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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

July 18, 2005

Long time no see

Filed under Back in the USA

How many young people have the opportunity to spend a summer in a foreign country on another continent? Having connections via family and friends helps. That was the case for Karlina Hoeh, daughter of Herman and Isabel Hoeh, who spent a summer in Germany in 1970.

Karlina stayed in Karlina Ellis and Brigitte Düsseldorf, where the Worldwide Church of God office was located at the time. She helped out in the office all summer with various chores, including assisting Herta Bastek in preparing lunch for the office staff.

The single ladies in the office took Karlina under their wings. Among them was Kristina Lukas, who later married John Karlson, and Brigitte Ortloff. When the summer was over and it was time for Karlina to return to California, the ladies gave her a photo album highlighting her summer visit to Germany, including personal messages expressing, among other things, the hope that they would meet again someday.

35 years later that hope became reality for one of the office employees from the summer of 1970, Brigitte Ortloff. In the meantime Karlina and Brigitte have both married. Karlina and her husband Bryant now live in Gulf Shores, Alabama and attend church services in Mobile, where Brigitte and her son Sören are visiting. It was quite a surprise when Karlina and Brigitte saw each Karlina Ellis and Brigitte other at last weekend’s church service, resulting in an invitation to visit Gulf Shores on Sunday.

The afternoon and evening at the Ellis home was delightful. A leisurely stroll on a white sandy beach drenched in sunshine, a delicious meal, watching a few "Weird Al" music videos, learning how to dance to a PlayStation2 dance studio game, and plenty of opportunity to reminisce about years gone by. And a chance to get out the photo album presented back in August 1970 and look once again at the pictures from that summer and re-read the personal messages, some in German, written so long ago. We hope the next reunion of this kind will be at a Feast of Tabernacles in Schluchsee, Germany, in the southern Black Forest. Karlina, it’s now your turn to visit Germany again!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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