Thursday, February 25, 2010

All the happenings

It has been a little while since I put up a blog that simply talked about all the different things going on here. So here it goes...

A few weeks ago our little section of Germany got a pretty good dosage of snow. It provided a lot of opportunities for sledding, snow ball fights, and the favorite of all the guys...early morning shoveling! I already posted about the time a few of us guys decided to snowboard down the hill, which proved to be somewhat ineffective. However, the next day we had CB drive us to the top of Hocblauen, so we could snowboard down. I have to admit, prior to that weekend, I had spent a grand total of 10 minutes on a snowboard in my life! So I was a little nervous to be snowboarding down a small mountain, with plenty of trees brushing my arms. Needless to say, it was a blast! Thankfully I lived to tell about the adventure!




Speaking of adventures...on February 15 the school held a Sadie Hawkins dance. Although it wasn't your typical high school dance, the student council deemed the theme "Scottish Dancing night" and the whole night the students learned how to dance some traditional Scottish dances. I intended on driving the students down to watch, and enjoy...but found a student without a partner. Anxious to try and learn the dances myself, I got out on the gym floor, and danced with the students. It proved to be a very entertaining and memorable night.



Our basketball teams are finishing up their season right now. The teams are currently at the season ending tournament. Both teams have done really well this year. Last year our boys team did not win a single game, and often found it difficult to make a game competitive. However, this year they finished the regular season with three wins! Not only that, but they won their final home game, which was the first home victory in at least three years.



Part of me is really sad that basketball season is over. I really enjoyed going to the games and watching our students compete. I also really enjoyed watching our community cheer for our teams, regardless of the score. HOWEVER...the end of basketball season only means one thing... SOCCER STARTS SOON!
This year I will be coaching again, although in a slightly different role. This year I will be assistant coach for the girls varsity team. Honestly, I am thrilled about this position and am confident it will be a really good year. I am really excited to work with the girls on the team, and am looking forward to the new dimension. I am certain it will be different than last year and am aware there will be challenges I am not currently aware of. Despite all this - I am very excited about the season.

As you can see, things are always happening and staying busy here at BFA!

Lastly, as I finish typing this, it is nearing midnight but tonight our guys have been wide awake. Tonight we got a new student in our dorm. As the van pulled up at 11.40 to drop him off, guys poured out of their rooms to welcome him to the dorm. It was really touching to see the guys give this complete stranger such a warm welcome.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Life lessons from Dory

For some odd reason as I sat down at my computer today, debating what to blog about, a scene from the movie, "Finding Nemo" popped into my head, and provided me with the spring board I needed.
In one of the scenes Dory, the lowly educated yet highly entertaining fish, approaches Nemo's father and says, "Hey Mr. grumpy gills, when life gets you down what do you do? Just keep swimming, keep swimming, we gotta keep swimming, swimming, swimming."
What does that scene have to do with anything with life here in Germany? Well, our community has been going through a lot the past two and a half weeks. Our community has had a lot of hurt, pain, suffering, confusion, etc. lately. For many, tears have been more visible than smiles. It is a time where hearts have been heavy and bodies weary. Many of our school's leaders have been working around the clock, getting minimal sleep. Within the Res. Life department, we have been a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a mentor to process with. The past two weeks have been extremely difficult. I don't feel it necessary nor appropriate to share the details. It has been one of those times where all I can say is, "It has been tough" and I feel as though that is all that needs to be said.
All of these things have left many beat up and worn down. Many dorm staffs have been short-handed, forcing them to put in long days, and weeks of work. Taking the advice of Dory, yet altering it just a little, what do we do in a situation like this? We just keep loving, we keep loving, loving, loving. Our students need to be loved right now. Our fellow staff members need to be encouraged, and poured into.
We are only capable of loving, because Christ first loved us. We are only capable of pushing on, because of the strength and energy that is daily provided by God. We keep fighting because, "greater is he who is in me, than he who is in the world."

I consider myself very blessed to be working along side so many amazing people here at BFA. I know my life has been touched as a result of the people who I interact with. Take a moment and read the blogs of my co-workers on the right side of this page. They are amazing people, who have amazing faith, strength and determination.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. What you have been pouring into me, is making a huge difference in my life, and the lives of many others.

Thank you.

Tommy

Ps. If you want a good laugh, take a minute and watch the clip... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmyUkm2qlhA

Friday, February 5, 2010

Keep the proper perspective

The other morning I went on an adventure that turned out to be a great time of communicating with God. I didn’t plan on meeting with him that morning, therefore I think I was a little surprised when he showed up. I’m not at all disappointed that I had a prolonged conversation with God, it is simply that I was not deliberately seeking to use that time for such a purpose.
I left the dorm at 3.30 in the morning with four students, bundled up in boots, gloves hats, and snowboards ready to be mounted. Our snowboards were the magic carpet that was going to take us the 12 kilometers (approximately 7.5 miles) down the hill on an unprecedented adventure. It had never been done before and we were anxious to be able to make the claim, we were the first, and we were the bold ones who went where no Sonne-man had gone before!
You see, we drive up and down the hill on a daily basis. Sometimes it is not unusual for us to make several trips up and down the hill. Each time you are made aware of the many curves, the incline, and the changing weather as a result of the increasing altitude. Yet this is all very different when you are in a car, compared to on snowboards. We mounted our snowboards at the end of our driveway hoping to hop on the road and ride down to Kandern. Yet to our disappointment, and shock, the road was not steep enough to propel us with any momentum. There was plenty of snow, and it was good snow for snowboarding. Yet the hill did not have the proper incline. We tried a few different times, until we decided to unstrap and carry our boards to a different part of the road, where there would hopefully be more of an incline. As we started walking at 3.30am, it was then that God started to whisper to me, “It is all about your perspective.”
For a cyclist going down the hill, it would prove to be steep and would allow for many opportunities to increase speed and an amazing amount of joy. For a runner coming up the hill, the inclines would result in burning quads, and lungs gasping for more air. For a motorcycle, or a small sports car, the hills and turns create paradise. But for us that morning, our snowboards were unable to pick up the speed we required and we ended up walking the majority of the way. I was greatly challenged to question how I perceive certain situations, and how I react to them.
Later on during our journey down the hill we hopped on a trail that was parallel to the road we normally travel on. This trail was slightly elevated above the road, giving us a view of the road we had never seen before. In fact, we saw some houses that were invisible to those traveling on the road. The five of us commented, “I’ve never seen that house before!” “Look, they have a pool!” There was even the comment, “What German would build such a nice house in such a weird spot?” These houses were buildings we had never seen before, things that we had been blind to. Yet a change in perspective, and it looked so much different, and it even made sense.
Towards the end of our ride/walk down the hill I had all these thoughts running through my head and heart and had to chuckle as I recalled a conversation I had with my mom a few hours prior to us leaving the dorm. I caught her on skype, and quickly typed to her, “Do you think it is smart to allow a few of our students to snowboard down to Kandern?” She has been to Sonne, and knew the hill I was talking about. Her response was a simple, “Sure. Why not? Sounds like fun.” Now, like a true son, and a true male, I neglected to mention to her we were going to do this at 3.30 in the morning, and were hoping to be on the main road! Now I imagine if my mom had been given more information, her perspective might have changed, and her response might have been different.
Since that night I have been thinking through some different stories in the Bible, and wondering how perception played a role. Think about the story in Exodus where Moses has finally convinced Pharaoh to let them go, and they are on the road out of Egypt. In the perspective of the Israelites, the parting of the Red Sea was their passage way to freedom. It signaled God’s provision, God’s power, and God’s deliverance. Yet, in the eyes of Pharaoh and many in his army, the Red Sea turned out to be their final resting place. Think about Joseph’s brothers, as they stripped him of his robe, and sold him into slavery. They perceived they were getting rid of a problem, a headache, a little brother who was nothing but a nuisance. Joseph perceived this to be an opportunity, and eventually rose to be Pharaoh’s right-hand man. Many of Jesus’ disciples perceived his death to be an impossible hurdle in his drive to become king. Yet for Jesus, dying on the cross was truly the only way to become King of all.
Whatever it is you are facing today. Whatever situations you may stumble across today, check your perspective. When frustrated and hurt, take a moment and pray that God would change your perspective. I am not claiming that God will instantly allow everything to make sense. I am certain there are things I will never understand until God and I talk in Heaven. But if you find yourself in a difficult situation, my hope is that you can find peace knowing there is a Heavenly perspective, and there is a loving God behind each and every situation.