Friday, November 21, 2014

I Must Believe in Something

I remember working in an office supply warehouse during college.  We would walk up and down the isles filling the orders to fast, pulsating music.  I'm sure they played this to help us keep up a fast pace.  I specifically remember dropping reams of paper and boxes of uniball pens into tubs on the conveyer belt to the sound of Laura Branigan singing "Self-control".  There was a line in there that always made me think: "I must believe in something, so I'll make myself believe it".

That line came rolling back into my mind as I stood in the Zeitgeschichtlichs (Time History) Museum of Leipzig yesterday.  Walking through the museum is a small walk through the history of Eastern Germany (DDR) from the end of WWII to the fall of the Berlin Wall. We went up two flights of stairs and entered double doors into a shadowy hall surrounded by loud German audio clips swirling through the air. I heard leaders yelling their speeches, loud German crowds chanting and then, suddenly in the midst of it all, I heard the strong American voice of Ronald Regan saying, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall"!

As we walked through the museum, I was drawn in by the pictures of young soldiers, frozen in time, staring directly at me.  Videos of magnificent, historic churches being imploded and crumbling to the ground like a sandcastle. A mural, strategically placed behind a real tank, of a street packed with demonstrators fleeing in panic as tanks rolled into the city. Then I saw the picture that captured my heart...
I froze in front of it.  I slowly stepped closer as if drawn into the eyes of every one of those young people; drawn into their hopes; drawn into their dreams; drawn into the very promise of a future.  And now, I was living in that future.  Where were they now? Did they still have hope, dreams, a future?

Just then, Jim called me over to a poster...
 Our friend explained that it was an invitation to the Communist induction of young people into the Communist party.  He told us that they had done away with the church confirmation of children and had replaced it with a Socialistic type of confirmation.  They even had the "10 Commandments" of Socialism.
 The commands were such things as #1 - Thou shalt always work for the international solidarity  of the working class and all working people as well as securing the connection of all the socialist countries from destruction. #4 - Thou shalt accomplish good for socialism because socialism leads to a better life for all working people.  #8 - Thou shalt educate your children to be formed to the socialistic spirit of peace, characteristics and physically tempered people.

The Communists knew what we know.  If you can capture the hearts of young people, you can change a country.  Now, back to the phrase of song running through my head, "I must believe in something, so I'll make myself believe it".  The generation during Communist times needed to believe in something, so the government tried to give them something to believe in.  And this present generation of young people?  They must believe in something too, but will it be something that they must "make" themselves believe in, or will it be something that they can truly believe in because it is the truth?  Will we be there when they are asking the questions, when they are looking for meaning, when they are gazing with hope into their future?  THAT is why we are here.  THAT is why we left our home in the U.S.!  The young people need to know that the ONLY TRUE foundation of belief is Jesus Christ. 

 Pray for us as we interact with the young people here, that they will be drawn to true belief.  Pray that we will get the German language quickly so that we can share with them the words of life!  Pray that they will realize that there truly is something worth believing in!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Jim's laugh pays off again!

Anybody who has met Jim knows that his laugh is one of the most delightful things about him. It's contagious!  It's loud! And it comes from his very depths!  It is actually one of the things that drew me to him in the first place.

Well, today his laugh paid off BIG TIME!!!!!  I told you about the beautiful apartment in the little village I had to give up? Then, yesterday, I posted this on facebook:
"Everyone, please pray. We just looked at an apartment that would work perfectly for our ministry here. The layout, price and location are perfect. We called the landlord and he is sendIng us the paperwork. There are about 20 other families interested in it. Pray the owner would choose us! Most of all, God's will be done."

Well, WE GOT THE APARTMENT!!!!!!  Jim had asked the owner, Herr Swartzenberger, on Saturday how he would choose who would to live in the apartment.  Herr Swartzenberger replied, "It is a feeling in my stomach!"  Today when he called, Jim asked him why he chose us and he said, "You are so funny!"  Now if you know anything at all about Germans, they are not usually known for their frivolity so, to tell you the truth, I don't think a one of them had a chance against Jim's laugh if Herr Swartzenberger was looking for someone who was funny!!!!

Today, before we heard from Herr Swartzenberger, we were watching someone in the building we are staying in move out.  It was quite amazing!  They had this little elevator thing that went up and down from the 4th floor window to the back courtyard!  It was so cool I told Jim, "I hope we get to do that soon"!

And now we will be able to!!!  We will be moving into our new place on February 1 and staying in the apartment just below the one in the picture until then.  That is another answer to prayer.  The family we are staying with right now owns this whole building and the 3rd floor apartment is available until...yes, you guessed it...February 1, so they had said we could use it if needed until that time.

God is so incredibly creative in His care for us!  He uses people, little elevators and even my husband's laugh to take care of us!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Complexity of Simplicity

I have often thought about how I would love to make my life simpler.  Kind of "go natural".  Don't rely on machines so much.  Live close enough to a store to walk instead of always driving.  Take the stairs instead of the know, things like that.

 I will tell you that I got my wish and I am loving it...most of the time!  I do love hanging the laundry out on the line on a beautiful fall day like today!  It's just...well...the last couple of days when it was cold and rainy and I had to hang it in the bedroom to dry.

So, I'm trying to figure this out.  I like walking to the store...when it's nice out and not too far away.  I like cooking from scratch...when I have enough time and all the ingredients on hand (and can understand the recipe!).  I like hanging my laundry out...when it's warm and it will dry and I don't have to hang it in my bedroom.

But what about when I HAVE to walk to the store because there isn't enough parking for me to take the car?  What about when I HAVE to cook from scratch because they don't have "Cream of Mushroom Soup"?  Yes, there is a complexity to this simplicity and I know that once I hit my rhythm it will start to feel natural, but in the meantime...

So, we have been here Germany for almost 4 weeks and here in Leipzig for 3 weeks.  Right away we started looking for a place to live and found a beautiful apartment on the square of a small village!  It is everything I want in a place.  Lots of sunlight, an open floor plan, big rooms and a big kitchen, a guestroom, two bathrooms and an office!  Perfect! And it is in our budget, albeit the top of our budget.  We started the paperwork and have until the 21st of this month  to sign it.

Have you ever heard of God's grace in saving us from ourselves?  It seems that He often does this for me.  I get something in my mind and can think of a million reasons it is the best plan.  When we first arrived in Leipzig, we were living with a family in that little village.  The last week, we have moved into an apartment in the city of Leipzig to house-sit for a family while they are gone.  Every day we have people dropping by, eating meals with us, using our shower and restroom, sitting down to drink coffee with us.  Hum...remember the part about "Coffee in Leipzig"?  Oh yeah, it's at the top of this blog...  But I LOVE the place in the little village.  In fact I love it so much that I asked God that if it was not His will for us to have it that HE would take it away, not Jim...because I didn't want to be mad at Jim.  (Yes, it's true, I don't always smile at my husband and say, "OK, Dear"!)  Well, God had a better idea, He had ME take it away from myself!  As we have been in the city center this week I see how much I LOVE having my house accessible to people.  I love being surrounded by conversation, laughter and...yes, you got it...COFFEE!!!!!

So, pray for us that God will guide us to the right apartment and in His timing.  I am praying we will be able to move in somewhere by Dec.1, since Emily and Jared are coming Dec. 14 for Christmas...but I'm starting to hold on to that loosely, also.  (Notice I said "starting"?)

It is such a privilege and JOY to be here!!!!  Thank you so much to each of you who made it possible.  God is already giving us incredible relationships, great German teachers, connections with the youth and the youth staff and such a peace about His plan! Now if I can just figure out which store I need to walk to to buy more clothes pins!!!!!!