Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pictures




I just wanted to post a few pictures on here for you to look at.
On Friday the school held a cookout called, "Chillin N Grillin" at the start of the BBQ the RA's competed in the "RA Olympics" I was involved in a food eating contest. I had to eat a pretzel covered with chocolate sauce as it dangled from a piece of string.
Saturday a group of the guys from the dorm hiked up to Hocblauen to enjoy the view from the top of the mountain.
Sunday we used our dorm fellowship time to have a soccer tournament. most of the guys from my hall are in the picture - we ended up losing in the championship game.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Here we go!

I am sorry it has been a little while since I have put up a new post. The past few days have been pretty busy and hectic. The new students arrived on Sunday and the returning students returned on Monday. One individual said I was, "like a little kid in a candy store" as the students were arriving. I have had a great time meeting all of the students and have started to build relationships with them.
Sonne is quite a unique dorm this year. We have four middle school students (all on my floor) and on the top floor we have 9 seniors. Therefore we have a student as young as 12, and as old as 18. This is quite a difference and will be a lot of fun, but it will present challenges as well (example: getting the the middle schoolers to bed by 10:00 and everyone else by 11:00).
The guys in my dorm are amazing and a lot of fun. A few of the afternoons have been spent on the soccer field kicking around and having fun. It is amazing because I can use the game of soccer to open up relationships despite age, ethnicity and language spoken.
Two of my middle school students have spent the past few years in France - so I have enjoyed trying to communicate to them in French. I am more fluent in French than German - but am still trying to pick up the German language. They commonly laugh at me when I am speaking French - but that's all part of learning.
The other day I did the grocery shopping and successfully asked a store clerk where to find the milk, how much it cost, and then politely greeted the check out lady as I left.
I want you to know that things here are going great. I am excited, I am enjoying, no the best word is, I am loving what I am doing. I am excited to get to know the guys better and form solid, influential relationships.
Thank you for all of your notes and e-mails. I apologize for the delayed responses. I do not spend much free time at a computer.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Remember Jesus

"When times get hard, remember Jesus. When people don't listen, remember Jesus. When tears come, remember Jesus. When disappointment is yourbed partner, remember Jesus. When fear pitches his tent in your front yard. When death looms, when anger singes, when shame weighs heavily. Remember Jesus."
The above quote is from Max Lucado's book 'Six Hours One Friday.' I have been reading it since being over here and found the quote very helpful and I wanted to share it.
Remember studying for finals in college? Remember staying up late then getting up early to study more? After a while you threw down your notes and exclaim, "Can I just take this test already?" You feel as prepared as you are going to be, you just want to get in the room and spill out all the information you have been cramming into your head.
That is where I am. I am walking around saying "Can the students just be here already?!" I am so excited for the students to be here. I am thrilled to meet them and start building relationships with them. I have had a lot of training and meetings to get prepared for their arrival, and I am ready for them to be here.
Only a few more days of waiting, new students will arrive on Sunday and returning students will come in Monday and Tuesday is the first day of school for them!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pictures of Sonne



This is a picture of Sonne.



This is the view from my front steps at Sonne.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sonne!




Over the weekend the Res. Life had the 'dorm draft' and I have been assinged to live in Sonne (pronounced Zone-Ah). Sonne is "up on the hill" located about 10K away from the school building. It is the furthest dorm from the school, but it is the only dorm that accumulates snow during the weather winter because it is at a much higher elevation. The dorm will be home to myself, two other RA's (Matt and C.B.) our two dorm parents, Rick and Sharon, and 27 students. Matt is returning for his third year as an RA here at BFA, CB is similar to me, in that this is her first year at BFA. Rick and Sharon have spent over 14 years serving as dorm parents in Indonesia and Thailand, but will begin their first year here at BFA.
The dorm is beautiful. Stepping outside the front door you look straight up the hill and see the mountains. it is breathtaking. The building itself was built in 1820 - so to put it in perspective, the building was built 40 years before America was engaged in her Civil War. There are many 'nuggets' of history around the house, including a painting in the living room that was started in 1938, but was not completed when the painter was pulled in to Hitler's army for World War II. Sorry - I really enjoy history and here in Germany, and Europe in general I am flooded with all sorts of history.
Things continue to go well here. New Staff orientation in the morning, then Res. Life activities in the afternoon. I will move in to Sonne on Sunday - and then the first batch of students will come in on August 24th. I am very excited for the students to come, but there is a lot of work to take care of prior to their arrival. We have torn down wall paper in our living room, started to paint one room and will move furniture in the next couple of days.
The transition into German culture as well as BFA life is going well - but it does have its difficult moments. There are moments of weakness, loneliness, and exhaustion. I have been flooded with a lot of information (banking, insurance, town registration, students, etc) I have enjoyed being in the dorm with the other RA's but have had a little difficulty really connecting.
I thank you for your continual support. E-mails I have received have been a blessing. Your encouragement and support is amazing.
I cannot wait for the students to get here. I am here to serve and love them.

Tommy

Friday, August 8, 2008

Germany, Switzerland, France



Hard to believe but the first week is just about over. It has been a very good and productive week. My morning German classes were very educational and helpful - but there is a lot of studying and practice that needs to happen in order to be fluent. I know it will not happen overnight, but I am praying that I will become decent in my speaking and understanding of German.
The afternoon driving has been a lot of fun. It is a good time to go out in the car with another male RA and get to know each other. It has also been great practice for driving over here. Yesterday I had to go to the airport and two different train stations, which led me from Germany into Switzerland and then France. It was pretty cool to be in those three countries in one day.
Tonight I drove the van down to Basel, Switzerland where a group of us walked around and toured the city. Naturally all of the old buildings fascinated me - I found one building that was built in 1233.
Through our Res Life meetings we have adopted the theme of "Love, Love, Love" for the year. 1 Peter 4:8 has been the theme verse - and we have discussed practical ways in which we can and should love the students in our dorms.
Next week will be similar to this week although rather than our morning German classes we will have 'all staff orientation' meetings and then Res Life meetings in the afternoon, followed by more driving.
Thank you all for your prayers, and encouragement.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I have arrived!

Hello from Germany!
I arrived in Kandern Sunday afternoon after a long night/morning of travel, but thankfully had no issues with either of my flights, no problems with my luggage, and no problem meeting up with the RA who came to pick me up.
I have been settling in to life here in Germany, and I have to admit it is a bit overwhelming. This week the New Staff is going through orientation, which includes 2 hours of learning German, and then a 'field trip' into town to put into practice what we just learned. I'm trying hard to pick up on the German language and culture, but it is quite different and difficult.
The afternoons have been spent learning how to drive here in Germany! Wow... this is slightly different. Thankfully they drive on the same side of the road, that is, if the road is big enough to fit two cars on it at the same time. I'm surprised how skinny some of the roads are and how fast some people drive on them. Nevertheless I am adjusting to the road well (that is when I don't stall the car) and starting to learn where everything is. It is a bit difficult because I have to learn all the names of the dorms, and then understand how to get to and from each dorm from any given point. Later in the week we will be taking trips to the Dr. office, orthodontist, hospital etc. By the weekend I will be driving on the autobahn!

The area I am in is absolutely beautiful. There are green rolling hills everywhere you look and on clear days you can see the Swiss Alps in the distance. Absolutely stunning.
I have been able to go for a run the past two days which has been very nice. A great mental break for me, and a chance to collect all my thoughts and emotions.

I am very excited to be here and the transition has been quite easy. I cannot wait for the students to get here, but also want to enjoy the little bit of down time I do have prior to their arrival.

thank you for all of your prayers, letters of encouragement, and support throughout all of this. You have all been phenomenal and I am very thankful for you.

Love
Tommy