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
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
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...
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 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!