A portion of our trip was dedicated to meeting Jerry’s donor, Mario Voigt. There are a lot of emotions connected to this meeting. I don’t want to make this blog entry too heavy so I will try to simplify it and when you visit with Jerry or I in the future we can expand on this story.
It is a 4+ hour trip on the autobahn from karlsruhe to Zschorlau. Since Manfred was driving the trip should have taken eactly that. He is a fast driver and his car is a BMW. But the autobahn had construction on it so it took a bit longer.
We arrived first in our hotel which was so quaint and pretty. I wished we had more time there cause it was a spa place so you could order massages and saunas. Take a look at the gate, and the courtyard with the laundry hanging out to dry, mind you the temp was 34F.
Then we headed to Mario’s place. It was dark and this was a little village in the hills so we were not sure we got the right place till the headlights landed on the faces of Mario & Tina (his wife) and Loui (his 9 year old son). They were standing on the corner outside their house to make sure we knew where to turn. This was how we were to come to know about Mario. He is very Very kind and really does worry about all people.
Once we got out of the car Mario and Jerry hugged for a while. My camera was in the back of the car and I could not get it out (not my car) before the hug happened. We hadn’t expected to meet all of them in the driveway. We all went into the house and was greeted with a nice simple dinner of homemade ½ sandwiches and beer. It was great to have the Ritz family with us to help with translation. Though Mario did ok with speaking English. Little Loui gave us a tour of their home in English since he has been learning in school and this was a great opportunity to use it. We did a walking night tour of the village including the Pyramid, which is what they call the tower thingy that has the windmill blades on top and all kinds of carved people going around it. We also saw the apartment that his brother Michael fell from just 2 months ago and is now a parapalegic.
All of those lights are actually candles in every window of every house and building. It is beautiful to see. no christmas house lights only these candles (electric)
We made plans for the next day and went back to the hotel thinking that this was a very good connection. On Tuesday the plan was to do a Mine tour. I will make that a separate blog post because it was super interesting. And this blog post is about Jerry.
After the mine tour we met with journalists and were interviewed and photographed. Look for the video on the beyondmirays facebook page.
We did this in Mario’s office at the fire department. Mario is the fire chief of the volunteer dept.
In the fire hall is a large meeting room. That was filling up with his family members as they cooked our dinner there. We were in the office with a journalist from the larger city paper (like the Oregonian) and the city administrator (taking notes for village highlights). The Mayor was there as well as Jenny Ritz to help with translation. Even as Jerry and Mario told their own side of the story there were teary eyes.
After the interview which took about 40minutes, we went to the fire trucks and they took pics of Mario & Jerry in front of the trucks. Once the journalists and the Mayor were done we headed into the hall.
Oh my, what a lovely meal and family. Mario made 25 remoulade (Beef sliced thin an rolled into long tubes and cooked in their juices). Then Sabine (Mario’s mom) didn’t think that would be enough so she made sauerbraten, like a pot roast. There was salad and knödel like a potato dumpling that is round and the size of a tennis ball, gravy and finally red cabbage. We ate so much and talked a lot.
I have always hated sauerkraut because of the vinegar. And what red cabbage I have tasted in the US has also included this vinegar. But here they do not use vinegar and I was so surprised how good it tasted.
Mario asked everyone to pray over dinner. He also did a bit of a speech that Jenny translated for us. This man is so full of empathy and genuine concern for every human. We really are blessed to know him on so many levels.
Find the video of his speech on beyondmirays facebook page.
The evening went long for Jerry, I could see him becoming tired and yet he would not admit it. But we gently suggested we get some sleep to prepare for the next day’s activities.
On Wednesday Mario and Tina and Loui took us on a tour of the area. Wow so much history and interesting things. I will put most of them in a different post. But here you will learn about Mario. He works for Skoda car manufacturer. We thought it was a dealership but it isn’t. Skoda is made in Czech and when they sell the cars to the German rental agencies the cars have to meet certain German criteria. So they ship the cars to Mario’s location and there they change the computers to handle autobahn regulations. Mario is an auto painter for like repairs and such, but now he has overtime to help the company get 1500 cars ready by December 22. Tina is a nurse for a nursing home. And Loui is of course all about soccer as any 9 year old boy would be. He and I played games and I showed him a fun way to draw pictures.
Our last meal with Mario was at a local restaurant that he choose. So charming and wonderful traditional fare. But most of all a great way to end this meeting. Jerry has a hard time saying how much this meant to him. And now we know that Mario was ready to meet the recipient well before the 2 year mark. We also got to know what he had to go through to give of himself. He stopped smoking for 2 months, he had to travel to Dresden and be in a hotel while they did tests on him to make sure he was healthy. The organization paid for gas, hotel, food. And Mario had to sign a contract that he would not miss the appointment because if he did Jerry would die. Pretty heavy stuff. All this led us to this trip that has expanded our Germany family by a lot. We will share the newspaper article as soon as we get it.
These two will be forever linked