Sunday, April 30, 2006

California, part 1

In March our Connexxion campus group went on what has become a yearly spring break trip. We always visit 1 or 2 innovative churches in the USA, spend extended time with a like-hearted campus ministry, as well as attend a college conference at Glorieta, New Mexico. This year for the 1st time we visited a campus in Los Angeles where, in the '90's, I poured out my life for 2 years on staff, the University of Southern California. Here is our group of 9 students & staff (I'm #10, shooting the photo), along with 3 USC staffers of the BSU-type group, "Christian Challenge." Tommy Trojan towers above.

Yes, I had been somewhat intimidated those first months there. Would I be able to relate to students whose parents could actually PAY for that kind of private education? I went to Baylor but that was still not on that par. Did I have some way to relate to the women athletes who became part of my new Bible study? I had always grown up being one of the more intelligent people in MY circles, at least, & graduated 4th in my high school class-- but again, was not as smart as these folks, I thought. What about the students who did NOT pay for their studies, but were so smart that they passed a national test with some ridiculously amazing score and got a scholarship?! God tested my ability to reach people from the heart, and not necessarily from the head!

We set up an info. table about the spiritual condition of Western Europe at the "Challenge" worship time, as well as at each church & group we visited.

School Start

They're back! We started off the 1st week of the spring semester at Friedrich Schiller University (FSU) by handing out 1500 gummy bear with flyers on campus (April 20th), as well as a few New Testaments & logo pens.

It was great to just 'get out there' & meet new students. "Here you go..." I said over and over holding out the packets (in German "bitte schön" -which is actually translated in literal form as "please pretty!"). Handing out New Testaments to
students waiting in line to use a computer kiosk, one gal commented: "I've just started reading the Bible myself." So God is at work in hearts already, even in this atheistic- influenced area! (Caro & Maria, with Greek or Roman statues in background; Anne and Caro, right).

That evening we had "Extra Cross" worship which we do monthly on campus. At the end, Thomas told about his call into ministry-- a former student in our group but now graduated, Thomas has recently switched to half-time at his computer job, so he can serve on staff with Connexxion! About 30 of us gathered around to pray over him. Stefan, smiling in the back, was instrumental in mentoring him over the years. Vera, on the left, heard the good news in big ways through the discussion group that Thomas leads Monday nights in the pub. That weekend from Friday night to Saturday noon we loved on students at an in-house retreat ... and did some key training with small group leaders & a living room full of those who graciously volunteer for vital roles in our group.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Need color in your life?

Our Connexxion group had a big "Black and White" Party theme on Monday to open the new college semester -- and it was a hit! See happy faces of Deanna & Elisa (left), & Thomas & Sebastian (right)!!! Thomas made a collection of our group's photos, turned them into black & white images, and had a slide show running on my TV.

Imagine trying to come up with every possible decoration & food for this motto (THANK you, Antje, for creativity!). E.g., walls checkered with black construction paper; an Elvis photo; spotted cow; black & white kitchen utensils; Cuban black beans & rice; Oreo cookies from America-- in limited supply so that I selfishly didn't want to share too many; black olives in white Penne pasta salad; tiny pumpernickel bread sandwiches with cream cheese; etc.... And everyone could find something appropriate to wear! (And Monica, your gift shirt was perfect for the event; I'm standing with Eckart and Rebecca.)

The "color" was provided by interesting conversations, laughter, and a cool atmosphere. God blessed the time and we met new friends, played Pictionary and had fun! (Conny & Sabine, below; Stefan with funky sunglasses!).

Saturday, April 22, 2006

All or Nothing?

The "all or nothing" side of me says either i need to 1) blog a LOT and give several updates on my journeys to catch up -- or 2) i do not write at all because I have no idea where to start. Frankly, I've been away from the web a great deal-- between time issues & the availability (lack of) of a computer. Which means I probably have not seen your blog either. I feel so behind- Ahhh! So to overcome a bit of any unhealthy procrastination, i'm just checking in to say 'hi' to any of you who have wondered where I've been. ("Hi!")

I went on a fantastic trip; first, with our students to Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and California-- then to the other coast, Florida. There I spent 6 days with family and friends. Then, a week back home in Europe-- busy with preparations for our new semester. Then, about a week away again, to a conference put on by my colleagues over Easter. Every bit of these weeks has been blessed-- but i've been busy. This photo is taken in a Mexican restaurant in Ft. Worth, my 1st night in the States. With me are Leta, a great friend, and my Aunt Becky-- both who took the time to meet at the restaurant and greet me and the gang who'd just flown over.

Below are traveling buddies & student friends Lydia and Vera with me in front of red hot chili peppers in Santa Fe! Thanks for stopping by... and i'll write more later!