Sunday, May 31, 2009

End of the year

There has been so much activity here recently it is hard to pick a place to begin. The end of school is upon us, and there will hardly be a free moment to catch a breath. I want to keep you updated on as many things as I can, so I will write a few sentences on each topic.
Tournament -
The guys team came in second place! Our tournament was full of thrills, last second goals, and fun. We played five games in three days, and came away very proud of what we accomplished and the way we carried ourselves. I was amazed at the respect our team received from everyone we came in contact with. Our teams went in being a witness on and off the field. Tournament was awesome. I had to sleep on a gym floor for three nights straight, but had a great time.
Our girls team won the championship! Their first place, was the first in quite some time, and very much deserved. I had a blast watching their games and joining in their success. It was a joy to watch our boys and girls support each other and cheer for each other throughout the weekend. Though our boys were disappointed they didn't win, it was great watching them celebrate with the girls.
Europa Park -
The day after we got back from tournament, Sonne, as well as two other dorms went to Europa Park, which is a theme park about 70 minutes away. Roller-coasters, cotton candy and water rides provided entertainment (all with the European twist) all day long. Walking around the park with different students and forcing them to go on roller coasters was enjoyable. Of course, I had to be very enthusiastic on some rides and scream my head off, to get a rise out of the guys I was with.
Spring Party -
The entire school made a journey "up the hill" to Sonne this past Friday. We grilled steaks, burgers, and had ourselves a wonderful evening. The student council chose the theme of, "Vikings" so there were people walking around with viking helmets all night. They had competitions throughout the night that included; a pie eating contest (a guy from our dorm won!) a log toss, sac race, and even a truck pull! We had the perfect evening weather wise and thoroughly enjoyed the night.
Packing Day, Dorm Cleaning, Laundry-
You thought this was all fun and games? Saturday we spent all day packing up rooms. ALL day. We only have so much storage space available so the guys have to pack up their stuff in boxes and suitcases and be ready to ship out. You thought pulling teeth was painful? Try motivating 26 guys to clean their rooms.
Tomorrow we will do our final day of laundry for the year. Typically I do 12 loads of laundry for the nine guys on the first floor. When I go down to wash/fold the laundry for 26 guys... I am scared as to how many loads it will take, and the amount of time I will spend in the laundry room.
Next Wednesday we have our official, "dorm cleaning" which will be even more fun! We will spend three to four hours washing, cleaning, mopping, scrubbing.

Flying home -
This year I will unfortunately miss graduation (Friday June 5), as I will fly home early Thursday morning. I am in the wedding party for my college roommate, Caleb and his wife-to-be, Melissa. They are getting married on Saturday June 6 and I will be involved in all the pre-wedding festivities. Though it is very hard and difficult to know I will not be here for graduation, I am ecstatic about being there for Caleb and Melissa.
Following the wedding, I will fly back to New Hampshire on Sunday night.

As you can tell, it has been very busy here, and will only get more crazy within the next few days. I have not even begun to think about packing, and will most likely start Wednesday night around midnight.
I have tried to communicate this in prior posts, but I hope you recognize how much I love being here. BFA has been a great place for me and I absolutely love what I am able to do here. Though for now I am tired, busy, stressed, I know I will fall asleep tonight smiling as I look at what I have been able to do throughout the day. I will continue to post throughout the summer, as I will have time to reflect and process everything that has happened throughout the year. I also plan on compiling all the pictures I have taken throughout the year, so if you are interested in seeing those let me know.
Thank you for your love and support. Thank you for reading my blog, and enabling me to do what I love.

Tommy

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tournament!

In just a few minutes I am leaving the dorm for the year end soccer tournament! The team is traveling by bus today, and will play two games tomorrow (Thursday) one on Friday, and then hopefully the semi-finals and finals on Saturday. It is going to be an amazing weekend, and the guys have been looking forward to this all year. I know it will be busy and tiring, but well worth it.

I encourage you to take a look at the new documents I have put up on my blog, specifically the "year two letter" and the new "support pledge form." As I finish up my first year at BFA I am needing to raise my support in order to return in the fall. I hope you been able to see my love for being here, and the amazing opportunities that are here to disciple and engage these students. A hard copy of the letter was sent out in the mail a few days ago, if you do not receive a letter in the mail, but would like to, please contact me and I will be sure to get you one. It is your prayer support and financial donations that enable me to remain on the mission field, and serve God in this way. I am extremely thankful for all you have done, and will continue to do. Thank you.

Tommy

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Chance to brag


This morning I am going to take a moment and brag a bit. Within the next 48 hours (taking into account the time difference) my older brother, Philip, will graduate from the University of Florida Law School. For the past three years he has been working diligently on obtaining his law degree and in a few hours he will receive it. Studying law is not my forte so I cannot even begin to describe what exactly he is studying, or what he spent hours upon hours reading. All I know is he spent a lot of time in the library reading and doing research. Throughout the past three years I know he wrote a multitude of lengthy papers that took weeks to research and finalize. Of course there were moments of fun and games scattered in there, as he was at Florida while their men's team won a multitude of national championships for both football and basketball. All of that will momentarily come to a close this weekend as he graduates. Shortly after the graduation festivities have ended he will begin studying for the bar exam, which he will take over the summer. He may not feel as relieved knowing for the next month he will be studying all day, everyday. However, I am extremely proud of him for not simply making it through law school, but excelling in the past three years.
Last summer Whitney and I had the opportunity to go out to Milwaukee and visit Philip while he was doing his clerkship. It was awesome to see him at work, and clearly enjoying his position. I remember meeting up with him one afternoon after he finished work for the day, he was just strolling down the sidewalk in a sleek summer suit, with fancy sunglasses, gelled hair, and that goofy grin of his that says, "Yeah... I'm the man." There is an unexplainable joy I am filled with when I see those I love fulfilling their goals and living out their dreams. Watching Philip complete law school, and line up a position with a firm in the coming months has filled me with such great feelings of being proud and joyous.
It is at times like this where it is really hard to be away from home. I have not seen Philip since Christmas, and it could be anywhere from three to seven months until I get to see him again. Missing out on these experiences is not emotionally easy.
Philip, congratulations on graduating from law school. I wish I could be there to celebrate with you. I am so impressed with the way in which you have grown over the past three years. It has been a joy to watch you excel and use the gifts you have been given. Thank you for always being there for me, and for all the love and support you have shown me. Well done.

Tommy

The picture above is from Philip's freshmen year at Law School. I had the opportunity to drive down from college and hang out with him for a bit.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sonne Update

Life never ceases to be interesting here at Sonne. I see that as a blessing and a curse, but more often than not, it is a blessing.
During our Spring Break (about 4 weeks ago) our dorm mom, Sharon, returned to the States to receive more intense physical therapy on her wrist. Her wrist had been giving her trouble since her bike accident (last October) and the therapy she was progressing through here had reached a stalemate. The German doctors concluded she would not regain any more strength or mobility at her current rate. Therefore she went back to the States to seek a wrist specialist. At the time she left we were unaware of how long she would be away from the dorm. The hope was just a few weeks, but we were aware it could be longer. When news broke she would not be able to come back to the dorm until June at the earliest, our dorm dad, Rick, decided it would be best for him to fly back to the States and assist his wife. Yesterday morning Rick flew back to Detroit and will remain there until Sharon is finished with her therapy. It is their hope to return in time for graduation, but the current outlook on that is not too optimistic.
Therefore for the remaining four weeks of the semester we as a staff will be going through yet another transition. The only consistency we have had throughout the year, is that everything is inconsistent. Our Resident Life supervisors, Glenn and his wife Sheila will be coming up to Sonne and serve as our dorm parents for the last four weeks. There is a lot of excitement about Glenn and Sheila coming to the dorm. They will bring a lot of energy, enthusiasm and passion.
As I mentioned, this is yet another transition for our dorm staff. Throughout the year we have had more weeks without Rick and Sharon, than we have had with them. With Rick's departure the stress rose a bit, the weight seemed heavier and with exhausted minds and bodies us RA's looked at each other and said, "Here we go again!"
I do not anticipate these four weeks to be easy, but I know we will make the best of them. I know we face yet another difficult challenge, but I am confident we will come together as a staff, as well as a community and provide for the guys in a manner in which they deserve.

Completely switching topics, I want to give a 'heads up' as far as what the weekend looks like here at the dorm...because it is quite busy and exciting.
This morning CB and I spent about two hours ironing pants and shirts for our Junior Senior Banquet (JSB) tonight. The closest parallel of JSB is the American high school Prom. You would not believe the creative ways guys ask girls to JSB. We had one guy jump out of a trash can, holding a basket of fruit. One had a few guys "kidnap" the girl, and then he came over and rescued her, and as her "Knight in shining armor" asked her to JSB. My personal favorite would be the guy who asked a member of the girls soccer team. He woke her up outside her window, but not by throwing pebbles at her window as they do in the movies...he threw soccer balls at her window and had a note attached to the ball!
JSB includes a fancy dinner, followed by many 'performances' by students. The Juniors give their farewells to the seniors and prepare to take on the responsibilities and privileges of being a senior. When all is said and done we will have the students back in the dorm shortly after 1.30 am.
Tomorrow we have our second to last regular season soccer game. Our guys team have yet to lose, as we are looking to clinch a top seed in our season ending tournament. Our varsity girls continue to impress and are in position to be one of the top five seeds, which would be the highest ever by a BFA girls team. It is a joy to coach and be involved with the team. My relationships with the guys have definitely deepened and stretched as a result of being their coach.
Sunday we are taking our guys out for a "dorm outing" event. We will travel into Switzerland to the mountains for the alpine slides. What happens is we take a ski lift to the top of the mountain, and then hop on a 'car' similar to a go-kart. Then, you get on the slide and drive the five/six mile track down the mountain. I have never done this before, but have heard it is awesome. The guys will definitely enjoy the adventure and thrill of going down the mountain. It will hopefully provide our dorm with some laughter, fun, and good bonding time.

As you can see it will be a busy but awesome weekend here at Sonne. I hope to post some pictures of the weekend on Monday or Tuesday.
Thanks for keeping up with my blog!

Tommy

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Earth shattering

You know when something major happens and everyone is talking about it the next day, offering their viewpoint and opinion of how it all transpired? Everyone wants to share where they were, what they witnessed, what it sounded like.
Well... I'm going to do that, but not in a lot of detail. Last night around 3.40am there was a pretty big earthquake that rattled our area. I heard it reached a level of 4.5 on the scale, which is more than just a little rumbling.
I have never experienced an earthquake before, so even though my beauty sleep was interrupted, I thought it was pretty cool. Thankfully nobody at BFA was injured, and to my knowledge no major damage was done.
This just goes to prove once again, you never know what's going to happen here in Germany.