Thursday, July 16, 2009

hey everyone its Sarah
It is just a little past midnight here. I am sitting up in my bed and i thought i would write something. I have had sooooo much on my mind these past couple of days. Being back in Germany at this same church has brought some familiar feelings, however it has also brought on some very new feelings. You would think after being here 3 time before I would have a better idea of what to expect, and maybe how God would use me in this place. However this does not seem to be the case at this current time. Don't get me wrong, I am having lots of fun. But I think even now I am finally slowly starting to understand the culture of these people even better than before, and the dynamic of this church. I feel like I have all this new insight, which you would think would make things a bit easier. Not necessarily the case. The culture over here in Germany is so interesting. It is very hard, because much of what their culture consist of goes against the Bible. Many of them also have so much knowledge of the Bible, however the knowledge only remains in their head and has not made its way down to their heart. Its been very hard for me to then know how to show them the kind of relationship God wants with them, and how important that is. Many of them have many things, and are financially very well off, but this then makes it even harder for them to desire, or think they need any sort of relationship with Christ. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of good things going on at this church, but having said this there seems to be so much farther to go. It is such an intense dynamic. The culture here is fascinating. One particular characteristic that is very intriguing is the impact of the American culture. Many of the youth watch MTV and see American movies and listen to the music, and so they get a very skewed view of how we live. Then they think they want to live this type of life too. They are so engulfed in the worldly things that they are shocked to hear that we do not all live the way they see on TV, movies, etc. Anyways, there is so much to it, and my mind has been going crazy with thoughts in the past days. I am trying to put it all into word for you all to understand what type of mission trip we are on. It is very different from many others. For me it is very challenging and frustrating at times. I love the people here, and God is doing a lot of great things. We have 40 kids at the Kindercamp this week. We also have many of the youth helping with the programming and such. The people here are great, I love the friendships we have. I just ask you to pray that God gives me the patience, words and the opportunity to really talk with these people and share Christ's love. This is all kinda a lot of mumbling but these are just some thoughts in my head for now. I also apologize if my english seems a bit strange. After talking with Germans who understand little English, my English becomes very simple and I talk in the way they do sometimes! Maybe that's why it sounds a bit strang. Thank you for your prayers. God is doing great things here, there is just always so much potential for even more!!!
hope all is well back home

Monday, July 13, 2009

A new perspective!

Hannah Creaser writes:

I’m really here. I’m a member of the Germany Mission Team 2009. Although the Mission Fest wasn’t what I expected, it still made me appreciate the simpler things in life- playing sports with a non-competitive spirit, singing silly songs, playing board games and personal hygiene. Coming into this trip, I was worried about my lack of Deutsch but Pastor quickly calmed my fears and told me the only word I would need to know was scheizer. But in Bleckmar, that word wasn’t useful. Most of the kids were fluent in German with little or no English. This past weekend I think I had more conversations where I just nodded and smiled then I have had in my whole life combined. It was slightly frustrating. I wanted to communicate through more than just a smile. But I realized something very important this weekend- everyone laughs in the same language. I knew when the girls were laughing and they knew when I was laughing. It was the only way we could talk and it was enough. Tossing berries into their mouths was one of the most eye opening experiences. I built relationships through one tiny fruit, the words “one, two, three,” my incredible throwing arm, and laughter. I didn’t think In two short days that I would be able to make friends who spoke a completely different language. But I did. And that is the magic of this trip.

quick hallo!

Hey all!
I hope all is well in america. So far this trip has been already quite the experience! God did some amazing things through the mission fest/ junior high retreat we were able to take part in. We developed some new relationships that have lots of future potential! The pastor at this church was a great guy. It was so neat to show the youth of nothern germany how we kinda do things with our songs and skits. They all loved our mime skits! i think it was quite a foreign idea to do something like that in church. I wish we could have been able to stay there longer. Even though we were only there for like 3 days, we started some incredible relationships! i am anxious to see what god has planned for the future of these new friendships!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sarah Hoffmann (editor's note: the new bride-to-be!)

Friday, July 10, 2009

First full day in Germany

(Pictures above)
The mound has inscribed on it the number of people buried there. The least we saw was 1000 and the most was 5000. The sign above says Lutheran Church Mission. It is the headquarters of Missions for the German Independent Lutheran church.

As the sun rose this morning it was the beginning of a day which would include a great german breakfast, a visit to a concentration camp nearby, shopping and getting money, and the beginning of Missionsfest weekend in the village of Bleckmar, north of Hanover.

The weather has been very cool for those of us from Arizona, at times a welcome reprieve from the fiery furnace of the Valley of the Sun. It rained off and on and there was a cold and at time chilling wind. It really set the mood for our visit to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Even though most of the buildings had been demolished or had fallen time from age, our tour of the concentration camp was a brutal reminder of the cruelty of the human race. The mound you see is only one of several that hold the remains of thousands of people who were forced to go to the concentration camp.

It certainly is not the Germany of today, and the Germans themselves are still a little shameful of that moment in history. We can only pray that evil of this magnitude will never happen.

We had such a wonderful evening with people of the missionsfest organization. Let by Markus Nietzke, who is the head of missions for the Germany Lutheran Church, this annual event has tuned ino a time of connecting area congregations and teaching young people the importance of missions.

Very exciting development for 2 team members!

This is Sarah Hoffmann posting...and the amazing guy I'm talking about is Bryant Krieger...

After flying many many hours, and riding in busses and trains for many many more hours we finally arrived in BLECKMAR (which translated means white swamp), germany. Bleckmar is a town/village of about 800 people. The town originated around 860!!!

The night before this trip bry was saying how nervous and anxious he was about going. I didn't understand why he was freaking out so bad, all we were doing was traveling. Anyways then all day on the trains and busses, he was just kinda in a daze. I would ask him if he wanted to play cards and he would say "nah i just wanna sit here and day dream"-whatever that means......he said it was because he was tired, which was only obviously partly true!

We arrived to a church/mission headquarters in bleckmar late in the afternoon. Its a nice place, on quite a bit of land. After playing a little bit of basketball with the pastor's sons, it was time for dinner. After dinner half of the american group went on a walk through the small town. Bry, Chris Gilmore and i stayed back and played some futbol with the boys. Shortly after bry asked me if i wanted to go on a walk to. I said yes, he went up to get his "camera and stuff" while meanwhile i invited chris to join us.

We walked around, and eventually caught up to the rest of our group. When we started walking, something in bry's pocket was making a lot of noise. I asked him what it was and he told me is a funny surprise for me, and he'll show me later. So we walked for a bit longer, and it started to pour! the group ran back to the church, and bry asked me if i wanted to go around back to see his surprise.

We found a Gazebo thing, which we found out later the church uses it for the alter when they conduct services out side, to keep us dry. Bry then pulled out this container with two washers in it. (i had a dream like a month ago about bry proposing with two washers, and i was all disappointed cause everyone i showed the washers to didn't get that they were an engagement ring...weird and random i know)- anyways so this has been an ongoing joke. So i thought he was just being dumb with asking me with the washers.

Then after the washer deal, he said something like "but no in all seriousness," down on one knee, pulled out a ring said some cute things, and asked me to marry him. I was sooooooooooo surprised! i start crying, said yes and cried some more.

We stood under the gazebo until the rain stopped. Shortly after the rain stopped there was a HUGE rainbow that stretched across the sky. kinda a cool symbolic thing.....

So ya. thats pretty much that is it. i will put up some pics for you all to see. Becca kinda knew it was happening so she got like 2 shots from pretty far away, and then took some later.

They made it!

As we are patiently - or may not so patiently - waiting for the team to update the blog themselves, just wanted to let you know they did make it to Germany! They are currently in Bleckmar, Germany at a Retreat Center that is holding a Missions Conference this weekend. According to reports from the team - it is beautiful and a really nice place. I believe they spent Friday (for them - they are 9 hours ahead) preparing for the weekend ministry. And they were going to be going to a Concentration Camp as well - many were preparing for the emotion of that. So, as they move into evening there hopefully someone will have an opportunity to give us details and post some pics! Stay tuned...and thanks for checking it out and praying for them.
Robin (in the States)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

WHO is Mission Germany '09?

Team members:
Nate McAvoy - Groundwork Ministries, Queen Creek, AZ
Pastor Bob Flohrs - St. Luke Lutheran Church, Mesa AZ
Lisa Gustafson Hinneberg - Appleton, MN
Bryant Krieger - Phoenix, AZ (Christ Church Phoenix)
Sarah Hoffmann - Mesa, AZ; Concordia University-Seward, NE
Hannah Creaser - Mesa, AZ;
Britney Nelson - Mesa, AZ; University of Arizona
Becca Hoffmann - Mesa, AZ;
Nathan Kohn - Mesa, AZ;
Chris Gilmore - Mesa, AZ; Mountain View High School


This is Robin McAvoy, with Groundwork Minsitries. Welcome to the blog for the Mission Germany '09 team! While God and the team have been preparing for a long time - the ACTUAL trip has now begun. The blog will be updated by the team and myself over the course of the mission trip. Enjoy being a part of their experience!