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super-duper long update

i know, it’s been a little while since i last wrote.  i suppose you deserve a rather long and solid post telling you of everything i’ve been keeping busy with and all the young people i’ve come in contact with, but that means that really, for once, you should be able to read about what i’m exactly doing over here in Germany since school is over.

i’m here with five other individuals who went to school with me.  we have formed a little “band” (which you’ve already heard about) and have recently recorded a cd.  but that’s not really the important part of what we do.  the school hosts retreats for Konfirmation students.  there are two state churches in Germany — the Catholic and the Lutheran.  to join the Lutheran church, children start attending classes at age 13 and a year later can be confirmed.  usually, during the course of their year long training (about who knows what), they go away for a weekend (like a youth retreat or a camp at home).  Bodenseehof offers a program which does everything for one of these weekends and makes it so cheap that hardly anyone turns it down.  it sounds easy to pastors since we provide teaching, games, food, and entertainment and most jump at this opportunity.  they come on a wednesday or a thursday and stay until sunday or monday.

some pastors of these Lutheran churches are true believers, but others are not.  these retreats are not just great opportunities to share the true gospel with these young people, but also with the leaders of churches from all over Germany.  since it is believed that once these young people join the church they are automatically Christians, what we do and say here at Bodenseehof can “rock the boat” at times, but things have been going really, really well.

during the meetings my team teaches them songs, “performs” songs for them, and everyday one of us gives our testimony.  the night before they leave we put a “concert” on for them which is generally much fun.  the other big part of what i do with these kids is interact with them.  every afternoon is free and usually they have a scheduled event and if there’s room we’ll go with them.  we eat meals with them and talk, we play card games with them during free time here, we organize water games, we live with them, love on them, and share Jesus with them during daily life here.  i’ve only worked with two groups and already i have met girls who struggle so much, have dealt with so much in their life already, and at times i feel inadequate for this job.

we had a specially long retreat this week since yesterday was a holiday here and this morning the second group of students that i worked with left.  it was a great weekend.  the kids were fun, friendly, willing to practice their English, and seemed more receptive of what we were saying.  unlike last week, when we had a decision meeting (a chance to decide to become a believer), several young people went and made decisions.  and the other very amazing thing is that a pastor who came with a group this week, is the wife of a man who is in charge of all the pastors in a state here in Germany.  she came last year with the group and disliked the “decision meeting” since she felt it was going against what the church teaches.  at first they didn’t know if she was going to cause problems for the pastors of that state that come to Bodenseehof with their Konfi Kids on a regular basis, but she didn’t.  and she came again with her group and seemed to really enjoy the weekend.

you do strange things to win the kids over.  one night found me having a pillow fight and then sitting on my pillow in one of the halls eating snacks with many other girls while we talked.  we had a bag of gummy bears and i suddenly found myself holding my gummy bear and creating a person for it.  the stories that were created for these small little gummies were quite… creative and we heard lots about jack, alex, kate, harry, sally, felix, etc.  it became a hit and the next night the girls were asking if we could do the same thing (amazingly, the woman pastor who i wrote about, sat with us and at our urging had fun with pretzels as well).  you never know what fun you might have.  like when suddenly we had a whole “air band” while we blared DC Talk and sang along.

it’s tiring.  my schedule is early mornings and late nights and lots of energy throughout the day, but it’s worth it all (and it’s not too bad — i get a day and a half off and some afternoons through the week).  i’m feeling settled here at Bodenseehof and am feeling comfortable with these German young people (i’ve even made my own German flash cards so i can really start learning something).  it’s fun, it’s rewarding (even if i don’t see much fruit right now), and it’s what i’m supposed to be doing right now.  there is no better feeling that that, right?

i wore a white linen skirt today.  somehow wearing a white linen skirt, blue ankle strap shoes, a red top, and holding my very “nautical” looking bag from a lovely sister made me feel quite grown up.  this afternoon i drove thirty minutes away and attended a birthday kaffee trinken (literal translation: “to take coffee”, but it’s a time of cake and coffee usually served around 3:00 in the afternoon) for a German man who turned fifty.  i was surrounded by Germans, was eating very German cake (by the way, bakeries here are amazing), and for one of the first times felt very comfortable in the German atmosphere i’m now surrounded by.  it was lovely.  and now i’m off to a barbeque to celebrate another German’s birthday.

Tschuess!

6 thoughts on “super-duper long update

  1. Great news. Thanks for the update! You keep encouraging, we’ll keep praying and He’ll keep answering!

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