Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back to school!

They are here!! There are few words that accurately describe the joy and enthusiasm as the students came to Sonne this past Sunday and Monday. Sunday saw the eight new students arrive at Sonne, all a little scared and timid. Thankfully it has been quite obvious that the new students have been able to fit in and quickly adapt to life here at Sonne. Monday had a very different feel than Sunday, as the dorm was filled with excitement and anticipation all day long. Every time a returning student would arrive, an announcement was made over the intercom system, and the guys who were in the dorm came pouring out yelling with joy, offering up massive hugs. The final student arrived shortly after 11.45pm, and was welcomed with a roaring applause.
Tuesday brought opening ceremonies, and the first day of school, which didn't please the students but it gave me two very specific reasons to be thankful.
1. There were many BFA students I saw Tuesday at school who came up and give me big hugs and told me about their summers. They were students who DO NOT live at Sonne, but I had the chance to know the through the trip to Kenya, and soccer. I found great joy in knowing those two opportunities created friendships that would last. I am thrilled to see relationships that started last year, continuing on to this year. I don't see these students as often as I do the Sonne guys, but it is always an encouraging encounter.
2. Every year during the opening ceremonies the school does a 'roll call' of countries. If the students hold a passport in that country, if their parents serve in that country, if they were born in that country, when it is called...they stand up and cheer. I got goosebumps as I heard the impact BFA families are having around the world. Literally, around the world. Australia, Malawi, Israel, Ethiopia, Slovenia, Russia, Italy, India, China, Mongolia, Germany, England, Latvia, Sweden, and the list goes on. Being able to sit in the auditorium and see all the students stand up when 'their' country was called, was incredible. This is a very special place. The work that goes on here is very special, and has an impact far greater than I will ever comprehend.

This weekend will be exciting, as tomorrow (Friday) is the event, Chillin' N Grillin'
The RAs have put together a little piece of entertainment, which will hopefully bring a few laughs. Saturday is our big day for back-to-school shopping, and Sunday we will do the traditional, Sonne Floor Soccer. Busy weekend.

Here are a few pictures from opening ceremonies...
I don't know what is going on here...

The 10 Sonne seniors...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Moments away

After being here in Germany for almost five weeks, I am excited because the students will start arriving tomorrow! The past five weeks have been full of varied activities. For the first two weeks I was putting in my 'work weeks' which included; mowing, pulling weeds, moving furniture, waxing a floor, etc. The past few weeks we have been going through our Residence Life orientation. These weeks were filled with meetings, discussions, and planning for the year. Knowing the students are arriving this weekend, we have been busting our tails the past couple of days to get the dorm in order. The past three days I have put in 12+ hours every day. Vacuuming the halls, wiping down the students' desk, assigning gratis' (aka chores), are just a few of the tasks we tackled. As noted in a previous post, our new dorm parents are still in the States raising support. We have a couple who are currently serving as missionaries in Florida, coming to serve as dorm subs until Darren and Kristina are able to come to Germany. As a result of the lack of dorm parents at Sonne for the past three weeks, the workload has been heavier than normal. However we have been blessed by the BFA community and the ways in which they have stepped in and helped. People came up to help us cook, vacuum, and pull weeds. Our neighbors across the street, Blauen, a BFA dorm for females, invited us over to dinner a few times which was not only delicious, but a load off our shoulders.

The new students will come to the dorm tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon. We will have 8 new guys overall, ranging from 7th grade, to 12th. I am very excited to meet them and get the year started. Our returning students (13) will come in on Monday. Then, the school year begins bright and early on Tuesday morning! I am excited for the new students, but am also excited for the returners. I know I will be able to build on the relationships that were formed last year. The students are why I am here in Germany, and am excited for them to once again be in the dorm. I have been getting a lot of emails in the past days and weeks from students excited about the year.

But for now... I have a few hours to rest. I want to take a deep breath and relax. After putting in a lot of hours this week, I have the afternoon off. So I made it down to town, and am at the Powell's house. They have been a blessing as they have allowed me to make their house a place where I can come and go as I please. It feels like a home away from home for me. I invited myself over, so I could take a nap on 'my couch' and enjoy a few hours away from the dorm. They have "ESPN America" which is showing an NFL preseason game, so we are going to enjoy the game and some typical "American food." Burgers, chips, and buffalo wings. Dee lish (that's for you dad).

Blessings from Germany.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Family

Lately there has been a lot of work done in preparation for the arrival of the students. On occasion the tasks have piled up and created stress and left us feeling overwhelmed. However over the past three and a half days, I was able to escape all this, as my entire family came to Germany to see BFA, and the work I do here. Words cannot fully define the joy that came from their visit. I had not seen my brother, Philip, since Christmas, so it was very refreshing and enjoyable to see him again. Unfortunately he came down with a nasty cold and stayed in bed for the last 36 hours of the visit. Even with this, it was enjoyable and refreshing to simply be around him.
Most of the time I was in the States over the summer, I was with my parents, and sister, but it was great to see them here in my new home. We took time to get the 'official' tour of Sonne Dorm, as well as the school and Kandern area. The first day we did not do anything terribly exciting, but I took them to a restaurant for dinner and was able to say, "This is where we bring the students to watch Champions League (soccer) games." It means so much for me to be able to share my experience with them. It is awesome they are now able to have a mental image of my room, the kitchen, and even the staff office where I am currently sitting typing this post. They were able to meet many of the people I work with, which was really encouraging because I know my friends here have prayed for my family throughout the year.

There are many things I love about my family, but this most recent trip highlighted one aspect that I absolutely cherish, laughter. Every 'field trip' every meal, every walk resulted in us laughing until our stomachs hurt. Whether it is us attempting to communicate with the chirping birds, listening to Whitney's stomach talk to anyone who will listen, or hearing my mom try and retell a story, we all end up laughing. As a result of the deep love we have for each other, we are completely and utterly comfortable being goofy and making fools of ourselves. I love hearing Whitney's stories that have no beginning, middle, end, or point. I love watching my mom tell a story, and seeing my dad constantly shaking his head, because my mom has ruined the punchline. There were so many instances where I had the realization, "This is MY family, and I love every second of this."
The five of us will not be together again for another four months, which is sad. However I know I have so much; laughter, joy, love, and encouragement to look forward to.
Dad, Mom, Philip, Whitney. Thank you so much for coming out to Germany and visiting me. You guys were a blessing and a joy to spend time with. You mean more to me than you will ever know. Thank you.

Tommy

Enjoy some of the pictures from the past few days...










Thursday, August 6, 2009

Orientation

Greetings from Germany! I am sitting in the living room of Storch dorm at the moment, home to 12 RAs as we go through our 10 day long orientation. Our new staff (three RAs and one set of dorm parents) have been busy during the mornings at their German language class. The returners have been busy putting together the food for the week, and getting our dorms in order. During the afternoon we all spend a few hours in meetings/discussion to prepare us for the dorm. I have really enjoyed being back with the Res. Life staff. I don't have many opportunities to spend a lot of quality time with the other RAs and DPs throughout the school year, therefore it is nice to have that time now. Even though I have been back in Germany for three weeks now, I have only been up to Sonne twice. This afternoon I was able to get up the hill, and it felt so good to be at Sonne, even if for a brief 15 minutes. Honestly, I felt as though I was home, and filled with energy, passion and joy. Soon I will move back into my room, and live up there while we go through the remainder of our staff and school orientation.
Within the past week I have received an increasing amount of emails and notes from students, which gets me excited for the school year. I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of the guys. We have 12 guys returning and will have 10-12 new students.

I thank you for your continued support and prayers.
Nothing buy joy from Germany...

Tommy