. . . and then some more . . . More life. More Jesus.

Tag Archives: Americans In Germany

And Then Your Kids Know German

Sometimes when you live in Germany for a year, you go away for a few days with your family. Because the apartment you call home is small. And if you don’t, you start to go a little bit nuts. Plus, you want to soak up the Europe for all it’s worth.

You might go to a really super touristy place, like Heidelberg for example. And while you are there, you hear so much English you stop introducing yourself to your fellow-Americans, and you just pretend like you’re a German. Because the natives are grumpy. And tired of tourists.

And then you walk into a German toy store with your kids. And the store clerk speaks words you only pretend to understand. Because that’s how you roll when you’re pretending to be German. But your children respond to her questions, so she hands them each a balloon, and you all walk out together. When you get outside, your 10-year-old  tells you everything the store clerk just said. The 8-year-old adds details you knew nothing of.

And your heart soars. Because you realize that your kids know German. And, although you are not learning as quickly as they are, this is what you dreamed for them. It’s what you hoped when you said yes to this whole living-in-Germany-for-one-year-thing.

And when they tell you what the lady said, the one you only pretended to understand, you can’t get over the amazed. Can’t shake the smile. All you can do is stand in awe at the hand-painted beautiful God is crafting in your children.

(Un)afraid {Day 4 of Life Unafraid}

I am finding that many important places in Germany have gates outside.

They’re usually pretty cool, in my very American opinion. Except when they’re not. Like the one outside my kids’ school. I mean, I am thankful for the gate. Because, let’s face it, nobody wants just anybody walking onto a school campus without having announced their presence and gaining permission from the powers that be. But it scares me. Okay, the gate doesn’t scare me, but the button/buzzer thingy that I have to push if I want access to the school (and my children) on the other side of the gate, well that thing terrifies me.

Scares me so much, in fact, that I believe I have only been brave enough to use it all of one time. If the gate is closed when I arrive to pick up my children after school and I am the first parent there, I usually just wait for another parent to arrive and follow them in. After they push the buzzer and speak to the voice on the other side.

You see, here in this land of Deutsch (and by Deutsch, I mean the German language) we non-Deutsch speakers rely heavily on the use of nonverbal communication. (i.e. We use our hands to help describe things, our fingers to point at props, our facial expressions to help with the charades.) And, well, gate buzzer thingies have very strict codes regarding the nonverbals. So speaking into them calls on a certain kind of courage that I often don’t have. The courage to show my ignorance of the German language, the bravery to display my I-don’t-belong-here-and-I-really-have-no-idea-what-I’m-supposed-to-do-with-this-buzzer-thing-anyway.

I think a lot of fear is like that. It comes from not wanting to look stupid or sound like we don’t have a clue. In my brain, that not having a clue thing leads to the what-ifs that convince me I will end up a victim of some heinous crime (yes, I know. I have issues.) But maybe in your brain it leads to others fears. Like the fear of failing. Or worrying that in the end you’ll find your own insignificance. Or maybe looking stupid for you means losing credibility that you feel you can’t afford to lose. Whatever it is, the fear cannot win. Because the truth is that if I don’t push the buzzer and no other parents come, I won’t get to take my kids home. (And then they would have issues of an entirely different kind.)

So — what’s your buzzer thingy?

*This month, I’m joining a bunch of other bloggers in a challenge to write for 31 days on a topic about change. Having struggled with fear (sometimes paralyzing) for a lot of my life and missing much of the living that I know God wants for me, I am on a mission to live unafraid for 31 days straight, challenging you to join me. And I’m writing about it. You can catch up here if you’ve missed any of the days.