Last week I lived in a castle in Germany. It’s the YWAM base Hurlach, close to Kaufering, Germany. The picture here is of Katia Anderson, the daughter of Craig and Sharon Anderson who head up the school in Modling, Austria. She has a contagious spirit and more energy than she knows what to do with. *smile*
Living in a castle was so appropriate because God has been trying to get through to me that I’m His princess. He wants me to know, understand and believe that my identity is found in Him. I thought I was coming to this school in order to get to work or “down to business”, when in actuality God wants me to rest and simply BE His daughter. I’m not good at resting as most of you know. Yep, I hop on one plane and then on another traveling around the world and booking my summer full of many good things. Now, it’s time to stop. To BE. And to absorb and receive all that God has for me here in Modling. I have to be honest that occasionally I’m stressed in trying to communicate to you all of what’s going on in my mind and heart. The best way to describe it right now is in a quote from Elizabethtown: “I think I’ve been asleep most of my life” (—Claire Colburn). There are many truths that I knew in my head that I’m on the edge of knowing them deeply in my heart. There are days when I feel a blindfold has been taken off and I see God, myself and the world I live in differently. But it’s not this emotional high, it’s foundational, lies that are being dug up and Truth replanted. I will try the best I can each week to articulate change and what I’m learning. But I do appreciate your patience and understanding.
A special treat of living in this castle for the week were the friendships I took with me. Saskia, pictured here with her guitar, is such a precious woman of God. She can hardly speak English, yet didn’t hesitate in trying her best to communicate with me. What a humbling act. When we prayed together, her in German and me in English, there was a unity that went beyond language.
Here is another friend, Karolin. For one of our ministry evenings we had to share a sacrfice of worship. Neither one of us like going through these type of sharing times in front of large groups. I sang a song in German (sacrificing my pride because I don’t speak German well) and she played a beautiful song on the piano. Even before the night began we were discussing how much we didn’t want to do this, but in the end found ourselves praying for each other. And the evening could be described as powerful and sweet!
Viola and Anka were two more students that attended this Germany school. Anka had a deep desire to learn to write and speak English. She asked me many questions about how to say something in English. I need to imitate her hunger for English in learning German. Pray for me in that area!
While we were there our Austria YWAM base, students, leader, purpose, city, town, country, youth, and I could go on and on were prayed for. It seemed that every day in one way or another someone (whether a Germany staff member or student) sought out to pray for me. That’s what I call pray without ceasing. When you think you’ve prayed enough, pray again and again and again. There’s never too much prayer, any day!
swan lake and switzerland
On Friday I began another adventure by traveling to Friedrichshafen, Germany to visit Ashley Holden at Bodenseehof. Ashley was one of the high school girls I mentored in a small group for the last two years. She actually traveled with me to Austria in May 2005 to visit her sister Sarah at another Bible school, Tauernhoff. I also had Sarah in my small group for two years. These girls and their family are quite special to me. It was a gift to be able to see her!
I didn’t have any trouble getting from train to train and making it to Friedrichshafen. The area Ashley is going to Bible school in is right on the edge of Lake Constance. Funny thing, but this day I could call it “Swan Lake” because there were swans right there in front of me.
Ashley isn’t the only student I knew there. Another Pulpit Rock student, Michelle Brown is also attending. Here is a pic of Michelle (on the left) and Ashley on our ferry to Switzerland. Yes, you cross the lake and find yourself in Switzerland. We spent Saturday there, specifically in St. Gallen. I bought myself some Swiss dark chocolate! Yum!
This is a sign in the train station along with the Swiss flag. I thought it was a fun picture. Maestrani was a guy known for making Swiss chocolate.
Sad, but true: we were thrilled to get Starbucks. Ashley actually got two coffees while we were in Switzerland. She decided to take the to-go cups back with her to school and use them in the morning for coffee and tea at breakfast. *smile*
Finally, our day in Switzerland came to an end and we took the ferry back to Germany. When we got off the boat and went through border control one of the workers asked me if I was on a holiday from Switzerland. I said, “No, Austria.” Then he was really confused. So, he decided to give me a passport stamp saying I had arrived in Germany.
trains, trains and more trains
Heading back to Austria held more adventure than getting to Friedrichshafen, and even little blessings. I left Bodenseehof before church ended, grabbed my backpacks and went to wait for the bus. The bus came right on time and I guess the driver was feeling generous because he didn’t make me pay to ride. My train left at 12:29 and I had an hour to wait at the station. I wrote cards and watched people and continued to pull out the day’s train itinerary so I’d know which platform I’d need to be at next for the train to get to such and such. I made it to Ulm on my first train and found out that because of railway construction in Munich most trains were delayed at least an hour. I found the service desk and had to get a new itinerary that added another train to the five I’d already be traveling on that day. Yep, six trains to get me back to Austria. With each train and stop I found my prayer life increasing. I think public transportation is really good for your prayer life. You find yourself praying for the most minute details, like having a seat and being able to open the train door when it comes time to get off. Or being able to get on the train successfully without getting knocked over or knocking other people over because of the amount of stuff you’re carrying. Have you ever prayed about details like that?
Ulm to Augsburg to Munich. Finally in Munich I got on a train that I’d stay on for 4.5 hours. It took me all the way to Vienna. In Vienna I knew I’d have to buy another train ticket to get me to the suburbs (Modling). I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do that close to where the trains arrived and departed or if I’d have to go inside. I prayed I’d be able to do it right there because I knew I wouldn’t have much time (like 7 minutes) to catch my next train.
We arrived in Vienna at Westbanhof and I saw on my watch that I had already missed my train to Meidling which then would connect me to another train to Modling. I know confusing, but stick with me. But I still decided to run and see. I ran to platform two to find that the train hadn’t left. I used some of the only German I knew which translated into : “Do you speak English?” (Yes, embarassing and very American.) I explained to one of the workers that I didn’t have a ticket and asked if I could get one on the train. He waved me on. I didn’t know that I really couldn’t buy a ticket on the train. The guy took my ticket and wrote a message on it in German getting me all the way to Modling for free. I didn’t pay anything! Then when we got to the next train station he told me what train to get on next. I smiled really big and thanked him a ton!
When I arrived in Modling I couldn’t help but sing worship songs. I was so glad to be off of any train it didn’t matter so much at first that I didn’t know how to get back to our house. Then, a few minutes later I did. *smile* I believe God led me to one of the two street names I knew. Praying that there really is some sort of a grid system in Modling I followed that street and found the other street I knew. I made it back after 12 hours of traveling about 11 p.m. on Sunday night. Even as we’re studying this week on the kingdom of God I’m realizing that God is my Provider, but even more than that He’s my Friend. He meets me in the details even as deeply humorous and personal as they may be. I don’t want to take God too casually, but sometimes His friendship is exactly what I need whether I’m on a train, bus, in another country or even surrounded by my dearest family and friends!