Deutschland Travels, Spring 2010, Day #11 & 12

In the evening, I headed over to TPLF for the meeting of the Twenz – aka ‘college group’, better known as the Flying Ducks. I have to confess, I was walking the Kurfuerstenstrasse, & smelled the doener from Bistro Sahin… & next thing I knew, I was inside, eating one. With a hot Turkish tea that hit the spot on the rain-soaked, chilly evening.

At the Ducks, we spent time in worship & then in talking through the difference between being a “believer” in Christ & being a “disciple,” using John 8:30-34 as our text. Got to meet several great people, most notably a bubbly, inquisitive, & really smart young lady, Aggi, who’s studying to be a teacher. She kept me on my toes with a series of probing questions throughout the message, each of which built on the previous one. Her developing understanding & the “a-HA!” glimmer that sparkled in her eyes as we processed as a group reminded me just WHY bible study & discussion groups are my favorite thing in the whole world.

After the meeting & before I made my way home to catch some much-needed sleep, Aggi asked me to pray for her: that she would make good marks on her final exams before becoming a teacher; that she’s be a blessing, a real blessing (her words) to her family & friends; & that she’d be able to walk. Aggi was born prematurely & had some areas of her motor development that don’t function right yet. And still, she’s hoping & contending for healing, to be able not to have to depend on her chair to get around. And even better, Aggi isn’t waiting around in solitude for this event – she’s actively living a great story that speaks to the power of God’s love in & through her life.

This morning, I woke up at about 5:30, thanking God for the early wakeup call. The mens’ breakfast for Kingdom Life Church started at 7, so after getting ready, Eddy & I walked over to TPLF. One of the many things I am appreciating about Eddy is that like me, he is a quiet person in the morning. All’s I can say is we are truly kindred spirits in this regard.

There was a great breakfast prepared, with lots of steaming hot coffee, which is just what I was praying for on the brisk walk. A parfait that would have made theBean proud was served, along with a great assortment of German breads. I spoke from Psalm 126 – talking about God’s restoration & living in the “middle” between sowing & reaping.

Got back to the Duecks & sorted through my bags in what has become a ‘preparing to come home’ routine. It’s where I take stock of what’s in my suitcase – folding what needs to be folded, separating dirty clothes, laying out my outfits for the next 2 days, making sure all is where it should be for the voyage home.

Today was also the day to get my manly (oh so manly,) shoulder bag that I shopped for yesterday. I jumped on the U-bahn to Hauptwache, & made my way to the “Street Culture” store… only to find that this was the only store in the downtown that didn’t open at 10. No worries. I’d wait. In waiting, I got hungry for 2nd breakfast (I am on a journey, so maybe some Hobbit-like tendencies are emerging,) so I stepped over to the McCafe next door for a coffee & chocolate croissant. Amazing.

Finally, the store next door opened & I literally stumbled in, absolutely nailed my right knee cap on a seemingly invisible bench that emerged out of nowhere. Goodness. Made my way upstairs & debated between the black, white, & grey bags… finally deciding on black with grey accents. (Not quite Raider-esque…) Take a look. I think it is quite the Manly shoulder bag.

This afternoon, I was invited to go to take a tour of Levent’s workplace. He works on the 22nd floor of the building, which provided for some great views of the surrounding area. We got to eat in the Cantina… I had a canneloni that tasted like Spaghetti-O’s. Which is a good thing. I absolutely loved the conveyor belt that took our dishes into the kitchen. We are in Germany, I keep reminding myself.

Eddy & I are now off to Gau Algesheim for dinner & also to hang out with theology school students, as well as many of the pastors from Foursquare Germany. We’ll be there for the evening, returning late tonight, where I’ll be hoping for some good sleep, as I have a full day of meetings tomorrow…

Deutschland Travels, Spring 2010, Day #10

Eddy asked me to talk to the TPLF ‘team’ on the topic of developing a culture of love, acceptance, & forgiveness. In preparing for the talk, I was studying my notes & reviewing all the life lived, highlights (& otherwise ☺) from the last 10 years at Hillside. Thinking back, I get weepy, pondering the cost of attempting to figure out just what that “love, acceptance, & forgiveness” looks like, lived out in the lives of fallible, imperfect people.

Trying to condense it into a 25 minutes window almost seemed impossible… but then it’s not. At this point, I think that while I (& we. Yes we,) are still a work in process, there is enough water under the bridge, the development of God’s purposes for me (& us. Yes us,) that talking to the TPLF’ers about this seems simple…

I found it spilling out of the overflow of what’s getting more & more bubbling up in my heart. I started by defining culture as a ‘set of shared attitudes, values, goals, beliefs, & practices…” & rolled on from there to HERE.

Living out love, acceptance, & forgiveness is costly… in that its risky & feels ‘dangerous’ because of the personal & corporate vulnerability that results. It’s also freeing, as it seems like living with no net, with a deeper & more reliant (desperate) need for cooperation to what God-the Holy Spirit is doing in & around us. Cause really, living love, acceptance, & forgiveness is simply putting a human suit on God’s heart & purposes for humanity.

On another note, evidently I had taken a picture at the Sunday coffee party at the Dueck’s house that had caught Aris’ beautiful girlfriend with her eyes closed. So, I’m posting another one that I snapped last night to make up for it. Very, very sweet.

After the meeting, Eddy & I were invited by a couple of people to head over to a place called “Loonas,” a kneipe (restaurant/pub) run by an Italian guy named Gianni (Johnny) right around the corner from the famous Bistro Sahin. Hung out there for a while, talking about times when we’ve been embarrassed by saying something in our mother tongue, not knowing that there was someone nearby that understood it… good times. Embarrassment & the gift of putting ones foot in ones mouth – truly a universal trait of the human race.

Gianni was quite taken with us, partially because it was the 2nd evening in a row that we’d been there… & business was pretty slow. I ordered a Maisel’s Weissbier from Austria. The hefe glass it came it was incredible, so much so that I asked Gianni if he had any for sale. He got a big grin on his face & went & grabbed one from behind his counter – & said, “For you, the American guy, it’s free. Just promise me one thing: don’t EVER put American beer in this glass. If you do, it will BREAK!” We all had a good laugh at that, & I’m coming home with a great souvenir reminder & sign of God’s blessing & favor. Booyah!

I’ve spent today meeting with a couple different people – for breakfast & then again for lunch. The last two days I haven’t been able to walk as much as I would like, so I took the U-bahn to the Hauptwache (main station,) where the outdoor mall (& the KatherinenKirche is, where we did the Leben ist Schoen outreach in 2007.) Walked up & down the mall, looking for a new shoulder bag. (NOTE: a shoulder bag is different than a man-purse. I can’t explain all the nuances of it, but you’ll have to take my word for it, especially if I ever actually pull the trigger on buying one.)

Been using a borrowed (& flimsy) backpack on the trip, & the more I wear & use it, the more my upper back & neck hurt. I’m at the point where I’m looking to spend money to deal with the pain, which should tell you that its become a nuisance… I’ve tried adjusting the straps etc. but to no avail – hence the search for a bag that would be easier to support, & more evenly balanced. Your prayers for healing (& relief!) are greatly appreciated.

Anyway, it’s been raining for most of the day, so I put my hood up, thanked the LORD that theBean had made me take my rain jacket, & walked. And shopped, which consisted of me looking into the stores as I briskly went by each of them. If anything caught my eye, I’d wander in for a few, & then get out as quick as possible. Truly, I am skilled at this. Oh yes.

Found about 4 different, very, very manly shoulder-bags, complete with the imprint of a manly sporting goods company on it. Thinking about colors at this point, & may take the plunge & actually get one tomorrow. Just sayin…

I’ll be snagging a spare umbrella for the walk to TPLF tonight for Flying Ducks (College Group). Aris, the leader of the Ducks, asked me to bring something challenging, so I’ll be speaking from John 8, talking about the difference between BELIEF in Christ & being a DISCIPLE of Christ. Hillside-ers would most likely recognize the text & the substance of the message as we spent a good weeks on the topic in our Living as a Christ-follower series… Good times.

Something I’d like to ponder & work through later deals with a topic that has come up repeatedly over the last 10 days: fatherhood. I’ll put a “,” there & we’ll get back to it soon. Gotta study a bit, rest for 20, & then head over to TPLF.