the conundrum is on the MOVE

scoey's conundrum is now in a new home:

It's a work in progress, but I like it.

the days turn into a week, how quick they pass...

We came back from the pastors conference & arrived at TPLF just in time for me to say goodbye to Matt & Shawn – they’re headed to Berlin for 3 days - & to say “Hello” to my friends from Battle Ground, Washington, Dan & Joy Russell – we hung out at the church for an hour or so, catching up on the events of the last year, & also planning for what would be happening with the “Roundabout” meetings at TPLF.

Got some pizza from Zimt und Koriander (Cinnamon & Coriander) & brought it back to TPLF with just enough time to scarf it down before people started showing up. One of the girls I met on Sunday, Talitha, is a friend of one of the eichhörnchen (squirrels) – Tiffany… Talitha brought a friend that she knows from the city a guy named Jason…

From our conversations, I found out that he was from South African & had come to Germany in 2007. The move & some other circumstances had led to him getting divorced, which left him at the lowest spot of his life. He told me that he was drinking all the time, & constantly carried vodka with him; he was low & ‘far away from God.’ One day, he was pretty sauced & was in the downtown area when he heard music… good music. He could tell by the ‘feel’ of it that it was from ‘gospel’ – good rock gospel. He wandered over & saw a group of Germans & Americans doing this program & outreach called “Life is Beautiful” – Leben ist Schön… Turns out one of the Germans knew him, & brought him over for people to talk & pray with him. Someone threw out his vodka; another prayed. Others listened. Mostly, he said, he just sat & soaked in the ‘love of God’ that he experienced from the people on the outreach. He said, “God used this to bring me back to Him. It saved my life & turned me around.”

I cried. He didn’t know it was Hillside that had done the outreach with TPLF, & didn’t know or remember me. He just knew it was life-changing. And that Leben ist Schön.

We hugged & I cried some more - & I’m so thankful to hear this story, this life testimony… and to see & experience the real life fruit of something planted 2 years ago. God is so good.

It moved me so much I had to leave - & went back to Alex & Linda’s & caught up on all the events of the previous 3 days. Told them about what I’d just experienced. I laid in my bed for a couple of hours, very thankful, so happy. Talked to theBean. Chatted on Facebook with Brother. Laid there for 2 hours, really soaking in it. Went to sleep.

When I woke up, I discovered that I’d slept for 11 hours. Goodness. Felt rested & refreshed, but a little rushed, because I had a meeting to get to in Mainz, & I’d planned on getting a very early start. The sleep was worth it though.

Made it to Mainz (albeit with the usual train issues that I seem to attract. Don’t ask.) Met with Jan for a couple of hours, talking about how I/we can be involved in supported Foursquare Germany, the churches & the pastors. It excites me so much to think about the possibilities & open doors. I love this man & I’m very thankful for what is happening now.

Stopped in a little coffee shop (that’s the name of it too,) to blog a bit. In a few minutes, I’m headed to Johannes & Anja’s place for a little food, wein, & good talks.

The cappuccino hits the spot. I feel a lot of peace. Blessing. Hope. Encouragement. Thankfulness. Love. Missing home… my theBean & my Pasty Gangster. IDoey. Weezer. You. Our church family. Sigh.

Another few short days, & I’ll be headed home. But in the meantime, I am content to say life is beautiful. Leben ist Schön.

I'm back... or, how I finally found the internet in Prum, Germany

I've not been able to connect to the net for a while, so if you've been sending me emails or notes that haven't been returned, I'm sorry. Please bear with me - today, 10 November, Shawn & I found the "Lothar Raum" which is where we are connecting to the net via an ethernet cable. Also, this is a long post - you've been warned.

Sunday, 8 November
Woke up early to have breakfast with Alex & Linda – a good German breakfast of bread, nutella, yogurt & mueslix… & coffee of course. I appreciate these people who have opened up their home & life to me, inviting me in to be a part of what they do.

Alex dropped me at TPLF at 10, & I spent time reconnecting with friends & mentally preparing for the Sunday speech. Worshipping with our sister church is a lot like being at home, with a pleasant comfort that comes from revisiting something familiar, something that you’ve been missing. It was especially fun to see Dudi on the keyboards ☺.

I spoke on John 15:1-11 – on Staying Connected, with 3 specific points about connection:
  • connecting to God,
  • connecting to our church & church leaders
  • connecting to the people in our church family.

    Speaking through an interpreter is mentally draining – esp. because it requires thinking in complete thoughts vs. in ‘sentences’ if that makes sense. I hit a tangible ‘wall’ in point #2 about connecting to church & church leaders – because of the German reticence to ‘trust’ those in leadership due to both the history of domineering leadership in Germany (WW2) & also the loss/removal of TPLF’s senior pastor 18 months ago. It was tough, but I know I did what I was supposed to & said what I needed to. And left the rest up to the Holy Spirit & the grace of God. Sigh.

    After church, I ate a döner with Shawn & Matty, then waited for Eddy to come pick us up to take us to the Pastors conference that I’ve been a part of for the last 4 years – really enjoyed the talking & laughing with the boys on the long (3 hour) drive to Prüm, on the western border of Germany near France & Luxemborg.

    Our evening at the conference was one of getting oriented to the youth hostel where we’re staying, & a service consisting of praise & worship. Afterwards, we spent time with the German pastors & talked at length about the life & times of the last year. I met a pastor from Kazachstan who was visiting Germany & the German conference to see how the FEGW (Foursquare Germany) functioned as a church movement. As I stood their & listened to amazing story after amazing story, it reminded me both of how incredible our God is, & how small I am.

    FEGW Conference, Day 2
    Peter Wenz, a pastor from Stuttgart is the presenter. The thing that jumped out at me is that he is very animated & full of life & a tangible joy. The topic for the week is “FAITH” - & learning to live ‘correctly’ – which he defined as being filled with the Word of God, filled with hope, & lead by the Spirit into a life that is greater than me, for a purpose that God intends. Our main texts for the session were Habakkuk 2:14 & Hebrews 11:6

    I love how he defined & discussed faith –
    • not as something nebulous or intangible, but as something that is a secret, Godly substance placed in the hearts of His people; this secret substance gives us Godly confidence & boldness, special hope, discernment, & supernatural abilities to accomplish God’s purposes.
    • Faith is a gift from God to stir us, to awaken us to be looking for opportunities to live for God & to intersect the lives of others for God.
    • Faith opens us to God’s realm, the really real realm, to live life in a way that is ‘overcoming’ (Romans 8:39)
    • Faith is real & integrated into our everyday life, & as we act on it causes truth to become ‘real & evident’ in our hearts & lives
    • Faith is real & tangible, & causes ordinary people to really live extraordinary lives.

    Session 2 addressed Mark 1:14,15 & the ministry of Jesus – he talked about Jesus’ 4 declarations:
    • The time is come
    • The Kingdom of God is at hand
    • It is time to Repent – to renew our minds & way of thinking to God’s
    • Believe – in Christ, & follow Him

    Things that stood out:
    • The main obstacle to faith is unbelief – a humanist intellectualism that opposes the purposes & plans of God
    • This unbelief is often centered in the religious upper-class of society
    • We ask God to increase our faith, & then we ‘stand’ in & exercise the faith that we have – not the letter of it, but the Spirit of it.

    Good stuff – lots of great testimonies & encouragements.

    Shawn, Matt & I ate lunch together, then walked to a store down the street for supplies (snacks & water.) The highlight of our walk was when Matt tried to engage the cashier in small talk with a little, “How you doin?” She just looked at him blankly – didn’t speak any English. Shawn translated for Matt, & the clerk, once she understood, just looked at Matt & said, “Bad. Bad.” We all got some good smiles from that. Went to an Austrian restaurant for a schnitzel, a hefe, & lots of good discussion then went back to the hostel for the evening.

    We’re learning all kinds of stuff about each other. Good times.

    FEGW Conference, Day 3
    I woke up at 1 a.m. to a dull ache in my right shoulder, waaaay down deep in the joint. It kept me up until about 4. Bummer way to start the day.

    Our final sessions with Peter Wenz centered on Ephesians 4:7-13 – which is a portion of scripture that is especially significant for me (on account of the fact that we spent more than 3 months in those verses last year at this time – he focused on the words “measure of grace,” something given by God for people to live & function in - & that the “some people” who’ve been given the role of being a pastor, teacher, evangelist, prophet, or apostle are to be about the work of making disciples, spurring others on towards maturity in Christ.

    I especially enjoyed his discussion on how the body of Christ is to be “complementing” each other instead of “competing” with each other – with complementing being “to harmonize, go together better;” truly functioning like a body functions towards the same goal, not 100 unique ones.

    The boys & I are debating what we’ll do this afternoon during the ‘small group’ time – everyone else will be getting with the other pastors & leaders from their region & working on a project. We may be making another run to the store for snacks & supplies; Shawn found a “Sculpture Park” that we might be walking to, though the chill of our day, coupled with the ache in my shoulder makes a longer jaunt seem much less attractive… We will see.
  • preparing for lunch, & other adventures...

    Eventually, one gets hungry on a Friday. And when one gets hungry, what does one do? One makes their way to the local REWE to do some grocery shopping.

    Since we were having hamburgers, the 1st thing we need to pick out was what we'd eat them on - Alex said that the bread needs to be good German bread so that it doesn't get soggy - & who am I to argue with him. So we started by checking out the bread roll section...

    After we got our rolls & other supplies, we made our way back to the house for creation & assembly. The picture at left is the assembly line; notice how its put together in such as way as to allow for maximum efficiency.

    The burgers were marinated with a home-made marinade with lots of garlic & honey (delicious, with a spicy-bite-kick to it.) & then cooked in the oven.

    Linda isn't a meat-eater, so she created tofu versions of what we had.

    And yes, thanks for asking, those are the hamburger creations we dined upon. They were so huge that large skewers were needed to just hold them together. I even ate my burger with the skewer still in it, which required a coordination & dexterity that I was not aware I possessed. Only had one DOH! moment where I Homer'd myself in the right eye. No pictures were taken of that portion of the meal.

    And here's Linda downing her tofu-burger, topped with Alex's specially created sauce, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, & chopped up little gerkins (which, by the way, is german for little pickles. Who'da
    thunk it?

    Near the end of the meal, I got a call from Anja - we'll be getting together tomorrow for coffee, then dinner with Alex & Linda. Good times.

    Tonight, we'll be hooking up with Earl & Matty, Levent & Ines to go to a place called Celsius, which I've been told is as close as one can get to Berlin, while staying in Frankfurt. I'll have to report on that.

    Finished the final touches for my speech for Sunday at TPLF - I'm talking from John 15:1-11 about staying connected:

  • Connected to God
  • Connected to our leaders
  • Connected to our church family

    Sound familiar?