Wednesday, May 16, 2012


This Monday and Tuesday we made a trip to Wittenberg, an official Luther city. This is the city where Luther posted his 95 Theses against indulgences. Essentially, a protestant’s dream tourist attraction!

Highlights of the trip included seeing famous churches; the Schloßkirche and Stadtkirche. When we first arrived we participated in the midday prayer service at the Stadtkirche. It was a small group, and we gathered at the front of the church. By the time it was over, we turned around and the pews were half filled with people from a tour group. It was startling since I didn’t hear them come in, but it’s really cool to see how many tourists are interested in visiting churches when they travel.

On Tuesday we visited some museums. In the morning we went to the Luther house, where we saw many items featuring—who else?—Martin Luther. I stopped to pose for a picture with Katy von Bora, Luther’s wife. We also stopped by a history museum that showed what daily life was like in 20th century Germany.

Another important figure in Wittenberg is Cranach. He was an artist, famous for paintings of Luther. We stopped by a print shop where they make ink prints of many things, including portraits by Cranach.

We also saw something I didn’t know about in Wittenberg- the Luther gardens. This is a fairly recent addition. The park is shaped like the Luther rose, with a cross that is made out of rocks in the center, surrounded by trees forming the shape of the rose. The trees are planted by various church congregations throughout the world.


Last weekend I got to meet up with Frau Losch’s group in Munich—the really big city! For May Term the group of students are studying German at a language school in Marburg, and they travel to different cities on the weekends. After a long day of travel, including an exciting (or not so exciting) hour delay in Fulda, I met them at the Hauptbahnhof in Munich. Friday night we enjoyed a Bavarian meal at the Augustiner.

On Saturday morning we had a walking city tour. This was very informative, and it was a great way to get an overview of the history of Munich. Our guide carried photos of what the buildings looked like in the past, and she told stories about their background. Many of the sites were of significance to the founding of the National Socialist Party. Points of interest included the Hofbrauhaus and the glockenspiel.

The highlight of the tour for me was when we stopped at the university where the resistance group the White Rose was caught distributing pamphlets. In the building there were memorials for Hans and Sophie Scholl, two young siblings who were part of the resistance group during WWII. I learned about this group in my high school German course, so it was important for me to see the place where the history took place. It was dangerous for people to publish writings speaking out against the Nazis, so I admire their bravery and the legacy they left behind.

In the afternoon we had a tour of the artwork at the Alte Pinakothek. I love art museums because they offer such a unique perspective of history, so this was an enjoyable part of the trip for me. The gallery featured many religious pieces. Later in the afternoon we had free time, so some of us went out to purchase Dirndls (traditional dress) in true Bavarian fashion.

Sunday was palace and castle day, featuring Neuschwanstein—castle of King Ludwig II. We rode an English-language tour bus on the way there, seeing the beautiful countryside of Bavaria. Once we arrived at the site of Neuschwanstein, we had a nice hike up to the castle, and then we hiked up further to the bridge for an awesome view. Photos do not even begin to describe what it was like.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

We're going to... speak German on the radio?

Mittwoch, 09. Mai 2012

This day gave me the opportunity to learn more from Kerstin about what she does with public relations at the Wartburg. I had time to ask her questions, and get an idea of what it is like to work in event planning for a historical site. Many events and concerts are held at the castle, and Kerstin works to make sure events run smoothly.

I have a strong interest in event planning, especially with my involvement in Dance Marathon, so it was great to hear about how event-planning functions in a setting like this. It takes a lot of preparation, budgeting, and marketing for ticket sales. Many things within public relations are similar here in Germany as they would be back home. Getting the word out about events involves the using the Internet, writing press releases—all that good stuff that I love doing.

After a day at my internship, I had an interesting evening. People of Eisenach scheduled us to be part of a radio program, so we headed down to the Wartburg Radio station to join a show. It was definitely fun, but a bit nerve-wracking too! I have been on the radio for KWAR, but a language barrier can make all the difference. Speaking German with others personally is one thing, but to try to get a point across without the ability to use visual cues is a different story. The two women who host the show were a lot of fun, so it was a good experience.

Donnerstag, 10. Mai 2012

Today we made a trip to Erfurt—the big city! One of the main highlights of the trip was seeing the churches. Martin Luther spent a few years studying in Erfurt, so of course it’s a city with some good Lutheran history. Another great thing about Erfurt is that it lies in the forests of Thüringen, so the city has great hills to climb. When we hike up to high points, we get to see beautiful views of the city and trees. Many, many trees, which I love. Note: These photos are not representative of the forests.

For Abendessen we went to the Augustiner restaurant, where I had Schweineschnitzel Cordon Bleu. Dr. Kleinhans pointed out the irony of consuming pork stuffed with ham. Hmm. The Germans sure know how to combine their meats, and I think this was one of my favorites yet. The evening was finished with another Bibelwoche Bible study. The Germans we meet here are also very good with hospitality. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wartburg Days

Montag, 07. Mai 2012

Today was the first official day of my internship at the Wartburg. When I first arrived, I had time to converse with Kerstin, my supervisor. She is part of the public relations department at the castle. She works with the press, events, and other functions of the castle that I’m sure I will learn much more about.

Since I am still “learning the ropes” here, I went on two guided tours. First I took the German tour, and then in the afternoon I joined the English tour. There is so much history in the castle, and I think there is something new to notice each time you go through.

There were a couple opportunities to be involved in the church community tonight. After I returned from a day at the castle, Dr. Kleinhans and I went to the Methodist church for Friedensgebet—peace prayer. There wasn’t a huge group of people there, but the atmosphere was nice, and it was a powerful service for me. It was one of those moments when it didn’t matter if I could understand every word people were saying, because I could feel the Holy Spirit working through the intimate group of people praying together. Later in the evening we joined an ecumenical Bible study, in which Psalm 42 was discussed.

Dienstag, 08. Mai 2012

It has only been a few days at the Wartburg, and it already feels like home. Today both Dan and I were at the castle. The main task for us involved helping with translations. This included translating a menu and a promotion on the mobile app from German into English. This job seemed so fitting to accomplish at the Wartburg, where Martin Luther translated the New Testament. It was part of getting the true Luther experience.

In the upcoming days I look forward to gaining more experience, and offering my skills as they can be used at the castle. In particular, I am excited to help with the website, because they are looking to change the layout of the page.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Das Wochenende

The highlight of Saturday was enjoying a concert at the Wartburg. I was delighted to enjoy a concert that took place in the Festsaal – a hall with remarkable acoustics. The music featured works from Haydn, Stravinsky and Beethoven. Concerts are a fantastic way to experience culture in a different country, without the language barrier!

On Sunday we started the day with worship, Gottesdienst, at the St. Georgen Kirche. The service was a Bach Kantate. St. George is the church where J.S. Bach was baptized. Bach was born in Eisenach and spent part of his childhood growing up there. This week a girl was baptized, so I got to see what the ritual of practicing this sacrament is like in a different culture.

Sunday was a rainy and dreary day, so we went along with the tone of the weather. We took a trip to Weimar in the afternoon to visit Buchenwald. Although it was a far cry from a joyful afternoon trip, it was a very meaningful experience. As someone who is interested in peace and justice issues, it was important for me to gain perspective on the history of the Holocaust.

Buchenwald was a concentration camp. It was technically a labor camp and not an extermination camp, but people still lost their lives there. Even if people survived physically, I could only imagine how the de-humanization of it all impacted their mental and emotional well-being. While it is hard to face, it is important to keep evidence of such atrocious history available so that people can look back and understand the lesson to be learned.

One of the first things we saw at Buchenwald was the gate in the entryway to the camp. On the door it reads, “Jedem das Seine,” which means, “To each his own.” At the end of our visit, Dr. Kleinhans pointed out a memorial that offers a glimmer of hope. The memorial had engraved all the different nationalities of victims at Buchenwald. This memorial is always kept at a constant 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, to represent the common humanity.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Freitag, 04. Mai 2012

Heute haben wir oft spazieren gegangen! The day was filled with walking and adventure. During our free time in the morning, we hiked up the hill to the Burschenschaftsdenkmal. From there we hiked back down a scenic route, Panoramaweg, which provided a nice view of Eisenach.

The afternoon offered a unique opportunity for us. May 4 is the anniversary of Martin Luther being taken away to go into hiding at the Wartburg. We joined a group of confirmation students and took a bus to Lutherweg, where we walked the path for a bit. We then came to the point where Luther was taken, where a monument now stands. Several people gathered to celebrate the day, and there was a reenactment of Luther’s “kidnapping,” which I was mostly able to follow with my German. This opportunity was also a nice time to speak with a couple pastors and learn more from them.

In the evening we attended worship at the Wartburg. This was my first time in the castle, and I am very anxious to start working on my internship there Monday. Today I received an outline of the plan for my internship, and I look forward to learning from the people I work with at the castle. Attending worship, if only to see the chapel, made me excited to be part of the rich history.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wiedersehen Neuendettelsau, Hallo Eisenach!

Dienstag, 01. Mai 2012

Heute haben wir Jahresfest gefeiert!

We experienced the annual holiday in Neuendettelsau. This allowed us to learn more about the Diakonie, and how they interact with the community. The town was active with many sights to see and things to do. People could participate in fun activities for people of all ages.

In the morning we went to church, which was my first German worship service. Knowing Lutheran liturgy well in English certainly makes it easier to follow along in worship. Much of the service focused on inclusion of all people, which ties in with the mission of the Diakonie.

In the afternoon we went to the book flea market at the library. While we were there we were lucky enough to run into a historian. He took us downstairs in the library to show us archives. It was quite a sight to see original works from Löhe’s time.

We saw a few other points of interest, including artwork as displayed in the “Lebenskreuze.” Also, we saw the sign pointing to the places where Neuendettelsau has sent missions.

Mittwoch, 02. Mai 2012

Our travels to Eisenach have led us to meet many great people. On Wednesday we took the train from Neuendettelsau to Eisenach. There was a very nice family on the last leg of the train ride. They were originally from Leipzig and coming back to visit family, and it was nice to talk with them about our travels as well as theirs.

Once we arrived in Eisenach, Heike was there to greet us. Heike is coordinating our internships. She took us to the motherhouse, where we are staying for the month. The rest of the day we had free. We walked around town, and I also met a couple of the deaconesses with which we live.

Donnerstag, 03. Mai 2012

The morning started with breakfast and chapel. At breakfast we met someone who is on a pilgrimage. I gather it is common for pilgrims to stay at the motherhouse. We also met a couple who is from The Netherlands, also from a sister city of Eisenach, like Waverly. At the chapel service people were very welcoming of guests.

Following chapel we went to city hall to discuss plans for our internships. I can tell that we are important to the community, and they appreciate our being here. I am anxious to start working with people at the Wartburg. It will be interesting to learn more about the culture, history, and how public relations functions in Germany.

In addition, we had a city tour. Stops included the St. George Church, Bach House, Luther House, and the smallest house in Germany. Tomorrow: Wartburg Castle!