28 November 2008

Es klopft bei Wanja in der Nacht

In the German children’s story Es klopft bei Wanja in der Nacht, by Tilde Michels, we find Wanja sleeping warmly in his hunting cabin in the woods during a snow storm when he hears someone tapping on his door. He gets up to see who it is to find a hare freezing and asking to come in for the night. Wanja lets him in, puts some more wood in the stove and climbs back in bed. Not much later the hare and Wanja are awakened by a shivering fox knocking on the door asking to spend the night in the hunter’s cabin out of the snow storm. Wanja lets him in much to the consternation of the hare. After letting him in they all bed down for the rest of the night when a short time later they hear again a knocking at the door. Wanja getting up once again opens the door to find a very cold bear asking if he could not spend the night in the hunter’s cabin. The fox is not too fond of the idea but as the hare in his regard had kept his peace so did he with regards to the bear.

Early the next morning each one of Wanja’s guests creep out of the hunter’s cabin being careful not to wake up the others, first the hare, then the fox and finally the bear. In the morning when Wanja wakes up he finds that the cabin is empty and he scratches his head thinking that it must have all been a simple dream. Stepping outside Wanja sees the tracks of his three guests in the fresh fallen snow and in the words of Tilde Michels:

Der Wanja schaut und nickt und lacht: (Wanja looks, nods and laughs)
„Wir haben wirklich diese Nacht (We really spent this night)
gemeinsam friedlich zugebracht. – (together in peace. – )
Was so ein Schneesturm alles macht!“ (And that is what a snow storm can do!)

I always get a buzz out of this story. Wanja joyfully and simply says that the adversity (in this case the snow storm) faced by each of his guests that night, brought together the most unlikely housemates for the night. For Wanja’s guests the snow storm was too much and each one found himself sleeping in a cabin with someone who, on any other day, might have made him their noon meal. The hare was fearful of the fox, the fox of the bear, and let us not forget that Wanja was sleeping in a hunter’s cabin which is not the best of places to sleep even if you are a bear. Enemies, all sleeping in one room in the middle of the forest because of a snow storm.

“Snow storms” are not our favorite times in life and we would all like to avoid them if possible. God has a way of bringing us together with some characters we would rather not be with through “snow storms”. I have asked my self numerous times in the past several years why He has placed us in Bouaké on a campus full of French soldiers. I can think of a lot of other people with whom I would rather be living and working. Our “snow storm” has of course been the continuing civil unrest in Côte d'Ivoire. We would love to see elections take place and for everything to get back to “normal”. Somehow however, I have a feeling that this is a bit of an illusion. So it is at the end of three months of home assignment in Germany, we are in the middle of preparing our return to our “snow storm” where, incidentally, we hope to find no real snow!

One of the highlights of the past several months for us has been getting back in contact with many of our friends and supporters here in Germany. We have enjoyed a number of different things ranging from cold winter walks to fantastic meals together while working on various and sundry projects. But the best has been the challenge to persevere in our walk with the Father through our fellowship here in Germany. Theirs is not an easy lot to follow Christ in a country like this where, to proclaim your attachment to God is a bit like saying you have a dreaded infectious disease. We have been inspired by those who have, through difficult life situations, remained faithful. Preparing to leave Germany and hop back into our West African roles we are a bit sad. We will not miss the cold and the snow but we will miss the fellowship.

Many of you know that we had a party to celebrate 50 years of marriage for my folks. We flew from Germany to Oregon the 13th of October for 2 weeks to spend some time together as a family. On Saturday, the 25th of October we celebrated my folks’ 50th along with relatives from all over the state and about 200 friends. It was a lot of fun seeing people we hadn’t seen in years. Following the party our entire family headed off for several days together on the Oregon Coast.

For the first time in 10 years my parents had all of their children together, all at the same time and in one place, with all of their spouses and assorted offspring. We made a squad of 19 individuals all together. We were able to spend a couple of days together and had a wild time cooking, playing, looking at photos, and walking on the beach in Yachats, Oregon. The range in ages made for some interesting conversations and creative cooking combinations. One outstanding blessing for us was the great weather we had on the Oregon coast the end of October. It was shorts and t-shirts weather on the beach and some of the younger ones even found themselves rolling in a very cold surf, albeit unintentionally. Great times like these come far too seldom it would seem. We thank God for each occasion He gives us to be with family.

Once again I find myself out of room having written far too much for your tired eyes. Thanks for letting us share with you our variously unsettled lives. May you have a great holiday season full of thankfulness for what God has done in your lives.

Rod and Angelika