Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sight-reading Sympathy

With only one week to go until spring break, the days are full and exciting! Last weekend BFA hosted a festival for which students from many different schools and countries traveled to our campus. They participated in honors band, orchestra, and choir, practicing hard for several days and performing two concerts. I was originally tasked with helping to organize meals, doing airport pickups, and other logistical tasks. The weekend before the festival, I received a heads-up that the choir accompanist who was originally scheduled to come might not be able to make it. Monday morning, I was handed music and Thursday morning I found myself playing for the rehearsal. For any of you who felt compelled to pray for me last weekend, this is probably why. :) I definitely felt a lot of sympathy for my group piano students, to whom I give sight-reading assignments on a regular basis. The challenge of working with a conductor, music and students who were new to me was exciting, and the joy felt in the room was infectious. So instead of being nervous, I was caught up in the fun that the students were having, learning to sing well and make music together. I was also again reminded of the impact that God has allowed music to make in my heart and life. When a writer communicates in their own words the ways in which God has spoken to them through the truth of His Word, I catch myself longing for that depth of relationship too. Then, tracing my steps back over the last ten or twenty-ish years, and looking more closely at events that seemed arbitrary, I see His fingerprints all over them. He is faithful. As I sat on my bench at the instrument I love, and surveyed the faces of the young people in the choir, I was overcome with the calm affirmation that He Who has been faithful in my life, is equally faithful in theirs. I think that's what gives me hope as I teach and practice, and do life here, because if we're honest, in ministry there are moments in which we are desperate for a glimmer of it.
The coming days hold one final week of classes, submitting of grades, and then the students will scatter all over the world for two weeks before returning for a final quarter of school. We are thankful that for the most part the students are back to being healthy. They are tired, however, so please pray that both staff and students will finish strong during this last week of class.

Praise God:
1. That I've (nearly) made it though half the semester! His grace is truly sufficient.
2. For awesome, encouraging conversations with students, and opportunities to speak truth into their lives.
3. For you, my supporters!! Your partnership is helping to enable me in ministry here. Thank you!

Please pray:
1. For seniors still making plans for next year, especially for those in need of financial aid.
2. That I will be especially faithful in the small details of life this week.
3. For rest and refreshment over break, physically and spiritually, for both students and staff. God is at work here, but there is also much opposition. Pray that walls will be broken down, and victories given.

Thank you for praising and praying with me!!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Retreat and a Recital

Someone wise once said, "March goes in like a lion and out like a lamb." I don't know who was listening and took note, but that's definitely been true in southern Germany! We haven't had a lot of snow, but we've definitely had some cold weather. Last week, we had occasional hints of spring, which left us hoping it would stick around. Today I enjoyed a long walk with a friend, soaking in the beauty this area has to offer in spring time! I'm amazed at the color and contrast our Creator has woven perfectly into His Creation!
Other than the beautiful weather, there is a LOT going on right now! Last weekend, the entire high school packed into buses and got away from Kandern for a little while. I've been co-leading a small group of senior girls this semester, and during the retreat weekend, we had a chance both to listen to amazing teaching from the Bible, and discuss what was being taught. During the discussion times, the girls were very open and it was exciting to hear what God was teaching them. God is clearly at work, and it's exciting to catch a glimpse! In addition to processing what was being taught, we laughed and bonded closer as a group. We are blessed to work with some AMAZING young women! They continually speak truth to each other, ask many good questions, and they all desire to know God and His Word in a deeper way. I've been pondering how God has given love upon love to me for this group when I couldn't imagine loving more, but I'll save those thoughts for another post.
The Tuesday evening following retreat, I and a good friend and colleague had the privilege of taking our group piano classes into Basel to attend a student recital at a music school. The recital itself was excellent. The performers were strong, the repertoire diverse and though mistakes were made, it was healthy for our students to see mistakes and recovery happen. I personally really enjoyed the drive to and from Basel. I've been missing driving a large dorm van and sharing that time with students (crazy, I know:) ), so it was fun to be able to experience that again. I was impressed by the observations each student made. Music may be a universal language, but it's incredible how perceptions of a particular piece can vary. Again, another post in the making. I'm intrigued.
Last, but not least, I've been encouraged by some interactions I've had with the German community this week. I've been a little frustrated with my limited German, and am striving to improve but the progress is slow. Yesterday I went to get a hair cut. I felt the usual conflict, "should I try to chat? Is that acceptable here? Will she be open to it?" So I asked my stylist her name, which led to a whole conversation about where we were each from, and her telling me about a trip she had made to the US, among other things. The exciting part? Most of it happened in German! Thanks God! What was even more thrilling was that as I walked away I felt strongly compelled to pray for her, that God would allow our paths to cross again, and that ultimately I'll be able to share the Gospel with her. This evening I went to a local Doner kebab restaurant (Doner is a turkish fast food and is popular in Germany) to pick up dinner. The restaurant is located right in the middle of town, so they interact with everybody, including all of the English speakers in town. I like to try to use my limited German to communicate, and try to be very congenial with the people who work there. Tonight, there were only a few other customers, so when we paid for our food, the man at the register spoke to us in English and was very pleased with himself when we responded encouragingly! When we complimented his English he beamed and said he's learning by picking up words from the English-speaking customers he encounters. Please pray that this man and his coworkers will not only learn English, but will encounter Jesus through us!!!
I've listed prayer requests and praises below, but first, please enjoy pictures from the retreat and recital. Thanks for stopping by my blog, and as always, thank you for your prayers and financial support!!! God is working here, and you play a vital role!

Small group selfie! 
We absolutely love these ladies!
The entire high school having a blast on retreat
Piano classes 1 & 2 attending a spectacular recital in Basel
Praise the Lord that:
1. He gave safe travel to and from retreat
2. He is visibly at work in the lives of students and staff here
3. He is actively protecting and working through the families of our students, both in Kandern and around the world. 
4. He is sovereign, nothing takes Him by surprise, He loves us with everlasting love, and pursues relationship with us.

Please pray with me that:
1. God will supply financial needs as well as guidance and direction for our senior class. 
2. We would trust that He is at work, even though at times we are not permitted to see what He is doing.
3. I will take every opportunity to speak truth and be His hands and feet.
4. God will draw Samantha (my hair stylist), and the man in the restaurant to Himself, and that we would represent Him well in this country.