Bruises, Benjamin, and Belgium

We all know that the Lord did not choose to bless me with gracefulness. It’s an accepted fact. Up until a few days ago, I thought maybe I had escaped that fate while being here in Germany. I was wrong. The wifi at the house is fairly slow, probably due to the fact that I have 3 extra devices hooked up to it, and so at night I usually make my way upstairs to skype/fb with friends. And so, as I finished up my night catching up with friends, I slipped halfway down the stairs and bruised my bum.

BRUISES

This was no ordinary slip. This was the kind of slip that Hollywood producers dream of catching on film. I mean we are talking feet straight up in the air, computer flying, made it down the stairs in approximately 2 seconds kinds of slip. And per usual I busted out laughing. I knew I fractured my tailbone and yes, of course it hurt but you have to admit it’s pretty funny and so I just laughed. You might ask, ” How can you know it was broken.” Well, I had already fractured my tailbone in Michigan two years ago after slipping on ice. Shoutout to the UMICH clarinet crew as they used to help me carry the 5 clarinets I was playing and my butt pillow. I miss my butt pillow – I could really use it right about now. Actually, it’s pretty awkward to carry around, it just looks like a giant padded toilet seat. Although apparently I could get arrested in Germany for that??? A pillow is considered a passive weapon here so probably best that it stays tucked safely away at home. Tangent over. Anyway, I choose to think that my injuries provide comic relief to the masses. They usually come in some form of good story-telling material and so as you each go about your Tuesday, I hope my pain may have given you a bit of joy!

BRUSSELS (With a detour through Germany) and BENJAMIN

A few days ago, my friend Benjamin, graciously came and picked me up from Germany to take me exploring through Belgium. Before crossing the border, he took me to this precious town in Germany called Monschau. It’s a beautiful tourist town. It’s not a necessarily a place with “things to do,” but rather a place to explore and absorb. The best way I know how to describe it is a grown-up version of Disney World. To me, it still doesn’t look real. I have adjusted to life in Germany. I have made friends, I have found a church, I have a loving host family, but the scenery still takes my breath away. Sometimes I feel like I’m living a life that’s not my own. I hope I never lose sight about what a blessing this experience is.

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We took this tiny side road to Belgium and before I knew it, Benjamin said, “oh look it’s the Belgium sign.” I kid you not, that sign was like 1/10 the size of the Welcome To Florida sign. People!!! I crossed a border to another country and there wasn’t even a guard. That is not what I expected AT ALL. I had my passport ready and my papers about why I was in Germany and why I was traveling and you know what… there wasn’t even a squirrel there that cared.

We went directly into Brussels and to the Cinquantenaire. (Pictured Below)

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I know I know, I just told you I broke my rear but I also said I have a high pain tolerance. I have been known to make worse decisions regarding injuries (aka tumbling on a partially torn tendon,) but I think the picture was worth it! It’s something I’ll have forever and it was worth every ounce of pain. Benjamin asked me if I had anything that was on my list to see. I’m not picky. I’m absolutely blissfully happy to be gallivanting around Europe with no plan in mind. If I had to choose a few things, I love seeing old churches and I love food so that’s where we ventured to.

There is too much to say about each place so I’ll just leave some pictures 🙂

Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula. I’m also exceptionally graceful…always…and so I thought the picture could speak for itself.

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St. Nicolas Church in Brussels. Benjamin and I actually went to mass here on Sunday. The church’s origin relates closely to the existence of the city. I couldn’t understand a word that was said but Benjamin helped translate for me. Going to churches all over the world is something that has been an incredible learning experience for me. ( More on this later.)

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This is the at the Atomium in Brussels. I actually think it’s fairly successful compared to the jumping catastrophe of 2010. Sorry Hol ❤ Then again, there was no one around for me to whack in the face.

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Brussels Town Hall

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But lets talk about what we are really here to talk about….the chocolate. Benjamin took me to a chocolate shop in the city center and I’m pretty sure that I maybe/possibly/probably got a small glimpse of heaven.

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And if that wasn’t enough I finally got my Waffle!!! People, we are talking whipped cream, strawberries, and chocolate. Mother, I’m never coming back home. I’m actually semi-serious about this. After eating that waffle, I actually looked up jobs in Belgium. I think I could be happy just sitting and eating waffles for the rest of my life.  KIDDING! I would never do anything to undo the past year and a half of hard work towards a healthy lifestyle. But as far as temporary happiness goes that is definitely towards the top of the list.

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After I finished eating, we continued exploring and I pretended that I was working off the mass amounts of sugar I had just inhaled (Actually, I probably came pretty close with walking 22,500 steps – 9.5 miles.) I know KAY. I hear you across the Atlantic. Do Jillly Death. I KNOW! I did some push-ups I mean that has to count for something, right?

Whenever I go on long walks, that’s when I tend to do the most thinking. Benjamin had a sore throat so we walked a lot in silence allowing my mind to wander off. I began thinking about the church service that we attended and how I couldn’t understand a word, and how sad that there are people who don’t even have the opportunity to know the word because they simply don’t understand or have people to speak their language. Here I am walking in a country with three national languages next to my dear friend who speaks four. The emphasis on languages is just non-existent in the states, at least in my experience. How much are we limiting ourselves in how we reach and bless others by only knowing English? I hope that my time here learning German will be able to be more useful than just ordering tea or finding the nearest bus stations. I have been encouraged and inspired to continue learning. I hope I am able to bless others just as I have been blessed.

That night, Benjamin showed me his campus and as we were speaking we were sort of ambushed by this random girl. She decided that we should be instafriends because we all spoke English. And so we became. (Hey Soraya.) We actually ended up meeting up with her the next night as well as with my friend Nia. Nia and I were in Marching Chiefs at FSU together and are now both teaching English in Europe. The world really is a small place. And so, I continue making friends across the continent.

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The next day, we went up to the North Sea and ventured around Brugge. We had lots of time to talk about life and our goals. It’s interesting because Benjamin desires to be in America for at least a few years, and I have been searching for jobs in Europe! I feel like my journey here is not done, but I’m always listening and praying because it’s not about what I want now is it?

On our way to the sea, Surfing USA by the Beach Boys came on and we couldn’t help but laugh. We had the beach entirely to ourselves and it was so peaceful.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon nerding out over gymnastics. I’m covering the World Championships for the gymter.net in a few weeks and am thrilled to be headed to Glasgow! This journey continues to amaze me as I sit here writing this from Paris! Paris was the city I was most nervous about on this week-long vacation. I don’t speak any French and we’ve all heard the Paris-snobby stereotype. However, so far, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Everything here is exceptionally well labeled and everyone I encountered helped me with no hesitation. My host has also been exceptional and even made me a Moroccan meal for dinner!

I hope your Tuesday afternoon is amazing!

Blessings!

Love,

Kens

 

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