29 Years Germany

13. August '10


29 years ago today, a jet landed in Frankfurt airport. I remember being almost afraid to breathe European air for the first time in my life as we deplaned. 29 years! That’s exactly half my life that we’ve spent in this incredible country… and, I might add, the best half… the most productive and conscious half. It’s become home.


 The term “culture shock” is a total misnomer. It didn’t even hit us until we’d been in Germany for almost two years. And instead of being a “shock”, it was more like a slow burn. Something you sort of realize one day. Susie and I would close all the windows and blinds in our first apartment so no one could hear us and then scream at the top of our lungs about the stupid door handles that were constantly catching our sleeves as we walked by… or the way seemingly everyone on the Autobahn felt it was their responsibility to teach us how to drive. It helped. We’d be okay again for a few days… until the next yelling session. 


Culture shock experts say that you bottom out emotionally after two years in a strange and new country. Only then does the downward spiral begin to level off and gradually begin to climb through the years. But you never quite make it back to emotional “ground zero”. You’re always an Ausländer, a stranger… foreigner. 29 years is a long time. Sometimes we have to really consciously think about what language we are speaking at a particular moment. A few years ago I was giving some Nashville musicians a short historical tour through a city and as we walked and talked, I began noticing strange looks on their faces. Was my zipper down? Finally one of them gave me the big “T” time-out sign. “English, please.” he said.


So this morning Susie got a big bouquet of flowers as a little “Thank-you” for putting up with me for 29 years in a strange land…. hmmm…. not really strange at all anymore. “Strange” is when we fly back to the states and realize that that is not home anymore. So who are we then? Where do we belong? No doubt for a second that this is where we belong. Years of investment and ministry are here. I can’t imagine doing anything else than what I do. I love it. 


Here’s the lyric of a song we almost always still sing toward the beginning of our concerts:


Where do I belong? Where is my home?
Where is the place to hide from the storm?
I’m not so sure about this anymore.
Who can be the one for me to lean on?
When I can’t go on all alone?
It’s not as easy as it was before.



Help me; I can’t wait for eternity.
Show me your love that is so strong for me.

Take me to your heart where I belong.
Help me; this world is not my home somehow
Show me your love so I can feel it now
Take me home to where I belong.


When I was a child my world was clear.
A loving family always there.
No need to worry about where I was.
Then I used to feel at home with my friends
They helped me to discover myself.
I was so proud to be one of them.




Now I feel that human love
Will not be strong enough
To build my whole life on.