Friday, May 27, 2016

Germany, '15-'16

This is Friedrichshafen, where I live! This was taken on a cloudy day; it's normally much more beautiful and bright looking!

“How was Germany?”

That question reminds me of another short, complex question that gets asked a lot: “How are you?” 

The short answer is, good. To both of those. God is good, and I’m a recipient of His goodness. So I am doing well. And Germany was a good experience; still continues to be. It was good because God is good and He never leaves me or forsakes me.

Truth be told, I’m sort of afraid to try to write a post about how Germany was because I’m afraid of taking WAY too long to explain it, or perhaps boring you, or taking a ton of your time with my many words. It’s easier to listen than to read, I find – and even sometimes I feel like listening is hard, if you’re like me and the sound of your own thoughts is like a major highway going through your head while you try to concentrate.

Ah, well. I have been asked how Germany was, so I’ll try to answer. Feel free to pretend you’re having coffee with me (because this is a coffee kind of conversation). For accuracy, you can imagine me to be distracted, focused, content, and discontent all at once (you can ask my why I say that another time). When I’m full of thought (which I am right now), it will take me forever to finish my coffee, which is very unusual for me (if there is a beverage in front of me, I generally finish it in record time). I’ll mostly be looking at the walls and ceilings, squinting as I search for the right words and probably using my hands a lot to gesture what I can’t express. I might seem like I’m trying to look through the walls into some distant world. Occasionally, I’ll make good eye contact with you and say, “Do you know what I mean??” I might seem kind of agitated when I do that.

Regardless, here goes.

Why have I been in Germany? 

Well, I’m working at a Bible school there.

What is my job?

I’m an R.A. Well, I’m on the Bible school team. Which means I’m an R.A. and I just help with the general smooth running of Bible school. Everything from paperwork to errands to relationships/mentoring, to organizing school trips and making sure that people vacuum when and where they’re supposed to.

What have I learned?

BOOM. Wow, how can I even…? There are a lot of things, some of which I probably don’t even know yet. But here are the ones that stick out to me:

I’ve learned that I need to set my eyes ahead, above, and before me. “It is difficult to move forward when you’re looking behind you.” That came to me one day as I was stressing about my life. I’ve learned that I need to not look at the present, or the past, for the promises of my future – But to recognize that the Lord is good, and He is always ahead of me. I always have some good to look forward to because, well, He’s always in front of me, and He’s always good. Simple as that.

I have been humbled to learn that familiar truths aren’t limited to familiar packages. It is hard to even explain in what ways. It’s like I was unplugged from the “outlet” of my home, culture, and family, and I was running on “Battery power” for the first little while of being there. I felt the drain of being away from constant familiarity, yet trying to be strong, I kept reminding myself to trust that the power inside of me is strong enough; it is Christ, who never runs out. (Which is true.) However… It’s been a good learning curve for me to realize that an outlet as a power source (if I may continue with that analogy) is just a means of conveying energy. The outlet isn’t, in and of itself, electricity. It’s just the means by which I get connected to it. Being in Europe, the outlets are different; the people are different. I need an adapter to plug my computer in over there – and similarly, I have had to adapt to new people.  I’m learning that I don’t have to run on battery power to survive; in fact, it’s best if I don’t. I have been learning to adapt to being a good student in a new place, willing to learn from a new sort of outlet. And in so doing, I’ve learned that Jesus is the same through both – Though they are different shapes and sizes, it is the same power that comes through them. That has been so good for me. Jesus doesn’t always look the same on the outside, but He IS the same on the inside. I can’t put Jesus into a box and say that “The Lord and his work are always going to look like this.” I can, however, put Him into my life, and that changes, empowers, and strengthens me – in a powerful sort of way.

I’ve been challenged, and encouraged, to be reminded that Love isn’t passive. God isn’t passive. He doesn’t just let me do what I want to my own destruction, but He challenges and corrects me because He loves me and He wants me to make choices and live life in a way that will lead to my greater blessing. I’ve been challenged that I need to learn to love like that. That I can’t be passive. I can’t just, when it is my privilege and responsibility to speak up, let people do what hurts them without saying something- even though, I know, most of the time I am sure I will not be met with gratitude. No one likes to be corrected or challenged. But we all need it. I have learned that there is a time to be silent… But there is also a time to speak. When a word is empowered by Love, light breaks out. Light exposes the truth. It’s challenging for me to recognize this – In some ways, I know that learning to love like this is a way to sign myself up for losing friends or not being very popular. But I’m praying that God give me love that cannot be silent when it ought to speak. To speak a word of judgment is never my place; but to speak a word of love, for the betterment of its hearer, is the best thing I can do. I must learn to speak with love, lest my tongue be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Cor. 13); I need to learn to love like Jesus.

Other than that- I've traveled. I've seen new places, met new people, and been BLOWN AWAY by the miracle of these privileges in my life. God has better plans for me than I ever could have had for myself! And being overseas has shown me that big time. 

I've made friends, and I've been befriended. What a blessing. I'm so thankful for those who chose to befriend me over there- you guys, if you're reading this, have been one of the biggest experiences of joy and grace in my life.

I've been discipled. The staff at Bodenseehof have taken me underwing and have been the hands, feet, and words of Christ to me.

And... Well, I've been challenged. Challenged to think differently, challenged to confront and resolve rather than run away and wait for things to disappear. I've been challenged in practical ways; I've driven a car in Germany and I have had to run errands, using EXTREMELY broken German to (try to) communicate... hehe.

All of these thing are an expression of God's grace to me; may I continue and ever more learn to be thankful for them!

…I guess that’s the gist of it. I’ve met so many great people that I could tell you about, and I’ve had a lot of great adventures. But none of those things carry the value of walking with the Lord, and the things He’s taught me through that. I’m excited to go back to Germany. I’m excited to learn more from Jesus in that setting, through those outlets. I’m excited to see how he’s going to change me further. 

Thanks for listening, and for asking. I appreciate your interest in my life. :)


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Yet the Lord Takes Thought for Me

"As for me, I am poor and needy,
    but the Lord takes thought for me.

You are my help and my deliverer;

    do not delay, O my God!" - Psalm 40:17

Yesterday was my day off, and as is typical on my days off, I took a walk to the Wilsons'. Walking to the Wilsons' is beautiful. First you cross the busy, busy street in front of our building, and walk back past the old church on a cobblestone road, past that through the little village of Fischbach, and then past that through farm land... farm houses... creeks, abandoned train tracks, and winding, small country roads.

After about 45 minutes of that, you get to the Wilsons' - Which is an old German farm house, situated just where a tiny country road starts to head up onto a hill, topped with forest area and covered with other old farm houses and vineyards. 

As I walked, I started to think. People are all so different. We all have different gifts, interests, ways of thinking and behaving. Any topic that can be thought about by anyone is known by God. Every interest that could be discovered, learned, or explored is known by God. Everything we have in the way of gifts, talents, abilities - these are all gifts of God. And all of this beauty around me - is created by and tended by God, who puts it all to rest every winter and brings it back to life every spring.


Thinking further, I considered that if the entire world were represented only as *I* am able to see it, it wouldn't be very big, and there wouldn't be much to explore. There wouldn't even be much to think about because my mind is limited in how far it can go. There is so much to learn, see, and think about in this world - as we can see when we look at our differences! So much more than can ever be discovered by one person. 

The world is so much bigger than my mind or my ability to comprehend. If the limit of my imagination was the limit of the earth's splendour, well, it wouldn't really be that great, would it?  It's far beyond that! And God knows and made it all. That, and... In a whole new sphere of understanding, he knows the spiritual realm. All of it is understood by him. 

Sometimes I have wondered why God ever bothers to think about me. Why *does* he care about me exactly, when there are so much more important things to do and think about? And even if he does take thought for me, does he really care about all of my little troubles and trials? Why should he?

Well, looking at the grass made me realize - it's not hard for him. He who tends the grass and brings it to life every spring - who takes the time to make sure that every individual blade is unique, green, living, and ready to grace the part of the earth on which it stands is a testimony of the fact that, you and I are not too small to be noticed by the Lord of the universe. 

"...Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." - Matthew 6:28b-33

Somehow, his big-ness is bigger than I can even begin to imagine. And somehow, encompassed in that, is a love and compassion for little people like me.

I can't get my head around it. But that's ok. He can. :)

Thank you, Lord.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

She is Very Beautiful

I was just telling this to a friend the other day, and I wanted to write it down. So, dear blog that very few read (if any), I will write it down on you, for you are my space on the internet to do such things.

My mother is a beautiful person. She is beautiful to look at, but that is not what I mean when I say she's beautiful. That's kind of a side-note. What makes my mother beautiful is not her looks; my mom shines with the brightness of a beautiful heart. And well - When people tell me that I look like her, I am flattered... But when people tell me that I *am* like her, that is a compliment that my heart craves, and it is an honour. A dream come true. Because she *is* a beautiful person.

Perhaps you can relate to this: I find that the most beautiful people I know are thought of that way in my mind for their actions and their attitudes. My heart overflows with love for them, and I am so blessed to be around them, because they are just... well, beautiful people. Beautiful for who they are; not what they are.

I guess that's what Peter meant when he said, "...Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious," (1 Peter 3:4) and what Proverbs means when it says, "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,  but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." (Prov. 31:30)

I know many beautiful women, and I want to be like them. I want to have a heart so full of Jesus that when people look at me, they see Him. I want to have a heart that blesses the people around me by its love, kindness, joy, peace, patience, etc. 

Perhaps beauty was designed by the Creator to be a picture of His grace living inside of people. True beauty shines from the inside out - It is what's inside of the package that matters, not the wrapping paper on the outside. The paper might look pretty, but it is not the substance of the gift within.

We are all meant to be beautiful. To every girl who desires this, I say (myself included)-- Beauty is a gift that's given to us from heaven, as long as we'll accept the person and work of Christ. You're not just meant to look it - You're meant to be it. Just like a princess, a daughter of the King of kings. You can be a person of whom, when you're wrinkled with age, others will think about and say - "She is very beautiful." Because true beauty never fades; and that which flows from your heart comes out in your actions. Actions that you can see on the outside- which do look very beautiful indeed.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Life in Germany, Part 1

I’ve been meaning for some time to sit down and and write about my time here, but… Well, it’s hard to find the time to dedicate to this purpose, but it’s also hard to know what to say.  It’s been just over 6 weeks since I left home, and so much has happened!  I guess I find myself slightly overwhelmed by the task of updating you on all of the details of my life in these last 6 weeks, on the one hand, and on the other I find myself wanting to go all melancholy on you and tell you all of my little joys, struggles, and the lessons I’ve been learning.  It’s only been 6 weeks, yes; but a lot can happen in that time.  

…Whatever, I’m just going to wing it.  We’ll see how I do.  :-D

First, I’ll tell you about life here.  I live in a little town called Fischbach, just outside of Friedrichshafen, Germany.  My school is located in a large building connected to a dorm building, where I currently make my residence… I just realized today that I’ve been living in my room in “Suitcase” mode (my closet being the suitcase), kind of living there like I’m about to leave at any moment.  That needs to change; I generally like my “House” to feel like a home, and it can’t really when you don’t… you know… decorate.  Or something.  :-P  Anyway, I’d like to work on that.  

Regardless, the school building has a large common room used for lectures, church services, and a dining room, all in one.  The one half of the room is set up for lectures throughout the week, and the other half is set up for meals every day.  As the room is needed for other events or services, we move things around as needed to make it work for other purposes.

Also at the school, we have “The Honeycomb,” a little cafe type room, where we can buy coffee and snacks when they are open, play board games, or just go sit in there to read.  There is also a beautiful wooden patio off of the Honeycomb overlooking the orchard in the back, which is quite lovely, and I very much enjoy sitting out there when it is not too cold.

We also have a book shop/internet room, a computer room, a games room, a library, workout room, sauna, prayer room, laundry room etc… There’s always lots to do!  We can also borrow bikes, canoes, and kayaks anytime we want; which is pretty sweet.

Currently, I am sitting in one of the many little cafes in the area to write about this; I wanted to go for coffee with Jesus, so I did.  He paid, and it’s lovely.  :)  We also have, in addition to lots of cafes, lots of shops to visit in Friedrichshafen (including H&M, which is extremely tempting when you didn’t bring that many clothes, btw…), and there is a large Superstore-esq. grocery store about a 20-30 minute walk from here as well.

Other than all of that, there are lots of beautiful buildings, orchards, and the lake nearby which all make for lovely walks.  I have a favourite walking spot, even - which I will post pictures of…. soon.  Later.  Eh he. :)

My daily schedule looks something like this:
 - Around 7am, I get up and get ready for breakfast, which starts at 7:30 and is mandatory that we attend (not that I wouldn’t anyway, but yeah).  
 - After breakfast, most of the students scatter to do their daily duties (my previous duty was supper dishes, so I couldn’t do it in the morning, obviously).  My current duty is table setting, so I am responsible to help about 5 other students wipe tables and chairs, and the set the tables for the next meal at the end of each meal every day.
 - Once your duty is done in the morning, you have until 9:20 to do whatever you like - At which point we have our first lecture of the day for about an hour.  
 - After that, we have a 15 minute coffee break together, and then back to lectures for 2 more hours with a 5 minute break in between.
 - Then, lunch!  (And setting tables…)
 - After lunch, we have free time until supper.  During this time, you can go into town, study, take a walk, or go to a cafe, which is what I decided to do today.
 - Supper is at 6, so we all meet there, and then we have free time again (unless we have duties) until 7:30, when we have 2 evening lectures.  
 - The evening is then free, usually, to do whatever you like - there is a sauna offered for either guys or girls almost every night, and lockup is at 10:30pm, at which point you have to be out of the main building and in the dorm, headed for bed preferably.  

That is my day-by-day.  We often have other events planned in the evenings instead of lectures, or special outreaches to attend instead of lectures, in which case we get the audio given to us so that we are able to catch up.  We have had one test on lectures so far, and there is one more tonight - So we’ll see how that goes!  We have also had one book report to hand in already, 2 memory verses every week, and now we have 2 more large writing projects and one more book report due before Christmas at various times.  

Hm, what else can I tell you about daily life… It is interesting living with 105 other people every day, that’s for sure.  And the food here is fantastic.  :)

Other than that, you might be interested to know… 
 - We hiked in the Swiss Alps (BEAUTIFUL - And hard.)
 - We went to visit Neuschwanstein Castle, Walt Disney’s inspiration for Cinderella’s castle at Disney World.  :)
 - We have had an “International Night” (each country represented by the student body prepares and shows a presentation of their country), a pumpkin carving contest, a “Film Festival Night” (we divided into groups and made videos for a movie night - so fun!), and “K-Group Olympics,” which was all of the school small groups (Or K-Groups, “K” standing for Koinonia) working together to compete in a series of games… This was a lot of fun as well, and I enjoyed it very much.

Annnd… I’m sure that doesn’t even begin to cover it.  But that’s all I’m going to say for now.  If you have questions, feel free to post them in the comments, or send me an email.  Short emails get answers faster, FYI.  ;)

Thanks to all who take an interest, and especially for your prayers.  I appreciate it so much.  I am a little sad about how quickly the time is slipping through my fingers, but I’m excited to feel that I am exactly where God would have me be… it is so good to walk with him.

He is good!

Love you all and bye for now,


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Spread Your Wings, Little Bird

On September 10, 2014, Mom, Becky, Deborah, and Micaiah dropped me off at the Windsor airport, where I met up with Grace Bauer, my travel companion and now, good friend.  Sitting there, it kind of felt like standing on the edge of a proverbial cliff, arms spread wide, taking a deep breath.  Time to fly.  I’ve never left home like this before, and though I’d been planning this flight for about 2 years, I could hardly believe it was here.  6 months on my own.  Wow.

Grace and I arrived in Munich in the morning of September 11, 2014, where our luggage took a very long time to find us, and then we were picked up by Achim’s friend Thomas, who flagged us down with the Canadian flag that my family had given him when he came for Leah and Achim’s wedding last summer. It was pretty great.  :)

From the airport, we went to Dinzler (an AMMMMAAAAZING coffee shop), which if you’ve ever talked to me before, you’ve probably heard me mention… with a lot of exclamation points. I love that place!  I took a couple of pictures, but not enough.

Then, on to Austria.  Thomas dropped us off at Nike and Manfred’s house, where we spent the next 8 days; 8 of the most magical days of my life.  Seriously, we were so spoiled, and I couldn’t be more thankful for all of the time, money, and love that those people poured into us.  Every minute of it will be a treasured memory to me.  

To go into all of the details, well, you’ll have to ask me in person when I come home.  In the meantime, however, here are some pictures from Austria!

(Note: I was going to post most of my pictures on here, but I have decided, Facebook is faster and easier.  And in the interest of staying away from my computer as much as possible, Facebook wins.)

Love and bye for now,


Monday, September 15, 2014

Step 1 - Austria!

This post is mostly a test to see how my pictures look on the blog.  Here's one I took today, sitting on the top of the mountain, from a hike we took in the alps!

My first stop on this trip, as I mentioned before, is visiting Austria.  So - Beautiful.  And the people are so wonderful; I'm being treated like gold, and I hardly know what to do with myself.  Every day is like Christmas, except that it's sunny (or raining... which is also beautiful) and you can go outside in a sweater... and also, everything is gorgeous and green, and and and... there aren't words to describe how wonderful it is to be here.

God is good - and GREAT.  This place is so majestic - and to think it's just a part of his creativity (a small part) playing out in his creation.  Not to mention all of the wonderful individuals we are meeting and spending time with.

Ahh!  :D  Happy.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Germany, Here I Come

You may have heard, I am going to Germany.  Leaving in 2 days, headed to Austria for a week, and then off to school at Bodenseehof, a Bible school Friedrichshafen Germany.

Wow.  This is happening.

I don't have time to write a whole lot right now, but I did want to say a couple of things.

First, thank you.  Thank you to all who have supported me financially, and in prayer.  I so appreciate it, and your prayers are so needed especially!

Second, I wanted to make an "Announcement" (if you will) to say, I am not going to be online a whole lot while I'm away.  I'm taking some time to distance myself from that... I need to focus.  I am going away to "Sit at the feet of Jesus," to listen to him.

I will be updating on here occasionally (at least that is the plan), and I do want to put some pictures on the blog as well... So you can keep an eye out for that.

If you need to reach me while I am away, you can send me an email - I will be checking that occasionally, though again, I may take a while to respond... If you have to reach me quickly, please send me word through my family.

And finally, goodbye (for now).  6 months really isn't that long, so maybe by the time you notice my absence, I'll be coming home - But if I didn't get to say goodbye to you, this is my opportunity, and I'm taking it!  I am so thankful for all of the people who pour so much into me.  And truly, if you're reading this, I consider you one of them - I feel special that you're taking the time to keep up with me and read this.

Love and bye for now, Canada.  Lord willing, I will be home soon!