Monthly Archives: May 2011

A glass of water please

Standard

It’s been quite interesting immersing myself into everything that is “Europe,” but at times I’m reminded of my roots – of where I really come from.

A few weeks ago I got wind of the Berliner Wasserbetriebe Team Staffel in the Tiergarten – which, basically, is Germany’s largest relay race. Now I unfortunately won’t be here to take part in the race, but members of my church will and they’re doing it to raise money for Charity: Water – which is a non-profit organization that wants to make clean, safe drinking water available to people who don’t have access to it.

And this got me thinking – the idea of unclean (and unsafe) water is not foreign to me because I come from a country where many communities don’t have access to water that’s clean. This makes me relate to the problem on a more personal level, only because I’ve been a witness to it.

So my church is making the run a fun run because things like this should be done with fun in mind – they shouldn’t be done begrudgingly or unwillingly.

And just to prove it’s going to be fun, check out this video (Ps. Mani’s the hippie with the blonde hair and waaaaay too laid-back attitude).

We’re trying to raise €5,000 for this cause. This amount of money will make it possible to build one water well that will provide clean, safe drinking water to an entire community! If you have no idea what water crisis faces people these days – in a day and age where we can invent the most awesome technological gadgets to do….urm…stuff, but we don’t ensure something simple like providing clean water to people – then have a look at the video here.

So if you feel you want to help out by donating some money, sponsoring someone from my church, or coming to Berlin to take part in our fun run yourself (!), then I’d strongly urge you to follow that feeling 😉

Advertisements

Telling jokes in German

Standard

There are many times during the day that I think, “I should blog about that,” but I never get to the point of actually sitting myself down in front of my computer and blogging. I have oodles of photos to post, but I’ve not transferred them from the camera to my computer, so you’ll have to be patient.

But let me just share one bit of news – last week, on Thursday, I did my German level A1 exam. I’ve been preparing for months – studying daily, trying to get all those funny German words to stick in my head; attempting to use the funny words that stuck, to form funny sentences. And Thursday was D-day. I arrived at the venue armed with 2 pens (1 to use, 1 as a back-up in case the other decided not to work); my passport (so that I could prove that I am indeed who I say I am); and a whole bunch of nerves (I’m not sure what their purpose was).

Equipped with the knowledge that part of the exam requires you to listen to certain audio clips, I made sure I got a seat right in the front of the room. I tried to be as nonchalant as possible – leaning back in my chair, twirling my pen between my fingers – I’m sure that if I had chewing gum, I’d have been chewing it with that “I’m chewing this gum” attitude. But it was all just a front, because inside my chest my heart was racing, my mouth had gone dry and my hands felt a little clammy. Fast forward by about an hour – and I was sitting in a Café across from the venue – confident that I’d done pretty well in the first part of the test. My gift to myself:

Latte Macchiato

After finishing this delicious Latte, I realised I still had 2 hours to wait before the next phase of the test – the oral. I wasn’t really nervous at this stage, but whilst waiting outside the test room, some people started chatting about how their partners had tried to do the A1 exam over and over and over again – without any success – missing the pass rate by one or two marks. And that’s when my nerves returned – perhaps they’d been chilling at the café sipping on lattes up until this point? I suddenly thought (whilst playing Solitaire on my cellphone – because that’s all I could do for 2 hours): What if I fail!? A fail would mean: (a) I failed!, (b) I have to do the darn test again, (c) that’s going to be another €90….

And whilst thinking all of this, some candidates left the test room, having just done their orals, and they did not look happy, at all 😦  This just made the lump in my throat ten times bigger. But I decided to swallow the lump and I got me some confidence from somewhere and marched into the room, armed with a huge smile. I took my seat, laughed at something the teacher said, and realised I’d be ok 🙂

And…I was ok. I even added some humour to my oral – slipping in a little joke. I could see the score cards of both the assessors, and I was earning maximum marks for each thing I was saying – within 15 minutes, it was all over, and the smile on my face had broadened; I had a slight spring in my step; and the urge to giggle was very strong.

I haven’t received my official results yet – and this could very possibly be a case of thinking I did well, when in fact I didn’t – but I’m sure that in a few days time, I’ll be able to take a photo of my certificate and post it here for you all to see! 😛

Yip, just you wait and see…..!

Girlfriend extraordinaire

Standard

I reckon I’m a good girlfriend – in fact, if I were a guy, I’d want to date me 🙂 Yeah sure, I’ve got my issues – nobody is perfect, but I think I’d get a good rating on the “Are you a good girlfriend” scale. Mani had to go to the dentist this morning to have a filling done and he was a little nervous – and being the ever-dutiful girlfriend, I was sensitive to his needs and decided to go with him – even though it meant I had to wake up about 3 hours earlier than I normally do.

But it was worth it – not because I got to scare Mani just before he went in, saying, “I lied…it’s going to hurt!”, but because this is what I enjoyed this morning:

My Morning Cuppa!

Yeah ok…it’s the small things that make me happy 🙂

A Dream-chaser

Standard

I was speaking to a friend today* and asked her how she’s doing with her dream of becoming a full-time photographer. She said it’s going, but the going is a little slow. And then it just struck me – (you know how it is, sometimes you have lightbulb moments and you sprout the most awesome stuff forth) – the whole dream-chasing thing…she asked me to share on my blog what I shared with her, so that’s what I’m doing.

Basically, I told her that chasing a dream is like cooking an awesome meal – it takes time and that takes patience.  Sure, you can rush through the whole process, but that’s not going to produce a meal that’s as good as what it could be. You need to be patient and you need to go through the process, until eventually, you have the end product. And that end product will be superb 🙂

Yeah I know, easier said than done, but it’s just a thought – use it, don’t use it.

The other thing I thought I’d mention in my post today is a silly story about rainbows. Well not a story really, but it just shows how daft we can be sometimes. This almost reminds me of my silliness with the Lines in the Sky. It’s become pretty apparent to me that here in Berlin you can have all 4 seasons in one day 20 minutes. On my way to one of the U-Bahn’s today, I removed my jacket because it was too hot, and within a few minutes, it was pouring with rain and there was thunder and lightning. Yeah, odd. Anyhoo – my point was about rainbows (which appear often because of the frequent Summer showers) – every time I see one, I giggle to myself because I’m reminded of how, as a little girl, I confused myself. You see, remember the whole story with the flood and Noah’s ark? Well, I always thought that in the Bible, God had said that the rainbow means it will never rain again. LOL! 😀 So every time I saw a rainbow, I thought, “But it just rained…I just don’t get it?!” And then one day I realised (I’m not sure how) that I’d got it all soooo wrong. He didn’t say it wouldn’t rain again, he just said “When I gather the clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will recall the Covenant between myself and you and every living creature of every kind. And so the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all things of flesh.” (Genesis 9:14-15).”

See how we sometimes get things completely mixed up?!

Yeah, you can laugh, I won’t hold it against you 😉

*Don’t you just love it how you can email someone on the other side of the world and still call it ‘speaking’? (Or is it just me who thinks this way?!)

My tantrum

Standard

God really keeps blowing my mind – He’s really pulling me through what’s probably the biggest challenge thus far in my life. And let me tell you, I’ve stumbled a lot along the way, and I’ve banged my fists and I’ve screamed and shouted – going on and on about how difficult it is and how it’s just not fair. Picture a 4 year old in a toy store, throwing a tantrum because her dad just said she can’t have one of the toys she really wants. She’s lying on the floor, kicking and screaming, tears pouring out of her eyes and snot pouring out of her nose – her little face looking anguished and turning bright red – yip…that’s me. And God just stands beside me, calmly, waiting for me to regain some form of composure – waiting for me to realise how silly I’m being and how ugly my little red face looks. And all He can offer me is a smile and a hug – but still, true to my ridiculous human nature, I remain defiant – saying I don’t want a hug, I want the toy!

Ok, I’m sure you get what I’m saying. You know, this process of trying to move to Berlin started months ago. Unfortunately I often get lost in the here and now, and I don’t realise that up until this point, things have been falling into place – I’m not just where I am at this point by some sort of coincidence. “He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake” – Psalm 23:3

Basically, yesterday I went to the German Government department that deals with the applications of foreigners who want to live here. I’d been praying the entire morning, and in my prayer I remember asking God for strength, no matter the outcome of the meeting. Luckily Mani was with me, since my speaking-German is pretty much limited to “Hi, my name is Carmen and I like Bratwurst” – our number got called and we met with the official dealing with my application – it took a total of about five minutes – he just said it wasn’t possible for me to apply for a Work Visa from within Germany, especially since I am only here on a Tourist Visa – I have to apply from South Africa. I nodded my head and forced a smile and a thank you, but my little world started crumbling as I gathered all my papers and tried to find my handbag under the table. As I walked out of the office and down the stairs, passing loads of people who were hoping to have a more positive outcome than mine, the tears started coming and I just couldn’t stop them. Months of uncertainty and frustration seemed to have come to an abrupt conclusion.

I could tell Mani was upset too – but he’s a guy and they seem to have this autopilot mode that girls just don’t have. He offered a hug but I was just too upset (and silly) to accept it. Instead, I was focussed on what had, apparently, just transpired, and also on using the only tissue I had available to mop up the mess on my face.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” – Psalm 23:4

Let me fast forward at this point. I got home, spoke to my mom and some friends, and then started to study for my German test and at some point I realised (thankfully!) that being told I cannot apply from here is by no means a deviation from what my original plan was – I had a “DUH” moment. When I boarded the aeroplane in SA, my plan was to come to Berlin to find a job. I knew that I’d then need to return to SA to apply for the Work Visa – so my mission was simply to find a job. And that happened quickly – I was offered one I hadn’t even applied for – it literally fell into my lap. It’s at that point that Mani suggested we try to apply from here and see if it’s possible. It was a gamble we were taking, but it was never part of the plan. So…the plan is still moving forward and so far, it’s actually working out! Silly Carmen!

I’m learning lessons every day – and more than often I walk into walls because I learn my lesson the difficult way – but eventually, I get there 😉

Only by God’s grace I tell ya!

Friggatriskaidekaphobia

Standard

Yip, you read that correctly, Friggatriskaidekaphobia. But there ain’t no friggatriskaidekaphobia here, thank you very much!

Frigga – the name of the Norse goddess from whom the word Friday is derived.

Triskaidekaphobia – the fear of the (not so scary) number 13.

So yes, Friggatriskaidekaphobia refers to the fear of Friday the 13th, which according to superstition is supposed to be a day of bad luck.

Superstition: (a la Merriam-Webster, thank you very much)

(1)

a: a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation

b: an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God resulting from superstition

(2)

A notion maintained despite evidence to the contrary

Well, I have to admit – in my lifetime I have, unfortunately, fallen victim to the silliness of superstition.

  • I’ve gasped at a black cat crossing my path – because apparently that means bad luck for me – but surely the cat, who belongs to someone, simply walked past because he/she wanted to and can?  
  • I’ve knocked on wood to avoid bad luck.
  • I’ve refused to walk under an open ladder, because this too brings bad luck – but surely the person who was using the ladder just needed to reach up really high, and a chair wouldn’t do?
  • I’ve thrown salt over my left shoulder after spending a few minutes trying to remember which shoulder is correct.
  • And I’ve even wasted part of my day looking for a four-leaf clover in a field full of what I later realised were just weeds.

Look, honestly – I serve a good God and ‘luck’ (good or bad) just doesn’t come into the equation. All He has planned for me is good, whether I see it that way or not, whether I like it or not. So one day, I will get myself a black cat and let it cross my path all the time and I’ll love it to bits; I’ll knock on wood only if it means I’m knocking on a door, wanting someone to let me in; I’ll buy a ladder, walk under it a few times and then use it to paint something up high somewhere; I’ll throw the salt over my right shoulder, into a pot of soup; and I’ll lie down in a field full of flowers, and weeds, just enjoying them for what they are!

And just in case you don’t believe that the superstition about Friday the 13th is daft, let me tell you that it’s a day of good things for me. On Friday the 13th of August 2010, I arrived in Berlin – it was the first time I’d left South Africa. I’d arrived in another country, another land…another world! It too was the day that Mani asked me to be his girlfriend! 🙂 So, Friday the 13th is GOOD!

Now go pick some three leaf clovers!

Happy Birthday Mom!

Standard

The 12th of May is indeed a very special day because it’s my mom’s birthday! 23 years ago, my mother was born…ok, that would make her 4 years younger than me 😉 So it was a little more than 23 years ago…by she’s not old, but no means at all – and even if she seems to be getting older physically each year, her spirit just keeps getting younger! 🙂

The 12th May should be celebrated as one of the best days in the world, because it’s on this day that one of the best people in the world was born! I’m so very appreciative of my mom – who’s not just been a mom to be, but she’s been a sister and a best friend. I don’t think she’ll ever quite understand how much I love and appreciate her 🙂

Happy Birthday Ma!

Oopsie

Standard

Last night I had what I refer to as an “oopsie”

{oopsie

  1. Diminutive form of oops; Alternative spelling of oopsy.

Oops

A presumably ‘natural’ exclamation, only attested since 1933, possibly altered to (or from) whoops}

Ok, you get what I mean? Can I move on? Right, moving on.

I was part of an awesome gathering of people from my church and my pastor spoke about numerous things along the theme of Stop surviving, start living. The message was great and hit home in a bigger way than I’d expected, but when I walked home, I realised how bitter-sweet the entire situation is. I’m getting increasingly excited about being part of this church, about ‘plugging in’, about meeting new people, about attending events such as the Hillsong Conference in July or the Colour Conference next year…but then a teeny-weeny little voice starts out as a whisper in my head and soon turns into a shout – and I’m reminded that my mission to get a Work Visa isn’t over yet – I don’t have the stamp of approval from the German government. And that’s the point at which my spirit plummets to well below zero.

Unfortunately, as well, Mani’s the one who has to bear witness, over and over again, to sullen Carmen; to “ye of little faith” Carmen; and it creates a considerable strain on us. It pushes me to the point of not wanting to tell him the whole situation upsets me, and wanting to hide how I really feel; and it just makes him feel burdened – which is the last thing I want for him.

*sigh* I knew this whole process would be difficult – well, at least, I knew in my head it would be difficult – but now I feel it in my heart, and some days I lack the energy to deal with it to the point of wanting to lay down in the foetal position and never get up.

What utter nonsense – surely I’m stronger than this!

A little holy

Standard

My mom knows the challenges I’ve faced lately and the discouragement and negative attitude that’s been ever-present due to my lack of courage at times. She’s helped where she can and has offered guidance, never getting too frustrated with me or simply giving up on me. And yesterday she sent me an email with a story that I’d like to share with you. She did this with the hope of helping to lift my spirits somewhat – my mom is just awesome – thanks Ma! 🙂

“The Quilt Holes “

As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls.

Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles; an angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that is our life..

But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was.  They were filled with giant holes.  Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in every day life.  I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all.

I glanced around me.  Nobody else had such squares.  Other than a tiny hole here and  there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune.  I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened.

My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air

Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth.  The others rose; each in  turn, holding up their tapestries.  So filled their lives had been.  My angel looked upon me and nodded for me to rise.

My gaze dropped to the ground in shame.  I hadn’t had all the earthly fortunes.  I had love in my life and laughter.  But there had also been trials of illness and wealth, and false accusations that took from me my world, as I knew it.  I had to start over many times.  I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again.  I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life .  I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me.

And now, I had to face the truth.  My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was.

I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light..

An awe-filled gasp filled the air.  I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes.

Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me.  Light flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of Christ.  Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes.  He sai d, ‘Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles.

Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you.’

May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through!

Lines in the Sky

Standard

Allright, so I made a complete fool of myself today – or at least, I think I did. But either way, it’s ok because it only happened in front of Mani.

You see, the thing is, since I arrived in Berlin, I’ve noticed that every single day there are areoplanes in the sky that have loooong trails of smoke behind them. Now forgive me for being stupid, but back home when we see that, it means that some or other company is using an aeroplane to do advertising through skywriting. What I noticed here in Berlin though is that none of the smoke trails actually say anything. They’re just solid lines. And I thought, “Honestly, that’s rather silly?!”

So I’ve been here for just over a month, and I’ve seen these lines in the sky on a daily basis, but today I just couldn’t keep it in anymore – I had to know why the Germans feel it’s necessary to send planes into the sky to make arbitrary lines, when the lines just serve no purpose!!! I was walking with Mani when this urgency to know hit me, and I just blurted out, “Ah man! Can you do me a favour? Pleeeeeeease can you just find out why on earth there’s always planes int he sky making stupid lines. I mean, helloo?! What’s the point, they’re not advertising anything??!!”

This was his reply:

“They’re areoplanes. When aeroplanes fly, they give off smoke and stuff. That’s the stuff that makes the lines – they’re not supposed to be advertising anything. There are some major airports in this city, so obviously there will be planes going up every day, which means there will be lots of lines in the sky.”

*Sigh* Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been that stupid in my life before! Thank goodness Mani was a little distracted by something else, because if he’d realised just how silly my statement/question was, he’d have died from laughing so much. Whoooooops! 😀

Ps. These ‘lines in the sky’ are in fact called condensation trails, or contrails….yip…..