Sweaty and heaving air in and out of my lungs, I write this update while sitting on a nearly empty bus to Paris. Its raining, which I currently love because I am not getting soaked. We nearly missed this bus; lets just say we probably gave many people the idea that Americans are idiots that run back and forth through an entirely large train station- oops. But I did stand in front of this large bus with my hands in the air as it drove down the street; we now sit safely on our bus. It was like a movie - I could star in some crazy dangerous movie. The passengers include Loren, one lady, and myself on a bus that seats 40. We sat somewhere near the middle, more towards the front. I plan to start and finish Paper Towns by John Green on this silent six hour trip.
Brenner blood : a certain type of blood that runs thick in veins and straight through hearts. It is undeniable and gives permission such as emailing perfectly seeming strangers and making them into dear friends with memories made. Brenner blood, the more I familiarize with it, is wholly generous and completely hospitable. All of the Brenners that I meet are those beautiful things.
Our time in Berlin was short but long lasting in memory. Loren and his cousin Stephan met for the first real memorable time in 12 years - the last time they glanced at each other was briefly across the yard at a huge Brenner reunion in San Jose. Stephan gave us the first story of his home as our space; the hospitality in Germany is top notch, friends. I have learned so much.
Stephan rented us bikes for the two days and gave us a bike tour of All The Important Things, including one of the bunkers used in WWII. It happened to also be Mai Fest (May Day) so we celebrated the night into May with 50,000+ other people.
Part of the Berlin Wall.
One of the (precisely) 3 prayers that I lit a candle for in the old churches that offered such moments.
Standing in the middle of the Holocaust memorial which consisted of a multitude of large cement stone blocks varying in size.
Pommes at the Brandenburg Gate
An old train station that was bombed during WWII.
This little square of bean bag chairs and bookshelves is the memorial for where the books were burned
Check Point Charlie
There stands the last of the oldest German traffic lights over yonder!
We stepped off the train and into platform 5 of Duisburg unsure what face we were looking for.
Loren's dad (Ralph) has a cousin living in north western Germany, Moers, and we connected with the family via the great World Wide Web. We slowly walked towards the stairwell leading to the underground breezeway, hoping we would somehow recognize a human we had never met or laid eyes on. We weren't even Facebook friends. But Brenner blood runs thick with love.
Suddenly through a mass of travelers, submerges a quick woman, smiling and obviously recognizing us. Embracing us in the warmest and most sincere hug ever, she kissed our cheeks and I thought, "This must be Andrea. I like Andrea."
Moers is a small town similar to the size of Corvallis. Andrea and Franz have lived here all of their life, currently raising two beautiful kids (Christopher, 18 and Anika, 12). This family is nothing short of a gift. Their hospitality exceeds many I have experienced and their hearts are inviting. Just as quickly as they welcomed us into their home, they welcomed us into their hearts. They even read up on this blog here and purchased me gluten/dairy free bread! The love is for real, folks. What an honor to claim such people as family.
Andrea and Franz decided to take us the 18 minute drive to Venlo, Netherlands. They said, "it's not everyday you can take a day trip to the Netherlands for their pommes and shopping!" Down the autobahn we went, entering a fourth foreign country (the third unplanned), ready to devour pommes. They were some dang good pommes.
Also, we went to the best shopping store ever; I got 3 scarves, shoes, a purse, socks and Loren got 3 shirts and a sweater...all for just $35. So obviously next time I want a cheap shopping trip, I will head to the Netherlands. Their coffee is also ridiculously low priced. On our way back to Moers, Germany, we stopped to meet more family. Loren's Opa's brother, aka Ralph's uncle, among other wonderful humans who share their blood. The barrier of language hardly held us at bay; with Loren's broken German and a few of their broken English and a whole lot of smiles and hand movements, we communicated. It was a unique moment for me as I watched generations of Brenners meet and talk and share stories of loved ones. I couldn't help but think how blessed I am to now be a Brenner.
Brenner blood runs thick and apparently there are tons of them spread throughout Germany.
Here's something crazy: this man Edmund was in a coma for 10 days, his heart stopped beating for something like 14 minutes, declared dead. The doctors shocked him with those iron-like equipments and now, 2 months later, he walks around no problem. Amazing. He said that while he was out of commission, he was walking around and asked God, "Where am I?" And God said, "Time to go back."
Our time in Moers will forever be cherished. We do hope to return. (Also, Franz and Andrea, if you are reading this, be sure to let Annika and Chris know they should come stay with us).
It is difficult to recap quickly what life beholds, yeah?
Did you know that in Germany the traffic lights blink red to yellow then to green? And white asparagus is huge and widely known here, also tastes nothing like green asparagus. Interesting, I know.
Revoir mes, petits amis!