Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jooks, the Legend.



In the picture you will see one of Sonne’s finest traditions, the Birthday Creek. I wanted to show this picture along with this blog because my favorite part of the creeking is when Jooks gives a nice raspberry blow on the birthday boy’s stomach.
As I said in my blog from earlier today, I wanted you to have the chance to hear a little bit from the guys at Sonne. Jooks is an amazing man and all around great guy. He is a solid guy and has made me laugh on many occasions. I asked him if he would provide a little bit about himself so you have a better understanding of the guys I am serving…

Hi there,
I’m just your normal 18 year old missionary kid… just kidding I'm not like anyone else. I go by “Jooks” (pronounced like hooks.) Even my teachers call me Jooks. My real name is Josh Crooks. My parents are missionaries in Italy but have only been there for about five years. Before that they served eighteen years in Venezuela. I was born and raised there. I have four siblings, Anna-21 (now going to college at Moody Bible Institute), Beka-15 (at BFA also), Benny-3, and Sammy-2. I know 3 languages, English, Italian, and Spanish all fluently… German has been more difficult.

I am the lead designer of the school’s yearbook this year. I have also been appointed the position of yearbook editor. Graphic design is one of my hobbies and passions, though I am even crazier for music. I’ve been playing the drums since I was in grade three. Since then, I have played for several churches, youth and chapel bands. I am currently a part of the BFA’s chapel band that plays every Friday in chapel. I also do percussion for outreach ministries in the nearby city of Basel, playing on the street and striking up conversation with the locals. I will probably major in Contemporary Christian Music and I really want to be a youth pastor.

Other things I like to do are write in my journal, play guitar and piano, play with fire, spend time with my dearest friends, and read my bible. No, I do not have a girlfriend which I am ok with. My favorite things are hugs, stories, thunderstorms, when girls wear pretty dresses, love notes, climbing trees, good food, being barefoot, singing, pretty girls, snow, autumn, summer, spring, sweatshirts, and treasure maps. My favorite artists are Sufjan Stevens, Architecture in Helsinki, Anathallo, The Cold War Kids, Kimja Dawson, The Raconteurs, The White Stripes, System of a Down, Bright Eyes, Damien Rice, and HEM, just to name a fraction.

Being a senior here at Sonne I couldn’t say there is any place better than this dorm. Sonne has been my home since my sophomore year. There is no other place I would rather be. I’m in love with the dorm and this school and all of my Sonneknight brothers. The staff is dear to me also. I’ve gotten to really enjoy being around them… Staff used to be a distant and overpowering and unapproachable force, but each one of the new staff members this year are really caring and friendly.

Yes my life has definitely been an interesting one so far. I can’t believe I have so much more to live. It seems like I've learned so much already. It’s never boring and for that I thank God. I'm so blessed.

What a week.



It's laundry day!
Things up here at Sonne have been going well so far this week. The weekend here was busy and difficult to say the least. I appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers for me, and the dorm as we persevered through our most recent trial.
On Monday Rick returned from the USA (picking him up was quite the adventure!) and since then things have started to settle down. We are still searching for that 'normal week' and I am starting to believe it does not really exist. However now that we have all 6 staff members at the dorm we are hoping to come together and get into a rhythm.

Tomorrow starting at noon I will officially be "off" for the weekend! I am very, very excited about having the whole weekend off. It will be the first time I will have back-to-back days off since I have been here. Since this past Tuesday I started to feel relieved and a little relaxed already, simply knowing I had the weekend off. So the big question is, what do I do with my first weekend off? I am traveling to Munich with four other RA's for the weekend. We have arranged to stay with a pastor and his wife in their apartment. The plan is to relax, experience a little bit of the German culture, and as of now we are planning on visiting Dachau. Dachau is a city about 10K north of Munich, and is where Himmler, and the SS set up the first Nazi concentration camp. With my love of history I am very excited about visiting the camp. I am certain it will be filled with history, but it will be a very sobering place.
Overall my goal for the weekend is to get away from the dorm and relax, but also reflect. I want to do some personal reflection regarding how I have done in the dorm. I want to take this weekend as a 'retreat' and come back refreshed and energized with more ideas and ways to reach and love the kids. While the weekend will be an adventure full of fun, I want to take the time to focus and reflect.

I hope to put up a new post before I leave in which I can introduce you to another one of the students in the dorm. I know many of you are praying for the students and I would love for you to see pictures, and hear from them. I'm sure I can convince one of them to help me out in place of studying or doing his gratis.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The wisdom of Children

If you spend enough time around kids they will say some pretty amazing things. I was helping Michael with his geography homework tonight and in his typical way, he asked me a question in an attempt to weasel out of doing his work, so he asked, "Do you think David is in Heaven?" I thought his question was a little odd but answered, "Yes I do. David was described as a man after God's heart." Michael then said, "yeah, but he did so many bad things. He murdered, cheated, he did bad things." At this point I was still playing the role of the teacher so I responded, "Well God will forgive you if you believe in who Jesus was and what Jesus did." After this comment I transitioned from being the teacher, to being the student as I heard Michael say, "Man, God has a lot of love for us. He is good."
God is good. The faith and understanding of a child is amazing. There are many times where I say/hear, "God is good" and in the same breath I start to say, "yeah but I've done..." or I say, "God is good how could he love me..." "God might love me if I do..."
The wisdom of children is something we can learn from. All it took was the recognition that God has forgiven our sins and Michael responds, "God is good and he loves me." No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Things up here at Sonne have been quite hectic this week. Yet it has been a very good week. I have been blessed with many conversations with students that brought joy to my heart. Some of the student's walls are starting to come down which has allowed for me to really connect with them, which has been wonderful.

Just an update as far as some of the activities going on at the dorm, and school. Tomorrow we will bring hot lunch to the students at school. We will cook in the morning and then drive down to the school, serve them some chili and then eat with them. Tomorrow night the student council is putting on the high school fall party. Different groups of students will preform different skits. Also tomorrow, the middle school students leave for their retreat. Saturday, weather permitting we are hoping to take the guys on a long hike through the forest.
It is busy up here, but I am loving what I do.
I want to apologize for not finding the time to respond to e-mails. I admit that I have taken much longer than I would like to get back to you. I really do appreciate your e-mails and your words of encouragement. Honestly, it is difficult to find 30 minutes where I can be by myself and type up some e-mails.

Thank you for all you do. Thank you for checking my blog. I appreciate your support. You provide me with the encouragement and energy needed to be here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Update

I know that I have talked to a few of you regarding the current situation here at Sonne. Last night around 11:30 pm Rick's (dorm dad of Sonne)father passed away. His father had been fighting for the past few months and last night he went home. Rick was by his father's bed for two months over the summer, but left the USA so he could come to Sonne and start the school year here. Rick left Sonne this morning to fly back to Detroit to be with his mom and family.
I was talking with Rick last night before 11:30, he told me that even though it sounded harsh, he would be relieved when his father passed away. His father has been fighting and in agony for many months and for him to be done fighting is a relief. However Rick's mom is struggling. Rick's parents were married for 57 years.
Please pray for Rick and his family. Over the past few days as conditions worsened it was written all over Rick's face. It has been very emotional here at Sonne for a few days.
In addition to all of this, we are about to enter our second week of having an understaffed dorm. I know I speak for myself, and the others when I say we are drained. Physically and emotionally, we are tired.
Thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Laundry Day

The Black Forest area of Germany is absolutely beautiful. The rivers trickle down the valleys as they wind in and out of the hills. The clouds provide occasional shade as they tumble over the mountains. I can see all of this through the window. It is Thursday, I am in the cold basement doing laundry.
Things have been really busy here as of late. There continue to be a lot of different transitions that force adjustments to be made. New staff arriving, dorm parents leaving the country for a week, different schedules for the school, etc. It seems as if there has yet to be a ‘normal’ day. Through all the running around I have become tired. I was not necessarily expecting the busy days and nights. I wasn’t expecting the stress, the necessity of meticulous planning. I was expecting relationships with the guys to flourish from day one. I was expecting to instantly feel at home and feel a purpose and see the impact I was having.
Despite it all, I love it here. I have spent the majority of my time with the four middle school students in the dorm, which is different than what I was initially anticipating – but something I have come to enjoy. They definitely have A LOT of energy and enthusiasm, but it is a lot of fun. On an almost nightly basis, right before their 10:00 bedtime, these four enjoy running around the hall trying to sneak into different rooms attempting to escape from me and their beds. One night I got tired of chasing the guys around so I hid underneath Michael’s bed waiting for him to come back. When he came back to his room to ask his roommate where I was, I reached out from under the bed and grabbed his ankles. He was quite startled, and promptly went to bed! Naturally he was running around the next night, but at least I had one ‘easy’ night.
I really am enjoying myself here, but I will admit it is tough. I continue to believe that my presence here is making a difference in the lives of the students. It was my perception that I would change lives through deep conversations and Bible studies. While I have had quality conversations they have not been in abundance like I originally thought. Honestly, it led to moments and days of frustration. “God, why am I here? How am I supposed to impact these kids?” There were many days where I asked these questions, many days where I did not seem to get an answer. But when the answer came all I could do was say, “God! You know what you are doing, I don’t”
I am sitting on a cold cement floor waiting to fold their laundry. I am helping them study geometry, geography, and physics, I am saying good-night to them in their native language in hopes they feel a little less homesick. I am serving these kids so that their parents can continue to be on the mission field and complete their task.
I have been here for over a month – and I am just starting to learn this. I am still wrestling with God over how I am being used – I tend to think I know better than he does. As I leave my own agenda behind and follow God’s, I am finding more joy and purpose.
The dryer just finished! So excuse me, I am going to pour out more of God’s love on these kids. Time to fold some more laundry. Time to serve and love these kids, in a dark, musty, cold basement full of dirty socks and underwear. I love it here.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Students



Today is Thursday, which means it is my day to do laundry. By the time all is said and done I will have washed and folded about 14 loads of laundry. While the clothes are being washed I wanted to take a second and put up a post. This one is going to be a little different. Up to now most of my posts have been about my work here at BFA, my thoughts and my activities. Today I want to tell you about one of the students in my dorm, Michael. The students are the reason I am here and who I came to serve. Therefore I want you to know who I am working with.
Michael is a 12-year old 7th grader here at BFA. He has lived in the Ivory Coast, Congo and just moved to Germany from France - which has allowed him to become fluent in French. Michale's gratis is to set the table every night, so I go in and help him and while we set the table we talk back and forth in French. He gets a kick out of my French language skills, but is quite impressed with my ability to communicate (Thank you Madame Meade!) The other day we were setting the table and he asked me a question - but I could not understand him so I asked him to repeat. This went on two or three times until I finally asked him to slow down, look at me, and speak as clearly as possible. I eventually understood, and was quite embarrassed because I was thinking he was speaking French, when he was really speaking English. We both burst out laughing.
Michael is fluent in French but English is his second language. Therefore some of his work is a bit difficult for him. The past week he has been spending about 90-120 minutes in my room a night with me working on his homework. We have done everything from; multiplication tables, the scientific method, and geography. It has been a lot of fun helping him - and it made my day yesterday when he came home from school and asked me, full of excitement if we could go to my room to work on some history.
I will continue to work with Michael on his homework, and bond with him while we set the table. You can pray that Michael continues to develop his understanding of the English language, and you can pray that even though he is only 12, I can plant seeds in him.