Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hello, Germany!

Okay, I could use a little help today!

Earlier this year, one of the young men from our church showed me a blog tracking device that I had no idea even existed.  With two little clicks, I'm able to see the number of people who have read Embrace the Grace each week.

(For over two years  I thought probably half of the people identified as ones who "follow" might read occasionally.  What a pleasant surprise to find out I was sorely mistaken.)

And with just another click or two, I'm able to see what countries have readers.  Because I've always loved traveling, this is especially exciting for me.  There are readers in such far away places as: Lithuania,  Russia, Philippines, India, and even China!

Frank spent three weeks in China the year after Meagan was born.  He fell in love with the people, the country, the history, especially with Hong Kong.  He came home and promptly promised to take me there some day.

Imagine my joy when I started seeing readers of Embrace the Grace who live in CHINA!  Frank and I go there via internet each week now.

But this week something puzzling showed up on my report.  It showed a HUGE number of readers from Germany.

I haven't been to Germany recently.  I don't know anyone currently living in Germany.  I don't think I have a long lost cousin there.  So..............why the jump?  If you are one of the marvelous German people who have stopped by this site, PLEASE clue me in.  I want to say THANK YOU!

Right after graduating from college I did get to visit Germany.  I was part of a team headed to Greece to assist missionaries for the summer.  It was the trip of a lifetime.

Dr. James Ferrell, who had traveled extensively over the years, led our team.  During one of our earliest planning meetings he pitched a brilliant idea.  We could leave a week early.  Fly into Germany.  Rent a car.  Then drive through Europe experiencing some of the wonders we'd read about all our lives.  Then catch a boat from Italy to Greece.

As education/missions majors we were thrilled with his proposition and jumped on board immediately! 

The "car" was little more than a skate board with a roof.  We slept two nights on the road while taking turns driving.  Several of the stops were just that, STOPS.  Jump out of the car.  Take pictures.  Walk quickly all the way around the site.  Dash to the "facilities;" whatever those may be.  One more picture.  Grab whatever food was available. Cram back into the car.  GO!!

Of course, we all suffered with diarrhea at some point.  Sorry if that's offensive, but every traveler knows it's part of the experience.

I'm not sure what medicine we found at the "pharmacia" but it caused me to fall sound asleep - on a cement dock somewhere in Italy.  (Evidence that when you're young, you can sleep anywhere!)

Right after we left the airport in Germany, I pleaded with Dr. Ferrell and the others to stop for a photo op next to the first road sign we came to.  It was something we did in our family.  We didn't have many pictures at amusement parks (too expensive.)  But we took lots of pictures next to the signs heralding the names of the cities we were visiting.

The team graciously indulged me.  (Maybe they just wanted to stop the whining,  "Puh-leeeeese?!")

"Oh, there's a sign now.  Please stop!!!"

Dr. Ferrell made a split-second, Bond-esque driving move and screeched to a halt on the side of the road.  I jumped out and stood next to the huge sign with the name of the first city on our journey.  I flashed an equally huge grin.  Felt the wind from the cars whipping by on the Autobahn.  Had no idea how dangerous this was.  Ginger snapped the picture.  Back in the clown car and on our way.

I could hardly wait to see that first city!

We drove for over two hours - continuing to see the sign with the city name.  I became puzzled.  This must be a capital or something for them to put the name on the Autobahn so far before you actually reach the city.  On our interstate highways, you would only see the name of a city about sixty miles before getting there.  Hmmmmm.

Finally, the light dawned.  The sign I stood in front of was, "Ausfarht."  (Everyone reading in Germany is already laughing.)  I'd never seen Ausfarht, Germany on a map but I could hardly wait to see it in person.

The problem?   Ausfarht isn't a city at all.  Ausfarht is EXIT in German!

Yes, the first photograph of my European tour is of me standing next EXIT sign.  Oh, what a savvy traveler was I!

I do have another, less embarrassing memory of Germany.  We got off the Autobahn and bought bread and cheese at a roadside stand.  Then we found a bubbling stream with an open, grassy area next to it.  Trees towered over our little group as we sat right on the grass and enjoyed our bread, cheese, and sparkling water together. I remember it like yesterday!

So here I am, thirty-five years later with another German puzzle to be solved.  If you have information that can bring enlightenment, PUH-LEEEEEESE share in the comment box.

I'd be MOST appreciative!


  1. What a great trip!

    I went on a school train trip when I was about 12 or 13. I thought every town we passed had a street named derail - I saw the signs! While sharing the stories from my trip with my parents they burst out laughing at that fun fact,

    I hope you solve your Germany mystery!

    1. HOLLY! Thank you for generously sharing your own sign story so I didn't feel quite so silly. (We just won't highlight the fact that you were 12 and I was 20! LOL)

  2. Sorry, I am no help other than my husband was stationed in Germany for about 2 1/2 years back from 90-92 so we did live in Frankfurt then, not now. My daughter was 3 mo to about 2 1/2 during that time. Now days, when she tells people that she has lived in Germany, they get all excited for her, until she tells them how old she was and the fact that she has no memory of living there!

    1. Nicole, I bet YOU have some great memories from Frankfurt. Cute story about your daughter. My brother was stationed there for a time as well. Small world!

  3. Stefanie in St. LouisJune 30, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    LOL - I knew *immediately* what the sign said. :)

    I lived in Germany in 92 and 93 (my daughter was 18 months - 3 years old and she has no recollection, either) in Nurnberg. Loved it there, so very much want to go back.


    1. Overseas experiences seem to stay with us a lifetime, don't they Stefanie? :-)

  4. Sheri - my sister and I went with my mom (age 86) and her sister (age 84) two years ago to Germany. My sister and I are in our 60's and we also have the photo of the EXIT sign as we thought it was the town coming up also. Hope you figure out your German readership. Becky in NC

    1. Becky, THANK YOU!! It's nice to know that I'm in good company. What a wonderful experience to share with the women of your family! Just curious, were your mom and aunt from Germany originally?

  5. Hi Sheri,
    I am one of your German readers, coming over from Becky's blog, which I have been following for many years now. I have no clue though, why there was such a jump in number of German readers. I did not tell anyone. :)
    Love the story about the exit sign!
    Take care - Babette

    1. Hi, Babette! So nice to meet you via internet! Thanks for smiling with me over the story. Everyone was so very gracious in Germany. And we now have a couple attending our church who lived in Germany until their early twenties. Small World Indeed!

  6. Good Afternoon,

    Maybe Otto told someone about, God Bless Larry