Thursday, February 26, 2009

Letter

Dear Tommy,
Today, just like every day you have a choice. Sometimes the decision is easy, but it is still your choice. Today you have to make a choice as to whether or not the attitude of your heart will make today significant. There have been seasons where sleep was as abundant as the sand on the beach. Laughter seemed never ending like the blue sky on a warm summer day. Friends seemed intimately close regardless of the miles between you.
But there have also been seasons of struggle. Sleep is an event that is always talked about but never accomplished. Forcing a smile seems more difficult than staying dry in a hurricane. Companionship appears to be impossible.
Whatever the season, whatever the external circumstances may be, internally the choice is yours. Choose wisely.
Certainly it might take less effort choosing to be in a sour mood. Make this choice early in the morning, and you don't have to fight all day. Honestly, it is an attractive bargain. Choose to hold on to bitterness and frustration, you can throw yourself a pity party. It may not be a joyous party, but it is a party nonetheless, right? Choose wisely.
Choosing to fight, requires determination. It calls for perseverance and steadfastness. Choosing to fight means there are no short-cuts, no easy ways out. But you must choose wisely. For in less than 24 hours, today will be over. Fight. You are not guaranteed another month, week, or day. Fight. When you lay your head to rest, do so knowing you took hold of your day. Fight.
You heard your coach utter, "Play each game like it could be your last" or they would say "go down swinging!"
Live each day like it could be your last. Fight for the souls of those around you. Persevere through the storm and allow your heart to be glad. For this is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. Be steadfast and don't allow for a day to slip through your hands.
Your life has a purpose, and is meaningful. Your day has a purpose and is meaningful.
Today you have a choice. Choose wisely.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What a bizarre day.





Well there is a lot to tell in this post, and in my attempt to explain it all I will also strive to not be over dramatic. My personality is to dislike telling such stories, but I feel it is important to share.

On my day off this past Monday I decided to go down to school to play basketball and volleyball with other BFA staff, and some local Germans. Playing on Mondays has been a great experience and has helped me bond with some of the staff here. I am thankful because when I show up at the gym I feel like I belong, and I feel comfortable there. This past Monday I left the gym around 9.45pm and made it back to Sonne by 10.00. Upon being back at the dorm I stopped to talk to a few students on the way to my room. One of the upper classmen made a comment to me about how the middle school guys had pranked my room while I was gone. I started laughing and was excited to walk in my room and see what they had done. When I opened my door I immediately noticed a lot of smoke, and in four different parts of my room there were flames of fire. I quickly ran and told the dorm dad, grabbed a fire extinguisher, all the while yelling at the top of my lungs for all the guys to get out of the dorm. Long story short, thankfully Rick and I were able to contain the fire to just my room, and after three full fire extinguishers, were able to put it out. All 26 students made it out of the building with no problem. We had practiced fire drills on a few different occasions, and we were really blessed to see they had paid attention and did exactly what they were supposed to do.
The guys went over to Blauen (dorm across the street) while their staff, and another RA tried to calm everyone down. Many of the students were quite shook up, and all of the middle schoolers were in tears. I know it was hard for them to see me walk across the street hooked up to an oxygen tank, and taken away in an ambulance. I was transported to a local hospital purely for precautionary reasons. I went into my room on four separate occasions and as a result inhaled a large amount of smoke. I came out at one point coughing, light headed, and out of breath. At the hospital they took an x-ray of my lungs, and took a lot of blood samples. Against my will they kept me overnight to continually monitor my blood. I’m not a doctor, and many of the doctors didn’t speak any English, so I’m not entirely sure what all they did. I just knew which arm they needed to get blood from, and understood the “ein, zwei, drei” right before they stuck the needle in. I was hoping to leave the hospital in the morning, but was told my blood/oxygen levels were not quite where they needed to be so I spent most of the afternoon at the hospital. Thankfully around 5.30 I was allowed to leave and made it back to Sonne just as the dorm was getting ready to eat dinner. I was quite relieved to be back at the dorm, because honestly, I didn’t want to go to the hospital in the first place.
From all the fire, smoke, and extinguisher "stuff" (sorry, don't know the technical term for it!) most of the stuff in my room is completely ruined. A representative for the insurance company came by today to assess the damage and will soon come back with a proposal. At this point it looks like I will not be allowed in my room for a few weeks. There is quite a bit of work that needs to be taken care of. We have a guest room in the dorm where I will stay – but it is not the same. It has been quite weird and emotionally difficult walking around the dorm with the knowledge I don’t have anyplace to call “my own.”
Needless to say here at Sonne we have gone through yet another epic event. Once again we are thankful for God’s protection throughout the entire ordeal. It is crazy to think about what could have happened if the fire went unnoticed for another two minutes - we are thankful no students were injured. We are thankful for the rapid response of the fire department.
It has been amazing to hear, and see, the way in which the upper classmen have stepped up in the dorm and rallied around one another.
Just to clear up any confusion, the fire was started due to electrical problems, and had nothing to do with the middle school prank. Though the toilet paper that was creatively strung throughout my room enabled to fire to spread to the different areas. However, the guys were relieved to understand it was not their fault.

I will close with a story from when the guys were at Blauen… All four middle school students had been placed upstairs in a “tv room” and were making their way to bed. Still startled, they were lying down but still in tears and afraid. Aware of the mood of the MS guys, PJ, one of the guys from the first floor came into the room and sat down on a couch at the feet of the MS guys. A staff member entered the room and asked PJ what he was doing, PJ responded, “I just wanted to sit here with these guys until they fall asleep.”

I have nothing but joy as I continue to serve here in Germany, room or no room.
Tommy

Sunday, February 8, 2009

None But Jesus

In the chaos, in confusion
I know You’re Sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do Your will