Open House, Open Hearts

Let me tell you a secret about Germans: They are very private people. It takes a long time until they move away from superficial topics like the weather and actually share something about themselves. It takes even longer for them to invite you into their homes. For someone who has lived in cultures famous for their hospitality, this is sometimes a little unnerving.

I love hosting people.
Gathering friends and strangers around a table, enjoying great food and inspiring conversations.
Showing and giving something from myself, hoping that it would empower others to do the same.
Watching how an invisible bond is formed between us and we all leave a little different from the way we came.  

When we invite others into our space, we do more than offer a chair and some food.
We open our hearts and allow someone to see a bit more of ourselves. They see where and how we live, which tells them a little bit more of who we are.

In a society that takes so much pride in individuality, we have somehow lost touch with each other. We all want our independence while we discover a deep longing for community and a sense of belonging.
This cannot happen overnight, but it starts with one invite, one open house, one open heart.

Who can you invite into your house and life this week? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

A Break in Paradise [Philippines #3]

Episode 3. El Nido.

If you don’t have time to travel by shop from island to island (there are more than 7,000 in case you were wondering), it’s the easiest way to take a plane. So we fly to Puerto Princesa, the capital of the long and slim island Palawan, where we’ll spend the next part of our trip.

Luckily, we catch a bus right away, with AC and comfortable seats. Even the music is different – for a while we get to listen to Filipino hiphop before it goes back to the all-too-familiar soft pop. The guy behind me sings along loudly whenever he knows a song. And he knows a lot. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of a conversation, just break into song. If you don’t hit the tune – no problem, you just have to be loud.

The bus takes the only road available going North, through rice fields, palm trees and banana plantations. Everything is so green and so much more bearable than the noisy, busy city. It’s quite similar to the landscapes we used to roam in Uganda as kids. On and on we go and the longer we drive, the more it feels like a journey into a far away world, deep into the jungle.

Out of a sudden, the skies turn grey, then black and heavy raindrops hit the bus windows. The heavens open up to release a long awaited downpour and engulf everyone and everything outside. On the lonely road we see a group of school children, their uniforms soaking wet, their hair dripping with water. They sit down, two in one seat. They smile at me shyly when they realize that I’m a foreigner. Somewhere, in the middle of nowhere, we drop them off and I wonder how in the world they get to school everyday. It’s a long way and probably expensive to get an education. In fact, many parents choose to not send their kids to school because it’s far more lucrative to let them work on the streets. Whenever a car stops at the traffic lights, you can see them coming up to you, their mouths covered to protect themselves from smog and pollution, their tiny hands holding up bottles of water or snacks. They look at you for a while, their eyes desperate and pleading, but eventually they move on. While my students in Germany are so self-righteous that it makes me sick sometimes, children over here seem to be kept from having a perspective in life at all.

El Nido 7

El Nido 6

We get into El Nido at sunset and have to find a hotel. What used to be a small idyllic fishermen’s village a couple of years ago has now exploded into a flourishing tourist attraction. The hotel we find is right at the beach in Hama Street – the place to be where hotel is next to bar next to restaurant next to coffee shop. I’m blown away to see people from all across the globe in this little place.

El Nido 5
This town seems to attract a certain kind of people. If you’re a free spirit, interested in cheap parties, sex and drugs, El Nido is the place for you. The restaurants are full with elderly hippie couples with grey hair and blurred tattoos. In the coffee shops you’ll find the hipsters staring at their phones. In between are families and well-built divers.

The first day is very rainy and we spend it walking from coffee shop to restaurant to bar. It’s actually nice to bury my face in a good book for a change, but I’m also a little worried that the weather will not get better.

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The Art Café – a restaurant/bar/coffee shop run by a Swiss lady with delicious food and a great atmosphere. We spent all our mornings on its beautiful balcony with a gorgeous view of the Bay.

But when we wake up the next morning, I look out the window expectantly and – what a joy – there’s a blue sky, no clouds and the sun is shining brightly. After breakfast we meet our tour guide Lorenzo and he takes us on a tour through the Bacuit Archipelago – a group of islands in the South Chinese Sea.

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El Nido 8

As we stretch our legs on the boat, we pass by hidden beaches with little cottages under palm trees.
We marvel at rocks in the water. Over and over again, we have to grin at each other because this can.not.be real.
We go anchor in front of a wall of rocks, take the kayak and discover a secret lagoon through a little rift in the wall. All of a sudden it’s so calm. An oasis of quiet and peace.
We go snorkeling, which is quite something for someone who’s shy of water. The view below the surface is quite different – colorful corals, fish swarms, even turtles. Sometimes it’s worth to look deeper.


We have lunch at Entalula Island, a small beach with crystal clear water. The buffet looks like a feast with grilled fish, vegetables and fresh fruits. Afterwards we lie down on the boat and let the sun kiss our bodies. Yes, life is good.

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We kayak into Cathedral Cove, a large opening in a rock. Inside it’s dark and we can hear bats flying high above us.

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Our last stop on this perfect day is a small beach with palm trees and warm water where we take a few minutes to relax. When we get back to the boat, our friend steps into something. At first, he thinks it was a sharp coral, but by the time we get back to the harbor, his right foot has swollen to double its normal size and he can’t walk more than a few steps. The doctor says it’s nothing serious and that he should ake it slow for a few weeks, but on google we find a few horror stories about starfish and other dangerous creatures of the sea. “That’s some serious shit”, the diving instructor says when we tell him the story.

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This has truly been a once in a lifetime experience.
The next morning we leave El Nido with a swollen foot, but with extremly full and grateful hearts.


This is part 3 of the series. Here or here are more stories!

What a Table Can Do for Community

In my short twenty-eight years of life I’ve traveled the world quite a bit and spent
some time in different cultures. The best thing about other countries are the people
who invite you into their homes and lives to show you a few of their traditions.
Traditions I can then take back to my own life and introduce others to them. Continue reading “What a Table Can Do for Community”

Rest in the Middle of Life

“Oh no, I couldn’t possibly. There’s just too much to do.
Work first, pleasure later.
I can rest when I’m done with everything.”

Do these statements sound familiar to you?
These battles inside of you between what your soul longs for and what your busy mind tells you to do? Continue reading “Rest in the Middle of Life”

A Piece of Growth, A Piece of Hope

On Saturday you got to know our imaginary third roommate. Today, you get to know my actual roommate: Hanna! We’ve been living together for two years and it’s been such a blast! So many late nights talking and creative thinking, but mostly cooking. Our #Dachlounge nights and #roomiedinners have actually been quite known around town.
Hanna is a phenomenal cook and baker – and today she tells you why.  

Continue reading “A Piece of Growth, A Piece of Hope”

[#write31days] Day 30 Bacon

Welcome to Day 30 of #write31days! 
For more information check out the series’ page
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Well, it’s the last Friday in October and once more we gather at Kate Motaung‘s place to write on a prompt. For this month all the prompts were voted by the bloggers themselves. If you’ve never read anyone else’s writing in this challenge, you’ve missed out on funny, inspiring, and encouraging people!
So it is no surprise that for this challenge they would vote the prompt BACON.

In the light of the latest findings that meat consumption causes cancer I don’t really feel comfortable writing about my ‘affinity’ for bacon.
I don’t eat it often, but sometimes I have this craving.

Smelling freshly cooked bacon takes me right back to sweet memories.
Like the many birthdays when we would cook bacon as a treat. My mom would put the bacon in the pan, turn up the heat. And leave. A few minutes later you would find all of us at the breakfast table eating crumpled, slightly burned pieces of meat and Mom going, “I don’t really know what happened here, guys.”
Like that one time when I spent a weekend with friends in Raleigh, NC and they wanted to introduce the German to the art of bacon cooking. It took a while, but now I know and actually enjoy cooking it. Whenever I smell bacon in my kitchen I immediately remember this fun weekend.
Like that one time about two years later with the same people in the same place. We hadn’t seen each other in two years, but cooking bacon together, stuffing our sandwiches, and pouring some coffee felt as if we hadn’t been apart at all.

I have always been fascinated how memory works.
It often doesn’t take much to trigger a film in our mind.
Smells, objects, sounds are the conduit to our memory and I am glad that they interrupt me in my busyness once in a while.
Then I sit back, let the images flash by before my inner eye, and smile.

What are some of the smells or sounds that trigger your memory?

[#write31days] Day 25 Sabbath

Welcome to Day 25 of #write31days! 
For more information check out the series’ page
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Setting healthy boundaries also means taking care of yourself. This also includes taking time off, making time for the things you enjoy. Things that restore your soul.
Luckily, God has set an entire day aside just for us. A whole day with lots of time to spend with Him, refresh our spirits in His presence, relax and restore. Restoration looks different for everyone; it’s just important that you find something that gives you energy, joy, and peace.
One thing that restores me is cooking. During the week it’s mostly just quick and simple, but on Sabbath I actually take time to find a cool recipe (or tweek with an old one), invest time in the kitchen, and have people around me to enjoy it with. So the Sundays of October will be filled with recipes – and if you enjoy cooking, too you might want to cook along! And if not, just give it a try, you might actually like it!

Lemon Ginger Syrup
It’s October and slowly it’s getting colder. Fall and winter also mean cold season; not the most pleasant thing to wake up with a sore throat, right? Last year I stumbled upon this recipe and this syrup has become my secret weapon against a cold. Why not try it some time?

Ingredients for 2 bottles
25a1 cup of freshly cut ginger

1 cup of sugar (or more, depends on your sweet tooth 🙂 )
2 cups of water
4 lemons
2 limes

Cut the ginger into small pieces and the lemons and limes into slices
add sugar and water and bring everything to boil in a pot
25blet it simmer until it thickens
let it cool over night
fill syrup into bottles, squeeze the fruits for some extra juice

25d25c

 

serve either cold with sparkling water or add to hot water