Settling into Germany
Since this was Barbara’s hometown, despite having been away for forty years, she had lots of relationships, which were very helpful. The main connection was the Baptist church in town, whose members there were very helpful, taking us shopping and providing smaller items, like a vacuum cleaner and a used cell phone.
Our one remaining need was for a car. Since we lived in a village that was four miles outside the city, we had to have a way to take Omi (as we called Barbara’s mother) to the doctors, do her shopping and other things for her.
We were put in touch with a Christian mechanic who helped workers like us get reasonably priced used cars. He found us a fifteen-year-old VW Golf for 3000 Euros ($4,250). One year’s insurance would cost us another 3000 Euros or more because we had no driving history in Germany.
All that seemed pretty expensive to me, but that’s how things are here: expensive. We decided to dip into our retirement money and buy it. The man said he would mail us the papers just before he went on vacation.
We waited several days, but no papers. This is very unusual in Germany, where letters normally arrive the day after being mailed. We called the fellow on his cell phone and he assured us he’d sent them, and couldn’t imagine what the problem was. As we were to find out, there was no problem, rather a divine intervention to provide for us in a much better way.
After Nat and Abby left to return to Turkey, I began having chest pains again and they got worse and worse. On a Friday afternoon our believing neighbors took me to a cardiology center, but the people there did not know what to do with our American insurance. They also wanted 5000 Euros just to do a checkup. It turned out that this place was used by rich Middle Easterners for their medical needs, and the hospital had correspondingly high prices for all foreigners. But I was no oil rich Sheik!
On Sunday, in spite of feeling poorly, I went to church so the elders could pray for me, which they did. Afterward, as I was talking with a friend, a beautiful woman in a white suit came running up and said, “Oh, I heard about your coming to our church! It will be so nice to have some other English speakers!
“My name is Melanie and I’m from South Africa. I’m married to a German and have been here for fourteen years. We live in the same village as your mother-in-law!” She paused and looked at me more closely, “Is there something wrong with your chest?” she asked. I was in so much pain that I was leaning over, holding my left arm over my heart.
I began to explain to her about my pain and history of heart problems when Melanie’s husband, Christian, came up behind her and listened. When I finished, he spoke up, “I’m a doctor. I’ll take you to my hospital this week and get you a checkup.” That was encouraging, a definite God sighting!
On Monday night Christian called. “I’ve arranged for you to have an angiogram done on Wednesday. I’ve also gotten a 50% discount and you will have three months to pay. Can you come with me? I’ll pick you up at 6:15 in the morning.” How could I say no to that?! So off we went on Wednesday morning and had a wonderful time getting to know each other on the way.
Christian explained that he was not a believer, although his wife was. He had been raised in East Germany as an atheist and had never been in a church before meeting Melanie. He wasn’t opposed to believing, but had a lot of questions no one had been able to answer.
“Well,” I thought to myself, “Looks like I’ll have something to give him in exchange for his help—answers for his questions!”
At the hospital the doctor did an angiogram through my wrist instead of through the groin. I was happy with this because it meant I could go home the same day instead of having to stay overnight. After viewing the DVD of the stent insertion, and doing the new angiogram, the doctor came to where I was lying on the stretcher.
“Your blood flow is better now than when the stent was first put in! Your major arteries are all clear, so you are in good shape. I think your pain is more from stress than anything else.”
He paused, thinking, “It could also be that some of your tiny arteries are clogged and are causing some of the pain, but there’s nothing we can do about that; and it isn’t dangerous. So just get rested up!”
Well, it was no surprise that stress was the major cause, what with all that had transpired during the summer, but it was good to know for sure that nothing was wrong with my heart. And I was about to hear something else that would make my stress less and my heart better!
Picture: visiting with Omi