01 January 2008

Stuttgart Silvester Tagung

Marcl and Bryan picked me up from the Müller's house and seemed surprised at my limited baggage. Next to the two missionary-sized suitcases, my backpack looked like a purse. Inka's suitcase only further worried me. What more should I have brought? With four of us in the car, it took us quite a while to really leave for the Stuttgart Silvester Tagung (New Year's Eve Convention, but less professional and more fun than it sounds) as two people forgot things and lived in opposite directions. As we drove further and further from Leipzig, I thought of how I would miss the Müllers.

Four hours and two naps (for me, at least) later, we made it to snowy Stuttgart. The stakehouse was decked out for the first casual dance, which included a chill lounge, a game room (with the typical fußball and ping pong), and one of those big jumpy things, which was shaped like Noah's ark.

We slept in a sport hall (girls and boys in separate gyms). I was grateful that Inka had bought some posh ear plugs (they were malleable wax with a fuzzy cotton layer on the outside).

Saturday morning was spent with a small gospel class at the Stuttgart institute, a walk into the city center, us seeing The Golden Compass (which I both understood and quite enjoyed, I think I wrote a report on that book at least 8 years ago). Then we split into groups and went around the city with cameras, trying to gain points for different activities, which were hilarious.

I ended up asking a man who was staring at us if we could trade shoes for a few steps, which was one of the requirements I figured I could handle. (Yes, they were my plaid shoes that have holes in them. He laughed when I said that his were comfortable and warm.) We also asked people if they had washed their hands as they left the toilet, sang a Christmas song on the Castle Plaza, welcomed people to Burger King, made a congo line, yelled "Stop that thief," and asked a man for his tie, among other things. By then, Inka and I were exhausted, so we went back to the stakehouse and started the fad of sleeping in the chill lounge. By the time we left, there had been at least twenty nappers in there. I slept against the heater and woke up with red eyes. After dinner, we all headed to the local beach hall, a place filled with imported sand. I enjoyed a short bit of beach football (wow, you can't really run, can you?), but especially the volleyball. I surprised more than a few people with my serves, so that was fun.

Sunday morning showering was fun. Let's just say that being in Germany makes me step out of a lot of comfort zones. After church, all of us went for a walk, or spazieren. I have meant for quite a while to write a post about spazieren, look forward to that. I talked to Frank's brother the whole time, which was quite enjoyable. Then we went back to the stakehouse and enjoyed a fireside given by a last-minute replacement. The man who spoke had some really random subjects and a few opinions that I didn't quite agree with, but it was nice of him to fill in, even if it went way longer than everyone wanted. Then we had a game night that was a little too boisterous for my taste on a Sunday, although it was amusing to see a girl get duct-taped to a wall. Inka and I sat in the chill lounge and talked. As it got later and later, my begging efforts were continuously fruitless, so we finally took the shuttle back.

Monday, Inka and I brought everything we needed to prepare for the ball with us to the stakehouse. She had discovered that there was a shower we could use where we wouldn't be fighting for mirrors and power plugs like all the other girls in the sport hall. After a good fußball fight (wherein Inka was excited to have made a few goals) and a morning gospel class, close to 200 of us split into groups to do different activities in the city. I chose ice skating even though my feet hurt already from dancing and walking. Frank, Robert, Marcl, and Inka said they'd come too. The entire time, Frank was to be seen zooming around doing fancy skating. (I have asked him several times now, "Is there anything you're not good at?") Inka entertained herself teaching people how to do pirouettes, Marcl continued cracking his jokes, and I basically just had fun throwing snowballs from ice shavings, learning how to do pirouettes, playing tag, helping little kids up who had fallen, and holding onto Frank as he skated us around the ring.

I had one huge fall as I avoided being tagged and remembered that it's much better to fall on your bum. Check out this bruise (there's a similar one on the other knee, which is also just as bony and pasty):

Then I waited as some people got lunch at Burger King. We had a bit of fun with the crowns there, then headed back to the stakehouse and tried to learn to knit. Wow, why do people knit? Crocheting is so much easier! I could never remember how many loops I had already done and didn't get very far before I decided to amuse myself elsewhere, which turned out to be the awesome piano in the chapel, drawing some nice people who showed off their piano skills. Inka and I finally showered and got ready for the ball. A girl who is a beautician did my hair while I tried to cover my rebellious skin.

The ball was fabulous. Everyone got glow-in-the-dark wrist bands, everyone looked great, the dinner was fabulous, but my favorite was the dancing. Frank was the best dance partner, as he can twist and twirl and basically make it so exciting I just wanted to dance the whole night.

We were given a few minutes to think back on the last year. I thought of hard times at the FHL, of writing the training manual. I thought of all the traveling I had done, from San Francisco to Moab to Havasu to Costa Rica to Boston to Manchester to London to Leipzig. I thought of the dark, dissatisfaction I felt for a while and of the satisfaction I felt on moving to Leipzig. I thought of my family and friends and of the future. Then we watched as fireworks went up all over Leipzig and the snow came down.

Although it must be tradition here for everyone to hug everyone else and say "Beautiful new year" or "Healthy new year," I got a little wary of hugging all these strangers (even though I've come a long way here in Germany). Then everyone went back to dancing. Inka considerately came and found me when she heard that one of the cars was going back at about 3:30. I found out the next morning that people had gotten back at 6. That's A.M. Crazers. The breakfast the next morning was fabulous. I put away all of this:

People wrote their last notes to each other, we took a group picture, and we had one last dance (I danced with Frank). Then we had a lovely testimony meeting. I had decided to go up when they said they were going to close. I guess I'll have to wait until Sunday.

On the way back, the snow came down beautifully as we drove (and as I napped), but it decided to stop almost as soon as we passed the Sachsen border. Yes, I have a hair sticking straight up in this picture at the rest stop:

I realized that I left my beloved scarf from Ronda in Stuttgart. Marcl wryly suggested that I'll just have to knit myself a new one. I thought back on the last few days and here are some of my thoughts:

-I didn't end up feeling like I needed much more than what I had brought, but it would have been nice to look a little cuter like all the other girls. One of my friends pointed out that me getting ready faster and being a cheapskate ("Sparfuchs" in German, literally "save fox" in English) would pay off some day, and I asked why. He said that I would make someone really happy while other husbands would be fretting as their wives were still getting ready.
-It was great to hear and speak German for four days straight. There were a few Americans there, but I avoided them like the plague, reasons for which are debatable.
-I wish Tanya was there.
-I wish Seppl was there.
-I found it hilarious how prepared Inka was. She whipped out one of those electrical outlet divider thingies (what is it in English?!?), a song book, an umbrella, and other random things that we ended up needing.
-I like dancing and want to dance a lot more.
-I had reinforced that I don't like staying up ridiculously late. Or just late.
-It was great getting to know Leipzig friends even better.

Of course, we had to have an after-party party, so we gathered at Bryan's apartment. I got to try out his new piano with the headphones. People laughed to hear the keys being pushed but not to hear music. I could have been playing anything and it would have sounded impressive. We watched a movie that my family has, I don't remember what it is called in English. I wonder how understandable football films are for Europeans. I know they like Remember the Titans. I think they still enjoyed it. I want to see Bridge to Terabithia next.

For now, sleep!


  1. Two items:
    1. This post is really long.
    2. Music on blogs bugs me.

    Two more items:
    1. I'm glad you're getting over some of your inhibitions in Germany.
    2. I missed you on Christmas, but I'm glad that you found a good replacement family and even gladder that I get to see you in Feb.

  2. Your trip sounded . . . fun. I wish I could have enjoyed that with you too :).