Chapter 10 Written / Published 10.1. /13.1.18 (Pics by author, unless indicated)
Numbers one and 101, as well as the letter L, don't seem to want to go away. They even surface in two German towns, starting with the letter B.
Much happened on the world scene around the time of writing this chapter. I can't help bringing God into the picture. HE is calling people to draw near! HIS promise, HE will draw near to you!
We will conclude our 2017, most enjoyable trip to Europe, but not before laboring through some local fallout from the previous chapter and fun with television and print media.
10. Choose ONE, draw near!
Following the previous chapter's title, which includes 101 Won, it seemed logical deciding to commence writing again on January 10th. However, that the No. 101 would dominate once again throughout this chapter, was totally unexpected. How good to know, God is watching us from a distance! How else could I explain what transpired on the very morning of 10.1?
Being mid-summer in Adelaide daylight and waking time came early. Still half asleep my thoughts flashed back to a tense moment the evening before. My daughter, her husband and two grandchildren were staying with us for a few weeks during the holiday season. (The same family my wife and I had visited in Darwin in mid 2017; Chapter 4).
In that chapter I had to point to the fact that some of today's mums and dads don't apply enough discipline to their children, acting contrary to what the bible teaches. Nothing had changed in the 1/2 year since. The incident the evening before became stressful, because our grandchild did not follow an instruction I gave. Our skinny, five years-old grandson flatly refused to obey. I had to exercise self control and just let it go.
While still thinking about this I fell asleep again. Next, waking a second time I looked at the clock radio. The time showed 6.40 am. I knew it was about the time on Christian Radio, Vision 1611 AM, a famous preacher commences his daily talk (Mon-Fri). Within two seconds of tuning into the broadcast Greg Laurie (of Harvest Church, Riverside, California) started his talk, saying: "Today's text is found in Ephesians, Chapter six, starting with Verse 1: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right..."
No good friend would dare apply discipline, certainly not physically. It would spell the end of that friendship. It makes me wonder, who comes up with these fanciful ideas, which go contrary to God's ways of rearing children? The role of a close friend is different to that of a loving, caring, instructing parent! (Perhaps, when children grow into adulthood, the relationship could change into a friendship? See Chapter 4 for more logical reasons, why children need discipline.)
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Hours before commencing to write this chapter I had occasion to email our ABC TV. A name of one of the guests took my immediate attention. The lady was from Adelaide. The subject was the reporting in the media of suicides. Besides the interviewee's name there was another reason, why I took special notice.
The day before, for the first time ever, I had commented on a You Tube video. Details are irrelevant, sufficient to say it had to do with suicide prevention. My brief email to the television show offered a simply solution, too simple for some:
From observations made around Adelaide, public schools are the worst offenders when it comes to ignoring the real meaning of Christmas. As mentioned in the previous chapter - BE MERRY - is not a Christmas greeting. You might as well hand somebody a carton of XXXX beer or 1/2 dozen bottles of Riesling and wish them: Be merry!
Likewise, wishing pupils and passers by a happy holiday denies even a hint of the real meaning of the season. Here are two examples of politically correct school signs:
Keller Road Primary School (note the name Keller).
SAFE AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS
Below: Birdwood Public School - Happy Holidays
EARLY DISMISSAL 2.10
What interesting dismissal time - 2.10 (PM, one assumes).
Perhaps that's why US President Donald Trump is so popular with Christians? He was very vocal, clearly defending the use of Merry Christmas over happy holiday. After all, the word Christmas includes the name of the baby born - CHRIST. But as my email to the ABC suggested, nothing has changed in 2000 years. Schools don't have any room for HIM; not even for HIS name on their signs outside.
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When I sent messages via email to television shows, I have no idea or guarantee that they are even read. This does not bother me the least. The fun is in writing, and the surprising twists that often emerge, after I start typing. A classic example happened on December 22nd, 2017. On Channel Seven's show Sunrise a Salvation Army choir was performing live in their Martin Place (Sydney) studio.
Their regular host Sam was not present that morning. One of the other presenters said something, which in my brain struck a cord, or should I say a code. This became the catalyst for sending them an email. The previous chapter, still fresh in my mind, made fun of a Senator in Canberra. I had alluded to him volunteering for the Salvation Army. His first name is Sam.
In my new email, the fun continued. The subject: Missing sam.
After sending it I had to smile again, when I realized I had sent it on my Samsung! (LOL).
But only during this writing, another reason to smile came, a link from Sam to the Salvation Army! It was the surname of the missing TV host Sam. It starts with Army... ! Two days later, right on Christmas Eve, the lady featured in our Advertiser Newspaper.
Adelaide's Sunday Mail 24.12.17, Page 16:
Considering the fun we're having with the names Sam and China, how timely was what I discovered in the same edition of the Sunday Mail on page 18? (Remember, Sam's picture above - page 16). Turning the page casually, I suddenly spotted in huge lettering the word CHINA. It was an ad for an unbelievable 2 FOR 1 travel offer. Take a look:
Sunday Mail - Christmas Eve 2017 - Pages 16 and 18:
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In between our sweltering 40 degree scorchers, the long days in January are very pleasant; warm, dry and sunny, ideal for the outdoors. On January 4th I took my bike in my Suzuki for a drive to Mount Torrens. For the first time I cycled the Amy Gillett rail trail, named after an Australian cyclist, killed in 2005 while training in Germany.
Amy Gillett Rail trail, near Charleston, Adelaide Hills
During much of my working life as driving instructor I showed great interest in road safety. How much needless pain and suffering it must be, when a loved one dies suddenly in a road crash!
It didn't take long for me to realize that the driver training system at the time included very little road safely. Yet, I'd hate to work out, how much learner drivers paid us for the hours instructors spent teaching them parking, reversing around a corner or three-point turns. None of these, normally, kills a motorist or pedestrian.
At Woodside I entered a bakery and ordered a meat pie for lunch. Sitting down I noticed a newspaper on a table. The Adelaide Advertiser's front page headline read: 'Sums don't make sense'. The 'exclusive' article disputed the number of public servants and their salaries etc.
As I casually continued browsing, eating my meat pie, a heading on page six grabbed my attention immediately: 'Doctors take stand on soaring road tolls'. The one column article reported that for the first time in its 55-year history the AMA (Australian Medical Association) called for draconian measures to be put in place to curb the rising road toll.
What I read next came as a mild shock:
STOP PRESS !
Un-cropped picture, taken from P/C screen.
I see God in everything. Is the United States, especially California, being singled out, receiving a wake-up call from God Almighty, All-powerful?
If so, the call is to repent and to return to your roots. Restore your simple faith in the Lord your God; the same faith your forefathers practiced when establishing your great nation!
As I write Adelaide is experiencing some rare, but welcome rain!
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(Back to Europe, October 2017).
Alert readers may recall that in Chapter 9 I had made mention that in this chapter I shall refer to a particular bible verse, and chapter. I had alluded to the final chapter in the bible, which speaks of the second coming of Christ. True believers will be swept away by a river of water of life. No more curse (drugs, pain, crime, hate etc etc.) They will live in peace and safety forever with their Lord, who they have trusted with their lives. "All will take place shortly." (Revelation 22, Verse 6).
The verse I alluded to was another in Revelations, the penultimate one. A casual observation made, while taking a casual stroll one evening in Berlin, was the catalyst for it all.
Back in Berlin on the day before flying back to Stuttgart, my friend Will and I visited Potsdam. He really enjoyed the historic old buildings, even climbed the tower of the beautifully restored Saint Nikolai Church. Next came a long walk, in perfect weather, through the extensive parklands surrounding Sansouci Palace.
Back in Steglitz Will was too tired to join me for my evening walk. Just as well, because I may not have taken the two photographs below, which are now part of this chapter. I snapped the pics on Steglitz's Schloss Strasse, the main shopping promenade. Germans have a word for perusing shop windows: Schaufensterbummel. (It's the safest way to go shopping - no cash registers are operating!)
The neon lights of a jeweller shop did not illuminate properly. The first three letters of Jewelier did not work, leaving only the last four. Take a look:
My playful mind saw er ie & L.
Registration plate B. L 2022
In this verse rests the hope of every sincere Christian - the return of our Lord is near.
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When travelling by air there is one stressful thing I try to avoid - catching a very early morning flight. That's why I had my return flight to Australia from Frankfurt booked to leave at 10.55 AM. (The airline had changed it from 10.35 am!? Even this late, to be arriving at the recommended two (or three) hours prior to departure would have meant a hectic schedule, if I were to make the 200 km journey from the Esslingen suburb I was staying at.
The simplest solution was to spend the final night before departure closer to Frankfurt. All worked out perfectly. Not only did this avoid stress, but it opened the opportunity to see more of the fatherland; places I had never been to. From my early childhood my parents had often talked fondly about the Rhein and famous places, like Ruedesheim and Bingen etc.
In the past I had only travelled through these towns on the fast train from up north. The legendary Lorelei and the Niederwald Denkmal had only been a momentary glimpse through the train window. Not this time. I searched and found a perfect place to stay for two nights in Bingen. The YHA offered a private room, with en-suite bathroom/toilet, at only 35 Euros per night. The views from the five-story, refurbished hostel were breathtaking.
Most importantly, the location was ideal. There was only a seven minute walk to the train station. No stress to get to Frankfurt, a short train ride away.
View from Klopp Castle, Bingen. (Niederwald memorial top left.)
To reach it I took a 20-minute ferry ride to Ruedesheim. It ran every hour, all day and cost 4.50 Euros. There was a cable car ride available, but since I had all day and loved the exercise, I sweated it out, right to the top.
It was quite a steep walk, but a very pleasant one. The weather was somewhat duller than the previous weeks, but the autumn colours of the vineyards just as breathtaking! Colours have always excite me. (That evening a colour combination would again fascinate me, enough to take a picture to show my readers, read on).
Maier is a widespread name in Southern Germany. Just here, as I compose this chapter, I remembered an incident with a German Christian friend. He had sat beside me in church only two days prior at the Volksmission in Stuttgart Zuffenhausen. He was one of only three or four, who I still recognized from my youth, five decades ago. His surname: Maier.
Our unplanned meeting at church that morning was a real blessing. The leader had read Psalm 23. The theme that morning was from Verse One: 'The Lord is my shepherd'. A little further into the service there was opportunity for anyone to share some of their journey with the shepherd.
Brother Maier encouraged me to get up and give a greeting. It's scary to talk publicly, in front of hundreds, unprepared. But I did anyway. My message to the people, writing from memory, went something like this:
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At this point in this chapter I paused my writing to join our table tennis group for our Friday (Date 12.1) afternoon session. On the return, riding my bicycle, I ran over a piece of debris. I just caught a glimpse of it, enough to make me dismount and fetch it. Two things made me stop and pick it up, something I had rarely done in recent times.
Firstly, the location happened to be just before the traffic lights, on the same corner (Saints Road and the Grove Way), where I had observed the ambulances and the fire truck five weeks prior. They had started the number 101 episode, as reported in the previous chapter.
(Back to Bingen, Oct 2017).
The evening of October 24th was my last in Germany, concluding the eventful 2017 Europe trip. Even though the weather had changed to overcast, with very light rain falling, I took my last, long walk to soak up old Germany. There was a small river entering the Rhein. I had crossed it already on foot several times, but never walked upstream to the nearest bridge; a historic one, according to the tourist brochure.
So I did. The Drusus Bridge reminded me very much of the Pliensau Bruecke in Esslingen, where I had lived near for a decade before migrating. It may sound strange that not during that evening walk, nor since then, had I bothered with the name of this river. (Does this not show that I do not search for things to find material to write about, but God opens my eyes at the right time?)
The towns of Bingen and Esslingen have one thing in common - both are producers of sparkling wine, translated into German - Sekt. Keller, a name we touched on twice earlier in this chapter, in English means 'cellar'. Keller includes two letters L. During my evening walk I made a strange observation to do with Keller, and the letter L.
Moments after crossing the Drusus Bridge I spotted the name of a sparkling wine company on the side of their building: SEKTKELLEREI SCHARLACHBERG. One letter stood out and it got worse. It was time again for two pictures. Take a look:
Years ago, before I owned a digital camera, I predicted that I would be taking lots and lots more photos than I was already doing. That's why I had resisted the phone/camera pressure for a long time. My look into the future came true. There's so much to see, so many photos to take.
There's more than one number ONE twist to conclude this chapter. For the first we need to look and compare the names of the rivers, where I started my 2017 journey and where it ended, the Rhone and the Rhein. From there it's as easy as ...
RHONE - removing the letters RH becomes ONE,
RHEIN - removing the letters RH becomes EIN.
The German word ein is a masculin infinite article. In English it could mean both THE or ONE. But there was another ONE.
Around Christmas, don't we all eat too much chocolate? The shops are enticing customers to indulge with irresistible specials. (We can always start dieting again after Christmas...). My wife brought home one of these specials, a triangular shaped bar called Toblerone. The weight of the bar, shown on the packaging, made me take this photo:
Just as HIS birth was predicted and came to pass, hundreds of years ago, HIS return will also come to pass. Because the time is very near, it's time to draw near!
Number ONE came so that all could live!