Transfer calls that time came on New Year's Eve. I had been serving in Hanau for several months and was reassigned to Karlsruhe as senior companion. My new junior companion, Schwester M, was already serving there. In Karlsruhe, the sisters were on bikes when the weather allowed and on buses and bahns (streetcars) when necessary. The bikes assigned to our apartment had been donated by members. They were classics. With large baskets. Schwester M and I decided to name them. In the German version of the hymn "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel," instead of singing "push along," the Germans words were "frisch und frank." And so our bikes were named--Frisch und Frank. I rode Frank (pronounced Frahnk). He was green.
The weather was cold for the first few weeks I was there, so it was a while before we were able to get the bikes out. Then transfer calls were approaching again. I knew that before Schwester M was transferred, should that happen, I needed to learn the bike route to the church from her. The route went through the Oberwald, a forested area with dozens of winding paths on the south side of Karlsruhe.
One warmish Sunday in late February we set out for our church meetings on our bikes. We biked through the beautiful Oberwald, following landmarks that she pointed out to me as we wound through the maze of forked paths. After the meetings, we visited for a bit, not realizing how early the sun went down. It was getting dark as we headed back on our 45 minute ride home. By the time we navigated the city streets and reached the Oberwald, it was dark in the woods. Dark. Any shred of bluish, gray light that was visible on the horizon was not visible amongst the trees. Frisch und Frank carried small dynamo generator headlights attached to their front wheels that lit up when we pedaled and turned completely off when we stopped to consult with one another. The faster we pedaled, the brighter they shone. And we pedaled, and pedaled, and pedaled, trying to make out which paths and which forks we should take. After what seemed like an eternity, and several fervent prayers, we realized that we were circling back around and not getting anywhere. We knew that if we continued west, we would probably come out at the main train station - the Hauptbahnhof. There, we could lock up our bikes and take the bus home. So that's what we did. Feeling a little defeated, but laughing nonetheless, we headed west. When we finally rolled into the Bahnhof, those lights looked so friendly and reassuring and bright! We parked and locked Frisch und Frank at the Bahnhof for the night, prayed they wouldn't be stolen, and caught the bus home. The next morning, we returned to the Bahnhof and picked up Frisch und Frank and easily found our way home through the Oberwald. :)