Monday, February 15, 2016

Seligenstadt and the week ending Feb 13

Hand painted goose eggshell from Seligenstadt Ostereier Markt
We had a full week in the office this week. As we continue to work issues, things are in better order all the time. We are learning so that we have less rework, and that has made life in the office a lot more pleasant. And we have been able to tackle some improvements and corrections.

Saturday the 6th we received a letter telling us that we could pick up our "Aufenthaltstitel" at the local "B├╝rgeramt" in Dornbusch. Our apartment is in a quarter called Eckenheim. Dornbusch is a neighboring section that is about a 15-20 minute walk away. The "Aufenthaltstitel" is called a visa by some missionaries, but it is more accurately a residence permit. It is a card we carry that says that we have the legal right to live in Germany until November 25, 2017. Our mission ends in August that year, so we are now legal for the length of our mission. And with this permit we could apply for a German driver's license. You can drive on a U. S. license for 6 months from the date of your arrival. Our 6 months will be up March 25, so we were becoming a little anxious to get the process underway.

We left the office Wednesday with all of the paperwork we thought we would need, but when we got to the office for automobiles and licenses, the lady at the desk asked for a "Sehtest" -- a vision exam. So, Thursday afternoon we went to a local optician. Birgitte passed Jeff, but Janet failed without her glasses which she didn't have with her.

Friday morning we made another run at the vision test, this time with Janet's glasses in hand. She passed with flying colors. The optician really wanted to sell Jeff some new glasses and contacts. She kept telling him that his vision will only get worse and that he can forestall that with the wonderful German glasses and contacts they have available. We noticed that all of their material was labeled Bausch and Lomb, but we suppose that if you buy it here it is naturally better.

We drove back to the B├╝rgeramt Rund um Autos and got our numbered slip for the wait (short). This time the clerk didn't ask for the "Sehtest," so we decided not to offer the results unless asked for them. They asked in the back, so the first clerk did us a favor and spared us the wait. The office was extremely efficient. This isn't like the DMV in the U.S. The people know what they are doing and do it quickly. After we provided the necessary documents and all was in order, the clerk handed us a plastic card and instructed us to go pay at the "Automat" in the front of the building. You walk to the front, put the card in the machine, and it shows you what you owe. Then you feed in the appropriate amount of cash (€ 35 or about $40 currently - each), and you get a receipt that you take back to the clerk. We should get a letter in the mail in about 4 weeks telling us to come pick up our German driver's license. That part isn't very efficient. Why they can't just mail the license to you we don't know.

We were asked by the zone leaders to present a 'Thema' during their zone training. What a treat for us to be with and observe these young missionaries in the Frankfurt Zone. Because of the driver's license run, we were a little late to the meeting, but we loved hearing them teach each other in both English and German. Our presentation was about how they could serve the members better. Janet suggested that we ask Brad for his input, and he responded with a great letter containing his top 10 ideas, and we read it verbatim during our presentation. Thanks, Brad.

Saturday is our preparation day, so we shop for groceries, do laundry, and try to get in something fun. This week we visited Seligenstadt. It is a very old city on the Main River about 40 minutes from our apartment. The center of the city is all narrow cobblestone streets and alleyways lined with 15th and 16th century fachwerk houses. The church dates from the 800's. There is a former Benedictine monastery that has become a museum. This past weekend, the monastery hosted the first Easter Egg Market of the season. This European Easter Egg market is a showcase for a peculiar form of folk art and there were 50 or so artisans from various places around Germany and from other countries. Jeff had seen enough eggs after about 15 minutes, but he gamely carried on. Janet looked at every single egg (hundreds, at least). Most were real egg shells, but some were made of stone, wood, ceramics, or other materials. Many were really beautiful. The one pictured at the top was one of Janet's prizes. Happy Valentines Day!
Saturdays are market days in Germany. People just love to shop for fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese and bread outdoors.

Loved this old sign -- Riesen means Giants in German

Every German village has a Rathaus or town hall. This one is 500 years old and still functioning.

A damp day near the city center

The Three Crowns hotel has been here since 1720

Crowds headed to the market for potatoes at 11am

These 500 year old homes are in great condition

Evidently the exposed timber construction is durable

The bells chime 12 o'clock and the Easter Egg Market opens. You have to pay €3 each for entry so that you can then buy things. Jeff has never thought highly of paying admission to an event that is essentially an opportunity for shopping.

A little entertainment. This lady was upset that "rude Americans" kept taking her picture (we were discreet, so it wasn't us, but if you wear that hat, you are asking to be photographed, aren't you?

The hallways of the former monastery were packed

St. Benedict, we presume

Greeter at the museum entrance

Janet's favorite acquisition

A goose egg with clay attached
Most of the museum exhibits were tucked away, but check out this pewter set.
 Next door to the former monastery is a church that was founded around 800. The Roman Catholic church is dedicated to Marcellinus and Petrus, two Christian martyrs during the last round of persecutions in Rome in 304 AD. The building of the church supposedly brought their bones to Seligenstadt in 828 and they reside in a gold and silver shrine under the main altar. The monastery adjacent to the church was secularized in 1803, but the church continued as the parish church for Seligenstadt Catholics.

The church towers visible between narrow gap in houses
Lot's of buildings built of red sandstone. Not sure how they survive the ages in this damp climate.
Church is lined with statues of martyrs. This is the apostle Peter holding the keys. Others of the original apostles were depicted holding the instruments of their martyrdom - a saw, a sword, a club, etc.

This was a great little picturesque village. The people were friendly and welcoming. We ran into some church members who are in Wiesbaden with the military, a young family with 3 or 4 children. We talked to a Texan and some other folks from the U. S. These markets seem to draw Americans and other visitors.

We had lunch at a great Italian restaurant in a building dating back to 1744. The company was great.
Janet's meal - three kinds of pasta

Jeff's tortellino

Pewter symbols for the WC so you don't get confused

Now if you are a kid, these might not be that straightforward
A traditional mailbox

A mailbox with a little pizzazz

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