Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Banquet

This Saturday (Nov 29th) was BFA's Christmas Banquet. For about a month prior, most of the guys at HBR had been working up courage to ask a girl in some creative way to be his date to the banquet. Songs were sung, flowers were offered, poems were recited, eggs were laid... all done for the word "yes" from a sweet young lady. I drove one guy to a girls' dorm after dinner and witnessed him performing a song he wrote on guitar first over the PA system and then in front of her. Overall, it was a fun and exciting time for the guys (and probably more so for the girls, I think).

After weeks of anticipation, the day was finally here. We admired their suits and helped tie their neckties. I convinced one guy that he needed to borrow a pair of black socks. We arrived at the school at around six and all of the boys waited outside for their dates to show up so that they could escort them indoors. After a lot of milling around and pictures being taken, the banquet officially started. The theme of the banquet was "Christmas in France." There was an Eiffel Tower on stage, and we were served all night by middle schoolers with thin mustaches.

The program was composed of a three-course meal, musical acts by the students, wishes being granted for them, and parents' emails being read. The emails from the seniors' parents to the kids were mostly made up of statements like "I can't believe this is your last year" and "I remember when you were filling your diapers." The wishes by the students were submitted in the month leading up to the banquet and Student Council along with the staff chose which wishes to grant. One kid wished for hot drinks to be available in the student center. One girl received elf shoes. The girls' volleyball team wished for Coach Woodward to put on a performance for the audience. A couple girls wished for a surprise and received a box of junk that was garage sale worthy. Our very own David Cho wished to go out on a date with the prettiest single teacher at school and won himself a night out with Mr. Michaels. The kids auditioned to be able to sing a song at the banquet, and the musical performances were done well. The last act of the night was a student singing, "I'll Be Home for Christmas," a song which hasn't meant much to me in the past but that is a lot more moving this year all of a sudden.

This is Phil playing guitar and singing a song with another student named Amelie. He's really talented!

This is the Christmas court, as voted on by the student body. Note the French items given to each student. Aryan from HBR on the far right was chosen to represent the senior class on the court. He was the Big Cheese for the night.

This is one of the group pictures I got of HBR at the banquet. Can you find me?

The Christmas banquet was the biggest excitement we've had around here for a while. There are only two more full weeks of school before the Christmas break. You can tell that most of the students are ready for a break. They've been here a long time, and they're getting a little antsy pantsy. I have to say that I'm ready for the break as well. Weeks upon weeks of a job like this will take its toll on you! I feel physically drained, and I can imagine I will just collapse and not get up for a week as soon as the last student is dropped off at the airport. Continue to pray for me getting my rest and for the preparations for Christmas. Thank you!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Hallo! I absolutely cannot believe that it is the 12th week of the semester here at BFA. Someone mentioned that the other day, and I was astounded. On the one hand, it feels like I've been living here in Germany at least a year by now, but on the other hand, it feels like school just started and I only have a few weeks under my belt. This is one of those places where time just absolutely flies by. I can't keep up!

Here's your trivia question for today. How much does this dorm pay for water each month? If you guessed 2,000 euros per month, then you are exactly right! That is somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 dollars spent each and every month just for the use of water in this one dorm alone with 33 people living in it. I heard that stat the other day, and it just blew my mind. I hope it blew yours, too.

Now you're probably thinking to yourself, "I've read Brandon's intro, and I've read his trivia question of the day. Now what does that German word in the title of the blog mean?" Well, my friends, Herbstmesse is one of the biggest festivals of the year here in Germany. I mean, it's no Oktoberfest, but it's up there. I know not a single one of you at home is going to correctly pronounce Herbstmesse, and I'm not even going to try to explain how. I think it's more fun that way. But the word "herbst" means "fall" (as in the season), and the word "messe" means "party" or "festival" so we're talking about THE Fall Festival here. Two weekends ago, on Thursday, October 30th, we loaded up every BFA dorm student into rented tour buses and traveled to Basel, Switzerland for the night to celebrate.

It is basically set up like a festival in the States. There are wild rides, booths with food, games ready to scam you, and creepy carnies. I spent most of my night walking around the city with a group of RA's, riding one single ride (continue reading), riding the bumper cars with a huge group of BFA students, and taking in the sights. My favorite part was the random American influences all over the park. There were signs hanging everywhere of random American celebrities like Macaulay Culkin from his "Home Alone" days and Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock. One ride had a background behind it with some no-name girl looking risque in the middle of it, Marilyn Monroe in the left corner, and Doc Brown and Marty McFly from "Back to the Future" in the right corner. Lovely. Read on for pictures and stories.

This is a picture of a handful of RA's riding one of the carnival rides. The one I rode was like this except the spokes were longer and sat five people across. After five of us loaded ourselves into the ride and the seat bars locked over us, we were sitting there waiting for it to start, and I was kind of rocking our entire row back and forth. After doing this for about a minute, the bars holding us in place came undone and stayed loose. The problem didn't fix itself right away, and after some nervous laughter, I was just thinking to myself something like, "Ok, play it cool. The ride probably isn't going to start like this... but if it does, you are really going to die." After a few seconds of this, a couple German guys show up chuckling and push our lap bars back into place while thinking, "Stupid Americans!" Or maybe they said it out loud. Who knows? But you can bet that during the entire ride as it mercilessly flung me every direction upside down and backward, all I could do was imagine my lap bar coming undone, and my flailing body hitting several steel beams before it met the ground below completely lifeless.

This is Andrew and I dominating all of our students on the bumper cars.

From left to right: Mr. Corn on the Cob, Rachel, Andrew, myself. Reenacting one of Andrew's digestion issues from the beginning of the year. We won't let him live it down.

I don't remember doing this, but this is from the end of the night, and I was evidently ready for the night to be over with. Left to right: Lizzy, Timmy, Andrew, and myself.

This is probably my favorite sign that I found which featured American influence. It was displayed over a food stand and proudly presented characters from the 90's Batman movies. You can see Jim Carrey's Riddler on the left and Chris O'Donnell's Robin on the right. And yes, in the middle, wearing a white tux jacket OVER his leather suit, is Batman himself, offering a tasty burger and a thumbs up. I loved it.

I've been asked several times about how we are handling Thanksgiving here. Germany doesn't have any Thanksgiving holiday, but we are celebrating it at BFA. We are actually celebrating it tomorrow... two weeks early. Don't ask me why, but we are. But we have been concerning ourselves with preparing for it because the meal is indeed going to be much larger than usual. I'm hoping that a lot of the RA's will be able to celebrate together in a couple weeks on Thanksgiving Day itself. This brings me however to the unavoidable fact that I will be missing the holidays with my family this year, the first year that this will have taken place. This is obviously one of the sacrifices I had prepared for in coming to BFA in the first place, but as I have remarked to several friends and family, it is going to be tough, and I will miss all of my family back home especially during these times in the coming months. So keep me in your thoughts through this holiday season! And thank you for your continued prayers!


Friday, October 31, 2008


I think most of you know that I have loved the time I've been able to spend here at BFA so far. I really like the rest of the staff here, being involved in the students' lives has been a blessing, and I have been growing by taking on the role of a servant in the dorm. Some of you know I even got to take a weekend trip to Barcelona on my last weekend off, which was amazing.

But I need you to know that not everything here in Germany is as beautiful or as fun as my pleasant blog posts make it out to be. Because as great as I can portray the ministry here to be, there is definitely a war being waged against BFA right now. Anytime a ministry is strong and thriving, Satan is going to attack that ministry in any way he can.

We are being attacked physically. Last weekend one of our dorm moms got into a bad accident on her bike and needed work done on her face and hands. Also, one of our (tall) guys hit his head on a doorway, giving himself a concussion, and needed to go to the hospital. And one of our teachers finally arrived to school late for the semester after staying home and fighting a bout of cancer. And besides these injuries and disease, working here is exhausting!

We are being attacked emotionally. Dealing with these kids day in and day out grows tiresome. I am essentially putting aside the freedom of my own life so that I can live their lives alongside them every single day. As nice as I can make the kids sound, sometimes they are... not nice. Sometimes I want to strangle them (I'm not really going to). Just like any other kids, the ones here can be wildly disobedient, make stupid choices, and be incredibly disrespectful. Working through the students' issues is emotionally draining.

We are being attacked spiritually. The busyness that comes with every day makes it seem easy to miss a quiet time of meditation with God on a daily basis. This can't happen if we are to resist the devil and fight back against him! It's frustrating to try and get involved in the students' spiritual lives. Because even though almost all of them come from families of missionaries, some of them don't have much interest in spiritual matters, and even the ones who do don't seem to talk about it much. Sure, they have church services, small groups, dorm fellowship, chapel services, and whatnot, but I don't know how much they are growing or learning from any of those things.

All that to say, I am finding joy in my trials and am taking up the Sword to fight back in the war. I just want you to know the reality that along with the good times here, there are hard times. We really do need your prayer here as we continue battling!

Fighting for Him,

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Overdue Pics

Hallo! I decided I should hop on here and add a couple important pictures since I've been meaning to for a while. This first one isn't important, and it's rather dark and grainy, but I like it. This is at least half a dozen guys or more who were in my room a couple weeks ago playing Halo against each other on the network. I joined in, but I stink so that part wasn't fun. But I was really glad that my room was a place where they could feel comfortable coming together to hang out and have fun. A lot of the guys pop in once in a while to relax and talk in my room, especially the eight guys who live on my floor with me. And I love that they feel like they can do that.

This next one's not important either. It's just me. Both of these next two are from orientation before school started when I had only been here about a week and a half. This was taken the day we found out which dorm we would be in. We were referring to it as a draft because each new RA was picked to join the staff of a certain dorm, kind of like how players are drafted to join a sports team. You follow? So I took the time to draw jerseys for everybody so we could hold them up just like athletes do on draft day. Not really a good story, but since I'm holding the thing up in the picture, I couldn't really avoid explaining it. Jeffers! HBR! #23! Just like Michael Jordan, Ryne Sandberg, Devin Hester... Needless to say, I was the steal of the draft.

I would have put these up earlier, but they are Andrew's pictures so I had to get them from him. And that took... over a month. OK, I guess I don't really have an excuse. Anyway, I realized I had never to this point put up a picture of my dorm staff so I thought I should take care of that! This is the important picture I was referring to. As you can see, this picture was taken the same day, right after I found out who I would be working with this year. Refresher course: the dorm parents' names are Calvin and Joan, and the two RA's who are also working here are named Andrew and Rachel. I'll let you figure out for yourself who's who.

They have been great to get to know and work with, and like I've said before, I think we make a great team. In other news, I get a weekend off this week which starts tomorrow, and I'm getting the chance to get away for a while with several of the other RA's. Pray that I would take the opportunity to get some rest and to be reenergized for when I return and to have a good time of fellowship with the others who are going. I think I've made it clear that this job is quite exhausting so it's important to take advantage of these rare times to get away and rest. Thank you in advance for your prayers! Auf wiedersehen!


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Laundry Day


Thursday is laundry day for me here at HBR. It actually starts on Wednesday night when all of the sophomores and freshmen bring their laundry baskets downstairs after dinner and throw their clothes into (mostly) organized piles. We have six sophomores and only two freshmen so that means I'm doing eight guys' laundry once a week in addition to my own. I throw in a couple rounds of loads Wednesday night (usually 10-12 loads overall) and then finish Thursday and spend around two hours folding. I usually throw in a CD, and it's a good time to just be quiet and reflect for a while. By doing so much laundry so often, a couple funny notions hit me. First, I think how funny it is that I can expect certain things from certain guys and can recognize most of the clothes and who they belong to. Then it hits me that every parent must have this same experience. I'm sure it's a little different. But I know that Sam is going to give me almost as many undershirts as regular shirts. And that almost every single one of Reece's t-shirts have one of those goofy sayings on the front (Lost in thought: Send a rescue party!). And that all of the Italian soccer jerseys belong to Chris. And that Andrew will give me a few of his older brother's old shirts. And that so-and-so never brings me hardly any laundry. :( And that if clothes aren't marked, more often than not they belong to Z (Zwelakhe). All of their clothes are supposed to be marked somewhere so we know whose they are. And all of the socks and underwear get put in mesh bags so I don't have to learn that much about the guys. So anyway, that's part of what my schedule looks like on Thursdays. So if you ever wake up in the middle of the night at 3 or 4 in the morning on a Thursday, you know I'm probably folding clothes...

It goes from this...

...to this...

...to this.

Fun, huh? That's part of what I do around the dorm that involves service rather than relationships. There's a fair amount of both here, and I've mentioned before that I enjoy the time I spend with the guys more than the time I spend working, of course, but it is great to get work done and develop the heart of a servant and contribute something to the dorm. Especially on Thursdays, after I finally finish the laundry for the week, I feel like I've completed a grand accomplishment! And now you've seen proof that I'm doing real work around here, too. :) Thanks again for your thoughts, prayers, and encouraging messages! God bless.

In His Service,

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Phil's Birthday

Meet Phil!

Phil is a junior at BFA. He grew up in Belgium, and his parents now work in Italy. He's 15, but he's about to turn 16. His birthday is on Saturday, October 4th. However, since the seniors have a class trip to Rome and the juniors have a class trip to Normandy, we bumped up his birthday celebration to yesterday, the 1st of October. This is how birthdays work. We ask them what kind of cake they want, and one of us bakes the cake for them. For this birthday, I baked a delicious carrot cake for young Philip. Yummy.

After dinner, he is served his piece of cake as everyone else sings his birthday song. But do we sing the traditional birthday song? No. We sing him a birthday dirge. To sing the birthday dirge, you hold out each syllable of the birthday song in a monotone for several seconds. Haaaaahhhhhhh..... peeeeeeeeeeeee..... biiiirrrrrrrrrrth..... daaaaaaaaayyyyy..... toooooooooooooo..... yooooooouuuuuu..... This verse is slowly sung twice and the beginning of the third verse is interrupted by a lot of yelling and banging on tables. The young man then blows out his candle, and soon after that, the chaos ensues.

They usually try to run. But that is a hopeless effort. See, for every student's birthday, the senior class is responsible for "creeking" that person. This is an inevitable event for all aside from seniors themselves. So soon after the song is done, the seniors rush the birthday boy, pick him up, and take him outside as everyone else watches.

He is hauled out the back door, across the basketball court, and down the stone steps leading to our creek.

He is taken to the edge of the creek where he is ruthlessly dropped in. If there is any question, let me assure you... the water is cold. Very cold.

Usually, after he is dropped in, there is a scramble to get away because the common reaction of a creeked student is to chase his attackers and anyone else nearby and give them a nice, big hug. We then return inside and finish our meal and our cake, and the birthday boy changes into a fresh set of clothes. And that's how birthdays work here at HBR.

I'll try to keep writing about specific events, traditions, and goings on here so that once in a while you can get a snapshot of how life is here. We've had two birthdays here so far. Two students. Two carrot cakes. Two creekings. Phil is just one example of the students here who I am growing quite fond of. He really likes music and playing both guitar and piano. I was also delighted to find out when I met him that he really enjoys playing ultimate frisbee. I've only played once since being here. Most of the dorm traveled to a nearby field on a Saturday afternoon and played frisbee for nearly two hours in the pouring rain. It was great. I wish I had pictures. Phil has given me Belgian chocolate a couple of times, which he offered as and I accepted as a rare and special treasure. He assures me that Belgian chocolate is the best in the world. And lately he has taken it upon himself to be a sort of humor coach for me and with tongue in cheek, has given me pointers on how to better make people laugh. Phil has been one of 28 guys whom it has been a joy getting to know, and I am happy I was able to celebrate his birthday with him. Before any of you ask, I'll just note here at the end that I don't believe RA's are immune to being creeked so that's something to prepare for. I'll follow up on that story in April.

Thanks for reading and God bless!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

There Went September

Wow! Weeks have gone by filled with many intentions to add to this blog. Well, the RA position is living up to its reputation of being busy and exhausting. I will say that. I will start taking pictures of some of the guys to put on here, but until then, here are some pictures of a hike that I took with some others to the ruins of a castle not too far from school. It was maybe 5 kilometers away. Kilometers, you say? Yes, you silly Americans! I don't remember the name of the castle, but it was something like Soussenburg.

You can see the castle in the far distance of this first picture. I really can't believe I walked that far. No, hiking is not my favorite, but the castle was cool.

I recently figured out how to use the sepia tone feature on my camera so get yourself psyched up for some more in the future!

Rounding a bend and fighting the urge to complain about aching muscles and lack of breath.

This is the main tower of the castle. We climbed up inside and ate lunch at the top.

View from the top.

So anyway, I will leave you with those, and I have plans to get on and add more stuff soon. Until then, remember that God is good, and His creation is beautiful! Go outside right now and hike to your nearest castle. It's a good time. God bless!


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Send me goodies!

Here are some pictures from the opening ceremony that I stole from BFA's website.

To open the ceremony, all of the seniors carried in a different country's flag.

Senior class president Yoel Kim giving his first address of the year.

Director Tim Shuman talking with the class of 2020: Nathaniel Evans.

Oh, and I remembered another important thing.

Brandon Jeffers
Badhof 1
79400 Kandern

This is my address at the dorm so if you ever want to send me anything, you can use this. Not that you need to. I'm just saying. The address on the back of my prayer card is the school's address, and if you were to use that, I would still receive the mail at my mailbox at school, but I will get something right away if you use the dorm's address. That's all for now. Things are still going great! God bless!


Friday, August 29, 2008

The First Week of School

THEY showed up last weekend. The ones we've been waiting for so long for. Meeting the students as they came in and helping them with their luggage, I was able to talk with them and some of their parents if they came and check them into their room, which will be their new home for the coming school year. It seems like we have a really good group of guys here at HBR. The majority of the students came on Sunday (about ten new students and ten returning students) and then the rest on Monday and one on Tuesday.

Tuesday was the opening ceremony for the school year, which was very cool. Charges were given to the senior class, to the faculty, and to the residence staff (that's me). Then every country represented at BFA was read one by one, and if students were from there or if their parents served there, they stood up. This took a while but was very cool to see. The new student body president spoke, and then, following a tradition of the school, the director of BFA introduced and interviewed the class of 2020 (this year's first graders). This consisted of just one student, a little boy. Some more messages followed this cute little conversation, and then students checked out their classes and eventually made their way home in the afternoon. Since then, they have had three full days of classes and are getting used to life at BFA.

Some more noteworthy items:

#1) Calvin and Joan are the dorm parents I'm working with here at HBR. They are from Washington, and this is their fourth year in the dorm. Andrew is the other male RA working with me here. He grew up in Cyprus where his parents were missionaries, and he attended BFA for all of high school. He then attended Wheaton college not too far from me and came back to work as an RA last year. Rachel is the female RA working here. She is from Pennsylvania and was working here last year as well. I have been getting along great with all four of them - we make a good team. They were all here last year so I'm the only new addition to the dorm staff. Next year will be the opposite as BFA doesn't let dorm parents stay more than four years, and Andrew and Rachel aren't planning on staying for a third year. So next year, I'll be given four new people to work with. But pray for all five of us as we work together this year, that we would be forgiving and understanding with the students and with each other and that our purpose through everything is to glorify God. And that we don't go crazy. If you know me, then you know that the four of them need your prayer!

#2) I have played more soccer in the last two weeks than the rest of my life combined times ten. That is not an exaggeration. I hadn't played but once before, and I have played many times since being in Germany. In the area outside next to the house, there is a large fenced in area with two basketball hoops and a stone floor. It's the kind of basketball court in which you can stand at half-court and shoot a three-pointer on either basket. But the students play a lot (a lot) of a game called "pole soccer" which is just soccer on this court but instead of goals, you are shooting at the pole of the basketball hoop. If it sounds difficult, that's because it is. But there is plenty of scoring, and most of the kids are better than me, but I've been working on it.

#3) Also, bad news. Last night we had our first visit to the hospital of the year. And of course, it wasn't a student. It was me. I won't put pictures up, but remember that basketball pole? Well, long story short, we were playing basketball, and I caught a pass and it seems I was closer than I thought because I sort of turned right into the pole. I think it would have been a lot more embarrassing if not for the blood that immediately started flowing from my forehead. So eventually Rachel and I headed to the hospital where the first woman who dealt with us didn't know any English at all, and it didn't help that I forgot to bring any ID of any kind (hey, I had just been given a head wound). Eventually though, I received two stitches and we headed back home. This could be good or bad news, but some of you may be interested to know that the cut on my forehead is somewhat in the shape of a lightning bolt. Accordingly, somebody soon after cleverly dubbed me The RA That Lived. If you don't understand the last two sentences, just move on. Calvin was musing about why it was God's plan for me to visit the hospital instead of spending time working at the dorm last night. The only answer I could come up with so far was that I was meant to be allowed to stop afterwards for a cheeseburger from McDonald's, which I bought from the euro menu. Yes, it's true - there is a euro menu.

Anyway, that is enough stories for the time being. Thank you for your continued prayers. God is working here!


Friday, August 22, 2008

More Pix

Hey! I thought I'd take the chance to put up some of the pictures I've taken since I've been here in Germany during the weeks of orientation. They are on Facebook as well.
A little over a week ago, we drove up this mountain to take advantage of the beautiful view from the top. We could see into France and Switzerland. This is Germany behind me, but I don't remember which village that is.
This is another picture I took of the dorm I'm serving in (HBR).
Some of us took a trip into Basel, Switzerland the other day, and this is part of the city along the Rhine River.
On one of the streets in Basel with a bunch of shops on either side.
This is a picture of part of my room and furniture on the 4th floor of HBR.
Desk. Already getting a little messy.
A view back to the second half of the room where my bed is.

The time is drawing near for the students to finally start showing up. Today (Friday) I met two of the students from our dorm who came early because they are a part of Student Council. The new students will start coming on Sunday, and the rest of the students will be here by Monday. The first day of school is Tuesday! We have still been getting ready for them to come each day. We have been arranging furniture, buying groceries, making name tags to put on the doors, furnishing the still bare living room, and cleaning EVERYTHING. The entire staff has met together a few times this week to go over some things, and all of the new staff has given their testimonies. I told mine on Monday morning. One of my favorite things is hearing people's testimonies and how God has faithfully worked in their lives. There are so many experiences and trials that people have been brought through and have come out stronger on the other side. At the end of today's session, the director had all of us stand in a huge circle around the edge of the room. He told us to look around at all of the people working at the school and to imagine all of the hundreds, even thousands, of people who we represented who are supporting us here. I imagined all of my friends and family who are supporting me and praying for me standing behind me and the same for each person in the room. If everyone were to actually be there, we would fill the entire town to bursting. Instead of the 150 or so of us who were actually in the room, there are thousands who are a part of this ministry. And you are one of them. That was a very powerful picture for me, and I hope it is for you, too. I will probably post again soon after the weekend after all of the students are here. Pray for my initial interaction with all of our guys as they start showing up the next few days. Then think about dropping your kids off hundreds of miles from home, not for college but for high school. Or else think about leaving your parents for a different country for months as a high schooler. And pray for the students and their families. Thank you for reading, and thank you for praying! God bless!

In His Service,

Friday, August 15, 2008

Haus Bad Riedlingen

Hallo! About a week of orientation has gone by so I suppose I should explain what's been going on. Sunday all of the new RA's found out what dorm they will be serving in during this school year. I was placed in HBR, which stands for Haus Bad Riedlingen. Most of the dorms are not in the town of Kandern itself where the school is but in small villages spread around the area. HBR is near the villages of Holzen and Riedlingen. Before we found out where we were going, I didn't have a preference about where I ended up. But now? I'm an HBR man all the way. It's the best dorm at the school. Here's a picture of it that I stole from the BFA website.

Monday through Wednesday this week involved orientation sessions in the morning (counseling services, financial matters, a tour of BFA's campus, discussions on the culture) and found us all working on our dorms in the afternoon. HBR has had some construction on it during the summer, and everything seems to have a thick layer of dust on it. So things need to be cleaned, and all of the rooms need to be ready to be lived in again soon. I've also spent time in the afternoons driving around in the BFA vans practicing the manual transmission, and I'm doing well on that front. All of us pretty much have the hang of it now. Thursday we visited IKEA so all of the new RA's could find everything they need to furnish their room the way they like it. This admittedly made the girls a little more excited than the guys, but I'm happy with what I could get, too. I got a nice, comfortable chair, a computer chair, a dresser, and a bookshelf. As soon as my room is set up, I will try to upload some pictures on here. Friday we did a lot more work on our dorm and Saturday we will all be doing work on one dorm which needs more of a group effort with a lot of furniture being built and moved around to different floors.

The students come on the 24th so we have about a week left to prepare. Frankly, I think we're all ready for them to show up. We love hanging out with each other, but really it's all about the kids. All of the RA's are all still living in one dorm (Storch), but I'll be moving into HBR this weekend on Sunday. This has been a vital time for all of the res life staff to get to know each other and build friendships before the school year starts. If you have prayed for the unity of the staff during the orientation weeks, that prayer is being answered! Continue to pray for us as we take care of all the last-minute preparations before the students arrive. Thank you!

In His Service,

Friday, August 8, 2008

Brandon in Kandern!

Hallo from Germany! I arrived here safely on Thursday around 7 o'clock at night. I had no trouble with my flights, my layover in Frankfurt, my luggage, or finding the two RA's who were waiting at the airport to pick me up.

Like I mentioned in the last post, I received a call at 8 in the morning on Wednesday, the day of my flight, letting me know I could leave that night. That meant I only had a few hours before I needed to leave the house. So I finished packing things up like a madman. I woke my little brother up after an hour or two and told him we were leaving for Chicago in a few hours. That was met with, "Are you serious?" We finally got out on the road around two (my mom, Blake, and I) and picked up my dad at work around 2:30. We headed straight from there towards Chicago and met my sister at Moody a little after 5. We dropped over by Portillo's for one last American burger and one last chocolate cake shake (yum). Then we stopped by the public library so I could print off a couple important documents that I may or may not have remembered to print off earlier in the day during my mad rush. I didn't end up needing them. Got to the airport between 7:30 and 8. Before long, some tears were shed, goodbyes were said, and I don't know when the next time will be when I see friends and family from the States. But I miss you all!

Headed from the Mulhouse/Basel airport (it's on the border of France and Switzerland) to Storch, one of the dorms around the school where all of the RA's, new and returning, are staying together for the first couple weeks. At this point in my journey, I had almost doubled the amount of countries I've visited in my life if you count the two at the airport... which I guess you don't... but that's cool. Got to the dorm around dinnertime, ate some dinner, played some cards, watched a movie, and went to bed, ending my first day in Germany. Through the first two days jet lag hasn't been a problem. So I'm thankful for that.

Today we visited the school to wrap up our class on the German language and culture (which I missed the first four days of). This trip successfully fulfilled the name of my blog because Brandon was finally actually in Kandern. Tonight some of us took a trip into Switzerland to visit the city of Basel. This was awesome and actually counts as visiting Switzerland (not like the airport). We walked around the streets and took some pictures, and I got to see some buildings over three times as old as the United States itself. Pretty sweet.

There's nothing new to report because we're just hitting the weekend so it won't be until next week when things start getting busy again. Pray for unity and the fellowship among the staff because these next few days and weeks are vital as we get to know each other and prepare for this ministry with one another. So far I have enjoyed hanging out with everyone here. Next week we will have a lot of sessions on the Germany culture, life at BFA, and all of that. So continue to pray also that I would take in and apply all of this new knowledge and wouldn't be afraid to be open and ask dumb questions. That's all for now! Thank you for reading and God bless!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

14-Hour Notice

I have a plane ticket! I will be leaving tonight Wednesday, August 6th, at 10:00 pm from Chicago heading east. Yesterday, I was given the green light to go, and Mike started looking for a ticket for me. The offices were already closed yesterday, but he let me know that he would try in the morning and explore possibilities. So I stayed up all night packing, not knowing when I would really be leaving, if it would be Wednesday, Thursday, or even later. I know most of you don't want to read this, but nothing was in a suitcase yet as of midnight last night. So I got in bed at 5 and was awakened by a phone call at 8. It was Mike letting me know a ticket was available. So I found out at 8 am that I was leaving the country at 10 pm. Hence, the title of this post.

I feel like I still have a lot to do before I leave this afternoon for Chicago with my family. There's no time to delve into my emotional state as it stands right now. There's not even any time for this to really hit me yet. But it's finally here! All this time of anticipation and now I'm ready to leave. Thank you all again for supporting me and praying for me. My next post will be from within the borders of Germany! Auf Wiedersehen!

In His Service,

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Target Date... Yesterday?

I'm not in Germany! If anybody was wondering, I apologize. I am indeed up past 80% now as of this weekend, but my missions organizations want to make sure that I am well established before I take off. There was a big convention this weekend so after everything settles down on Tuesday we will be able to sit down and evaluate where I'm at. Lord willing, I should be able to leave on my plane sometime mid-week, at least by the weekend. Thank you for your continued prayers, and especially those of you who were praying on Friday and Saturday as you thought I might be up in the air. God hears your prayers and will save them until hopefully this week sometime, when they will be answered one way or another. I will get back on here and let you know as soon as I have a plane ticket. Thanks for reading! God bless!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Crawling Closer

It is Monday July 21st, and I my target date to leave is still August 1st or 2nd. That's a week and a half away. I have about a million things to do before then. If i divide a million things over ten days, that's about 100,000 per day. Writing this new post is one so that leaves roughly 99,999 things left to do today. Yeah, I've been busy.

As far as my support goes, by my own calculations, I'm around 70% right now. That leaves about $500 per month left. I'm allowed to get my plane ticket at 80% so I'm getting close. Over the past weeks and months, my feelings have ranged from encouragement and confidence that God will raise up people to get me to 100% and discouragement and hopelessness, knowing there's no earthly way I can ever raise that much money. But there's nothing to do the whole way but trust God, and my mind is being blown right now as I watch God faithfully working for me and watch His people rise up and allow both them and me to be blessed. God is good!

As I've told a couple people, my packing level is more like 0%. I've got a list a mile long of people I want to connect with for lunch or a coffee before I leave, and my connect for lunch level is at about 20%. My organize my things I'm leaving behind level is also 0%. My odds and ends list and little details I need to take care of level is at maybe 10%.

So I will leave you with this post for now and go find something else to do. But be encouraged! I'm still hoping to be able to leave very close to my target date, which is something I wasn't sure would be possible. Thank you for reading and for being a part of this adventure with me.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God."
Psalm 20:7

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fine, I'll start a blog

I don't even like blogs. They don't interest me. But as I get ready to embark on a journey that leads me out of the comfort of the States, I might as well get used to trying new things. Several people have suggested I look into getting a blog, and I am ready to give in and take their recommendation. It seems to be a good option for you (my family, friends, people praying for me, people supporting me financially, anyone interested) to stay updated on me and my ministry and what's going on. So I submit to you my first blog.

As this is my first post, I suppose I need to lay out everything that is going on. In less than a month (Lord willing) I will be in Germany as a missionary serving at Black Forest Academy. BFA is a boarding school for missionary kids that exists to provide a quality, international Christian education that equips its students to influence their world through biblical thought, character, and action. I will be working as an RA (Resident Assistant) and living in a dorm with a bunch of high school guys. My job will involve helping with their daily needs like cooking, laundry, and driving. I will also get a chance as an RA to build relationships with the students, showing them the love of Christ and helping them to grow. This is the part that I'm really excited about! Now it seems like you know nearly as much as I do about the coming months.

Like I mentioned, I am going over as a missionary, and I'm raising all of my own support. This is the part that's scary - not the fact that I'm moving to another country away from everything that I know. I have to raise about $1800 per month for the next two years. As I write I have raised approximately $700 per month. That's about 40% (I'm allowed to leave once I have at least 80%). I'm supposed to fly over around August 1st so I should try to have my support in by mid-July. That's about a week or so from now. Does the last $1100 per month that I have to raise represent a lot of money? Yes. Is it too much for God? No. Do I know where all of that money is going to come from? No. Does God? Yes. A lot of you probably haven't had to raise support before, but trust me, it is a stretching experience. But I feel that God has called me to serve Him in Germany, and now I have to trust that He will get me there. I am committed to taking joy in watching God raise up the people whom He has already appointed to partner with me in my ministry. Slowly, more people are committing to help me, and I am crawling closer and closer to Germany. Never before to this degree have I been forced to admit that I am helpless and just trust God, and it feels good. I will try to post again soon to keep you updated. Thank you for reading, and thank you for your prayers! God bless!
In His service,