Monday, December 10, 2012

A Cherished Friendship

Today's post is brought to you by Hallmark...and Tums (for when I make you feel nauseous).

Okay, not really but considering how emotional I feel at the moment, I thought a warning might be fair. It's not everyday that you get to write about being reunited with a dear friend from Germany. My inner-dialogue is running swift at the moment as it pulls memory after special memory into focus.
 For those fair few who have followed our family blog since its inception, I was confident (a day or two ago) that if I typed the name, Michael Auras, you'd know who I was referring to in a flash.

However, after perusing through the first four months of my blog, I was let down by how little I mentioned this special friend of ours. In an attempt to make restitution, I would like to take a moment to catch up on our shared history. If I want Heaven to take our request seriously that we want to build next door to the Auras family in our next life, I think a few specifics might help our cause. ;)  

This blog began when Andrew, Eliza and I moved to Germany in May 2007. It provided a way to keep our families updated on our happenings as phone calls were difficult and finding times to skype with the time difference was likewise challenging. It also gave me something to do when we weren't out exploring.

Andrew had landed an internship with BMW in Landshut, Germany but because he was attached to a wife and child, it was his responsibility to find his own housing. Late one night, we made contact with the Branch President of the area where he'd be working. His name was Michael.

Their conversation began in German, but as Andrew learned that Michael himself was proficient in English, it shifted for my benefit. After explaining our situation, we were astonished to hear Michael say, in a surprisingly casual tone, that we could live in the empty duplex next door to his family's home.

Say what?

The landlord of the home was a member of the branch. After speaking with him, he'd confirm with us. As we ended our first communication with him, I distinctly remember feeling peace as well as astonishment. This was actually going to happen!

Under Michael's direction, his wife and our soon-to-be neighbors stocked our summer home with beds, toys for Eliza, kitchenware, patio furniture for our living room among other necessities. They shared their stroller, sandbox, dinner table, car (at times) and bikes. Their hospitality was unreal. I soon learned that when you try to graciously thank them, they accept it while expressing clearly that it was no trouble at all.

Michael, in his big yellow VW van, picked up our exhausted family from the airport. I immediately went into "make a friend" mode which means that I didn't stop talking for the duration of our drive to Ermlandweg. In between my ramblings, I remember being intrigued by the red roof tops, the rain and green rolling hills. My (poor) tendency to talk (and talk) when meeting someone for the first time came to a screeching halt when I realized that everyone else I would soon meet didn't speak English.

Other fond memories include:
  • The Auras family, along with the missionaries, celebrating Eliza's first birthday with us. 
  • I remember the night Michael stopped by our house after work to surprise us with gelato. It was my first gelato experience... and I will never forget it... feffermintz! That night we played board games with Michael and his wife Johanna. 
  • Michael (and sometimes his family) accompanied us to Vienna, Munich, RegensburgKoenigsee, Neuschwanstein, etc.  
  • Neighborhood BBQ's 
  • Date nights with Michael and Johanna; some were embarrassing, others were very fun.
  • Michael and Johanna were with us when Eliza took her first steps.
  • After disregarding Andrew's request that I wait before purchasing a pregnancy test, I bravely (shopping in Germany was always an act of bravery for me) bought one myself. Johanna was outside watering the garden that morning. Needing someone to confirm what "schwanger" meant, I went to her. In her thick German accent she smiled and said, "Congratualtions Ellie! You're pregnant!" She was the first to know about Henry. 
  • Their six darling kids played, cared and loved Eliza so well. They were fun, mischievous and bright.They were also my best teachers in helping me to speak and understand German.
They treated us like family and when we left, we were saying 'Goodbye' to family. You'll be shocked to discover I wrote in great detail about those sad feelings. ;) I also wrote this poem.

Feeling a small speck of redemption, you can understand how excited Andrew and I were to learn that Michael would be traveling to SLC for business. All I can say is that I hope he'll forgive my crazy American self for crying with happiness when I jumped out of the car to give him a hug. Then again, he lived next door to us for four months. My behavior couldn't have been that big of a surprise, eh?

As for Andrew, I'd like to make one observation. When Andrew meets someone new (a recent meeting with a new home teacher comes to mind), he is very reserved and serious. It still surprises me to see him become introverted when we're in public. However, in Germany... I don't know why it worked like this, he was much more himself. It was easy for a friendship between Michael and Andrew to develop because he was able to quickly access that confident, easy going, witty version of himself that he found on his mission... the same guy who I live with everyday.
More on our day with Michael later. I'll conclude by saying that to have a few hours to visit with Michael and remember how special life for our family was that summer was a real treat.


rachel garber said...

I secretly loved NSYNC's Christmas album but could never get myself to buy it. However, I always hope the next song on the radio will be their's.

I can't believe I've been reading your blog since its inception. However, I continue to love it!

Liz Green said...

Sad we couldn't be there to say Hi to Michael. He's such a great friend.

Karina said...

how neat! i remember you talking about the auras family. too bad the rest of the family couldn't come too.