Dead Last

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Today I met my worst enemy… Cold rain. I have asthma, which usually doesn’t affect me. Yet, I was reminded of my condition when I couldn’t get my breathing under control in the 5.5k race today. I panicked. I realized that I did not bring my inhaler with me. It’s probably been a year or two since I have actually needed to use it. My asthma only flares up when I am physically active because I am so very out of shape. Today would have been a smart day to carry, but I forgot.

I am unsure why I would forget to carry my inhaler. Asthma has been one of the very reasons why I have avoided running for so long. The truth is, that it’s just an excuse for me. Running obviously takes discipline and it’s not a discipline that I have ever been interested in developing. I have not truly had an asthma problem since I began jogging and it did not actually become an emergency today. I just found my run frustrating and anxiety producing. This has been the opposite of most of my running experiences thus far. So, I regretfully report that I did NOT have fun running today. I did, however, enjoy the company and the event. 

The race I competed in today was the Augusta Raurica run, just outside of Basel. The race began and ended at a Roman amphitheatre from BC. The town was founded around 44 BC and the ruins are left from the largest Roman settlement north of the Alps. So, the location was a lot of fun. This context explains why the medal we received looks like a Roman coin.

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The people I participated with are good friends of mine who have become my cheerleaders in my effort to get healthy. My roommate, Rachel, has been running with our friend Katrina for about a year and a half now. She has accomplished many great challenges. My friend, Allison, hasn’t been running in Germany as long but she too has completed some great challenges. These three beautiful women may not be the athletic type, but they are running machines. They inspire me and encourage me to keep going, even when things become tough or painful. I’ve been able to look at their example and commit to doing better, myself.  

Today I ran beside Allison for about 2 minutes. I couldn’t keep up after that because I was running at a very slow pace. The hills that approached quickly slowed me down even further. So, I ran most of this race by myself. Not too far in front of me, I could see the back of Allison’s head. In my peripheral vision, I could see an old man sneaking up behind me. I traded positions with this man about 3 times before I finally let him pass. At that point, I was alone and I was glad. I’ve gotten used to running alone, so I was relieved to have space again. What I DIDN’T like was the man that quickly approached me on a bicycle. It became clear to me that he was the official at the end of the running crowd. Nobody else was behind me. 

I was defeated. I was having trouble breathing, I was alone, and I was being followed by a German on a bike. There was very little to motivate me to ascend the hills. I wanted to stop on many occasions. I really just wanted to be done. Yet, I didn’t allow myself to give up. I kept going and I NEVER stopped. 

In the end, I finished dead last. I placed 26, with a time of 48 minutes. There weren’t many runners, it’s true. If I wanted to, I could have probably announced that I achieved the 26th place and people might have been impressed. I’m actually pretty proud of myself though. I never had an interest in running before and I never thought that I would do something like this. I know that a 5k race isn’t a big deal for most people, but it was a big deal for me. 

My roommate says that this is just the beginning. I sincerely hope she is right. 

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The “Long” Walk

I exaggerate sometimes. In most cases, I exaggerate for the sake of telling a good story. I found that stories are far more engaging when they are repeated emphatically, with a stretch of the truth here and there. A story without these colorful embellishments is nothing more than a news story (depending on your view of the news).
I learned a good “Christian” trick from a professor that I loved in college. This lively professor told us incredible tales the way he wanted to tell them. After his story evoked our laughter, or horror, he would boldly say: “that was a lie.” I thought this was simply fantastic! I would always find such happiness in his fun stories. When he would correct his falsehood, I would only laugh. I never felt betrayed by his story. I learned that the reason for not feeling let down had to do with his careful choice of stories to embellish. He never stretched the truth when it was important.
I so badly want to share my story with you in an amusing way, with a conclusion of about 30 “just kidding”s. However, I think I would do more harm than good in this case. The trick that I learned from my professor may not be the best example to follow, but his timing WAS a great example. I’ve learned that I should never stretch the truth of stories that are important.
In the case of my “long” walk, I must be clear that I am only speaking about .7 miles. This is the distance between my apartment and the school that I teach at. That’s only .3 miles less than the distance between my house and my last place of employment, in the US. How many times did I walk to work then? Less than 5 times. I walk to and from work every day now and laugh about how dumb it was that I used to drive that short distance.
When I first arrived in Germany, this school year, I found this walk to be refreshing. I loved to take in the site of the small, beautiful town that I live in and breathe in the sweet German air, like the waft of fresh cooked bacon. After the first week, however, I began to miss the bike that I had last year. I was able to get to school in 3 minutes and return home in 5 minutes. It now takes me about 4 times that amount of time. During the first few weeks, I found myself arriving everywhere about 10 minute late. I was underestimating my travel time. After this experience, I started leaving my home much earlier. I learned to enjoy things like music and coffee on the way to school. Now I am back to arriving late to work. I rush out the door in the exact moment that I need to leave, in order to arrive for the first school bell. I open the door to the students who have been patiently waiting and brush the stress sweat from my brow. I start my day a little grumpy, from being rushed.
There have been, however, 6 exceptions on days when I have left my house late. 2 of these exceptions were times that people stopped to pick me and my roommate up on the way to school. I don’t believe that we were late, but the gesture was very kind nonetheless. The other 4 exceptions are what I have spent this entire time prefacing. On these 4 days, I had specifically prayed for a ride to school. My prayers were answered so specifically. I felt that my truthfully detailed story may be encouraging to others.
The first prayer for a ride came from a conversation with The Lord. As I walked away from my building, I realized that it was Gelbesack (recycling) day and that I had failed to put ours by the curb. I was torn. I knew that I should go back and put the bags out, since these bags are only picked up about once a month. Yet, I was late for school. I kept walking, until I felt too guilty to continue. I stopped on the sidewalk. It was then that I heard The Lord promise to provide a ride if I showed love to my roommate by going back to take care of this matter. Unsure, I turned and headed back to our building. Immediately, my friend Chris appeared and offered me a ride to school. God provided, as He promised that He would.
The second prayer for a ride did not come on a day that was late. It came on a day that I had a lot of bags to carry to school. This time, I quietly prayed for a ride. It was more like a small wish than a confident prayer. Again, Chris showed up. It is important to know that he does not live near me. My route is not on his way at all. I shared my answers to prayer with him and we rejoiced together.
The third time I prayed, I was most certainly running late. I prayed quite confidently. I felt sure that God would answer my prayer. It was in that thought that I turned and saw the car Chris drives, parked at the bakery. I thought to myself, “that’s not a real answer to prayer. I just saw his car. My prayer was probably prompted by that fact. That doesn’t count.” For some reason, I felt disappointed by the revealing of why Chris had been in my path the other two times. I still felt a reassurance that God would provide a ride, but I was no longer excited about the “answer to prayer.” It was at that moment that our school director and his wife turned the corner and asked me if I wanted a ride. I have NEVER seen them drive my way to school. Again, God provided.
Today God provided the fourth answer to my prayer for a ride. I admit that I prayed cautiously. Sometimes I treat prayer like a scratch off ticket. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. In the case of my grandmother, you are more often just glad to play. The experience is enough. Similarly, I prayed with the expectation that I probably wouldn’t get the answer that I wanted, since I had received a positive answer the three times before. Unlike my grandmother, I wasn’t in it for the experience. I wanted another positive answer, but I was afraid that I may break my “winning” streak. About a minute after my prayer, another co-worker showed up with the offer for a ride to school. This man is indeed on my route to school. However, he was on his way to running another errand before school. He dropped me off and went on his way. God provided.
These 4 situations are not significant answers to prayers. They probably don’t convince atheists around the world to believe in a god. I am merely taking the time to be thankful for these small, and even humorous, answers to prayer. I am sure I would repeat this story to you more emphatically, with hand gestures and fun facial expressions, in person. For now, I hope it just brings a smile to your face and encourages you to re-tell your own stories of God’s faithfulness. They are good enough to stand on their own, without exaggeration.

Turning 18

About a year ago, this weekend, I got to know my friend Gracie. She lives in the dorm that I sub in Monday nights and one weekend a month. On Mondays, I sub for the RAs who have the night off. I eat dinner with the students, make sure they do their chores, check to see if they are on task during study hours, and bake goodies for the week. One year ago this weekend, I stayed at Storch for the weekend for my first time. The dorm parents had the weekend off, so I came to help out. During that weekend, Gracie slept on one of the couches in the living room where I was staying. We stayed up late telling jokes and talking about our families. It was during that time that I invented a funny, racist past of my little Korean friend. When I asked her what she did during the summers, Gracie said that she returned to Korea and that her time there was boring. I asked her if her parents made her work the rice fields. Gracie joined my lie and agreed that she did. She even added that she worked in the kiwi fields when she lived in New Zealand.
This lie about Gracie’s past has become a constant joke between the two of us. However, the truth is that I know very little about her life in Korea. In fact, I often forget our cultural differences. Yesterday, these differences became obvious again. Gracie turned 18. Upon asking her what her family did for her birthday, I realized that her missionary parents probably wouldn’t be providing her with a new car. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Gracie has never driven a car before. (She just informed me that she has driven once, but she did so illegally).
When I boldly asked her if she had received any presents from her family, she answered that her parents were going to be using their money to fund her college education. However, her parents had given her a few options for her future.
Gracie’s parents promised that they would pay for her undergrad education, if she wished to attend a university. Yet, they gave her two more options. Gracie could instead chose to receive some farm land or become the owner of a small business. These two other options may sound strange to the average American, but they actually make a lot of sense. If Gracie ran a farm or a small business, she would be able to pay her parents back in a short period of time. If she went to college, her parents would probably never see that money again.
Gracie would like to know what you think she should choose.

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Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving

I have avoided writing a blog about my singleness for many reasons. I have always believed that the number one reason for avoiding such a blog is due to the sheer number of similar blog posts that already exist in the world. What could I have to contribute to the discussion of singleness that has not already been said? Nothing. Truly. I am sure that I will have nothing new to say. Yet, I feel compelled to say it. It has recently become important that I make my decisions public for the purpose of confirming the promises I have made to God. I have shared my feelings about my singleness with many close friends and many curious young women that have been in my life. I say the same things. I repeat myself, because I believe what I have to say. However, I also repeat myself because I need to believe certain truths more completely. Therefore, I have forced myself to “pen” this post for the sake of being accountable for my thoughts, my choices, and for the messages that I have preached to younger generations.

Like most teenagers, I believed that my first boyfriend was the young man that I was going to marry. I remember praying that it would happen. It’s incredible how seriously I felt about this guy, considering the fact that I was only 12 years old. I just knew that things would work out! So you can imagine how crushed I was to find out, at the age of 13, that we were only friends and not in fact boyfriend and girlfriend. I’m not sure how I made that mistake, but that is what I was told after spending almost every free moment of 2 years with this guy. Luckily I was only 13. In my mind, I had plenty of time to get a new “serious” boyfriend before I graduated high school. Yes ladies and gentlemen, that is what helped me get through the pain of rejection.

My parents got married when they were very young. If I had done things in their timeline, I would have: a husband, a 9 year old, and a 5 year old. Are you having trouble seeing that? My mom was engaged in high school. My dad was a young, handsome, military man. He had a mustache, a motorcycle, and the hots for my mom. They married shortly after my mother graduated from high school.

I think that I knew that my life would be different, but I still believed that I would be in a serious relationship before graduation. So, with that mindset, I jumped into 2 different relationships in high school that I should have handled quite differently. I was an emotional teenager, so I’m not really going to be too hard on myself here. I won’t spend the next few paragraphs discussing the issues with those relationships. One of those gentlemen still stalks my blog and is probably reading every word of this, wondering how I will portray him.

I never thought I would turn 20 years old without a serious relationship in my life. I figured that Bible college would be the perfect introduction to my Jesus loving, Prince Charming. Yet, I never really connected with any guys in college. It was strange. I was completely focussed on my education and my ministry. God protected me from relationships that would cause me pain, distract me, and ultimately waste my time. It wasn’t until my senior year that I even developed a crush on a fellow student. It didn’t take me too long to realize that the crush had only really developed for two reasons. First of all, my best friend had just died in a car accident and I was feeling very lonely and vulnerable. Second of all, I was nearing graduation without the hint of a significant other. It didn’t hurt too much to find out that my feelings weren’t reciprocated, because I realized that I didn’t actually feel strongly for this guy. I just liked that we had youth ministry, (playing) music, and our good looks in common.

High school graduation came and went. College graduation soon followed. I didn’t have much hope for finding a man in seminary, but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t on the look out. It was in those years, as a seminary student and as a youth pastor, that I decided that I was going to live an adventurous life. I had seen all of the great things, like college, that my mom had missed out on when she married young. Expecting that I would one day remain with my husband until death do us part, I decided that I would chase my other dreams as a single woman. I wanted to do all of the things that were much easier to do as a single person while I could. At the age of 30, I am now sure that I have done them. I graduated from college, I (almost) finished seminary, I had a paid job as a youth pastor, I lived on a friends couch as a homeless person for a month, I lived alone in a beautiful townhouse, I lived through many different roommate situations, I got a “real” job and climbed the ranks, and now I live in Europe as a missionary. Now what?

On every birthday, after my 18th, I consoled myself by thinking about how I could know my future husband before my next birthday. Major birthdays passed by, with little to no hope for a future mate. I was too distracted at my 21st to worry about my singleness, but 23, 25, 27, and 30 were somewhat harder. (I don’t know what it is about the odd years!) Am I sad that I have reached this age without a husband? Students always want an answer to this question. My response usually involves all of the stories of my adventures, my happiness, and my better understanding of who I am. While these single young women felt a sense of encouragement for a moment, I know that their thought was: “I’m glad Lexi is happy, but I really don’t want to be single when I’m her age.” I know this was their thought because some of them have said it! At other times, I have seen it in their eyes and asked them if that is what they were thinking. I have never had a girl tell me “no.”

What is this issue of singleness about? It’s about loneliness vs happiness. Admit it. That’s what it’s about. However, most of us know that this isn’t what marriage should be about. Marriage is about holiness. Guess what! Singleness is also about holiness. A forthright student asked me if I was ever sad because I was single. This was my response to her: “Yes, sometimes I am sad because I am single. However, I know a lot of people who are unhappily married. I would rather be sad alone than to involve somebody else in my unhappiness.” I wasn’t making the point that I was going to be sad no matter what. I was merely expressing the fact that the grass is often greener on the other side. I do, however, know plenty of married couples who are extremely happy. Marriage is not the end of life, nor is it the beginning of it.

This issue of singleness brings Philippians 4 to mind. Paul, from prison, wrote “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” Do not be afraid. I will not now compare my singleness to being in prison. This verse comes to mind because Paul is speaking of contentment and about his purpose in life. My purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. I want to be obedient to that calling and to be content in all situations, no matter what.

Thirty, flirty, and thriving. Is this statement true of who I am? I would say that it is. I am indeed 30. I often fall to my selfish desires, and flirt with mental images and conversations that I shouldn’t be having. The Lord, and my accountability partner, know that I have certainly sought happiness in the wrong places repeatedly. Yet, I do feel that I’m thriving. This isn’t to say that I’m not ever lonely and that I have given up on the idea of marriage. In fact, I’ve been thinking that NOW would be perfect timing for that relationship to come about. It is, however, about the fact that I am trying to listen to the Lord and to work on my holiness as a single person.

I am currently faced with some hard decisions about the next chapter in my life. (See the last blog post). Like so many times before, I hear God asking me the same question when I pray. He says, “Which is more important to you? Is it more important for you to serve me wholeheartedly or for you to have what you want?” I hate that question!!! I always try to convince God that getting married would be so good for me. I know that I have a lot to learn about my selfishness. Isn’t a husband perfect for that lesson? What about sacrifice? I want to have children so badly. Can’t I learn these things without being alone? Most importantly… money. I loath worrying about my finances so much that I am starting to see the value of having a sugar daddy. So, how does this battle usually end with the Lord? It usually ends with my submission and a pile of kleenexes.

Of the three descriptors in the title of my post, I strive for thriving. I don’t think most people strive for 30, but anyway. I don’t know what the next chapter holds. Maybe it’s marriage (no, I don’t secretly have a boyfriend). Maybe I have a future at ANOTHER school with 0 single men my age. Haha. Maybe I am meant to stay put for a while. I am unsure. For now, I’m going to work on being content and pushing forward in this journey towards holiness.

The Next Chapter of My Story

Last week was Spiritual Emphasis Week at The Black Forest Academy. This year, our speaker was a man by the name of Bill Stevenson. Although Bill joined us from John Brown University, in Arkansas, he spoke with an Irish accent. Bill grew up in Ireland and in Korea. He moved to the States later in life. His multicultural background was very relatable for most of the students of BFA. Therefore, it only seemed fitting that he share his own story and that he encourage the students to know and share their stories as well. _1060446

This got me thinking about my story. You can find the story about how I felt called to become a missionary as a teenager and the road I traveled to BFA on my About Me page. Let’s call that history of my life the preface. It’s an important preface though. Feel free to abandon this post right this moment to read it. When you come back, you can learn more about the story God is writing for me right now. Enjoy!

As expected, the pages of my story are turning quickly and I am faced with the possibility of beginning a new chapter entirely. I was fortunate enough to return to Germany, this year, to continue in the chapter that was started two years ago, at The Black Forest Academy. However, my lack of financial stability and my future in missions are directing me down different pathways.

At this time, I have to figure out what my next step is and I’m not sure which way to go. I’m living in a “choose your own adventure” situation. It’s not that easy though. The choose your own adventure books tend to work like a maze. Most of the books I read ended happily if you went one direction, but disastrous if you went the other way. It was important for the reader to think about the possible consequences of the path they would choose. (You may have guessed that I was the kind of child that would sneak a peak in the back, to see which story had a happy ending, rather than contemplating the pros and cons of each decision). The difference between this experience and my life is that God could have something great at the end of each path that I choose. They are simply different paths. God doesn’t always “call” us to something specific. I know that He wants me to serve Him fully. I just can’t figure out WHERE I should be doing that. cyoa_mysterybanner__index

I would love to remain at BFA another 2 years. Yet, in order to stay, I would have to become a career missionary. Making this transition would mean paperwork, phone calls, meetings (at TEAM’s base in Chicago), and a LOT more support money. It seems impossible for this to be accomplished while I am here, in Germany. 

The more likely possibility is that I will need to take 1 or 2 years off from a job that requires me to raise my own pay check. This would mean that I could not return to the Black Forest Academy. I am having a hard time deciding if I am ready to be entirely done with this chapter. Yet, when I think and pray about my situation, I feel led to look into ministry that is more involved with evangelism. (As a footnote, I will offer that I am unsure if this urge comes from God or from guilt. I often feel guilty for being involved in ministry that enhances the relationship students have with God, rather than a ministry that helps initiate that relationship).

While I have been praying about what God wants me to do, I have found a paid position at a school similar to BFA. The school is located in Istanbul, Turkey. This school also caters to third culture kids. It seems to be filled with more students from expatriate families, rather than missionary students though. Choosing this adventure could enable me to have summers off to raise support for a future chapter, provide a paycheck to live off of, and give me the opportunity to be more involved in the lives of teenagers who need to know who Jesus is more desperately. 

In these last three years, God has given me a desire to be a part of education. My transition into the teaching world wasn’t easy, but the experience has been incredibly rewarding. I’m not ready to step away from the school system. So, I am finding the possibility that I could teach classes in Istanbul, which are similar to my current classes, very exciting. 

You may now be wondering what is stopping me. I will tell you honestly that Black Forest Academy is what is stopping me. I cannot imagine leaving this place right now. I’m so close to the community that I live in. I have a deep love for the staff, students, and missionary families of BFA. Like my departure from East Lake, I keep looking for the perfect time to leave. I keep waiting for the feeling of being disconnected to help me turn the page. These last two years, I have started the year thinking: “It will be easy for me to leave this year, because I don’t feel close to the underclassmen.” As you can probably predict, I grow a fondness for the younger students by the end of the year each year. I know this will happen again. There is no need to read ahead. I already see it happening. _MG_5944

My yearbook class alone pulls on my heart strings and causes me to want to stay. I have many new students in my class that are incredible. I can confidently say that I love them already. I care about who they are and not just about what they learn. It is with a heavy heart that I begin to peak into future chapters of the book, to see if I should stay on this path or choose a different adventure. 

(Pictures of new students, taken by yearbook students)

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I have more options that I have not even begun to think about yet. They will all lead to a happy ending, whether the path is rough or smooth. I just need the Lord’s wisdom to know which adventure will bring me closer to Him and teach me the humility that I so badly need to learn. 

Please pray about the important decisions that I have to make. I would also love to receive your wise counsel, if you would like to send me a message. You cannot know the ending of my story, but you can certainly offer me advice for the journey. 

All The Cool Kids Were Doing It

One of the characteristics of BFA that I value the most is the acceptance of all people. Our school is filled with students of all shapes, sizes, and colors. They have incredibly different interests. Yet, they have a lot of common ground as teenagers. If nothing else, they are unified in one thing. They are more accepting of each other than a typical group of students.

I went to a public high school in Florida, where all of the stereotypes that you see in movies existed. There was certainly a social ladder. While I chilled in the middle of that ladder, I watched the popular kids mistreat and disrespect the dorkier teenagers at the bottom. Even when they weren’t specifically victimizing people who weren’t as cool as themselves, they seemed to have a disrespect for them. Most likely, they just didn’t even know that the “lesser” group of students even existed.

It never came as a surprise, then, that most school events were packed full of students from the middle of the ladder and up. Dorkier or Nerdier students didn’t seem to feel included. On the other side of the spectrum, there were nerdier events that were scarcely attended by the other half. It was a waste of their time.

At Black Forest Academy, all students participate in most events. To be fair, their attendance is sort of required. Dorm students have to attend. Even when that is the case, they all seem enjoy it though. Tonight was a perfect example of this point.

Tonight was the Fall Party at BFA. The theme had to do with decades. Students showed up wearing an incredible array of costumes. I might add that these costumes are usually home made. We don’t have Party City, Walmart, or Goodwill to shop at. Yet, they had incredibly well put together costumes from flappers, to Newsies, to hippies, to Teletubbies. No costume was boring and no person came without a costume. Even the guys who were too cool for school came as the mafia. Everybody participated.

5-8 5-2-2 5-3-2After a diverse fashion show, in which students from different decades walked the red carpet, everyone was released to enjoy several different stations. Students had to decide how to split their time between karaoke, Just Dance, an old school soda fountain, and the photo booth (my personal favorite ;-)). When all of the students were called back together again, the winners of the fashion show were announced. Prizes were awarded to all second place winners, per decade. And the winners were awarded a very special prize. They were given the opportunity to pick a number out of a hat that corresponded with the numbers that a handful of teachers were holding. When the teacher’s number was called, they were to allow the student to throw a pie in their face.

During the award ceremony, the decades just flew by, as I waited my turn. Everybody was being called up to take their pie, except me. Some staff members were called several times. Instead of participating, I looked on with laughter. I felt sneaky, like I was getting away with something. I survived the raffle all of the way up until the last decade. While I stood on stage and grinned, the MCs of our program pointed and plotted. Sure enough, my number was the last number to be called. They confirmed with me later that they had indeed rigged that last drawing. Regardless, I took my pie like a man. Here is the proof:

PieInFaceDespite the disgusting smell of cheap whipped cream that I walked away with, I couldn’t help but feel happy about the fun community that I live in. I know for a fact that there are students at BFA that don’t feel like they fit in. Not every student is a “popular” student. Yet, on this night, we all had fun!

Home

I returned to Germany on Wednesday night, with no time for jet lag recovery. Thursday morning, I woke with a jump and an excitement to see the students and staff I had missed all summer. My energy held out through lunch, but my body began to remind me that my battery life was insufficient. I needed rest.
I still have yet to recover from travel, but I am so happy to report that I made my journey to Germany without any stressful event. Everything went smoothly.

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Since I have returned, I have come to realize that I live in the land where my legs are my main mode of transportation. I have not arrived at any destination without having to give myself time to cool down and wipe the sweat from my face (attractive, I know). Yes, Florida is hotter than Germany. One would think that moving back to Europe would be an opportunity to escape from the heat. This is not the case though. In fact, we are all far too accustomed to our air conditioning in Florida.

Right now, I am writing from the inside of my apartment. I won’t be ready to brave the outside world until at least 5pm. Meanwhile, I have found myself listening to the conversation of my German neighbors, who have a table set up outside of my bedroom window. Not only have they braved the heat, but they like it! They set up a nice overhang and sat outside for several hours today. After hearing them eat their breakfast, I could not help but sigh and think: “It feels good to be home.”

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While I walked through town last night, to get to a dinner party, I saw and heard at least 10 groups of people having their meal outside. I love Europeans! This walk just built the excitement within me for the party I was to attend. I was on my way to a special dinner that included one of my favorite Swiss/German traditions, raclette.

Raclette is similar to fondue. Everyone brings an ingredient to share, which will be added to hot cheese that is melted in small dishes under a burner. The burner sits in the middle of the table and has a grill top. We all take turns cooking bacon and vegetables on top, which will then be added to cheese melted over potatoes. It’s not typically a summer meal, because of the continuous heat, but it was the perfect way to bring us together again for a night of laughter.

From the party, I walked home in the rain. It was more like a heavy sprinkle, but it made me happy. I just soaked up all of the familiar sights of our small town. It felt like I was drawing in a large breath with all of my favorite smells, or receiving a big bear hug. Each German that I passed had the familiar smell of cologne and cigarettes. Each boutique that I passed still displayed expensive priced items with the sales tags that have been there since I arrived in Germany two years ago. Yet, the site that excited me the most was the construction of the small town festival that we call Budenfest.

Germans like to celebrate just about everything with a bratwurst and a beer. This event goes on at the same time every year, for the purpose of raising money for the local athletics and clubs. The clubs that sell food and drinks range from the tennis club, the (real) witches club, to the ladies church choir. Not only do they sell brats and beers, but they have other tasty traditions as well. I’m looking forward to the flammekueche and the spätzle. Flammekueche is a thin, flame cooked, pizza with: white sauce, a mix of white cheeses, and bacon/ham. It’s a traditional treat from the Alsace region. Spätzle is like a type of noodle. At the fest they mix it with sauerkraut. It’s quite tasty.
I will join my friends for this occasion shortly and add a picture of Budenfest to my Facebook page.

For now, I will conclude my rave review of my return with a few fun facts. I have been in Germany for 70 hours and have already taken 3 showers. I’m about to go take my fourth. Did I mention that its hot and that I sweat a lot? I’ve also seen how out of shape I am. I think I’ve gotten more exercise these past three days than I had in a month, in Florida. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t drive.

I have much more to say about my amazement of God’s provision, but I will save that for another time. I feel that the very existence of this blog post proves God’s provision. I also have much more to say about how excited I am for this school year. I miss my former yearbook classes and my small group girls very much. Yet, I am incredibly excited about the relationship I have with my current students and the new relationships I will form. God has big plans and I know it. Stay tuned for more exciting stories from the Black Forest!