Thursday, June 30, 2011

Life Here Definitely Revolves Around Food

Here's a fun photo we found from when Brent was with us a couple weeks ago! We were prepping the grill for American-style hamburgers!

Barrett has discovered a great love for original Thuringian bratwurst with mustard. On Tuesday he ate three of them in one evening. :)

Here we are with our friends Michael and Melanie in Michael's garden. He grows cherries, lettuce, onions, carrots, dill, radishes, raspberries, and probably a few more things we can't remember. We went to help him pull weeds and do a little bit of harvesting last week and have gotten to enjoy the fresh produce multiple times! Pray for these believers, that they would grow exponentially and find strength in Christ.

Jobin invited Barrett and Tom over for authentic Indian food last week. They helped him cook japati and dahl (no clue how to spell those), which was very delicious indeed! We have been privileged to spend so much time with and encourage Jobin.

After church on Sunday evenings, a large group likes to go to a local "Mexican" restaurant. The food is good, but not very Mexican. Nevertheless, it's a great time with our friends here to have good conversations.

This is supposedly a quesadilla... Barrett found it to be more like an enchilada. Tomorrow evening we're planning to host a Mexican dinner party with more authentic quesadillas, provided we can find the right ingredients. Pray that we would use this event and others during this last week and a half to make the most of our time here!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Discovering more of Deutschland with friends!

 Here's the girls' apartment! This is a shot of us waiting for some of the local church members to deliver some furniture for our use these last few weeks. They generously supplied a mattress, four chairs, a table, a lamp (notice there's no fixture on the ceiling), and some kitchen stuff. God provides in awesome ways!
Here's the view from the girls' balcony! The building on the right can be found on some postcards here in Jena -- talk about a great location!

The girls' flatmate Xenia and Katie about to cut a cherry pie they made together. Be praying for Xenia these last couple weeks, that Katie and Natasha will be able to speak truth and love into her life.

We barely escaped a sudden rainstorm last week. While waiting in this stairwell, we got to engage another girl who was waiting for the rain to pass. We did a Soularium survey with her and got to here some of her perspectives on spirituality. Pray for Ghazale, that she will continue to ask questions about God and truly seek Him, that she will find true life!

 Natasha and Katie found Dr. Pepper at a local grocery store! A sweet taste of home in Germany!

This past weekend we traveled to Berlin with our friend Jobin. Here's Barrett and Tom trying to figure out where to go next!

Katie, Tom, Barrett, and Jobin in front of the Reichstag, the German parliament building.

Here we are as a team with Jobin in front of the Berliner Dome. It was a great weekend and an awesome time we got to spend with Jobin as he's been stressed recently. Please pray for God's provision and peace as he seeks a new PhD position.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Just follow the signs to Ausfahrt, Germany!

We went with the Mike Story team to see the remains of the city wall in Jena.

The girls had a girls' night with Dee Story. She shared some great insight with us on how to be godly women.

Antje with our British friends we met on the way to the Wartburg. Antje was able to have some good conversations with the woman in this picture about what she believes. Please pray that they will find God and believe in His Son.

The girls in Weimar, enjoying some ice cream! yum!

Our team enjoying some time together, getting to know the German culture and its history.

Tom, Barrett, and Brent being manly men by climbing on the rocks.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Another photo from our retreat last weekend. Natasha is with a couple girls from the Connexxion ministry in Braunschweig and Maria on the right, a good friend of ours here in Jena.

Tom and Barrett with their friend Jobin at a memorial to Emperor Barbarrosa. Jobin is a student from India with whom Tom has had the opportunity to spend a good amount of time with over the past week or two. Continue to pray that he would catch the vision for making disciples and would be rooted in strong, encouraging community!

Tom with Brent and Marcel. Brent was here this past week with Mike Story, whose whole team was a great encouragement to us. Marcel used to be very involved and committed to Connexxion, but there has been some relational conflict. Pray that our presence might bring peace and reconciliation among the believers here in Jena.

While visiting Erfurt this past week, we saw several old churches, many of which are very empty and lifeless. This on is called Barf├╝sserkirche, literally the Barefoot Church! It has been converted into an open-air theater. I (Tom) especially long to see a re-awakening of the church in Germany and hope to take part in this work in the future!

Daniel (right) has become a good friend as well. Tom met him while Daniel was visiting Oklahoma on a Connexxion vision trip (hence the awesome shirt he's wearing), and had the opportunity to room with him this past week. Praise God for greater depth of friendship and the ability to speak truth into his life!

Here we are outside the Wartburg, the place where Martin Luther translated the Bible into German! Pray that we might bring the truth of God's Word to the German people in a similar way as Luther did -- inviting people to know the Father in a personal, intimate way through the Scripture.

This is most of Mike Story's team, along with Antje (a Connexxion staff member) and Maria (a student we've gotten to spend a good amount of time with). Praise the Father for encouraging times with friends!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Outreach & Retreat

Connexxion had a grill party last Wednesday at one of the student's resident halls. Although it wasn't a huge group, we had a great time of fellowship with one another.

Katie and Natasha with Antje, one of the workers for Connexxion. We were at the Bible discussion night. Every Monday night, they have these discussion nights in the pub, which is a more welcoming environment for non-believers. It is a time when we read a passage of the Bible together and discuss what it means to us. Please pray that more people will come every Monday night and that God will work in their hearts. God has used this time to draw many people to himself, some of whom are now workers with Connexxion Ministries. 

We are with our friend Conny who is a believer, a student, and a strong leader in Connexxion Ministries in Jena. Please pray that she will continue to have great influence and continue to reach out to others in discipleship. Also, please pray that we will be a great encouragement to her while we are here.

Barrett arrived last Thursday!!! Yay!! We welcomed him at the train station with some pizza! Yummy! (The inside of the pizza box says “Welcome to Jena, Barrett!”)

V We enjoyed some time at the park with our friends on Thursday. We played frisbee, slack-lined, played some softball, enjoyed some bratwurst, and talked together.  
Some friends we met/reunited with at the retreat this weekend. Please pray for them as they return to their different cities in Germany. Pray that they would continue to persevere and reach out to the people around them with the gospel of God. Henning, in the middle, became a Christian this past weekend! 
Mike Story and his team joined us at the retreat this weekend. Mike shared a lot of truth from God's word about what it means to Abide in Christ. Pray for their team as they are in Jena with us this next week and help in the ministry there for one week.
Team Jena!! We went on a walk/hike with some friends here during the retreat. :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hard to believe it's been less than a week!

 Here's a view from where Tom hiked on Thursday with some guys from the Connexxion ministry. They hiked a total of 25 km (about 15.5 miles) that day. The lone skyscraper on the left is in the city center, right next to campus.

This was our little table-top grill with some famous Thuringian (the state Jena is in) bratwurst. Daniel is the Grillmeister!

Another scene from outside the city from Tom's hike...

Katie with Angie, one of the Connexxion workers. We've been doing a lot of walking around the city, enjoying the opportunity to take part with our friends in God's work in Jena.

We visited a Lutheran church Sunday evening where many of the students we've gotten to know attend. Tom is learning to translate more effectively as the days go on. Natasha and Katie's German has been improving, especially the difficult pronunciation!

Thomas, the ministry director, with his youngest son on the left. Vera in the middle just moved in Hamburg to plant a Connexxion ministry there. And Meinhart on the right, who is generously hosting Tom in his apartment this week. These are only a few of the people who have touched our lives already in this city.

Some of our friends live in an apartment called "Community of the Open Door", which is owned by a local church. This past weekend we had a party and got to meet many new people -- it was a great time! Here's a short video of it...
[Note: there's nothing after the first 37 seconds. Not sure why two minutes of blank silence were added to the end. Oh well.]  :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

First Days in Jena

Here is the view of the city from our window! The city is very beautiful! Please pray for the people here. It is a very historical place, known for its visits by Martin Luther and Karl Marx.
This is one of the many churches in the city. Like many of the churches in the city, this is a very old church that is usually empty on Sunday mornings, we were told. It was established in 1,000 A.D!

 Here are a few of the friends we made yesterday. They took us on a hike through the hills. We were able to see the whole city from the top of the hills. It was very beautiful and we had a wonderful time getting to know these new friends.

Katie and I are standing on one of the battlefields fought by Napoleon. There is a monument placed on this hill in his honor. He was loved and hated.

 This is the view of the city from the hills we hiked. It is very beautiful and colorful here!

This is a game our friends taught us how to play yesterday. You can see one of our friends has thrown the stick and is trying to knock over the King (this is the piece you see on the far left-hand side of the photo). It is known as Swedish chess. This is such a fun game! We will definitely have to teach it to you all when we return to the States.