Jun
24
2009
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MMT 6–Güetli

After our time in Metzigen, we crossed back into Switzerland to minister at the Güetli. It’s hard to explain what the Güetli is, because I don’t know of anything like it in the States. It’s a combination of a farm, hotel, and Christian conference center. They also grow flowers and have a flower shop to help support their mission work.

At Güetli, Tim and Kevin preached a Bible conference. The choir sang a few songs for the conference services and had a concert/service on Sunday afternoon. When we weren’t singing, we helped out with the work. Some team members were in the garden, or helped with the cleaning. I helped in the kitchen. Saturday morning, I helped peel kohlrabi. I think my group went through 50 kilos of kohlrabi (25 kilos were for Saturday lunch). Saturday afternoon, I cut and washed lettuce from the garden. After these experiences, I have a renewed appreciation for people in the food service field.

Say hello to the friendly sheep!
One of many beautiful flowers in the shop
We had macaroni and cheese for supper!!!

Jun
24
2009
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MMT 5–Tübigen and Stuttgart

While we were in Metzigen, we took two short day trips–one to Tübigen and one to Stuttgart. In Tübigen, we passed out tracts, did some shopping, and rode a paddleboat on the Neckar River.

In Stuttgart, some team members went to the Mercedes museum. Since I had been there last year, and since I’m not a big car fan, I opted to walk around the town instead. We went shoe shopping with one of the girls from the youth group, then ate lunch in a park, and visited the lobby of the opera house.

Then we had an interesting experience in the Protestant church. When we first walked in, we weren’t planning to spend much time there, so we were looking around, trying to take it all in. An older man with a name tag approached us and started offering information about the church. At first we weren’t sure if we wanted to talk to him (I was afraid that he might try to get us to pay him for a tour or something), but he was so kind and friendly that we listened to what he was saying and started examining the objects he referenced in his comments. After he showed us a display with the history of the church, he took us to the front and pointed to some sculptures. Did we know what they were? Yes, they portrayed the Christmas story.

Then he started asking about the different figures. Did we know who this was (Mary and Elizabeth)? What did this portray (the wise men)? After the sculptures, he started explaining the panels on the stained glass windows. He named Bible story after Bible story, and I started to think that this man’s knowledge went deeper than tour-guide level.

Finally, one of the girls in the group asked the question that was forming in each of our minds. “This window is about Jesus. Do you believe in Him?” He told us that he did believe in Jesus, that many people in Germany and even in the church do not believe, but he does believe. Then he explained why he volunteers in the church. He stands there and tells people about the statues and stained glass so that he can explain the Bible to them. Many people visit the church, even Buddhists and Muslims. In this way, he witnesses to them all.

I hope that this man truly is trusting in Christ alone for his salvation and that one day, I will see him again in heaven. I was challenged by the fact that all of us had the same reaction to him. We could all tell that he had an intimate, real knowledge of the Bible. Hopefully other people have similar thoughts when they hear us sing.

Paddleboating on the Neckar River
Park where we ate lunch in Stuttgart
Adorable duckling in Stuttgart
Church tower in Stuttgart

Jun
21
2009
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MMT 4–Metzigen

After leaving Ebnat Kappel, Switzerland, we crossed the border and drove to Metzigen, Germany. Metzigen is known for its outlets. The downtown area is filled with gigantic stores. People come from all over to shop in these stores. The church that we ministered in was smack in the middle, literally surrounded by outlets.

In Metzigen we gave two evening concert-services. Our standard concert-service has 6 songs at the beginning (3 native language, 3 English), then a brass piece, a testimony, another instrumental piece, 3 more songs (all native language), a short Gospel message, then one more song. After the service is dismissed, two of our team members stand at the door passing out tracts, and the rest of us shake hands and try to talk to people.

Our hosts in Metzigen

Our hosts in Metzigen

We enjoyed getting to know the people in the church at Metzigen, especially our hosts–Simon, Emma, and their daughter Hadassah. Both Simon and Emma grew up in Romania, so we were able to learn a little bit about the difference between Germany and Romania.

The third evening, instead of another service, we had a grillfest and fellowship with the teens. We enjoyed steaks, volleyball, and singing beside a beautiful field outside of Metzigen.






Jun
21
2009
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Authors’ Agendas

I meant to publish this a long time ago, and just found this in my drafts. So please don’t think that I have too much free time on mission team. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

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I’ve always been interested in persuasion, and I’m sure that colors my thinking. It’s hard for me to imagine someone crafting communication without having an agenda behind it. Sometimes that agenda is very simple and straightforward. For example: “I want a chocolate chip cookie.”

But what about authors of stories? Are they just trying to tell a good story, or are they making a point? I’m sure it’s possible for us to assume too much in either direction. Critics, I think, often read points in where they aren’t. But readers often ignore points that are practically leaping from the page.

For example (and the reason why I’m writing this post): Dan Brown’s books (Da Vinci Code, etc.). I’ve heard people say before that Dan Brown has an agenda. Now, here’s an NYTimes article about Brown’s agenda. The article says that Brown isn’t just selling books; “he’s selling a theology.”

Theology involves our beliefs about God and truth. Your theology is a pretty big deal. Now, if you want to adopt Dan Brown’s theology, that’s your business. But if you’re going to do it, wouldn’t you like to do it knowingly and voluntarily? But that’s not what happens with fiction. You start the book, and it’s a great story. So you enter into the story in your imagination. For the story to work, you have to think like Brown thinks. Then you finish the book, and you’ve just spent hours seeing the world through Brown’s eyes. It’s hard to shake the habit. You start thinking like Brown, maybe just a little bit, but you’ve changed. You just wanted to read a nice story, but that nice story affected your theology.

I haven’t read any of Brown’s books, but honestly, this post isn’t about persuading you to read or not read his books. I’m just suggesting that you know what you’re getting into. Dan Brown has a persuasive message, and lots of other authors do too. Don’t forget that, even when you want to read a good story. Ignore the author’s philosophy, and you might get more than you bargained for.

Written by in: Shameless Academic |
Jun
21
2009
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MMT 3–St. Gallen and Liechtenstein

While at Arche, we went to the nearby town of St. Gallen. In St. Gallen, we visited an old library and a church, ate lunch, and sang on the streets. While we were singing, members of an Ethiopian church loosely associated with Arche passed out tracts and invitations to our concert. This was a great help, because people are much more receptive to tracts/invitations while we are actually singing. I’m not sure if anyone came to the concert as a result of the invitations, but we can still pray that people will read the tracts.

One of the interesting things in St. Gallen is the old library in the monastery. Several team members mentioned that it looked like something from Beauty and the Beast. Only comfortable chairs were missing.



On a different day, we made a short trip to Liechtenstein. We were all excited about visiting another country, especially one small enough to be a collector’s item. In a way, the visit was anticlimactic, since the border crossing was almost as boring as driving from South Carolina to Georgia, only without a welcome center. Also, Liechtenstein seemed to look exactly like Switzerland (please refrain from making observations about the two countries’ geographical proximity).

We were delighted to find that Liechtenstein has its own bus system and we wondered about the difficulties of having an entire government for such a small area. We enjoyed taking pictures of the [still-inhabited] royal castle. I had a lovely time, even if I didn’t get a stamp in my passport. These days, it seems that the only way to get a stamp in one’s passport is to visit somewhere dangerous or to buy one on the streets of Berlin. After listening to some of Dr. McCauley’s stories about Russian border crossings, I’ll take the empty passport!

Jun
09
2009
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Pretty Place Settings at Arche

One of the that impresses me is the way our hosts take care to set a beautiful table. I confess that I usually just stick the plates and stuff on the table. I don’t do name tags or anything fancy like that. At least, I haven’t in the past. Now I have dreams about the fancy place settings in my future. I can’t wait to break out the ribbons and pretty papers when I get home!



Written by in: Shameless Academic |
Jun
09
2009
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MMT 2 — Ebnat Kappel

We spent our first weekend at the Arche (Ark) in Ebnat Kappel, Switzerland. The team always goes there for Pentecost weekend. They call it Pfingsten here. The Arche is a kind of Christian hotel and conference center, unlike any place I have been in the US.

This year we were especially excited about going to Ebnat Kappel because Dr. Greg Kielmeyer is there. Dr. Kielmeyer traveled with the Musical Mission Team for several years (including last year) and was one of my teachers at BJ. He seemed excited to see us, too.

At Ebnat Kappel, Tim and Kevin Oberlin preached a Bible conference. We sang a few songs for each of the conference services, and also gave a full concert on Sunday. I think there were more people there than last year. That was exciting for us (we like to have big crowds!) and for the Arche. I talked to people from France, Canada, and of course Switzerland.

On Saturday afternoon we went to St. Gallen to sing on the street and pass out tracts. Monday we went to see Ulrich Zwingli’s birthplace and also visited Liechtenstein.

To read another summary of our first few stops and see some pictures, visit the Musical Mission Team website.

Jun
01
2009
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MMT 1 — Flight and Switzerland

Hello from Switzerland! I don’t have time to write a long post, but I want to let everyone know that we made it to  Europe safely, and we have already begun our summer ministry. Here’s a quick recap of the past few days:

Monday and Tuesday we had all-day rehearsals at BJ, and late nights getting ready to leave. We actually didn’t get to bed until about 5:30 Wednesday morning, but we got all of the important things done! That’s what’s important.

Wednesday morning we met on campus and said goodbye to our friends. It was raining, so the packing process was a bit complicated. I had a moment of panic when I realized that I had left my black shoes at home (the ones I need for our services). However, some of our friends were able to go back to our house, get my shoes, and take them to another team member whose flight left later than ours. Thanks, Jason and Candy!!!

We had an overnight flight, and I slept well (thanks for general fatigue and Dramamine). We are very thankful that all 27 people and our many piece of luggage made it over without incident. We did have one very badly damaged bag, but overall, everything went well.

After we arrived in Geneva and got our vans, we drove to Leissigen to spend the night. We stayed at a beautiful Swiss chalet on a lake. The next morning we traveled to Ebnat Kappel for our first weekend of ministry.



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