One Summer in Kreuzberg

Disclaimer : this story is dedicated to the people who lived in Kreuzberg Bonn during the period of May-September 2014. For others who read this, they might not get the whole picture, but it’s okay. I might not be able to mention all names, but you have to believe that you are also in my heart. And please, bear with my English, okay?

So now it comes to me to write about this story. The story that I think might change my life forever, how I see the world, how I treat people, and how I evolve as a Catholic. This story, as you might all guess, is a story about friendship, but most of all, it is a story about love. You know when you talk about love, you might get trapped to the concept of romantic love between two people. My story is not like that. It’s not the romantic part that doesn’t fit, but more to the number of people that involve. I am so amazed how I can truly fall in love with these bunch of crazy people I had been living together in Kreuzberg, Bonn. So here the story goes…

I arrived in Bonn on the 29th of May 2014. I was a bit nervous when I realized that I will be living with Sisters in a religious house. When Sister Liveena handed me the small pink mass book, I was like “Shit all I do here will be just learning German and pray,” I was so devastated. Then I remember I met Hassan from Syria. I didn’t really remember how or why, but he was the one who helped me to carry my bag to my room in the first floor. Then I met Brenda from Guatemala (whom later I called Brendita, since she is so lovely). Brenda was studying in the cafetaria for her A1.2 test, and she gave me another impression that all what people do here is just studying. Then I met Maram from Jordan, Melisa (also from Guatemala), Father Ferney and David (both are from Colombia). And then Anh and Thang from Vietnam, Gabriel from Myanmar. I also met Maria Belen from Ecuador.

There was not much Asian people until the next day. Sister Liveena told me earlier that morning that there would be 4 students coming from the Phillipines. I was so excited. Finally I have some fellow South East Asian people. So that afternoon, I welcome them joyfully and helped them with the form for Ausländerbehörde. I knew from the start that they are nice people. Okay now I have to admit, these were my first impression about them (haha!). Anne, she is so pretty, I just love looking at her. Luzile seems to be so funny and easy to get along with. Karl was like, you know, the smart ass and talks a lot. And Kevin, when I saw him the first time, I thought he was lost or something. Because he was so nervous and confuse only to fill the form. And then we had lunch. Kevin hate his first lunch in Kreuzberg, I knew that.IMG_1077

And then came this group of crazy Latinas. Tatiana from Colombia : she came with bags that were bigger than her body, her hair was tied and rolled up to the top of her head. I remember asking her if she will be my roommate, but she said no. And I was a bit dissapointed because I think she is a funny girl (and I am not wrong about it, ha!). And then Karla, she suddenly showed up during lunch (i don’t remember what day). And she was so beautiful, I really remember that she was wearing a blue t-shirt, training pants, and running shoes. But still, I think she’s cute. I first met Jeniffer in the class. Our group was small, it was only me, Filemon, Maria Belen, and Tatiana. Then Jenni came to try if she could join our level or move to A1. I was hoping she would stay, but then she moved. It’s okay, we still see each other in the house. Both Karla and Jenni are from Guatemala.

The two Phillipino girls don’t live in the house. They lived in Krug Hotel downtown. And that was why the Phillipino boys were nowhere to be seen in the house also. They kept staying at the girls’ place. I was sad. Really, everytime I saw Karl and Kevin I always ask them if they would stay but they were always downtown. But later on, I saw them more often around the house. I was happy. The first month was hard for me, I felt lonely in my room. I didn’t know the people really well, I hate the food, the weather was too hot, etc. That’s why I was hoping to see the Phillipinos more often, because they made me feel closer to home.

Do you know why I called the Latinas as crazy Latinas? Because they are. My first experience with them was after the match between Colombia and a country that I don’t remember now. Ah yes, I also have to say that it was the World Cup season! So the ambience in Germany was super! The match was in Muliendo Cafe. Colombia won that game, hence the party began. It was a latin party (of course, what do you expect). And, that was the night when the first time I saw a priest dancing. It was Father Ferney, and he is so good (I even realize that he dances better as I saw him dancing in another parties after).

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Jenni was the one who taught me how to dance. And Maria Belen too! OMG she is so sexy when she’s dancing. I don’t know how to do latin dance, but they eagerly encourage me and show me how to do it. It was so much fun. They were exceptionally funny and have a lot of energy. They drink a lot. Well we have to admit girls, that at the beginning of my stay, I drink the less. Okay? And that night, Karla had a stalker. He even showed up again in another Latin party at Melisa’s birthday in cafe called Anno (what a bad name). I also remember that night when Jenni, Karla, and I were talking outside at the picnic table. We were having a really good conversation that we didn’t realize it was already 10.00pm. Then came Sister Liveena and she scolded us. Hahaha..

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So I spent my first month mostly with the Latin people. After that incident with Sister Liveena, we were always gossiping around about how the rule of the house is sucks. And then came this news : there will be more than 20 priests coming from Rome (none of them are Italian, they came from different countries but at the moment they are studying in Rome) and would stay here for two months with us. Our main concern was : the internet connection! We have to share with 20 more people? So Sister Liveena made this meeting with us before the priests came (to make sure that we will behave properly for the next 2 months), and Kuria, a nice guy from Kenya was asking Sister Liveena about the internet (that was our only question). And I was laughing inside because, you know, internet is all we care about. But some people said that when the priests come, the food will be better.

It was not just the food that got better. Our life too. We met a lot of wonderful men (of God, I have to say). They are funny, generous, and…okay stop. I have to admit that some of them are really, really, out of our league. We didn’t know how to communicate with them. But, we made friends with some others. The best thing for me was to know that they are also human being. They are just like your brothers, fathers, sons, and husbands. In Indonesia, people praise the priests as if they are really sent from heaven. But in Kreuzberg, I got to know their stories, I could ask a lot of questions which they would answer gladly (honestly or not, only God knows). And those 2 months, we had the best parties of our life. Proost to Father Christopher who initiated our first barbeque party. We regularly went walking to the Rhine River. Drinking and sitting on the grass. It was such a perfect moment, Rhine and the lights at night were amazing. I will never forget that. I also miss the smoking together with Karl and Father Christopher, and our never ending conversation about whatever.

We started to feel the separation anxiety when the priests were about to leave. It was late August. Our last party was great but also sad. At least for me. Not only because the priests were about to leave, but also because some of us, the KAAD scholars were leaving to. Tatiana left one day after the priests. I remember texting Kevin that there was a big hole in my heart. When I walked down the coridor, to the dining room, the cafetaria, or out to the table tennis area and picnic table (where usually we had our party and drinking together), my heart was as heavy as when I was about to leave Indonesia. I felt so empty. I didn’t even go to the table tennis area until 1 week after Tatiana left. It was difficult for me, and I believe also for the other. Weird thing was, I didn’t cry at all. I mean, not as much tears as I expected. I only shed a tear and that’s all.

Last party

September was so gloomy. But the weather somehow got better. There were not much people during the mass anymore, nor during the adoration. But we, who still stayed in Kreuzberg became closer. We talked about how sad we were, and it helped us to support each other. We spent a lot of time together. We cooked Asian food at the Phillipino girls’ hotel. We even went to the river again (I guess it was for the last time). When Karla moved, I felt sad but I kinda used to it. Maybe because I had seen so many people left. For Kevin is actually the hardest because he will stay in Bonn (also Brendita). So they would see all people move away.

And came the time for me to leave Kreuzberg, to leave Bonn. I took the train to Berlin with Jenni. David, Melisa, and Father Ferney also left on the same day to Aachen. I was so excited to start my study but felt miserable to leave Bonn and all the memories. Just like what Father Christopher said “all good things must come to an end”, it was the end for me and Kreuzberg. And yes, it was a GOOD thing. It was the best summer ever. I might not be able to attend mass with my dearest friends and priests anymore (you know, that great feeling you have when you see a LOT of priests during the mass sitting at the altar), I might not be able to sing Indonesian songs again in Kreuzberg (with Father Bobby), I might not see Karl anymore during breakfast (he was always the first one to wake up), there will be no more complain about dinner, no more egg days on Wednesday and Sunday, nor chamomille tea and honey after lunch. No more climbing up to the hill (which is the only good thing). We might attend another German Language course in our own cities, but it will never be the same. Also for the party and the dance.

But this experience made me a better person, I believe. I think it’s because I can see how lovely people can be, how kind human heart is. These people are so genuine and I am so lucky that I had been living with them for 4 months. Maybe you can say that it was our religion that brought us together, but it was not just that. I think it was even the other way around, at least for me. I become closer to God, because of these wonderful people. Talking to them, sharing our stories, make me feel how generous God could be. They really touch my heart and I am trully fully blessed.

Okay guys, there will never be enough thank you and hugs for you people. I believe we still can see each other again in the near future, and don’t forget to always be united through prayers. I love you all. You guys are irreplaceable.

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Finally I have to say :

“ Danke für die Einladung”

Cottbus, 3.Oktober 2014 – Tag der Deutschen Einheit

For : Tatiana, Karla, Jennifer, Melisa, Belen, Brenda, Hassan, Karl, Kevin, Anne, Luzile, Maram, Mary, Shimmels, David, Carolina, Father Ferney, Father Christopher, Father Bobby, Father Alex, Fernando, Kuria, Mabula, Tsega, Celine, Jaime, Gabriel, Anh, Thang, Filemon, and Darius.

For those whose names are not mentioned above, you know who you are 🙂

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