Tuesday, November 29, 2011

With a Grateful Heart

Although it is just after Thanksgiving, I wanted to mention several things for which I am thankful. First, I am thankful for the God who loves me, died for me, and has given me eternal life. He is everything. He gives me the grace, strength, and health to live, and most of all, forgiveness from sin. I am thankful for my family, my parents, my sister, my 4 handsome brothers, and of course my amazing extended family. I am thankful for my home church, without whom it would be physically impossible to be here. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve at BFA. God is doing some incredible things here, and I feel honored just to be aware and observant. I am thankful for the staff I am privileged to work with every day here at Sonne. They continually bless my life and I am thankful for the chance to learn from and with them. Lastly, but definitely not least, I am thankful for my guys here at Sonne. To my Sonneknights past and present, if any of you happen to read this: God has given all of you a special place in my heart. Listening to your thoughts, watching you grow and laugh together, crying, laughing, and rejoicing with you are the highlights of my life. You may never know how much God has taught me through you.

  In the last post, I mentioned dorm Thanksgiving. Since then, I had the joy of celebrating two more Thanksgiving meals, both with groups of people here whom I have come to love dearly. Since Germans do not celebrate Thanksgiving like we do, the Christmas decorations here have been appearing since before we had our Thanksgiving celebration. I love Christmas and Christmas decor, so I find this time of year very exciting because the town Germans go all out. The day after dorm Thanksgiving we set up the Christmas tree and decorated the dorm. Last Saturday was Christmas Banquet at school. This is a big event in the BFA community, and the guys began asking the girls weeks ago. Everyone dresses up and gathers for a formal dinner complete with an entertaining program. In my mind, this is the kick-off event for the Christmas season here. Another Christmas tradition which is prominent her in Germany is the Weinachtsmarkt, or “Christmas market.” While every city does their Christmas market differently, the focus is usually on Christmas ornaments, decorations, and other winter/Christmas merchandise. In another week we’ll be taking the guys to one of the big Christmas markets, so look for that in a post soon!

With Christmas just around the corner, I also have some personal excitement. I had not planned on going home for Christmas this year, but God provided money and means, so I’ll be home for Christmas! I am greatly looking forward to being home for the holiday season, and if any of you will be in the southern NJ area, please let me know. I would love to see you!

Please continue to pray for the guys as they persevere to the end of the semester. Their spirits are good, but they are also looking forward to going home to their families. Pray that they will continue to be healthy.
Thank you once again for your continued support. Please know that through your prayers and financial support, you have a vital part in the ministry here.

Blessings,

Lauren
Sonne group picture

Sonne guys looking handsome and ready for Banquet!

Banquet with Josh and Caleb

Christmas Banquet, with Paul 

with Chris and Timmy, my awesome fellow-RAs

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Give Thanks

Over the past week we have had some exciting times, so I would like to share some highlights with you now. First of all, last Sunday, one of my seniors was baptized, as a public profession of his walk with Christ. Over the past few years, God has taken him through some difficult times, and especially this year, we have been blessed to see increasing evidence of God’s work in his life. He truly desires to make God the center of his life. Baptisms are a very important public event in this community, taking place during the Sunday morning service at Black Forest Christian Fellowship. The person getting baptized shares their testimony of faith, and then are baptized and prayed over by people whom they have asked to stand up with them. It is an incredibly special, joyful time. 
David sharing his testimony before being baptized

I enjoyed my last few days off this week as well, and was able to go to Lisbon, Portugal for a couple of days. Enjoy pictures below.

Triumphal gate in Lisbon. Love the yellow building!
Lisbon Riverfront










On Thursday, we celebrated Thanksgiving at our dorm. All day, we as staff baked, peeled, mashed, casseroled, and decorated. We sat around the table, enjoying each other’s company, and sharing stories and memories. As I talked with the guys, I couldn’t help but thankfully reflect on all that has taken place in my own heart in the past year. After enjoying the delicious food, we went around the table and everyone shared things they were thankful for. This took a little while, with 30 people, but this was also a very moving time. Through much laughter and a few tears, the guys were very open, and it was exciting to hear them share. Thanks go to Chris Jones for some of the Thanksgiving and Baptism pics!


PJ and David enjoy dorm Thanksgiving


Sonne Thanksgiving
Over the past weeks and months, I have been asked many times, “What are your plans for next year?” The honest answer is that I am still not 100% sure exactly what God has for me next. Lord willing, I am planning to be in Germany at BFA, however my exact role remains unclear. Please pray with me as I seek God’s will in this. The thought of leaving the dorm is difficult, but the possibility is there. I love these kids so much, and I desire to be used by God. I look forward to updating you soon as God continues to lead me. Thank you so much for your prayers. We have had relatively good health, and God has kept us safe through many kilometers traveled, and many busy weekends. Please continue to pray for us as the school year progresses. Pray for the guys as they continue to work on homework. Pray that they will be diligent, and persevere to the end of the semester. Several of my seniors have gotten accepted to universities, but there are several still waiting to hear, or working through the application process. As many of you may remember, this is a very difficult time for them as well. No matter what may be going on in our lives, I would like to leave you with something of which I’ve been continually reminded. God is good, all the time. He is good, He is guiding, and He is completely trustworthy. What confidence! I pray that you will know more of His perfect goodness today!

Blessings,
Lauren