Monday, June 7, 2010

Back to where it all started....

This morning, we slept in pretty late… until 9:00. It felt so good. When we came downstairs, we enjoyed one final round of breakfast and got another crack at soft boiled eggs. I still am a beginner. After a few phone calls to confirm reservations, etc. it was time to be on our way. I felt so sad to be leaving these people…. Even though we had just met, I felt like I have known them my whole life. They are some of the most wonderful people I have ever met in my life, and I will miss them a lot.

I will also miss their darling house with the beautiful gardens and self shutting blinds on the windows. Their house has several floors, and they have a ton of space and bedrooms for visitors. The main floor has the kitchen and family sitting room with a piano. The next landing has their room and bathroom and office. Then on the second floor was the suite Heidi and I stayed in with 3 bedrooms, bathroom, family room, and little kitchen and balcony. Outside of this whole big suite is another door, probably with another bedroom. There was also more space and bedrooms on the very top floor. It is the most awesome house ever. Even for all these bedrooms, it is not one of those ridiculously giant houses of the United States. Everything is of suitable size, the bedrooms being large enough for a bed, dresser, wardrobe and a few small tables. It is just so cozy and homey. I imagine they get company quite a bit. I had the pleasure of meeting some of their family and grandchildren, and I can just imagine the house full of their family… there are so many bedrooms and places that everyone would be comfortable, and I can just picture the family gathered together in the garden for fellowship and time together. Their family could serve as a roll model for families all over. They are amazing, just like their house.

From here we took a train to Hamburg. There are several organs I want to see in the vicinity and Heidi had visited here once and wanted to return. We had reservations in the same place I stayed in last year since I knew it was cheap, clean, and safe. When we arrived on the train, we followed the directions given to us by the person at the hotel, but we got all turned around and slightly lost. Leave it to me and Heidi…. We called the desk again, who told us to get back on the train, ride it one more stop, and then walk this way and that to the hotel. So we got on the train, rode it one more stop, and walked this way and that. And this way and that. And this way and that. Heidi kept inquiring if this looked familiar and I said no. (We had come in on the S line, when last year we used the U line, so it was a slightly different part of town.) After some more this way and that, I got excited, exclaiming that this was starting to look familiar. Well, it was familiar… from about 15 minutes ago. We had managed to walk all the way back to the train stop we had originally got off on. So much for riding the train one more stop. Rather than get back on the train, we headed in the direction of the hotel, seeing much of Hamburg on the way. Finally, tired and exhausted we decided to no longer be the thrifty church workers we are and hailed a cab. Heidi later told me that it was a good thing we got a cab when we did, because the cab took us straight through Hamburg’s red light district. Yikes. I had thankfully totally missed it because I was rummaging around in my bag for something. In 3 minutes time we were at the hotel. We had been SOOOO close, and I was angry that I had missed it, but as I said we were coming from a different direction. We made it safe and sound, got checked in the hotel and went to find some dinner. By now it was rainy and cold. We watched some German TV, and then when the rain stopped, decided to get our daily ice cream just before bed.

I must admit, it was a little strange to be back in Hamburg…… to a town that was familiar to me…, but without Craig and all my organ buddies. I had a lot of memories come back to me. This hotel was the first place I stayed last year, so this was my first experience in Germany, and it was odd to be back. While I had been unable to get us from the train station to the hotel, I had no problems at all finding the ice cream spot. And this ice cream was extra special… it was from this little place that I had gotten my first taste ever of Gelato last year. If you go back in the blog, you will find a picture taken in about the same spot of my first taste of gelato with Kevin and Ty. The ice cream was just as good as I remembered it to be. :) I happily ordered 2 scoops. I figured after our adventure of getting lost, I deserved it.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gelato for Jesus

We woke up and went downstairs where we were greeted with a table laden with breads, cheeses, meats, every type of spread known to man, coffee, juice, etc. Also this morning, there were soft boiled eggs. After Walter said the prayer, he explained to us how to eat the soft boiled egg. I picked up my egg and my knife, ready to give it a good whack. This caused Walter to laugh a little bit, and I took a moment to regain my composure and got ready to try this. I whacked the egg and popped the top off of it. It did not look like the egg Walter had opened moments before. With twinkle of laughter dancing in his eye, he said with a big smile, “It’s not perfect, but not bad for a beginner.” Needless to say, he was quite gracious in his comment, because the egg looked pretty goofy. It was delicious though. After a nice long 45 minute breakfast, we piled in the car to go to Gross Oesingen, being in the Northern part of Germnay in the Liederburg Heide. Well actually, we went to the “Suburb” of Gross Oesingen…. A teeny tiny little village full of earth suitable for growing potatoes. Despite the fact that this was quite a ways from Hannover, we made it in record time, clipping along at a brisk 180 Kilometers per hour on the autobahn. Translated, we were going fast. If you wish, you may google the conversion to miles per hour. Once we arrived at the festival, we were thrilled to see that all the SELK churches had come together for this festival. Being good Lutherans, they did not skip Sunday service, but decided to have the service outside. Row after row of lawn chairs had been placed in this yard which in former times had been a farm. The farm is now owned by the church, so they had set up the chairs along with an altar etc. for an open air worship service. Now, seeing that this was an outdoor worship service, I thought a little about Walcamp and recalled outdoor worship services there, consisting of guitars, drums, and a million cords and loud speakers. I expected a similar thing here, figuring there would be no way to get the organ out side. Oh how foolish and na├»ve I am when it comes to these good stout Lutherans in the motherland. While they did not bring the organ outside, I immediately noticed that there were no amplifiers or speakers. So how did these Lutherans sing you may be wondering. Well, sing they did. Loudly and with fervent gusto. Due to the lack of organ, they simply hauled the brass. And I am not referring to a brass quartet or even an 8 part brass like the US churches may use on some festival day. No, here in Germany instead of loudspeakers and keyboards, etc. They simply assembled over 100 brass players plus an enthusiastic timpanist (who was also clergy) to accompany the hymns and the rest (Psalm, etc.) was done unaccompanied. I’m telling you, these Germans are genius in their worship practice. Who would have thought a service could be held out of doors with sturdy hymns, loud singing, and 100 brass players? For serious. I died a little bit. With happiness, of course. After the service was done, I learned that Lutherans here have something in common with Lutherans in America. After the service, there was coffee and a meal served with pot luck dessert. Lots of dessert. Also, there was some ice cream. Not just any ice cream, but holy ice cream. This gelatto was made from the milk of the cows belonging to a church member. They make it themselves and for this event, ALL profits from the ice cream went to mission work. Of course because I am a huge supporter of mission work and spreading the Gospel, I felt it was my duty to support this mission, I ate not 1, but 2 scoops of ice cream to further the Gospel.

Then we took a walk around the town, which was lovely. Then at 14:00 the Brass festival began. This was pretty sweet. All these brass players, ranging in age from high school through retired old people, played a whole assortment of music. Everything from Bach to Michael Jackson. I naturally enjoyed the Bach the most. There were also several Bible readings, a youth choir, and a children’s choir with Orff instruments, recorders, and some boys who were being a bit silly and got a good laugh out of the 500+ people sitting in the audience. When this was done, we visited the actual of Gross Oesingen to see their newly installed organ. It was new, but it was a mechanical action with straight pedal board and a loud mixture. They know how to do it right over here. I think I need to move here. For really real. I played that organ and that made me happy.

After this, we took a slight detour on the way home through Celle, a VERY old and quaint town. It was so cool. There were buildings there that were built before Luther died. The buildings were tall and not always even, all made of wood and so old you could not even believe it. See for yourself in this picture. If you look, you can see the date it was built painted on the front….. 1540!!! It is quite rare for so many old buildings to still be standing, especially as fire was common and the buildings were so close together.

The whole town was just row after row of old houses from the 1500s and 1600s. It was quite a place to take pictures, and I took pictures of many many houses.
After this, we walked around the castle (no mud this time) and then Walter treated us to a second round of gelato since we found a shop that he said made very high quality gelato. He was right, and I didn’t need to think twice about a second round of the good stuff.

We also saw the town church, which was from the 1200’s. Of course it was not completed that early, and the organ was not installed until much later. I did not get to play the organ, but it was fun to see such an old church.

After this we went home and shared one last dinner… outside by candle light. We stayed out there till 11:00 just talking. The others enjoyed a nice bottle of wine from the Rhein region. Walter and Heidi told me to try it, but I still decided that I don’t want to drink, so I just had some apfelschorle instead. We had a lovely time talking Lutheran connections, stories, and conversing in a combination of English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and French with a Portuguese accent, as Walter said you can speak anything with a Portuguese accent and still be understood. They told us stories from when they were younger and we compared cultures and stories. It was a very lovely time and I know I will remember these very kind and generous people forever. It was really a wonderful time, and I am so thankful for the big happy Lutheran family that I belong to that extends far beyond the borders of America. Lutherans are like a great big huge family. I love it, and feel so blessed to be a part of it. I only hope that one day when I am older that I will be able to share my Lutheran experiences with someone else and pass on the kindess and graciousness that was so freely extended to us here.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hannover: Georges' town.

'Today, we woke up took a little tour of Hannover with Walter as our guide. He took us to his church, where we dropped off some cakes on board for the singers who were having a practice later that day. While the organ was small, I was delighted to play (of course) and my ever trusty PNE (What would that be in Germany, I wonder?) was ever eager to turn pages for me. We played a little bit while Walter tested out all the spaces below to find the sweet spots.

After this, he dropped us off at the Rathaus. After a caution to us young ladies to be careful, he told us we would have much freedom to enjoy the city. We took a scary elevator ride to the tippy top of this sucker into the dome. We went outside where we were guarded only by a thick wall waist high from the sidewalk way far down. It was slightly nauseating, but all in all we enjoyed the view very much.

After this, we did some killer shopping in the town. We greatly supported the economy of Hannover. I’m sure George would be quite proud. You see, Hannover is home to a lot of Georges. Five to be exact. You can’t go wrong with a name like George. These Georges were kings and one of them (don’t ask me which) can be seen in all his splendor and glory riding into town on his horse. Exhausted from all this spending and carrying of heavy bags loaded with Nivea and chocolate (mind you, it was not chocolate Nivea, the nivea had honey and milk only), we decided it was time for a little snack. What better snack than a delicious and creamy gelatto cone? As you can see from the picture, I am a bigger gelato enthusiast than Heidi is, and sometimes she gets a bit exasperated at my consent photographic documentation of our consumption of this delicacy.

After this teat, we trained back to the house, for more coffee and cakes on the lawn, but this time, we had the pleasure of enjoying the entertainment provided by their 3 year old grandson. This little guy was hard at work, moving his “hay” in his truck, from one end of the yard to the other. He was quite cute, but rather shy of us strange looking Americans. We enjoyed a nice chat with Winfried, who is the father of this 3 year old and son of Walter and Hannelore, our hosts. After this, we later had dinner….. Brats cooked on the newly assembled barbeque. When the sausages whistled, they told me it was like an organ sausage. We enjoyed dinner (I skipped the sausage) and we ended up talking for awhile and then going to bed early because we have a big day tomorrow.

Friday, June 4, 2010

On Friday, we slept in a little bit, then left for the next leg of our journey. Before boarding the train, we made a stop at the Dom, where I got to play the organ. This organ is not historic…. It isn’t even 10 years old. I must confess…. The acoustics were awesome and it was fun to play in such a large space, but I did not get as excited about this organ as some of the others. Also, since it is a huge tourist spot, there were LOTS of people milling around downstairs while I played, so that was a little funny. The organist took us up to the tower and we had to go through 3 sets of heavily locked doors. The organist explained to us that they must keep the tower locked tight because of liabilities. Apparently if one wishes to commit suicide in Magdeburg the easiest thing to do is to climb to the top of the tower and throw oneself off of it. Yikes. I had no intentions of suicide, and the only way I would have died was from over excitement, so I felt pretty safe going up. Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures here (woops) but we saw where Otto is buried… from the year 900 or 1000. Can we say old? Holy bananas. This city is OLD and VERY important to Germany’s history.

After this we caught a train to Hannover, where we will be spending several days. While Hannover is a sort of organ desert, we are taking some time to do shopping and tourist stuff. Plus, the SELK have a festival on Sunday we will attend. When we arrived in Hannover, Heidi introduced me to the people who are hosting us for the next several days. This nice older couple immediately won me over with their sweet and gentle ways and soon we were talking and laughing together. They are totally your typical German Lutheran couple and I hope I’m just like them when I grow up. After taking our bags upstairs (we have this whole suite to ourselves) we joined them in their beautiful gardens for coffee, apfelschorle, and cookies. After a long leisurely break, we went to see the gardens of Hannover. I had no idea this place was so big. We spent a few hours and still didn’t see anything. I took a million pictures, but will post only a few of my favorites to give you an idea.

After this, we returned to the house for dinner and the conversation had Heidi and I laughing at every corner. Walter reminds me very much of Pastor Niermann in his mannerisms and facial expressions. He is also hilarious and as we quickly discovered, a huge kidder. He likes to make lots of jokes. You can tell that he is quite wise, really enjoys life, and just has that calm knowing and understanding that older people often have and that I envy. I hope one day I will be old enough to just calm down and not always be wondering about things. I think good times are in store for us in the great village of Hannover!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A day of Bach, Luther, ice cream, and mud.

Today Manfred had another day off of work, so he joined us for further adventures in Germany. I was once again glad he came with, and don't think we would have been able to find all these places with out him there. Our first stop today was Leipzig. It is a very good thing we didn't do Wittenberg and Leipzig in the same day, becuase I would have been dangerously high from excitement. I need these extreme highs in little doses because my heart may not be able to take all the excitement otherwise! Our first stop in Leipzig, naturally, was to the St. Thomas church where Bach did most of his work. Once again, I found my heart POUNDING as I walked through the building, marveling at its beauty and trying to wrap my head around the depth of history here. Further, to think that BACH HIMSELF walked here…. Well, WOW. After sufficient drooling had been done over the organs and stained glass and other things, I went up to the place in the front where Bach is buried. I stood there a long time trying to fathom the fact that I was so close to this hero of mine. I’ll admit it… I got a little misty eyed standing there. Perhaps it is disrespectful to take pictures of graves, but I wanted a picture by Bach, so I did it anyway. I’m certain he would not mind.
We also had to snap a quick picture outside the church with the Bach statue. We couldn't get a picture with Luther when we were in Wittenberg since it is moved for some work to be done on it, so I was glad to see this statue where it belongs. If you want to see the inside of the church, you may google it yourself. There are nine thousand pictures online, so I won't take the time to upload my own. We got to see several artifacts as well, including the chalace that Bach recieved his last communion from. Pretty sweet.

From here, we took a short walk to Bach’s other church: St. Nicholas. This church was in a much different style, and since the other church was the main church he worked at, I wasn’t quite as excited, though I was still pretty much on cloud 9. In the North chapel, there was a pulpit where Luther himself preached. This got me unbelievably excited. After this, we wandered around the town a bit. I enjoyed feeling the cobblestone under my feet while looking at all these old buildings. Then, as if Leipzig wasn’t cool enough already, we bumped into this awesome group who were singing some sort of polka or beer drinking songs in the street. The soloists were really good and the accordion player made me want to take up the accordion a little bit. We stood there quite awhile with touristy smiles plastered on our faces as we watched this spectacle. From here we took a nice little drive to the Eisleben. Here we toured the museum built on the site where Luther was born. The original house was destroyed by a fire, but it was neat to see the location as well as many artifacts, including his wife’s wedding ring. We wandered down the street to see the church he was baptized in, and then to see the house he died in. This house is the original, and we went inside to see more artifacts as well as the actual place where Luther died. I got big time goose bumps and my mind went crazy trying to comprehend all of this. Across the street was the church they took him to once he had died. Because Luther had lived a productive life and God worked in him in so many wonderful ways, I was not overly distraught at the fact that he had died (though it would have been cool to meet him in real life). Plus anyway, there is no way possible that he would still be alive today. Not like he recently died or anything. So, since there was no weeping or mourning, it seemed appropriate to eat some ice cream in this town, which I did right in front of Luther’s birthplace. I think I could make a whole book with my pictures from last year and this and title it as follows: Gelatto across Germany. HA!

Then from here, we set out for our final adventure of the day. And boy oh boy do I mean adventure. Manfred drove us through these VERY windy roads to the base of a castle. The sign claimed it was a 1 Km hike. It felt more like 100 Km straight up. Through he mud. Not little bits of mud, more like a bog. Manfred had appropriate walking shoes and had no trouble. I was wearing a little dress with shoes that are not really good for hiking. Heidi had on flip flops. We were quite the sight, I am sure, and about half way up the sugar from the ice cream set in. I began singing funny Lutheran songs as we hiked up. There were a few close calls where I almost fell, but somehow I made it. Once at the top we learned it was all for nothing…. The castle had just closed. I was not about to let all that hard work go to waste, so I perched my camera on the side of the castle, set the automatic timer, and snapped a group picture. All in all, what started as a skeptical climb through the deep bog of Germany, in the end I was thankful. Thankful that we didn’t meet the only bear in Germany. Really, though, it was a lot of fun and probably one of my favorite memories of the trip thus far. After this we headed back to Magdeburg and ordered in pizza.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Day of Bliss

Well, it should be awfully obvious to anyone who knows me that the blog title “A day of bliss” translates to “organ day”. Yes, at long last today I got to lay fingers on historic keys and my ears were able to savor the delicious sound of mean tone. I spent the whole day on cloud 9. While I do not get to see as many organs this trip as when on tour, I did discover that it is rather nice not to have many other organists fighting for bench time and I selfishly savored 1-2 hours at each organ all to myself!

The first place we visited was the small village of Loburg. Right now we are staying with Manfred, who graciously took the day off work in order to accompany us on this organ adventure. I am so glad he could come, because I don’t know that I would have found all these little towns without his help. He commented on the drive there that this was not the typical tourist town. I love how most Germans are just awe struck that I would travel all this way just to play the organs here. I was quite pleased that Manfred was so anxious to see what the fuss was all about and as the day progressed, I think my excitement was rubbing off on him because he seemed to really enjoy himself as well. Once we arrived in Loburg, we waited to be let in. The key to this church was over 12 inches long and quite thick. It was about as old fashioned as a key could get. I really wanted a picture but felt a little foolish to ask. The church was just beautiful, as you can see.

We were then led into this beautiful old church and my nose was greeted with the familiar old church smell. My heart just soared with joy and excitement to be back in an old church again. Then, my eyes immediately darted up to the organ loft and when I saw that old organ my heart just started to POUND with excitement. I thought I might squeal right there in the church. We were given a short demonstration and tour of the organ. This is the other part of organs I love: the climbing up narrow creaking stairs to the balcony and climbing in and around the pipes to see every square inch of these magnificent organs. After the tour, I FINALLY got to play. After a long year of waiting, I found myself sitting on the bench and as I drew the old heavy stops, I knew my waiting was coming to an end and I would soon have a little slice of pure heaven. I chose to play Buxtehude and it felt so good. I can not even being to describe it. I felt whole. Complete. My feet danced on the pedals and my fingers became one with the keys. I can not even begin to describe how good this felt. I played for well over an hour, savoring the feel and sound and testing different combinations to really hear what this organ could do.

Finally, we had to move on, and I was sad to go, but had another organ to visit, so I wasn’t too sad…. We then visited a stork farm just down the road. It was interesting, though I must confess my brain was still back in the church and I was still a little in the clouds from having played that organ!

After this, we drove nearly an hour to Tangermuende. This village was amazing and totally typical German style. This church was much larger than the last and I immediately got excited. This was one of the ones I wanted to see the most. We entered this enormous church (and I mean enormous) and I was more or less oblivious to the huge church because I was too busy running down the center isle to get a look at the organ. When my eyes saw that thing I did a little happy dance. I mean look at this. It makes you drool a little.

Then we when up these very old and narrow stairs. it’s a very good thing I do not have a queasy stomach because holy bananas, that was an interesting climb. The organist didn’t speak much English, so Manfred translated. It was so cold up there in the loft that they even had a heating pad on the organ bench! This organ was mean tone with short octave. I was in HEAVEN. The organist told me you can’t play anything with more than 3 sharps or 2 flats, and that it had short octave. I busted out the Buxtehude and the minute I heard that mean tone I could have cried with joy. OH MY GOSH. One of the most beautiful sounds ever. I can not even describe it. Stunning. I only had an hour to play here, but it was a real treat. I could have stayed all day. I have not been this happy in a very, very long time. Ecstatically happy. Words can not even begin to describe it.

I was VERY sad and reluctant to leave this beautiful organ behind, but we had to move on. Next stop was the little town of Niederndodeleben. This is a very fun name to try to say. You sort of have to get a running start. This little church also had a very sweet key to the front door. I got to climb up the ladder to go inside the organ and this organ had a cage built around the console to protect the organist from the crowding peasants. It felt very fun to be locked in by the organ. This organ I played for an hour, and then continued for a second hour playing around with hymns. Man alive, I could have stayed the whole day.

It was a very cute little organ. I wish I could have heard the reeds, but they were just horribly out of tune.
What better way to end a day of organ playing then an organ recital? I mean really. So we trekked over to the Dom and enjoyed a lovely organ recital there. My little organ loving being was happy as a clam with all of this, and I was grateful that Heidi allowed me this day of bliss and that Manfred got so excited by these organs.

After the recital, we went out to eat, which was nice. Worry not, we topped the meal with ice cream so as not to break my 1 ice cream a day rule. I was just so excited from the organs I forgot to photograph this, but rest assured I did consume a delicious scoop of vanilla goodness.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

At long last, Wittenberg

So yesterday there was not much to post... we did some shopping then spent the afternoon traveling to our next destination: Magdeburg. Consequently, we were ready for more sightseeing fun today.

Today was a very, very special day. You see, today we went to Wittenberg. I have long dreamed of visiting here and recall even as a young child wondering what it looked like and wanting to be in the very places that Luther was. We got our tickets, got breakfast at Crobag, and I could hardly contain my excitement as we boarded the train. It was almost a 2 hour journey from where we were staying, but so very worth it. As we walked into town, I was nearly bursting with excitement and my heart was just pounding. The center of town looks quite modern, with new buildings obviously not from Luther's time. After a quick stop in the visitor center, we headed to the Castle Church. We saw the very place where Luther hung the 95 thesis. I can't even describe what it felt like to stand there. To sit there and be so close to history, so close to where this happened was incredible. I took some video, but unfortunately this computer won't let me post it, so for now pictures will have to suffice.

It felt rather surreal to walk around where Luther himself walked. My mind went wild imagining what it must have been like and how God worked through Luther in so many ways to get the Gospel out to people and deliver the wonderful message of grace. I wish so badly to just see how it all was, but to have this little peek into the past was truly a wonderful gift. After marveling at the outside, we went inside. WOW WOW WOW. It was more beautiful than I imagined and bigger than I had pictured it to be.

I could just see Luther as a monk running around this place. I would love to be able to sit down and talk to Luther in real life. We spent quite a bit of time in the church, slowing walking around and trying to soak it all in. I was quite overwhelmed by the whole experience. Once up at the front, we saw Luther's grave. I got chills. Literally. I realize there beneath the church floor is only the remains of Luther since his soul is in heaven, but it was a very powerful moment for me and I felt so unbelievably connected and in tune to my Lutheran heritage that words can not even begin to describe it.

After this, we spent some time in the city church, and I saw a pretty sweet Sauer organ there. They wouldn't let me play it and no one would play it for me, so I bought a CD. Oh well. We visited the gift store where I promptly supported the German economy by buying about half of Wittenberg to talk back to the US with me, and then we just wandered around the town. It was quite cold and rainy, we had our daily dose of gelato. Because even with all this excitement from organs and Luther, I was totally able to think about gelato. I even got to share it with my guy Marty himself. (OK, OK, it was a cut out...)

After this delicious treat, we climbed the tower in Castle church and it was AMAZING. VERY high but pretty sweet. I just love old churches. For serious. Then we heard an organ recital. Yes, you heard me correctly I heard an organ recital in Luther's church. It was a organ of course was not around during his time, but it was pretty sweet to sit there listening to organ music while taking in this beautiful church and just having time to digest things. I think God wanted me to hear the organ there... because they only have recitals on Tuesdays, and we just happened to pick Tuesday as the Wittenberg day. We did not know prior to coming about the organ recital bit. Further, for the mere price of 2 euros, you could get a tour of the organ after. I did this, of course. The organist spoke first to the German group, then to the English group. The English group from Wheaton college had a million questions.... most of which were silly and made me embarrassed. The organist had inquired where I was from, and when I said Notre Dame, he of course knew Craig. When the Americans FINALLY stopped asking questions, he pulled the stops loud and played A Mighty Fortress. I did a little squeal of happy. Then he hopped off the bench and said to me "Would you like to play something?" I thought he would never ask! I had not arranged to play here, but had brought my organ shoes and music, hoping for a miracle. It wasn't Luther's organ, but to play in the Castle Church was an amazing opportunity and I eagerly accepted the invitation. I hopped on the bench and busted out my Buxtehude book and played. I was in heaven, and I mean HEAVEN. It wasn't a Schnitger organ, but it was Luther's church so it ran a close 2nd. I was on cloud 9 million the whole way home. It was a mountain top experience in so many ways.

When we got back to Magdeburg we all (Heidi, Manfred and I) took a walk along the river to a nice little restaurant and enjoyed dinner together. Tomorrows agenda: organs!