11 months ago yesterday I stepped off a plane into a country that was strange to me with people speaking a language I barely knew. After about a week I got frustrated and wanted to start learning the language as quickly as possible and learning as much as possible too. That began a long, frustrating, draining and sometimes butt-kicking 8 months of study.
That all came to an end March 14th. I no longer head into language school every day for 4 hours and only speak German. I know longer struggle with grammar or vocabulary issue when speaking with Germans….of wait, no i definitely still do that. I don’t know if I can say that I am fluent, but I can say that I can carry on a conversation on a variety of topics without too much difficulty.
While I said that one era ended, it really didn’t. I’m not done learning German in the least bit. I am still trying to practice it as often as possible, but language school is over.
Last week began my first week in the office full-time. It was a good week, but man, was it difficult. The projects I am working on weren’t hard, the co-workers are great, but it is hard for me because I haven’t worked full-time in 2 years, since I left Mattawoman. I also have not ever worked in front of a computer the whole day either. It is definitely an adjustment, but I like what I am doing and who I am working with, so I can only see it getting better. There is also a very flexible environment here, so if I need to go for a short walk or just get away from the computer for a short bit, I can.
Currently I am helping to write articles about online course creation and facilitation, creating a curriculum for an ESL camp, and organizing a short retreat that most of the eDOT team will be going on the beginning of April. I am enjoying these projects and am looking forward to adjusting to the full-time work too.
I am very thankful to God that the language school is done and I was able to pick up the language at least decently and also that I can already see the value of my abilities that will be used by eDOT for His Kingdom.
I figured since Monday I updated you on my first conference I would go ahead and do the second conference that I have had the priviledge to attend. The conference is called DMT and it’s tagline or summary is:
DMT is all about training. Its goal is to train believers who can then train others in a very simple yet effective method of evangelism, discipleship, and church planting that continues to multiply across relationship networks.
DMT is a direct response to the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John (4:35-36), where He states, “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life.”
The central focus is the harvest God has already prepared in advance and is waiting on to be harvested. – See more at: http://gemission.org/intro-dmt-discipleship-multiplication-training#sthash.Bd5hzmKB.dpuf
I went to a similar training when I was still living in Maryland, but this was with Europeans who were looking for ways to expand God’s Kingdom in Europe. There were Europeans, Americans and Canadians present representing a half dozen or so countries. We learned what it means to be a disciple and and how to disciple as well as evangelize.
While most of this time seemed to be geared towards people whose full-time job was church planting, it nevertheless gave me some food for thought. I wanted to share a few questions that kept popping into my head during my time there.
- What am I doing to disciple people?
- What am I doing to talk about Jesus to those who don’t know Him?
- What can I do to help those whose mission is to do something like this full-time?
- What can I do to change my current actions to make them more along the line of disciple making?
My first technology conference while working for GEM eDOT took place around a month ago and while its slightly old news I wanted to share with you all about my experience there. The conference took place in Mosbach, Germany at OM Deutschland’s HQ. There were a total of 80 people there representing 12 countries, four continents and 32 organizations.
At any given pass through the gathering/coffee area you would most likely hear at least 3 different languages and not all of them even being spoken by native speakers of that language. It was quite common to hear a German or Dutch to be speaking English or a native English speaker speaking German (sometimes even me) or Dutch (definitely not me). Such is my life right now and to be quite honest at times it is hard, but other times it is incredibly amazing. To think that God, who made languages originally to separate us so that we could not accomplish whatever we put our minds, now is using those same minds to allow us to be united again in multiple languages. It is truly a blessing that God has given us the gift of learning languages so that we can unite in Him to reach other for Him!
The conference overall was a very good, albeit draining, experience. On day one we introduced ourselves and I made it known that I was there with an ulterior motive, to speak German with Germans. That same day we were put into prayer groups, organized by my supervisor Dana. The idea was to provide us a small group where we could pray specifically for each other and become closer as well. Dana had randomly created every group, that is except for my group. My group consisted of three Germans and me. Talk about being thrown into the fire. During every prayer group they only spoke German and I quickly realized that I did not know German spiritual vocabulary in the slightest. I mean, it’s not like we learned that in my public school in Toledo or my public language school here in Germany. If you think about it, when we pray or ask for prayer we use a much different vocabulary than normally. I also realized my tech speak isn’t very well-developed so sometimes I wasn’t sure if they were speaking German or Tech-ese. My goal was to grab at least one point of prayer from each guy and then pray for that. They all prayed in German and I in English because I wanted the prayer to flow naturally.
Beyond the prayer groups we attended sessions on various topics and one of my favorite was on leadership using Nehemiah as a reference. I like Nehemiah’s story a lot and some very good points were brought up in regards to proper leadership that will bring about results. One point that stuck out to me was that Nehemiah had each person work on the wall opposite their house. Genius! He knew they would work so much harder if they had a personal stake in the matter. A true leader finds a job for their people that they are invested in and where they see importance. That’s just quality!
At night we typically gathered in the coffee area and a few of us played some board games (not a big surprise). Those simple games, though, allowed us to unwind but also develop more of a community. It was one of my favorite parts.
Going to this conference I learned a few things:
There are some ridiculously passionate tech geeks out there and its a great thing that they are there.
I am not a tech geek.
God has called all of us to Europe separately and yet together for His purpose.
Ok, so that title doesn’t scream catchy for a song, but it sums up my walk from home to work, so I thought it would work! A couple weeks ago I put a video up about the building I will work in and today I will show you how I walk to Kandern (some days).
Hopefully next week I will have the Kandern video all finished so check back!
I’m going to try to do some videos over the next few weeks showing the area I live in, the building I work in, my apartment, etc. I haven’t shot a lot of video so please forgive the mediocre skills.
This week is a quick video of the building I will work in and eDOT’s office.
Right before I left Toledo I ran into an old friend and it was one of the most awkward things I have experienced in a long time. This guy and I used to be really good friends. The two of us and one other guy were practically inseparable during high school and then we even lived on the same hall for part of college. My last year in college we lived together in a town house with two other guys and yet here we were in an awkward conversation a few (ok, more than a few) years later.
We literally just kind of stared at each other not really knowing what to say. I asked him what he has been up to (you know, for the last 10 years, nothing like throwing him an easy to answer question) and he did the same. We struggled to find any question that could sustain a question for more than a minute or so and yet…we failed.
I left that conversation, or lack-thereof, and had this immediate sense of sadness. We were friends, good friends and yet I barely knew who he was any more. He barely knew who I was either. We didn’t do it intentionally, we just kind of stopped talking to each other, we stopped investing time in each other. Sadly I can look back on my life and see that as a recurring experience.
I have had many friends over the course of my life and it seems like every time one of us moves on we lose track completely. Have you found that to be true for you? Do you have friends with which you wish you would have kept in contact? I can’t help but wonder why I do this, why so many of use lose track of people we once considered possibly as close as family. I have many regrets in my life and this is definitely one of them.
I think this hit me more than normal because I was moving to Germany and it would be harder to connect with my current friends. I have to actually make an effort. I’m hoping my friends will to, but regardless, if I value these relationships (which I do) then I need to act, not just wait for others to act.
Thank goodness for Skype and Google Voice which allow me to text, call and see my friends and family. Now I just need to remember the 6 hour time difference so I don’t wake my brother up again before 6:00 AM. Oops! Sorry Ben!
It’s been just over a week and I think my brain just fully caught up with me. Things have been a little crazy in the last two weeks, but I wouldn’t change anything. God has been in the process and He continues to guide me. I may not always like the way things have progressed, but in the end His plan is good!
I thought I would update you all a little on what has been going from a week before I left until now.
- Right before I left Ohio, my family and some friends helped me pack a container full of stuff that I wouldn’t see for a month or so.
- Said my tearful goodbyes to my family at Detroit airport (I’m sure I looked rather strange crying while in the security line).
- Hung out with friends in Maryland.
- Prayer send-off and Buffalo Wild Wings fundraiser where my friends came out in full-force!
- My flight from DC to Basel, Switzerland had a long layover in London, but other than that was uneventful.
Since my arrival there has been a ridiculous amount of things that have happened (most of which I think I can remember, jet lag definitely kicked my butt!)
- Courtney and Dana picked me up from the airport and have shown me around town, fed me and shown me some of the other places that I will be going to soon to set up the apartment that I have yet to find.
- I’ve set up a bank account, gone car shopping, registered as living here, learned how to grocery shop, and a whole bunch of other things you wouldn’t even think would be necessary.
- On May 13th I am going to start language school in Loerrach. Four hours a day for 24 weeks and that’s just the start! I’m looking forward to it even though I have heard that it is intense and difficult. I’m ready to start speaking German!
That’s all for today, but I plan on sharing more regularly about what’s going on here and other random thoughts that enter my brain. For now I want to leave you with a slideshow of Kandern, Germany, my new town!