And this year has brought wonderful extreme changes in our lives as well! In April we moved to Groß Schönebeck and are still grinning! We have a beautiful flat next to a lovely old stone church built in the middle ages and I get to direct the church choir and play the barock organ whenever I want to! Especially Conny is involved in integrating our refugees from the Syrian war zone and helping them get back on their feet. We've been welcomed with open arms by our many and varied neighbors and feel more at home than we ever have! Musically,
Happy New Year, everyone! 2013 was a huge success for us. We wrote some good songs, played lots of gigs to wonderful audiences – not only with the Schizophonics and East-West Connection, but with my dear old friends in the Band of Brothers. On the private arena, things were even more spectacular when, on the 14th of November, our daughter, Joni and our son, Randy were born over two months early! They were given excellent medical attention in the hospital at Berlin-Buch and we were released right before 2014 blew in with a clean bill of health! We've been blessed in so many ways, and, in this spirit, I'd like to digress a moment.
Not only am I thankful for the health (and extreme cuteness) of our twins, but we were privileged to be able to stay at the “Ronald McDonald House”, which is located on the hospital grounds. This is a house with several apartments that are made available to the parents of sick or prematurely born children while they are being treated in the hospital. It is built and maintained by the McDonald's Stiftung and was a godsend to us. We had our own beautifully furnished apartment, great kitchen facilities and a quiet place to “come down” after hours spent in the clinical hospital environment. The management and staff of the house went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and welcome and were always there with advice, good cheer and a smile. If anyone out there is looking for a worthwhile charity to donate to, this is one I can heartily recommend!
While we were there, Conny and I made new friends, listened to stories of success and tragedy and were truly inspired by how the parents of seriously sick children were coping with their fates. Despite language barriers, everyone was able to communicate with each other and help out with small and large chores and problems. I was able to learn a bit of Russian and our new friends from Kazakhstan, Armenia and the Ukraine were speaking better German every day (Of course, Peter and Natalie speak better German than I do anyway!). In our little micro cosmos, there were lots of laughs, interest and cooperation and I find myself wondering once again why “everyday life” has to involve spite, bickering and even war among people capable of bigger and better conduct. I’m thankful for this experience and hope to stride into 2014 with just a little more hope, understanding and compassion.