One room in my flat is what I call the Third Room. Actually, it is the second bedroom; while my husband was still alive, it was his. He had his amateur radio station in there; it is where he slept and kept his clothes as well as part of his do-it-yourself stuff, all very neatly organized, his pride and joy.
Nowadays, the bed is there for any of my friends who want to spend the night, for instance when one from our original Girls' Night group who now lives near Hamburg comes visiting.
Earlier this year, I saw a leaflet at the baker's about visitors to the Kirchentag looking for private quarters for a few nights, without any further duties (such as providing meals etc.) for the host. You probably don't know what the Kirchentag is, therefore I have found this description for you in English. In an excerpt, it says:
I was never interested in going to the Kirchentag (literally, "Church Day") myself. But I thought, why not play host to someone for a few nights; the room and the bed are there anyway, and I don't need to do anything beyond providing clean sheets and let whoever gets assigned to me use the bathroom in the morning and at night, as they will be away all day anyway.“A mixture of an Open University summer school, a Bible convention, Taizé, a synod meeting,the Edinburgh Festival, a brass band festival for 500 bands, an ideal homes exhibition and a cup final – all rolled into one and all going on at the same time ...” That’s how one participant from Great Britain has described the “Kirchentag”, a phenomenon that, like the word itself, is hard to define or compare to anything else. It is a unique event and a tremendous experience."
So I signed up as a host via the form on the internet. There, I could state the number of guests I was prepared to accomodate (1), and any special requirements, for instance whether my flat was suitable for someone in a wheelchair (no), whether I spoke any language other than German (yes), if I requested specifically that my guest be male or female (no preference), or anything else. The only requirement I put in the form was that I did not want anyone to smoke in my flat.
Some weeks later, closer to the big event, a letter arrived with contact details for the person assigned to me, a man from further down south.
We exchanged emails and a phone call, and very late on the evening of the first day of the Kirchentag (at the beginning of June) my guest arrived.
Thomas is a man in his mid-thirties, married with two small daughters, one of them was only a few months old (which is why his wife wasn't with him for the trip). He is a school teacher, and a drummer in a band in his free time. It was due to the band that he attended the Kirchentag at all; they played three concerts on one day and four on the next.
I had prepared the bed for him with fresh sheets and showed him where everything was; we sat in the living room for a little chat and then said good-night.
The next day, he left for the train station after a mug of tea and a slice of bread, and I went to work. This same pattern was repeated for two days and nights, and on the third evening, he travelled back home.
It was not much work for me at all, but gave me the opportunity to meet someone I'd never have otherwise met, and have some interesting conversations. For my guest, it was a chance to attend the Kirchentag and play the concerts without having to spend much money, and also to meet someone he would have never otherwise met.
My guest was tidy enough in the bathroom and kitchen, but not very much so in his own room. Never mind - it was his room entirely for the time he stayed here, and I only entered it when the phone rang (because that happens to be in there).
The day after he left, it didn't take me long to restore the room to its former order.
It has of course been slept in a few more times since, and will continue being used as my guest room. If any of you should ever happen to be in the area, you are very welcome to spend a few nights here. And I am not just saying this, I mean it.