Coffee Shop Acquisition

I think I have finally found my coffee shop.

I love having a coffee shop. Sablon_Fotor

Seriously! I work at a coffee shop back stateside, I love coffee ,and I love the environment that a good coffee shop can provide. Enough comfort that I can relax and enough people around that I feel like I need to be productive. Sablon3_FotorIt’s it adorable!?! My friend showed me this place a couple of weeks ago, and then the students came and I life got a little insane for a bit. After that Oklahoma Tornado left, I was able to settle back in, and I thought about this place. This is my 3rd time here this week, and it is now official, I love it. It can get a bit busy, but if you get here earlier enough, you’re good. And there are little plug-ins in super convenient places.Sablon2_Fotor There are also excellent seat right by the windows looking out to the street for days that I just want to read and enjoy a cup of coffee. Oh! And did I mention that the roast IN HOUSE! This place! I am going to miss it in a few months.

That’s really all for today. Things are going well. I went to one of the open air markets for fruits and veggies yesterday and I was very proud of my spoils from the trip.

Market Spoils_FotorAlso, I am teaching tonight at Youth so… Exciting! If it goes well, I might just post my notes from it on here tomorrow.

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Quick Photo Tour of My Day!

Bonjour mes amis!

Today I was able to spend some time walking around my town and enjoying some more of the town. Getting to traveling around and explore with the students last week motivated me to go exploring some more.

So I did.

Here are some of the results.

Enjoy!

Town1_FotorTown4_FotorTown5_Fotor

Town6_Fotor

Town7_Fotor

This was a beyond delightful cup of coffee! It was a Costa Rican Monte Brisas – Red Honey Processed! DELISH! Naturally sweet, smooth as can be, big flavor but still mild… Not really sure how that works but…

 Town8_Fotor

Town 3_FotorI snagged the picture above real quick on the Metro because it seemed like a perfect representation of this city. A mix of what you would expect from Europe, with the infusion of Muslim culture, complete with the tension between the two. Had to snap it.

Shenanigans with my Students

I tried guys… I tried really hard. But the students were only here for 5 full days and we busy all week. Their schedule was packed trying to get everything in. One of them said he’s take care of the update for me… so here is his contribution for us all.

IMG_0951Hi this is Jackson I’m not going to use any punctuation during this because I just don’t feel like it. Except for periods because they are necessary. Blog finished. 🙂 have a fabulous day, you are all beautiful… almost all of you 😉 jk all of the pretty ones.

Well… Teenagers. Gotta love em. – Isn’t he great! ❤

Sorry for the delay in updating. I had been prepping for the student team and then they were here, and now they are gone! So I have spent the past week with 9 of my wonderful students. Having them here with me has been so refreshing and relaxing. IMG_7856Here is quick run down of all that we did.

Sunday I spent the day having lunch with women from the Food Bank and it was Moroccan style so delicious and non-stop eating for about 3-4 hours. This was such an amazing time of being invited into this amazing woman’s home and getting to struggle through French and just share love with these amazing women. The students did prayer walking in the city and just tried to stay awake to kick that Jet Lag.

Monday the Students helped up with English Classes and set up a Doctors Office, Train Station and then a Restaurant. Student Team 5It was really great to see them be so open with the students in the class and bold in speaking with them. We also spent time prayer walking in the city in a heavily Muslim area and in a red-light district. This was a really great time for me because I got to really see the students hearts and one of the students and I talked for a long time about what God has been doing in her life and how He has been calling her in different ways.

Student Team 7

Tuesday the students has an Amazing Race style scavenger hunt where they ran all over town and had to find their way without help. It was interesting to see them get excited about their victories and then struggle when they got lost or frustrated. IMG_7929 I am so bad at not helping, but Dr. Willie kept me in check. It is a valuable skill for them to learn to be able to find their way through a city, ask or help and learn public transportation systems. Then that evening we did some prayer walking and had a night on the town.

Wednesday we had our Youth English Classes and the students just killed it again. That evening was probably my favorite night of the week. We had all the students get together, Belgian and American, and we played games and just hung out, but then we had a great time of sharing testimonies and of the students telling about what God was doing in their lives. The honesty with which my students from home shared with was amazing, and truly, the Belgian students too. I was just so amazed by their transparency and honesty, and by what God was doing in their lives.  IMG_0987I was also beyond excited to see my two guy students maintaining relationships this night and really reaching out a friend of theirs who is not a Christian and being intention in loving him and speaking Truth to him. I am so proud of those boys.

Thursday we took them to a Arab Market and just let them enjoy that cultural experience. Then we went to the food bank and the students got to serve and learn to struggle through language barrier and communicate regardless. I was so impressed with their willingness to jump in and go for it. Then we came back to my apartment and prepared for Next Level with the Belgian students. It was crazy doing a study of the Word in French and English,but it was great.Student Team 10 All the students were giving their input and being involved. It was wonderful.

Friday, yesterday, they flew out early. Now all I have to remember them is the memories, picture (as you can see) and this one lonely bag that was left with me. IMG_1009

I’ll stop there, but I could go on for pages and pages about these kids and how great they were and how much fun we had. I just love them. It’s kinda crazy.

Beyond what’s been going on the student team, I am just trying to figure out all the things that I am supposed to be doing and just trying spend quality time with the Lord. We always need the Lord, but for me, it is beyond apparent for me when I am here. I need Him everyday when I leave my flat to be able to be effective and intentionally. Distractions lie everywhere. I am trying to phase out my social media back some, but kick it up here in Belgium with the students here. I finished my study of 2 Timothy which was a really great place to start when I got here, and now I am moving on to Colossians.

I’ll be updating again soon, hopefully.

Praises

  • This was such an amazingly refreshing week for me with my students here. I don’t think I can even begin to thank God for them and the joy they brought to me this week.
  • I am getting more comfortable trying to speak out in French and being OK with failing.
  • I have been getting some positive responses to wanting to hang out and study the Word together so that should kicking off strongly very soon.

Request

  • That the students would not just return to normal this week as they get back into school and life. That this experience and time here will draw them closer to the Lord and that this change they way they look at their ministries at home and the impact they can have on their schools and communities.
  • I will be teaching at Youth this upcoming Friday about a sensitive situation that has come up. They sought me out specifically because of my counseling experience. Please be lifting that up.
  • Always, always…. LANGUAGE. Especially with Youth Camp coming up here in a few weeks.

Question for you: (I am enjoying getting to know my readers more and more!)

What was the most life changing experience that you have ever had?

How did it change you?

Numbers 11:23 (Has My Arm Lost Its Power)

This is my first reblog… I don’t generally reblog… So read it. This is good Truth!

THE RIVER WALK

Has My Arm Lost its power

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Has my arm lost its power? Now you will see whether or not my word comes true!” (Numbers 11:23)

Read: Numbers 10:1 – 11:23, Mark 14:1-21, Psalm 51:1-19, Proverbs 10:31-32

hydro1Relate: For a good couple years, a lifetime for a young boy, my favorite toy was this G I Joe boat I got for Christmas. The gift was a shock and a surprise. It wasn’t what I asked for but rather something far bigger and more expensive. Every year my parents would give my sister and I a JC Penny catalog and we would go through the toys section and write out our Christmas list. I would write out a page or two worth of stuff and a couple of those items would somehow manage to find their way into boxes under the tree at Christmastime. Toe this day I can’t figure out how my parents managed to…

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Adventures in Bookstores and Lost Coffee Shops

Some days are just more adventurous than others…

Yesterday was a BEAUTIFUL 17 degree day (celsius friends… it’s like 63 F back in ‘Merica) here and so a bunch of the guys are going to go have a football (soccer) match. Kam and I decide that because it is so beautiful, we’ll go watch and relax in the park. That is when the adventure starts. They has already left so i was going to meet them where they we going. Then the location changed. And so I head for the new location, being given directions by Kam via text, and they change it again. So them I find a place I kinda know and begin to wait for them, because they said they’ll come pick me up in a car.  So I wait… and wait. Then BOOM, there they were. We then sped off for the park and run in circles a bit trying to find parking and the rest of the group.

Kam, Kelly and I take a wonderful little walk through a couple of parks near by. I am pretty sure the parks here are mostly connected to another park, so we walked through like 3 parks in a matter of like 30 minutes. The parks here are beautiful and there were so many people out because of the nice weather, so its was a really great time.

Football in the Park_Fotor Park - Bridge_Fotor

Then, some of my dear Romanian friends came over that even and we shared a meal, caught up on life and played some Resistance, because what is a night with my Romanians without a couple a rousing games of Resistance. [For those who do know know… Resistance is a FANTASTIC game that is kinda like Mafia but way better. Check out the website if you wanna know more. http://www.indieboardsandcards.com/resistance.php%5D

Today turned out to be adventurous as well. I just wanted to go to a coffee shop I found online, but it was not that simple. I end up wandering all over this part of town trying to find it, only to realize that it was IN this mall right here. So I head into the mall, which I like just about as much as I like malls back home (not at all) and search all over the mall for this coffee shop. CANNOT FIND IT. Like for serious. Here is where the adventure comes in. I see a bookstore, and I am just naturally drawn to it. I have been wanting to try to read a book in french (keyword, try) and I thought, “Well, I if I cannot have coffee, I will at least have a book.” So i go in. While looking at the books, trying to decide if i think I am muddle through Hunger Games or Divergent, I see L’Élue, and read the back description and realize, it’s Gathering Blue, by my lovely Lois Lowry… I then realize I have to find The Giver! It would be a great book to read! YES! So I start looking for the book… falsely assuming that it would be called Le Donateur, because thats the direct translation. Cannot find it (it’s a theme today – Maybe I’ll call today Le Perdu). So I give it on The Giver. CoffeeCafeBook_FotorI then decided I want Divergent, but the copy I find is in Flemish. BAH! I gather my courage and decide to ask the sales women for a copy in french. Victory, I find myself with a copy of Divergent in French and I begin to feel confident. So I decide I really want The Giver, or maybe I just don’t want this book store to beat me like the lost coffee shop did. So I once again gather my courage and have a Franglish conversation, mostly French, with the sales women, determine that the first book in the series in French is in fact call, Le Passeur (which translates to either the Ferryman or the Smuggler… which kinda, maybe makes sense), and take my love Lowry book instead of Divergent. Mme Rule would be proud! Then I see an escalator that I did not see before, ride it up to an even further victory and find the coffee shop I was looking for. It’s been a good day.

Overall, I have been doing really well. Just getting into the swing of things in Belgium and forging my own schedule and plans. This week is going to be a good week for me a to do some really great planning done, as well as begin to meet with different girls in the youth group. Next week is going to be insane, but great, because my Youth Group kids from the States will be here. It’s going to throw a wrench in planning and trying to regularly meet with people, but its going to be nice to see them and teach them more about serving and doing life in a different culture.

Praises:

  • I am feeling really well adjusted and comfortable where I am. (This also means its think to kick things into gear with planning and get to work.)
  • I have been able to meet with some of my friends here and I have already seen good come from these times together.
  • I have been able to spend time with most of the people I have been wanting to see, so that has been awesome.

Request:

  • That the students I am trying to meet with and mentor will be excited about it and make time for study of the Word. School schedules can be demanding, plus just life in general, so pray that these students would make this a priority.
  • That my French would continue to improve. The more my language improves the more useful I am. Plain and simple. There is one girl now that I would love to meet with, but she does not speak English and my french is not good enough for mentoring yet so… I just need constant growth in language.
  • That I would keep restfulness in mind. I tend to struggle with this and it’s going to be easy to allow busyness to creep in as things progress.

Settling In with Settlers – My New Normal

The beginning part of this week has been quite nice and a definite respite from the usually routine of pure chaos that has been my life this past year. I have enjoyed having the time to think and meditate on scripture. To savor my time with the Lord, rather than just try to cram it my busy day. I know this unique time where I have the ability to enjoy a more relaxed schedule, so I will take it.

I have be settling in well and I have made multiple trips across and about town solo at this point, so I am feeling capable and comfortable in my city. I know my metro and tram stops and even how to get to H&M [Go ahead, be jealous Okies!] I have my keys, metro card and even a SIM card for my an old iPhone so I can call and text my friends here. I am finally feeling here. It’s a nice feeling.

Yesterday I was able to grab a taste of familiar when I ventured into town to one of the few Starbucks in town. I know, I know. I am in Europe, Why would I go to Starbucks! Because the coffee I had I did not like, and I know that I can get some whole bean coffee I like at Starbucks. My next coffee can be more adventurous, but I didn’t know where else to get coffee except a grocery store, so Starbucks it is.

sbuxcoffee_FotorAnd Starbucks may have been tourist move, but sipping on my Flat White and looking over and seeing this view, I decided that I did not care.

Isbuxplace_Fotor

Today was nice as well. I was able to run into town to replace a couple of pairs of jeans that I had brought with me that ripped on the flight over and the other day while I was out. Yes, you read that right, two of the three pairs of jeans I brought with me ripped before my first week in Belgium was out. Functioning with only two pairs of jeans was gonna be a struggle, but only one… just not a battled I wanted to fight today. So instead, I went to H&M and replaced by ripped jeans.

Then I came home and made dinner for a dear friend of mine. He was one of the first people I met, and befriended, while in Belgium, and it has been wonderful maintaining that friendship over the past two years. I made dinner, which was great for my portions sizes, but I forgot I was feeding a 20-something man, so I did not make enough. Crepes_Fotor I saw some apples on top of my fridge and decided that we needed to make a quick trip to the grocery store. We returned with crêpes in hand and even I was impressed with how good my crêpes were. [Note: I did not make the crêpes themselves, just the filling. Thus we went to the store to buy the crêpes, because that is what you do in Belgium! Unless you are awesome and make your own, which I am obviously not.] I am telling you DELICIOUS! I want another one right now.

Anyway, then I introduced my friend to a wonderful game. Settlers of Catan. He loved it! Which is super fun for me to be able to teach him, and having some friends to be able to play board games with.

Catan_FotorAnd if you are wondering, he won the first games, and I won the second.

I am heading to bed, a busy couple of days coming up, so I need my rest.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to subscribe via e-mail for the easier way to stay updates on my time here in Belgium! It’s up there to your right on the screen, level with the title of this post.

Book Review: Honor and Shame

Hello World,

As you saw on my last post, I have a very large list of books that I want to read and I am quite happy about it. so, I thought that while I do this, I would post Book Reviews of the books that I read. Not a full on dissection, or any award winning anything, but something to help me remember the key points, share them, and promote the books that I think rock (or warn against the ones I don’t.)

So, here’s the first one.

Honor & Shame

by Roland Muller

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This book was first suggested to me by my friend V when I shared my love for Muslims and sharing truth with them. It has been a book that has been on the back burner for a while, and before I came on this trip I decided it was time to finally read it.

This writer outlines three main world-views in which people filter their beliefs and views. These are broken up amongst three main cultural divisions, guilt-based, fear-based and shame-based. The books then explains each of these world-views and provides a means of effective sharing the Gospel in a way that best connect with individuals in this culture.

We, as Americans, tend to live in a predominantly guilt-based and view things based on a legal model that tends to focus on right vs. wrong. When applied to the Gospel, we tend to focus on our guilt before the Lord and how Christ took our judgement and declared us not guilty and we stand innocent before God. There are aspects of the Bible that speak very VERY clearly to this, Romans for example, because it was written to Rome, which pretty much ushered in the whole legal/guilt-based trend (and Greece too). But this is not true for all cultures.

The book then takes a look the other two forms, starting with fear-based. Fear-based cultures tend to be those we would see in areas that have heavy spiritualism and heavy involvement with the supernatural world. These people believe “that gods and spirits exist in the universe and they must live in peace with these unseen powers, either by living quietly, or by appeasing their powers” (p.42). This is common is jungle areas of Africa, South America, Borneo and other places where fear of the spiritual world reigns. Christian Missionaries have been pretty effective in these areas because having power in Christ is something that we understand well and is easier for us to understand fear.

Next, and for the majority of the book, Muller looks at shame-based cultures. This is much harder for western-minded individuals to understand because it defies the right vs. wrong mentality we cling to. People within shame-based cultures do not focus on the rightness, or correctness, of an action, rather they look at if the action will bring shame. Also, when shame in given, it does not simply affect the individual, but their family and their tribe. We are highly individualistic in western cultures, so this focus on the group mentality and setting a higher priority on the groups shame and honor, rather than our own happiness and comfort is beyond our sphere of knowledge. In order to understand shame-based cultures, it requires intentionality that not all westerners are willing to put forth. In shame-based cultures, shame is more than a feeling or emotion, but rather a position within society,

Muller then goes into depth about Islam and how Shame and Honor play pivotal roles in their culture. He looks at what brings shame, and what brings honor. He then address the roles of honor and shame in the Bible and how clearly the theme of God removing shame and restoring honor is within scripture (Lev 26:13 for one). Finally, He shows how each of these elements, guilt, fear and shame, are a result of the sin and that the Lord does not address just one of these aspects as he restores us to Himself, but He addresses all of them and this is how we are fully restored before the Lord, free of guilt, free of fear and free of shame, because God takes out guilt and leave us innocent, takes our fear and gives us power and removes our shame and bestows us with honor! That is the Gospel. All elements are important to understand, but some resonate with our world-view and culture better.

Muller ends the books with the following quote “The church of Jesus Christ has the message and the methods to relate to ever worldview and every culture in the world. In this book I have simply attempted to unlock the door to our understanding of guilt-, shame-, and fear-based cultures… It is now your duty, as a servant of the Lord Jesus, to open the door” (Pg 110-111).

[Note: This book does not say that any one of these cultural world-views is right or wrong, just different. When we begin to understand how people see things different, we can better love, communicate and know others.]

I hope you all enjoy this book as much as I have!

[Also, don’t worry! I will be posting an update on life things either today or tomorrow!]

All the reading!!!

I just wanted to take a quick minute to share with your ALL my books that I am planning on reading in the near future…

Be jealous.

The two titles you cannot read are Finish the Mission and The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World both by John Piper.

That’s all… I’m gonna try to sleep instead of read all night.

P.S. John Piper gives away tons of his books for free as ebooks if you are interested or want them. (www.DesiringGod.org)

Day one!

Day one (or two… depending on how you are counting.)

I made it safely and easily with no mishaps and I was even able to sleep a little bit on the plane. I also watched When the Game Stands Tall and My Best Friends Wedding, one of my favorite movies.

[So… if you know me in real life, you know I have this crazy loud boisterous laugh that I can’t always control. Well, I figured out where it came from! Julia Roberts has that laugh and when I was younger I idolized her and wanted to be just like her. That’s what caused me to start wanting to dye my hair red. Just saying…]

Sorry, side tracked by talk of Julia Roberts… hate to say its really not that abnormal.

So, since landing and getting to the flat, I have unpacked, had breakfast, spent some time reading in 2 Timothy, started my Piyo DVD program and did some Cardio X from P90X, but mostly just the Kenpo X stuff. I also showered, did my hair even put make-up on. Now, I am writing a post. Pretty much anything to avoid going to sleep and to ward off jet lag.

Oh the dreaded jet lag. My first trip, it was SO BAD that I was falling asleep every time I sat down. Now, I have learned better how to handle it, and I know that I need to be active and sweat. Last year we went for a run that day and the difference it made was insane. So I wanted to run today, but it didn’t work out well so… DVD workouts in the flat.

Then, I had lunch with K and discussed what things would be looking like for the next few months. Finally, we went off to english class for the youth and I was able to help K and R with that portion of what I will be helping with.

God is doing a lot of big things here and I am so thrilled to be able to be a part of it.

Much Love

Be praying, please, for:

Language – French is HARD!

That I would long to spend ever more time in the Word

For the Lord to speak clearly and to hear clearly what He would have me to do.

[P.S. – Please don’t expect daily blog post… I cannot manage that – lets just be real. If you subscribe (over there to the right,) you will get an e-mail when I post then you can read it!]

[P.P.S. – The photo below is an example of why I have the best friends in the World!]

Morgan Letter

Twas the Night Before Belgium…

Twas the night before Belgium

And all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring

Except for a Morgan.

The bags all packed

By the front door with care

With Prayers

The Jesse and her

Could make it the airport.

The snow has come quick

And mounted with ease

While Morgan whined loudly

Wishing snow to be gone.

[Hope you enjoyed that… it just came to me… Because I am a dork like that.]

ANYWHO…

It’s here.

The night before I leave.

I cannot believe that in 12 hours I will be on a plane heading for Belgium.

For three months!

This is just insanity – of the best sort.

I am so excited and honestly, these past few days, I have been absolutely blown away by the kindness, love and generosity of my friends and those in my life. Even my Middle Schoolers… they have been sending me the most encouraging text and letters. I am amazed. Simply blown away.

The Lord is so good.

I learned a long time ago that on my own, I am not well liked and I am not very likable. [I am OK with this assessment of myself – don’t worry, my self-esteem and all such things are fine, I am stating fact.] However, The Lord has been so faithful to me and has grown me into this person that people love. [Hope that doesn’t come across as prideful… oh gosh!] Seriously though, I grew up in my hometown being generally disliked and picked on, and now the Lord has been so gracious to give me favor is so many environments and so many people that love me and show me love that I cannot even begin to process it. I look at my friends sometimes and just ask they, “Why do you fools even like me?” or “I still cannot believe that you wanted to be my friend.” I really ask these questions… and I know that it must be because of the Lord being faithful, gracious and loving. There is not other reason I can even begin to accept or believe.

So unending thanks to God, my Lord, for his Faithfulness in loving me, despite how broken I am, and for giving me the privilege of my friends, my church and this call to Belgium. I don’t deserve such extravagant gifts, but He gives anyway.

So… anyway.

T-Minus 12 hours…

Until I Fly Away.

Woah!

Keep up with me on here because I will be trying to update regularly.