Monday, February 27, 2017

International Church

I know that The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints is an international church.  We have more members outside of the United States than we do inside.  We have attended congregations all over the US and the world, whether it's been to visit or to stay for a while.  Some of the Primary classes our children have attended have been large; some have been bilingual; some have been on the smaller side.  Here, in Basel, our children make up HALF of the primary.  Half.  Church is an incredible blessing for us.  It's a place where we get to strengthen our knowledge and testimonies of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  It's where we can go to be uplifted.  It's where we can go to start fresh. It's where we can go to learn how to uplift others.  But it's not only that.  We have had the benefit of having an instant church family wherever we happen to land.  

And for that, I am extremely grateful.  

As I sat in the pew a couple of weeks ago, I witnessed something beautiful and unique that I haven't experienced on such a level before.  

We live in Basel, Switzerland.  There are 4 official languages in this country:  German (Swiss German), French, Italian and Rumantsch.  Because 74% of the public uses German, our meetings are held in German.  Just like in Chile, our meetings were all held in Spanish.  We don't speak the language yet.  

I don't understand a thing.  

And yet, I looked around and noticed something remarkable.  We had headphones on and were listening to our new and dear friend translating the remarks into English for us.  Others had headphones on and were listening to a Spanish translation.  (Sometimes we listen to that Spanish translation when no one is there to translate into English.  Who would have thought?!!!).  

Another woman was sitting behind us, whispering to the lady next to her.  I realized she was translating the meeting into French for her.  Then I looked over by the piano and saw a woman sitting in front of another woman who was deaf, signing the entire meeting for her.  (On another occasion, when the translator wasn't there for the deaf woman, I have seen another member of the congregation type every word that was said at the pulpit, so it could be read immediately on the woman's iPad).

I got chills.  

None of these people get paid.  They are all members of the congregation providing service for their fellow members... so we can all benefit from the teachings of Jesus Christ, no matter what our native tongue happens to be.  Truly, an international experience I am blessed and humbled to be a part of.  
I love kind people.  

Jersey #27

I love that a week into school, Kate came home and announced that she was in choir and had joined the basketball team.  Bam.  Just like that.  Wow, I am so impressed with how she has jumped into this transition.  Basketball was already midway through the season, yet thankfully, we were able to catch her play in her first game in Switzerland, the day our boat shipment arrived.  I quickly noticed that I was really loud.  Cheering and screaming for the girls... it was all thrilling for me to watch!  And then I realized none of the other Swiss parents were joining in in the fun!  They quietly sat and watched the game.  No bells.  No whistles.  Just watched.  Not sure I'm going to fit in very well!

The girls played really hard and they are off to Zurich tomorrow to play in their 2nd to last game. 
 Go Dragons!!!

Boat Shipment Arrived!!!

It's here, it's here!!! Christmas all over again!  Especially since we opened up our Christmas gifts and looked at them for all of about 24 hours and then packed them back up again.  I can't tell you how good my own pillow and mattress feel.  And THANK HEAVENS Mack is now sleeping in his own room.  This is LIFE CHANGING people.  We have never had our babies sleep with us in our room for more than 2-3 months.  This guys has hung with us for a good 10.  And not by choice.  We've just been limited on space.  Well, I have to say, he loves it and we love it.  Suddenly he's back to being the best sleeper in the world and my mind can start coming out of the hazy state it's been in for....hmmm...I can't even count back far enough.  
Let the unpacking begin!!!  Can't wait for this place to feel like home. 

The Struggle is Real...

Big Mack.

And just as a side note:  Mack did eat it and loved it.  Also, first time we've ever had to pay for the ketchup packets!  

100th Day of School!

Well, technically Luke has only been in school for 24 days, but we'll take it!  Always willing to join in on a little celebrating!!!  Jake was ticked (and Kate might I add) that they didn't get to participate in the festivities.  Regular day for those two.  They were super excited to help Luke with his project though...100 fish for 100 days.  

They Accepted Us!

We aren't applying for Swiss citizenship or anything like that.  Because if we were, we'd have to have lived here for a number of years and would have to have neighbors come and say whether we have integrated well into the community or not.  Seriously.  That's tough stuff!!!  We just wanted to be accepted for a little while in our little town ;)  And we have been!  We can now call Bottmingen home for a little while.  

Because the Swiss don't want to invade upon anyone's space, it is up to the newcomers to "welcome themselves into the neighborhood."  So, I'm off to buy some flowers and treats to bring to all of our neighbors to introduce ourselves.  Hopefully that'll make up for our children's noise level when we are outside and we can all start saying hello to each other!  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

We're official!

Immigration appointment completed.  Registering in our new town, finished.  Moving from temporary housing into our home, done!  Well, almost.  Our boat shipment should arrive by the end of February.  Until then, we will enjoy a few pieces of rented furniture and dishes and silverware.  But no one seems to mind because we scored when it came to finding our house!  An English phone booth and a man-mailbox greet you at the entrance-- it makes the kids feel like they are in Harry Potter World. 

And closets.  Let's talk about closets.  Not too many houses have them here.  We purchased plenty of wardrobes and dressers before we came, because houses just don't come with them.  When we walked into this house, the first thing I noticed were closets.  "Oh Joe!!!  We need to get this one!" I whispered loudly.  I was beyond thrilled at the prospect of having somewhere to store our things. 
Then we walked downstairs and were blown away.

I think we are going to like it here.
So very grateful.

While I'm driving...

Just a few of the images I've happened to see while going about my day to day life here in Basel in my car.  BEAUTIFUL.  Sometimes I can't find the hazards button fast enough.

We are at WAR

I couldn't help but secretly capture a few of his facials.  They were too priceless.  Not too many people get to see this side of Luke.  He's a ham. And I love that he loves to play cards with me.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Some days just really STINK.

I've never been one to really hate Mondays.  I feel like any day can suddenly turn sour in an instant.  But yesterday was a real doozy.  
And it happened to just fall on a Monday. 

I woke up excited to finally be starting a normal week in our new home!  We had just moved into it on Friday evening and unpacked everything we have at this point.  Boat shipment should arrive in a few weeks and then it'll be another round of REALLY moving in, but for now I was thrilled to be getting settled.  It was pouring rain, so we all loaded into the car and dropped Joe off close to the tram so he wouldn't get drenched, and then we headed to school.  
I had a mega long list of to do's.  The first was helping out in Luke's class with reading.  Mack was asleep in the stroller and I got to help a few of the students, including my own, practice their reading.  I loved it.  I left feeling so happy to be able to still be involved with what my kids are doing at school.  I loaded Mack into the car and headed to the gas station.  First time filling up in Switzerland!  Every country has different rules...  (In Chile, we weren't allowed to get out of the car.  We had to let them pump our gas for us and then we'd tip them.)  But I was ready to take this on.  I drove into the gas station, hopped out of the car and went around to open up the gas, only to realize I had no idea how to open it.  This Espace minivan is like something from another planet.  So, I whipped open the manual, did a little light reading, figured it out and got my gas.  Check! I did it!  
It was going to be a good day. 

I went into Reinach to drop off our trash and then headed into the city to get a rack put on top of the car.  I knew the mechanic was close to Joe's office, but I had only been once and didn't have the address.  Joe forgot to give it to me, so I figured I would see if I could rely on memory.  Shockingly, I found it!  Man, this was turning out to be an incredible day!  Got the rack put on the top of the car and then I headed back toward our new home.  I found the grocery store and explored that for a bit and then thanks to google translate, I was brave enough to ask an employee in German where the garbage bags were.  This is huge, folks.  I was feeling so good I even let a guy go ahead of me in line because of the few items in his hand.  "Bitte, of course!  Please go ahead of me!"  Loaded up the car and headed to the Die Post (post office) where I needed to figure out how to change our address from the temporary to the permanent address... as well as buy garbage stickers for our new home.  

Well...all of the available parking spots were taken.  And then there were some signs I just couldn't understand.  So, I followed a car into the underground parking that clearly displayed signs to the Die Post.  I left the groceries in the car and put Mack in the stroller and headed through some door and up some crazy elevator that I don't think I was supposed to ride.  I ended up inside the building but no where near the post office. And that's when things started speeding south.  I was by a library.  So, I went outside and around the corner, only to find that the post office was closed.  Just like every day from 12-2pm.  It was 12:07pm.   It's "quiet" time in Switzerland.  I just had no idea that the offices shut down too!  Darn.  Well, we got a lot accomplished.  I turned around and Mack and I headed back to the door we came out of, only to find it locked.  Hmm.  Strange.  Then I read the sign.  The library was closed.  Wouldn't open until 4pm.  I walked around the building.  There were no other doors to get inside.  I walked back to the ramp that I had driven down in the first place, and there was no getting inside.  The door was closed.

I'm stuck outside in the rain with Mack.  He was just waking up from his nap and would be hungry.  My car, with all of it's groceries, was stuck underground.  I walked around the building 4 more times just to make sure I didn't miss any secret opening that would lead me to the parking garage below.  Nothing.  Zip.  Zero.  Zilch.  So, I turned around and took a picture of this:

A beautiful castle-turned-restaurant that sits in the very center of our new town, Bottmingen.  Apparently the swim team that Kate is trying out for this Friday, practices right behind this castle. Pinch me.  Is this for real?  We see castles everywhere we drive.  Every day heading to and from school we see 3 castles up in the hills just begging us to explore them.

Well that took all of 3 seconds.  I would have loved to have walked around the grounds a bit, but it was raining and my bladder already knew that we were heading home.  We waited and waited and waited.  Until finally, I heard the gate opening at the bottom of the ramp.  I grabbed the stroller and started running down the center of the car ramp like a mad woman, straight at the car coming up from the underground parking.  She gave me a nasty look (as no pedestrians were allowed on this strip of cement) and I waved at her and slid narrowly beside her car as I darted for my own automobile before the gate shut me out again.  

As we turned to leave the garage, the car was a bit jumpy, but I gave no thought to it and finally made it home and unloaded all of the groceries and then sat down to feed Mack lunch.  I had an hour before I had to go pick the kids up again.  I tried setting up our alarm system and couldn't figure out how to dial from a cell phone to a land line.  Tried over and over to no avail.  Only to find later that the number was the wrong one anyway.  Then I tried to pay a few bills and wrap up some things in the states, only to find that after being "on hold" for 15 minutes, that it was 5 am in CA and customer service wasn't even open yet.  Darn it.  

Time to get the kids.  I loaded Mack back up into the car.  Turned the car on and went to reverse out of the driveway.  Car died.  What?!!!!  This is a brand new car!!!  I tried again.  Died again.  I tried 5 times.  Died 5 times.  I panicked just a bit.  Contacted the school and told them I'd be late picking the kids up.  Then I turned it on again and really punched the gas.  The car jumped backward and then lurched forward, almost taking off the leg of the neighbor's gardner.  I waved once again and headed to get the kids.  Car died on me 3 times on the way to school.  I called Joe in a panic.  This was insane!!!  What was going on!!!!  
He called the mechanic and then relayed the message to me that I had to go back in there asap.  And I'd better hurry because they closed in an hour.  Well, I still had to pick up the boys, pick up Kate, get her to her piano lesson, and then head back into the city.  I didn't even know if the car would get me there!!!
It did but barely.  
I got out of the car and started to explain to the mechanic that ever since I left their shop that morning, the car had been acting a little funny.  Then I casually said, "The only thing I did differently today was fill the tank up with gas!" 
"And you put diesel in it?"  Came his question. 

My eyes popped.  My face fell.  My heart dropped to my toes.  Diesel?!!!!  No!  Why would I put diesel in the car?!  OH NO!  I am that person.  Yes. I. Did.  I actually filled the tank with the wrong type of gas.  The mechanic looked at me with the baby in his carseat at my feet, and the 2 noisy boys goofing off running around me in circles, and I'm sure he was thinking that I was a loony American mother with too many kids (He didn't even know about the one at piano lessons) and zero brain cells.  
We went home in a rental.  Still have no word if I ruined the engine or not. 

In the craziness of it all, I couldn't find my phone when we got home.  I was going certifiably insane by the second.  Everyone sensed my mood as I slammed cupboards and muttered about and it was turning their moods sour as well.  Kate and Jake went outside to check the car again to see if they could find it, when I heard Jake yell to Kate, "Just use the damn key!"  

Oh yes.  Let's add a profanity lesson to the day as well, why don't we?  Apparently school is doing us a lotta good.  

Joe came home and did the dishes.  And bathed our greasy little pesto loving baby.  Didn't even need to be prodded.  He knew.  Some days just really, really, stink.  Such a good husband.