Friday, January 30, 2009

Super Bowl Sonntag

Well, school has been back in session for three weeks now so we are back in the swing of things here at HBR. It's funny how after weeks of living on a completely different timetable during a break, one day back is like a refresher course sending you back to the same toilsome schedule that it seems like you've been doing for years. It didn't take long for some of the RA's to start feeling worn out even just coming off of a long and relaxing break. It seems like a few of the guys returned to school ready to pick up where they left off in testing boundaries. But as tired as I feel sometimes, I am so glad to have them all back for this semester.

The first two weekends back were filled with home basketball games. What happens on weekends like these is that games will start at 4 o'clock on Friday right after school gets out. Girls JV plays first, followed by Boys JV, Girls Varsity, and Boys Varsity. We basically spend our entire night at the gym watching games, and eventually get home around 10:30ish. Concessions are available at the games, and all of the students and residence life staff get their meals provided. The entire process starts all over again on Saturday morning at 10:00 as all four teams play a second time. It's a lot of fun to hang out in the stands and cheer on the teams although by the end of four full games sitting on wooden bleachers, there is a lot of... ermm... discomfort involved. Also, BFA's basketball program isn't exactly Europe's finest. The teams we play against are all from schools on American military bases throughout Germany, and the students tend to be more athletic than our kids. Our Varsity guys haven't won a game yet, and they're getting pretty bummed about it. The BFA players have fared well overall though as they handle adversity and keep good attitudes. Plus, even though we aren't extremely competetive in basketball, I hear that we generally kill the other schools in soccer most years. This current week is Spirit Week at school, and we will have our last weekend of home games this coming weekend. Hopefully, the guys can capture their first win in front of the home crowd!

More sports discussion: When I was preparing to come over here to Germany, I really had no idea how much I would be able to keep up with American sports. Of course, I would be able to see the results of games on the internet, but I wasn't sure if I would be waiting a full year or so before witnessing my next professional American sporting event. It sounds kind of silly because sports aren't exactly the most important part of life, but I decided that part of the sacrifice of coming here was giving up the ability to keep up with American sports. When I arrived here, I was happy to find that a couple of the dorms, including HBR, have a channel called NASN (North American Sports Network). It is a channel run from within Europe that basically shows what they decide are the best games being played in North America. The games they choose to show are alright, but the organization of the channel as a whole is quite sad. The commercials are horrible; there are basically about three of them total which play over... and over... and over, and all of which I have memorized. They also like to float their logo around the screen any chance they get while playing an annoying little ditty which has also been seared into my brain. I'm very thankful for the channel however. So anyway, during the NFL season, what would be the Sunday afternoon games at home came on at 7 and 10 at night, and they were basically the cream of the crop of what was available. Needless to say, the Bears didn't find themselves looking anything like a cream of a crop this year so they were never featured during those games. However, the Sunday night and Monday night games were always on no matter what (and started at about 2 in the morning) and the Bears managed to be in four of those during the season, and yes, I did watch all four of those games. Those were always late nights, but it was made easier because RA's get every Monday off so if I stayed up late watching football on a Sunday night, at least I could sleep in the next day. I also got to watch exactly three Cubs postseason games in the fall. No more, no less - just three. We don't have to talk about it.

Anyway, as some of you might have heard, there was one of those Super Bowls on Sunday, and for us it started at midnight. Yes, we did have a Super Bowl party here at HBR. Several staff members and a group of student girls came over from other dorms to join us, and we served chicken wings, french fries, and soda at midnight before it started. And even though hardly any of the kids in the room knew anything about football, it turned out to be a great time. This despite the fact that my discouraging prediction came true when several students seemed to pick a team to cheer for at random and proceeded to go nuts every time that team gained more than three yards. One of the sad subtractions from the evening were the commercials. We didn't get to see any of the Super Bowl commercials firsthand so I had to wait until Monday when I could look up a few of them online and watch to my heart's content. Even though I was pulling for the Cardinals, it turned out to be a great game, and I'm really glad I had the chance to watch it.

For those of you who are wondering, our new RA Anna is doing a fantastic job of picking things up quickly and adapting to life here at HBR. She seems to be finding her niche in the dorm and connecting with various students so that is an answer to prayer. Tell me if you have prayed for her, and I will let her know! I'm sure she would be encouraged to hear it. She is still working on her driving and needs to take our BFA driving test before she is able to drive with students in the vehicle. She's a little nervous about it due to the combination of large vans, manual transmission, and boys being in the van with her. So you can continue to pray for Anna and her transition. I'll leave you there for now. I try my best to make calls home once in a while, but there are so many people out there who I want to talk to and so little time to use on talking. If you'd like to talk to me, send me an email, and I'll try to set up a time when I can get a hold of you. So if you're reading this and you haven't talked to me in a while, I'd love to chat sometime. Until then, thank you for your prayers! God bless!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Wilkommen Null Neun!

Ein Beschwingtes Neues Jahr!
Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Germany! Sorry I haven't written sooner. I finally made it to our Christmas break when I had spare time to get things done, but all of a sudden, all I could force myself to do was relax. A couple of us joked about making a schedule for ourselves for the break like when the kids are here. It looked like this:

7:00 - Wake up... or don't. You choose.
10:00 - Wake up... or still don't. It doesn't matter.
1:00 - Go shopping to pick up food and necessities only for yourself.
4:00 - Make a snack... for yourself... if you want one.
6:00 - Drive the dinner van into town to pick up dinner and eat whatever you want.
8:00 - Study hours - Study a movie.
10:30 - Lights out... or not.

The casual reader will look at this schedule in bemused speculation at its full meaning. But trust me, I am laughing so hard right now, my fingers can barely find the right letters on the keyboard. Ok, that's not true. It's not that funny. But it is a little bit. I'm considering backspacing over all of this. But even if that joke flops with random blog readers, I still think it's
funny. So there is some insight into the job for you.

Christmas went well for me here at HBR. I was dreading its coming for most of the semester since I knew I would be away from my family. But it ended up being a great day. I ate a brunch in the morning with all of the RA's that were still in town. And I spent time with a couple different families later at night. And I got to video chat with my family at home a few times through the day and opened gifts with them. On the right is a Christmas tree I stole from our rec room and put in my room after the guys left. I even got to put some presents under it from family back home, a few people here, and even a couple of my supporters!

The Sunday night before the guys left, we had a Christmas party here at HBR. It was a blast. Here's what happened. We split them up into their small groups and let them take part in three events for the evening. First they chose two students from their group to wrap a gift. The trick was that the one in front couldn't use his hands and the blindfolded one behind was the one actually wrapping the gift. We got a few interesting looking presents, and I couldn't help but laugh anytime it actually looked like the arms really belonged to the person in front wrapping. Tee hee hee!
Next I donned my gamemaster hat and led a few rounds of Christmas trivia (my forte). These guys don't know much, but it was fun anyway. Here are a few of them shouting out (probably wrong) answers.
After this we used Rachel's brilliant idea to portray a live nativity scene. We assigned each group roles that they had to fill so we could take a picture. Hilarious consequences.

Can you find me in the picture? From left to right we have three magi, a little drummer boy, the star over Bethlehem, a camel composed of three boys, the moon, Mary and Joseph (with Jesus), a group of angels and a group of shepherds in back, a group of animals in front, King Herod, and finally a good-looking and well-dressed innkeeper turning away the young couple.

We came inside out of the cold and enjoyed some snacks and punch. Then it was finally time for the boys to open presents. The five of us staff had gone out and bought a bunch of relatively inexpensive gifts and wrapped them up. We then allowed them to draw numbers out of a hat and proceed with the gift exchange. And I've never seen one like this.

To see the looks on their faces when they opened something as simple as a pair of headphones, sidewalk chalk, a pair of slippers, or a Spongebob pillow was great. One of the most revered items to open and find was the almighty roll of duct tape. There were at least half a dozen rolls of colored duct tape, and they are a huge hit every year.

Of course, they were allowed to steal gifts from each other, and this is when things really started to get funny. After a gift is stolen three times, it is considered safe and can't be stolen anymore. The seniors worked together and the juniors worked together and were strategizing how to keep certain items for their floor because if a student wins something, it basically belongs to the entire floor of guys at that point. The seniors were really good at this strategy and the juniors... not so much. So whenever something got stolen for the third time, one entire side of the room would jump up and start taunting the other side. I've never seen anything like it. When all of the gifts belonged to somebody, the night was over, and it was bedtime. All in all, it was a great Christmas party.

Something I haven't mentioned is that at the end of last semester, Rachel found out she couldn't come back for this coming semester. Her support had been low for a long time, and she basically ran out, and her missions agency was having her return to the States. Also, there was a new RA coming for this semester who was going to be placed in one of the girls dorms. After this new development took place, however, she was moved to HBR. So we'll have a new RA this semester! Her name is Anna, and she got here earlier this week. She seems very nice, and I think she'll do great. But she could really use your prayers through this transition. To follow up on the other story, the dorm students were really sad and upset that Rachel wouldn't be coming back. After some of the students' parents found out about it, they contacted their supporters and tried to start raising extra support for Rachel. Some of the parents (missionaries themselves) are even sacrificially giving of their own money. And we just found out a couple days ago that Rachel is at full support and she will be returning to join us for this semester! It was really exciting to see God's people come together and use their resources to support someone here at BFA who needed help. And that shows you how strong of a ministry an RA can have here. Many of the guys were nearly devastated that Rachel would be leaving. And hardly any of them even know she's coming back at this point. But we will all be delighted for her to be back. And now we will have four RA's at HBR. We're looking forward to a good semester!

Keep praying for me and God bless you in this new year!