Building Legos with a Bear

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I never knew bears built Legos, but recently this was true in our little town of Erfurt.

One of the amazing ministries in Erfurt that we (as a Student ministry) support is Bärenstark, a Christian initiative to impact kids who come from rough social backgrounds in the “inner city” areas of Erfurt. Besides offering big brother, big sister relationships to the kids, they also put on monthly kids programs.

That’s where the Legos come in. Bärenstark brought in a couple along with their over 200,000 Lego pieces to build a Lego city in the ministry center. Every day kids, and even local school classes, came in to build legos and to hear a little about how God loves them. The boys and I went as well, as something for for the boys to do, and for me to help the kids who came. By the end of the week we stood in amazement at the Lego city that had been built (sorry, I don’t have a picture of it all), as well as the hundreds of kids who had come through the door, many of them for the first time.

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Time keeps on marching…

Here are a few pictures I have been taking (or my hubby) over the last month for you to enjoy.

I have been thinking of you all (hence the pictures)… just haven’t made it to my blog to let you know.

Winter bike rides!
Winter bike rides!

 

Playing peek-a-boo. Peek! I see you! :)
Playing peek-a-boo. Peek! I see you! 🙂

 

Soup galore!!
Soup galore!!

Students for Christ had a “Run and Dine” event to celebrate the end of the semester. We hosted the “Vorspeise” part of dinner. (That comes before the main course… soup or salad anyone?)

Valentine surprise from Gram and Papa B.
Valentine surprise from Gram and Papa B.

 

A rose from each of my boys for Valentine's day. :)
A rose from each of my boys for Valentine’s day. 🙂

 

First munch on a baby cracker. Yum!
First munch on a baby cracker. Yum!

 

A J & M wrap!
A J & M wrap!

 

Riding home from Kindergarten on the tram. Daddy was following us on his bike.
Riding home from Kindergarten on the tram. Daddy was following us on his bike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abschied…saying Goodbye

Flowers from a student

This Saturday we had one of our students over for a last breakfast together. She will be leaving next week to start a job.

It seemed so strange, watching her leave and thinking this might be the last time we will see her before we leave.

It has been a good, and full, 4 years.

Thank you Lord for this time.

It’s official…

Yesterday was the first SfC meeting of the new semester, and it was planned and ran by our student leadership team.

 

Greeting and Announcements

That includes set up and clean up, food preparations, leading worship, sound, teaching and hosting.

 

Worship

John had no responsibilites. He came to serve and meet new students, and to critique the meeting, to help get the team off to a great start.

 

Evening impulse
Skits from the evening impulse

And what a start it was! Full of excitement, 20 students gathered this Tuesday to worship, learn, and enjoy Christian fellowship. They have planned a “Scotland Yard” game in the city of Berlin this weekend for fun and getting to know more students. I think it is sort of like a scavenger hunt/mystery solving game. Sounds like so much fun to me! And then the following weekend they have a “Semester Beginning Party” planned.

What a blessing to see this fresh excitement and enthusiasm to reach students for Christ from students themselves.

Thank you Lord for answered prayers.

Thank you all for praying.

Practice

I was trying some new cupcake recipes out this week, anticipating my boys birthday party this weekend.

Monday was Applesauce cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

A winner.

Tuesday was a classic yellow/white cupcake with a sour cream chocolate frosting.

These cupcakes were a winner, but the sour cream frosting was a bit too sour for the tasters.*

Conclusion: I think I will use the cream cheese frosting for both, but add cocoa to half of the batch to give it a chocolatey flavor.

More pictures to follow, with the final birthday cupcake outcome.

Johnny waiting to celebrate...

*Namely my husband, but I did send this batch with him on Tuesday night for the students to enjoy.

Fasting and Leaders Retreat

After our last Fasting and Leaders Retreat in the fall, we decided I should stay home with the boys the next retreat. (Which I did.) But after the leaps and bounds our boys have been making, we thought we might give it another try. So Johnny, Matthias, and I joined John on the spring Leaders retreat.

The boys have really gotten better at traveling in the car on long trips. (Praise the Lord!! As we think of the 10 hour flight back to the States we have before us….) We took our time driving down to Heidelberg, making a stop to climb a hill to see a ruined castle. And then of course a stop (or 2) at McDonalds for lunch and dinner. (I was ready for some healthy food after that. Fast food twice in a day is too much for me.) It was a beautiful day for a drive, sunny and warm.

We arrived in the evening at our destination, after a few turn-arounds, because our navigator wanted us to drive up a footpath. I don’t think so!

Once we unloaded, I got the boys into bed while John drove to the train station to help pick up students who were arriving.

The first evening of the retreat is set aside for personal prayer for the leaders. We split up into groups of 4-5 people (guys with guys, girls with girls). Each person shared what was going on in her life and what she wanted prayer for. Then we prayed. This time is always precious to me, because I get to reconnect with the girl leaders who I haven’t seen for several months. I usually only see these girls at retreats. And this is where I get to hear how they are really doing and how I can be praying for them. They are all such treasures. Another reason why I wanted to come on this retreat was so I could see these girls one more time, before we head home to the States, to be able to say goodbye. Many won’t be in leadership when we come back, because they will be finished with university and have moved on. So it was such a treat to be there.

The next morning began the fasting part of our retreat. This day is set aside for prayer for the individual SfC groups throughout Germany. Each group had a chance to present what they had done in the previous semester, and what they had planned for the next, followed by their praise/prayer requests. Then they were prayed for. The day went on like this, with breaks here and there, including a long afternoon break to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine outdoors.

I had the boys during the day. The first morning started out a bit rough… that is when Matthias tumbled down the stairs and got a bloody, swollen lip. But it went much better after that. The boys and I walked down to the castle, where there was open space to play ball, rocks to throw, and fountains with frogs to look at. Matthias took to waving at people who walked by, even if they didn’t notice or seemed to care. The walk to the castle was nice. I pushed one child in the stroller and carried the other on my back. It was down hill the whole way. It wasn’t till I was starting to go home when I realized it would be UP hill the whole way back! Schwoo!! What a workout!

We played with balls and more rocks once we were back to our lodging. In fact, that is what we mostly did. I was so thankful it never rained.

I had brought along a few toy cars and books, so we had other things to do inside, when it got too cold. The boys liked driving their cars around the hall floor. And whenever the students were on a break, they loved playing ball with them. Our boys seem to especially like the big boys. And thankfully, it was mutual. 😉

The fast was broken on the second day of our retreat with brunch. We went shopping that morning to pick up the goods with the boys. John took the boys after that so I could help in the kitchen a bit.

I was able to participate in the evenings, after I put the boys down each night. This was always nice, and helped me feel more like I was part of the retreat, too. I was usually one of the first in bed, though, because my boys were first to get up (at 6 am), which meant John and I got up with them and took them to the meeting room so they wouldn’t wake up the others.

Sunday was our last day. This day was the business meeting part of the retreat. We ended with lunch and clean-up of the whole facility. Then pedal to the medal, we headed back to Berlin, and made it home around 9 pm, tucked the boys in, and then soon followed.

It was good to be home. As we reflected on our time, we both were glad we chose to bring the boys. Not only did the students mention that they loved we had brought then, and it was so much fun to see the students interact with our boys. But it was so nice to be together as a family. To minister together, each in our own way, to love these students God has given us.

Raising up and encouraging new leaders

This morning, John has been meeting with a group of students to cast vision for the purpose of SfC Berlin and to help them plan for this next semester and when we are gone.

It has been so encouraging to see how God has raised up new leaders over this last year and brought new folks in. I feel like we have continually been looking for those certain people that could carry SfC on when we leave, but they all seemed to never work out.

This has all happened in God’s perfect timing. But at the same time, it has definitely been a lesson of trusting God for us.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

To Jena and back

Like I mentioned earlier, I was able to join John as he visited an SfC group in Jena, Germany. It was a bit hard leaving the boys so soon after having been gone over New Year’s for 5 days. I felt those motherly pangs as we set off.

But at the same time, it was sweet to be traveling with my hubby again.

I drove so Johnny could do some last minute writing, thinking and praying. He could also enjoy the scenery, which he seldom does, seeing as he usually is the one driving. I do take my turn driving, especially on long trips, but his stamina lasts a bit longer than mine. It takes a lot of energy and concentration to drive on the Autobahn. People drive so fast! I totally get in the zone when I drive. I have a hard time holding a conversation because I am so focused. Don’t ask me to answer any serious or thoughtful questions; it will distract me from my driving.

We arrived an hour early, so we decided to stop for a bite to eat. We didn’t want to eat too much because we weren’t sure how much food would be at the meeting. And we didn’t want to be rude, if they had prepared food knowing we would be there to eat with them, by being to full to eat. Well, it was good we ate something, because they only served cookies and tea at the meeting. In the past, they usually served sandwiches. No big deal, just glad we ate, otherwise we may have devoured their plate of cookies! 😀

The SfC group in Jena is small. It consists of about 8 students, mostly girls, and almost all of them will be finished with school in the next year. This group is in desperate need of prayer. They are struggling to survive. What they really need is new life (ie. new people), commitment and fresh ideas. But they seem to be too timid and comfortable in own their ways.

John encouraged them through his talk that evening and in conversation and prayer, that they have the power of God – the one who raised Jesus from the dead, the one who has already defeated Satan, who surrounds us with his army of angels, the Creator of this world – they have His power available to them now. He has equipped us to go into our universities, into our work places, into all the world to share the Good News of Jesus. And we are not alone.

After the meeting was over, we said our goodbyes and hit the road for Berlin. We didn’t get home till midnight; and I’m telling you, it was sure nice to roll into bed.