one million words

find your voice. tell your story.

XXIII: Romanian Romance

“I am going to Romania this summer.” I inform my 8th grade friends with slight embarrassment. “Romania?!” Big gasp. “Why??” I loved travelling to Romania in 1986 with my family but it’s no destination to brag about now. My classmates are heading for Italy and Spain, France, even Africa. Our family has too many kids to get on an […]

XXII: Nearsighted

In second grade I can no longer read the blackboard. I squint, guess and copy my neighbors notes. My grades decline but I won’t ask the teacher to move me upfront. I don’t tell my parents and am careful around my friends. The truth needs to remain hidden because I don’t want glasses. They’re perfectly […]

XXI: Not moving West

Although the West appears superior in every way, my parents never discuss moving after the wall falls. For generations the East has been our home and it makes little sense to abandon it now. We don’t own any property but love this land and honor our roots by staying close. Our little sealed-off country has […]

XX: Money. My first 1000

July 1990. The West German Mark becomes our official currency. This is thrilling. I eagerly trade old aluminium coins for weightier change made of cupro-nickel, brass plated steel, even silver. The new paper money looks different too. It’s bigger, has security strips and features different faces. Our old currency looks like communist play money in […]

XIX: Time Machine

Shortly after the wall crumbles I turn 12. My friends and I collect tiny graffiti stained chunks of concrete. Pebbles of our past, we hope will increase in value. Everyone travels West. A few never return. Bananas magically appear in grocery stores. Eager shoppers, weary from a lifetime consumption of apples and cabbage, snatch them […]

XVIII: Almost Paris

Before the fall of communism my favorite guests are foreigners from the West. Each year we entertain travellers patient enough to comply with strict government stipulations for visitors. Most we meet through church. Our family is known for hospitality, pulling strings of strangers home after the service. We always seem to have enough food and […]

Can my prayer transform the world?

I never learned to pray BIG. We prayed small and sensibly, as Christians living under communism. It wasn’t illegal to pray or believe. The German church stood for too many centuries to be completely pushed off the map. Besides the church provided valuable social services for free. Nevertheless neither faith nor prayer held any merit under […]

XVI: How one Communist became a Christian

Not everyone celebrated the fall of Communism. While most East Germans danced deliriously into the formerly forbidden West, some stood slack-jawed. Communism had promised a life of equality, justice and peace for all. It just needed a little more time to ‘work’. My former school principal wholeheartedly embraced the teachings of Marx and worked tirelessly […]

XV: Not praying for the wall to fall

After a little break in December I am returning to the blog series “Behind the Wall & Under the Steeple- Growing up Christian in East Germany”. Which is a super-long title and I recently learned that long titles are out. Recent and popular books often feature one or two word titles. I have not been […]

How Germans celebrate Thanksgiving

“How do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Germany?” Every November someone innocently inquires. I no longer roll my eyes because it feels nicer when mindless questions land on grace. Instead I’ll retell the American story. Eventually it will click. Not everyone traces their roots back to the picture book pilgrim story. We best remember our own […]