was going to drink it, that we were all going to drink it. It was a bonding experience. So with the clinks of our plastic cups we raised our Brown Cows, mixtures of Coke and milk, to our lips and imbibed. At first it tasted a little like a melty ice cream float but that moment abruptly ended with a...uh...well, a gross-really gross-taste in my mouth. It wasn't good at all.

Still, with Brown Cows in hand, we took our seats to watch a movie and each took a lemon bar. If I can offer you a word of advice: DON'T EVER DRINK A BROWN COW AND EAT LEMON BARS! Holy COW (get it?) it was terrible. The guys agreed as an echoing 'Yuck' rang out. You know what the funniest part was? All of us finished our Brown Cows. I don't know why. Why do people do stupid things? It was one of those inexplicable events that will never be fully understood.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Reasons why I love Laura

One of the unique pleasures of working at BFA is that I get to spend nearly every lunch with my beautiful wife. During today’s meal the conversation turned to an engaged couple that we don’t know. Let me repeat that, we don’t know this young couple that is about to embark on the voyage of marital bliss, but we were talking about them.

As a side note, this is another one of the peculiar differences between men and women: women will talk about the circumstances of complete strangers with the familiarity of life-long friends, whereas men don’t care about the lives of strangers. In fact, we will hardly find much to talk about when it comes to those life-long friends. And this isn’t really an issue of insensitivity or cruelty but really an issue of practicality and interest.

But I digress. One of the two is related to one of Laura’s friends. The soon-to-be-groom or soon-to-be-bride is the brother of or the sister of this particular friend, but the exact details of the connection were details that were lost moments after I heard them (probably due to the practical fact that in all likelihood I will never meet either of the two or even hear about them again). My wife found the details important, though. Important enough to check out the blog of this couple and important enough to report on their pre-wedding joy to me. And so I return to our lunchtime conversation. She was thrilled by their young love and how they talked about how they met, what they love about each other and all the other wonderful details that a couple goes through when they fall in love.

Thus I was inspired to share my love of Laura to the world (or the 7 or so people that actually read this blog).

Here is my first list: Reasons why I love Laura

She is beautiful
She is smart
She is funny
She laughs at my jokes

But perhaps this is all too general and maybe even a little cliché. It is in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, then, that I shall delve deeper into my love for my woman! She rocks! The other night during dinner I picked up my camera because I thought she looked beautiful. She smiled and we joked and laughed and teased and we looked at the pictures and we had a wonderful time doing nothing except enjoying the company. That is why I love Laura.

Laura cooks wonderful food. The sad fact is that I am a terribly picky eater, though. She cooks anyway and is considerate about what she makes while lovingly forcing me to push my culinary horizons. It is a love-hate situation. I usually end up loving the food (like tortilla soup) but hating that she has gotten me to eat green stuff, and red stuff, and blue stuff, and all kinds of colorful vegetables. She makes her meals with love though. And pretty much every single night while I do nothing to very little she works hard in the kitchen cutting, boiling, rolling, slicing, blanching, and wielding a big knife all in preparation for dinner. That is why I love Laura.
She humors me. One: she makes me laugh. She is humorous. Laura is actually very funny. She has a very quick wit, a clever sarcasm, and an excellent knowledge of The Office one liners. She is also goofy beyond belief, but then again, so am I. (We frequently argue over which one of us is the strangest. I say she is.) She is a master of the funny-face-with-tongue-sticking-out look and will occasionally talk in the widdle-biddle-cuddly-wuddly-snoogly-poogly tone (Laura, a college educated woman; can you believe it?!) Two: she laughs at me. Another sad fact is that I think I am funnier that I really am. (Need some proof? Is any of this post actually funny? … … … I think it is!) Okay, I think I am a lot funnier than I really am but my loving and adoring wife will laugh at me in the good way, never condescending. She gets me and she knows she is a big weirdo for getting me, but she laughs anyway. That is why I love Laura.

These are just a few of the reasons I love my bride but the list could go on. And I know that sounds cliché, and I know saying “it sounds cliché” sounds cliché. Maybe I’m being cliché, I don’t care. I do have one last brief characteristic treat to share with you. Laura is smart. No, she is brilliant. This woman is way smarter than I am. She does so much with her brain to take care of me that, at this point, I don’t know what I would do without her. She is a voracious reader, has a good grasp on math, and has the horrible ability to remember just about everything I have ever said and be able to turn it back on me when it suit her. What can I say? This girl is amazing.

Every man who has a wonderful woman feels like the luckiest man in the world. That is because every man who is fortunate enough to have a wonderful woman who really loves him IS the luckiest man in the world. In my world I am the luckiest man. Why? Because I have Laura. I get to gaze into her beautiful eyes, run my hands through her silky hair, enjoy the warmth of her smile, and listen to her musical laugh. I am proud to declare to the world (all 5 of you) that I love my beloved wife! She thrills me and I never want to be without her! I love you Laura!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Please Pray

this is Laura...
So, my Dad challenged me with a question he posed to me in an email. He responded to my post about the Truth Project and my realization that if I really believed God answered prayers, that I would pray differently. And he asked, based on that understanding, what should he be praying for...
So here are some current concerns that I would like to flesh out for you with the hopes that you will be driven to pray.

- pray for BFA... for safety. For physical safety, mental, emotional and spiritual safety. I believe BFA is under severe attack, simply because there is good work going on here. We just received news that there was a fire in one of the dorms last night. The school's computer networks have been down for 2 days. Car accidents, health issues, and weather that seems to be driving people to depression are all weighing on the staff and students at BFA. Pray for the Lord's protection on the bodies, minds and souls of those associated with BFA.

- pray for support... so many missionaries are very concerned about their support. The economic situation is worldwide and it is affecting missionaries just like everyone else. Pray for boldness in support raising- to ask even when the dollar is weak and people are losing jobs. Pray for so many missionaries who are losing support and having to scramble to make ends meet. It is hard to raise support and I think even harder when the people you are asking are just as concerned about their finances. (Praise the Lord that our support has not been affected. Thank you! Thank you to our supporters. You are a blessing to us and we pray God's continued blessing upon you!!)

-pray for God's work worldwide... for missionaries and laymen all over the world who are sharing God's love, translating the Bible, being an example of a changed life in LA, in New York, in India, in Iraq, in places I can't pronounce, let alone spell. Pray that God's purposes are being fulfilled daily around the globe.

Your prayers are powerful and effective.
And God answers.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Gelber Sacks

Once a month, gelber sacks are picked up for recycling. Gelber sacks are not for cardboard, paper, metal, or industrial plastic. You can recycle things like yogurt containers, aluminum cans, chip bags, and anything in a tetra pak (think, cardboard-y milk containers). Gelber sacks are collected for free, even the yellow bags (literally translated gelber sacks) are free. So, anything that can go in the sack does. Garbage is not collected for free, paper is only collected once every couple of months, and cardboard three times a year.
This is the pile of gelber sacks that BFA put out for recycling this month. It is literally as tall as I am.
This biggest question is: what happens to the stuff in the gelber sacks? One rumor is that the contents are driven to France and burned. Another is that they are buried or tossed into the landfills with all of our regular garbage. But, hopefully what happens is they are sorted and recycled, since that is why we go to all of the trouble of storing our recycling in our basement every month.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Yesterday morning Adam and I got the cleaning bug. So we did our normal vacuum, dust, clean the bathroom and kitchen routine. But, the sunshine encouraged us to do some spring cleaning. Adam swept up the dead leaves on our walkway and stairs outside. Things still look surprisingly dead, even with the leaves gone. That was a little depressing.

While Adam was sweeping, I decided to tackle our windows. Since we live on the top floor, many of our windows are in the pitched roof. It allows for lovely sunshine, but I think they get dirtier than regular windows. So, I attacked the first window... in the bathroom. I opened it and spun it as far as it would go so that the outside of the window was facing the inside. I had to stand on a chair to reach the whole thing. So, I wiped off the dirt (I am embarassed by how much dirt there really was). Then I sprayed it down with German Windex. I reached down to grab the paper towels and when I stood back up to wipe the window to clean shininess... it was frozen. The Windex froze on the window! I had to scrape the Windex ice off of the window. Apparently January 31st is too early for Spring cleaning in Kandern. Just because the sun comes out for a couple of hours does not mean your Windex won't freeze to the window on contact with the outside world. Lesson learned.