Oct
28
2009
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MMT 16–Oranienburg, Germany

The team has visited Oranienburg many times, including last year. On Friday we had several informal times of fellowship with church people, and we met some adorable bunnies. I’ll tell you about Saturday later.

Sunday morning, we shared in the church’s Lord’s Supper service (during what we would consider the Sunday School hour), and then we had the morning service. The church people had invited lots of visitors to that morning service, and it was packed. They had to put folding chairs in the lobby for overflow. We enjoy singing for church people, but it was exciting to know that visitors were hearing the gospel, too.

After church, we had a huge dinner outside with everyone. Tim and I met several girls near our age who all seemed to be involved in the medical field. I think one was a dental hygienist, and another worked at a pharmacy.

Sunday evening we went to a park with a bunch of church people (because they don’t have Sunday evening services), and played volleyball. Well, I didn’t play volleyball, but many team members did. I played a card game with some of the non-athletic teenagers.

Tim and I really enjoyed getting to know our hosts, the Schulz family. Sunday evening we had dinner on their balcony, watched Charlotte ride her unicycle, and learned about life under Communism. We’re especially grateful to Richard for fixing breakfast for us Monday morning when his mom was busy.

Disclaimer: Tim took all of these pictures. Thank you, Tim!

It was an exciting volleyball game!
Can I have one? Pleeeeease?
Apparently she didn't get enough to eat at lunch.

Oct
20
2009
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thoughts . . .

I needed to read this. It’s an article challenging us to meditate on things that please God. When the author talked about wanting to write the letter (and thinking about it all day), she could have been describing me. Ouch.

Written by in: Shameless Academic |
Oct
19
2009
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MMT 15–Halberstadt, Germany

In Halberstadt, we were reunited with Rebecca Kelly Goernandt (a former team member). Some of us already knew her, and those who didn’t felt like they did. We used her story in one of our presentations, so even the new members already knew that she had traveled two summers with the team, then dated and married a man from Germany (while he was studying at BJ). Rebecca and her husband Christian attend a small church in Halberstadt, and we were thrilled that we could help publicize their ministry.

The first place we went in Halberstadt was a hospital. We were supposed to sing outside, but just after we started singing, someone came along and told us that we could sing inside. We were allowed to sing only a few songs, but hopefully even that little bit of music gave hope to the people there.

After lunch and some frisbee-playing in a park, we went downtown for a little street singing and passing out tracts. It rained on our mini-concert, though, so we visited the church and nearby mall. Soon it was supper time, and then concert time. We sang in a lecture hall at a university. I’m not sure how many seats were there, but most of them were full! We had some nice conversations with the audience members, and the church was able to make some good contacts.

That night, Tim and I stayed with a couple and their little daughters. The amazing thing is that they didn’t just keep us. They also kept 8 other guys! They borrowed cots and bedding from their friends, and set up beds for the guys in the living room (Tim and I were in the office). The living room was amazing. It looked like an infirmary.

Every time I think about Halberstadt I think of how much work (and money) that couple put into housing and feeding us just for one night. There must have been so much setting up, and laundry afterward. I helped just a little bit with preparing breakfast, and even that was a huge undertaking. If I had that many people in my house, we would definitely be eating cold cereal out of disposable bowls. But no, they gave us a full German breakfast, complete with fresh rolls, salami, cheese, vegetables, jelly, nutella, tea, yogurt, and eggs. They were amazing.

Rebecca was amazing, too. She kept people at her house and cooked tons of food even though she was expecting a baby soon (she was due the next week, I think). She made my day by bringing chocolate chip cookies for lunch.

Here's our host with all of us who stayed at his house. I wish I had a picture of his wife. She deserves an award!
Frisbee in the park

Oct
18
2009
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Truth, fiction, and the news

The unfortunate story of the balloon boy has me thinking about fiction, reality, and our consumption of the two. I say “unfortunate” because of the resources wasted on a boy who never really was missing. Of course there were the rescuers, but many others were glued to the television, watching and praying.

I pity the boy. What kind of dad makes his kids lie for publicity? What kind of dad pretends that his kid might have fallen to his death? Who puts that kind of pressure on a 6-year-old? No wonder the boy keeps vomiting.

I don’t think this story could have worked as fiction. I’m trying to imagine it in a movie or a book, and it just doesn’t have the same impact. There’s something gut-wrenching about thinking that an actual, adorable little boy might climbed into a balloon, only to have his extraordinary trip cut short by a tragic fall. It wouldn’t be the same in a movie, where you know that no actors were injured in the making of this scene.

So this story only worked because it was real, but then it wasn’t. And now, as much as we hate it, even the betrayal makes for a good story. The plot worked, in its own sick way. They got publicity.

So even though this story, as we originally heard it, was false, it still illustrates that idea that truth is stranger than fiction. It seems like I’ve experienced that a lot lately. I’ve met people with stories that I could never have summoned from the land of my creative genius. I read an essay about the Great Chicago Flood of 1992 that made me wonder where I was when this story hit the nightly news (thanks Freakonomics!). As I encounter allegedly true things that exhaust my imagination, these experiences make me think that I need to read more history.

Then the cynical part of me wonders if these true stories really are true. I remember that even history is up for debate when I hear about “facts” of history that may not be as factual as we thought. Some of the historians must have gotten confused and thought they were in creative writing class. Legends didn’t end in the Dark Ages either, and now, through e-mail, they travel faster.

Even though history and current events can give us plenty of true, interesting stories, apparently they aren’t enough. We like to embellish the truth. We want to create our own stories. If those created stories are going to work, they must be believable.

Today, sometimes it’s hard to divide the facts from the fiction. We don’t just have news and stories. We have spin, agendas, and “reality” tv. It’s complicated, but then, who ever dreamed up a good story without any complications?

Written by in: Shameless Academic |
Oct
13
2009
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Unexpected News Story

I was scanning my Google reader the other day and caught this story from the BBC.

The summary states, “Clerics in Indonesia’s conservative Muslim province of Aceh say they are outraged that an Acehnese woman has won the title of Miss Indonesia.”

I’m not a fan of beauty contests, but I never expected to see people outraged that a woman from their region had won one.

Written by in: Shameless Academic |
Oct
07
2009
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MMT 14–Magdeburg, Germany

We spent one night in the Magdeburg area with the Matthias, McKenzie, and King families (all GFA missionaries). When we all crashed at the McKenzies’ house, it was pretty crowded! If I were Mrs. McKenzie, I’m pretty sure I would have run screaming out the back door.

It wasn’t possible for us to all help with supper, so a bunch of us took a walk. It was just like those times when I was little and my parents were doing some complicated project, and I asked if I could help, and they told me that the most helpful thing I could do would be to go away and play quietly. The mission team isn’t very good at playing quietly, so we went on a walk instead.

Anyway, the coolest thing about our walk was that we got to see a windmill up close! I was surprised at how tall it was, how long the blades were, and how loud the blades were. They made swishing noises as they went around.

After the walk and supper, we had a concert at the church. These missionaries have been working in this area for a long time, and people are not very open to their message. They have a small congregation, and it is hard for them to meet new people. In preparation for the service, they had distributed 10,000 invitations.

Our team always meets 30 minutes before the concerts to pray, and this evening we were especially burdened to pray that God would bring people in. We were in the back room, so we didn’t know who was coming. When we finished and lined up for the concert, one of the missionaries came in with some exciting news.

After passing out the 10,000 invitations, he had been praying for 2 visitors. One of his kids asked him why he didn’t have more faith. Why didn’t he pray for 3 or 4 visitors? So, he prayed for 4.

As he stood outside to greet people, a group of 4 visitors came in. He thanked God that his prayers had been answered. But there was still more time. As he waited, more visitors came. Pretty soon, there were more visitors than church members! God blessed these missionaries’ prayers and efforts in a big way.

It was exciting to sing that evening (and for Tim to preach), knowing that we might be introducing these people to Christ for the very first time. Now we need to pray that the missionaries will be able to share Christ with these people again.

Here we are with the windmill.
Tim took this picture on the walk.

Oct
07
2009
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MMT 13–East West German Wall

On our way to Magdeburg, Germany, we stopped in a village that still has a section of the East/West wall. We walked along in the no-man’s-land, taking pictures of the guard tower. It was hard to imagine that not so long ago we would have been shot (no questions asked!) for standing there.

Freedom is beautiful.

Guard tower
Vehicle barrier
Heather would have been shot for walking here.

Oct
06
2009
1

A Tough Old Cowboy

A tough old cowboy once counseled his grandson that if he wanted to live a long life, the secret was to sprinkle a pinch of gunpowder on his oatmeal every morning.

The grandson did this religiously and lived to the age of 110.  He left four children, twenty grandchildren, thirty great grandchildren, ten great great grandchildren, and a fifty foot hole where the crematorium used to be (original source unknown).

Written by in: Humor |
Oct
01
2009
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Extreme do-it-yourself

I like making things from scratch, and I’m even getting ready to try my hand at home-made laundry soap. But this is too much.

Written by in: Shameless Academic |

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