I arrived at the airport with mixed emotions. I was thankful for my dear friend Stephanie who agreed to drive me to the airport. It was a pleasant chat the whole way there and she prayed with me before sending me off.
Once at the airport I realized that I would be the youngest by far, save one classmate and his sister and her husband. But, I was excited. While waiting for the group to arrive, I got confirmation on the organ in Berlin! Yay. Also, I received confirmation on the most important organ of this trip (secret for now!) before leaving to the airport. In short order the Gards, Mark W, Mark R, and Dr. Wente arrived. I hung out with the Gards and their friends and we chatted while waiting to go. Dr. Wente and I also chatted and I learned this is his first trip to Germany! I thought he'd been here before but he hasn't and it's kind of special that I get to go with on his first trip. He was hands down one of the most influential people in my life during my formative college years (personally and musically) and I continue to look up to him as a model of what serving the church looks like.
It wasn't long until boarding the plane. I was grateful for paying the $49 to upgrade my seat and had lots of leg room. I sat next to a lovely couple (former principal and teacher) from Wisconsin also on the same group. Lutheran principals and teachers are special people. I just met these folks but they are the kind of people you automatically feel like you've known your whole life. The flight was thankfully smooth and uneventful and I got some amount of sleep.
We climbed out the back of the plane and the chilly October air woke me up and it was quite windy. I literally bounded down the stairs, skipping the last three and just jumping down. At long last, my feet were back on German ground where they belong. I may or may not have gotten a little emotional.
After this it was the usual customs, plane change, wait, etc, quick flight from Berlin go Munich, transfer by bus to Augsburg and tour officially began.
Once in Augsburg, the Gards and their friends and I grabbed a quick lunch. I had the first of many apfelschorles!
Mrs. Gard and I walked the town and the at 3:00 we had a 2 hour guided city tour. We heard all about the Augsburg confession and my Lutheran pride came oozing out of me. I love Lutheran history. While on tour we stopped by the Dom (St. Ana) and I spotted a Cranach altar painting a mile away. The rest of the group toured around the rest of that church while I sat glued in front of the altar gawking.
After this, it was dinner and devotions and by now it was 8pm. I lost track of how many hours this odd 2-day trip was, but I was ready for bed.
I must add as a brief afterthought that my roommate is a lovely woman and we'll get along just fine. It saves $600 to have a roommate and meeting new people is part of the travel fun. This older woman rushed over and threw her arms around me in a grandmotherly way the moment we were introduced. We didn't chat much since we just went to bed but this rooming arrangement is just fine. (We hardly are in the hotel anyway.)
This tour is going to go way too fast.