An Ode to my Church in Wiesbaden, Germany


An Ode to my Church in Wiesbaden, Germany

From Kevin Anthony Stoda, in Philippines, August 2010

For about a half a year now, I have been wanting to write and describe (and try to honor) my church in Wiesbaden, Germany.  It is called Gemeinde Christi or Church of Christ (in English).  The building has been located on the Lorelei Ring for nearly 4 decades—and some members of the congregation can still remember when it moved there from nearer to downtown.[1]

When I first visited the small Gemeinde Christi congregation in the second week of January 2009—I was astounded that it was a truly multicultural (and multilingual) fellowship, with service simultaneously in both German and English each Sunday morning (since the prior summer when the English and German congregations began to meet regularly together for the first time.)  I, especially, enjoyed singing in both English and German with my fellow Christians. [2]

I was overjoyed to come upon this particular Gemeinde Christi fellowship only by perusing the local newspaper and finding an outdated advertisement for the service schedule.   Let me explain my joy.  When I first came to live in Europe in France in 1983, I had lived in Alsace, where every service had been bilingual—German and French—at the local Mennonite fellowships.  In short, by being bilingual, this service in Wiesbaden was both nostalgic for me but also something authentically (multicultural and modern) European. In short, finding a church that was bilingual within a few minutes walk of my apartment that cold winter of 2009 was inspiring.

Moreover, as I soon anticipated that my bride, formerly Maria Victoria M. Baradero, to be able to obtain a German visa and join me in my work in Wiesbaden within a few months, I thought how much quicker Victoria would be able to get to know Germans and get to know the German language by worshipping at the local Gemeinde Christi. This Gemeinde Christi fellowship in Wiesbaden was more than warm.  In fact, I was invited to my first home-cooked German meal (and walk or Wanderung) in more than a decade– right after that first service had ended. Hannelore and Manfred Seifarth were my hosts that day. (Later, they would be students of my volunteer English class at the church as well as extremely helpful all-around folk, e.g. helping me find furniture for my flat, giving me advice, etc.)

In April 2009,When I moved out of the flat rented by my firm and into my own apartment in the Oranien Street, many church members came along to assist—acting well above-and-beyond the call of good Christian service or duties.  For example, Thomas Meyer spent two different days helping me load furniture up 4 flights of stairs to my new place.  Others who did the same, included the pastor, Klaus Fries.  Both Thomas and Klaus also helped me with the installation of lights and internet, too.  Other families found furniture and kitchen items for my new home.  One of the items was a wonderful used bed and frame.  Other items included a used dresser and commode.

I could hardly wait till my wife, Maria Victoria, would be able enjoy moving into such a well-furnished flat.  My whole volunteer English class (and the whole Gemeinde Christi church) warmed up to the expected arrival of my bride in April and May 2009—alas that arrival would never come, due to draconian anti-East Asian immigration practices in Germany and in most of the continent in 2009-2010.  Worse still, between December 2009 and February 2010, my firm, Edgesharp GmbH. was liquidated, owing me between 11,000 and 14,000 Euros.

Because (1) I was then forced to file a lawsuit for my back wages in Germany in 2010 and because (2) I had hopes of either landing a full-time job or several well-paying part-time ones, I continued on living and working in Germany through June 2010.  Most importantly, I was encouraged by the prayers and support of many members of my church family to (at the very least) go to the German labor court system and get what the non-really-bankrupt firm, Edgesharp GmbH. still owed my wife and I.

This church family support had become very important for Victoria and I as we had already learned in autumn 2009 that Victoria was pregnant.  Eventually, our first daughter would be born on May 8, 2010—on the very day I did my final job interview in Europe, i.e. before determining once and for all to leave the continent for good later that same month.

At the end of April 2010, the congregations membership—including Patricia, Hannelore, Monika, and others helped me clean up and clear out of my old flat—of only one year—in Oranien Street.  Meanwhile in April, May and June 2010, I ended up sleeping a total of nearly a dozen nights in one of the spare rooms at the church, the Gemeinde Christi on the Lorelei Ring.    By this time, I had been blessed by so many in the congregation.  It will be hard to name all names:

–Ruth Krueger for several meals at her home

–Klaus and Sigi for even more meals at their flat

–Alex and his mom in Raunheim for good fellowship and food, too

–Dieter, Monica, Thomas and the otherMeyers for invites and insights

–Tina for some advice

–Uli and Ruth Kreusel for great fellowship

–Juergen and family for translations, articles of goods

–Cliff and Judy for financial support and presents for my baby daughters

–The Cussins

–the women of the congregation who gave other presents of clothing for my new born daughter in May of this year

–from the church there was also a letter of support—including one from the church for the Auslandsbehoerde (Visa office) on failed attempts to get justice for my wife

Naturally, many others in the congregation have shared verbal encouragement, prayed for Victoria, baby, and I and done other things for us over the past year.

We love you and pray you all are well and healthy in 2010-2011.

I need not write any recommendation to God for the Gemeinde Christi’s love, care, prayers and support these past two-troubled years, but I do want to take the time to encourage anyone in the Wiesbaden area to consider visiting, supporting, and or joining the congregation.

NOTES

[1] Originally Americans—mostly U.S. military personnel had outnumbered the German membership.  However, when the U.S. Air Force pulled out of Wiesbaden in the last part of the 20th Century, the American membership fell.  Later, after Germany refused to go along with George W. Bush’s War on Iraq in 2003, the U.S. Army’s role in Wiesbaden also diminished.  By January 2009, there were only one or two U.S. military personnel any longer attending the Wiesbaden Gemeinde Christi fellowship.  However, this could change and there are other Americans and Africans attending the church these days, too.

[2] Readers from outside Germany should note that it is relatively rare to have a bilingual service—especially in a congregation that has less than 50 people in attendance each week.  Many larger Gemeinde Christi churches in Germany, such as one I know in Berlin, were once bilingual but now do their services entirely in German normally—even thought people from five continents are in attendance.

About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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2 Responses to An Ode to my Church in Wiesbaden, Germany

  1. eslkevin says:

    Friends of Noah,

    We wanted to send a quick update so that you would know that we still appreciate your prayers for Noah and her parents. We are tired, but doing well. Please check the blog for more updates if you like (http://cassandalex.blogspot.com), but here are some specific prayer requests not on the blog:

    Current Situation:

    · Noah entered surgery at 7:50am local time (11pm CA/AZ, 12am CO, etc) and is expected to be in surgery for 6-12 hours.

    · We were told not to expect word until at least 3pm, but possibly after. We will call the ICU at that point for an update.

    · Cass and I checked into a hotel room for the day and tonight. She was able to take an hour-long nap, but I couldn’t sleep.

    · We were very emotional this morning when we left Noah at the door of the operating room, but we talked about the fact that we do not feel nervous. We know Noah is in God’s hands, whatever may come. It is still a difficult day, however.

    · Yesterday we had a consultation with the surgeon, who said that the MRI looked excellent and that they are “optimistic” for a successful surgery. They can’t promise anything, however, and many complications can occur.

    · Also yesterday the doctors said that they learned of a possible infection in her body that could stop them from doing surgery, because if there could be catastrophic to her healing process. They decided to go ahead with the surgery as planned, however.

    Prayers:

    · thanksgiving that Noah is so strong and healthy going into the surgery and that she has made it this far.

    · thanksgiving that we feel community by recognizing nurses and other parents from before. We are able to empathize with each other and feel less alone than last time.

    · thanksgiving that we are as peaceful as we are. We know God is standing with all of us in a very tangible way.

    · for the surgeons and staff to be on their “A-game” as we speak during the surgery, and as long as it takes.

    · that the possible infection will not be a barrier, and that she be protected from possible harm or further infection.

    · that all goes well with the anesthesia.

    · that the structures they build in her heart function as planned.

    · patience and grace as try to understand what is going on in German.

    · for rest for our souls and bodies during this gap of having to take care of Noah. Cass is particularly physically tired from the last many months.

    · for our stamina. Once the surgery is over we still have a long road ahead in ICU and in the recovery area.

    · for us to be a light to the other families in the hospital. It is a place of little hope and great weariness, yet we have a hope to offer.

    We really appreciate your prayers, and the emails you’ve sent. We love you.

    Alex, Cass, and Noah

    • eslkevin says:

      Friends of Noah,

      We’ve been updating details on the blog (http://cassandalex.blogspot.com) as they come to us, but we wanted to send an email asking for some additional prayers for our daughter today. She came through the surgery on Thursday with almost all very positive indications. She has also achieved several major milestones since then, namely the removal of her ventilation tube. The update we got from the nurse this morning was a little bit less encouraging, however. We’re currently kicked out of the intensive care unit for the next couple hours, and so we have time for a quick email to ask for prayer.

      Her blood pressure is generally a bit better than yesterday, although when I was with her an hour ago it had dropped quite a bit to the first stage of alarm. Her core temperature had also dropped a couple points as well, but hopefully that will be an easy fix with thicker blankets. The main issue is her blood oxygen saturation. This value needs to be kept stable between 70-80% both while she is awake and asleep (for reference, a normal heart will produce 95-99%). She has been sleeping most of the time, due to a combination of extreme fatigue, sleepiness caused by pain medication, and mild sedation. During the last few days her blood oxygen has been okay while she’s been sleeping, but as soon as she wakes her blood pressure goes too high and her blood oxygen drops too low. She is tensing up too much and not enough oxygen is getting into her blood. As of today, however, they are concerned that she does not have high enough oxygen values both while asleep and while awake. The value was floating ~65% while asleep this morning. Right before I left they had taken a chest x-ray while she was in her bed, because the left lobe of her lung is not functioning properly. This is also likely affecting the blood oxygen, but they’re not sure what needs to be done. She was able to drink half a bottle of milk early this morning, and they think her pain is being more adequately managed than it was yesterday.

      Cass is dropping off her father at the airport, and I am holding down the fort in Giessen until she and Roxanne return this afternoon. As the doctors began their late morning rounds all the parents in the room were asked to leave. This was distressing, because laying Noah on the cold x-ray plate had woken her up some minutes before, and she was crying (similar to yesterday’s blog video). I could hear her crying from the waiting room, and it made me anxious and sad. I know the doctors and nurses are giving her the care she needs, however.

      Please pray for these specific things if you get a chance today, that:

      · Noah’s blood oxygen level stabilizes while asleep and awake.

      · she be physically and psychologically calm when she awakens so that her lungs can fill as much as possible.

      · her the left lung lobe function fully returns, and that this positively influences her blood oxygen level.

      · her pain be adequately regulated.

      · her blood pressure be within the acceptable range to properly oxygenate her blood without overtaxing her weak heart.

      · negative side-effects of her weak heart and lungs do not develop. Among an obviously long list of risks associated with her current condition, we are specifically praying against organ or brain damage that occur if not enough oxygen flows.

      · her doctors remain attentive to her evolving needs as they come.

      · she can be peaceful through the frightening moments she must feel when she’s awake. We can only be there for limited periods and can’t always try and alleviate her fears. We trust that God will not leave her side, however. We pray that she can miraculously process the trauma that she is going through.

      · we can be peaceful amidst the ups and downs of the coming days.

      · we can be an encouragement to the other parents we sit with in the waiting room. Each have their own difficult stories full of tears.

      · and for thanksgiving for the success the surgeons had during her operation this week, and the signs of recovery she’s had already.

      We’ve been posting an update, pictures, and an occasional video daily on our blog. We have been getting many emails and blog comments of encouragement and prayer. We deeply appreciate these, and they buoy us during tense moments. Overall Noah is still doing well, and we are still pleased. Don’t take our email as too much of an alarm. However, nothing removes the fact that she is in God’s hands – whatever the outcome may be. And so we pray.

      Thank you so much for helping to support us through this complicated time. We appreciate your friendship and your prayers.

      In faith,

      Alex, Cass, and Noah

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