Friday, June 30, 2006
The kids have really blossomed the last months and it's fun to see them develop in personality! Can't you tell from the photo?
We're brainstorming about the future of Connexxion (big picture stuff), events for this summer break (from the end of July through middle of October is our "summer break"); and we will be praying about how to involve more folks for the fall/winter semester.
So, it's almost official that I'll be moving to Braunschweig in the fall-- stay tuned for more details (but click on the name for info. in English about this town of 220,000 persons). Here are a few shots of my new city where I'll begin a new campus Connexxion group beginning in spring of 2007. This is a main campus building of the Technical University where most of the work would focus. And below is the Rathaus (town hall) in Braunschweig.
My former language tutor Anne lives in Hannover not too far from Braunschweig, so I got to visit briefly with her when I attended the Baptist national conference back in May. Do you see us cutting up? We certainly did a LOT of laughing when she was teaching me German 1-on-1 for 10 months back in 1999. Actually, my German still gets some laughs, as I continue to mix up similar words, e.g. A great way to keep me humble (often) and keep the crowd in stitches once in awhile.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
My friend Kim is visiting (she works for the Air Force, living in another city here), & we cheered on the 'home team' together from an outdoor venue on a big screen in Erfurt! It's kind of refreshing seeing all the German flags flying from people's cars, driven by those excited over their wins! -- also extremely unusual. Usually Germans don't allow themselves the privilege of celebrating their nationality in patriotic displays of the flag, or singing the national anthem, etc. (they say it would be misconstrued because of past history). I'm thrilled for this nice exception to the rule.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Our group, Connexxion, was responsible for buying and selling the hotdogs & baked beans (giving the evening an American touch)... and my church was selling the German beer (giving it, of course, a quite German flair! Hmmm...).
We took the students up to a castle one afternoon with spectacular views of the gorgeous countryside ... (Blake, Kasey & Andrew on the roof!)
We just "had" to teach the group about typical culture, & have coffee and cake in the afternoon! Served to us by a waitress wearing a cool outfit from the Middle Ages, no less!
Games night at an outdoor Cafe-- playing chess, rummy, or a German version of Yatzee called "Kniffel" (Stefan playing Carola w/ Kai in the background).
Well, stick around Germany long and you'll realize that Cafe life is pretty much the "IN" thing-- Julie (pictured below, rt.) organizes 20 student group exchanges per year. She will be in Severina & Sven- Petter's wedding in Norway later this summer (I'm going, too!).
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Think Beach Boys, and that gets you in the mood for our 1st party of last week. We had events & "parties without end" --that sort of describes the exciting week we've experienced inviting students to our campus group, along with having a group of American students here, to help host the special events, do preparation (and clean up) and to bring along new friends!
Ok... so many faces are new to you out there... but here goes... Above are Lydia, Kristin, & Maria (left & right gals are twins). On the left are Jess (American), Mathias, me, Julie (former staffer here) & Christian at Monday's beach party, with about 50 persons in my apartment & on the balcony.
Here are Kasey (American) with Fabian & his girlfriend Carola. Fabian took us on a tour of nearby Erfurt yesterday. We cannot forget Jeff, who has never met a stranger... great at greeting folks & he also passed out the smoothies with little umbrellas in them!
Saturday, June 17, 2006
This week our Connexxion campus ministry has had a grand time with 6 guests from Tennessee (Union Univ.) along with 2 American colleagues who work at a boarding school in south Germany. Here are some of us (left) in front of "Hanfried," the founder of the FSU university.
Julie B. (far rt. above, with Jess, Andrew & Kasey) worked a couple of years here with our group, and it's great having her back 'home' & leading the college exchange group. She & I are roomies again for 2 weeks. Both inside a main campus building & outside on a large plaza under festive umbrellas... (it was about 80 degrees!) ...we spent 3 mornings handing out about 1000 chocolate chip cookies and talking with students about our "Spot On" week. Jeff (on our staff) & Andrew (both left) are inviting some students around lunch time. It's the same week as our university's international days, so we fit right in.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Growing up in Tampa, I remember Germany soccer games being televised on a local channel on Saturday afternoons. Well, now I live here & have the chance to savor the flavor of the game-- and right now, right here in Germany is THE WORLD CUP -- it only happens every 4 years, and moves around to different countries. So get ready, people-- it's BIG!
Tonight I joined my colleagues Jeff and Deanna and their 2 darling kids for french fries & chicken fingers, and watching the FIRST game of the event-- Germany vs. Costa Rica! (Man, i gotta get a Deutschland shirt like Jeff and the kids!) While the game was in the second half, Deanna and I ventured out to mingle with the hundreds of people watching it on big screens, in several cafes and pubs on the street where they live! Then we went to an open- air courtyard near their apartment, flanked by old city towers, & watched it on a big screen along with a few thousand viewers (well, the heads in front of me blocked most of it) -- WE WON! (4:2) Let me teach you some German-- can you say: "Gooooooooolllll"? (Translation: "Goal")!!! On Wed. our Connexxion group will co- sponsor a big-screen event at our church, when a group from Tennesse comes in to have an 'exchange week' with our ministry. It's gonna be a packed week!
My friends from Florida, the Sharps, were here & are standing by a famous statue in front of the Theater House in Weimar (neighboring city) of Goethe and Schiller. They say that Goethe was shorter, but they made his likeness the same heighth as Schiller's. This was because Goethe was esteemed the more gifted poet and playwright (he wrote "Faust"-- it's a play, hours and hours long, totally done in verse, like Shakespeare!). Well, any visit to Germany deserves a few visits to a local ice cream parlor-- they have them all over the place, and they're run by Italians. Many of the desserts come in large, fluted glasses creatively decorated with syrup and fruit and candy, etc. Stefan, a student at FSU in Jena, joined us for this evening.
The "Bundeskonferenz" is the Baptist & Brethren churches' Convention's convention each year (does that make sense?!) on the "Pfingsten" (Pentecost) holiday weekend. I was invited to attend & got to hear some sessions & visit the booths (and Christian bookstore-- that in itself was a real treat because I've never been to a Christian bookstore in Germany, other than a limited selection of bookshelves, etc. at a few churches). You can maybe make out from the photo the fact that a panel of dignitaries (governing persons) are sitting at a long table on the stage. I wasn't sure how the system exactly works, but there was plenty of time for people to speak from the microphone from the floor, and hear responses from those on the stage.
A couple of my German "heroes" were there, including 2 men who do full-time evangelism & support of new church starts, Jörg S. and Helmut G. (2 on left). I've been at 3 evangelistic "tent missions" where they have done the speaking. And Helmut was a retreat speaker for our campus group. The other gentleman is Wilfried B. and he organizes Willow Creek in Germany and supports church starts and development.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Harold Bullock, Bob Brandon & a group of 13 faith-filled other people started this church in the late '70's & have trained hundreds of people to start new ministries & churches. They "drew outside the lines" in their philosophy of church, paving the way for many more. For years they weren't recognized as a 'real' church (only a 'mission'), only because they didn't have a building.
They have a dynamic way of reaching people through their emphasis on values & 'heart attitudes' in their small groups. They also have a running club (sponsor a River Race yearly) & photo club. We have a morning seminar with them each year before leaving for Oklahoma (and then ... spring break in Glorieta, NM).
Last spring a key leader from our group, Stefan (see the cowboy hat!), was an intern for 5 months with a like- minded NEW church called Breakthrough, which has specially concentrated on reaching collegians at UT in Arlington. He's pictured with his pastor/ friends Andy & Stacie Wood. I was especially honored to visit with our family friends, James & Betty Washburn and their granddaughter, who greeted us at the Mexican restaurant our first evening!
All kinds of weather greeted us for our Conference, entitled "Follow me, as I follow Him." Special speakers included Mike Story, from Colorado (pictured left with some heroes of mine, Max & Sandra Barnett, former director of the BSU at OU and now coordinating campus work in Colorado -- all the buildings in Santa Fe look like this-- stucco, mission style!) ... as well as Dr. and Mrs. Howard Hendricks (see Dr. H. below)!
The worship times with over 300 students were impacting, but the one- on -one times I met with people was just as encouraging in a different way (I can't begin to name all of you dear people, but for starters I felt hugged hanging out with people like Kate Moore-- who should be a relative-- so bubbly... and friend Nancy J., top of page, in the snow)! I also got to speak twice at a seminar during the week, as well as host a fun "evening excursions" for dozens of students 1 night in my hotel/ apartment room.
My roommate for the week was my very great friend Anja G., our former Connexxion staffer, who is now studying at Southwestern Seminary. She brought cool snacks that she knew I can't get in Germany (You're truly a kindred spirit!). I think you can see a tear when she says "good-bye" to us (pictured with Sebastian & Lukas... I miss ya, Anja!)
At the end of the week there was a huge extravaganza-- talent show type event-- our group put on brown shirts & sang on stage -- a CRAZY volks song from Germany about monkeys looking for a coconut! Yes, this is Deutschland-- the great nation known for technology & complicated inventions, high-speed trains that run on time, outstanding classical music & opera, concern for world affairs & the environment, putting together the EU, a world-changing Reformation, and breathtaking castles-- but when we "let our hair down" -- watch out, folks! :-) It was embarrassing... all the students taking our photos after the event-- like we were celebrities!
We were incredibly blessed as a Connexxion Ministry to spend 1 week, after attending a college conference in New Mexico, to observe a growing campus ministry at the Univ. of Southern California. They have a similar desire to win & mentor students, & reach the world. We took our 4th annual Vision Trip. (see blurb on part 1, further down, from April 30). I worked on staff there for 2 amazing, learning years with the Christian Challenge group (more info? click on their name!).
Neil and Melinda Walker moved to LA fully on faith, with their 4 kids in the late '80's --renting a house in an Asian neighborhood, 'living on next to nothing,' planting their lives to 'found' a campus outreach (from scratch) on a private, prestigious campus. They have also served alongside a church start, with Randy & Cindy Lanthripe, called Church in the Valley. Both fellowships have grown amazingly!
My friends Jeep & Cate were trained in the ministry and now serve on staff-- 10 hours a week (between raising 3 kids & his full-time job as an engineer).
We got to hear from staff during special seminar times created just for US!, attend their campus worship service & dorm Bible studies, stay in apartments of students, drink Starbucks coffee, prayer walk around this red-bricked campus, and, of course, do some sight -seeing. Like see the Heisman trophy of OJ Simpson, who attended college there. And walk by the Cinema School, which has been sponsored by folks like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg!
A couple came in from Frankfurt recently to "prayer walk" with us in our city of Jena. We were so grateful that they'd take the time to visit.
One reward of their hard work was a "bratwurst break" at lunch time, with our staff team, Jeff (w/ couple next to him) & Deanna in her pink LL Bean poncho, & Thomas in sunglasses.
I shared 5 messages specifically designed for single adults (but mostly with timeless principles) with varied titles that all fit a mountain climbing theme-- such as: “Reaching the Summit as a Team” (on sharing my faith in the community of others) & “Carrying a Light Pack to the Top” (forgiveness). For those of you who weren’t able to come (smile!), the following is a smattering of quotes from that conference which I thought you might appreciate reading.
• “People have to belong before they believe.” – Karl, Dublin
• The best prepared fisherman, without a pond and without a fish, won’t catch a thing! I have to get to know ‘seekers’ in order to share my faith with them (in my ‘pond’; Matthew 4:19).
• Regarding pain and the emotions we feel when working through forgiveness, sometimes we are not mad; we are actually sad and we need to process that!
• We all need 3 friends: 1) a Pacesetter (Schrittmacher) – mentor; 2) a Peer (Mit- Streiter) – accountability partner, and-or friend; & 3) a Pupil (Schüler) – someone under my wing. (from Waylon Moore)
• Moral standards are like guardrails on a cruise ship, so you can freely enjoy
the smell of the salt and get a load of the spectacular view, without falling
over into the abyss of impurity.
• Avoiding bitterness and embracing forgiveness: one key is to feel your pain (vs. numbing yourself and pretending it’s not there). You get 2 results: you experience God more deeply & stay humble AND you can empathize with others in their hurt and pains (Galatians 6).
• Willi Unsoeld: “...You've climbed the highest mountain in the world. What's
left? It's all downhill from there. You've got to set your sights on something higher than Everest.”
• I get nearer to God in different ways–sometimes by snuggling & sharing & talking, but I’m afraid sometimes I get nearer to Him by ‘wrestling.’ – (see Jacob’s story in Genersis 32:28 & Psalm 73:28)
• “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” (C. S. Lewis, The Problem with Pain)
Friday, June 02, 2006
The Berlin Cathedral... we call a cathedral a "Dom" in German, which maybe is where the English derived their word to describe how the roof on a big church looks, all rounded (a "dome")?
The East Side Gallery consists of graffiti type (but planned) paintings adorning the east side of the Berlin Wall, that once separated the city. I loved seeing this piece of history and am SO glad that everyone didn't tear down the WHOLE wall back in 1989. But frankly, it would be just too cool to have a real piece of it. Aren't you glad for how God did a total miracle, and days after Erich Honecker said the wall would stay for another 100 years, it got torn down?! I'm awesomely thankful to the Lord to be able to live here, and to share about Him in total freedom.
The Spree River runs through the city... I guess you can take a boat tour on it, too.
There was some sort of protest going on ("demonstration" is called in German a "demo"), so our tour bus had to make a detour to make way for the huge Soviet tank -- keine Ahnung what they were doing! (= "no idea")
Well, thanks to an evening with some fun girls, hazelnut coffee, and a DVD ("Pride & Prejudice"!), I'm staying up ridiculously late... and need to say good night, folks!