Sunday, October 18, 2015

Monuments, Memorials, and Memories

If you were to come to visit me in Kandern, an easily visible landmark on a hill above town is what we call "the monument". It is a memorial to those who served and died in WWI and WWII. Back in September, I had the opportunity to work with a group of students to clean up the monument and the surrounding area. As we worked, I wondered about the various individuals who were memorialized, who they were, and what their lives may have been like. Memorials and monuments seem to be a recurring theme this semester. As a Junior class sponsor, I was privileged to spend a weekend in Normandy, France with the class. We left Germany on Thursday night, and arrived at Canadian cemetery near Juno Beach on the northern coast of France first thing in the morning. Each headstone is etched with the name of an individual and some information about them, as well as their age and a brief epitaph describing them as a person. "He Gave All", was inscribed on the headstone of a 32 year old man who died in the invasion. As we moved from museum, to monument, to historic site, the words continued to play through my mind. Each site we visited was in its way a memorial to incredible sacrifice, both by those who died and by those left behind. We visited the Canadian, German, and American cemeteries, and various museums that brought to life the events of June 1944. Students and sponsors all came away with a lot to think about, and I had many meaningful conversations with students about what they had seen. Many were moved to tears. What would it mean for me to give all today? If I died today, for what would I be remembered?

After a busy weekend, we drove back to Kandern, with a stop in Paris on Sunday afternoon. Monday morning we rolled into Kandern and dragged ourselves home to try and recover from the weekend. In the days since we returned, I've gotten to reflect with a number of students on the things we saw. They loved Paris - who wouldn't? The view from the Eiffel Tower is always thrilling. However, memories of the cemeteries and other sobering memories have also come to mind. When one comes face to face with so great a magnitude of sacrifice, it is difficult to turn away unchanged.

The rest of the week after we returned from Normandy was a whirlwind of preparation for the next event - the Junior class hosted a bake sale fundraiser on Saturday during home athletic events. The students came together and did a fantastic job!

One last monument for the week was an anniversary - 5 years ago this week, I arrived at BFA. I've enjoyed taking time to reflect on all that has happened since then. I'm missing all of my dorm brothers and family immensely just now, but God has used this place immeasurably to change me and the way I look at ministry. I look forward to what He has in the future. He is always has been, and always will be faithful.

Praise the Lord with me:
1. For safe travels to Normandy and back.
2. That my small group of Junior girls is bonding and growing.
3. For continuing to supply my needs, and the needs of my colleagues.

Pray with me:
1. That I will be faithful to speak into students' lives as opportunities arise, and that I will not let fatigue get in the way.
2. For close fellowship with Jesus, for me and those I work with.
3. For testimony and outreach in the German community - and also that my language skills will continue to improve.

Pointe du Hoc - soldiers landed on these beaches and scaled the cliffs during the invasion

"He Gave All"

Memorial at the American Cemetery, Omaha Beach 

Sonne seniors year 1 - JSB

Sonne year 3 - JSB
Sonne year 2 - Christmas Banquet