Saturday, October 22, 2011

Valuing the Quiet Moment

The past few days have been busy ones, but some of our guys are beginning to see fruit for their labors. One told me that he got accepted to his first choice college. After many weeks of fine-tuning and practice, another one performed at a recital the other night and was a huge success. This morning was the only home Cross Country meet for BFA, and two of our guys ran, both doing well. A senior from Korea took a test to evaluate his English language skills today which will be instrumental in helping him get accepted into college. He is confident that he did well, and we are optimistic. Another student who has been having some serious academic difficulty is finally beginning to bring his grades up. He faces several disabilities, so his path has been uphill. He is determined to succeed. Several of our seniors are emerging as leaders among their peers. I have to say that I am extremely proud of our guys. Each one faces some unique difficulties. They all get homesick from time to time, and who would not? It is hard to be away from one’s family.  Despite the busy schedules, one of the things that I value is the quiet moment. Times when we can back away from our schedules and enjoy some rest. Today after the meet, I went on a walk with three of our guys. The road we followed was rich with fall foliage. All of us were tired, but as we walked our spirits rose, and we enjoyed each other’s company. We found ourselves talking about our families and about things we were learning. The past few days have also held great conversations with staff and students. I’m sure that other people are also wired this way, but I place great value on good conversation, remembering them to savor later. I find that it deepens friendships, and helps me value others more.

Please continue to pray for the students. November will soon be upon us, and since it is a dark month, with the sun rising later and setting earlier. School work is piling up, so the combined effect can be quite discouraging. Please pray that they will continue to work hard, sleep well, and grow through it all. Pray for continued unity in the dorm. As I mentioned before, some of the guys are emerging as leaders, so I would ask that you pray for courage and continued growth for them. Pray that we as staff will serve from hearts of love, for God and the guys. It is so easy to do daily tasks to simply get them out of the way. The Res life theme for the year is “Do all to the glory of God.” Please pray that this will be our motivation in all things. Pray for good health. We have had several guys struggle with bronchitis, and flu season is just around the corner. Thank you so much for taking time to read my blog, and thank you for your prayers!

Blessings,
Lauren

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chai tea and an Anniversary

 Dense fog drifts over the ridge of Hoch Blauen, creating a dramatic contrast with the evergreens. This is a common sight out the front windows of the dorm, and though I find it somewhat enchanting other days, today I long to see the sun. The dark days have begun up the hill, but inside it is warm and bright, and twenty three contented people reside. As I sit with my chai tea in one hand and my pen in the other, candlelight lends its luster to the room and I pause to reflect, because today is a special day. Today is the anniversary of an unexpected beginning. One year ago today, October 13, 2010, my plane taxied into the Basel airport, and I crossed the threshold of Sonne and an adventure which I am still blessed to be living. I have thought much recently about that day; Marty meeting me at the airport and stopping to let me pick flowers for my first intrinsically German experience; Debbie and Tommy meeting me with huge warm smiles and hugs at the door; Eating lunch with Chris, and still wondering where on earth I was. After my stuff was safe in my new room, I was whisked off to my first staff meeting.  Though nervous, I still remember thinking how happy I was to be there, and “have I got a lot to learn.” That was also likely the quietest I have been in a staff meeting. And then 4:15 came. I entered the living room and shook the hands of some of the greatest guys in the world. Though it tooke me a while to get their names just right, they are now forever etched on my heart. From that time, no even before, God began to give me His love for them, a love which I learn to show and live in new ways every day.

The hours, days, weeks, and months that followed were filled to the brim with firsts, “this is hows,” and “You’re going to finds.” With all my heart I am glad I did not perceive the enormous breadth of the learning curve I had entered. I probably would not have come. But gradually over time, the “firsts” become fewer and farther between. Relationships emerged from acquaintances. Conversations happened. I learned to drive the manual dorm vans. My guys even let me in on their girl-problems. It was not an easy year, but it was good. It was good, because God was in it. His fingerprints are all over it. Great things He has done. Today is one year. But there is so much more to do. What will another year bring? Will I be sitting here another year from now? Although I don’t know the answers to these questions, I know the One Who does. And I trust Him implicitly. 

My tea is getting cold, and dinner will be here soon. Have a good evening, friend.

Always, Lauren

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Waterfall and other Adventures

Last Thursday our Juniors and Seniors departed on their class trips, the Juniors to Normandy and other points French, and the Seniors to Italy to explore cities such as Florence and Rome. The dorm is a very quiet place without them, and I’m realizing again the life and energy these guys bring. With only our freshmen and sophomores around for the weekend, we enjoyed a very laid-back weekend. On Saturday morning we took the guys to the nearby town of Todtnau. There is a large Rodelbahn there. Now what exactly is a Rodelbahn? I have to admit that I didn’t fully understand either, until yesterday. A Rodelbahn is a sort of downhill rollercoaster. You ride in a small car, and control how fast you go by how much you pull on the brakes. The one in Todtnau, twists and turns through 3 kilometers of countryside, and is the longest of its kind in Germany. Controlling your own speed flavors the experience with a sense of adventure, and our guys found it exhilarating (so did I!). We were blessed with perfect weather, so we took full advantage of it, walking around the town of Todtnau a bit before hiking to a nearby waterfall for a picnic lunch. The guys explored the area around the falls, while I sat off to the side and enjoyed soaking my feet in the cool water. It was a great, relaxing day outdoors, and one which I think everyone really enjoyed.

As we round the bend into October, the school year is proving to be full of activities and excitement, with new challenges every step of the way. I would ask you to pray for several things. First, for our junior class as they travel back tomorrow, both for safety and good health. Second, for the seniors as they continue to travel. They still have several more days of travel together, so please pray for good health, good attitudes, good bonding time, and spiritual growth. I have had several great conversations with some of the seniors already this year, so I would also ask for wisdom. I am note a wise person, but His grace is sufficient. Please pray that I would be humble in my dealings with all of the students and staff. Lastly, I would like to ask you to pray for a couple of health issues I have been having. Over the past months, I have been experiencing the symptoms of hypoglycemia. The doctors here have confirmed that in my case it is not linked to diabetes, but I still have some major dietary changes to make. Keeping a close watch on my diet’s content and frequency is involved. Please pray for will power, strength, and consistency. I’m just looking forward to feeling well all the time. I try not to post about health at the risk of sounding like I’m complaining, but this is going to be a big hurdle for me, so I would appreciate the prayer. Lastly, I would ask you to prayer for my sister, Carolyn’s support. She is at 40%, and has been for the past month. The dorm here really, really needs her, but we are trusting that this is God’s perfect timing. If you or someone you know would be interested in supporting her, please email me: laurenholland25@yahoo.com. Thank you so much for your support of me, prayerfully and financially!