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.

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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?

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.

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!]