Monday, April 28, 2008

Building project

Luke and I wanted a desk for our apartment and after doing some shopping at IKEA we decided we (Luke) could make a desk. So I met Luke a few nights at the hardware store after work to help him carry home the wood and supplies we would need to build the desk. (We don't have a car, so we had to walk home with all the wood.)

Luke getting ready to try out his new tool that he got for the purpose of building this desk.

We're making progress...

...and the finished project! Now I can get some things organized! :-)

My life is like the Sound of Music...

Luke and I got new "Fahrr├Ąder" recently, so this week I did a little exploring of the area on my bike. I rode about 6 miles to the lake pictured below. It was a gorgeous day and the scenery was amazing! You can't really go for bike rides like this in Kansas!
At this point of my ride I came really close to breaking out into "the hills are alive with the sound of music..." I kind of felt like I was living in the Sound of Music...well minus the VonTrap children and a dress made out of curtains. :-) (Those are the Alps in the distance of the first picture.)

This is a barn in the middle of one of the villages I rode through. This is very common in Germany. Most farmers live in small villages and go out to their fields. They even have their barns with the livestock in the village. The tractor inside the barn is a Fendt...the tractors Luke works on here.





Monday, April 7, 2008

Dachau

We had another friend visit this weekend and yesterday we took him to see the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. Luke and I had not been there yet. I think in many ways we are still processing what we saw yesterday. I think it is hard to comprehend the reality of this camp (and others like it) sitting in a history class in the United States. Walking through the buildings and camp make it a little more real, but it is still difficult to comprehend exactly what took place on those grounds for so many years. It is sombering to consider the depth of depravity of the human heart, that we are all this depraved and yet have been shown amazing grace by our Lord and Savior that we so desperately need. I will post pictures for now and maybe share some more thoughts later. If you're interested in more information check out the website of the memorial site: http://www.kz-gedenkstaette-dachau.de/index-e.html

The main entrance to the camp. The brick road is the main road leading into the camp that many prisoners were marched in on. Many other prisoners were brought in packed on train cars. A very small part of the railway is still present inside the camp.

Arbeit Macht Frei (Work brings freedom). Many prisoners in this camp died as a result of the unbelievable work demands and conditions they faced. They were only given a small ration of bread once every 4 days and expected to perform hard labor for many many hours a day.

"JOURHAUS" The main entrance to the camp and main office of the SS officers of the camp.

One of the guard towers. Many prisoners "attempted" to escape knowing they would be shot and killed and in many ways realized death was their only escape.

Entrance to the bunker/prisoner cells. Much of the torture of prisoners took place inside this building. This is also where prisoners were initially brought and "medical examinations" were completed. Later in the war "special prisoner" and religious prisoners were held here where conditions were slightly better than those of the barracks.

Looking down the hallway of the bunker with prisoner cells lining the hallway.

A door to one of the prisoner cells and a look inside one of the prison cells. Many of these cells were used as "Standing cells and were divided into smaller sections so that a prisoner could not sit or lay down and filled with many prisoners at one time. The prisoners were often left in the "standing cells" for days.

Inside the prisoner barracks. These "beds" are the largest. As you walk through the bunker the beds become smaller and smaller as they had to make more room for prisoners. The camp was expanded around 1940 to hold 6,000 prisoners. When the camp was liberated in April 1945 there were over 30,000 prisoners being held in the camp.

A memorial in front of the main building. The main building housed SS soldiers, used as a place to carry out torture and to perform "medical experiments" on prisoners.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Living in Deutschland

I have been trying to come up with something as clever as the key story to blog about...but not to be. So instead I thought I'd highlight some of the similarities and differences between life in the States and life here in Deutschland. Overall it has been relatively easy to adjust to the "culture" here. But there are a few differences...
1. Grocery stores...you have to put in 1 Euro to get a shopping cart. You get the Euro back when you return the cart, but it's definitely important to always make sure you have a Euro with you. Otherwise you get stuck trying to carry all your groceries through the store...which I've learned from experience can be a little difficult. You also have to pay for your grocery bags. So most people have baskets or reusable bags they use. We have some bags we reuse but I'm hoping to get a cute German basket soon to carry my groceries in!

2. Apartments...rarely come with closets, of any kind. The top pictures is of our 2 "Schranks" in our bedroom...otherwise known as wardrobes. It's been a little tricky to figure out where to put linens and all those things that we typically throw in a closet, but I think I'm starting to figure out a system that works. You'll notice in the second picture that refrigerators are a lot smaller here than they are in the States. Definitely learning how to be more efficient with the space we have! It is not uncommon to have to furnish your kitchen in an apartment in Europe, which means you have to purchase and install the sink, cabinets, stove and refrigerator. Fortunately our apartment came with all these things in place. Another difference is that most people do not have a clothes dryer. The last picture is our version of a "clothes dryer". Much more energy efficient! I'm sure there will be more differences to tell you about as time goes on! I have had a few cooking "adventures" that I can share sometime...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

First Visitors




Our first full weekend in Germany we had our first visitors. I need to get into the habit of taking more pictures...but I'll post what I have for now. The couple that came to visit us are friends of Luke's from Iowa. They were in France and Germany for business and all of Europe takes a four-day weekend for Easter so they were able to come down and spend a couple days with us. We took them to see Neuschwanstein Castle and spent a day in Munich walking around. I'm hoping to start doing a little more exploring so that I can be a top-notch tour guide when y'all come to visit! The picture of Neuschwanstein is actually from when I came to visit Luke in August...it basically looks the same now...just a little less green around the castle. The last two pictures were taken at the old Rathaus in Munich which is the courthouse/governmental building. I don't think it is used for this any longer but the architecture was amazing.