A Mormon, an atheist and a Catholic were living in an apartment together…
I know that sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it actually just describes my life over this past year in Haubinda, Germany.
Yes, it’s true—three strangers from different parts of the world with completely different backgrounds, entirely different beliefs, diverse personalities, and a huge variety of opinions shared a small apartment for an entire year without killing each other. In fact, the three of us are decent friends, I would say.
Allow me to introduce us a bit.
Annabelle spent her childhood in Canada and grew up in Maryland. She has a mom and a dad—no siblings. She became Catholic when she was about 18 or so and has wanted to be a nun “forever.” Politically, she is very liberal. Culturally, she relates with the French more than anyone else and doesn’t fit in with the American culture at all. She enjoys a glass of wine every now and then. She studied English and French. She’s twenty-nine years old.
Jill is from Sunshine Coast, Australia. She has a younger brother, a mom, and a dad who they unfortunately lost to cancer six years ago. She has never been religious. Politically, she’s also quite liberal (but is in favor of the death penalty). She’s Australian through and through and says that Australia will always be home no matter what, but she loves to travel, see new places, meet new people, and experience new cultures. She loves her beer. She studied woodwork and had been a teacher in that field up until moving here. She’s twenty-eight years old.
And then there’s me—Carrie. I’m from the Sierra Nevada’s in beautiful northern California. I have a mom, a dad, six brothers, and four sisters. I grew up LDS (Mormon). I was home-schooled. Politically, I am very conservative. I am an American at heart and I consider myself to be quite patriotic; as Australia is to Jill, so is California to me—home. But I, too, do appreciate other cultures. The German culture just so happens to be my second favorite. I don’t drink a drip of alcohol (unless orange juice really does have some in it, then I guess I do). I studied English and German. I’m twenty-four years old.
Now that you know a bit about us, can you imagine how interesting and intense our conversations could get? For example: “God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate individuals,” I said.
“What? No! I’ve never heard that before. They are all one,” said Annabelle.
“Wow-wow-wow wait! You believe all three of them are the same person? How does that work? I’m confused. Don’t you two believe in the same God? And isn’t Jesus the son of God?” Jill said.
And this is just a small example. What about the death penalty?
“It’s too expensive to feed, shelter and spoil murderers!” I said.
“Yeah, just put a bullet through their heads.”
“People shouldn’t be the ones to make the decision of whether someone lives or dies.”
I felt like an old maid, ready to be married and a mother (I want between 5 and 6 kids someday). Jill still felt too young and like there were other things she’d rather do before marriage and children (wants 1-2 kids someday). Annabelle doesn’t want to get married, nor does she want kids (perfect nun material!).
Call it a miracle—that’s what it seems to be—but throughout all of our discussions over the year, we never hurt or offended everyone. I’d say all three of us deserve a pat on the back for deciding not to be offended.
We respect each other.
We don’t always agree with each other, but that never prevented us from getting along.
There were times when I’d literally jump up and down because I was so excited to talk about something I was passionate about: “God’s plan makes so much sense!”
“I just want to have a good life and when I go—it’s over.”
“Where in the Bible does it say that?!”
There were many times when I had to stand by my guns (literally) completely alone. “Criminals will always have guns, therefore the good people should be allowed to keep theirs.”
“No way. Less guns means the criminals will have less access to guns.”
“I don’t have to worry at all about getting shot in Australia.”
The cool thing was to see how my two roommates accepted me. Jill never ridiculed me for not drinking; she accepted it, even if she didn’t fully understand it. She also expressed her appreciation for the way my passion showed when I talk about things that are important to me. And Annabelle was always interested in how I live my religion; she asked me how church was regularly. She also offered her help if ever I needed it.
The topics of our discussions were diverse and complicated. Abortion. Same-sex marriage. Traditional marriage (including how common it is in the LDS church to get engaged fast and marry young). Homeschooling. Healthcare.
We didn’t always agree. We didn’t always fully understand each other. It didn’t stop us from choosing—out of our own free will—to spend more time together.
Our various paths led us to this one tiny village in rural Germany (well, as rural as Germany really gets, anyways) and they are taking us farther in entirely different directions. We each came with diverse dreams: I wanted to get married and start a family. Annabelle wanted to find the convent that was right for her. Jill wanted to see more of the world.
It’s been fun to see it all unfold. Annabelle will be going to convent in French-speaking Switzerland soon. Jill is moving to England for the next two years. And me? I found myself an amazing German man with whom I’m excited to spend eternity (August 1st, woot!).
Haubinda was our crossroads, so to say. Three very different girls met here and will leave here different than they came—at least, I know I will.
I believe this world is also a sort of crossroad—somewhere we’re all just passing through (although we all came from the same place). We’re here to learn. We’re here to make decisions—big ones and little ones. How we decide to act and react is what will define us in the end.
My fellow humans of Earth, what I want to prove by sharing this story with you is that civilized people—no matter how different—can get along. We can be open. We can share our opinions. We can share our world (thankfully it’s much bigger than this little boarding school apartment).
What I hope is that we can figure out how to live peacefully–no matter who we are and where we live and what we do–as we each discover our own path.