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Sunday, 16 June 2013

Day 11 - God is good and the team is tired!

Day 1 - Danijela Zorić arrives after a crazy, crazy 16 hour train trip from Croatia where she had to change trains due to flooding in Austria/Munich causing her to arrive late and miss us by 8 minutes :). We were told she had probably fallen asleep, missed the stop and was now heading to Frankfurt and wouldn't be back until late. Eventually we did find each other and get Daniejla settled in at the Knigge's. Yah to have Danijela here with us for the summer! :) (Mary)

Day 2 - Andrew Wisner, Nicole Demers, Joshua Carter, Beth Shumway and Lynne Free arrive at the Frankfurt airport at 7:30am, meet Alan and come to the CVJM where a traditional German breakfast is waiting plus the rest of the team. Saskia is introduced as is Wiebe Lisa who will are the CVJM's German interns and who will be working with the team this summer. After a tour of the CVJM and an intro meeting the teams head to their host homes to rest. That night it's Tensing where the team has fun meeting all the teens and listening to Saskia share. (Mary)

Day 3 - The team spends on their own in Heidelberg. (Mary)

Day 4 - Team heads to their first church service (Gottesdients) at the CVJM at 11:00. Joshua is already playing his guitar and singing during worship and Andrew joins in to help out singing as well. Rebekka shares about her time in Kenya and the amazing things God did in and through her while there. Frank makes a great lunch for everyone and the team hangs out afterwards at the CVJM before heading back to their host homes. (Mary)

Day 5 - The team heads to Heidelberg to get tested at the Volkhochschule for their German knowledge. Joshua, Beth and Lynne - who speak no German yet are all registered in the first class while Danijela makes it into the 4th class and Nicole and Andrew prove to be too good at German to take any more classes! :) They will instead use their German to offer free English lessons to folks in the church while the others are in school as well as do some more volunteer work at the CVJM, die Birke and SAM hopefully! :) The team then went to the University of Heidelberg mensa where they did spiritual background survey's. Dinner and a long meeting was held at the Rathbone's where we assigned roles and responsibilities for the summer and watched the ASK apologetics CD on origin in preparation for the coffee house social on Thursday night. (Mary)

Day 6 - the team met for a prayer time before starting their first work day at the CVJM. Lots was accomplished by all and we are very encouraged by the team's willingness to work hard for God and the people at the CVJM. (Mary)

Day 7: The morning and early afternoon was spent in Heidelberg at the University doing spiritual background surveys with students and handing out flyers to our coffee house social. Everyone had the rest of the day free to relax and catch up on sleep! (Mary)

Day 8 - Our team worked very hard from late morning to early evening. We then had our first "coffee house social" to kick off our apologetics course for the summer. It appeared most present were born-again, but we still thank the Lord that so many came and participated. (Andrew)

Day 9: We continued work with the CVJM loft's floor. At Ten-Sing tonight, we painted a backdrop for our play and practiced songs for the upcoming concert. We also decided that "Schlumpf" is an acceptable word to describe anyone. Spiritual warfare is increasing by my observations. (Andrew)

Day 10: Another hard day of work at the CVJM. We are all tired, both physically and spiritually. Prayers are much appreciated. Hopefully, we can unwind at a BBQ tonight. (Andrew)

Day 11: I preached today on living a life filled with passion for God like the apostles did in the book of Acts and so many Christian missionaries on the field today that end up giving their lives for their faith.  Here is the text of my preach if you want to read it.  I was so thankful to Boris for translating for me and that Lisa was back to help lead worship with Corrie!  We have missed you Lisa!  (Mary)

Passion for God - As seen in the book of Acts and Today

Today we will continue our discussion on missions and the book of Acts.
Alan and I are doing a bible reading plan this year which requires us to read through the New Testament twice.  Each time I read the book of Acts what stands out to me is the work of the apostles and how powerful their message was and how they didn’t waiver like they sometimes did in the gospels.  They went out, preached, were persecuted, performed miracles and they did it all because of the passion inside them to reach the lost.

Fast forward to today and occasionally you see some of the same passions in people but really it’s rare.  The book of Acts was clearly a powerful time for the Spirit of God to move, work and bless.  Most Christians you and I know are not passionate.  Most of us are self-centered, apathetic and our lives so closely resemble lives of non-Christians no one can tell us apart. 

There are some exceptions though. 

In the past century we’ve seen missionaries like Jim Elliott and Nate Saint, who worked with the Auca Indians of Ecuador or Simon Geske who was called to the Turks in eastern Turkey.  Dave Mankins was called to the Kuna people of Panama and John and Elisabeth Stam went to China.  Maybe you recall some of these missionaries and their stories of great courage and passion. 

All were filled with the Holy Spirit like the apostles in the book of Acts but they also shared something else in common.
They all died.  All were martyred for their faith. 

But what did they die for?  In fact what did they live AND die for?

Billy Graham, the famed evangelist once said that he was in the room with Chancellor Konrad Adenhauer - the first chancellor of Germany after Hitler.  Adenhauer was charged with picking up the pieces of a broken Germany and he had called for the young evangelist to visit him.  Graham sat nervously and waited for one the greatest statesmen in history to speak.  Adenhauer surprised the evangelist when he asked him, “Mr Graham, do you believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?”  Billy Graham was stunned for a moment and he said, “Sir. if I didn’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I would not be an evangelist.”  Mr. Adenhauer then walked over to the window and looked out at the debris of Cologne and all that the war had wrecked and then this great statesman said this, “Mr. Graham, outside of the resurrection of Jesus Christ I know of no other hope for mankind.”
“No other hope for mankind.”

So let’s think about the apostles in the book of Acts.  The three that stand out to me are Paul, Peter and James (the brother of Jesus).  These three also had something in common.  James rejected Jesus as the Messiah before his death.  Peter denied him three times and Paul persecuted the entire Christian church.  This was however UNTIL they met Jesus face to face after his resurrection.  That changed everything.  Paul became an apostle to the Gentiles, Peter to the Jews and James was the head of the church at Jerusalem.  They, like so many missionaries today and the other apostles (with the exception of John) were martyred for their faith.  They believed so strongly in the resurrected Jesus that they withstood persecution, prison, beatings and finally death rather than deny or turn their backs on their faith.  Remarkable.

So how ready are you and I to give our lives for Jesus?  Maybe you will say, well that won’t ever happen because I plan to live and die in Germany.  God has not called me to be a missionary to places today where Christians are being killed.  I’m just going to live my life here and I will be safe. 

I guess I would say to you, “have you watched the news lately?” I don’t watch the news too often because it thoroughly depresses me.  All bad news.  If we are not in the end times already there is a very strong possibility we will be in only a few short years. Look at the prophesies foretold in the bible and then look at the world around you.  It’s not long now. 

Maybe you won’t be called to give your life for Christ but the real question becomes how ready are you to LIVE for Christ every day?  Do you find it difficult to read your bible every day?  How often do you really pray?  Do you find you get passionate about sharing Christ with your family members, friends or co-workers who are lost?  When’s the last time you told someone the good news that Jesus came, rose and conquered the one great enemy that haunts each and every one of us?  Death? 

The last couple of months we spent talking about the Holy Spirit and the life he desires for you to live.  The life He wants to enable you to have.  Did you pray for the Holy Spirit to come into your life and to radically transform you like He did for the apostles in the book of Acts?  Do you even believe it’s possible to live like this? 

If we are honest, week after week we live relatively uneventful lives... but maybe, like me, you want to be like one of those apostles in the book of Acts or like one of these missionaries who gave his life for Christ. 

So what will it take?

1)  Be Passionate – apathy.  The great danger of the church.  Don’t be apathetic.  Be anything but don’t be an apathetic Christian.

2) Be Called – The Great commission has called us all to be missionaries. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Meckesheim is your Jerusalem. 
Germany is your Judea
Europe is your Samaria
and Tanzania, Chile, China, America is the ends of the earth.

3)  Be Willing – pray God will change your heart and make His will be Your will!  Alan and I fight this all the time.  We would both love to be living in our homelands, visiting with family and friends, speaking English at all times.  But more than that we want to be willing to be where God wants us and at least for now that is in Germany.

4) Be Prepared – put on the armor of God as is called out in the book of Ephesians, chapter 6.  Read your bible, search out an accountability partner, pray, forgive, live a life that is dependent on Christ.  Build a relationship with Christ and make it your first priority.

Don’t be comfortable – God never called us to be comfortable.

Don’t be apathetic – Your life has purpose and meaning!  Don’t waste it.

Don’t be a complainer – As CS Lewis says, “"What He wants of the layman in church is an attitude which may, indeed, be critical in the sense of rejecting what is false or unhelpful, but which is wholly uncritlcal in the sense that it does not appraise - does not waste time in thinking about what it rejects, but lays itself open in uncommenting, humble receptivity to any nourishment that is going." 

Live a life radically transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and the knowledge that Jesus Christ, the son of the most high God who created the world we see around us came, died and rose again conquering death and we are to live to give him glory for all He has done.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Marthon begins! :) Day one - the craziest day I can remember in a long, long, long time

So the day starts with Alan and Chloe taking the car to Neckarsteinach to catch the train into Heidelberg where their plan is to go to the Neckarweise (the park along the Neckar river) to play for a few hours.  This is both for their enjoyment but also to get them out of the house so I can clean.  Alan says he'll be back in time to ride his bus to Neckarsteinach where he'll then jump on the train to go to the Jungschar program (the after-school children's program in Meckesheim where he works every other Thursday).  This is so that Chloe can go down and have a nap instead of me having to drive him there and her miss her nap.  I say great and kiss them good-bye. 

So they leave and I start to clean.  The laundry has piled up so high since I've been in school every day that I can barely sort through it.  I start the first load and then begin to just "straighten" the house.  This to me is akin to going into one room and finding all the things that don't belong in that room and just putting them in the room where they do belong.  This takes me 30 minutes or the time for the first cycle of clothes to finish in the wash.  So then I'm outside on the balcony hanging the clothes to dry after starting the second load and I realize the balcony is a disaster.  So I trim all the flowers and throw all the dead stuff away, scrub bird poop off the chairs and the ledge and realize that the cushions need bleaching.... again.  I just did them a month ago when my parents were coming but ok so they have to be done again.  Fine.  As I'm finishing I need to get the dustpan which is kept in the back garden so I go around to get that and realize the back garden is a mess.  So I finish with the front, move to the back and for the next half hour or more work on the back garden.  OK so now it's looking good and it's time for another load of laundry.  This continues until I've done 6 loads of laundry, completely cleaned and organized Chloe's bedroom, vacuumed the house, showered and I'm watching the clock wondering when Alan and Chloe are coming home.

I call.  No answer.  hmmm.  ok so I call again.  No answer.  So I just go back to it.  I start on the kitchen while gathering trash and trying to rearrange meetings so that Saskia and I can meet in the afternoon via Skype rather than in person at the CVJM (well because supposedly I don't have to drive Alan to the Jungscar program he's going to take the train).  So I do all that, do another load of laundry, start back in the kitchen and Alan calls.  It's 1:15 and he's just now leaving Heidelberg.  Immediately I know he's not going to make it back in time to bike and then catch the train to Meckesheim.  He's not convinced though so I just say ok and wait for him to come home.  He calls from Neckarsteinach and says I do indeed need to drop him off and he'll just swing by to get me and leave Chloe in the car.  OK so I do that.  I take him to the Jungschar program, Chloe and I go to DM for a few toiletries and then to the bakery to get some bread. In the parking lot Alan calls again.  The van he was supposed to pick up from the CVJM to pick up all the students in the morning won't be available now until 6:30 so he says he's gonna work at the CVJM until he can pick it up.  I then rather quickly remind him that he can't do that as I have to leave at 5:45 at the latest to go to get the car cleaned out so I can be at the Bahnhof in Heidelberg at 6:45 when Danijela's train is arriving.  He has forgotten this and says he'll call them back. 

So I think he's sorting it out, go home and have decided it's too late now to put Chloe down for a nap and we'll just put her down early (actually Alan will since I will be at the bahnhof with Danijela) so I start cleaning again, give her something to eat and let her play in her room.  An hour or so passes and Alan calls again.  The van still won't be ready until 6:30.  He's finished with the Jungscar program, has left his train ticket in Chloe's bag, has only 2 Euro's on him and has no key to get into the CVJM.  So he's basically wandering the streets of Meckesheim and I'm at home up to my neck in laundry with a daughter who's exhausted and I'm suddenly realizing that no matter what now I'm going to have to take Chloe with me to clean out the car and go and get Danijela and deliver her to her host home.  So I'm suddenly stressed.

Alan and I go back and forth a bit and we come to the conclusion that he'll use his 2 Euros to get to Neckargemund where I can pick him up, he can help me clean out the car and then he can take Chloe home from there on the bus or train and put her to bed.  OK so I head out.  30 minutes later Alan calls again.

The train didn't stop in Neckargemund.  He's now in Heidelberg and he's stuck. 

ok so I say well I'll have to clean the car myself and I'll come to the Bahnhof and get you.  Danijela is coming in in about an hour and a half anyway so it'll be ok. 

I get to the car wash and there's a big line of cars which is ok because I have to vacuum and fill the car up with gas so I do that and then put the car into the car wash.  Well Chloe is near breakdown stage at this point.  She's soaking wet because it's so hot out and our car has no air conditioning.  She's thirsty and has drunk the only drink I brought for her and now is wanting more.  The vacuum terrifies her and when she sees the car go into car wash and then the dryer come on to dry the car she is in full sobbing mode.  I try to reassure her, get back in the car and head to Heidelberg.  Every couple of seconds Chloe is either saying, "home", "mommy" or "daddy".  Non-stop for 30 minutes.

I arrive, Alan and I hug and we say it's better to laugh then cry and I go inside to check on Danijela's train.  It's 12 minutes late.  ok no problem, Alan and I sit in the car, Chloe has fallen asleep and we wait.  And we wait.  No Danijela.  I go back in, check everywhere and she's nowhere to be found.  I ask everyone that even slightly resembles her with a suitcase if she's Danijela and the same response - nein, tut mir leid.  OK so now what?  We've been there for 45 minutes and we have no clue what to do.  I try Danijela's phone.  Beep, beep, beep.  No voicemail, nothing.  I use FB to contact Garret and he hasn't heard anything.  He tries to ring her but gets the same.  Then my phone dies.

UGH!  And I didn't bring my charger!  My phone was full of charge when I left but all the calls to and from Alan and checking the internet for information and now my phone is dead.  And Danijela only has my number.  So now what???

I go back around the train station for about the 5th time and see two classmates of mine from the Volkshochschule.  They say hello and we chat briefly and I tell them our predicament.  They say they are sorry, ask if there is anything they can do to help which I say thanks but no and then they head to McDonald's for dinner.  Fifteen minutes pass and still nothing.  I ask my classmate if I can use her phone to check FB and let Garret know my phone has died.  She says sure.  I get Danijela's phone number from my email over the internet, give Garret Alans phone number and now we're all talking about what could have happened.  Garret reasons she's not missed the train because she would have called.  He thinks she may have just accidentally missed the stop.  So I go back inside the HBF and the guy says that the train's next stop was Frankfurt and that if she missed the stop she'd have to get off there at 8pm and catch a train back putting her in sometime between 9-10pm. 

Chloe is awake now and realllllllllllllllllllllllly tired.  She also hasn't eaten in over 5 hours and we have no way of knowing whether Danijela is trying to reach us because my phone is dead and the charger is at home.  We decide to leave and take Alan to Meckesheim to get the van. He'll then go back to the bahnhof and wait to hear from me.  In the meantime I'll go home and put Chloe down and check my phone.  So we get to Neckargemund, Alan jumps out of the car and literally sprints to catch the train to Meckesheim trying to save me 30 minutes in extra driving time and I head home.  Nearly home I realize I've not given him the sat nav to find Danijela's host home or her train ticket for tomorrow morning AND I remember that my mobile phone doesn't work at my home so even if I did get it home and charge it I wouldn't be able to check messages.  ARGHHHHHHHHH!!

So Chloe and I are home now and I don't even park.  I lock Chloe in the car, sprint up the 30 plus stairs to our apartment and grab my charger.  I'm thinking that if I can just drive back into Schoenau and call Alan and tell him then he can come home, get everything, park the van and take my car back into Heidelberg.  Unfortunately even plugged in, the phone won't turn on it's so dead.  I decide I might as well start driving back into Neckargemund and I can meet Alan and give him everything.  Almost there my phone turns on and I have four messages - from two different German phones.  I'm confused. 

I check them and hear Danijela's voice.  "I'm here! Where are you?" 

I call the number back.  A German woman answers. 

In my broken German I ask if Daniela Zorak is with her.  She is.  Same question.  "I'm here!  Where are you?"

I ask the same back in return. 

She's at the bahnhof.  Apparently due to the flooding in Munich they made everyone get off their original train and get on another one that arrived an hour later.  Too bad they didn't happen to mention that when I asked about the train in Heidelberg.  So she got to McDonald's (our meeting point), about 8 minutes after we left.  She had now been waiting an hour and you could tell she was stressed and a bit frightened.  She handed the phone back to the German lady and I explained that I was on my way to Heidelberg as was my husband and that we'd come and get Danijela.  The woman asked where I was at that moment and I said nearly to Neckargemund.  She said that she would bring Danijela to Neckargemund as they were heading that way.  I thanked her and hung up then called Alan and told him. 

When the two German ladies arrived at the Bahnhof I got an ear full in German from them both.  I tried to explain our situation and what had happened and in the end they were very understanding. Alan arrived and took Danijela to her host home and I came back here with Chloe.  Chloe had dinner at 10:30, a bath at 11pm and was in bed by 11:15. At 11:30 I got an email from the pastor's wife asking if I'll preach the sermon on Sunday as she's not well.  I almost cried. 

And this is only day one!! 

Please pray the remainder of our days with the team are not as exciting as today.  Five Americans arrive in the morning.  It's 12:30 and we have to be up again in 5 and a half hours.  I've been doing paperwork for the last hour for our meeting tomorrow, still have done no grocery shopping for our team breakfast at 9am, missed my meeting with Saskia tonight to get everything organized and just about everything else that could have gone wrong, did.  But still we praise God for what He's going to do this summer and we know that if the devil is trying this hard to break us down then that just means God is up to something great.