In 2011, Julie and I began saving money to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. Our hope was to leave the children with grandparents and go on a romantic, explorative trip of a lifetime. We made plans to see several European countries and visit the places from which our ancestors came. Under very different circumstances, I am on this trip now with Anahi.
Our trip of a lifetime started in Interlaken, Switzerland, two weeks ago. I had the privilege to participate at Breathe, a 10-day conference targeted at missionaries from around the world who are living in regions in conflict and going through major transition. Learning from missionaries working in the underground churches of closed countries encouraged my faith.
This week we stopped in Rotenberg, Germany. This was the home of my great-grandpa Wilhelm, who, at age 19 in 1891, left the small “dorf” (town) of Rotenberg to explore new lands to raise his family. Now we are moving northward to where my grandma’s roots were.
We have also visited the vineyards where some of my other relatives still make a living, as well as a World War II bunker in Rotenberg. Entering the cement structure, built under a rocky hill in 1943, when Allied forces where bombing Stuttgart, left me literally cold and emotionally startled. Older people vividly remember the horrific nights when they had to evacuate their homes and rush for shelter with their little ones.
I am now in Fritzlar, the place where my father, brother and sister went to school. A family in the church is helping me caring for Anahi. We go on walks in the evening and interact with locals who are always eager to share about their culture and lifestyle.
Being away from my Paraguayan world for this season has been a blessing. Anahi and I have continued to bond. We have each other throughout this trip. I think another layer of healing is taking place as we explore new places and meet new people.