Sunday, August 31, 2008

The town of Idar-Oberstein, home of the "Felsenkirche", or as it is often called Church in the Rock. It sits high above the town, carved into the stone. The view is from the church overlooking the town. Parts of the church date back to the 1400s. The old scriptures are impressive.

Idar-oberstein is the German capital of the gemstone industry. The gems are depleted in this area, but they now import from Brazil and other countries. There is wonderful gemstone museum there. This is an amethyst geode - big isn't it?

Larger than life crystal.

Some of you may be getting tired of hearing about castles and ruins, etc. How can you get tired of castles? Actually, sometimes we are tired of castles. We don't get as excited when we see them now as we did at first. The first two or three castles I saw were unbelievable. I wanted to know everything about them. It is like living in Germany. We have been here for more than 10 months and it has almost become routine. However, we have many more adventures and experiences ahead of us. We still see the miracles from day to day. We love Germany and we love working with the US Military. We try very hard every day to help some one.

Back to castles . . .just think about what life was like back in the middle ages. No one washed and deodorant wasn't invented, the peasants were terribly oppressed and overworked, the dampness and cold were brutal, disease was rampant, the rich were tyrants and lived off the poor, hardly anyone could read, the church/government state was corrupt, and it was often "kill or be killed", etc. It was not the glamorous romantic era portrayed in the movies. I am grateful to live in modern times. I can pick up the Bible and read and ponder what is there on written page. So few had that privilege. The castle ruins remind me of that privilege.

However, the castles in Germany also have something else to share. There are sagas, tales, and legends associated with the castles' histories. It is doubtful if all the stories are true, who knows? The fact is this, moral values can be learned if we apply the lessons from the stories. Take the Brother's Grimm, compilers of fairytales and folklore from Germany and surrounding countries. Look at their tale of Cinderella. Does it pay to be wicked and selfish? Or, does the hard working innocent girl get the prince in the end? See, just be good.

Castles (from the Latin word castellum, meaning fortification)were built by noblemen or monarchs for fortification or defense. As part of the castle, there was usually a "keep" or a tower, also a fortification. Sometimes the treasury was kept there. Isn't it clever to name where you put your treasury a "keep"? Germans love traditions including those of knighthood, castles, dark forests, and old legends. Castles are an integral part of Germany and its past. To visit German castles, one travel guide says, "is to get to know Germans in all their cultural and historical diversity". It has been reported that there are over 20,000 castles in Germany. Some are barren ruins while others are restored or preserved architectural wonders and give us a nearly medieval experience. There are many wonders in Germany; ancient history with the Roman Empire, kings and queens through the ages, wars and conquerors. And most wonderful is that it is a modern progressive orderly country of today, having recovered mostly from two horrible world wars. One thing is prominent, history can be a teacher.

So, we hope you will enjoy our continuing to share stories about travels and adventures around this wonderful country. The people are smart and kind with a past I don't envy. We want to learn from it.

Have a great week. We will!
Sister and Elder Karn