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Adventures in Travel: Germany

By Miriam Rutzen

[Editor's Note: Using the opportunity between jobs to pursue her dreams of travel over the course of one year, Miriam Rutzen of Sciota is sharing this series of her thoughts on her travels and stops along the way over six months, sixteen countries, three continents, and "a great deal of jet lag", she says.

"I made a bet with my dad that I would make it to all seven continents by age 27."

Miriam already had ventured to Australia in 2009 and Europe in 2013 leaving her with only the most difficult-Antarctica. Her first columns were Peru, and Toyko, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Singapore. This week is Germany.

GERMANY

Below are two revised and abridged blog posts written while in Germany in early August 2016 to show a little more of the "behind the scenes" component of some of my travels.

Privileged to have traveled through Germany three times with an organization called News Release Basketball, it was a delight to continue to build on relationships, language skills, and cultural understanding among friends.

These Deutschland families of mine love well and I am very thankful for all of them!

News Release Basketball: On a map, go to southwestern Germany and find a "tri-country" area where Germany, France, and Switzerland all come together around the Rhine River. Zoom in even more to see Frieburg and Lrrach, and zoom in even more to see a small village by the name of Holzen.

That beautiful village amidst the fields and forests is another of my home away from homes with the lovely Zmb family.

The dad is the camp director for the local YMCA (called CVJM in Germany), and he and his wife are raising three incredible children that welcomed me with open arms even though we had to rely on mostly nonverbal communication.

The CVJM, local church groups, and basketball clubs in the surrounding area have partnered with an organization called News Release Basketball (NRB) since 1972 when a group of men from America combined their passion for basketball with their heart for Europe.

Camp staff workers by day, semi-pro opponent athletes by night, NRB provides young men and women athletes that are often current college students or recent grads wanting to avoid hanging up their sneakers for a while longer. Consisting of 10-12 players, teams attend training camp in the States for 3-4 days before heading to Europe.

In 2013 and 2014, I participated as a member of NRB on a coaches' tour to Croatia and France, and a players' tour to Germany.

This time around, I came alongside the NRB women's team and met up with them for a week of camp in Lrrach that hosted about 125 kids ranging in age from 8-18 years old.

The CVJM in the city has put on this camp for 20+ years along with NRB and they do a phenomenal job of combining outreach, Biblical teaching, skills training, and game time for the youth daily.

Working with my same group of teenage girls from previous years during small group Bible study time was definitely a highlight from the week.

The organization is all about loving people, within and through the team. From city center ministry to full language and cultural integration via host family pairings, athletes get to experience Europe in a unique and wonderful way, while also growing a network and community through News Release that will last a lifetime.

Each athlete raises funds for their full needs, around $3000 to cover travel and lodging expenses. The trip includes typically two weeks in Europe, with an occasional option to extend.

You can check them out more in depth at www.nrbasketball.org. The Lrrach Camp will always have a special place in my heart...and the giggles of my Zmb family as we shared life together this past week will be bottled up to treasure for a lifetime.

Black Forest Academy: In the front yard, bright green grass under my feet, dazzling blue sky in the background, two swings hanging from thick wood, and a signpost covered from top to bottom in signs all pointing toward actual locations of the country written on it: Brazil, Australia, Japan, Kenya, France, Italy, Romania, Russia...

This snapshot epitomizes my week interacting with the people of Black Forest Academy in Kandern, Germany. From all over the world, missionary kids and some locals attend this school spread out across a few small southwestern German villages.

Given an opportunity to join a team of Canadian volunteers to help with maintenance and childcare during new teacher orientation week, I had the privilege of learning all about Black Forest Academy.

My main interaction was with the new staff. All of them had raised full financial support to come and serve as teachers (and other positions) at BFA.

Some knew they wanted to work in missions, some came because they wanted to teach internationally, and some felt called there specifically and simply stepped out in faith.

An all English-speaking school, the expectation level is very high for students' performance within the German school system.

To compete with the highest-level schools in Germany is no easy task and many students are brought to new levels, therefore teacher training is rigorous as well.

Led by Englishman Don Ansley, it was quite the surprise for me to find out on my first evening meeting the Canadian volunteer group that they were all retired couples (4 couples total) and were good friends or family of Don and his wife.

Aka...my parents would have fit right in with them. But, like my parents, thankfully these wonderful Canadians loved laughter, exploring, working hard, and they were all a wealth of knowledge and experience from woodworking to computers to musical theater to education.

We had a wonderful time serving with BFA.

I joined the team from Tuesday to Friday afternoon and pitched in with two other women for morning childcare. Going from young adults as coworkers to "young-hearted" adults was about the same shift as going from my teenage girls' Bible study group to toddlers (10 mos to 3 yrs, plus a 5 and 8 year old).

Slobber and diaper changing aren't high on my "sure I will!" list so it was a huge blessing to have two BFA students knocking out volunteer hours beside us.

If someday I can have the treasure trove of random facts about language, history, art, music, culture, travel, education, etc. that my teammates have, it will be a miracle.

~Travel Photos can be found on Facebook or Instagram: mrutzen25 and more in depth stories are chronicled at www.miriamrutzen.blogspot.com.

Camp staff workers by day, semi-pro opponent athletes by night, NRB provides young men and women athletes that are often current college students or recent grads wanting to avoid hanging up their sneakers for a while longer.

Consisting of 10-12 players, teams attend training camp in the States for 3-4 days before heading to Europe.

In 2013 and 2014, I participated as a member of NRB on a coaches' tour to Croatia and France, and a players' tour to Germany.

This time around, I came alongside the NRB women's team and met up with them for a week of camp in Lrrach that hosted about 125 kids ranging in age from 8-18 years old.

The CVJM in the city has put on this camp for 20+ years along with NRB and they do a phenomenal job of combining outreach, Biblical teaching, skills training, and game time for the youth daily.

Working with my same group of teenage girls from previous years during small group Bible study time was definitely a highlight from the week.

The organization is all about loving people, within and through the team.

From city center ministry to full language and cultural integration via host family pairings, athletes get to experience Europe in a unique and wonderful way, while also growing a network and community through News Release that will last a lifetime.

Each athlete raises funds for their full needs, around $3000 to cover travel and lodging expenses.

The trip includes typically two weeks in Europe, with an occasional option to extend.

You can check them out more in depth at www.nrbasketball.org.

The Lrrach Camp will always have a special place in my heart...and the giggles of my Zmb family as we shared life together this past week will be bottled up to treasure for a lifetime.

Black Forest Academy: In the front yard, bright green grass under my feet, dazzling blue sky in the background, two swings hanging from thick wood, and a signpost covered from top to bottom in signs all pointing toward actual locations of the country written on it: Brazil, Australia, Japan, Kenya, France, Italy, Romania, Russia...

This snapshot epitomizes my week interacting with the people of Black Forest Academy in Kandern, Germany.

From all over the world, missionary kids and some locals attend this school spread out across a few small southwestern German villages.

Given an opportunity to join a team of Canadian volunteers to help with maintenance and childcare during new teacher orientation week, I had the privilege of learning all about Black Forest Academy.

My main interaction was with the new staff.

All of them had raised full financial support to come and serve as teachers (and other positions) at BFA.

Some knew they wanted to work in missions, some came because they wanted to teach internationally, and some felt called there specifically and simply stepped out in faith.

An all English-speaking school, the expectation level is very high for students' performance within the German school system.

To compete with the highest-level schools in Germany is no easy task and many students are brought to new levels, therefore teacher training is rigorous as well.

Led by Englishman Don Ansley, it was quite the surprise for me to find out on my first evening meeting the Canadian volunteer group that they were all retired couples (4 couples total) and were good friends or family of Don and his wife.

Aka...my parents would have fit right in with them. But, like my parents, thankfully these wonderful Canadians loved laughter, exploring, working hard, and they were all a wealth of knowledge and experience from woodworking to computers to musical theater to education.

We had a wonderful time serving with BFA.

I joined the team from Tuesday to Friday afternoon and pitched in with two other women for morning childcare.

Going from young adults as coworkers to "young-hearted" adults was about the same shift as going from my teenage girls' Bible study group to toddlers (10 mos to 3 yrs, plus a 5 and 8 year old).

Slobber and diaper changing aren't high on my "sure I will!" list, so it was a huge blessing to have two BFA students knocking out volunteer hours beside us.

If someday I can have the treasure trove of random facts about language, history, art, music, culture, travel, education, etc. that my teammates have, it will be a miracle.

Photos of my travels can be found on Facebook or Instagram: mrutzen25 and more in depth stories are chronicled at www.miriamrutzen.blogspot.com.