middle school retreat

Two weekends ago I took a student named Rebekah to our Bavaria Middle School Retreat, and led music alongside Jaclyn, the Community Director in nearby Schweinfurt. It was a great time! Here’s some pics from the weekend!

We went to a Schwimmbad

We went to a Schwimmbad

And ice skating!

And went ice skating!

I got to do ministry alongside my friend Erin for the first time, who brought some middle schoolers with Young Life Munich!

I got to do ministry alongside my friend Erin for the first time, who brought some middle schoolers with Young Life Munich!

We stayed in this really nice youth hostel

We stayed in this really nice youth hostel

We had a pizza party after getting our t-shirts and played Ninja

We had a pizza party after getting our t-shirts and played Ninja with 2 boys from the Bamberg Hospitality House missionary family who just moved to another post

Rebekah made a cool new friend in a chaplain's daughter from Schweinfurt

Rebekah made a cool new friend in a chaplain’s daughter from Schweinfurt

My regional director led a game where Rebekah was chosen to blow a tissue in the air with a straw while another kid tried to catch it with one of those party favor horns

My regional director and his wife led a game where Rebekah was chosen to blow a tissue in the air with a straw while another kid tried to catch it with one of those party favor horns


We played lots of other games too

We played lots of other games too

David Martin, YL Germany Director, spoke about receiving God's gift

David Martin, YL Germany Director, spoke about receiving God’s gift

It snowed a lot! This is Schweinfurt & Bamberg :)

It snowed a lot! This is Schweinfurt & Bamberg throwing some snowballs!




do you realize?

“Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? — Every, every minute?” -Thornton Wilder, Our Town

This was the gorgeous view of the sunset Saturday from the 5th floor terrace at my friend’s apartment where I spent one of my favorite evenings. We ventured out to just sit and marvel. Just inside in the commons room,  Iranians celebrated the Muslim holiday Ramadan. As I sat outside with my German friend, a German homeless woman with flowing gray and white hair and a timid smile, and an outgoing, extremely intelligent Brazilian professor who spent 10 years living in America as a journalist joined us. He made the homeless woman dinner out of the fish she’d brought to him, we ate German plums and French baguettes, and talked about the state of America after 9/11, working on a military base, American politics, and he practiced his German. Later, several German friends joined us, so we got out the nice wine glasses, and put on some Brazilian music I’d bought in Italy.

Four different languages danced around the table with the occasional phrase in French, and Portugese between two. We toasted in multiple languages, translated back and forth for each other, and spoke of violence and war and philosophy and media influence and God and relationships. The evening was cool as we wrapped blankets around our chairs. Hours went by that we didn’t even notice. It was deep conversation at its best, and most culturally diverse.

It was one of my favorite nights since being here. Hands down.

God. Is. So. COOL.
so, so much bigger than we know.

Romania Pre-Trip

A couple weeks ago I went to Romania with 7 other site leaders and the rest of the Service Project team, including the American missionaries living in Romania we team up who make this trip possible (they help translate and build relationships with those we are asking to let us come to their school and help). We went to go check out our sites for the high school Service Project this summer. Being a site leader means I build my own team of contractors who lead the playground construction, relational ministry leaders who lead the Vacation Bible School, and a medic. I will facilitate which group does what on each day, and be on call to solve issues, make sure everything gets done, and set up my team for success with high school students as they in turn serve Romanian children. We spent a day driving there and 2 days stopping at all the sites. We also visited two malls.

Romanian mall

One of the most poignant pictures of Romania I’ll remember from that trip is going to one of the biggest, most expensive American-style malls I’ve ever been to, and then driving just down the street past the town dump where people actually lived in little huts on top of the trash pile and you could see children running around playing in and rooting through the trash…I didn’t get a chance to snap a picture of it, but the picture in my head will last a long time.

Here’s what we did when we reached the town where Josiah and I are site leaders. First, we went to visit the mayor. Not much was said in English, the only thing I took from the conversation with our translators was that he was supportive, but there could possibly be a different mayor after elections in the summer! Hopefully he stays in his position. Here’s the mayor’s building, crazy huh?

outside of the mayor's office

Then we met with the principal of the elementary school (my site) and high school (Josiah’s site). She seemed skeptical of us because of the fact that we were offering something for free. She seemed to be waiting for the catch and was very cautious. I can’t wait to show her that it really is free, and it’s free because in some small way, we want to offer Jesus’ unconditional love this coming June to the people of Romania.

The principal of our school

Here’s what the elementary school looks like:

The front yard of the elementary school

The area where we will build the playground

The outside of the storage room we'll use for relational ministry and a rain plan (we couldn't get in to see in the inside)

The sweet soccer field in the back with sweet artificial turf!

Some of the kids at the school after school got out

The front of the school as we were leaving

The town we are in has a few places to eat, a grocery store, and a bank. It also has dirt roads, horses and carts, and other things that indicate Romania is still way less developed than you’d expect in 2012. Josiah’s site will be right across the street from us. We are only 5 minutes from camp, which is a blessing after last year riding a bus for an hour each way to our site every day (on very bumpy roads…not good for someone who gets carsick..aka me).

Josiah and I in front of the bank in the town with our sites.

So excited to bring over some good friends and family to be part of my site this summer…and honored to lead a team to do something like this that will hopefully impact both a Romanian town and an American high school for Christ.

return of the picture of the day!


Yes, here it is, the return of the POD- Picture of the Day! I know, you don’t believe it’ll continue. Well, too bad. It’s gonna.
These are some awesome friends of mine that belong to the epic BYAM group (Bamberg Young Adults Ministry). We aren’t just a bible study group, we’re friends that hang out all of the time. I love it and I love them. They all make me laugh so much. Jeremy, second from the left, is leaving us though, heading to another unit and probably deploying soon. He has been a really cool guy to get to know and a great friend and encouragement to all of us! Goodbyes are a harsh reality of the army life, but I’m glad he’s my bro in Jesus so I know we will see each other again. 🙂

Middle School Adventure Camp!

So I’m going to do several posts to catch up on the past several weeks, because it has been whirlwind of adventure camp, staff conference, training, and then a couple days of traveling.

But first, adventure camp!

This was Club Beyond’s first ever Adventure Camp in Belgium, and the camp directors did an awesome job of putting it together. What was great about this camp was that it was already located in a camp with staff in it, so we as leaders had so much more time to spend just hanging out with students and we didn’t have to run activities or make food.

The camp reminded me a lot of Windy Gap, the Young Life camp in North Carolina that holds my heart! Students stayed in either teepees or chalets that surrounded a small lake. Each day of the 5-day camp had a morning and afternoon activity. We went go-karting, mountain biking, rock climbing, caving, did a high ropes course, played laser tag, went in an underground maze, did some archery and shooting, and had a blast while doing it all.

Club was right up there with the students’ favorite activities as well. Each night we had club hosted by “T-Bone” who did a hilarious talk show and interviewed students and other characters. We sang songs by Taylor Swift, Relient K, and of course the song “Life Is A Highway” which was the whole theme of camp. The speaker each night was T-Bone’s wife, they both flew out from the states to do this camp together. Crystal was phenomenal in her presentation of the gospel to middle schoolers and made stories from the Bible come alive to them. Every kid was silent while listening to her (quite a feat for middle schoolers) except when she brought humor into her stories. Her tagline for the week was “Y.T.G.B.A.” which stands for You Take God’s Breath Away. She wrote those letters all over kids’ shirts when we left camp and I believe many of them took it away on their hearts as well.

I got to host a group of five fabulous, sweet, brave, hilarious girls in my chalet and they were so much fun! We jumped in the bouncy house together, braved the rock wall together (I hate heights), talked after club about life and parents and God and our lives and I really got to know them better. They all talked about how much fun they had and how much they liked Crystal and how because of what they learned from her they felt closer to God.

I feel really blessed that God gave us such an awesome week together and if my girls PCS (Permanent Change of Station) anytime soon there will most definitely be tears. We made lots of memories on this trip and even though it was exhausting at times, I had to face my own fears, and I was trip leader for the first time, it was so worth it!

Karina, Kaley, Rachel, Laura, and Madeline- you ladies rock! Thanks for a great week!