December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

We celebrated New Years at the church! It was a great time fellowshipping and just spending time with one another.
We had a light supper of finger foods that everyone brought, then we had a photo contest for who made the silliest face. After that we had a junk auction. Everyone brought something that was of no real use (this went along the lines of 'one mans junk is an others treasure'). That was fun! There was anything and everything from a shoe horn and a vase with a cat on it, to a chinese tea set and picture frames. It was fun! After that we saw a slideshow of pictures from the past year that recapped events that everyone did as a church. Then we played games and chatted for about an hour.

At around 11:30 we started to sing and had a short devotional. at 12 we went to the front yard of the church and shot of fireworks for nearly an hour! Fireworks are legal within city limits around new years since that is really the only holiday with fireworks (remember, they dont celebrate the 4th of july here!)

Thinking about that string of events made me a bit homesick today. Those days are never fun. Its hard to be torn in two. Part of me wants to be home celebrating with friends and family, and then part of me is excited to experience something completely new! It does help though, when others want to teach me something. Tonight two of the young adults, a little older than myself, pulled me aside to show me some of the german fire crackers (just the small ones) and how to use them. At first I was hesitant, and just wanted to watch, but then I saw that they got excited to show me something new, and that helped me get more into it!

New Years was great all in all!
An observation that I made when i was here with LST was on the church dynamic. Not to criticize or generalize the church in the states compared to here, but it seems like much more of a family here. Holidays and big events are celebrated with the church, because they are your family. I love my church in Oklahoma, please do not get me wrong, they too are a family, but its different. For example, one of the members has completely lost contact with their family because they have chosen the Christian faith as their own. The church has literally become their family. That is how I believe it should be, not that you lose contact with loved ones, but that you are so close in your faith that you are like family. You are able to celebrated and have true fellowship and not think, "another church activity", but rather, "another opportunity to spend time with one another!".

You want people to be involved because they want to, not because they feel obligated. And for the most part, it is obvious which of the two most people are. The mindset is the difference, and I am so very lucky and blessed to be a part of such a wonderful church! In the short 4 months since I have been here I have learned so very much!!! I am almost antsy to get back to the states and get to work their!

Sorry, that was long!

Be good and do good!

Sarah B

Quote: The difference between school and life? In school, your taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, your given a test that teaches you a lesson. ~ Tom Bodett

December 29, 2009


Tonight in bible class we talked about grace. Tuesday night bible class, which would be the equivalent of wednesday night class in the states, is always in German because well, I am in Germany. This the the only lesson that is generally not translated for us. At this point, Tiffany and I don't know enough German to follow along, so we usually journal through class. I usually try to listen for a few minutes and then find my mind wondering as I attempt to figure out what a word is and then make some other string of assimilations. Anyways, tonight was a bit different, we did a little in English and got to give some input about grace.

At the end of class, the question was posed about how we have seen Gods grace in the past year in our lives. My mind automatically began to race to situation after situation. I thought about our family friend Robert paying the tab for my car last Christmas when it was broken because I had just used everything I had saved until that point to finish paying off that semester of school. Then I thought about the time my uncle was in a car wreck at thanksgiving and all of my friends made a huge thanksgiving feast and brought it up to the ICU at OU and shared a thanksgiving meal with not only my family, but all the other families in the waiting room. I thought about Lisa's 4 year old nephew Ashton, who was waiting for a kidney and was at 85% kidney failure in April. I thought about how all of the girls in club rallied together and took the family meals, snacks and toys up to the hospital. Ashton got a kidney on Sunday by the way :) he is doing great! Situation after situation, each one has God written all over it.

I started thinking about when I became a Christian 5 years ago, and where I would be today if I had dedicated my life to Christ. I wasn't on a bad path per say, but I wasn't on a good one either. Short run down- I started a Bible study to read the bible in a year- changed churches because of that study, found out I didn't get into university of Florida, my first choice. Wasn't interested in any of the schools in OK that I already had full rides to. I found OC on the net, went for a visit, loved it! Shortly there after a dedicated my life to Christ. I went to OC in the fall. Hated the first semester but made some amazing friends. Started to participate and do more and then began to love OC. My stepdad passed away the end of my freshman year. Came back sophomore year and was dragged to club stuff. Ended up rushing, loved my club, became an officer. Met some of my best friends now! And the rest is history. I thrived at OC. I soaked up everything I could. It makes me shutter to think of where I would be today if things hadn't gone the way they did.

I know I have a story, its not an easy one to share, but it helps being here. On a weekly basis I get to share my story with people. With readers. With contacts. With friends. My eyes are open, constantly looking for where God is cracking a door. There are a lot of cracks here in Germany. I can't fill them, thas Gods part, im merely someone here to push the door open a little more.

I start reading with Ceili tomorrow. I'm looking forward to the book we are reading, Discovering God's Will for Your Life. It will be interesting to see how we will both be able to grow and learn from each other and this book. Is the seed ever fully grown? The roots need water too!

Quote: If you are growing, you will always be out of your comfort zone. ~John Maxwell

December 27, 2009

Christmas Time

As anyone can imagine, the holidays are a tough time to not be with family. This year was no exception. I was able to see everyone and speak with family via webcam, that defiantly helped! The Sullivans were kind enough to open up their home to us for the holidays, so we joined their family for many of their traditions.

Christmas eve I went to a traditional Christmas play that is put on by the evangelic churches. Each community church will put on the reenactment of the nativity scene with members, this year my friend Steffi was playing Mary. I went and met up with Jessi, Steffi's sister who is going through confirmation for their church, and Sussanne and her family. Ceili was also there with her host family. It seemed like people just poured out of their homes and into this beautiful old church. I was a bit lost with the play though... which is kinda hard because the nativity scene hasn't changed in roughly 2000 years lol. It was great though, Steffi didnt a wonderful job as Mary!

After the play I came back and we all went on the Christmas eve drive through the mountains. We saw all the little villages with their lights in the windows and even spotted Santa twice! Santa walks the streets here, and knocks on the door to deliver presents. And Santa is skinny.... Anyways, we drove to a little castle and took a group pic and then had a little snow ball fight. It was delightful! After that we went back to the house for fondu. This was my first fondu experience. It was pretty cool. Still not sure exactly how I feel about it, but it was cool!

Marc and Karen stayed with me over christmas night, we popped popcorn and watched Santa Clause 3. The next morning we got up and made our meals for Christmas lunch. I made sweet-potato pie again! After lunch we all opened presents. We drew names between us all. I got Tiffany, and Marc or Karen (im not sure which one) got me. I got Tiff some movies and Marc and Karen got me a POPCORN MACHINE!!!!! YAY!!!!!!

I came back to my apartment and skyped family for a few hours and then went back to the Sullivans to watch a movie. We popped some delicious popcorn in my new machine and watched Swiss Family Robinson.

Saturday we all got back together for left overs for lunch and then went out to a little castle not far from Chemnitz and went for a walk. We came back and had coffee and then enjoyed our evenings!

If you didnt pick up on it, Christmas is 3 days here, the 24, 25, and 26th. Everything starts to shut down on the 24th. Most everything is closed by 4 pm.

So here are some pictures of the traditional Christmas things I have been blogging about.

Since i cant see the pictures until i publish the blog im shooting in the dark, I dont remember the order.
One is Steffi and I in Dresden, one is the Christmas tree at the train station in Dresden.
One is the advent candles all lit.
One is a group picture of our german class- not everyone but the cool ones :).
One is also Sven giving me a "high five!"
The streets of Leipzig when Ceili and I went on our adventure.
A schwipbogen in the window.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

Be good and do good!

Sarah B

Quote: "Dont ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up." G.K. Chersterton.

December 23, 2009

A Heart Divided

It has defiantly been eye opening living in a foreign country. Not only am I constantly aware of my own habits, which I would have never even noticed before coming here, but I am utterly aware of the habits of others. I contribute this new awareness to two different source; first, I never really cared in the states, I didn't really have time to, and second, everyone is always watching so if i do something "odd" it is inevitably seen and repeated by someone else.

Since when is being "normal" a good thing? I don't want to be just like everyone else. Who does? I mean, in some aspects, we all do so we can be accepted, that is the very core of human nature. But at the same time, as a Christian, we are called to be different. To be radically different.

I was listening to a podcast today, one of my favorite authors who is a preacher at a large church in LA and he was talking about prayer. He started by prefacing with something along the lines of, "If your hoping to leave here today with a better prayer life, then I have failed you and you have failed yourself." I found that kind of odd, and intriguing, so I kept listening. The main point of the sermon was not that we should pray more because that is our communication with God. Rather, that when we pray, we should pray with the heart and attitude that God should use us for whatever it is we are praying about. If we pray for someone because they are sick, pray and ask how it is you can be of help to that person, or to the family. If it is about world hunger, ask and actively look for solutions to help end world hunger.

I found this particular lesson to be very inspiring. I never really thought of prayer that way. Its always been in my mind, for some reason, that asking God to comfort and be with the families going through hard times is enough. Ive never really thought to pray and ask how I can be of service for that family. That takes to much time.

The other main point in the sermon was that a lot of different religions pray. What sets Christians apart? It is supposed to be the idea that we pray, and then people see God through our actions. Without a doubt. Duh! That was kind of an "ah-ha!" moment for me. I know that, but ive never really thought of prayer that way. As an active part on my side.

I was going to look for a quote and just saw this as a facebook status update: "Seeing homeless people always makes me sad that I cant help them, stupid poorness". Why cant you? And this is a guy I went to OC with... there are so many things wrong with that statement it just gets my blood boiling reading it!

Just food for thought.

Be good and do good!

Sarah B

Quote: One never knows what the rising sun will bring with it. Each day is a new adventure. The trick is to be open and ready for anything! ~ Unknown

December 16, 2009

The Deeper Meaning

These past few days have brought a lot to talk about!

We will start with Silke, one of my readers. Silke (pronounced Silk-a) is about my moms age and has 2 kids around my age. She speaks english very well but is not very confident in her speaking skills but is very willing to learn. As we began today, we were sitting in the church kitchen and drinking our tea, talking about our weeks, when Silke said she had a Christmas present for me. Taken back, I told her she did not need to get me anything, and she laughed and said she had some free time and threw something together. So i graciously thanked her for the gift and asked if it was alright to open it, she told me it was. I pulled out a twig first, and looked at it and thanked her. She then laughed, said it was decoration, and that I should keep going. So i reached in and pulled out some candy, and we repeated the process of thank you, and keep going. Out came a chocolate Santa... the same again, thanks, keep going. Next was a yellow box. I thanked her for the gift, as I looked at it, having no idea what it was... Then finally asked, what is it? She laughed and said I should open the box, so I did, only to pull out a yellow tube that looked like glue or paint.... so I asked her again, what it was. She laughed and said she didnt know the word in english. So i pulled the black cap off and put a little on the box. "Glue!" I shouted triumphantly! "Yes, glue!" she responded with a large smile on her face. I looked at her, smiling, not sure exactly what kind of gift glue was, and thanked her again.... Again, she laughed and told me to keep going. So i reached in one last time, to pull out a container of toothpicks. "Thanks!" I said, smiling and laughing nervously, having no idea what this gift meant.... She looked at me, still gleaming, and said, "You can make a star!" I looked at her, confusion clouding my face, "Now?" "Yes, now." So I looked at her again, trying to tell if she was serious, which she was, so I pulled out a piece of paper and tried to draw a version of a star I had seen of Karens that she had received as a gift. She laughed and said, "Yes, you could do that.... or you could try this..." and then she reached back and grabbed another bag, and pulled out a large star made out of toothpicks!

There is what the paper version looks like, which I did receive one of those a few weeks ago as well from the older couple I read with!

The reading with Silke went very well, we talked about the story where the woman washes Jesus' feet with her hair and tears. We talked more about human nature and what it takes for someone to ask for help and why people do not want to admit that they are weak. It was a very good, deep conversation. I was also asked what a sinner was today. I forget that those are church terms and people dont know what they mean. Which I also found interesting, because Silke has a basic knowledge of Bible stories and went to church with her grandma as a kid. So she recognizes the stories, but doesn't always understand the entire meaning... but then again, who does?! I think I am going to get her a BIble as a gift for Christmas, she was telling me her daughter took hers when she moved to Denmark, so that could be a good gift for her....

I made an apple pie tonight! I enjoy baking, and this will be the first time most of the people in my German class have ever had an apple pie! German is almost over!!! Well, the first class anyways. Friday is our last day, but we are having a party tomorrow and then going to the Christmas market together on Friday. Everyone is supposed to being something from their native country, so it will be interesting to see what all everyone brings! I'm brining an apple pie and tiffany is bringing chips and cheese dip! We'll see what everyone thinks!

Tomorrow I am also going to Dresden to visit Steffi! I try to spend time with everyone one on one and not just group time. So tomorrow is Steffi day! She is going to show me around and we will visit the Christmas market!!! YAY!!!! I got a coat this week! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It also started to snow this week! We have gotten more snow, enough to cover the ground and make it slick. It is supposed to continue snowing until Christmas eve! Ill post pictures when we get a bit more out!

Thats all for now... I know im forgetting something, but so goes life! Oh, I have been getting Christmas cards from friends :), that always makes me happy! A little homesick because thanksgiving was always our friend time. We would make time after we all got back from thanksgiving to do a friend thanksgiving and Christmas together. So goes life though, I love experiencing the new culture and what Christmas has to offer here! I'll only get to experience it one more time!

Be good and do good!

Sarah B

Quote: True humility is intelligent self respect which keeps us from thinking too highly or too meanly of ourselves. It makes us modest by reminding us how far we have come short of what we can be. ~ Ralph Sockman

December 13, 2009

Pogo-Sticks and Politics

Living in a foreign country has definitely opened my eyes to the world around me. I never realized how comfortable I was with traditions and "the way of life". Not that I had a routine life by any means, I was always on the go and doing something new. With that though, I took for granted some of the great things that America has to offer. I tried to appreciate the beauty that Oklahoma and surrounding states have to offer, but I find myself lacking the ability to embrace the true vast beauty that they posses.

Its funny, I never really thought about patriotism and politics as a conscious thought. I know that sounds weird, but I just kept up with politics, certain politics, not all. With that, patriotism is bound deep in me. Part of that is coming from America, from Bible belt USA. I would have never thought twice about it. Even having a Canadian roommate and close friend for 3 years I never realized how engrained patriotism is for me, for the American culture. Im going to hark on Andrea for a little bit, the Canadian friend, I always found it odd in chapel when she refused to say the pledge, even though she is half American. I blew it off though, whatever, shes Canadian, she doesn’t have to if she doesn’t want to. Id rather someone say it with meaning than just repeat the words and have no meaning behind them (which I believe frequently happens).

We had Alex and his family over for coffee and supper tonight. Considering today is an advent Sunday, that is pretty special here because advent Sundays are reserved for family time. After supper, while playing cards, the conversation got into American politics and some screw ups that have happened abroad.

I find it amazing how much other cultures watch American politics. I try my best to keep up on recent events, I read multiple papers daily, but don’t always catch everything going on. To avoid pointing fingers at people I will keep the details vague, but conversation came up of a musician that said something very political while abroad. Alex's mom could not understand why the musician was then shunned in the US and went on the defensive. She thought it should have been more of an "ah-ha" moment. It took me back. Not so much the statement that was made by the musician, but I had never even thought about what was said as valid, whether it was true or not, because it came from a musician. It wasn’t so much the statement that was made, it was the fact it was done in a public setting and on foreign soil that caused an uproar. This was a weird concept that Alex's mom did not understand. Why people were so upset about it. I never really thought of it the other way.

Patriotism is so engrained, while I may not agree with everything that is done, out of a mutual respect, one does not voice it in a way to influence others. If your going to talk about something in an attempt in influence their opionons, make it more important than politics!

I bet your wondering what the Pogo stick part is about... it comes as second nature. One sees a pogo stick and knows what to do with it and how to do it. Doesn’t matter if you fall off, it is if you get on. I think that is the way most people look at politics. They see them, they know what they do, they know how they work, but they never actually try it out. To fully understand, one must try the pogo stick! It is not as easy to stay on as one might think! With that, politics are not as simple as most seem to think they are, especially abroad. It seems like there is this "black and white" view that I have encountered on multiple occasions, and while people know some facts and have the idea, they have no actually concept of how the political system works, much like a pogo-stick.

Be good and do good!

Sarah B

Quote: When you drink water, remember its spring. ~Chinese Proverb

December 12, 2009

Its Snowing!

Its snowing outside today!!!! As much as I am not a fan of the cold, I do rather enjoy looking at the snow. Did you catch that? Looking at the snow... Not being in it, just looking at it from a nice warm cozy place! It just started today- the picture is out of our front door!

Thursday was a great day! A day worthy of blogging about! It started with me going to German class for the first time since Monday. The cold kept me down, booo! Anyways, German went well. Frau Lou was very nice and did not make me talk that much which I appreciated. Nor did she make me keep trying if I didn't get it right, which she usually does. So class went well!

After class I ran into Tiffany and Roy when hopping on the tram! They were just getting back from taking Roys folks to the airport. I had a meeting at what I thought was 1. I got to the church at 12:30 and stayed till 1:30 then went home deciding she wasnt coming. I got home, checked my email and the time was changed from 1 to 3. so I would wait an hour and go back. Karen got home, helped her clean up a bit for ladies bible class, then went back to the church at 2:30. Ended up missing the 2:41 bus because I was buying the snacks for ladies bible class and reading, so I caught the 2.51 bus which put me at the church at 2.55.
I hurried back in to start some coffee and open up the pretzels i had just bought as our snack and got everything set up. Waited. 3:15. 3:30. 3:45 I cleaned up and got back on the bus! I ran into Ceili which is always exciting! We chatted it up for the short trip down the road.

Got home and started reading for ladies class, this chapter was over Love and I had heard it was the best chapter out of the book. I was thoroughly delighted upon completion because I too agree that it is the best chapter thus far. It was over true agape love. Which of course, started with 1 cor 13, which ive heard a million times. But this was an interesting take on it. Here is a short excerpt that will also serve as this posts quote:

Be good and do good!

Sarah B

You will never knowingly suffer at my hands. I will never say anything or do anything knowingly to hurt you. I will always, in ever circumstance, seek to help and support you. If you're down and I can lift you up- I'll do that. If you need something and I have it, I'll share it with you. If I need to, I'll give it to you. No matter what I find out about you, no matter what happens in the future- either good or bad- my commitment to you will never change. And there is nothing you can do about it. ~Jerry Cook

December 8, 2009

Its Cold Outside

With the ever changing and increasingly cold weather, I have been held hostage in the house by an old friend "Cold". Seeing as I have not much else to do, I figured I should update on here.

Friday was EBS, it went very well I thought. Marc lead the lesson and talked about patience. Specifically patience in learning a language. Friday night we had the usual gang minus a few over for cards, that is always a good time!

Saturday afternoon I watched the some of the kids from the church while their folks cleaned the church (easier and faster to do when your not watching 3 little ones!). I was pretty excited about spending some time with the kids, Ive been missing my nieces and nephews, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to make our traditional tea cake cookies. Tea Cakes are a lot like sugar cookies, but thinner, crunchier and not as sweet. Anyways, they make good cookies to cut out and decorate! Since im not getting to have the time with my nieces and nephews I thought surly these kids would love to make cookies! Fail! It was more of the opposite. After the first batch was in the over (and this makes about 10 pans so around 30-40 cookies) they had all lost interest. They all loved the cookies which was good, so at least they ate them, but they again had no interest in decorating them which made me a bit sad. Nevertheless I sent half of the cookies home with the kids and then decorated the other half for our night at Steffis!

Saturday night Steffi had invited some of us over to her house for supper and games. I met her mom for the first time and got to see where she lives! It was a great night, she made pizza for us and then we played a few rounds of skip-bo and then the name game. The one where everyone writes a name on a piece of paper and you tape it to your head and have to ask yes-no questions to figure out who you are. It was a good night! We stayed until nearly midnight and all of the christmas cookies were enjoyed :).

Sunday was worship and then lunch at Pam and Larrys. Roy's folks are here visiting, so everyone was there. Pam made some traditional German foods. I have heard of these large balls of potato stuff- i dont remember what they are called, anyways I had been dreading trying them because they just sounded nasty to be honest! Like mashed potatoes in a ball form that have been boiled. But it was much better than I had expected! Sunday also brought along a headache :( never fun. I havent been sleeping well the past few weeks, so I just put it off to not a lot of sleep. Sunday night we had a great turn out for sport, everyone had a good time!

Monday was German classes and English Movie Night! We watched Its A Beautiful Life, my first time to see the entire movie start to finish. I have seen bits and pieces but never watched it all the way through. I loved it! We had a smaller turn out than we had hoped for, but nevertheless a good one!

Which brings us to today! I stayed home sick today, the cold getting the best of me :(. I am feeling a bit better this afternoon, but more party parts keep getting sore which isnt good. The weather is starting to get cold and stay cold now. Looks like Friday will be the last day we have above freezing for a while. Ive been told we are having a very mild winter thus far, no complaints on this side!

Quote: All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough. ~ Anna Quindlen

December 2, 2009


La vita è bella

I know its been a while- sorry! Things here have just been super busy!

German class is going well, we are half way through! Class is over on the 18th, yay!!!! It hasnt been that bad to be honest, there are days when it is very frustrating, but thats part of it I suppose. There are other days when I sit there and wonder if I really just graduated college with 2 degrees as I learn how to say "My name is.... I come from..." That is part of it though. It has helped me to keep in mind that this is helpful not only to communicate with people here, but could potentially be helpful in a later job as well.

With the start of the Christmas season here, Christmas markets are opening! What is that you may be thinking...let me show you! (okay well its not letting me load the pictures so ill try and post them separately!)
These pictures dont even do the markets justice! If you can imagine what Christmas feels like, it is simply all surrounded in the markets... its hard to describe, just something everyone should experience (and I plan on experiencing a lot while im here!).

Reading with folks has been going well. It still amazes me that even though I have heard some of these stories over and over again, I always seem to see a new meaning in each one each time. Even from reader to reader, I pick up on something different. It just utterly amazes me how Gods word is never changing and yet always morphing. If that makes sense...

I watched the movie A Beautiful Life tonight. I loved it! Absolutely loved it. If you haven't seen it yet, go rent it now! I only hope that if I were in the same shoes I could have an attitudes like theirs. People who do just leave me speechless!

I think thats all for now! We have EBS on Friday, and english movie night on monday! Hopefully we will have some more people come this time!!!!

Be good and do good!

Sarah B

Quote: Do not go where the path may lead; go instead, where there is no path and leave a trail. ~Ralph Emmerson