life is a mission......

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Firewood and trails....

I was walking one of the trails that we are going to use for an activity at English Camp this summer and I was just taken by the beauty of the trail, so I had to take a picture to share with you. :)
On my walk I was reminded of how the families here acquire their firewood. Companies cut down trees in the forest. The trees that the company doesn't/ can't use goes up for auction. Families go to these auctions and buy piles of the logs. This is a picture of a couple of the piles.
This is a picture of the initals of someone who bought this pile. Then, before winter comes, this person comes to this spot in the woods and cuts the logs and makes a pile here or takes them home.
What a wonderful way to use all the wood that is cut!


Well, if you know me very well at all you know that I have a hard time saying "No" if you ask me to help.... I blame my dad for that one. ;)
Last week, on top of the very busy schedule of getting ready for the summer English camps I helped out some friends. :) I was glad to do it! But, I thought it was blog worthy because it is very unique to this community.
First, people are heading home for the summer to make connections with family, friends and supporters. I drove 2 different families to the airport on 2 different days. One was a very early morning run and I had to leave my house at 4:30 in the morning. But, that's English Camp! I'm just getting a head start! Now that people are gone or on vacation I'm checking people's mail, watering flowers and DOG SITTING!!! Yes, for the next 10 days I'm keeping Daisy! She's so sweet! She does some tricks and just loves to be near you. :) awwww, to have a dog! Not to mention, I'm staying at Daisy's home and it's a 5 minute walk to work instead of from my house that is a 30 min walk!
The following picture is a container! Growing up in La Porte this is not a strange sight for me, but I have to admit, I am more used to seeing them at the port! LOL and not on a truck! Well, the signifance of them here is people who have been here for a few years and either bring furniture and a lot of personal things, or they acquire them here, they will get a container to ship things home. This is one that I helped load so that she could go home to the mid-west.
Daisy's family has been here for a few years and their daughter graduated from BFA this year, so they are moving back to Texas. They got a conatiner and they had room for my 2 very overweight bags and a small box of things that I wanted to take home. So, most of my stuff is packed here! I really just have clothes and my bedding still here! So, I'll be able to come home in my one suitcase that I can check and my back pack and I won't have to pay for extra bags or overweight ones! What a blessing! And the best part?! (as if that wasn't good enough...) They live in Brenham, Texas! Yes...the Blue Bell Creamery Capital of Texas! So, what does that mean? I HAVE to go to Brenham to get my things!
God is amazing in how He works things out. :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ester Camp....

Well, I know it's been a while since I blogged, but I didn't realize I didn't talk about April at all!

So, during April was Easter. Janz Team has an English Camp during the Easter holiday for German kids from 11-13 years old. It's only a week long for these campers (where in summer camp it's 10 days). These guys were at such a wonderful, cute age! The girls are taller than the boys, the boys still don't really talk to the girls..... you know.... JUNIOR HIGH!!!

We had 55 campers and 16 staff people. Most of the staff people were German people that I work with in my office building. I've worked with them all year, and I know kind of who they are, but this was a great way for me to get to know them! It's really be tremendous in building the relationships in the office. People just stop in and chat and I feel more comfortable talking to them also.

At camp, that was an amazing time! Every night after chapel service we had at least one camper pray and ask Jesus into their heart! One of the activities that they could do was to memorize Bible verses (in English, German or both) and even the msot limited English speaker told us at least 1 Bible verse in English! That's what it's all about!

This is Charlotte. One evening after our chapel service she was sitting alone. I felt I needed to go and talk to her. I had no idea what her English level was, so sometimes I didn't always talk to the kids as much as I should have. I asked her what she was thinking about. She told me that she wanted to pray and ask Jesus into her heart, but she felt that there was darkness blocking her. We talked about that and prayed and she was a new creature in Christ!! We've kept in contact via letters and email since camp. She's an amazing new lovely young lady!

This is Laura. She grew up going to camp and she is now following Christ because of English camps! She came back this year as a staff person to teach English and be a counselor. Her parents are from Budapest, so she knows Hugarian. She grew up in Germany, so she knows German. In school she has learned (and is proficient) English. She has learned French and Italian. Yes, she knows 5 languages! Her English is flawless! Our first night together as staff we sat down to have a devotional time. I had my Bible and she said, "Oh and English Bible, I've always wanted one of those!" On Saturday before we left camp I gave her my Bible. I've had it for about 7 years and it has all kinds of notes and writings in it and post it notes stuck all through it with verses that mean a lot to me. I gave it to her as is. She was crying, I was crying. It was a wonderful moment!

This is the YELLOW TEAM! Being a teacher at summer camp I've never been able to be an activity team leader. Those are the people who get to have fun with the kids! I was so glad when I could at this camp. We had fun! We played baseball, capture the flag and all kinds of relay races. Fun times.

This is a calf. ;) One afternoon during activity time we went to a dairy farm that was close by. Not only was the walk fun, but the cows were so cute! The smell wasn't....but the cows were cute. Seeing the campers interact with the cows was fun. They were trying to feed them hay and some of them would eat and some would just turn their head. I have some great pictures! This little guy was born the week we came.

Easter camp was a success!

We reached German kids for Christ!

Now, less than 40 days before the staff arrive for this summer's camp!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

the knee....

About mid-March my knee was hurting so bad that I could barely walk! After fighting with it for a week I made a doctor's appointment. I was nervous about going because all I knew was my knee hurt! I didn't have an injury or anything. So, I wasn't sure what the outcome would be.

I got to the doctor's office, told them I was there, filled out papers (because it was the first time for me to be there) and waited in the waiting room. After a few minutes they called me back into the room and I waited for just a minute. The doctor came in and I told him that my knee was having pain and I had no idea why.

He told me to sit on the table so he could examine my knee. He poked and pulled and prodded and decided that it wasn't anything serious like a ligiment or pulled muscle or anything. SO "We make bandage for you!" Ummm, ok.

So, my instructions were: we are going to put a bandage on your knee now. You take the perscription to the pharmacy and get it filled. Then, bring the bandage from the pharmacy back here. Wear the bandage for 4 days and don't get it wet.

This made me appericate NOT breaking a bone in my body! This was a "soft" kind of bandage/ cast. I was able to walk, although a little slower and maybe a little more like hobbling, but I could walk. Showers were creativly different so I wouldn't get my knee/ leg wet, but I could still shower! Although, it felt like my skin was burning and the bandage was pulling it off!! My knee was feeling better. :)

On the 4th day my neighbor and I went for a slow walk in the vineyard. While we were walking it started sprinkling. No big deal, right?! By the time we got back to the car we were SOAKED! Yes, my bandage was wet! I decided that I was going to take it off before I took a shower and warmed up! As I was taking it off it felt like I was peeling duct tape off my leg! The reason: my leg had broken out in an allergic reaction!

No wonder it felt like my skin was coming off my leg!

The good knee was better!!!

There were lots of prayers being said along with "the bandage"! God healed my knee and I've been great ever since!!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Random thoughts....

Only coming to Germany for 14 months is difficult in a lot of ways.

It takes time to make the transition into living in another culture, or just moving in general. To learn where to go shopping to buy food. To learn your way around. To feel confident in "your area". Just about the time you get to that place where you can say "this is my home", it's time to move again.

There are a lot of buzz words in the missionary world. One of them is "transition". I almost don't like using it myself, but it's a fact of life. The first transition I had moving here was a new job. I fit in well and so it wasn't that hard. Next, the language....I'm still working on that (and there's no end in sight). Next, making new friends and living life here while keeping connected back "home" in's hard. Next, just taking care of myself. Next, being an active part of the community. I think I'm good with this one. Next, I'm 4 months from going back to Texas and I have to start thinking about transitioning back!!! NO! I want to live in the present! Ok, OK. My next transition is moving back to Texas, going to college, and physically moving things, getting a job, not having a car....... BUT HAVING FAITH THAT IT'S ALL UNDER CONTROL.

I know that God has me in Germany to minister to teenagers who come to English Camp because it's fun, they get to practice their English in a way they don't get to in school, and they learn about God while doing it! It's an amazing time and unbelievable that God has entrusted ME to do this work. I'm honored that He chose me. I love my job. I love all the ministry opportunities that He has given me while I've been here.

Please keep me in your prayers that I may do what God wants me to do, and say what He wants me to say. A verse that I have leaned on in this season of my journey is Micah 6:8....act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

I have just one picture to share with you this time. It makes me smile when I think about the awesome conversations that I've had with Danielle. :) She's from Australia and just and amazing Godly woman. The greatest lesson I've learned in the year preparing to come to Germany and my year here is: relationships with people are the most important thing. Everything else will perish, but your relationship with God and man should be our primary focus. Thank you Lord for letting me see this, now give me the strength to apply it.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

English Camp...

I went to an English Camp near Stuttgart. I was teacher there. This is the second time this year that I have been privileged enough to go. It's always such a blessing and a great time!!! One of the favorite past times for the camper is to play Tisch Tennis (Ping Pong) in a tournament style round. I had never seen it played like this before. It's very interesting to watch! I don't think I would be able to keep up, so I just watch!

So, what they are doing is gathering around the table in a circle. As they are hitting it back and forth as one person misses, they are out. You keep going until there is only 1 person left! I just love to watch it!

A German wedding...

Last Saturday, March 19th, I got to go to a German wedding!!! I got to know the bride through camp. She was a camper a few years ago and then she came to Janz Team as an intern in 2009 and then this past summer (2010) I got to know her as a staff person. She's great!

For the most part a German wedding is the same as an American wedding. They have a bride, a groom and someone talking! LOL The major difference is they HAVE to go to "City Hall" and get married. (The civil ceremony.) It's an option if they want to have a church wedding.

Jenny and Pascal went on Wednesday and had their civil ceremony, but they didn't consider themselves married, so still lived at home until after the celebration on Saturday. What a testimony to their faith and beliefs.

After the ceremony there was a reception (that we didn't leave until 1am!). It included many different activities that their sister's had created. Games for everyone to be involved in, paintings to be painted, power point presentations to be watched (of Jenny and Pascal growing up!), cake to be cut and eaten, pictures to be taken..... MOSTLY....the people just enjoyed each others company. It was great to be able to just sit and talk to every one. To watch others enjoy other people's company.

It was such an honor to be at their wedding!
Thank you Jenny and Pascal for inviting me!
Best wishes! I hope you both have a wonderful life serving one another!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Visiting Texas....

It's been a while since I've sat down to blog. Thanks for hanging in there and continuing to read. :)

Well, February 1st I landed in Houston, Texas. It was the day the cold front blew through! When I left Eurpoe that morning it was about 32*F and when I walked out of the airport it was about 36*F!!! And....well, that's cold for Texas! I had a VERY full schedule! (I drove over 2000 miles and was in a 2 hour radius of Houston.) But, Mother Nature had other plans for me! Yes, I had to cancel my Thursday and Friday plans and totally rearrange my schedule. It was a test of my flexibility! I made it through! In all fairness, it was bitterly COLD! It doesn't matter where you are from, it was cold! This is one of my Dad's dogs sitting warming himself in front of the heater! I thought it was hilarious we had to fight the dogs away from the heater so we could warm up! They have a fur coat!

I had many opportunities to see a lot of people! (My appologies if I didn't get to see you. There were a few that, because of the weather, I couldn't reschedule with. :( ) It was an amazing time of seeing people. God has blessed me with friends who have BABIES!!!! I am "honorary Aunt" to some cuties!!! Here's a glimpse of those who blessed me while I was home!

Barbie and Gabriel!!! (13 months old!)

Shelly and Brooklynn!!! (17 months old!)
Aaryn and Rylan!!! (1 month old!)
Rylan was born 6 1/2 weeks early because she heard that I was coming home! And she was big enough and holding her own, so she got to go home during the time I was visiting! So, I got to see her!!
I had a marvelous time hanging out with the families of these little ones! Then I was continually blessed by all the people I got to see! Honestly, there are too many to list! It's amazing how many people I saw! One day I had breakfast with a family, lunch with a friend, shopping with another friend, supper with another family and then to my Mom's to crash for the night!
One Saturday I had a gathering at Mom's for the Cleveland folks! That was great! People from all over came to have some German snacks and visit! My little cuz Matthew insisted on helping clean up!

You know, he looks just like his dad, but I don't remember his dad being so darn cute!!! He's almost 2 and wouldn't let me go during church the next day. It was heart warming!

The teachers I taught with in Buffalo are amazing women! God placed them in my life for the season of my life I needed them most! It built bonds that are life-long. They all sacrificed an evening and drove from all over to have supper with me the last Monday I was in Texas! <3>

The question I got most before I left was: "So, what do you miss most?" My answer: "The sun! and (although I didn't go there much when I lived there) the beach!" I told people in December that when I went to Texas that I was going to go to the beach while I was home! They thought I was crazy! "But it'll be February!" I didn't say I was going swimming, I just said I was going to go to the beach. :) So, I put it on the list and the day before I left I finally made it to the beach! jacket! and I took my FLIP FLOPS off to stand in the water! Yes, February in Texas! Amazing!

Now, I'm back on the other side of the "pond". I was glad to be home and see everyone. I got a lot accomplished while I was there. I saw a lot of people. I learned things about myself. It was a productive trip! BUT.....I knew it was time to come back. I knew it wasn't for long that I was going to be there. It's good to be back. I have a goal ahead of me. I'm working everyday to reach that goal....ENGLISH CAMP!!! Besides....where else in the world can you walk home from work and see a little old lady pushing her walker down the road??!!!

Ich liebe Deutschland!!!

Friday, January 14, 2011


I'm getting ready to go to Texas to visit my friends, family and supporters. I've been in Germany since June of 2010. I'm closing in on being away from home for 7 months. It's been an amazing time of growing personally in knowledge and spirit. There are a lot of things to contemplate in returning, even for just 3 weeks.

For example, and this may seem simple and strange, but I was talking to a friend on the phone today and she was in a store. Sounds simple. She was having a conversation with the cashier. Again, simple. It's different from my current life seemed strange! Another one: I'm borrowing a family member's car when I come home. They called the insurance and I don't have to be on their insurance, I just have to have their permission to drive it. When she told me that I thought in the back of my mind, "if I get pulled over (which I don't plan to) how am I suppose to tell them that I have permission to drive it? ......thought process...... oh yeah.....ENGLISH!"

So, I know that if I'm already experiencing these things, I know that when I go "home" it will be intensified so much more.

So, friends, family and supporters.....please bear with me! During our conversations and if we go shopping our out to eat, it's going to take me some time to adjust. And, I may throw in a German word here and there......just give me a strange look!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Jenny is a friend that I made this summer. :)
She was a camper for several years and then she came back the past two years as a staff person and did an internship with Janz Team during that time as well. Her English is AMAZING! Since she was around the "camp" scene before me everyone got used to calling her Jenny. I usually go by Jennifer, but it's really hard to retrain people. LOL So, my name got shortened to Jenny as well. Then, Jenny's sister told my director last summer that I was crazy so he started calling me "Crazy Jenny", which he later decided was too long and so that got shortened to "CJ". Hence, at camp, I'm known as "CJ". It makes it easy to sign my name!
So, who is Jenny? I got to hang out with her some this summer on a staff trip and hear more of her story. We have more in common than our name. :) She told me of her possible life choices in her near future and she told me how she met her fiance and their plans. Throughout this year Jenny and I have been able to talk on the phone a few times and we email regularly to "keep up" with each other. She's truly a gift from God. We can laugh. We can talk. We are "real" with each other.
Thank you Jenny for being YOU! You are an amazing woman of God.


For German Language School I went to Berlin, the capital of Germany. Berlin has such history. I’m awful at history, so if I get something wrong, just let me know, but this is my take on Berlin.
I tried to see all the historical sights.
Brandenburger Tor: the major gate that separated East and West Berlin.
The East Side Gallery: part of the wall that is still standing. I read that after the wall “came down” the people from the East decorated it with murals. Some are political, artistic or just scenic.
Nordbahnhof: the North train station of the U-Bahn that has the history of how people escaped from the East to the West using the U-Bahn. It was difficult and risky, but oh so worth it if you made it. While I was in there I just kept thinking about how it must have been during that dark time of history. (which wasn’t that long ago) And after I contemplated what it must have been like for those people, I thanked God that it is not like that anymore.
The Holocaust Memorial: breathtaking….. to think about all the people that were persecuted and stood up for what they believed in.
The Juedishes Museum: what a tribute. I hope that if I had to make a choice for my beliefs I would make the one that would honor God, like the Jews did.
The zoo: well, that’s not that “historical” but I did get to Knut the Eisbaer! Well, that’s historical! Knut grew up in the public eye and has a great personality! He was very interested in the guy’s camera and was the only bear in the water when I visited.
Hamlet: I saw Hamlet auf Deutsch aber mit Shakespearen English subtitles. The acting was amazing!
Dresden: is a nearby city that Germany is still working on rebuilding. There are a lot of churches and the most famous opera house there!
People: I learned about a family of missionaries that live in Berlin and I got to go to Christmas Eve service with them. We had songs and verses in German and English. It was a very sweet time of worship. Then, they invited me over for Silvester (New Year’s Eve). We played some games and then told each other what were thankful for in 2010 and about 11:30 we went outside and joined in the craziness of shooting fireworks. There were fireworks everywhere! And the celebration started about dark….6:00 pm! Standing on the sidewalk watching fireworks from all over was surreal. It really sounded like a war zone (what I imagine a war zone would sound like). It made me think about what life must have been like during WWII. The constant sound. I wasn’t fearful for bombs, or my life, like they would have been back then, but it was definitely thought provoking. Then, at midnight we had the “Berlin tradition” of eating a Berliner! (a jelly filled doughnut with powdered sugar) I later heard that traditionally there would be at least one for everyone and one of the doughnuts would be filled with mustard! And the person who got that one was suppose to have extra good luck for the year! (I’m good with not having extra good luck!) I was glad mine was ohne senf! Thank you Kragt family for including me in your celebrations!
Then, one of the foreign exchange students that I met in Texas lives in Berlin! So, since I was in the city we met for an afternoon and had a great chat! She told me all about Berlin culture over kaffee und kekes! Thanks Becca for a great afternoon!


During the Christmas holiday I was able to go to Berlin and learn German. At: German Language School (GLS)…..creative name huh? It was a 2 week course and there were about 30 of us who came for the 2 week “Christmas Special”. We had 3 hours of class in the morning and then in the afternoon/ evening there was a suggested activity. We quickly became a gemeinschaft. On Christmas eve we all cooked a dish and then came together to eat… was a covered dish kind of thing! It was great! People were there from all over the world! I met people from Scotland, England, Netherlands, Spain, China, Columbia and even some Americans.  I was in the lowest level class to learn German, but it was so much fun! My teachers had a great attitude about us and our klein Deutsch! I feel that I learned a lot, but there is a LOOONNNNGGGG way for me to go. My goal is to be able to talk and relate to my campers better. At least I can now ask them (and understand) where they are from, how old they are and what their address is!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 reflection.....

The biggest blessing that I have become aware of is the love that surrounds me. God sent me to the other side of the world and there were people there that He had ready to love me there. The gemeinschaft (community) that was waiting for me across the pond is amazing. I made it a little easier to leave my familiar surroundings and people, but still took faith to know that God had everything under control. This was the biggest blessing of my year…… to know that my friends and family back “home” loved me enough to send me and to be so warmly welcomed when I arrived in Kandern, Germany.
I’ve lived in Germany for six months now. During this time I have been able to visit places near and far from where I live. 99% of my travels have been ministry related. The 1 holiday that wasn’t “ministry” turned into a great ministry opportunity and God put people in my path every where I turned to bless me during my time in London. Each and every place I go I look at the people there and even if they don’t look back, I pray for them. I think of the song “Give me your eyes” by Brandon Heath and pray for the people I meet on the street, in the store, or just driving by…..the train driver. Everyone has a story. Being a student of people……isn’t that what God would want us to do? Learn about the person and love them no matter the circumstances/ choices that they have chosen.
Walking along the streets of the cities is one of my favorite past times (when visiting a city). Walking in the woods is my favorite when I’m in the Schwarzwald.
Be blessed in 2011 and appreciate the small things in life. 