The Cultural Event of the Year

The biggest event in the village for this year is already gone. It was a huge Fasnet parade involving 48 groups from all over the region, including one group from Switzerland. The Swabian-Alemannic Fasnet (carnival) is very different from the Rhineland carnival which is more well-known. Most characteristic for the Fasnet (as opposed to carnival) are the masks. When you look close you see that each single mask is unique. They are handmade and thus very valuable.

Unfortunately it was raining heavily on the day (I felt truly sorry for the organizers) and so I went home after watching a little more than half the parade. Even though I had dressed in my warmest clothes I was wet through. Anyway, I hope that with these photos and videos you get a good impression of what makes the Fasnet special.

Journey into the Middle Ages

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When you enter the forest not far from the little town of Messkirch in the south of Baden-Wuerttemberg it’s like entering into another era. Here is the place where a Carolingian monastery town is being built – according to plans and with methods of the 9th century.

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When you go there now what you find are several wooden huts where you get introduced to early medieval crafts. You see how hard it was and how long it took to make items like clay bricks, wooden roofing shingles, fences, yarn (at that time they didn’t even have spinning wheels, just spindles), etc.

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cg15073007You can also see how houses were built at that time. In the centre they currently build a small church which will be replaced by a larger one later. The project has only just started a few years ago, so there is a lot to be seen over the following 40+ years. They have got a group of employees there, including several formerly long-term unemployed people, but there is also the opportunity to volunteer.

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Unfortunately the project is not very international yet, so their website and other firsthand information are only in German for the time being. Anyway, even if you don’t speak German, it’s worth looking at the pictures on the website www.campus-galli.de For more information in English there’s a Wikipedia page.

Letters from Armenia

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I’m always happy when I find a letter from or a report on one of our sponsored children in the post. I’m looking forward to read the letters (or rather the translations, as the letters are written in Armenian) and to reply. Some of our eight children write regularly, others less regularly and sometimes we get letters written by a family member. Some children send us photos or even self-made gifts. I also like to read the reports, because they tell us about the children’s progress and family situation – though the latter is often not so good, unfortunately, but that is why the children need support.

 
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Some facts…
The children are between eleven and sixteen years old.
Four of them are growing up without a father, because the fathers left the family.
Five of them are living with a chronic illness and /or disability. At least three of them are living with chronically ill parents.
The parents of five of them are unemployed. The parents of the other three are unable to support their families due to their low income.
One of them doesn’t attend school, because there are no or not enough schools for children with severe multiple disabilities.

 
On the other hand…
Two of them are currently attending college and are very determined to do well and end the vicious circle of poverty in their families. With the help of God we were able to pay the college fees for one of them. Most of the others are doing their best at school, even though it is not easy under the difficult circumstances.

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As we have been sponsoring children for several years and with altogether eleven children during that time we know that a sponsorship is not just about helping a child physically – as important as that is. It’s a relationship which grows with each letter and card which is being sent – we send birthday and Christmas cards also to the children who don’t write to us – and with each report which contains information about the child and the family. It’s more than just paying money on the one side and receiving goods and services on the other.

 
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“Poverty had told me I’m hopeless, I’m nothing, and I believed that.” – Richmond, former sponsored child via Compassion

 
Many people are or would be able to take on a sponsorship for a child, but not all of them actually do it. No, you don’t need to take eight – that’s a privilege of a few of us who really have a calling to do that. Just take one – it costs about 30 Euros per month which is really not much. Consider what you pay when you are eating out on one evening or how much you spend on one single shopping weekend for clothes you probably wear only once or twice!

 
There are three well-known international organisations via which you can sponsor children. In alphabetical order these are Compassion (Christian), Plan (secular) and World Vision (Christian). There are also several smaller organisations, like Diaconia via which we sponsor “our” children, but maybe not all of them are as trustworthy. If you have doubts, it’s always best to choose one of the well-known ones. In any case, please consider sponsoring a child – it’s worth it! Change the world one child at a time!

 

Charity knitting through illness and pain

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pinkpotholders111202aUsually I restrict my knitting activities to the evening. I like to knit and watch tv, mainly crime series. Sometimes I knit during the day, for example while listening to sermons online. It helps me to concentrate on what the preacher says. If I listened to the sermons without that, I would become easily distracted by things I see around me. Also my hands need something to do while I’m listening.
Stetten am kalten Markt-20111211-00046There are some days, however, when I knit for hours (with interruptions), as I’m unable to do much else. These are the days when pain is severe – migraine days or those with extreme pelvic pain. It also still works when I’m feeling weak. Besides distracting me from my indisposition it has got a psychological effect – it makes me feel content and keeps me from boredom and illness-induced depression attacks.
scarf131025Not long after starting needlework in 2011 I began to knit (and occasionally crochet) for charity. I knitted scarves for Diaconia and Weihnachten im Schuhkarton (the German Operation Christmas Child), and dog blankets for the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home which I took there during my London visits in 2012 and 2013.
dogblanket120322aCurrently I’m knitting baby blankets for the London City Mission hospital chaplaincy. Their first knitting appeal just stated that very specific items were needed, so I didn’t bother to contact them for more information, as “specific” for me was the same as “complicated”. I didn’t think I could do it. I felt disappointed, but left it at that – until I came across a blog post on knitting these items. The post contained a photo of the letter and some patterns which had been sent to the blogger by LCM – and when I enlarged the photo I was able to read what was required. I found out that it wasn’t by far as complicated as I had thought, in fact, most of it was about the right sizes and colours of items. It also contained the resource of the patterns, so I was able to find them, too. As the baby clothes are too difficult for me, I stick to the blankets – after all, I want my works to look nice🙂 I will continue to knit blankets until, God willing, we travel to London in June and I hope it will be warm weather, so I only need light clothes and have enough space for the blankets in our suitcases😉lcmblanket140224

Contact to the outside world

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I wouldn’t know what to do without internet, stuck as I am in this village. Via internet I can not only keep in contact with people I know, but also get to know new people – particularly via Twitter – who are sharing my faith and / or my interests. As neither my faith nor my interests are mainstream it is difficult to find even some like-minded people in a small village.
Another useful task of the internet is to provide me with voluntary work. I maintain the website and manage the Facebook page of my former church, proofread publications of the Bibelbund and do translations and reviews for YouVersion. All this wouldn’t be possible without internet.
My latest “project” is that I take part in two study groups at my former church via Skype. During our last visit there in September they announced the new studies taking place and I was particularly interested in two of them, one on discipleship and one on spiritual gifts. So I asked the leaders if we could try Skype, so I would be able to take part in the studies from home. They were more than willing to try, but nevertheless the beginning was rough, mainly because of a very weak wifi connection in the church premises. They haven’t got a connection of their own, so have to use the one in the neighbouring house of one of the study leaders. Therefore the first two times we tried the connection got weaker and weaker and eventually broke down. However, none of us wanted to give in. They tried a repeater and it worked🙂 It is still not perfect and unstable, but at least it doesn’t break down on a regular basis and so I’m able to take part in the studies. They are very useful for me, not least as they are my only “deep” contact with other Christians.
My body doesn’t like them, though, often it takes painful revenge for having to sit at the desk for two hours at a time, but I don’t care. My soul, mind and spiritual life are more important and so this insubordinate body of mine has to put up with it, whether it likes that or not.

I was able to attend …

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… the usually biggest annual event of the year in our village called “Stettener Oktober” (“October of Stetten”)🙂 This year, however, we had a bigger event in summer – the Spectaculum. Last year I couldn’t attend the “Oktober” due to too much pain, but this time I went, choosing to ignore the rest of migraine from the day before. The event traditionally takes place on the second Sunday in October. It included a trade show, a “farmers’ market” with traders offering their self-made goods, like candles, baskets, knitted items, etc. I always buy delicious home-made marmalade from the stand run by the local epilepsy awareness group (last year my husband had to buy them for me) – four jars this time. Most shops are also open on that Sunday. My husband needed some new shirts and we found several nice ones in the outlet of the local shirt factory.
The “Oktober” event had started the day before with the traditional “Women’s Run”.

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