Turkish Airlines- The hospitality of the airline attendants gave me hope for the rest of Europe. It was a true preconception, I was encountered by friendly and hospitable Europeans for the remainder of the trip.
Budapest, Hungary- These are shoes of Jews who were killed in the Holocaust. We are all people, we all have a story, and we all have a purpose on this Earth.
Bucharest, Romania- Safely in our hotel room after the longest flight of my life! Although we were so far from home, we felt secure.
Sibiu, Romania- Living in the Parish apartments where several people reside who are poor, elderly, or have special needs. We had a freezing shower, but this place was a reminder to count my blessings, not my inconveniences.
Heltau, Romania- Fortified church banner reading “He is Risen! Alleluia!” At each cathedral, church service, or other religious events and places, I was reminded that we celebrate the same risen Lord!
Medias, Romania- After sitting on a bench for an hour, I was reminded of the wonderful moments that can be captured if you just stop, look, and listen. The world has so many beautiful parts to it and it all deserves to be appreciated.
Budapest, Hungary- Mighty to Save! We sang in English, we sang in Hungarian. We sang songs of praise to God and we had tears running down our faces as we shared this connection so many miles away from our home.
Budapest, Hungary- The universal “I love you” sign in Sign Language. A signal for friendship, love, and a way we could communicate with others who spoke no English.
Vienna, Austria- St. Stephen’s Cathedral. One of many pieces of infrastructure that reminds me of the hard work, effort, money, and detail that goes into building a cathedral like this. In the U.S., we often neglect to spend money on artistic and religious institutions.
The hills in Austria- Only the beginning of the beautiful views I saw in Austria and Switzerland. God made such wonderful things and he placed everything on this Earth in the most perfect way.
Venice, Italy- Our walking tour was dropped off an hour away from the buses. But there was a solution and we sought it out. This trip back to the bus was a reminder that there are always bigger problems occurring in the lives of those around you. It is crucial that we be mindful of others at all times, even when we are upset ourselves.
Venice, Italy- The intricate art work, bridges, buildings, and the reasons for the canals are all so unique to Venice.
Ravenna, Italy- Taboo, anyone? We enjoy similar forms of entertainment, we just can’t understand the language they play in…
Florence, Italy- U.S., Italy, Britain…we are all one people; we are all united nations.
Reggello Firenze, Italy- This mural painting of God calling down through the dove is a reminder that God answers prayers, he just may appear in a different form. Maybe he answers prayers through advice from a parent. Maybe he answers prayers through the appearance of something beautiful. Maybe he’ll give you the answer without an appearance!
Pisa, Italy- The famous tower of Pisa. But why so famous? A reminder to find reasons to appreciate the things I see before outwardly expressing that I have been there. It’s always important to ask “why am I here and what can I learn”?
Milan, Italy- At the International School at Milan, I was a participant in the 3rd/4th grade classroom. This boy sang me his love song in Italian and he wouldn’t leave my side after this. He was a reminder of the effect we have on our audiences. Although he had already composed the song, he was encouraged to share it with me.
Stuttgart, Germany- Monument of a crying woman at the foot of the cross. She asked for Christ’s healing for her daughter who was sick. She is a monumental example for us to outwardly express our faith and trust in Christ.
Flossholz/Ohringen, Germany- My first home stay in Europe! I was the only Wartburg student who stayed with them. The town had 33 residents and hundreds of cows and chickens. They took me in as an older sister, daughter, and friend. We shared laughs, we shared culture. We are now family.
Neuendettelsau, Germany- The church steeples are identical to those at the top of the Wartburg chapel. The good shepherd statue states the Psalm “no one can take them from my hand”. This statue is in memorial of the 1200 people with special needs who were experimented on or killed in the camps during the Holocaust. No matter what awful things happen to us on Earth, our Heavenly father will always hold us in his hands.
Leipheim, Germany- My homestay family who spent a year in Texas many years ago! Their humor was similar and their kindness was remarkable.
Wurha-Farnroda, Germany- Ashley and I had to travel up this 135-step hill everytime we went up and down to our homestay’s house. It took a lot of energy, but we had a very nice place to stay.
Eisenach, Germany- I’ve met these wonderful friends because of the founders of Wartburg and the existence of this castle. The Wartburg reminded me to be persistent, do good, and follow my calling.
Tower in Germany near Eisenach- These bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas, are another connection I have with Germany! We share similar landscaping, and I was reminded of the beauty of the United States.
Eisenach, Germany- Saying goodbye to our host mom, Sylvia. She shared her challenges and struggles with us, but through them all, she was so generous and hospitable. We love you, Sylvia.
Istanbul, Turkey- These washing centers are surrounding the outskirts of the Blue Mosque. The tradition of washing oneself before entering the place of God is a tradition of respect and honor that I appreciate very much. We should all show this kind of respect when we attend services.
Istanbul, Turkey- “One Global University”. Fatih University has over 1,000 international students and finds ways to include and learn from them all. This University, much like Wartburg, does a fine job of unifying the campus into one school of a diverse group of people.
Istanbul, Turkey- Saying “so long” to Europe for now. Our relationships have grown stronger and our voices are tired, but our hearts have grown.