culture crossing

Helpers in Missions – Chemnitz Journal

On Fatherhood May 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — missionreaction @ 2:53 pm

The following is another meandering set of observations, not really an update about Micah. If you want to see lots and lots of pictures, be our friends on Facebook! Tiffany has uploaded a lot the last few days.

After three weeks, all I can say about fatherhood is that it’s work. Because of some rather unpleasant complications, feeding him has become a two-person affair. Armed with expensive mechanical equipment, boiling water, bottles, various types of bottle nipples, doubts as to whether the bottle we’re using has been properly washed, and about fort-five spit rags, we set about trying to slay the hunger monster before Micah gets too fussy and we get too frustrated that we all wind up weeping on the couch. Don’t get me wrong: being Micah’s father is joyful. It’s just that I now better understand the difference between experiencing joy and feeling happy. In fact, at 2 am, when Micah has sprayed his joy all over both his and my pajamas, my state of mind could not possibly be described as “happy.”

Interestingly, Micah was born about the same time that I became a father. It’s an overlap that’s caused some difficulties. The first few days he was trying to adjust himself to a harsh life of temperature variations and regular pooping, all the while being stuck with a poor sap of a caregiver whose ineptitude was only outweighed by his abject fear. I kid only a little; for days I was ready to call an ambulance at every change in his breathing. But Micah is completely healthy and acclimating to the world quite commendably. And how am I acclimating to fatherhood? Well, it remains to be seen. I suppose we’ll just have to ask Micah in, say, 23 years.

One small revelation has been slowly washing over me the past three weeks that I’d like to share with you. I think about the future a lot, so much so that living in the present—actually being mentally present—has been a challenge. But when I visualize my life in some future, it’s never really me that I’m imagining but some cool, ideal Future Roy that’s really not me at all. For example, Future Roy (FR) is always in shape, like I’m always just a couple months away from my dormant passion for marathon running being activated. Seriously, the guy typing this post, the guy who wastes too much time surfing the internet, who struggles with anxiety-induced obsessions and compulsions, who teaches about Christ’s sanctifying grace while struggling with his own sins, who has an over-indulged fondness for dairy products—he never appears in my fantasies about the future! Apparently, any day now I’ll wake up and Ol’ Roy (OR) will just be some memory that FR uses in sermon illustrations.

The thing is, OR was never in my fatherhood fantasies! It turns out that, even having gone through a change so apocalyptic as the birth of a firstborn, I’m still me! I still love cheese! My filing cabinet is still a mess! Micah being born has not—as I expected—made me a different person. On the one hand, this is very disappointing: FR really had it all together. He was a great father. He was patient, loving, and always finding elements in the mundane to teach Micah the sheer magnificence of life. He even had picked up woodworking as a hobby and made toys. He was a cool guy, and I’d have loved to have been him. On the other hand, realizing that I am who I am is incredibly liberating. God doesn’t love FR because FR’s a fantasy; God loves me. He loves me and all the brokenness in the world won’t change that, and I don’t have to wait around for some magical metamorphosis to experience his love and grace. And I am being transformed; his spirit is in me, taking my pain and my weakness and my brokenness and slowly, patiently bringing me closer to Jesus.

 

Oh Baby, Baby! April 21, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — missionreaction @ 5:00 am

I posted this a few days ago on Facebook, so I apologies if someone thought they were being treated to new news. This blog used to be linked to Facebook, and I’m not sure what’s happened. Anyway, the latest update about Tiffany and the baby:

It’s been difficult trying to keep everyone informed about Tiffany’s condition. She had to stay overnight in the hospital this weekend with premature contractions for observation, but after several CTGs they let her come home. They gave both her and the baby a clean bill of health, saying that although we still have a month until his due date, he could be born today with no extra risks or problems. At 35 weeks, he’s full-term.

So, it’s been an exciting few days. Tiffany’s on partial bed-rest, so I’ve tried to contribute more to helping around the house (by writing this note I am effectively putting off the much-needed vacuuming).  All of our friends and contacts have been really understanding, as we’ve had to cancel several appointments the last few days. Oh, and I promised Rafael that I’d help him move on Saturday–sorry, man. We are really grateful to people have called, offering to bring food or help with some of the household chores. I’m a pretty terrible housewife.

It’s a bit disorienting to think of our baby’s arrival now in terms of days, rather than weeks or months. Being in the hospital this weekend really forced me to acknowledge the immanence or parenthood, and after a good three-day freakout, I’m finally ready to be a father. (Ask me in a few weeks if that previous statement was a complete lie.) Psychologically, I am ready for him to be here, and I hope he comes soon.

 

So Long, Sarah! April 12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — missionreaction @ 6:08 am

Sarah left us this morning to go back to Paul’s Valley, and while we already miss her here, we wish her all the best. Sarah has been here as a HIM Worker since September 2009–nearly the entire time we’ve been here–so it’s really difficult to imagine working here for the next few months without her. But besides her giftedness for reaching out to people, her fearlessness in approaching people, and the way she was always on the ball, we’ll just miss her because she’s such a good friend.

Transitions can be awful, especially when they include having to say goodbye. And so Sarah will be in our prayers for a long while. The HIM Program is a 2-year practicum that builds a foundation for service and missions in the lives of its workers. We know that God will use her experiences here to serve her in the future. I don’t want to explain too much about her future plans, but her heart is leading her to use her gifts to help not-for-profit organizations, and we’re praying that she soon finds a great job that allows her to follow her passion–serving God and making this world a little bit better.

Sarah being finished with the HIM Program is a sign that our own work here as HIM Workers is coming to a close. Time–that infernal enemy!–is rushing on, and soon the baby will be here and then we’ll be packing and getting ready for this summer. Most people have heard by now that we’re planning to move back to the States for a few months before coming back to Germany and relocating in Leipzig, following the Lord’s calling to continue working to spread the Kingdom in eastern Germany. (Those who weren’t aware of this, we’re sorry we haven’t yet told you in person!) This means that while we’re meeting with our contacts here, preparing for the upcoming singing and LST campaigns, helping the Sullivans move and everything else that’s going on, we’re also trying to lay the groundwork for the future. And Sarah finishing up the HIM Program has kicked-started our own urgency, as our own tenure as HIM Workers hurdles to its end.

It feels a bit cheap to wax philosophic about anxiety for the future. Many people, I’m sure, feel a slight panic when they think about the upcoming months and years; still, we can anticipate moments so life-altering they seem apocalyptic (like parenthood) in terms of weeks. And everything about Leipzig remains vague and ambiguous.

I realized that I turned a post about Sarah into a navel-gazing post about our anxiety–anxiety that amounts at times to nothing more than a good, old-fashioned lack of faith. It’s time for us to trust in the creator and pray that his will be done in Sarah’s life and ours.

 

Bulgaria Mission Trip 2010 November 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — missionreaction @ 8:48 am

(For pictures, be sure to visit my facebook page! http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=168300170)

Since 1997, the church of Christ in Chemnitz has been supporting the church of Christ in Sofia, Bulgaria through an annual clothing drive. The church asks for donations of clothing–particularly warm clothing and shoes–from around the German-speaking world and in November drives the clothing through Europe to Sofia. He has made this trip thirteen times, usually accompanied by Guido Moehler, one of the leaders of the Chemnitz congregation.
Last year, Larry and Guido visited the homes of several members in the Sofia church, homes that were in great disrepair due to their cheap, low-quality construction and the members’ lack of financial means and know-how to accomplish the necessary renovations. They decided that this year they would bring, along with the load of clothing, people, tools and materials, and that they would spend a week in Sofia helping those most in need.
Larry and Guido invited Mark Abercrombie, a missionary in Leipzig; Andre Mueller, and member of the Chemnitz church and electrician; Frank Thiele, who had to back out at the last minute because of a job opportunity and was replaced by Joel Paris, the HIM Worker in Dresden; and me. We left at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, the 13th of November and arrived in Sofia on the evening of the 14th, staying the night in a hotel in Timisoara, Romania. When we arrived in Sofia, we met the missionaries Tom and Sheryl Black, who have been serving in Sofia for 20 years.
Tom and Sheryl had worked to organize our week, so that on Monday we could get straight to work. Their story, as we learned throughout the week, is very interesting; for nearly forty years they’ve been serving the Lord’s church together as missionaries. Sheryl’s father was a missionary in various cities in Germany, and she and Tom served in western Germany and Austria for 18 years until the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Tom was asked to go to Sofia.
Sofia’s is an incredibly well-preserved city nearly 2700 years old. Its historical district is beautiful, and you can visit sites whose ages extend back through the Roman and Byzantine Empires up through the Soviet Union. But not far from the city’s center lie miles of slums, an architectural reflection of the disparity between the rich and poor that characterizes the city. While ancient chapels and towers are in constant preservation, apartment complexes 60 years old are collapsing due to neglect. One of the members, Peter, lives in a complex owned by the government that has no heating system; the inhabitants of the building, like Peter, lack the means to make needed repairs themselves.
So on Monday, the 15th, we got to work in Peter’s house. The apartment’s concrete walls had several holes and deep pits that needed plastered, and his bathroom drain leaked into the basement. Also, Peter had only old linoleum for flooring and that only in small patches. Otherwise, everything sat simply on the cold concrete. Joel and I went to work plastering while the other men began tearing out the bathroom floor to find the leak. Tuesday we worked in Ivan’s apartment, who needed a new lock on his door, some replacement flooring, a new toilet and some serious plumbing work. In fact, his plumbing was so bad that Larry and Andre returned to Ivan’s on Wednesday, while we went back to Peter’s to paint the walls. Thursday we helped another woman with her plumbing problems–Setti. She was incredibly sweet: even while we were tearing up her kitchen and bathroom and making a big mess, she cooked an incredibly lunch for us. And on Friday—while the rest of us went sightseeing—Larry and Guido helped another woman, Zorka, replace her toilet.
During the evenings we spent time with Tom and Sheryl at their house or at a restaurant in Sofia. Once we were invited to the home of one of the members, Rumi. Everyone we met was incredibly sweet, and we managed to communicate with quite a few people using either English or German. We were able to rely on the Blacks, Peter, and a young preacher in the church, Stefan, to communicate with those who only spoke Bulgarian.
The highlight of our week was, of course, passing out clothing on Saturday. Due to the great need and the limited amount of clothing that we could bring, those members of the church with the greatest need were allowed to come in and pick out a jacket and a blanket and a couple other items. Sheryl and Stefan had everything already organized when we arrived on Saturday, so after unloading the clothing we were able to sit back and watch people find what they needed. We spoke to those with whom we could communicate.
Larry preached a very moving sermon about the grace of God, and Stefan translated. It was great to worship with the Sofia congregation. The church sang familiar songs that were translated into Bulgarian, and we sang along with the English words. I have to admit that singing different words that the woman behind was odd, but singing to God the prayers and hymns in two different languages reminded me of how the blood of Christ binds together all those who are being saved, be they American, German, or Bulgarian.

 

 

Spring Cleaning at Church May 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — missionreaction @ 7:30 am

About a week ago most of the church members came to help thoroughly clean the church building! Here are some photos- we had a lot of fun 🙂

 

New Theme and Recent Photos April 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — missionreaction @ 4:58 am

Memorial Road is working on a project for their Missions Sunday presentations. They asked us to take some photos and write a journal about things we’ve done recently. I’m really thankful they asked us to do this- it finally gave us an excuse to get pictures of more of what we are doing!
I also decided it was time to change the blog look- like Roy talked about a while back. So I hope you enjoy lots of new imagry!

There you go- a little sneak-view into our work!

 

The Most Important Thing April 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — missionreaction @ 9:57 am

What is the most important thing in the world? What is the one thing that is going to matter about my life after I die?
The only thing that matters is if I pleased God in the way that I lived.
So for the past few weeks during my daily Bible reading… or just when I’m letting my mind wander- I’ve been asking myself: How can my life be pleasing to God? What can I do that God will be glad to see?
I think the question started nagging me when I read this passage: 1 Tim 2:1-4 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.”
So praying for everyone- that we can live peacefully and that more and more people will have a knowledge of the truth- that pleases God. Cool! What else pleases God? I want to live in a way that God says- “Tiffany- you bring me joy.” This may seem pretty basic- of course our job is to try to live our lives in such a way as to please God. That is what it means to be a follower of God. But how many times do we really think about all the things we are involved with? How many times to we really examine what fills our day- and how God sees what we are doing? Does it please God when I watch TV (even really wholesome shows) several hours each week? Does it please God when I spend time with friends– but don’t talk about Him? Does it please God when I think about myself over my husband, or when I’m worrying about money? Or what about when I spend more time in the kitchen cooking a dinner and fretting over details than ministering to friends I have invited?
Then I start to wonder- what is it that I can do to replace some of these distractions? So now I’m spending time thinking of ways to please God. I have a lot of ideas, and the Bible is full of them. I hope and pray that I am bringing God more joy every day. And I challenge you to examine your life. What do you do to be “pleasing to God”? Let’s try to be a joyful sight! :o)