Saturday, October 30, 2010

Herbstemesse

Typically I put up a post every Thursday, but this week I knew if I blogged on Thursday I would be giving a preview of Herbstemesse, but if I waited a day or two, I could write a review of the night. The latter seemed much more appealing to me.

What is Herbstmesse? Herbst is the German word loosely translated to, "fall or autumn" and messe in this instances is translated to the word, "party." Put it together and you get the Fall Party. On Friday night we shuttled down virtually our entire student body, as well as all Res Life staff, and many teachers to invade the city of Basel, Switzerland for the evening. I do not know how many people ended up going, but I think I can safely say it was over 200.
We rode down on buses, getting dropped off a little before 5pm, and got picked back up at 9pm. In those fours hours we were free to wander the streets and sights of Herbstemesse.
Honestly, this is one of my favorite nights of the entire semester. I don't know exactly what it is - but there is something about it that always gets my blood flowing. It is a night that is unique, we go into a larger city, there are lights, rides, food, and everywhere you look people are having fun.
Last night I latched onto a group of 5 seniors and spent the majority of the night with them. Shortly after grabbing some food we stumbled upon this unique "ride." It wasn't lit up, or drawing many crowds, because it was essentially a merry-go-round. Although instead of propelling yourself from the outside, there was a table in the middle that you spun around to get speed and momentum. I doubt that gave you an accurate picture of the 'ride' one person last night described it as, "being similar to the tea cups at disney." I couldn't relate, so I am not sure if that helps at all or not. Anyway, the six of us spent a solid 25 minutes riding this thing, going around and around. Honestly, it was hilarious and so much fun. After a little while we were trying to think of crazy things we could do in order to make it more entertaining, so we pulled out a deck of cards and started playing cards while spinning in circles. This definitely provided even more entertainment - until we unanimously decided for the well being of our dinner, it was time to step off.
Random. Free. Pointless. Entertaining. Hilarious. Wonderful memory.

Of course, a blog about Herbstemesse would not be complete without mentioning the bumper cars (though this merry-go-round contraption proved to be the highlight of my night.) At 7.30 everyone from BFA who was in Basel congregated at the bumper cars for an hour of mayhem, whiplash, and frenzy. Bumper cars are definitely fun for everyone (people of all ages were out there) but it was just as entertaining to watch the "race" for a car. Imagine 100 people scrambling for 30 spots. CHAOS.
I found myself anxiously awaiting the end of the turn, simply to see the mad dash of people flood the floor hoping to get a car for the next ride. I won't lie, I let my students drive me around a few times, and my back is hurting a little today.

All in all, it was a wonderful night, and a great memory.

Enjoy some of the pictures from the night...

This is a giant corn booth. I have seen it before, and it always made me laugh, so this time I took a picture of it.


Here you see one of my guys on the "merry-go-round" His face is simply priceless.


The picture doesn't do this justice. Only in Germany will you see an inflatable sausage with "fire" under it.


Enjoying the ride...


Playing cards as we spin...


Bumper cars...


Curiously watching the action and anxiously waiting to try and grab the next ride



Thursday, October 21, 2010

Homesick

Here is my second post of the day. If you have the time keep scrolling down to see the first post I put up prior to this.

This has been on my heart for the past day or so and I wanted to put it up. I realized a lot of the time I post about things that are going on here, or things that have been going on in my head, but I don’t really ever post something that would in any way shape or form answer the question, “How are you doing?” I think my main hesitation in that is because I am never fully aware of who is reading this (insert plug for you to email or leave a comment!) and therefore don’t always feel comfortable spilling my emotions. Secondly I know I would much rather prefer to answer that question face to face, through a phone call, or even email. With a combination of those two factors, and I assume a few others, there aren’t too many blogs revealing that.
So today I will answer that question with the hope of giving you a taste of reality thrown into an entertaining story.
Right now I am homesick. I have recently received a few emails from one of my closest friends in college, getting caught up on our individual lives. He told me he is hoping to find a job by December, and then buy a plane ticket and visit me in the spring. The reality hit that I haven’t seen him in quite some time, and that won’t change in the near future. I have also been emailing back and forth with another close friend from college, as I seek advice with a certain situation. She has been extremely helpful and encouraging, but I am getting tired of communicating through email. With these as two examples of many, I have found myself saying, “I wish they were involved in my daily life again, and we could do this face to face.” These two are amongst a handful of people I desperately wish I could interact with in, “the way it used to be.” It gets tiring and discouraging when I don’t understand what their life is like, or they don’t understand what mine is like. While I love being here, and I absolutely do, there are moments where it is extremely difficult to be away from your closest friends.
In a more entertaining way, but just as seriously, it is also difficult at times to be in a place that is very different than what you are used to. You can use the technical term, ’culture shock’ if you want. It is not a myth, but a reality. Knowing I have been discouraged by feeling homesick lately I looked at my meal-planning for this coming weekend as an ideal opportunity to cook something that will remind me of home, and bring to mind amazing family and friends. So this Saturday morning I am making bubble bread for the guys. Growing up bubble bread was a staple for any major holiday. To this day, bubble bread is served on Christmas morning, and it is always deee lish. I remember being in high school and having my friends sleep over, and my mom would make our taste buds throw a party when she announced the bubble bread was warm, gooey, and ready to be devoured.
But here is the entertaining thing, German grocery stores do not carry everything that a normal American grocery store would carry. As I mapped out the ingredients I will need, it looked as if I was building a family tree - where everything kept splitting off and getting larger and larger. As I found the bubble bread recipe I knew I needed Jello Butterscotch pudding. Simply put, you can’t find that anywhere near here. But that’s okay, there are options! So I did a google search and found a recipe to make homemade butterscotch pudding. However, in order to make homemade butterscotch pudding, you need dry milk pudding (what exactly is that stuff?!). Alas, google saves me again, and I get what I need for that. Now I continue to scroll down the recipe and notice I need rolls. After consuming as much bubble bread as I have in my life, I know that the bread is a very important ingredient. Germans love bread, they have some of the best bread in the world, but they don’t have the specific kind I need! Therefore I plan on making some homemade dough, in order to make my own bread rolls - making my list of ingredients expand once again.

I chuckled as I looked over my ever-growing list of ingredients. I thought for a second if it was really worth all that effort for the bubble bread. Homemade butterscotch pudding to cover the homemade bread. Whew.
But two thoughts came to my mind, the first was this: as bizarre as it sounds, bubble bread carries a lot of great memories for me. Memories of sleep-overs, memories of mornings in Tomahawk, memories of Christmas mornings and being with family. I hope that in ten years my guys will find a girl who makes them bubble bread, and he thinks back to his memories at Sonne. Perhaps a bit of a stretch (more the part about them finding a girl!) but I still find excitement and hope in that vision.
Secondly, I know I am missing home right now. I know my heart longs to be with family and friends. To be with those who know me well. I know that I can’t be with you right now, but as I eat my bubble bread Saturday morning, I will think of you, smile, laugh, perhaps shed a tear, and cherish all the memories that flood my heart.

It will be a good amount of work, but it will be worth it, and of course, it will taste amazing.

Tommy

Thank You

It is my intention here to actually put up two different blog posts today. Over the weekend I had one train of thought and knew I wanted to blog about it - but in the past 48 hours or so have felt something else stirring my heart, that I thought would be good to blog about. But here is number one…

Over this past weekend I spent some time with RAs from different dorms, which was a profound blessing. At one point the conversation turned to financial support, and more specifically supporting churches. A few of the RAs I was with are planning on going back to the States during our Christmas break, and were talking about trying to set up an appointment so they can speak at one of their supporting churches. It was interesting to me to hear them talk about speaking in front of their churches, or to hear them talk about all the different friends and family from a specific church that support them. Being the “veteran” amongst the group they asked me what I had done with my supporting churches, how I communicate to them, how often I had spoken in front of a supporting church congregation, etc. To the amazement of everyone (including myself) I simply said to them, “I actually don’t have a single church body that supports me. 100% of my support is from family and friends. I don’t have a home sending church.”
I made that statement, and conversation seemed to move right along. However, I kept replaying the statement I had made, over and over in my head. As I continued to process, ponder, and realize that I am here as a missionary, and have been for two full years - moving into my third - without a sending church, my eyes filled with tears of gratitude, and I genuinely want to say THANK YOU to all of you. I am blessed, encouraged, and excited (to name a few) by the way in which you have financially supported me, and been faithful to my ministry here.
As I listened to the RAs talk about being able to meet face to face with the majority of their supporters it got me a little discouraged, yet also excited. My supporters (you) are scattered all over the place. It is discouraging because I cannot go to one central location and have the opportunity to meet everyone face to face. My parents are in New Hampshire, so that is what I would technically consider “home-base” yet my supporters are scattered across the country. Going off my post from last week a little, it is exciting to recognize where my support comes from. Wisconsin, Arizona, Texas, Oregon, California, Pennsylvania, Florida, New Hampshire, Indiana, Tennessee are states that are home to some of my supporters.

Thank you for continuing to support me in my ministry here. Thank you for all you do. I am encouraged and thankful for what you do for me, and these students. Even though I may not have the opportunity to see you face to face and allow you to see my tears of gratitude, please take this blog and know that I am extremely thankful.

Tommy

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Numbers

For those who know me a little bit probably realize that I am not the biggest fan of facebook. For a long time I didn't even have an account, but after a little while finally gave in. I don't go on facebook often, and seldom write on walls, or put up a status. However this past week I was thankful for facebook...
Last week was my birthday, and it seemed as though every time I checked my email I was getting another notification that somebody had posted on my wall. I was extremely blessed and encouraged throughout the day to receive little comments from all sorts of people. As I was watching the emails come in I tended to see a pattern which became quite entertaining to me.
The first comments came from people I know in Korea, who are seven hours ahead of me here in Germany. So by the time I was going to bed on Friday night in Germany, it was Saturday morning in Korea, therefore technically my birthday there. I received emails throughout the morning from people here in Germany, then as it became the afternoon in Germany, people were starting to wake up in the USA on EST. Then I started to receive emails and comments from friends and family in that part of the world. Finally, as I was starting to eat dinner, I was getting notes from friends on the west coast, as they were starting to wake up.
It was an amazing experience to walk through. It was so unique to witness as different time zones were waking up.

The ability to see the time zones come into play was fascinating, but it was also encouraging and inspiring to see the countries/regions/states represented by those sending me comments. Over the summer I had a friend say to me, "I look at your facebook wall, and it looks like the United Nations" my response was a chuckle, knowing that she was spot on. I went back this afternoon and counted the different countries represented by those who left me birthday wishes and came up with 17. That includes countries as far east as China and Mongolia, as far west as California (I know California is not a state, I put it as an example of a place in the western most time zone I got a message from) in the USA - and so many in between; Russia, Korea, Israel, Turkey, Austria, The Netherlands, Ireland, Italy...17 countries is quite a bit.

I don't mention that with any hope of being arrogant, I mention it with the hope of spreading the encouragement I received. I know people in all of those countries who are working to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are brothers and sisters around the world with the same purpose of living, as you. There are people all over the world impacting their community with the love of Jesus, in the same way you are. It is a big world, and there is a grand distance from California to Mongolia. Yet we serve a BIGGER God.
I was really encouraged to recognize how God is doing work in and through people not only in these 17 countries, but in a number too big for my comprehension.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Learning the language

One of the questions I hear most often regarding working at BFA, and living in Germany is this, "How much German do you know by now? Would you say you are fluent?" Sadly the answer is always embarrassing as I admit I still know very little German. I always raise a few eyebrows when I respond by saying that my French speaking abilities continue to improve almost to the comfort level of being conversational. But that is a different story for a different day.
Some people may question why I haven't been able to pick up the German language after living here for over two years - while I don't always pick up on new German words, I have picked up some words from my students. Below I will introduce you to some words commonly heard around the dorm, and the way in which they are used.

Ole {Oh-lay} - an interjection, verb (used without an object)
Used as an exclamation of joy, success, victory. Typically followed by laughter as well as other shouts of "ole" by surrounding students. Most commonly heard, though not limited, in the context of a sporting event.
Examples of the use of ole:
-PJ is on the soccer field and pulls a move that makes his opponent look silly, so PJ joyfully exclaims, "Ole!"
- Josh is drying the dishes and finds he has a wet towel in his hand, and a close-by freshmen is pestering him. From the other room you hear a loud snap of the towel, a cry of pain, and Josh victoriously shouting, "Ole!"

Jokes {johks} - noun
something said to cause laughter and/or amusement for those in your vicinity. Stated to assure everyone no ill intentions were at the heart of the statement. Commonly covered with a lot of sarcasm.
Example of the use of jokes:
- Jonny sits down with Paul and says, "I think that girl really likes you." David sitting at the same table interjects and says, "Jokes" cluing in everyone that she in fact does NOT like Paul, and that he is silly for even flirting with the idea.

I will be honest and say I am still struggling to fully understand how and when to appropriately use the word, jokes. It pops up randomly in conversation and is followed by enormous fits of laughter, I am left confused.

Here is the last vocabulary lesson for the day, but when used correctly, perhaps my favorite...

Epic: {ep-ik} -adjective
impressive, great, majestic, of unusually great size or extent

The word epic is thrown around here extremely often. Not a day passes where there fails to be some event that is simply "epic."
Though probably not recognized by dictionary.com, this word can take on many different forms such as, "epicness" or the "epicistcy"
Here are a few direct quotes using this word:
Trevor, "That meal was so good, it was epic."
Henry, "I epicly failed that test today."
And the quote I heard yesterday and couldn't help but add it...
Caleb, "I tried to talk to a girl today, but it was an epic failure."




Tommy