Thursday, October 14, 2010

New Blog

If you haven't heard, Lizzy and I started a new blog to write together about our experiences in our ministry at Black Forest Academy. Check it out at:

http://brandonandlizzy.wordpress.com

Thanks! See ya later!

Brandon

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fast Forward Three Months

Welp, it's July, I'm not in Germany anymore, and my wedding is less than a week away, and all you know about me is that I cut some kids' hair in March. It seems like I lost track of my blog and couldn't catch up. The past few months were filled with stress, and the blog went to the back burner. And I would think, "I need to write about this, but I haven't even written about that yet!" Hopefully, you dropped by the Storrs' blog (http://storrsside.blogspot.com) and read about a few things we've done in the dorm the second half of this semester. Greg is really good at updating quickly and does so at least a couple times a week usually. He's good at this communication thing, and I'm still getting better.

But anyway, here's what I'm going to do for you. I'm going to send you through a fast-paced whirlwind blog miniseries. Won't that be fun? I'll just describe some of the stuff that happened the second half of this semester. Let's see, how far back do I need to go?

On April 25th and May 2nd, there were baptisms at church. The majority of them were students from the school. On the second Sunday, two guys from our dorm were getting baptized: Spencer and Phil. The way the church does baptisms is that the person being baptized can choose people to be involved in baptizing them, reading Scripture, and praying for them. So it ends up being the pastor or the parents or other mentors. Not all of the students' parents are able to be there so you see a lot of dorm staff and other teachers involved. Spencer's parents were there, and his father baptized him. But Phil asked me if I would pray for him at his baptism! Here are some pics from the morning.






Make-Your-Own-Pizza Night

This is kind of self-explanatory. One weekend a lot of our students were gone because of a soccer trip, a track trip, and other stuff. So with the handful of students we had left, we allowed them to create their own pizza or calzone instead of us making them for them. A lot of them really got into it, and the results were delicious!






JSB

The Junior Senior Banquet was on May 7th, and I wore the suit I always wear. I had the same beautiful date as always, and we had as much fun as always. The banquet was held in M├╝llheim like always, and the guys waited outside for their dates like always. There is always entertainment which includes tributes that juniors make for the seniors. This year I helped Reece and Ross make an awesome stop motion video. We took over 1,000 pictures and had a lot of fun with it. If you haven't seen it yet, here's a link to the video. I hope it gives you insight into the personalities of our nine seniors!

Guys waiting for their dates


Me with my beautiful date


Greg and I with our nine seniors


Everyone from HBR at JSB


Senior Appreciation Day

BFA does a good job with goodbyes. And there are always a lot of them. One way that dorms say goodbyes is by having a senior tribute day or senior appreciation day. Basically we spend all day going through each senior one by one and allowing anybody to tell that person why they admire them or what they will miss about them. I think this is an important time, especially for guys. It gives them an opportunity to say things on their heart that they otherwise might not say or even think about. This took about six hours starting in the afternoon and lasting into the night, and we took a break in the middle to eat a giant dinner of ribs! It always ends up being a long, tiring day, but the guys enjoy it nonetheless.




Dorm Party

Every year each dorm throws a party at the end of the year where they go out and do a ton of fun stuff all day long. This year HBR threw an epic party of parties. We got up in the morning and drove over half an hour into France where we rode go-carts THEN we went back to Germany and went to a water park for a few hours THEN we came back to the dorm and ate T-bone steaks the size of my head THEN we drove out to Switzerland to watch the movie "Prince of Persia." That's about as much as you can fit in a day, and at the end of it all, we were exhausted. But the guys loved it!






FYI: We're wearing those creepy black masks so that none of us gets athlete's foot on our ear or something from the helmets. And for the second year in a row, there are no pictures from Laguna the water park because well... speedos only. I wrote about the big blue slide last year, and we dominated it once again this year. Basically, it's a giant no-rules slide. Actually, I saw a sign saying you couldn't take an intertube down it just as I spotted one of our guys dragging an intertube up the stairs so I stopped him. So I guess there was a rule. But as many people can be on it at once as you want. It tells you what kind of slide it is when it is not uncommon at all to be receiving apologies from strangers in the middle of the slide. Weird. When it was time to leave, a group of us were going down the slide one last time, and as everyone dropped into the pool at the end of the slide, every guy started splashing in the water and yelling, "STEAK! STEAK! STEAK!" Goofballs. But dinner was good, and the movie after dinner was good.


My Creeking

This year on June 3rd, exactly two months after my real birthday, I was creeked for the first time. My birthday falls during spring break so no one is around for the real celebration. When this happens, we reschedule the birthdays for a time when everyone can be present. Last year my birthday got rescheduled at least two or three times until it was eventually forgotten amongst the end-of-the-year busyness. This year the rest of the staff was determined not to let this happen. So my birthday was stuck on the schedule a week before my flight was set to take me away. I made it interesting by coming down to dinner dressed in my "Italian Stallion" boxing robe with some boxing gloves on. After my birthday song was over, I pulled out my cap gun that was hidden in my shorts and started firing it in the air like a mad man. There was really nowhere for me to go though, and fake guns only help so much. I put up a good fight, but ultimately ended up in the creek. Once again, all pictures stolen from Greg's blog.





Camping on top of a castle

We continued the "tradition" this year, which we started last year, where we took all of our seniors and camped on top of the tower of the Sausenberg castle. Greg and I both went up and camped with the guys. We cooked hot dogs, told stories, played twenty questions, and enjoyed the beautiful view. The wind wasn't nearly as bad as last year, but we were awakened at about five in the morning by some GIANT buzzing fly/bee creatures. There were about a dozen buzzing around us like helicopters before they disappeared again. Very weird, but overall, it was a lot of fun!






The last event of the year was graduation, but I can't tell you about it because I was already gone! I came back the States early so I could be in the wedding of Jamie, a good friend of mine from high school. The next weekend I was in my cousin Brent's wedding. Now my own is coming up in less than a week. This summer has been so busy so far with wedding planning and support raising. Sorry I dropped the ball on this blog the last couple months! But thank you so much for being interested in my ministry this last year and for supporting me and praying for me. Talk to you later!

Brandon Jeffers

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Brandon's Salon

One way that I have been able to serve in the dorm this year is by giving haircuts. At some point while I was still in college, I started to cut my own hair using clippers and found that it wasn't that hard. Not long after, I was giving haircuts to guys on my floor in college. And now I have found myself offering the same services here at HBR. Once in a while, Brandon's salon will open up at the top of the staircase on the top floor, and guys will hear my clippers running and climb the stairs to see who the victim is. Out of the 24 guys in the dorm, I have given haircuts to... let me think for a second... maybe 12? So I've cut the hair of half the guys in the dorm! Plus a couple adults including Greg the dorm dad. No girls though. I would have no idea what I'm doing there. I only use clippers. I tell the guys, "I'll cut your hair, but only if you want it short." There are several of them who have come back for seconds so the reviews are good I suppose. It's something I enjoy doing for them, and I think they appreciate it. I mean, what guy wants to spend money on a haircut? I think their mothers might even appreciate it more than they do. Some of them tell me horror stories about getting haircuts in their own countries (or from their own mothers) that lead to them having the attitude of "Oh well, it can't be that bad. Do whatever you want." or even begging me to cut their hair, especially when we are nearing a break from school. This last week, I gave one of my more notable haircuts so I figured I'd write about it. Phil has had a lion's mane ever since the first day he showed up last year. I've written about him before, and you may have seen him in random pictures. But this spring break, he was going on a missions trip to Africa, and he is also on the soccer team so he just decided it was time to say goodbye to the long hair. It actually made me sort of nervous. I kept asking him, "Are you SURE you want to do this?" Eventually, I gave in. Here are the two of us upstairs, Phil looking calm and me looking uneasy.


Here we are after the deed was done.


Immediately after I finished with Phil, I gave Will a haircut as well. Here is the pile of hair combined from the two of them following the haircuts.


The day after that, I gave a haircut to Isaac as well. That was the last night before spring break started. A good portion of the dorm was gone already, but the next day we took everyone who was left to the train station and the airport and our spring break officially started! Sidenote: the week before spring break was when March Madness and the NCAA Tournament started so we were able to bring the tradition of filling out a bracket to HBR. Again, similar to my comments on our students and the Super Bowl, quite a few of them had never filled out a bracket before and had no idea what they were doing. But they really enjoyed it, and the first handful of games the first day of the tournament really introduced to them what March Madness is all about. After that, some of them were hooked. I made a giant bracket on the wall to keep track of the official results, and we hung their personal brackets around it. My fellow RA Jon did a great job of keeping the standings updated, showing who was in the lead in making the best picks. I was delighted that we could introduce them to this great weekend of American sports. Here's a picture of the back wall in our TV room upstairs.



I mentioned how Phil was going on a missions trip. Every spring break, BFA sends out a handful of student groups led by staff who go on mission trips to surrounding countries. This year BFA sent out teams to Greece, Macedonia, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, and a country in central Asia. HBR had four guys who went on a mission trip. The group that went to Macedonia set up a blog to use specifically for their time there to keep everyone updated on what they are doing. Here is the link: http://www.bfatomacedonia.blogspot.com/. Josh from my dorm and Christopher from my small group are on the trip. They are still there as I write this; go check out the blog! (And pray for all of the kids on missions trips!)



Although our spring break started on Thursday of last week, we still had work to do because this year BFA was hosting a conference during the first part of the break. It was the ICEC (International Christian Educators Conference) put on by ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) at BFA (Black Forest Academy). Yes, we love acronyms! The Residence Life program was put in charge of transportation so we were doing a lot of the same things we do for the students. We picked up people at the airport, got them to the places they were staying, shuttled them to and from the school during the days of the conference, and then dropped them off at the airport when it was time to leave. The conference officially ended yesterday so today was the last day spent driving around making trips to the airport. I was able to attend some sessions during the conference, but what was amazing to me was being able to meet so many people who are serving God all over the world. Everyone who was there worked at a Christian school somewhere in Europe, Asia, or Africa. I met lots of phenomenal people with phenomenal stories. God is good, and he is at work! The fact that I am one of these people who is in a position to be used by God in this way leaves me stunned. All of the people at this conference represented thousands upon thousands who are supporting people doing God's work at these Christian schools. If you are one of those people, I hope you're stunned, too.

God bless.

Brandon

Thursday, March 11, 2010

February into March

Basketball season got over a couple weeks ago. The boys' varsity won three games this year, which was a big improvement over last year (when they didn't win any games). They also went on to the tournament where they won two of three during pool play. However, going into the elimination rounds, there were too many teams whose record was 2-1 so they decided who got in based on number of points scored during the first three games. BFA missed the cut by two points! The guys were happy that they made it that far but were heartbroken that they were ousted by such a tiny margin. We felt the emotions along with them, but overall we were very proud of our guys. Here are a few pics from the final home basketball game of the year.


The student cheering section: they cheer just as loud no matter what the score is all the way to the end of the game.


The last home game of the year is "Senior Night," where the school honors the seniors who are on the basketball teams. Many of the students' parents traveled to be able to be at the game with their son or daughter. Will asked me if Lizzy and I would represent his parents since they weren't able to be there. I think part of him just thought it was funny to force the two of us into a role of being parents, but it meant a lot anyway!


This last weekend was our high school retreat. All of the high school students jumped on a rented bus, and we headed north to the town of Feldberg, up in the mountains. This is the same town where we took some of our HBR guys about a month ago. The kids were able to ski or snowboard if they wanted during their free time (I refrained). The speaker was named Greg Speck, and he did a great job speaking to the students and challenging them to be people of character and to put their hope in Jesus Christ.

There were many moments over the weekend when it seemed that a large portion of the student body were being convicted and were softening their hearts and embracing spiritual growth. If you have been on a weekend retreat or an event like this (and I'm guessing almost all of you if not all of you have), you know that there is a period of time following the event where you are still considering words spoken and desiring life change but before long... it seems like life is completely back to normal again. Please pray for the BFA students and especially our HBR guys that they would not settle for returning to spiritual dryness and a heart closed off to the Spirit's voice. I know there were thousands of people praying for these students over the weekend while they were at the retreat, but this is still a vital time for you to be praying for them as they are fresh off the weekend and are feeling the pull back to routine life.

I don't remember if I have mentioned this, but this year I am leading a small group at school. Each student has the opportunity to join a small group if he or she so desires, and the groups meet on Wednesdays. I am actually the only RA leading a small group (most are led by teachers), and I have a group of sophomores. So these are the same guys I was meeting with at the retreat for small group time. There was much evidence that God was working in them throughout this weekend, and I was blessed to be a part of it. Here is a picture of all of us together that we took this Wednesday: from left to right - Christopher, Josiah, Jean Claude, Kenneth, Noah, and Daniel. Pray for them, too!



Lastly, HBR is blessed this week to have a student visiting who graduated last year. It did my heart good to sit down with Sam and hear him talk about his growth and how college is going (he's a freshman at Notre Dame). He also displayed loads of generosity by bringing back a huge suitcase filled with American food to bestow on the dorm. On Tuesday night, we called all of the guys down and let them eat a bowl of cereal or a couple Pop Tarts. Now, I was raised on and absolutely love cereal. And he brought Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cookie Crisp, and Honey Bunches of Oats. I ate a couple bowls, and I don't think I've ever got so emotional over a bowl of cereal. It was delicious, it reminded me of home, and it just made my day. Sometimes it's the little things!


Thanks for reading, and thank you for your continued prayers. God bless!

Brandon

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Skiing, Bowl, Getaway: All Super

Super Skiing
Last Saturday Greg and I took a couple vans about an hour north to the city of Feldberg. Seven of our guys went along with three guys from Sonne, another boys' dorm. About half of us skied, and half of us snowboarded. I guess you could say I skied. All you need to know is that skis have never touched my feet before. And they may never do so again. It was exhausting, but all of the guys seemed to have a good time. Here is a picture of the group of us that went. I'm the one on the right in the Ronald McDonald costume that I borrowed from Greg.



Super Bowl
I wrote last year about our Super Bowl celebration, and this year we once again had a really great time. Yes, we are stuck without the commercials, and yes, the game starts well after midnight, but we enjoyed it. Super Bowl Sunday is the one night out of the year that the guys are allowed to stay up way past bedtime on a school night. I mean, how can we deny them the Super Bowl? Although when we asked at lunch on Sunday, at least four or five guys admitted they had never seen a Super Bowl.

This year we decided to hold our first ever "Super Bowl Snack Extravaganza!" We asked them before the weekend to get into teams of four, and to choose a recipe for a snack they would like to enter into our competition. Most of them turned in recipes on Friday so Danielle and Anna went shopping for all of their ingredients on Saturday while we were skiing. Now you probably know what a Super Bowl snack might look like, but I can introduce you to 24 young men who have no idea. Of the six groups, one of the snacks looked vaguely familiar - it was a dip made of olives, cheese, and tomatoes. The other five snacks were bruschetta, churros, cheese quesadillas with homemade tortillas, Korean pancakes, and smoothies. To be fair to the guys, the snacks were delicious and really reflected their home cultures, and overall they did far more than we ever expected out of them. Here's a pic of some of them working in the kitchen.

The prep work took place in the late evening and the actual event began at 11:30 pm. C.B., an RA at the boys' dorm Sonne, came down to drop off three guys who were watching with us so she was pressed into service as a judge. So the four judges from left to right were Danielle, Anna, C.B., and myself. Yes, I wore a Bears jersey for the Super Bowl.


Here are some of the reactions as we started announcing winners. After the judges conferred, I led off by saying, "Before we announce the winners, we should say that we were really impressed with all of you..." I couldn't finish because I was immediately drowned out by boos. BOOOOO!!!!! They didn't want to hear my sensitive, politically correct, mumbo jumbo preface - they just wanted to know a winner! (We gave awards to the bruschetta and the quesadillas)


This is the TV room upstairs where we were watching. I made a couple of my own snacks and Luke, the dorm dad from the girls' dorm Palmgarten, helped me carry them up. You really have to know Greg to understand the sour expressions on our faces reserved for the cameraman. And yes, not only was I wearing a Bears' jersey, but it was David Terrell's jersey. Go look him up. Shame.


We invited some students over from other dorms who wanted to watch. Everyone sits anxiously during the pregame and as the National Anthem is sung. They're all ready for the action to start!


Another group shot. You can probably point to a random person in this picture, and there's at least a decent chance they don't know half of the rules in football. But we had a really fun time! The game went from 12:30 til about 4 in the morning, but the most of the room lasted through the entire thing! (Go Saints!) (Sorry Greg.)



Super Getaway
Meet Austin.


Austin's birthday was Wednesday, but we celebrated it in the dorm on Tuesday because a bunch of people were going to be gone Wednesday. Austin did the unthinkable on his birthday. He escaped from his creeking. As many of you know, a major birthday tradition in our dorm is creeking. On your birthday, you get whatever cake you want, we sing a birthday dirge to you, and you are promptly hauled out back and thrown in the creek. Doesn't matter if it's sunny, raining, or snowing. You're going in the creek. Seniors are exempt from this practice, and they are also the ones who carry out the sentence. But on Tuesday, Austin got away.

Austin is a sophomore, and well, let's just say a lot of the seniors were really looking forward to this day coming. Let me give you a visual. Here's a picture of the dining room where everyone was sitting. The blue circle in the middle is Austin. The red squares around him are all of the other students, singing and yelling in his face, circling like vultures. All of the lights are off aside from the candle on his piece of birthday cake. After the singing and yelling is over, Austin blows out his candle, and it is pitch black. Immediately, there is a tussle like you see in a movie or cartoon where there is yelling and grabbing, but no one knows who is who.


The green circle by the door is me turning on the lights probably three or four seconds after the candle was blown out. The blue arrow represents where Austin was when the lights came on. He was scrambling on all fours straight out of the room, untouched. I couldn't believe it. He had quickly slid under the table and crawled out as everyone was lost in the confusion. He raced out the front door as a number of students chased him. In short, he made a getaway and eventually made it back up to his room on the fourth floor without anyone knowing. He remained in hiding for several hours until not long before lights out. The sophomores showed a video to the dorm interviewing Austin under his own bed, and the seniors took off to tear the dorm apart and find him. They found him hiding in another student's room and carried him outside to deliver the creeking that had been put off for most of the night. So although he made a spectacular getaway, he was indeed eventually creeked. And yes, it was snowing that night.