The phone rings.
“Hallo Robyn. Hier ist H***. Kommst du zu meinem Haus am Sonntag morgan? Meine Geburtstagfeier ist um 10 Uhr.”
“Ja, komme ich. Ja habe ich wenig Sorge, aber es ist gut für mein deutschsprechendes zu üben. Und deinen Geburtstag natürlich auch feiern.”
“Hello Robyn. This is H***. Are you coming on Sunday morning? My birthday party is at 10:00 AM.”
“Yes, I will come. Yes, I have a little worry, but it is good for my German speaking practice. And naturally to celebrate your birthday also.”
Birthdays are important in Germany. If a person is invited to a birthday party, they are counted as an important person by the ‘birthday girl.’ In Germany, the birthday girl hosts the event, making the cake and party food and providing the place. The guests come with a gift, a card, and usually some flowers. The party usually consists of food, cake, and champagne—even in the morning! In fact, a morning birthday party is considered the height of ‘specialties.’ I have been to five birthday parties in my one and a half years here, and the three morning parties have been by far the most decorative.
I arrived that Sunday morning a bit worn out—I lost the house. I took the correct turns down my street, but when I arrived at the end of the appropriate street, there was no house that looked familiar. I walked four steps further into the road, and suddenly, there, hidden behind the trees that were not in bloom when I last visited, was the house! Trust me—an American neighborhood it is not!
I walked up the hill, found the door and knocked. A very dressed-up, smiling German woman in her fifties answered the door. She handed me a glass of water, invited me into her small flat, and introduced me to her best friend from north Germany. We began to talk, and the doorbell rang again. Soon the table was filled with several women, two couples, and much German conversation. I sat with my eyes glued on their mouths, grabbing hold of most of their conversation, but entering in only nominally.
Yep, this is hoch Deutsch (high German) at its best! And…at its worst.
So there I sat, listening, knowing that the conversation was all about higher levels of consciousness (‘new age enlightenment’), and unable to say much of anything.
I learned, however, that God had a different ending than the one I was considering (which, by the way, was to get up and run out of the door, crying over my inadequacies).
The mayor and doctor left after the meal of melon with some sort of thin slices of ham over it, schinken cutlets, spatzle, beans and carrots, and cake.
When asked if I would like an after-dinner cappuccino, I gave in. Not because I wanted one, but because something just did not allow me to get up off the chair and leave.
My friend and ‘birthday girl’ H*** handed me my cup, and conversation began again. The women talked about how their businesses were going, how their children were growing, and the decisions their children were making. Again, I just sat and listened.
The garden beckoned us, and we all wandered outside. Suddenly, one of the women turned to me and asked me what I was doing in this country, why I came, and how long I would be here. I began to tell my story, albeit in halting German. I shared about my past, my love for God, His provision, my life with Him, my children, their love for God, and the desire to share my love of God with other women here in Germany.
Even the daisies seemed to turn their faces toward me. All eyes were open and listening. I struggled through my German and stopped. No one spoke, not even the daisies, for several seconds, and then it happened. All of a sudden the women were sharing stories of their hearts. Not facts—hearts!
By the end of the evening, I was invited to join them for a day of shopping, or just sharing life in the future.
When they left, I was alone with H*** and her best friend from the north, who was staying for a few days. H*** said that she had learned things about her friends that she had never known before, even though she had known them for years. She said, “Robyn, you bring out the hearts of people.”
I replied, “Gott ist der Hörer des Herzens.” Trust me, that was my attempt to say, “God is the hearer of the heart.”
As I left shortly afterwards, H**’s best friend from up north gave me her address, asking me to write. She promised to write me back so I can practice my German. And, she said to me in German with a wink, “I can share my heart.”