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