December 21, 2016
First of all, for those who read our blogs regularly, I should report that we have found a new apartment a while ago – thank you for your prayers and inquiries! We are sub-letting a one bedroom suite from a young man who is studying abroad for a semester. The apartment is a 5 minute walk from the church, so we are quite pleased with the location. Although, some people were quite surprised when we explained where we would be staying. One man described it as “the Bronx of Ludwigshafen”! We are not too concerned, as we heard similar comments when we moved to the West End of Winnipeg. We hope this location will provide us the opportunity to host more people because of our more central location
As I read about the temperatures back in Winnipeg, I imagine that it must be cold and flu season. Our attendance this past week would indicate that we too are feeling the effects of various viruses. Despite spotty attendance, numbers are still strong due to people bringing friends and more people hearing about Friedenshaus.
We had advertised an Advent Christmas party a while ago, inviting all our students and their families to join us for a Saturday afternoon of games, food and music. On Dec. 17, approx. 40 people, including a number of our church members, gathered in our church basement to enjoy some shared food. It was wonderful to see the lively conversations (mostly Arabic) and smiling faces among the participants.
We have noticed that the weekends are often a quiet time for many refugees. During the week, German classes become social outings for many of our students. Many Germans will seek out recreation or family activities on the weekends, but if those aren’t options, our refugees often remain in their cramped living quarters. This kind of event seemed to be appreciated and well attended. In fact, one student asked today if we were planning a New Year’s party as well! We hadn’t planned on one, but may be able to offer something since Marla and I will be living in a church room while we are waiting in between our rental agreements.
As Christmas Eve nears, there is a real excitement in the air. Despite the mostly secular society, Christmas still gets a lot of attention here. We are curious to see if that excitement results in higher church attendance as it does in Canadian churches. Marla and I recently had the opportunity to listen to a Boys Choir in the nearby Speyer cathedral, a UNESCO world heritage site. The acoustics were quite something in this large space, even with a full audience. We are looking forward to singing some traditional Christmas songs with our congregation this weekend.
As this will be our last blog before Christmas, we would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a blessed Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Jesus and live out the lessons He taught.
German word of the week: Der Christbaum – literally, “the Christ tree”. We have noticed these signs at many of the lots selling Christmas trees. I was surprised to see this, assuming they would sell a “Weihnachtsbaum” or “Tannenbaum”, but it seems that the Germans still keep the “Christ” in Christmas!