Monthly Archives: April 2011

A post full of nothing and everything!

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I have to admit that the transition between Winter and Spring in Berlin is beautiful. I’ve not been here mid-Winter, so I’ve not experienced it to its full snowy glory, but I have been a witness to the transition between the two, very different, seasons. I’ve also been lucky enough to see one of my favourite plants in full bloom – the Japanese Cherry Blossom Tree. I’ve always loved these trees, and now they’re all over! It may sound silly to some people, but just the sight of one of these trees – or being able to touch the soft blossoms – makes me smile, inside and out!

Japanese Cherry Blossom

This past weekend was rather jam-packed, which I’m grateful for. My life has been nothing short of lethargic for far too long and now it’s kickstarting into what I want it to be. Yeah, I know – I could have kickstarted it a while ago, but it’s easier said than done, and circumstances didn’t always make that possible. But I’m not going to bore you with that now.

On Friday my church organised to help out at a community centre called Kreativhaus – here in Berlin, not to far from where I’m staying at the moment. The centre was in desperate need of assistance with normal tasks such as gardening and cleaning windows and 58 people from church pitched up to help. The co-ordinator at the centre was so grateful afterwards that she started to cry as she said thank you – and it felt good to be able to help out and do something that (even though it’s so easy) means so much to someone and makes a difference in their world.

Then Saturday rolled on and for some reason I found myself in a (huge) building materials store, helping Mani look for a fish tank. Yes – he’d decided the night before that it was time to upgrade his fish tank – so we did. And I completely supported the idea until I remembered that we don’t have a car, or even a bicycle. Yip, you know what that means – we had to carry a biiiiiig fish tank to the train station, and then home. It’s at this point that I became a little ‘anti’ the whole idea 😦 Have you ever tried carrying a BIG fish tank across a city when you’re wearing a skirt…don’t try it. 😦

Besides an awesome church service on Sunday, the rest of the day was pretty uneventful because I had to travel across Berlin to collect Manfred’s mobile phone from his rehearsal room…and the travelling takes a while, so I spent most of the day on the train and in stations. Then Monday rolled on – I’d planned to wake up at a ‘reasonable’ time (what’s a reasonable time?!) and join Mani out and about somewhere, but I woke up at 12 in the afternoon and was only ready to do some outing and abouting at around 3, which just puts a bummer on the day. Nonetheless, we found some coffee shop next to a lake and had a cup of coffee and some laughs.

This is me looking a little…I’m not sure…Carmen-ish? You have to understand that it’s about 3.30pm at this point and I’ve not eaten the entire day….

And here’s Mani looking oh-so-Mani-ish 😀

And just another pic of me for luck! 😉

On the way home, I wanted to take a photo of a red tulip that’d sprung up amongst a whole lot of pink cherry blossom leaves that had fallen to the ground. It was at this point that Mani decided he wanted to be the ever-professional photographer and started snapping away at almost all the flowers surrounding us (even a few weeds…). The result of his happy snapping follows – and is a rather lovely indication of just how beautiful Spring time is here in Berlin 🙂

Ok, enough of the plants! I also took some completely random shots of things on Monday that caught my attention for whatever reason:

The balcony's piqued my interest

Still chained up, with nowhere to go

Ok well that’s it – that’s enough. It’s time for this post to end. Ciao for now! 🙂

Watching this space

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Wow, I can’t believe I’ve been in Berlin for just over a month – time really does fly. I’ve started to settle in, though I’ve done so quite tentatively – I think subconsciously, I’ve avoided ‘settling in’ because I’m scared the rug will be ripped from under my feet. I don’t want to fall in love with how life is here for me at the moment, only to be told that I can’t get a Visa, and that I have to go back to South Africa.

At the moment I’m in limbo – No Man’s Land – as I sit and wait for the Auslaenderbehoerde to contact me and tell me whether or not I’m going to get a Work Visa – and this time of waiting really is the worst. It eats away at my mind like a disease. I constantly feel as if I can never have rest and peace until I know what’s happening…what their decision is with regards to my Visa – which, for me, represents the next phase of my life. (Though to the Auslaenderbehoerde it’s probably just another application). I’ve been trying not to bother Mani with my insecurities and fears about the whole thing, but yesterday I just couldn’t keep it in anymore, and it all came bubbling out of my mouth. And he told me what he’s been telling me all along – I can only do what I can do – the rest is out of my hands. I have to give over to God and let Him do His part in all of this. He’s blessed me so abundantly throughout this process already and stressing and worrying about stuff only takes my eyes off His blessings – which I then cannot enjoy to their fullest degree.

None of this is about the Visa, or moving to Germany, or being with Mani, or leaving family behind for the first time in my life, or making new friends, etc, etc, etc…no – all of this is about learning how to overcome my inner struggles – the things that hold me back and make my world imperfect and unenjoyable. God’s putting me through my paces; He’s trying to get me to turn myself around, see myself as I should see myself – getting to know my strengths and developing them; recognising my weaknesses and changing them.

I really hope and pray that a few months down the line, I’ll be able to tell you all I’m settling into an apartment in Berlin, looking forward to the first day of my new job, enjoying random date nights with Mani that aren’t virtual and don’t involve Skype and a few thousand kilometres of space. *sigh* Yip, that’s what I’m holding out for.

But for now, all I can say is:

Fun in the sun

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A few days ago I wrote about Mani’s birthday and posted some pictures of the birthday cake that I made for him. Ok, that’s not entirely true – I didn’t actually bake the cake myself, so I should say, the birthday cake I put together for him. Well, I realised I didn’t tell you what I got him for his birthday 🙂

There were various gifts – one of which is still on its way to Germany from South Africa…it should be somewhere over the Atlantic at the moment I think. Another was a pot of olives – you may be thinking, “a pot of olives?!”, but that was a spur of the moment gift idea. In fact, I saw the olives in the store when I was buying all the things I needed to construct the birthday cake and thought, “Ah! He’d LOVE some of those!”…and he did love them 😀

But the main present was something I’d had made in South Africa about a week before I left for Germany. Mani was always talking about sending me on a photo shoot and how he’d love photos of me…so my friend Dee, who’s aspiring to be a photographer – and who’s darn good at it!!!! – suggested that I go on a photo shoot with her and we get some pics for Mani. It was a lovely idea and it really was something personal that I could give to him for his birthday – not something that’s store-bought or a product that has a million replications – this was something unique that I could give to him.

So off Dee and I went on a sunny Saturday afternoon to two local parks to take some photos. I even had my hair straightened for the photos (which, for anyone who knows me and the amount of hair on my head, is a mission in itself!), and put on more make-up than I usually wear; I donned my black Levis stilettos and then changed into my leopard-print stilettos – there were plenty of giggles and laughs as I used a swing as a prop and tried to come across as nonchalant as possible whilst people in the park watched. It was a great experience, and the pics came out beautifully!

The process for me turned out to be a life lesson – a gentle reminder to have fun, let go and love yourself!

Click on either one of the links and enjoy the pics!

http://www.unspoken.co.za/posts/profile-carmen

http://www.facebook.com/#!/UnspokenPhotography

Today’s Encouragement

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Just what I needed to hear today 🙂

Verse:           Psalm 30:5

For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing (joy) comes in the morning.

– Our lives are a series of seasons.
– The great thing about seasons is that they do not last forever.
– From time to time we may pass through a time of difficulty.
– But God’s promise to us is joy.

PRAYER: Lord, You are the one thing that I can be sure of! Your favor and the fact that it lasts a lifetime is my saving grace. Amen.

The (silly) B-day Cake

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Alright so as I mentioned in another post, I’ve been taking photos, but I haven’t actually posted any. It’s not because I’m lazy, it’s just that I forget about them or run out of time. Well, on 2 April it was Mani’s 27th birthday and I wanted to bake a cake for him. But the problem about being English and living in Germany is that all the instructions on baking products…well, any products really…are in German. And it’s not like I’m stupid and cannot figure the instructions out, but I just didn’t want his birthday cake, of all cakes, to be a flop. So I had a clever idea (in Afrikaans we have a saying…’ ‘n Boer maak ‘n plan’ –> ‘A Boer makes a plan’). So I bought a pre-made sponge cake, some chocolate and chocolate covered, coloured peanuts. The plan was to melt the chocolate and cover the sponge cake with it, and then ‘write’ happy birthday with the nuts…but the thing about plans is that they don’t always work….

Let me show you what I mean. This is how the cake turned out:

Now you see…the thing about this cake is that it actually says something…can you figure out what it says? Do I hear you say ‘no’? Well, it says ‘Happy B-D’, I promise it does 😦 When Mani first looked at it, he said, ‘Oh cute, you put a smiley face on it’, to which I replied, ‘No, there’s no smiley face! It says Happy B-D’. Still can’t see it? Ok, let me show you…

See, it does say Happy B-D. Anyway, moving on.

I had a little friend visit me the other day – I’m not used to seeing pigeons quite this big, so excuse me if you think it’s funny that I took a photo of a pigeon. Yeah sure, in South Africa we have big birds- like Ostriches – but our pigeons are a tad smaller!

What’s really surprised me here in Berlin is the fact that birds chatter all the time. Back home, they chatter from about 5am until 6pm – and then they sleep. Oh no, not here in Berlin! No – here the birds chat away continually. For instance, whilst planting flowers on the balcony at midnight last night (that’s for another post…), some bird was sitting in a random tree chatting away like nobody’s business. For what reason, I’m not sure, perhaps he/she was just happy and felt the need to talk to anyone who’d listen – but back at home, that wouldn’t happen, no matter how strongly a bird felt the urge to chat. Anyway, that’s arbitrary, random information that I thought you should know. Well, now you know.

I’m off to get ready for church – have yourselves a good Sunday! 😀

Quick Update

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Ok so this is just a quick update to let all my readers know that today I’m going to be sending my application forms (for working in Deutschland) to the relevant Government Department – they’re called the Auslaenderbehoerde – yeah, I know….even the name is scary – just looking at it makes my skin crawl. In fact, whenever I tell people over here that I need to send stuff to them, as soon as I mention the word “Auslaenderbehoerde,” they gasp – and this is normally followed by a groan or a “eeeuuuuwwwww”…or “aaaaarrrrrggghhhhhaaaahhhgggaaaghhha” – or some other sort of guttural expression. Yeah – so I’m guessing these people are pretty scary, hence why I now need all the prayer I can get – all of it!!! 🙂

The job-hunting front

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Ah, I forgot to update you on the job-hunting front and my progress in getting my Bootytoberlin! (Perhaps the air here is causing all this forgetfulness?)

Well, you see I had a plan – I was going to do X and then Y was going to happen. But that’s just it – life never works out that way. It’s not like you can be 120,000,000% sure what’s going to happen tomorrow, today…in the next second. Out of nowhere *BAM* things just pop up and you have to deal with them as best as you can. If they’re good things, then they’re easy to deal with; if they’re not good things, then it becomes a little more difficult.

And it’s been a life lesson for me – here I am, 27 years old, sitting in an apartment in Berlin. A few months ago I planned to be here, but those months were full of uncertainties, unexpected occurences – stuff that sometimes sent me into a complete mind wobble and emotional wobble, and threatened to throw me completely off course. But nonetheless, I’m here.

Well, another unexpected thing happened with regards to my job hunting. Out of the blue last week I was offered a job – one that I hadn’t physically applied for – but in my heart I’d been asking God something along the lines of “God…it’s this job that I’d really, really like…the doors that this opens to me are wonderful and I have peace in my heart about doing this job.” And I got it – mine for the taking; the offer lay in front of me in black and white…and in German, so I couldn’t understand it completely, but that’s where a German boyfriend comes in handy 😉

And this is exactly what I mean when I say you can plan, plan, plan all you want, but that doesn’t create certainty. I guess, as humans, we want certainty – we want to know how things will work out so that we can decide whether or not we’ll actually do something. “Ah, that’s what’s going to happen if I do that…not so nice, so I’m going to avoid it.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way 🙂

The uncertainty remains for me now though and this really is a time of maintaining faith. I got the job, but it’s not up to my prospective employers whether or not I’m permitted to move my booty to Berlin. It’s up to the Government. So what I need to do now is take all the papers my prospective employers have filled in, hand them to some Government official and pray like crazy that I’ve landed an appointment with the official on a good day!

I’m tempted to say that the next major step in my life is dependant on that Government official – but is it really or am I missing the point in a big way. As a follower of Christ, I believe that my life is in His hands – so surely, it’s up to Him what happens?

Well for now, it’s just a matter of praying, praying and…praying! 🙂

Ja ja!

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I keep forgetting that I’ve taken photos to put up on my blog – and by the time I remember, it’s a few days past the event that the photos are supposed to capture. For instance, it was Mani’s birthday on the 2nd of April and I took a photo of the cake I make for him…but I’ve not yet posted anything about it – whooooooops – my bad!

I can’t remember where Mani and I were walking to, but I just had to take this shot:

Yeah I don’t know – call me romantic or whatever – but there’s just something special about finding little things like this heart where you wouldn’t expect it 🙂 Makes you all mushy inside. Or at least, that’s the effect it has on me 😉

But there’s another pic that may get your attention – not because it’s a good photo – oh no…but rather…it’s a photo of something that’s not an ‘every day’ kind of thing. Well, it isn’t for a girl from South Africa, so forgive me! The drummer in Mani’s band celebrated his birthday on Saturday, so we all went out to a lovely Italian restaurant – everything from the decor to the cutlery and crockery was just awesome 🙂 And here’s the best part (though I really run the risk of losing a few readers at this point…or even losing a few friends…so guys, I’m sorry) – I had a pizza with horse meat. Yeah, I said it, ok…that’s what I had – a pizza with horse meat. But before you go throwing your arms up in the air in absolute disgust, just calm down, be reasonable and remember that the horses in question are bread for this reason – like the cow you ate last night. It’s exactly the same.

Mani and I did a half/half deal and to be honest, I much preferred his – his is on the left, mine’s on the right. But the horse meat wasn’t so bad – tasted just like smoked beef. Oh dear, I really think a few people are cringing at this point – only because they’re picturing a pony frolicking in the daisies. Hmm and come to think of it, that’s not the weirdest thing I’ve ever eaten. I think the weirdest thing I’ve ever eaten was crocodile – and that was yummy!

Ok, now that you’re adequately grossed out, I’ll end this post and hopefully chat about something ‘better’ later 😉

“Tschüss” 🙂

A cough and a mental block

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I have a terrible cough I just cannot seem to shake – but, something a little more dangerous that I can’t shake at the moment is my mental block; my ‘oh-so-negative’ view of almost everything.

Today I’m seeing someone about a possible job opportunity and then comes the big step – the job is basically mine – but it’s getting past the German Government that’s going to be the ‘big thing’.  How annoying is that – it takes some Government officials to determine the course of someone’s life path, argh! Ah but you see – that’s probably my wrong thinking right there – it’s got nothing to do with the Government – whether German, Italian, American or South African! They don’t determine the course of my life path, surely? The course of my life path is determined solely by God (and of course, by the decisions I make along the way). So what….what…WHAT…then am I fearing and why do I move through life with such trepidation? Oh it’s a terrible thing this ‘trepidation’. I’m sure that if I examined my life up until this point, I’d be able to identify many things I lost out on just because I was far too trepidatious.

It’s a little different to being cautious. Caution is often a good idea – caution, I feel, is sometimes a Godly kind of wisdom – though in the same breathe it’s necessary to say that there are times when you simply have to ‘throw caution to the wind’.

I’ve said a prayer this morning, earnestly asking God for his blessing over this job situation – it’s the only key to being allowed to start the next phase of my life, in Germany. And then I earnestly asked God too for rest from…from myself! It’s not nice to be the type of person who worries about everything, doubts everything, fears everything – it’s darn tiring!

Upside down smile

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I’ve plunged myself into a bad state today and it seems I’m struggling somewhat to get out. For the past few months I’ve been trying to learn German with the goal to potentially doing the A1 German exam through the Goethe Institute. It’s been fun learning the language and obviously was a little easier when I was attending classes. Now, however, I’m going at it on my own since I’m in Berlin and my German classes were taking place in Cape Town. So on my own I’ve been working through the workbook and using as many resources as possible.

I got to the end of the workbook today and thought it’d be enough to attempt the A1 exam, but then I realised, I need to learn material from the first and second book to get to the A1 level. For someone who’s emotions have been hanging on the thinnest thread possible, this really was the ‘last straw’. My immediate reaction was to email Mani saying “I just can’t do it,” and then assume the foetal position and cry…which is pretty much all I’ve been doing for the last two hours.

Humans aren’t supposed to do things in their own strength – God has made that pretty clear; and He’s also made it clear the He’ll never take us through anything that we’re not strong enough to handle. But my irritatingly fragile state at the moment is creating blinkers that stop me from grasping these truthes with both hands and holding so tightly onto them that I can walk with my head lifted high and the biggest smile on my face. Instead, I walk with my eyes cast downwards, an upside down smile and a look of fear and trepidation on my face.

I’ve known myself pretty well for the better part of 27 years, but I still cannot understand why I’m one of those people who always tends towards over-worrying, over-analysing, over-feeling…over-everything…just never being able to ‘get over it’.

Yeah, I know, not a very positive post, but you’ll just have to excuse me. Hopefully at some point I’ll blow you all away with the most positive post ever, but for now I’m in too much of a rut and clambering out of it seems near impossible.