Deutschland #5 & #6a – in brief

DAY 5 – Finished my Monday off with a dinner at a great Sicilian restaurant with Jochen & his wife Brigidda & Tim & Deborah – we dined, Italian style, over a several hour period, & the food was really great.

Except it came back up a few hours later… with interest. I’ll spare you the gory details, but I have done more than my time holding on to the toilet to keep from falling off the world. I think it was the gnocchi & its sauce that must have done it. Finally went to sleep about 4, & then woke up early Tuesday for a Skype & headed back to bed until 1.


 

DAY 6 Felt a lot better after waking up – good enough to grab some coffee & bread, & then get cleaned up in preparation for going bowling with the Kern family before the Deutschland/Brasil football game. Julia likes to bowl, & was feeling so confident that she decided to make a bet with me: WHEN she won, I would have to sing the German National anthem outside (which is never done, save during the World Cup.) And if by some miraculous chance I won, she would drink an espresso, with no milk or sugar. For her to propose that as her ‘punishment’ for losing gives you some insight to how much she detests the taste of coffee. The closest she comes to drinking a hot beverage close to coffee is 4 fingers of warm milk & 1 finger of hot coffee.

So, of course, I won – both games. I posted a video of her drinking her coffee on Facebook if you’re interested.


After bowling, we grabbed a doner, burrito style, & headed to Heiko & Linda’s to watch the game, which started at 10 p.m. local time. I even stood & sang the national anthem with the family. Instead of ‘game’  I should say, the rout.. None of us had ever seen anything like it in such a high level of soccer. After the 3rd goal, we were almost speechless… not quite, as my hosts made sure to yell their lungs out. I have to say, every time the TV showed Brazil’s fans weeping in the stands, I laughed really hard. Evidently, it is NOT just a game to them, but something more. And it was funny to watch.

Can’t wait for the final on Sunday – I’m pulling for an all European final – Deutschland/Netherlands.

This is a short blog – I didn’t do much since last night except barf & bowl, & it is now 1:20 a.m. So, I hope to write a bit more tomorrow before I head back into Frankfurt.

Many blessings to you – & thank you for the prayers.

 

 

school’s out for summer… er, 2 weeks, an anniversary. And other musings.

Sunday morning I woke up early… earlier than normal for my Sunday workday. Many reasons for that:

    -the nagging of unfinished school work; had to write a couple paragraphs for the conclusion to the paper for the END o Class project for TH600 (which is a fancy way of saying Advanced Theology & Worldview. Its a 600 class, not a 500 class. So it is 100 better. Or bigger. Or badder. But I digress.)
    -My back hurt enough that rolling over repeatedly didn’t make it go away. Better to rise than to lay there.
    -I smelled the foff (coffee for laymen). The timer went off at the weekday time instead of the weekend time, calling to me with her siren’s call: “Come & get me! I’m Guatemala today!” Sounded just like that too.
    -Bad dreams. Woke up thinking I’d gotten a certified letter LEGALLY declaring the demand that I cease & desist, with no further talking to or interacting with my family. That was a fun. Felt real until the afternoon.

And yet, the biggest reason was it was Father’s Day. June 17, 2012. Exactly 22 years since my little brother John Leavy Locke went to be with Jesus. He passed at 4:34 a.m on that day in 1990; I’ve written about it a few times. Here. And here. And now, every year on the anniversary of his passing from death to life, I wake up at precisely that time. I’ve probably tapped into some latent superpower that allows one to wake up WHEN they WANT to, though this one is a bit out of control as I don’t wanna wake up then. But I do. Perhaps I always will. I do know that while I still grieve, it’s not without the hope of seeing him again. And perhaps I shall write on this topic yearly… until such a time that other such days color my world grey.


The last 9 months have been something of a blur – I have felt more than a bit overwhelmed emotionally – talked with my friend Chuck about it a couple weeks back over a Shepherd’s Pie & he asked the question: “Have you experienced any loss or significant relationship change over the last while?”

I got to thinking, & images of people, dear friends & pseudo-family members, rushed through my brain. All people that have moved on. Many due to school, jobs & opportunities outside of the Reno area, a couple due to the moving on associated with life change & finding a new church to attend. Tried to count the number of people that had moved/transitioned since January 1. Stopped at 30. I looked across the table at Chuck through misty eyes & he said, “I’ll take that as a yes.” It happens. Its a part of life. And it hurts. Love these people, & when they go, it leaves a mark. More than when Charlie bit my finger… it really hurts.

And the hits keep on coming – TheAge & Sandra Nell are relocating to Boston – TheAge, one of the truly greatest creative musical artists I’ve ever known, is off to Berklee School of Music to pursue a dream that I know he will catch. Sandra Nell, teacher, baker, artist, & cake designer of the rarest sort… Chris & Natalie (& their progeny, including my namesake, lil Mo’Lou, are heading to their hometown of Vegas…was just hired as the worship pastor at the church he grew up in. Chris. a gifted songwriter, artist, worship leader… Natalie Rose, writer, photographic artist, creative soul, and freestyle, stream-of-consciousness thought sharer.

My friends. People I love dearly. My eyes are swimming.


And in other news: now that I have 2 whole weeks off from the required reading & writing of grad school, I shall endeavor to reread the LOTR (aka, The Lord of the Rings.) It is one book, not three, divided into six sections. J.R.R. Tolkien, how I love thee.


Went to Father’s Day lunch at the Little Wal with theBean, theWeez, iDoey, & the 3 of the last 4 people to live with our family, along with their spouses. (Missed you YoooooouuuulleeeeeeeeAHHHHHHHH!) It was like a family reunion. Beautiful, especially seeing the lives that the girls are living now with their very own boys. Brings me great joy.

The Little Wal has an extra special Sunday Special – buy one burger at regular price, get another for 1cent. Booyah.

TheWeez got up from the table at the end of the meal to go home with iDoey – her long dark brown hair fell perfectly across her face, partially behind her right ear. I was mesmerized – & I told her, “Wow, Weez. You look absolutely Elvish! All you need is the pointy ears!”

Which of course in my world = Absolutely Beautiful. It makes total sense. To me. And to other Tolkien speakers.

TheWeez grimaced at me & left.

Three of the ladies at the table, one being my wife, the other two being grown up, surrogate daughter-types, let me know that I had committed a faux-pas. Fortunately, they gave me some good advice for communicating with my girl in the future.

    -“if you think she looks beautiful, tell her she is pretty. Pretty. Not elvish.”
    -“elvish is definitely not something a girl wants to be compared to. No matter what any other man at the table might say.”
    -“if you keep that up, you could give her a complex.”
    -“don’t mention her ears. She doesn’t want to hear about her ears.”

Duly noted. I will keep my sci-fi/fantasy comparisons & metaphors to myself.

TheWeez – you are beautiful.

Saturday morning musings, over coffee & spoonfuls of skippy crunchy peanut butter

Sitting in the quiet of the morning enjoying my hot foff (coffee for those of you that don’t speak Isaiah Scofield,) & my occasional breakfast of spoonfuls of Skippy Crunchy Peanut Butter. Peanut butter tastes best solo & from a spoon, though I would not mind it on toasted bread. Right. Now. Thinking deep thoughts this morning, and random ones as well.

It would be possible to never add to the collection of what I call “my” music – which usually means the stuff I listened to when I discovered the radio in middle school (Huey Lewis & the News, Journey, & the Talking Heads,) & the oh-so-sophisticated “New Wave” sounds that I gravitated towards in high school (New Order, Tears For Fears, U2, INXS, the Hooters, & several other now-too-obscure-to-drop-as-a-reference groups.) They even occasionally play ‘my’ music on BOB 97.3, & on 103.7 (OLDIES? My music is on OLDIES?!) & Pandora, the “Music Genome Project” (which sounds so hi-tech its funny) makes it so that I can get what I want musically, when I want it.

Music provides cultural insight, so years ago I determined that I’d at least try to stay up on what my kids preferred, & anything else that might serendipitously drop into my ears. On that note, a couple of bands I’ve come across that have held my ear: Mumford and Sons and Burlap to Cashmere . Both have hints of Simon & Garfunkle & the Hooters – thought provoking lyrics, simple (& yet intricate) musical arrangements. Good stuff.


Haven’t had a Bible study in our home for 2 years now – after close to 20 years of just about every Sunday night, theBean & I decided to take a hiatus that got extended longer than I thought it would. I’ve missed it, especially the people in the living room, over food, good coffee, & lively conversations about the just-read-aloud-Scriptures.

Missed it, did I, so I decided to tag-team with Katy for a study through Revelation, & to have it in the main office of the church. Revelation came & went, but the desire for study didn’t, so we invited the group that had come to Revelation to keep coming Wednesdays as we decided to go through a collection of other Bible books… Finished Esther a couple weeks back; now we’re in Daniel.

My favorite parts of being in a Bible study, long-term, are the relationships that develop with the other people that participate. Looking over the last 6 months, a perspective of life & growth emerges, & I can see where each person has not only grown closer to the others in the group, but also has grown in their understanding & love for Scripture, & in their relationship with God. And then there’s the power of the Scriptures, inhabited by the Holy Spirit, to transform lives – inevitably our discussions begin on something we’ve just read out loud, & somehow end up on an area from the depths of our hearts that is being plumbed, challenged, & healed. Its water for my soul.


Somehow, it doesn’t matter how many cups of coffee I make in the morning; if I sit here long enough, the whole pot manages to disappear. Like clockwork.


Heading into our first weekend as a family of 4 since theWeez was born. Pasty is in Knoxville, hitting job interviews & preparing to move into his quad on Monday. I’m noticing that I miss his routines; he definitely isn’t a loud person (especially in the morning – because being loud in the morning is wrong. The Bible’s against it. See Proverbs 27:14 if you don’t believe me.) No, Pasty’s routine meant that no matter how caught up he was in school, work, MissAlexandrea, or ESPN, he always managed to be in the same places, doing the same things, at about the same times each day. And when his alarm didn’t go off 24 times this morning, alerting him it was time to call his girl, I noticed. And missed it. Sigh.


It’s Eddy Dueck’s birthday today – he’s the pastor of our sister church, TPLF, in Frankfurt, Germany. Please join me in praying blessing & favor for Eddy & Laura today – he’s a good man, husband, father, friend, and pastor. My life is richer because he’s in it.

Time to take on the day.

on the road again & other musings from an early Monday…

No, I’m not traveling; just reading.

TheBean’s schedule for theBucks means that several days a week, she’s up & at’em in the wee hours of the morning, often by 4. Perhaps there’s not a whole lot of ‘quality time’ one can spend with their spouse while they’re getting ready, applying makeup, doing hair, etc… but I can make sure that the coffee is hot. And ready. And delivered to her in person with a smile (or at least the best version I can summon at such a time.)

I need to be up – I purpose to be up – but my body disagrees, protests, & lodges a complaint against the management… which is why I made the decision to GET up last night, before I was in the spot to have to deal with my recalcitrant self. The early morning is for coffee, yes, but its also reading time. Stolen moments for pondering in the Scriptures.

Today it was Luke 24; what jumped out at me was the walk the 2 guys had with the (unrecognized,) Risen Christ on the road to Emmaus. The time of discussion, supposing, wondering. Confusion, frustration, crushing grief. Having seen Christ’s crucifixion, they’re now trying to wrestle through the reports of “Christ sightings” by Mary & the ladies. Hoping beyond hope that it could be true. Fearing that its not.

And Jesus meets them. He hears their conversation & joins in. Challenges them for their slowness to ‘get it.’

And He said to them, “O foolish ones, & slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things & enter into His glory?” And beginning with Moses & all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

When I see the word “fool” in the Bible, I can’t help but think of Mr. T. And then I remind myself that Jesus isn’t ‘pitying the fool’ the way Mr. T would. It helps.:)

The two men don’t recognize Jesus until the point where He’s breaking & blessing the bread – there’s an “A-HA!” moment, & He’s gone.

This morning I resonate with these two guys – so focused on the difficulties, troubles, & disappointments in my up-close-&-personal world, that I miss the living, risen Christ right under my nose. I think that’s what happens when one walks with one’s head down, eyes on the ground. The obstacles & worries on the road become the focus, & its easy to get stuck in the potholes.

A song comes to mind, a reminder to lift my eyes up – its from one of the Songs of Ascent – something that the Jewish pilgrims returning to Jerusalem for feast & festivals would sing on the journey up the hills into the City of David.

I lift my eyes up/to the mountains/where does my help come from?
My help comes from You/maker of Heaven/creator of the Earth
Oh how I need You, LORD/You are my only hope/You are my only prayer
So I will wait for You/to come & rescue me/to come & give me life –
Psalm 121 – I Lift My Eyes Up – Brian Doerksen

Green Stuff, Hezekiah, a new coffee gadget, & other musings…

Last week, theBean decided to try to cook a couple more times than usual – & found her inspiration in the Rachael Ray magazine. This has meant trying to marry the ‘adventure’ of new foods (& familiar ones prepared in the not usual way,) with being economical & wise with the food budget. (Cause really- is it really gonna break the recipe to not use the organic ingredients? Really? But I digress.)

Normally, I’m not a big fan of change when it comes to food – & I must admit that I have been known on occasion to resemble the proverbial stick in the mud. However, it’s amazing what a good attitude & a ‘setting of the will’ can do. And the meals theBean is creating have been amazing. Last night we had Jalapeño Bacon Avocado Burgers, with a cheesy-Jalapeño ‘sauce’ (the ‘ ‘ around the word sauce are because I have no idea what it really should be called. It was sauce-like. But thicker. Saucy even, about the consistency of ketchup, but white. Ish.) Between the burger & the sauce was Green Stuff. Cilantro. Diced avocado. Not sure what else.

I’m not usually a fan of Green Stuff (other than lettuce & broccoli,) but I set my will to eat the food, & I didn’t taste the Green Stuff, at least in a negative way. You know what I mean – like when you taste a food & just wait for the punch line… the moment when the ‘yuck’ taste hits the taste buds & one has the OK to spit the food into the trash. It never happened. I must be growing. Hmm.


Got to watch a great Giants/Dodgers game last night. Not a pitchers duel, or a great performance by Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum – but a victory for the Giants. Over the Dodgers. And Giants victories over the Dodgers are worth about 3 regular victories in my mind.


Brother got an Aeropress. I think it was for his birthday last week. More than just Another Novelty Coffee item, it makes a great cup of coffee. And is fun to use. And easy to clean up after using. Unlike my French press, which is so messy that I have to psych myself up to actually make coffee in it. Not that the coffee in the French press isn’t good; the mess is a big deterrent. And there aren’t many sights (& smells) worse than finding the still-messy French press 2 weeks after the last time it was used. Trust me on that.


Over the last week, I’ve been reading in Isaiah, 2Kings, & 2Chronicles – today was the ‘perfect storm’ – all 3 passages I read dealt with the same story & events: the Assyrian threat against Israel & King Hezekiah, & Hezekiah’s response. (FYI: the passages are Isaiah 36 & 37; 2Kings 18 & 19; & 2Chronicles 32.)

What really jumped out at me was the Assyrian attempt to incite Israel to leave their land (God-given inheritance) through threats, fear, & intimidation. Threatening all sorts of mayhem. Promising that they (the Assyrians) would do such damage to Jerusalem that there would literally be nothing for the Israelites to eat except their own waste & filth. Trying to intimidate the masses with booming broadcasts of doom & gloom to all within earshot. Writing letters to the king, detailing the coming destruction.

And Hezekiah’s response? He took one of the letters he’d received & went into the temple. There he laid the letter out before the LORD & prayed:

Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: “O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the LORD.”

And the LORD delivered Hezekiah & Israel.

I felt gently convicted… knowing that my response to real/perceived lack, threats of doom & gloom, & even the unknown, can be to worry. Be anxious. To run through all the potential bad things, worst case scenarios, that could happen.

Hezekiah prayed. Reflected on God’s promises for provision. Protection. Hope. Deliverance.

In my minds eye, I get the picture of Hezekiah in the temple, kneeling before the LORD with the threatening letter on the ground in front of them – & Hezekiah crying out, “LORD, have You READ this? Have You heard what they’re saying about us? About YOU? What are You going to do about this?


God hears. And responds. And He still does today.

Deutschland Travels, Spring 2010, Day #8-9

Monday is Eddy’s day off, & I heard that the family would be headed to a couple of hardware stores to check out & price supplies for the garden project. I asked if I could tag along, as one of the things I’ve never seen in Germany is a hardware store. Now I have. We went to two stores, both of them very reminiscent of the Home Depot & Lowe’s superstores; one, the Hornbach, even had the same color scheme & ‘feel’ of Home Depot.


In the afternoon, the Dueck’s went to a family birthday party, & I made my way over to TPLF to meet with a local pastor of an English speaking church named Richard Morschel. Richard is South African with German roots, & he & his family have been in Frankfurt since 1987, & he’s been pastoring Kingdom Life Church here since 2006. We made our way to the bakery/coffee shop near the Bistro Sahin, & had some cappuccino & spent a couple of hours getting to know each other.

I’d met Richard before a couple of times, but determined on this trip to actually try to connect for more than a brief conversation. In addition to pastoring, he’s employed by the Frankfurt Opera, & plays bassoon. We had great talks about philosophy of church, the significance of relationships, the process of building trust, & how our paths keep crossing in interesting ways. (For example, the man who leads the youth group came back to Jesus during the “Leben ist Schoen” outreach in August 2007… You can read about it HERE) I found that though we come from very different backgrounds, Richard & I have a lot in common when it comes to our ideas about what really matters… This Friday morning, I’ll be participating in Kingdom Life’s men’s breakfast, & giving the devotional. I look forward to seeing how our new relationship will develop.

There was a short interlude before my next appointment, so I took advantage of the down time to read. I’m currently in a book about Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Some of it is great, some absolutely cracks me up.


My ride arrived in the form of Levent’s VW; we chatted as he skillfully wound his way through Frankfurt’s crazy rush-hour traffic, making his way to their home. Levent is Turkish, & was one of the 1st people that I met at TPLF in 2005, & it is always good to be able to visit with him & Ines, his Bolivian/German wife. They prepared an excellent dinner with burgers, brats, bbq’d corn-on-the-cob, salad, & a South African Pinotage. We caught up on their lives, & also the new happenings in one of the areas that they help out at church in, the Twens Gruppe (College Group,) which is affectionately known as “Flying Ducks.” We made some tentative plans for Ines & I to go to Levent’s workplace on Friday for a tour & for lunch. (He’s in TV. Meaning, he is working to bring streaming television live to the internet.)


Day 9 began at 5:50 a.m. as I staggered my way out the door & down the street to TPLF for prayer for TPLF, led by my friend Sam Clayton. Several of us gathered for about an hour to pray for the church, Eddy & Laura, & whatever else we were led to. And coffee was served, which filled my prayers with a bit more energy than they otherwise might have.

Sam (from Manchester, England,) took me to his house right after prayer to spend time with his family: Wife Mirjam (Swiss), & their 3 kids; Danny 4, Becky (my god-daughter,) 2, & Benjamin 1. Danny had to go to kindergarten, leaving Sam, Mirjam & I to eat some great food, play with the kids & catch up on life. Sam & Mirjam had been a part of the Roundabout team with me, & have also been at TPLF since 2006. Sam feels a call to inter-national reconciliation & peace, & is currently studying to be able to put himself in a spot to help facilitate this. Their story always reminds me of the often winding road that our lives take: Sam left England & went to France, where he met Mirjam, a Swiss national on a mission trip. He tried everything he knew to learn her language (French) & her heart… which he was eventually able to do, marrying about 6 years ago. Then, this international couple felt led to relocated to Frankfurt – & so Sam learned German to go along with his English & French… They have story after story to tell about God’s faithfulness, provision, & care in their lives. I’m honored to be able to be in their lives.


I’ve been trying to catch up on blogging this afternoon, to take a nap, & then do some studying for the meetings I’ll be having over the next few days. My contacts with home have left me feeling a bit home-sick I must say. More than once, I’ve loaded a picture album of my family on my Mac & watched the slideshow play over & over, often pausing on pictures of each of my dear ones to pray for them… & extra long on theBean & her clear blue eyes, gleaming like sapphires, calling to me, making it hard for me to think anything at all except of her… sigh. Soon, my dear.

Tonight, in just a few hours, Eddy & I are going to a Man Meeting to talk about Manhood & what it means to be a Man. Great topic, & I’m really looking forward to the discussion on this, especially considering that there will be people from all sorts of backgrounds & cultures participating. Good times!

a night in the forest… or Deutschland Travels, Spring 2010, Day #4

Jan picked me up in the early afternoon, & we made our way into the city center of Mainz. After parking & walking for a bit, we decided that it would be a good time for lunch: pizza. There was a place that Jan especially likes, run by an Italian family, that we made our way to – after reading through the menu, I decided I’d get the pizza called, “Der Teufel” (the devil,) which came with pepperoni, red (hot chili) peppers, & pepperoncini. Amazing.

We spent the better part of the afternoon catching up on the happenings in the churches that Jan oversees – especially those that we’d be spending time with over the next days. It was an absolutely beautiful day, with a temperature of about 75, with the slightest of breezes. I enjoyed it even more when I heard that it was snowing & hailing at home. Goodness. It’s April… practically May. This picture is a banner I saw while walking through the narrow streets of Old Mainz. Green Day is coming to Mainz. It is a small world.

No visit to an authentic Italian restaurant is complete without gelato . I chose chocolate & vanilla, covered with chocolate sauce & Schlagsahne (whipped cream,) for brother Ben.


The time came to make our way to Taunusstein, a small town about 30 minutes by car from Mainz. Whenever I ask people to tell me about Taunusstein, they always say, “It’s in the forest.” I can see why. Getting there is like driving Highway 28 from Spooner Summit to North Shore Lake Tahoe; beautiful scenery, fresh mountain air, & trees as far as the eye can see, with the occasional break in the woods that allows glimpses into the valley below. Very nice.

Taunusstein is a town of about 25,000 people – & while it has Catholic & State (Lutheran) churches, there has been no Freikirche (free-church, non-state church of independent or denominational status) there. Ever. (In comparison, Mainz has 7, & Reno alone has at least 250 free-churches.)

About 3 years ago, Jan & the enChristo church decided to partner with some of the people that had been traveling the 30 minutes to their church to see a bible study started, & hopefully, eventually, a church planted.

There’s been a good response in Taunusstein; a good group of people with a wide variety of church backgrounds have begun attending, many of whom have been praying for a free-church to come to their town for years. There’s also been some stops & restarts in the process, & a lot of things to work through, most notably the difficulties that inevitably arise with a group that each comes with their own idea of what this particular free-church could look like. Hearing some of their stories on how they’re attempting to keep Jesus Christ & the cross front & center give me a new appreciation for the need for the Church to focus on the essentials… referencing the Augustine attributed statement:

“In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.”


We met first with the appointed leader of the church plant, Curt Staab. He graciously welcomed us into his home & ushered us onto the back patio that his family shares with the other tenants of the ranch style/condo-type housing block. He’d prepared dinner himself, an authentic Bavarian feast: white sausage, kraut-salad, & fresh baked pretzel bread.

Curt & his wife Claudia have been a part of the church plant team since the beginning, & have served as assistants, then leaders of the plant which is still sponsored by & overseen by enChristo & the Foursquare Germany leadership. Curt is a practicing medical doctor in his “day job” & is a humble, dedicated, & faithful man giving his all to see people come to know Jesus & grow in him.


Over dinner, I received my assignment for the night: I’d be addressing a home cell group of about 12-20 people, using the book of Acts as my template, talking through the beginnings of the church, tying it in to what the people in Taunnustein are doing, & also referencing some of my own experiences from church life. Sweet.

I scratched a few notes on a pad, & we drove to the home where the group would be meeting; imagine my surprise, a couple from the Frankfurt area that I’ve known for several years, Speedy & Fema Rakus, happened to be there with their 2 sons. Speedy is in his residency, & recently relocated to Taunusstein… & in turn, joined the church plant. I thanked God for the friendly (& familiar) faces.

We began with a DVD message from my supervisor, Ron (the DVD I showed in church last week.) I was so thankful to have an ice-breaker – an introduction & personal blessing specifically recorded for these meetings we are in, as well as an explanation of what it means to be Foursquare, addressing at the very heart level fleshing out love, acceptance, & forgiveness. It was very well received, & the room noticeably brightened.

Jan was serving as my translator, & I tried to get my brain working on multiple levels – what I was talking about, & also how I was communicating it – aiming to keep it in complete sentences & thoughts for ease of “idea to idea” translation. The main scripture used was Acts 2:42-48 – where in the aftermath of the first church growth ‘explosion’ of 120 – 3000+ people, the apostles, in response to the leading of the Holy Spirit, found a way, a flexible though functional structure to make sure each believer was in a place to receive discipleship. As I talked, I was reminded of the great need we have to be in relationship; for the opportunity to be face to face with others on a regular basis in a group small enough to allow intimate & intentional discipleship to take place. I shot up a quick prayer for Hillside & mentally noted to keep praying for the continued development of ‘life giving small missional communities’ (small groups if you want to use a cliche) in our church family.


The time flew by, & illustrations & promptings readily came to mind – we laughed a lot. I’m thankful that some of the things I’ve learned the hard way were able to be used as an example that others might not have to go down the same route I did.

At the end of the talk, there was time for questions… the questions came, haltingly at first. On topics like elders. Leadership. Church structure & church government. Distinctions between elders & leaders (Germans are very, very precise & exact in their definitions.) Differences between the US & German Foursquare structure, bylaws, & government. Prayer.

We prayed together, said our heartfelt goodbyes, & Jan & I slipped out to make the drive back to my host home. Both of us were tired from the long day (& night) & also from sitting & walking in the warm sun for most of the afternoon. Briefly, we talked about our next days agenda, a visit to a town called Bingen, where we’d be spending time with an independent church that is in year 2 of a 3 year process to be adopted as a member church of Foursquare Germany.


Had the good fortune to make it home around midnight, just in time for my schedule & theBean’s to overlap long enough to Skype. Goodness, she has blue eyes. Sigh.


Woke to the sound of my alarm, the 1st time I’d not woken up before it. (In honor of Brintus, I used the Darth Vader music from Star Wars. Starts my day with a smile. Yo B! Thinking of ya!) Staggered to the bathroom to shower & then to the kitchen (with all the appropriate steps in between,) to find that my hosts had laid the table with everything necessary to start the day great. Again! A carafe full of steaming coffee. Mueslix (2 kinds.) Yoghurt. 3 kinds of juice. Dark German bread. Brötchen (little bread rolls.) Ahh. I feel so blessed. Wolfram & Heidi – thank you so much for your hospitality.

On her way out to travel, Heidi came to say goodbye – I’m going to be in another home about 30 minutes away this evening to facilitate my early Friday morning meeting in Gau Algesheim. She said, “Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of what you’re doing. You staying with us allowed me & my husband to be a part of what our church (enChristo) is doing. We’re often so busy with travel & work that we can’t be involved as much as we’d like. Hosting you gave us a chance to be a part of the blessing that you are giving to Germany.”

What an incredible perspective – to be thankful for hosting me? Recognizing that they were getting to partner in the declaration of the gospel Good News. It was a very cool moment that makes me all weepy.

I love my life, & am grateful for the chance meetings that are sign posts declaring God’s goodness, blessing, & care to me & mine.

Deutschland Travels, Spring 2010 Day #3

I arrived in Mainz about 7 p.m. as the preparations for the BBQ were beginning in earnest. It’s a bit surreal to be witness to the hustle & bustle of activity precipitating a church event, but not being a part of the actual “hustling…” Loved the energy.

Jan arrived & he, Eddy, & I spent some time talking, catching up, & making sure our calendars were synced – Eddy was on staff with Jan for several years as his associate, his right hand man. It’s an interesting dynamic between them, in that there is a lot of history & ‘being known’ that is obvious, as well as a deep love & mutual respect.

After Eddy left to head back to Frankfurt, (Tuesdays are “Date Night” for the Dueck’s, no easy feat considering they have 3 boys under the age of 6,) I talked with several of the people that had arrived, a couple of whom I have known (or at least met,) through the November Pastors’ conference I have attended for the last several years. The question of the evening, esp. with those that I hadn’t met before, was:

Why do you come to Germany?

Jan had told me that he wanted me to address the group on this topic later, so each time I answered the query with, “I will tell you later. ” And a smile.

My attendance at the BBQ was a bit of a surprise for some – they didn’t know I’d be there. This dinner gathering was a regularly scheduled get-together for the pastoral staff & ministry leads (childrens’ ministry, administration, hospitality, small groups, etc.) An intimate group of about 15 of us gathered outside on a patio with a U-shaped table configuration to maximize interaction. It was a pot-luck in the best sense of the word, as several great salads, meat selections, & desserts were provided by the people in attendance. The majority of our time involved interacting under the stars in the cool evening, talking, laughing, & enjoying each others company & a good Portuguese rotwein. It reminded me a lot of hanging out with my church family. :)

After about 90 minutes or so, Jan asked if I would tell the gathered group a little bit about me, & also tell WHY I was there… around the tables there was a general anticipation, as those who’d wanted that question answered earlier were FINALLY getting their wish.

I talked about my first trip to Germany, an accidental one. The friendship that developed with my friend Johannes. The discussions about the practicality & process of missions. My trip down the river Main, & how God used the simple invitation, “Come to Germany,” to sear a deep, lasting, committed love for the country, people, & pastors in Germany. Our attempts to move to Germany in 2/99. Beginning pastoring Hillside. The reestablishment of relationship with Johannes & Germany. Mission trips to Frankfurt that resulted in the budding “sister-church” relationship Hillside has with TPLF. The commitment to go to the German pastors’ conference each November, to get to know pastors for the purpose of supporting, praying for, & encouraging them in their endeavors. You can read more about that HERE & HERE & HERE & also HERE if you’re interested

After I finished talking, Jan had me field some questions… a few I remember:

    -what is your long-term vision for Germany?
    -What do you think the German church needs?
    -Does your church support you (believe in you) coming to Germany?
    -Do you really pray for us?

As in any group of close friends, the talks gradually broke into small pockets of conversation, & Jan & I had the opportunity to just sit & soak in the brisk night, observing the people, & conversing ourselves about hobbies, exercise, kettlebells, (Jan was very interested in this, & even asked me to demonstrate several kettlebell exercises & techniques… which I so gladly busted out, much to the amusement of those who observed my demonstration but hadn’t been privy to the discussion leading up to it. Imagine me doing the swing, the figure eight with hold, & the famed “2 hand anyhow…” Good times.

It was close to 11 by the time Jan took me to the home where I’d be staying – words can’t begin to describe the thankfulness I felt at not only being prepared for, (which Wolfram & Heidi had done, setting up a great room & space for me, including wifi password & wasser mit koehlensaure,) but also that they were up & answered the door for their late arriving guest.

A quick tour of the home followed, (so I wouldn’t stumble around in the dark,) & then a quick phone call to theBean, then to bed for me. The picture at left is the garden (backyard) of the home where I’m staying.


I woke to the sound of giggling kids – evidently, having an American staying in Spare Oom is a pretty funny concept for little ones. I quickly shaved & showered, then stumbled out to a German breakfast, complete with strong German coffee. Heidi pulled out all the stops, & I was again so thankful for the love & care shown to me in something as simple as mueslix, yoghurt, the dark German bread, & plenty of coffee. Did I mention the coffee? Mmm.

One of my favorite things about staying in homes is the opportunity to get to hear the ‘story’ of the hosts; these serendipitous meetings have often resulted in the development of deep & lasting friendships, (ala Martin und Sandra, Alex und Linda, etc…)


Today, I’ll be having lunch with Jan & discussing the happenings within Foursquare Germany, specifically relating to the churches that I’ll be visiting over the next couple of evenings, & also hearing about the recent developments in Foursquare Europe (fresh from the conference that just took place just outside of Valencia, Spain.) Then, this evening, I’m headed to a place in the hills about 30 minutes from Mainz called Taunusstein. I’m looking forward to another great evening.

It’s Friday & I’m rehearsing my routine…

Yesterday, a friend commented that they’d observed I have a lot of ‘routines.’ I had to ask what they meant, as I didn’t recall any song & dance performances I’d done lately (other than an impromptu DLR kick in the kitchen. And the Carlton. And the little thing I did when I won my fantasy football league… but nothing major.)

So it wasn’t THAT kind of routine they were talking about. Der. Its the routine that make life ‘feel’ normal, like things are going the way they are supposed to… that no matter how much change takes place, there are a few things, activities, habits… my things, activities, habits, that make life’s changes & curveballs… ok.


One of my favorites: Making coffee in the evening, so it will be ready in the morning.

    -Water in the water reservoir, as much as it will hold because somehow, some way, a little bit of water manages to disappear in the brewing process. Steamy.

    -Filter in the receptacle. Double-check to make sure its open & ready to receive the bean grindings.

    -Grind the beans for 15 seconds, silently counting in my head. Lips might be moving too. Stop grinding. Hit it again for 1,2,3.

    -Whack the grinder on the right hand side 3 times to shake loose any stuck grounds, & then gently tap the grinder contents into the waiting filter. Whack the grinder again, just to make sure.

    -Smell the aroma of freshly ground beans. Hmmm.

    -Press the timer. Ahh.

Monday musings on a Thursday in Reno…

Got home last night about 9… the last leg of the trip, even though it was only a 2 hour flight from Denver, was the most challenging. I think its because I just wanted it to be OVER already.

Some things that I’m pondering this morning in my partially convoluted (but never deluded) state are:

    -Coffee at home in my own kitchen sure tastes good.
    -Sitting on the couch last night with theBean with a good Cabernet made it seem like I’d never left at all. Funny.
    -My bum is killing me from all the sitting of the last 2 weeks. Wonder how bad it would have been if we hadn’t walked 10k/day? Feels like a big old bruise. Probably TMI…
    -Words are eluding me this morning as I try to express my self. Or to ask someone to pass the … what is that word again? I’m not thinking in German, I’m replacing the ‘right’ word with a completely wrong one – like “sofa” for “cup.” Ahh.
    -The sky is blue. I missed that about Reno. Frankfurt was grey & rainy for 99% of the time. Not that I minded.
    -Thursday night NFL games are here. I’m smiling on the inside. Back just in time.
    -I wonder if I’m more nervous for Pasty’s Zone championship game tomorrow night than he is?
    -I’m craving a big juicy steak, covered in butter.
    -Today I get to see theWeez hoop it up at SHHHHWWOPE. Can’t wait.

Going to try to sneak a work out in, then it’s time to start my Monday. On Thursday. Here I come. Watch out!