The few times that I have mentioned Germany here, it’s always been in a negative context. However, there was much that was positive about my stay in Germany. So I thought I’d share some of those positive experiences.
One of the things that happened while I was in Germany is that I made lifelong friends. When I left for Germany, I was still a teenager and I didn’t really know anyone there. I volunteered with an organization in Kenya, where one of the employees was a wonderful German guy. When he found out I was heading to Germany, he immediately said he’d contact his family and have them pick me up from the airport. I’d met his younger sister a couple of times when she was visiting in Kenya, but we didn’t really know each other. She and her dad picked me up from the airport and delivered me safely to their home, where I spent a week or so before reporting to school.
Not only did they roll out a red carpet welcome for me, they ended up becoming my family in Germany and provided for me a home away from home. The parents declared me their nth child and I got to call them Mama and Papa. Many were the times I made the journey to their place, arriving unannounced to much joy and fanfare. Mama found out what my favorite German meal was and cooked it often when I went home for a weekend visit or for a longer period of time. Oma (grandma) and I spent many hours at the dining table when the others were gone, just talking about life. She took ill and died one spring when I was away in Kenya. And when she knew she was dying, she kept asking them to send for me, not quite understanding that I was in Kenya and couldn’t just hop over and say goodbye. I keenly felt her absence when I finally got back to Germany too late.
Having a family in Germany was such a great blessing! I’m still grateful for them and their loving hearts. I still call my German parents Mama and Papa when I talk to them.
Another of my really wonderful experiences was at the hands of yet another German family who took me in for the final 5 months of my stay in Germany. I needed a roof over my head and they didn’t even really know me when they invited me to stay with them. Sometimes I’d be out late at night and would come back home to find they’d left a light on for me. It brought me to tears because I’d lived alone for almost all of my stay in Germany and there had been no one to go home to, no one to share daily successes and distresses with, no one anticipating my return. When the time came for me to leave Germany, I told them how much it had meant to me to come home and find the porch and hallway lights on. I felt loved. I knew that they were concerned for me. They still mean the world to me.
So my stay in Germany wasn’t full of negative experiences, even though they impacted me greatly. I had many wonderful experiences to counteract them, though, and so I find that I miss Germany terribly sometimes, when I never expected to. I’m so grateful for the many wonderful Germans who showed me great kindnesses when I was thousands of miles away from home.