Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Westerstede - May day celebration at Lisa and Henning Müller's farm

Somehow we have been able to maintain contact with our distant relatives in German. I believe my Aunt Bee and Uncle Gus did the legwork here on our side (America), finding them and maintaining the connection. Unfortunately my Uncle Gus passed away earlier this year; he will be missed and would have really enjoyed hearing our stories and seeing all the pictures from everyone.

Growing up I knew of my German relatives and we even had Irene and Ute stay at our house in America when I was in high school. I remember what a big deal it was and how interesting it was meeting them. Now it was our turn to visit them and we were excited. My Uncle Pete (Butch, his family nickname) began exchanging sending old family letters to Heiko, who would translate them from old German to English (not an easy task as it is difficult to make these translations). The letters were very interesting and shed some light on older times and you could see history through a different perspective.

I am not certain of the order of all the events; my parents coming to Germany; Pete wanting to connect with his distant family and meet Heiko; us living in Germany for a year…, but it was clear that this all lead up to a weekend we will never forget as we were all going to get together in Westerstede; Pete and Stacy from Michigan, my parents from Florida, and us from Dresden (Minnestoans). So plans were set for the weekend of May 1.

Marga, Heiko, and Irene and our other German family members had done a lot of planning to make sure we had a great visit. We felt so welcome and humbled by all that was planned and done for us.

Marga coming to welome us from Lisa and Hennings farmhouse:
Our first day started with a traditional dinner at the farmhouse of Lisa and Henning (Lisa is cousin of ours). We were especially thankful for the great dinner and truly felt the connection to our heritage and family by our visit and through their hospitality. We were treated to great conversations and a tour of the family farm. Their farmhouse was the place where the brother of my Great Grandpa Janssen, Wilhelm Janssen, had lived (Wilhelm is the Grandpa of Lisa and Marga). The farm has been kept in the family and the farm has served as both a family farm and a place of retreat for children who like to ride the many Shetland Ponies.

This was a great start to a real special weekend, thanks Lisa and Henning for opening your house to us!

The dinner. Karin(German Cousin), Gerda, and Helmut (German Cousin):
Henning Sr, Heinz, and Karin (German Cousin):
David (American Cousin), Melissa, Ken:
Karen (American Cousin), Irene (German Cousin), Helene, Louise:
Anka (German Cousin), Henning Jr (German cousin), Lisa (German Cousin), Marga (German Cousin):
Christin, Matthias (German Cousin) , Christian, Markus:
Helmut, Fidi (Friedich), and Heiko:
Stacy (American Cousin) and Christin:
I am not shown, taking pictures (American Cousin), Butch is shown in later picture (American Cousin), he must have been hiding when i took these pictures.
Some of the cows in Henning's family farm. The stable is attached to the house, not to far away as I imagine they need a lot of care and this is handy in the winter:
Some of the ponies out in the pasture:
Some of the buildings on the farm, the building on the right is the oldest farm house (if i remember correctly):
Sharing some of the stories about the farm house, Heiko translating for Butch:
Photo opportunity, below the Jansson sign: H.J.Jansson. 1914:

Westerstede's St.-Petri-Kirche at night, where my Great Grandfather Gerd was Baptized:
St.-Petri-Kirche from the front:

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