First things first: I’m in Berlin! As of today it has been two weeks since my cohort and I landed in the city. Believe me when I say it’s been a crazy busy first two weeks! Here’s a quick overview of what’s happened:
- We went on a scavenger hunt to see different parts of the city and get used to public transit.
- We met almost every other person on the Berlin team.
- I’ve been to two all-German church services.
- I successfully navigated the subway system alone without getting lost.
- I successfully navigated myself and a team member to a completely wrong location.
- I got partially run over by a bike.
- I've marveled at how well-trained all the dogs are here.
- I’ve been confused by something said in German too many times to count.
- I started language school and continued to be confused by the language.
- I was amazed by God and how He has established a team here with many diverse skills that all serve His Kingdom.
In addition to all of these, I’ve gotten to see so much of this beautifully diverse city and have developed a new appreciation for this phase of life. There have definitely been some hard times, but God proves himself faithful again and again. I’ve also been sensing a new freedom that God is bringing me into. A freedom to be myself, even if I don’t fully know who that is yet. Freedom in exploring the city however I want without fear (yes Dad, I promise I’m being safe). Freedom to embrace the challenges and not to quit when I’m discouraged.
This emerging freedom was beautifully demonstrated this past Monday — Reunification Day. We had the day off from school for the holiday, so two of my teammates and I decided to take advantage of the time to wander and explore the city. We roamed through an art market, marveled at the oldest church in Berlin, took in the German History Museum, and enjoyed the sunny day. Eventually, we made our way to the Brandenburger Tor where a giant festival was happening to celebrate the holiday. There were tons of food, lots of people, and live music at three different stages throughout the festival. As my teammates and I walked along, we noticed a small crowd around one of the stages where there was a break in the live music. As we got closer, we saw there everyone was knotted around three people dancing — a couple and a single elderly man. Let me tell you, this guy was doing his thing and having the time of his life. It was beautiful to watch the absolute freedom with which he moved — it was nothing complicated or intricate, but he showed no hint of embarrassment or reservation. He wanted to dance, so he was dancing and he didn’t care who was watching.
Speaking as a dancer, I think watching someone move without any inhibitions is one of the most beautiful things you can see. It’s a unique sort of beauty that just cries out for others to join in. So I did. Handing off my things to my friend, I wound my way through the crowd and joined right in with the older man. I probably looked like a fool and my dancing prowess certainly wouldn’t wow a crowd, but it didn’t matter as we danced together. He would mimic me for a time and then I would follow his lead. He spoke German and I spoke English, but joy doesn’t have to be translated. I forgot the crowd, I forgot to be embarrassed, I didn’t think about how I was moving or what I was doing. I was free. Eventually I curtsied to my partner and melted back into the crowd to join my friends. It was only a five-minute piece of my day, but it’s an image of what I think the Kingdom of Heaven will look like when we dance with freedom before our Lord. It was amazing to me how something so simple could bring so much joy and paint such a beautiful picture of the freedom that the Lord brings. Oh, and when we left the festival a while later? That elderly man was still dancing his heart out.