Thursday, June 4, 2009

Celle and Weimar

Before I start this blog, I want to say that, yes, there's Burger King in Germany too. Except there's one major difference. (Take a look at the neon sign in the bottom right corner of the picture.)
After leaving Föhr, we took a long bus ride southeast to Celle. The city was really only a stop; we didn’t give a concert or anything, we just stayed at a hotel. So nothing necessarily interesting happened.

Celle was beautiful, though. Most of the buildings were half-timbered houses, so it looked very “German.” I’m usually annoyed when I see half-timbered houses in The States and I expected not to like them here, but for some reason I quite enjoyed walking down the streets of Celle. The city had cute cobblestone streets, and a nice fountain in the square, in which kids would play. Also, there were a lot of street vendors. One interesting vendor was a man making ballon animals and hats for kids.

I ate some delicious kiwi gelato with my choir director. 

I also had a wonderful Skype conversation with some friends and family from back home. I was beginning to feel a bit homesick, so video chatting with them were wonderful.

After a night in Celle, we traveled to Weimar for a concert. The choir was tired, and most of us were not motivated at all to sing our repertoire.  One of the reasons for this was probably because of the fact that we didn’t know anyone in the area. You see, one of the things that made Bad Hamburg and Föhr so powerful is that we got to know and love the people in those cities. We were pretty much just plopped in the middle of Weimar and expected to give an amazing concert.

What made everything worse is that the audience was pretty much dead in the church. They very well could have been marble statues in the pews. We walked up on the risers to silence, received mild applause after our songs, and not a single smile in the first set.

We tried so hard to bring some life into the audience. When we walked to the back of the church for our first regrouping, we were somewhat discouraged, but we were still ready to try. We went back up to our risers, we sang the favorite song of most of the choir members, called I Thank You God for Most this Amazing Day. As worshipfully as I sang, I still felt like there was no way to turn this audience around.

And then I saw a smile open up on someone’s face. And then another. And another.

As the songs went on, more and more people smiled and clapped louder for us. By the end the audience was cheering and standing on their feet, enough that we had to come back out for an encore.

One song that we sing based on a poem by Susan Palo Cherwein.  The words are:

My veins the sea

Your tears the sea

If we but knew

Here together, apart

To water the earth,

To wear away stone,

To meet, to carry, to be changed

If we but knew

Here, to seek the low place

Here, to run to the sea.

There’s something about the Spirit of God that is able to melt cold hearts and bring light to darkness. Something that is so interesting to me is that Europe has so many beautiful churches, yet they are all empty. And those people who are in the churches tend to be very rigid in their beliefs and not open to spiritual transformation. But when they are exposed to true worship of the Living God, the true Spirit of Love, the earth becomes watered with joy, and stone is slowly but surely worn away. I’ve never seen such beauty as Love, which has the power to transform and bring rebirth.

God is Love.


  1. Oooh I'm the very first "follower" of yours to post a comment! Shuffle... LOOK at all of the room I have!!! Shuffle... Shuffle...Push up the corners!... shuffle... Push up the corners!.. shuffle-shuffle... (FYI-referring to dancing Brian)

    ***Comments on Pictures***
    ---Pic 2---Oh my goodness it looks like my old apartment, but waaaaay better! Haha! Pretty sure my old apartment was the epitome of everything you hated about America’s take on half-timbered houses.
    ---Pic 4--- I like the vendor’s outfit! It looks like he’s straight out of a musical and might break out into a song and dance at any given moment. Please tell me he at least did a little gig or something… = D
    ---Pic 6—I think this street is too cute to be a real city street… it looks like you’re at some kind of great theme park. I enjoy all of the signs! I especially like the one with the kid playing in the street with the car.

    ***Other Comments***
    ---Oooh MGD at Burget King, fancy-schmancy! Did you have a beer at BK since you’re legal there? When in Rome… or Föhr.. ; )
    ---Did you frolic in the German fountain too? Or did you “push up the corners, push up the corners”?!
    ---I am SO bummed that I wasn’t home when you were online… sigh… who all did you skype with besides Mom? I have a great idea of how to help when you’re feeling homesick: find a crappy smoky bar and step inside, sit by an overflowing trash can, close your eyes and take a deep breath... You’ll feel like you’re sitting on 3rd street in La Crosse…. Awww… memories… Haha!!!
    ---Too bad the audience started out all blah in Celle. Next time you sense a tough crowd I would recommend opening with “Flap jack, Scooby-doobie-doobie” just an idea… either way… I liked how you described your experience at that church, it made me giggle when I read “And then I saw a smile open up on someone’s face. And then another. And another.” For some reason it reminded me of popcorn popping… haha! I don’t know I’m in a bizarre mood right now…
    ---Look at you Mr. Fancy Pants, your last paragraph is very pretty. Did you write that or did someone else? I can’t tell… I’m just a ballerina. ; ) No, but seriously, I really do like it!

  2. dsodsjfldjsfkljsdklfj this is practice comment, i'm showing my mom how

  3. First of all, since Brian may never respond ;), I just have to say Lindsey I appreciate your comments, I like how long and descriptive they are!!

    I love the little houses in these towns, especially celle and weimar! Not only are they adorable, they look like these little porcelain houses my mom has always had from england. who knew houses like this still exist AND are common in places!!

    awww the balloon guy is great. what if your whole life you lived in an adorable german town, and your career was making balloon animals for children! adorable!

    i also love the story about the lame concert becoming moving and awesome! you are having so many spectacular experiences!

    i miss you and can't WAIT to read another blog!


  4. (yeah i'm on my mom's computer)


  5. Hey Brian -
    This is so fun. I am so envious. I want to be in Europe. Getting lost is so much fun. Deep breaths and you will always be guided back to the start. I am going to try the Skype thing soon so keep in touch.

    Love ya -


    P.S. I am on facebook as well.

  6. hey everyone, thanks for the comments.

    linds...i love how you comment on every picture!! :) haha i didn't have an MGD at burger king, since i'm still under the bethel covenant with the choir. it's so crazy...every time i explain to one of my hosts or something that i signed an agreement with my college that i would not drink or anything, they think it's the dumbest thing they've ever heard! i mean, beer is cheaper than WATER in europe, so it's just deeply ingrained in the culture. the whole choir, however, took shots together on a dinner cruise in prague yesterday (new post about prague on its way!)...we've agreed that we can drink if it's necessary for cultural reasons, so we did. haha, it was so funny. oh, and i told my host in erfurt (also a new post is coming for that city too) that it's not legal for me to drink in the states and she thought that was ridiculous. very interesting. :)

    and thanks, linds, for the comment on my pretty paragraph. yes, that was all me. :) and the balloon guy never danced.

    bergum, thanks for commenting!!

    (and christie, of course!)

  7. I love all the comments too! I have a few questions:

    What is gelato? Is it ice cream in German? Is it different than our ice cream? The scoops are so small compared to the super-sized scoops we get here.

    Since beer/wine drinking is so common, and legal for all (?), is there as much abuse of it as there is here?

    What denominations are the churches you are visiting? I love the different architecture and interior styles of these churches...especially the one from and earlier post that had flowers painted throughout.

    Are you seeing dogs in restaurants? Picture please!

    And I have to ask...since you almost impaled a couple with your kite in a 'non-kite-flying zone', did they give you a ticket or just a dirty look? :-)

    I'm not surprised that the 'marble statues in the pews' finally started enjoying it. You're in an amazing choir that has on many occasions literally taken my breath away and have brought tears to my eyes. I like Lindsay's comparison to popcorn with their smiles. Maybe it was Popcorn Day there! I LOVE Popcorn Day! :-)

    Keep up the wonderful blogs, Brian. Keep up the wonderful comments, everybody!

    Miss you, Bub, but skype and the blogs help alot!

    Enjoy every moment!

    Love you,


  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Yay for Brian commenting! Yeah… I don’t mean to comment on every picture, but I just have things to say, so I do! Haha! Cannot wait to see your upcoming posts. Just wondering, are you taking more pictures than the ones you’re posting???

    Good news Mom, they have gelato here too. It is not a very common dessert in the USA. There’s actually a cafe/restaurant-thing that was shown on “triple D” (aka the tv show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives) that is in AZ that made their own gelato in unique flavors. I've never had it, but it sounds delish!

    I hope it’s lovely wherever you are Brian! It's cold and raining here, ewww... I could go for a good thunderstorm right about now! = )

  10. Brian,

    This is Lindsay's old friend, Sarah Voskuil. This may seem stalker-ish but I've been reading and loving your blog! It's so wonderful to be hearing about your first travels. Living in Palestine, many of the travellers I run into here are, in my opinion, experienced to a fault. They've been so many places that they are no longer amazed. And how sad, since this is, afterall, the Holy Land!

    Lindsay and Tess, both of your comments and the conversations that ensue are almost as entertaining as the blog itself! ;)

    Re: gelato. It's actually an Italian desert that differs from ice cream in that it's usually a bit more dense and also "stretchier" if that makes sense. Like ice cream, it can be made with or without dairy (resulting in sorbet). You should really try to find some, it's quite fantastic! I have to wonder if Sabastian Joe's on Franklin in Minneapolis has any.

    Thanks for letting me be part of this journey! Keep up the great posts (and comments).

  11. Or what about this?

  12. Brian, I just have one thing to comment on, and that is the fact that 90% of this blog consists of discussions about food. That might be my favorite part. I can tell that you are loving your time there and that God is working through the choir.

    I MISS YOU BISH!!!!!!

  13. I am going to give you one guess as to who "mrspeacock" is. haha

  14. wow! lots of great questions!

    i don't see a lot of alcohol abuse here, necessarily...i think that it's so common (AND CHEAPER THAN WATER) that people just drink it regularly without the intention of getting drunk. pretty cool.

    and no, I got just a very angry look from the person on the beach, and then she pointed to the "go-ahead-and-fly-the-kite zone" and said, "forbidden!" hehehe.

    sarah! it's great to hear from you! i'm glad you're enjoying the blog, and explaining to my mom what gelato is. :) hope all is well!

    and, yes, i know that's you, justine.

  15. Hey Sara V! Thanks for the gelato restaurant in Mpls!

    Linds: lets go there sometime this summer when we're in the cities! guys are funny in your description of foods..."stretchy" gelato and "bouncy" cow's taste buds!