“Do you speak Russian? How about Chinese?” the immigration officer asks me. It’s hot in this airport after waiting in line for over half an hour and missing my connecting flight. I can feel the sweat seeping through my old travel sweatshirt. It’s not helping that this guy is. . .well, absolutely gorgeous.
“Nope. Just English and some French,” I finally answer, caught in the daze of the heat and hours of cross-atlantic travel. The odd conversation concludes with a thud of the new stamp in my passport and an enthusiastic assurance that, “You have picked the ugliest city in all of Germany to visit.” Thus began my foray into Europe, the place I’ve dreamed of visiting since I was a child. Not even a missed connection flight (and subsequent ride by myself across an unfamiliar country) or the weight of jetlag could drag me down.
The first hours were filled with a cacophony of new and surprisingly familiar experiences. After connecting with my missionary contact, I stood with a host of others in the airport, waiting for the rest of the team to come into sight. I certainly didn’t speak their language(s), but I understood them all the same. Finally united, we journeyed to a Starbucks in the middle of the airport and sipped tea with milk as we caught up on the particulars of the past month spent apart. New place, same old habits. And as we walked through the market near our apartment, we marveled at the tiny strawberries and tried juice that tasted like mint and tomatoes (which I might add is just as disgusting as it sounds). Of course, the chocaholic in me rejoiced as I stumbled upon the chocolate section, filled with bars of the rich German delicacy. We rode a crowded bus to our street, and I silently gave thanks for the little pleasantries that make this place alive with culture and history.
I suppose I could tell you about a million other things that happened today, but part of the transiency of life is accepting that some things are better enjoyed privately while their memory lasts. We are thankful for safe travels and good health as we rest in our lovely little apartment. The picture below is my chosen spot for writing, a window above the fields behind our building.