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By Todd Lapato When we first arrived in Bavaria, Germany, near the Austrian border, we had many preconceptions and stereo- types about the German and Austrian people. When we thought about these people, images of lederhosen, pretzels, and yodeling came to mind. But, having lived here for over two years, we have found that many of our preconceptions were wrong or at least partly wrong. I remember being told over and over again that Germans are very direct. If they don't like you, they will let you know in a hurry! We were also told that we would be treated poorly because we are ausländer, or foreigners. What we actually found was that Germans are among the nicest people in the world. Maybe this is because we live in friend- lier Bavaria, but the people are always helping with our German and are very gracious and forgiving. We received our visas after only four days. The German agent who handled our case even gave us tips on how to get the visas without any problems. That was quite a contrast to what we had heard! Another warning we had received before arriving in Bavaria was that the people are cold to the Gospel. Unfortunately, we have found this to be true. To understand this, we have to think about some of the barriers that exist because of the history and culture of this area of the world. Barrier 1: religion The first barrier has to do with the fact that they have had religion, namely Catholicism, for over a thousand years. It is so much a part of their history it is mixed into their culture. There is no separation of church and state. Most Bavarians and Austrians are registered members of the Catholic Church. 6 BIMI WORLD – Number 3, 2010