29 October 2008

mark your calenders

i am going to be in dallas for christmas! yup, from december 13thish to 29th. and, as an added bonus, i will be traveling with my own personal bodyguard ;-) so, if anyone is interested in getting together, we should. leave a comment or email me.

my guy was here for the weekend + because tuesday was his 35th birthday. i say the age simply to make him mad. he thinks he is old. whatever. it was a good time. i made an ameretto chocolate marble cheesecake (first try!) that turned out very well. and since he got his real present a few months ago (a patchwork quilt i made) this is what he got now:

yes, there is an insider story behind it..

20 October 2008

confirming stereotype?

i was recently informed that all women buy shoes to deal with stress. i never really considered myself typical of that stereotype... but last sunday, in the midst of my stressful two weeks, i ebayed these. :-D so did i confirm this stereotype? or does ebay not count as shopping? or do doc martens not count as women's shoes? hmm. whatever.. they are my new happy winter boots. (at only 16e)

minor prophets: joel

yesturday i had the priveledge of preaching again. i am really liking to preach (and to prepare the sermons even more). this was the second in my 11 sermon series on the 12 minor prophets. (i am skipping jonah since we covered him recently in depth) joel was up this time, being the second oldest according to most theologians and jewish scholars.

i learned a lot while looking into joel. for starters, just reading through it the first time in years i was struck by how many well-known verses are rooted in this short book... some of the good psalms and even a long passage that peter quoted.. reading it felt familiar. and some of my favorite verses are also in joel, about God restoring the years the locusts had eaten.

what i didn't know in advance was the whole situation of judah at the time. i've read kings and chronicles (ok, kings quite a lot and chronicles at least once through) but i never have really been good at remembering who ruled when, where, why, how long.. its all kind of jumbled. so looking into the time of joel surprised me.. i had no recollection of the boy-king and the high-priest uncle who ruled until he was old enough. if someone has one of those convenient time lines or a book about the kings and things that they want to send my way...

and i also didn't know a thing about locusts. i took my research over to youtube and watched some videos of swarms. man! thats really destructive. for good measure i added one to my sermon to illustrate the seriousness of the disaster after which joel spoke. if you're interested, click the title to this post, i linked it.

the book of joel actually has perfect application to us today. i'd encourage a study of it. or, if you don't feel like looking for the themes yourself, leave a comment and i will post my sermon notes or the link to the mp3 (if you know german). although, i got kind of hijaked while preaching.. i got off into the heart message and dropped a few notecards on structure and analysis off the end.. oh well. i think it is what God was wanting to say. melly came up to me afterwards and hugged me and said thank you. she isn't a huggy person.

15 October 2008

blog action day: poverty

today is apparently blog action day.. all over the net people are blogging about the topic: poverty. so maybe on some of the blogs this will seem a bit out of character and maybe cause a few raised eyebrows. hopefully, people who are not usually confronted with the topic will begin to think about it. if you are reading my blog, i would think it is a topic you are familiar with.

Poverty is not only a pressing issue, it is a complex one. It's easy to think that there isn’t much an individual can do. Fortunately this isn’t the case at all. With activities ranging from advocacy and professional contribution to charity and financing, there is in fact many ways that we can act.

-official site for blog action day

i thought i would take a look into some of the aspects of poverty as they affect my ministry. (which, of course, is working with the homeless and drug addicts here in germany..) i know it isn't the type of poverty we often think of in connection with that word.. i mean, this is europe, right? still, it is an ever-increasing problem.

even here, a socialist country (please do not assume i mean communist), people can fall out or opt out of the system that promises to help support everyone. i was going to tell some stories as examples, but i deleted them. somehow, i feel like today i should be writing more about the solutions.

my first concern is to get people out of whatever situation is causing the rest of their problems. usually, with my clientel, this means drugs and/or a psychological problem. i think that these are the roots for most of the homelessness in germany. you don't find very many well-rounded, healthy and happy people living year for year on the streets. i have known a few vagabonds who chose to live this way.. but they are usually only around for a little while, traveling from place to place, working more than begging, and usually not using drugs or at least not abusing them to the extent of the others i work with. and yeah, i find them compelling..

my people are the ones who get stuck in their problems and cannot get out alone. so the first step is building trust. that is why i spend a lot of time around them, just hearing their normal concerns and what is going on. letting them in a little on who i am and what i wish for them. once the trust is established, i am able to have more in-depth and personal conversations (the kind that under different surrounding would easily be recognized as counseling). i try to help them get to a place where they desire a change in their lifestyle. if they don't start to want it, i can't force help on them. they are the ones who will spend the rest of their lives fighting.

the next part is to meet their physical needs. this starts a little earlier with blankets and shoes and clothes, food and coffee. but it gets more concrete when they start to change the standards they want to live by. the first thing (and most difficult) that needs help is the physical body. that means getting them into a detox program (easier said than done, even if they want it) and afterwards into a long-term therepy. (thats the very hard part- finding the sponsors, getting a spot in a therepy that also is designed in a way to meet this persons needs and personality, getting them through the detox without quitting..) detox is between 3 and 8 weeks, depending on who is paying and what drugs they were taking. the therepy centers usually have waiting lists, and the sponsors sometimes refuse taking over the expences for up to three months. this whole time it is important to support the person in need, encourage them, remind them of their own goals and how far they have come. sometimes, this is the part where they would otherwise be back on the street- between the detox and therepy. that's why i started the hope house. we take these people in and help the transition.

i have nothing to do with the people while they are in therepy. i do not call, write or visit. and if things go well, i hope to never see them again. that is because ideally, they will settle in a fresh city when they get out, and start a new life. the down side is then i never know what happened to them, if they made it.

after therepy, some people come back to bremen or come to bremen for their new start. these people have almost broken out of the cycle, but what happens next is key. it is here that i try to help them find an apartment away from the scene and a part-time job. i introduce them to others that are clean and encourage them to make friends from that group. to come to church. to be connected and accountable. there is a lot less of this work, unfortunatly.

if you are wondering where the "missions work" is in all that, then reread it. and then look at your new testament. i don't believe that i need to stand on a corner to preach to reach people in europe..

speaking of work, my next appointment is here, so i stop

13 October 2008

minor prophets: obadiah

yesturday i started a sermon series on the minor prophets. i am doing them in chronological order (although the order is a highly disputed thing, i am going by the order set forth by chuck swindol in my study bible because i needed to set the order before starting my research. however, i have been learning alot about the various possibilities for when the books were written and find the historical and archealogical debate fascinating.. anyone want to discuss? didnt think so)

if you speak german, it was recorded, and i am more than happy to give you the mp3. otherwise, i will just post my outline in the comments again like last week.

breach-in part 2

so this is scary.. karo and ben's apartment was broken into again today. they weren't home, luckily, but it was the middle of the afternoon! the door was broken out and distroyed. but the person who so violently forced their way in did not take anything. they are worried that the break-in might not be theft related, but rather someone with a personal grudge against them. so, they moved back into the hope house.

09 October 2008

week of bah

it started last wednesday night when my street groups meeting went bad. i recently took over leadership (we were a team, now it is just me) for it, which is ok.. but now the group is backing out of the concept. they don't really support the idea anymore of being an outreach centered bible study group for people from the streets. they want a more cuddly group to talk about their day in.

then friday i expected andreas for a visit... but he didn't come. he called at night to say he wasn't feeling well.

so then the stuff from my last post...and on wednesday karo flipped out for some reason, started yelling at the guys and locked herself in the basement. the rest of the day was highly intense and ended with parts of our house needing costly and tedious paint repairs.

so this afternoon they went back to their apartment. and moerssl went off to look after uli and kai's place while they are away, and matze went to his girlfriends, and hannah is still out of town... and i took this picture at about 1:30am. the brothel in front of my house had a not quite so peaceful visit from a rather inebriated man who alieved himself of several bodily fluids in grand style over most of their property, inside and out. there insued much commotion and the scrubbing away of blood. he was taken off in an ambulance still calling out over his tied-down shoulder "and the address of the girl? someone get me the ad...."there were at least three police cars and more than 8 cops. plus the ambulance team. the cops also hit a vw bus that was parked there. so.. a quiet night home alone.

there was so much drama this week that this report only begins to hit on it all... but if i were to tell more, people would stop believing it real and think i am talking about a soap opera...

07 October 2008

friends in need...

yesturday was a really krass day.

first, kelly (my best friend in high school) let me know that lilly (my best friend in bremen the past few years who married him and they moved to the wrong continent!! not my plan!!) was in the hospital.. she had really bad stomache pains and was throwing up. not good! so they did some tests and what not, and she was admitted.. it's not food poisening (as we'd hoped) and they don't know the cause. so please add her to your prayers. (and if you want the gory details and know them, call them..)

then, at 1 a.m. my phone rang.. karo (my best friend in bremen now that lilly ran away) and ben's (her husband) apartment was aparently broken into.. she had gotten up to use the loo and seen a man at the base of the stairs.. its a little unclear how that could be, but she was a bit scared and they didn't want to stay at home. so they (and ben's little sister) came and spent the night at the hope house. they were still shook up and couldn't sleep, so after i got their beds ready, we had a prayer session and then talked and looked at photos almost all night long. *yawn* they will probably stay here until its cleared up and they have changed the locks.

so what's up with that? are the rest of my friends all ok? leigh? kate? (andreas was fine) nothing happened yesturday, i hope..

02 October 2008

sheets against homelessness

i cannot even begin to explain how in love i am with these sheets. maybe that's hard to understand.. but i do work with homeless. this project is about raising awareness for the homeless (and they even donate part of each sale to homeless shelters around the world). but it's more than that.. i grew up with a rather special relationship to cardboard. it never really left. the sheets are only printed to look like boxes, they are actually high quality cotton. oh man, i really want to sleep on that bed..