This last week I have been in Germany for the International Pastors' Retreat. We stay in a conference and holiday centre in a small town called Teisendorf, very near to the Austrian border and on the Munich to Salzburg railway line.
I took the TGV to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport to catch a flight to Munich and then the train to Teisendorf. I knew that a colleague would be on the same flight as me, but I'd never seen him. By the time the crowded aeroplane took off we'd identified each other and were able to get out ticket to Teisendorf together. He speaks German. I'd done the journey before. We made a good team.
I flew Lufthansa and it was a pleasant experience. I got the cheapest type of ticket. You get to stuff your bag under the seat (mine fitted fine) and you also get a bottle of water and a small piece of chocolate - which I missed on the outward journey because I was asleep. You also get taken to your destination at the same time as everyone else.
Getting the German trains was uneventful and at the station at Teisendorf we met some American colleagues and walked together to the conference centre. In all about 6 to 7 hours on trains and planes and the associated waiting around.
The conference centre is modern, clean and well-designed and I had paid a little extra to have a single room. Pat had been due to accompany me but her back is not yet up to the journey. Apart from the bed being somewhat hard and the duvet really warm, the centre gives you everything you need for a comfortable stay.
Oh yes, and the food is very German, by which I mean that there's ham, salami, bacon, sausage and pork everywhere. The pig monopoly is occasionally broken by veal or by turkey, which in German is called Pute, much to the horror of the French folk.
The conference is made up of three main threads. Firstly there's a Bible exposition from Jonah given by an American pastor from Landstuhl in Germany. I still find accents and cultural references hard to wrestle with so they do impair my comprehension. Secondly there are reports from the various attendees, followed by prayer. Then there's some practical input, this time on discipleship, given by a retired MAF missionary.