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Monday, 29 October 2012

A visit to the Deutsche Missionsgemeinschaft (DMG)

Today Alan and I paid a visit to the DMG or the Deutsche Missionsgemeinschaft which translates into English as the German missions fellowship.  We met with Monike, the mobilization coordinator and the director, Detlef Bloecher and then had a tour of their beautiful grounds and homes. Until recently we did not realize that DMG was located so close to us nor that they are partners with our missions organization, Pioneers.  Because Pioneers does not have a mobilization base in Germany, they partner with two organizations, one of which is DMG, to send Germany citizens out on mission to their teams around the world.  DMG has no "teams", only 400 plus missionaries that they have helped to mobilize and support to other partner organizations like Pioneers. Alan had heard of a place which hosted missionaries that was doing similar things to what we wanted to do long-term but it wasn't until about a month ago that we put 2 and 2 together to realize the organization he was talking about was the same organization that partners with Pioneers.

Anyway, we got contact information from the mobilization office for Pioneers Europe and setup a meeting to discuss how we might encourage/help/partner with eachother.  They were thrilled to know there was a Pioneers team in the area and we were excited to see that they have 62 years experience sending out missionaries around the world.  They certainly have plenty of experience, wisdom and guidance to help our fledgling ministry here get off the ground.

As an example these are some of the things DMG is engaged in currently:
  • Support for 400+ missionaries serving with over 100 partner missions organizations around the globe (as a comparison, Pioneers USA has 800 missionaries on the field today).
  • One year GAP like program for students within the DMG in Sinsheim.  Currently 8 students living, working and learning at their campus but they have hundreds that apply and have told us they will funnel applications to us as well for our GAP year type program we hope to kick off when the loft is finished at the end of next year (God willing!).
  • Multi-church prayer service - held on the 3rd Sunday of each month - which we hope to attend, especially now that we are thinking of moving closer to their neck of the woods.
  • Pre-field missionary training - given to all missionaries in mid or long-term service at their campus in Sinsheim.  Lasts approximately 2 months. 
  • Missionary hosting for those on furlough
  • Twice yearly mission conferences
Needless to say their work and their mission is impressive and we look forward to partnering with them in the months and years ahead. 

Here are some links you might find useful or interesting to check out:
Mission-net: Held every two years here in Germany:
Jugendmission: Young persons conference for Worldwide missions:

On a funny side note, Alan and I were running late to our meeting for a variety of reasons so I had to quickly change clothes to get out the door.  Unknowingly I put on a necklace and earrings to match my sweater only to be questioned by Alan 5 hours after returning home as to why I had two pairs of earrings on.  Yes, somehow I managed to put on TWO pairs of earrings without seeing, feeling or noticing that I already had a pair in my ears.  I said, "oh my gosh!  why didn't you say something earlier??"  He said he thought it was the new fashion.  How embarassing!!  They must think we're complete nutters although after meeting Chloe and see her nearly destroy the office where we were meeting I'm sure they just giggled and completely understood!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Sarah Lee departs for home...

I've known Sarah Lee Kelley for I guess almost 4 years now.  I met her in Carla's bible study and we also attended Vic's college class together.  When I told some of the girls there that I wanted to try to mentor a few of them on a weekly basis, have them over for coffee, make dinner together, etc.  Sarah Lee was one of the girls that signed up.  I loved getting to know her a little bit back then but it wasn't until my little sister Christine told me that Sarah was in fact praying about coming to join our team for a while and she actually came and spent six months with us that we really got to know her.  

To know Sarah Lee is to love her.  Anyone can tell you that and while we're all still learning about this great country where we have served together, we have loved having her over for dinner, talking to her about her triumphs and struggles and just basically seeing her in action.  Here's a bit of a summary of her stay and work with us here in Germany.  She's such a terrific young lady, we thought she deserved a blog post all to herself! :)

Well, Sarah arrived April 7th. We picked her up at the airport, brought her back here, fed her a big breakfast and let her go to sleep for about four hours before we went to the X-Change youth service at the CVJM. Easter was the next day and then she left for the youth camp in Waldheim for a week. She drank nothing but fruit tea, almost froze to death and had no internet but somehow she survived it! :)

Sarah stayed with a host family from the CVJM and enjoyed getting to know them. We got her a train pass and she enrolled in school at the Volkshochschule in the first week after the youth camp. In her first couple of months she started helping out with the Sunday childrens program at the church, organized art projects for the after school childrens program which meets every other Thursday and she attended Tensing (a youth talent competition) every Friday night. Sarah was instrumental with the team from WFBC.  She prepared welcome baskets, sent an intro German lesson and made sure everything was clean and setup for their arrival.  She helped Saskia and Corina with the fellowships each night and worked alongside the team during the day either at the CVJM, the Birke or evangelizing in downtown Heidelberg. She even slept with them at the CVJM. (I think this was just an excuse to live closer to the Doner Kebab place down the street for those late night runs... :) BTW - Sarah is not a salad girl - her favorite thing is the doner box - french fries covered with doner meat.  I tried to get her to eat some vegetables while she was here and she "claims" she did but really... I think she just ate a bunch of doner boxes, German pastries and pop tarts from the states! :)

During July she helped get to know Becs and Beccy from Edge UK, working with them at the CVJM doing various projects as well as helping to run a childrens day camp. She also continued to attend language school each day and help out with work necessary for the Birke, the proLife organization here in Heidelberg. She finished up the after school program for the year, helped with the TenSing concert and worked like a dog at the CVJM.  These were her words to describe the month, " I think my favorite part this past month was definitely working with the Germans and the British on the building- painting with Beccy and Becks, buying paint with Timon, pouring cement with Silas, and definitely learning how to plaster with Alan- it’s the group effort that makes the work even more meaningful. You know you’re working with your family to build something like a new rec hall or future coffee area that will expand God’s family here." 

August was relatively slow so it was a good time for her mom and sister to visit and then it was off to Paris and the south of France to visit her best friend, Ruth-Ann for a couple of weeks.  She then house/dogsat for us while we were off in England, helped with the street festival and TenSing concert there and started prepping for the painting work she would do at the CVJM and the after school program that would be starting back.  It was in August that she finally got her visa approval praise God.  It took sooo long and was so much work for her and her mom.  Note to future participants, get your visas BEFORE you come to Germany! :) 

During September and October Sarah has been working to put her art major stamp on the CVJM with her painting work in the sports hall and in one of the childrens room (we call it the rainbow room because of an old rainbow that "used" to adorn the walls.  Not any more thank goodness! :)  She has plastered, painted, worked with heavy machinery, cleaned and done just about anything asked of her which has been terrific.  It was not all work though - she enjoyed finishing up school and the friends she made there, the many nights hanging out with her new German friends and helping to mentor young people in TenSing, the after school program and the Sunday school. 

To say the least she has been an incredible asset to Pioneers, to our team and to the CVJM.  She's made so many great friendships and we know the impact she left will last many, many years.  Sarah is the kind of person everyone falls in love with and we couldn't be more proud of her.  We're going to miss her bubbly personality and contagious smile, hard work and talent but mostly we'll miss the love she poured out on everyone she met and how her energy was simply contagious.  We hope to have her back again here soon but we know her mom and sister are dying to have her home too. 

We love you Sarah Lee and look forward to seeing you again soon!  Don't forget to trust God with all your heart and to not lean on your own understanding.  In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.  Prov 3:5-6. 

Monday, 22 October 2012

Pioneers InTent Residential in Altensteig

Last week I had the opportunity to serve as a gopher for the Pioneers InTent Leadership conference held in Altensteig, Germany. Cathy, our area leader, contacted us about a year ago to see if either of us would be interested in serving as they were interested in bringing the conference to our serving country.  I agreed without much hesitation with the only caveat being that Alan and Chloe could come with me. As the time for the conference approached I was surprised at how much work it was to be this "said gopher"! lol  Transportation details, room and dietary needs, dinner reservations for a night out, spreadsheets that made my head hurt, hundreds of emails between myself, the facilitation team and the hotel. Suddenly I became nervous that I'd bitten off more than I could chew.  Not necessarily for this conference but due to the fact that when I signed up I agreed to do the same conference again next March and I was currently serving on the team for the Europe-wide Pioneers conference in Malta in late April as well.   That's in addition to taking care of Chloe, the house, supporter updates, finances, our website, our teams coming next summer and about a bazillion other things.  (ok well not a bazillion but at the time it felt like that!)  I came to find out during the conference through personality tests we all took that my propensity to take on more than I can possibly manage is high. lol, really?? haha

Anyway, it took us forever to pack because we were arguing so much about something.  I can't even remember what it was (it was that stupid) but finally we were off.  We arrived mid afternoon and checked into a neighboring hotel from where the conference was held due to them not having enough rooms for the first night.  Alan and I were happy to do it but that meant unloading about half our earthly possessions from the car up three flights of stairs for one night then reloading them the next morning to move into the conference hotel.  Fortunately I have a very strong and able bodied husband that didn't mind. :)

Alan also jumped in to help with airport runs and by Monday morning had taken four trips back and forth from the Stuttgart airport (about an hour and a bit away from the hotel).  We enjoyed being involved with as much of the conference as we could in between whatever else we needed to do.  Monday it was a trip for me to the local dentist because of a tooth that had come loose from one of the participants.  Fortunately we found a good dentist that was able to reglue it and didn't charge a ton of money.  Tuesday - Friday sweet Chloe stayed at the local kindergarten attached to the hotel during the morning sessions.  I thought she would have a hard time given she is only 16 months but she did awesome.  The ladies said she was such a joy.  Still, it was so special that every time I would go and pick her up and wave to her across the room as she was playing with one of the other kids she would stop what she was doing, get a huge little grin on her face and come running to me with her arms wide open. 

The meals at the hotel were good for the most part but I'll have to admit to being slightly sick of German food after about day 3.  lol  I couldn't believe how little German food Alan and I actually eat on a regular basis so having it three meals a day was hmmm, interesting! :) Still, breakfasts in Germany are my favorite so I made sure to eat a lot then in case the rest of the meals weren't so hot. Wednesday night we had arranged for everyone to have a dinner out.  At first we couldn't find the restaurant we'd chosen but then once we did everything turned out terrific.  Everyone seemed to love the food and ambience which was great.  A few tables, the participants at which will go unmentioned, were even quite rowdy!  What a treat!

The group of leaders that attended the conference were amazing.  Leaders from Hungary, Poland, Austria, England, Australia, Bosnia, France and Ireland were there just to name a few.  Alan and I loved getting to know people, worshipping God together and just having good fellowship time.  The week ended Friday night and I spent most of my time making sure everyone knew how they were getting to the airport the next morning.  All in all everything went on without a hitch and we're looking forward to the next batch of folks to come through in March. 

This week our sweet Venture student Sarah-Lee leaves to go back to the states. She has accomplished so much in the last six months that she deserves her own blog post.  More on her a bit later... :)