Sunday, July 18, 2010

ostrich for dinner

The long silence on my blog was a disconnect from my life that, in reality, was throbbing with noise and action. I simply failed to transcribe any of it here. So, for a quick bring-you-up-to-speed, I've been in Berlin since March--and yes, ate ostrich for dinner. And in doing so, thought I ought to attempt to begin blogging in earnest. So I will begin with food shots (who doesn't love food shots?) of some of the tasty (or quirky-and-delicious) foods I've come across here....

The strawberries didn't stick around long enough for a photo shoot--they were that delicious.

Pure Brandenburg dirt on those fresh-picked blueberries.

Brussels, bacon, and fresh rolls... mmm.

Norwegian cheese from friends who've figured out my love language.

Traditional German winter food, not to be eaten in the summer. Oops!

Not quite green eggs and ham, but sage cheese is amazing!

Yes, that is tea. "Hot Love" and "Small Sins" tea.

Birthday cake (the pale one's pineapple)!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010


In the coffee shop I pull out my laptop and moleskine notebooks, proclaiming myself to be yet another college-educated, caffeine-and-ambient-noise-loving, working for two non-profits Chattanoogan: our glowing apples, minus one bite, illuminate the barrier we raise to the room, and reveal our connection to the greater world. I've arrived at my office--or one of them, anyway.

So here I sit, in one city, moving towards another: read on for the latest update...

My church-planting team in southeast Berlin is in the process of re-visioning and re-focusing, gearing up for a renewed start in 2010. Big things are afoot in Treptow-K√∂penick—and they're happening now:

--- Jay and Holly (team leaders) just moved their family to an apartment much closer to the heart of the work in Altglienicke.

--- Two women have recently come to know and trust Jesus, and a local Christian family has been getting more involved in the ministry work.

--- A family from Bavaria/America is preparing to join the team in August, he as an evangelist/mentor and she as a kindergarten teacher, which will help the team meet the goal of opening the kindergarten this coming fall.

--- Jay has been meeting with the Altglienicke volunteerism council, and in addition to teaching English, I may (potentially) serve as our team's coordinator for visiting volunteer groups—short term teams, anyone? Additionally, a teen son of our German teammates wants to develop what Jay has nicknamed a “Beitragenb√∂rse”—a program connecting local youth (who want jobs) with local seniors (who need work done)—that I might get to supervise.

"And when," you may ask, "will you go?"

"In March?" I may respond.

In order for me to arrive and dive in, I have a pressing need: full funding by the end of February—a deadline agreed on by MTW and my team leaders. (I knew from the start this would be a possibility. This time frame makes sense for a number of reasons: I've been itinerating for two years, the team needs to be able to know, for planning purposes, when or whether I'll arrive, and the funding is, practically speaking, yet another confirmation of calling.)

So will it happen? I'm going with "Yes!" Right now, 80% of my ongoing funds are pledged! And since my one-time needs are fully met, and I have an account balance that's steadily increasing, thanks to the generosity of those who've committed and already begun giving, I may be good to go once I hit 90% of the ongoing commitments... and that's not so far away.

I know that God is more than able to meet these needs and prepare me for this work in the process. I'm learning to untangle my knots of fear with confidence in God's faithful love and provision: his joy is to increase his name in southeast Berlin, and I'm eager to be part of that! The doors to serve and bless in Altglienicke are wide open, and I'm on the verge of walking through.

If you're interested in hearing more, let me know!

In the meantime, I'm off to refill my coffee.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

a moment in the beach house, one cloudy day in September

Mom comes in from reading on the porch, saying "I'm coming in, it's too cold out there. Should I shut the windows?"

I respond "No!"

She says "Mom, are you ok?"

Grandma, busy with her scrapbooking, looks up. "What do you mean, am I ok? Are you asking if I'm hot? Cold? Hungry? Destitute? If you're asking about the temperature, I feel fine."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

my dad the self-described pet hater...

...brought a stray puppy (dog?) in off the porch today... as in, walked into the house hugging the shaking, now happy dog (in out of the thunderstorm) and announced, with a goofy, sheepish grin, "look what I found!"

Is this my father?

When I was little we had pets that were contained: birds in cages, fishes in tanks, hermit crabs in netting, hamsters in whatever hamsters live in. Then, when my (slightly asthmatic) brother left for college, we took in a few stray cats, as they came. My dad always complains about then, and they always go straight for his lap (or hand, whichever is more accessible). And he's been saying for years that he doesn't want and can't afford the two cats we have, let alone a dog.

Here's the little cutie-pie that was a-trembling at our door today, and is now scampering around my dad as he putters in the yard:

My dad's already uneasy over having befriended the fellow, and is now feeling quite responsible for him... So if you happen to live nearby and are looking for a friendly, quiet little dog, we'd be happy to share the joy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

fruit cheese dome, a.k.a. Swede's Delight

Warning: the following recipe is neither healthy nor inexpensive, but it is delightfully tasty. My aunt is a fantastic cook, and this "experiment" of hers ranks high on the best-recipes-from-Aunt-Becky list. Definitely the most memorable food of the holiday season. If you like fruit and cheese, that is.

round of Saga blue cheese, sliced in half horizontally
mascarpone cheese
fruit and nut -- pecan halves, dried apricots (halved), dried apples (chopped), dried cranberries, golden raisins -- mixed with caramel sauce until sticky
crackers or bread

Spread mascarpone on half of blue cheese and add a layer of fruit; add second layer of blue cheese and cover with mascarpone. Using oiled wax paper, press fruit/nut mixture on in a dome shape and chill to set (wrapped in the wax paper).


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

and here it is, January already

Here's a letter I recently sent out, to bring things up to date on this my neglected blog:

I love this time of year, when trees are bare of leaves – revealing the skeleton of trunk, nodules, limbs, branches, twigs, and dormant buds; waiting, expectant, preparing – and wind is brisk, hurling blankets of clouds south after the birds. When not gazing out the window at clouds, I keep busy pitching in around the house and at church, going to work (part-time), and doing my work (fuller-time). Or studying up on German and Germany. I sat in on a modern Germany class last semester, and have been making my way through an engaging tome of the history of Berlin, as well as some plays and novels.

For Thanksgiving I gutted two turkeys, baked multiple pies, and ate bountiful vegetables (the turkey's mainly for looks, right?). December and Christmas brought lots of time with family, near and distant, including the annual Wentling family reunion in Pennsylvania, with 93 of us showing up this year. The break from routine allowed for game playing, discussions, nephew time, lots of tea and coffee drinking, long hours in the car, good visits with dear friends, and reflection. Why the annual gatherings, feasting, candlelight, decorations, and gifts? Partly because they're great fun, and truly as the glimmers of something much greater – our imitations and celebrations of God's making good on his promises to bring us from darkness into the light:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness,and the darkness does not comprehend it.... but as many as receive him, to them he gave the right to become children of God... And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us... For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. ... For God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.” (from John 1 and 3)

What a joy to not only receive life and light, but to share the truth of his grace with the world! As I forge on in preparation, share with people about Berlin and the work I'll be doing there, and invite them to join me, I continually need focus, boldness, and confidence in God's leading and provision. And he strengthens me for each step: I've received 70% of my one time costs and pledges for 35% of my ongoing support, and am so grateful for what's been given. Thanks for all you've given so far: money, support, advice, encouragement, and prayers, and for staying alongside me as I anticipate full funding and departure.

with joy, Larissa

please pray with me: for complete funding -- for the work and the people God's preparing (including me!) -- for confidence in his faithfulness and timing

and the rest of the team in southeast Berlin --for relationships formed and fostered through Thanksgiving (for the English class) and Christmas celebrations

Monday, September 1, 2008

daily things

There are some things I do, daily, like the rest of humanity - roll over and hit the snooze button, brush my teeth, breathe.

Recently I've drunk lots of coffee and tea, with milk, thanks. There's one particular mug that my brother and I both like to run out the door with, and though we don't fight over it, it rarely sits in the cabinet. Large enough to have a handle I don't have to jam my fingers through, interesting and detalied enough design to be an aesthetic delight, pale gray-blue and brown enough to be a respectable mug, stable enough not to tip over in the car. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure it's home in the dishwasher as I type.

I've been eating breakfast in the car, since I often ride to work with my mom and manage to be running behind schedule. Yesterday, to my chagrin, I left my plate of toast on top of the car. It shattered beatifully on the pavement as we crossed the railroad tracks in front of our house. Oh, to be a morning person, with a head on my shoulders before noon.

Our huge fluffy orange cat, Micawber (fom Dickens'
David Copperfield), has gotten used to me being home again, and is constantly underfoot, meowing. I know he just wants some love and attention, but what's a girl to do when she notices a direct correlation between amount of time spent petting the cat and number of kleenexes hitting the trashcan?