Sunday, December 30, 2012

July 15th: And so we say, "Goodbye!"

Sunday, July 15

**This is going to be a long post, so carve out some time if you want to read it! :)**

Today we were all excited, because instead of breakfast in the courtyard again, we were to have breakfast at fancy restaurant. This of course, meant a little bit of a trek, but we were all ecstatic about it.
We walk in and find out that it is a very trendy, and expensive restaurant. I was SO excited!
The restaurant had reserved the whole entire back part of the restaurant for our group. There were four spots at each table. Sarah and I found a table along a far wall and sat by ourselves, just chatting it up. Mostly talking about our horrible luck with guys, which was both hilarious and terribly depressing.
A fruit bowl with kiwis, apples, and bananas sat in the middle of each table, and at each seating was a glass of orange juice and a small croissant of to the corner, near the glass of OJ.
The waiters came around to each table offering coffee and hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was quite a bit different than I am used to. It wasn't very sweet at all, but had more of a bitter taste to it. Not horrible, just not exactly what anyone was expecting.
Then again, we had to remember our 5 syllable mantra, "We're not in 'Merca!"(aka: We're not in America).
Our "fancy" croissant breakfast
The fruit bowl.
After our croissant breakfast, we headed to 11 am church service at Hotel Warwick.
There was a very powerful move of God in the worship portion of the service.
Linsey had a singing special, and she blew the roof off of that church (metaphorically, of course). She did a fantastic job, and it was a very anointed performance.
After Linsey's song, the sign team, consisting of John, Megan, Britney and Kelsey, did a spectacularly moving performance to "Jesus Said It".
God just moved in that place. It was like a wave through the congregation. Really indescribable.
Here's the link for the signing of "Jesus Said It":

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=4388757842298&set=o.337161099668762&type=2&theater

A lady named Mia, who Sis.Mann has been talking with and working with, returned from last night's service.
She asked Sis. Mann if she could talk to the group after the service. Mia stood in front with Sis. Mann and told us about how she has been in Geneva for over 13 years, and how in all of that time, this was her first Apostolic experience. She talked about how she was walking around town this week, when she heard one of the groups of young people singing and how she literally felt the presence of God. Mia went on to say how she was feeling very sad and depressed at that moment in time, before hearing the singing. She was caught off guard by what she felt, and decided to move a little closer to the group. She went closer and was handed a flier. She told us how she felt God upon receiving the flier and how she could see Him with the choir as they sang. Mia began to get emotional as she thanked us for traveling so far to bless Geneva and told us what a blessing this experience has been to her.
Hearing Mia said this really touched our group, and really encouraged me. I had been feeling a little frustrated and confused by the fact that more people had not accepted the word or attended services, or received the Holy Ghost. I had expected this trip to warrant a full on, blow out revival, and well...that's not what happened. It was in that moment that I realized how wrong my perspective had been. This trip was worthwhile, even if Mia was the only one who's life was changed (she wasn't the only one, but for the sake of this argument just humor me).
Mia speaking to the group
Sis. Mann (left), with Mia (right).
Switzerland in essence is a Godless country. People don't think they need God, and are overall Atheist or Catholic in nature. In general, we received a very cold reception.
Here's the thing, God is still God, and God is good. Hungry souls were still led to the services, people were still filled with the Holy Ghost.
***In fact, there were a total of 25 visitors. 3 of those visitors received the Holy Ghost and 1 was renewed. 4 Bible Studies were started (and counting).***
I think that's something to be proud of.
After Mia spoke, Sis. Mann told us how very proud of us she was and how different this trip was from every other trip that she and her husband have been on. She told us not to be discouraged by the low number of people who received the Holy Ghost, and not to compare the results with those of other AYC trips from this year. This trip was not like the other trips in the other locations. Sis. Mann explained that the other trips were reaping the harvest of hungry souls and explained how we were not a part of the harvest, but that our work was to sow the seed of revival. She said that this trip made an impact and that our efforts were not in vain, but that we were actually doing the groundwork for what will explode into a revival. She said this trip changed her life and she is excited about what will come of our efforts in the future. <--I Believe that!

After the morning service, we all got our cameras out and began going frantic, because we really realized how quickly time was escaping us. We wanted to savor every possible photo op, and we did.
Here are a few of the pictures:



Sis. Mann (left), Me, Bro. Mann (right)

Oh and there was this crazy, possessed lady that kept following the Manns around. She came to all of our services and had a horn that she hung from her neck and sounded periodically throughout the service.
She ended up gifting the horn to Sis. Mann (pictured below):


After the last minute pictures, we had a few free hours to go sightseeing before dinner/end of trip ceremonies.
Everyone divided up into groups. The group I went with consisted of: Natalie, Cassie, Kayla, Cody, Tanner, Daniel, Kim--I hope I didn't forget anyone.

After a while, some of us broke off from the group and wandered off. Sarah, Melinda, Kim, Kayla, and I went to Starbucks and just hung and tried to avoid the torrential downpour, which came out of nowhere. We took some pics with random statues and then we all went back to same restaurant we had breakfast at for our last dinner.
This, my friends, was a nice dinner.

During dinner I sat at a table with Kim, Natalie, and Sarah. We just chatted about a bunch of things. Conversation went from the personal to the spiritual, and back again. This is where I really got the chance to get to know Kim better.

Remember how the whole group was divided into smaller groups with a chaperone? I was in the group chaperoned by Bro. Stirnemann. One member from each group presented cards and thank you's to their chaperones. Our thank you card was presented by Naomi.
Afterwards, we said some heartfelt "goodbyes" to each other. More pics (DUH).
Naomi presenting thank you to Bro. Stirnemann (sharing some anecdotes)
Bro. Stirnemann
Bro and Sis. Sayers
Sis. Karina, the best translator in the world!!!

Bro. and Sis. Mestre of the Spanish speaking church in Lausanne
Back Row: Amanda (far left), Melinda, Me, Danita
Front: Linsey (left), Sarah (right)
Then we all went back to the hotel where we all hung out and got sentimental. A lot of people brought journals specifically meant for signatures, and we got signatures and phone numbers from as many people as we could. It really was a yearbook sort of scenario.

Then Cassie started filming a group of us for a music video spoof of "Call Me Maybe" (one of the trip theme songs, don't ask why...I don't have the answer).
The video is here:


After the filming, I just walked around talking with as many people as possible and getting signatures. Then somehow Amanda and I ended up with Kim in her room and we had a straight up prayer session, it was truly amazing. That scripture in Matthew 18:20, "For where two or three are gathered in my name, I'm there with them" is so true. God showed up.

I don't remember what all else happened. I know that we stayed up long past our curfews, just hanging onto our last few hours together.
Saying goodbye tomorrow will be so surreal.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Things Lost In the Storm

I know, I know! I still have to finish my Switzerland posts. I apologize to any of you who actually read this blog. I promise, I will get to those last few days of the trip before the end of the year (pathetic, I agree).

Anyways, I wrote this a few hours ago and couldn't help but feel like I should share it.
This isn't exactly a poem, it's not exactly a writing... it's....well, I don't know what it is.
Read the ramblings of my mind, if you dare.


"Things Lost In the Storm" written 11/25/12

Storms.
These are deadly creatures.
Natural disasters that spew chaos and instigate a loss or losses of some sort and capacity.
Storms force growth... at least it does for those who were lucky enough to survive.
The living a face a new reality.
The reality that has emerged from the destruction.

In a lot of ways, this trial is a blessing that gives perspective.
A re-building period starts and mourning is placed on the back-burner; a pandora's box to be opened and dealt with at a later date and time.

If you are unwise, you may periodically take a peek into the box and long after the things that are no more.
You might return to the cite and reminisce.
Perhaps you'll find an old trinket or two, meaningless and damaged items that will suddenly hold value to you.
You will convince yourself that these things are worth keeping, worth saving.
You'll find it harder and harder to leave these items behind and start your new life.
New beginnings are frightful, and you will want to return to the way things were.
In your mind, it will seem simpler.
Listen closely, and your heart will tell you a different story.
It will tell you to let go and move on.
It will tell you that there is nothing left for you here.

You'll compare the two realities and you will realize all of the things that you will have to live without, and it will break your heart.
Your chest will hurt and you will find it hard to breathe.
If you focus on the past for too long, you will stunt your  own growth and destroy all chances of success in your new environment.

So get up!
Dust yourself off.
Step away slowly and take a good look around you.
See things for what they really are.
See the unsalvageable ruins around you.
Take a deep breath.
Turn your back to the rubbish and keep on walking.
You'll live.
You might even flourish.
Finally you will realize that your life isn't over, in fact it's just beginning.
The transition won't be easy, but you know this.
It'll hurt.
You'll cry, you might even scream, but you will feel at peace.
After a while, you will realize what you really lost in that storm.
It was the old you.
You'll laugh and say, "Good Riddance!"
You will thank God and trust that there was a reason for all of those "things" lost in the storm.



Thursday, October 4, 2012

July 14th: The End is Near

It's been way too long since I have written, but I have just been so distracted by events that have taken place since my return home. Life can at times be so all consuming that you can really lose yourself.
This trip changed me. It altered my perspective on the world around me, and those who live in it. Those who I have allowed to frequent my world.
Without this experience, the life that I returned to would have completely decimated me.

With all of that being said, I think it's high time that I finish telling the rest of my adventures from the last half of my adventure in Switzerland.

Saturday, July 14
Things are taking on a completely different vibe now that the trip is winding down. It's an eerie feeling, really. At the beginning of the trip we were homesick and ready to go home, but now we are really resistant to leave. We have really only been here a short time, and I can only speak for myself; but I feel so insanely comfortable here. It really feels like a home away from home and part of my heart will stay behind when I leave this place. There's something special about this location and I feel like we are on the cusp of a real break through. I know we are doing something really important and even if we don't see the results during our time here, I know that things will just explode. Switzerland is ready for a revival. There are laborers in the field who have been praying and working on this place for some time now, and I believe that things will begin to form and take shape here in the very near future.

Today was a fairly relaxing and laid-back day in context to the rest of the trip.
We first congregated as one giant group and then we were told that we were allowed to explore the area as long as we used the "buddy system" and took someone with us from our initial "mini-group".
Rebekah Stearns and I decided to buddy up. We had an allotted amount of time to wander and then get ourselves some lunch before we were required to meet up again with the rest of our mini-group to continue passing out tracks and ministering in public places.
Bekah and I were determined to find something a little more outside-of-the-box for lunch, as neither of us could even process the idea of ingesting another sandwich. So we wandered....and wandered....and wandered some more. Pretty soon we only had half-an-hour left until we had to meet up with the others. The only food places we had spotted along the way were either sandwich shops (DIE sandwich, DIE) or they were way over and beyond our price range.
We enjoyed our mini-adventures and had a great time chatting, but we still needed to find some food.
At this point, we had no choice but to eat at McDonalds.
And you know what? That's exactly what we did.
Rebekah Stearns enjoying her McDee's below:


Ok, so maybe we weren't too exhilarated about eating McDonald's over and over again whilst in a foreign country, but it ended up working out. Cassie, who wasn't feeling well, was there with her aunt and uncle (Bro. and Sis, Kelley). We had the opportunity to chat with them for a little bit and get to know them. We heard all sorts of great stories about Cassie's grandma and how she is the "linchpin" of the family. She must be a truly amazing lady.

After lunch we met up with the rest of the group in front of Starbucks, from there we walked to a park where the Grass Clock is located. We stood in front of the Grass Clock and sang for a while.

 
After some singing, Rebekah and I wandered off to see about some souvenir shopping at a nearby shop. We also had the opportunity to get to know Cassie better, as she had been sitting alone by herself in the shade. Poor girl was feeling super sick. It didn't help that it was super HOT that day. Rebekah had sun blisters all over the back of her neck. She wasn't the only one. People who didn't tan, were insanely red and some were even peeling. Tanner went off and got a ton of cold water bottles and handed the chilled bottles out to those who looked like they needed it most. How sweet, right?
Then somehow the group ended back in a park with a beautiful water fountain. Rebekah and I were so done with passing out fliers, so we decided to hang out with Aaron Hopkins instead and just talk, goof off, and wander the park. Is that bad? Maybe it is. I honestly don't care. It was nice to just talk and have fun. We talked about some pretty awkward things, and then Hector joined our group, but hey--we are in Europe and we have seen some pretty outrageous things here that are not as generally accepted in States. Get where I am going with this?
Amazing water fountain
         
Rebekah (left) and Aaron (Middle)



 Anyways, we wandered around for a while and Rebekah and I started pointing out all of the amazingly beautiful men and how unfortunate it was that they were probably all gay. Aaron laughed at us and mocked us for "lusting". Rebekah and I pointed out that we were definitely not "lusting", but that we weren't blind either. Was there a point in my sharing this with you all? Uh, probably not...
ignore those previous sentences.
 
Eventually, we ended up getting some pretty legit souvenir shopping done in a group including Zach, Michaela, Naomi and a bunch of others. I dropped like $103 American Dollars on gourmet chocolate. I am not remorseful at all, not one bit. In fact, if I had to go back, I would spend more $ on more chocolate, so that I could have enjoyed more for myself. The problem is that I could barely carry all of the things I bought. My gift bags were tearing in the corners and I had no idea how I would get everything back to the hotel. Plus, I didn't realize how annoying it would be to carry around a heavy bag full of souvenirs on top of my already heavy purse all over Switzerland for the rest of the evening. I probably should've thought ahead on that front.
 
Anyways, then we ended up in the dining hall again for dinner which was...interesting. Actually, I'm lying. It was actually a pretty good dinner except for the tomato. I'm not sure what was up with that tomato. From the looks of it, it looked like a breaded/stuffed tomato, which I was quite excited about. Instead, it was a full tomato that was still hot from being stewed and it just had some random breadcrumbs on top. I burned my mouth and the hot tomato juice ended up everywhere!
What a deceptive tomato.
Dinner of salmon, bread, rice and the evil, deceptive tomato
After dinner Sarah, Amanda, and myself went outside to practice a special that Sarah felt a burden on her heart for us to sing during service tonight. It's a totally new song for me, but a beautiful and powerful one. The name of the song is: "Awesome". I literally learned it in one day, which was nerve-wrecking and it's hard to figure out how to harmonize on a song that you never heard.
 
 
Ok let's fast forward to service. I was asked by Sis. Kelley to praise sing during service, because she heard me sing during our concert in the park earlier and asked if i would do the alto part. I was so suprised and so honored! I got to praise sing the alto part w/my buddy Melinda (who is a giant).
Then shortly after, our group (Sarah, me, Amanda, Linsey, and Michaela) got up and sang "Awesome" which was....wait for it.....awesome. I mean, there were a few glitches in the program, but I suppose it wouldn't be as entertaining if it all went perfectly.
 
Then after that, the choir performed, which literally meant that I sang the entire service. Talk about giving the vocal chords a serious workout. It was awesome. I was honored to do it. If my singing could help bless someone, then amen I'll hop to it.
The AYC Choir
Service was awesome. The best part of course, was prayer. God moved so mightily.
I don't think words can describe it accurately and since a picture is worth a thousand words:










 
Hopefully that gives you a feel for things. Guess what we did after church? If you guessed McDonald's, you'd be right. I can't tell you how sick I am of McDonald's. I never had this much McDee's in one day in America, but here I am in Switzerland eating it all day, every day. The irony is (quite literally) sickening.
The fellowship with the other youth was worth it though. I guess I better not complain too much.
 
Back: Hanna Stinemann (far left), me, Rebekah Stearns,
Front: Michal Pickard (left), Natalie Moore (right)
 
We got back to the hotel at a late time and then just lounged around with a bunch of friends. I think...
 
 
 
 
 
*To whoever is reading this: I apologize to you. I should NOT have waited this long to blog. I regret it more than you know. I wish I remembered where I went or what I said, but in retrospect, all of these things are an insane blur of awesomeness. I can't separate the minutia anymore like I once could. Hopefully, you still enjoy reading what I could remember! :-)*

Monday, August 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

Friday, July 13

Last night, I had a very strange experience.  I had a spiritual nightmare followed by an experience with the darkness.  In my nightmare,  I was fighting an indecipherable force and I kept failing and dying. The fear was palpable. In my dream, I was calling out to God to save me. Out of nowhere this dog appeared. It was a small dog, a seemingly harmless dog, and yet there was this cloud of evil surrounding it. I felt very afraid. The dog started to change into this mangy, diseased looking dog, with sharp jagged teeth and red eyes. It bared it's teeth at me and then lunged at me. I caught the rabid dog in the air and fought it with all my might as it continued to jump toward my face in an attempt to chew it off. I continued to rebuke it.
I awoke from the nightmare, only to realize that my arms were above my head and my muscles were contracting as if they were fighting something. I looked up in fear, as I saw a dark shadow in the shape of the rabid dog from my dream suddenly dissipate. I dropped my arms from the air and I begun to shake. I felt completely disoriented, yet I knew that I was completely and uncomfortably conscious. I looked over to my roommate's side of the room, and I noticed that she was sleeping. This was indeed reality. I suddenly felt an intimidating presence in the room and became afraid to look towards the doorway of the bedroom. I slowly turned my head to see a dark black silhouette of a man with no features standing in the doorway. I sat in my bed, frozen in fear and stared at it. I then realized that I had no reason at all to be afraid. I was on a youth mission trip with 74 other youth and this entity was only showing up in an attempt to stop our progress and instill fear in our hearts (well, my heart). I collected myself and called out to God for protection. I turned and looked at the doorway as the figure slowly disappeared. I got out of bed, shut the door to the room, crawled back into bed, and somehow fell back to sleep.

This morning we woke up for another breakfast of croissants and juice in the courtyard. Our chaperones talked to us a few minutes about how we are facing some opposition now and how it would be a good idea to quietly pray in the courtyard for God's will to be done today in our evangelism and first church service in the Hotel Warwick in Geneva (Bro. and Sis. Sayer's church).
I talked to a couple of people about my dream and how disturbing it was. They joked about it having a correlation to "Friday the 13th", but then they shared about how they were having their own weird experiences since being in Europe and evangelizing. We all agreed on how there seemed to be a sort of angry force that pushed back every time we made some leeway.
We all began to pray, when my friend Sarah came up to me and told me that she felt we should walk around the courtyard in prayer seven times, like in the Bible story about the walls of Jericho. We got a smaller group together and began to walk and pray. We only made it around the courtyard five times before our chaperones called us together, but I still think it made a difference.

Today was a very nice change of pace for the Stirnemann group. Bro. Stirnemann made the executive decision to give us a day off because we had been working harder than any of the groups and were getting burned out very quickly. Instead, we took a field trip to a big deal science museum called CERN. I had never heard of this museum before, but apparently scientist from all over the world meet there to collect all of their data and research. Also, CERN houses the largest Hadron Collider Accelerators in the world! I have NO idea what any of this means, but it's sort of an important place. It was a very, very, very long tram ride, but a day of relaxation and exploration was more than worth it.



CERN was indeed a very interesting place, with a sort of...unique ambiance. I'm not sure that I describe it accurately with words, so I am just not going to try. As soon as we walked in, there was a wall filled with questions like: "Who am I?", "Where did I come from?", "Why am I here?" painted on the wall. From there we walked into a room that was completely dark. There were interactive tables and stands everywhere with information about atoms, and many other things that are way above my head. There were a bunch of white globe-like orbs hanging from the ceiling and blue lights lighting the base of the stands. Hard to imagine? Here are some visual aids:






Then all of the sudden, there was this giant light-show/movie presentation on the walls that was supposedly explaining all of these science-y things. I understood none of it, but stood there and enjoyed the cool presentation. After the presentation, Bro. Stirnemann gave us 15 minutes to walk around and explore things before we had to move on to our next destination. We wandered around and found some egg chairs that we all decided to take turns posing in. We kept getting yelled at by the workers, which I still don't understand. Other museum visitors were doing the same thing! 


Before we left, we checked out the gift shop and then we got back on the tram and headed to the mall for lunch. We stopped by the popular restaurant/grocery store in Europe known as Migros. What a delicious lunch it was! I also had the opportunity to talk with some new people like Naomi, Michaela, and Abigail. We talked about God's calling on our lives over lunch. 
This was my impossibly delicious lunch of chocolate cake and a yummy pesto panini:


After lunch we had about a half an hour to explore the mall. I wish really wish we had more time. The mall was HUGE. I ended up exploring the mall with John Tate and Michaela Stephens. When we were in Bern on the 8th, John, Melinda, and I ended up escaping the rest of our group because we were annoyed with the slow pace in uninteresting stores. We discovered that the three of us enjoyed an equally fast pace and only stopped in places when our interests were piqued and then quickly moved onto the next store. So, I already knew that John didn't like to be in one store for too long. Unfortunately, Michaela didn't know this. We were walking, when Michaela walked into a Claire's. John and I complained because we did not understand the attraction to shopping options that are available in the United States. We waited for her, hoping that it would be a quick run in and run out, but it wasn't. Michaela spent 25 of the 30 minutes we had in that one store. There was no way that John and I were going to leave her behind, but we really were tempted to. Finally, she buys some items and we notice that we only have 5 minutes left to explore this giant mall. We gave it our very best shot. We speed walked the entire top floor of the mall and even had time to run in and out of a few stores. Guess what? We did it all in less than 5 minutes! VICTORY! Still, I would've loved more time to actually slow down and at least window shop. 

The Stirnemann group joined the rest of the AYC teams and we went sightseeing as a big group in order to relax a little bit before our first service in the Hotel Warwick in Geneva. We explored the area where we had  the first pillar of fire concert (remember, in front of the old Catholic church museum). This time, we didn't stop for a concert. Instead, we got to go inside the church and take pictures. It really is a beautiful building. The architecture is amazing. After all of that, we trekked back to the dining hall where we had a very interesting dinner of polenta (a corn based mush), chicken sausage, bread, and steamed broccoli. Then we headed to the hotel where we prepared for our first service. An AYC choir performed and God just moved throughout the service. There were 7 visitors that came due to the outreach that we have been doing! The service was awesome. All of the visitors were weeping and totally receptive to the move of God that took place. It really made me feel so humbled to see these people willing to experience God in a completely new and foreign way to them.




After service, we all went out to McDonald's. Let me just say, it's McDifferent than the chains we have in America. Most everything looks the same, but some of the menu items are quite different. Shrimp is a food option. Also, they sell chicken family meal packs. In the chicken meal pack, there are drumsticks, chicken nuggets, chicken strips, and some chicken sandwiches. It's basically like a chicken meal from KFC, plus some random McDee's chicken food staples thrown in there. The meals are INSANELY expensive. In America, a meal might be anywhere from $4-$6. In Switzerland, my 6-piece chicken nugget meal cost me 17 franc. Essentially $17 (the currency is pretty much the same). Insane, right? I will say though, the service was a lot more efficient. They would only take one order at a time, and then they would get that order together and serve that person before moving on and taking the next order. They also had this interesting way of packing the "to-go" meals. They put cup carriers in the bottom of the paper bags and stuck the drinks (securely) in the bottom of the bag. Then they added the food. I don't know why they haven't thought of this in America. The food tasted different as well. The fries were not as good, and I was undecided on the nuggets. The nuggets were a different color on the outside and they tasted quite a bit different. Not good or bad, just different. It didn't help that we ate late at night. Something else that I thought was cool (well, it amused me anyhow), was that on the back of the french fry box, there was this picture of a swiss flag and the words: Suisse Guarantie.




I honestly don't remember what I did when I got back to the hotel...
All I know is that eventually, I fell asleep.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Smacked by the Sun


Thursday, July 12th
Today we were allowed a late start due to the amount of walking and worshiping we have done in the last few days. Everyone is really starting to feel and look a bit rough. The schedule is completely out of the window, and we have realized that we are just planning and attacking each individual day as it comes. Today we had a 10am start with breakfast in the hotel courtyard, which was actually very nice. None of my roommate's alarm clocks are working, so my internal alarm clock (that prior to this trip never existed) has had to rescue our hides. Luckily enough for us, I have been waking up sometime between 7:30am and 8am every morning.
During breakfast, those of us who still need to exchange some American money into Swiss Francs were allowed to do so. I have to say their money is crazy cool and makes us Americans look so boring and unimaginative in comparison.



Today was once again primarily all about handing out fliers with the Geneva church information on them. It was also about singing a lot. Our leaders divided the group into two. One group would hand out fliers while the other group sang as a way to draw attention and hopefully, curiosity. We take the public transportation known as the "tram" here quite a bit, which means that we walk EVERYWHERE. My feet have never been this mangled. <--- Random factoid for the day.

Our group (Stirnemann/Sayers) stopped by a park, called the parc de bastions (yes, the same place where the reformation wall is located) where they have giant chessboards and life-sized Chess pieces to evangelize. I went off in a group with all guys (because these guys were super funny and pretty bold about passing out fliers). In my tiny sub-group were Tanner, Daniel, Justin, and myself. We walked all around the park and took turns passing out fliers. It became a sort of competition. I would pass out some, and then one of the guys would have to pass out some, and vice-versa. If there was a really big group, we would help each other out. There was one guy, who looked a bit disheveled and tried to talk to us in French. He realized we only spoke English and then politely asked us if he could have a stack of fliers to pass some out. We all looked at each other, and gladly obliged him. After realizing that there were too many of us in the park, the four of us decided to walk around the outside perimeter of the park and pass out fliers to those people. It gave us something to do, and it presented us a new demographic that hadn't already been hit. We finished and returned to the rest of the Sayers/Stirnemann group, and handed out some more fliers to people entering and exiting the location. I have to admit that i really had to push myself to give the fliers. I was just feeling emotionally and physically exhausted. There was just SO much repetition in our schedule, and I was burned out in every sense of the phrase.

Luckily, after a few hours at the park we stopped for lunch. Unfortunately, the only kinds of restaurants that Switzerland seems to have are sandwich shops and pizzerias. We were looking for some seating, when we found a bunch of spots in front of a sushi shop. We were unsure if we could sit or not, because a lot of restaurants will kick you off the premises if you try to sit without buying something. The man working in the sushi ship came out and told us that it was more than alright for us to sit down. We decided to invite him to the services and handed him a flier.

This opened conversation with him. His name is Thomas and he is originally from Lebanon. He started talking about religion with us and how Lebanon is strictly Catholic. He told about how when he was a kid, the pope visited Lebanon, and how everyone drove for hours just to see this man. He shared some more things (which I don't remember) and then said that he would definitely show up to our service on Friday. This was encouraging, but only time would tell. He went back inside to work and the rest of us started looking for food. Most of the group decided to get some sandwiches, but the Sayers, Justin, and I decided to be original and stop for Sushi. Justin left to go find everyone else, so I stayed with the Sayers and got to know them a little bit better. Upon chatting with them, I found out that they actually live in Germany and drive six hours to Geneva for church every single weekend. If that's not dedication to soul-winning, I don't know what is. I also found out that they have a little dog that is a bit cranky in his old age...I want to say that his name is Henry, but I could be wrong. I also learned that they actually started out in a Charismatic church, but felt the hunger for the truth. They kept searching until they found what they were looking for. Once they received the Holy Ghost, Sis. Jutta Sayers told her husband that he needed to stay prayed up with the Holy Ghost every single day. Soon they felt a call to the German speaking countries. After all, Sis. Jutta is from Germany and Bro. Sayers is fluent in French. A perfect combo. I also discovered that there is only one other church with truth in the whole of the German speaking area. There is SUCH a need here.

After lunch we stopped by a place called Bel Air. This is one of the stops on the tram system, so trams come in and out of this area all of the time. We got into two groups again. A singing group and a flier group. My voice was pretty shot, so I joined my new friend Abigail and we decided to try to overcome our pride and fear of being rejected. Honestly, we had mixed results. Some people cursed at us in French, others tried to talk to us and upon finding out we were American, returned the fliers. On the other hand, some people really surprised us. I had just about given up all hope, when a very cute french-speaking Swiss tapped me on the shoulder and asked for a flier. I gladly handed him one. He smiled, thanked me, and wandered off. Abigail and I looked at each other in excitement. Somebody actually wanted a flier? How shocking! Maybe ten minutes later, the cutie returned and tried conversing with me in French. It was at that moment that I realized he was a security guard. I started to freak out and wonder if we were about to get in trouble. I sadly told him that I only spoke English and directed him to Bro. Sayers.Luckily, Bro. Sayers was nearby and able to speak with him. I watched as the two spoke and as Bro. Sayer's face went from surprise to excitement. They finished chatting and the security guard smiled, nodded, and went on his way. I immediately asked Bro. Sayers what was said. Apparently, this is what happened: The young man asked Bro. Sayers if the song we were singing was a Jesus Culture song (we had just finished singing the Revelation song). Bro. Sayers was very shocked by the fact that anyone in Europe even knew what Jesus Culture was! Bro. Sayers told the man that, "Yes, we did indeed sing a Jesus Culture song?". The young man got excited and told him about how he was upstairs in the building across the way, when he recognized the song we were singing. It so piqued his interest that he decided to come downstairs and see what we were up to. He told Bro. Sayers how he loved that song and was very happy to hear us sing it. He thanked us, continued to look over his flier with curiosity, and then returned to his job. Shortly after, we walked down the street and started to Evangelize to people crossing the bridge that crosses Lake Geneva. Kayla Sullivan and I decided to go to one end of the bridge and get people crossing the bridge from both directions. We handed out at least a few hundred fliers each. We had a very interesting time to say the least. It was exhausting and it was HOT outside. We had hardly any water all day and we knew we would all look like lobsters by the end of it. Most people were fairly polite, but we did have some very unique characters that we ran into. Like the dude who read the flier, cursed at me in French and then literally crumpled the paper in my face. Or how about the guy who threw his flier over the bridge and into Lake Geneva? What was worse was the people who pretended that we were invisible, or the people who played deaf. There were some good people though. Like the lady with a son, who stopped me and asked, "Penticostistes?" (<---That's "Pentecostal" in French). She pointed to the singing group that was in the middle of the bridge and asked me if I was a part of them. I said that Yes I was. She looked at me and smiled. With tears in her eyes, she held my hand and said, "God Bless You!". Then there was an older man who stopped and patted my arm in appreciation. Even if the Geneva church never sees those people, they have the knowledge of a church that they would have never known about otherwise.

The picture above is of fellow Stirnemann/Sayer group member Veronica Wasmundt and I on the bridge that crosses Lake Geneva. 

All of the smaller groups reconvened after dinner into the giant group that we are for another "Pillar of Fire" event. Once again we walked through the streets singing and then stopped at Bel Air tram station (AGAIN). We did a few choir songs followed by testimonies. The whole while Sis. Karina from the Geneva church translated. Quick fact, Sis. Karina is incredible! She speaks like five languages and was translating Spanish, French, and German while we were on this trip. My buddy Sarah testified about how God has helped her to overcome her insecurities about her height (I can relate), and how God helped her to realize that she was made in His perfect image. 

Then Sis. Mestre testified. She has quite the doozy of the testimony. She talked about how she is from Colombia and we all know how screwed up things are in Colombia right now. Anyways, her sister was a part of a political group and members of this particular political group were getting murdered by the government. She talked about how one night she had a sick feeling. She just knew something bad was going to happen; so she laid on her bed. All of the sudden she heard a knock on the door and she immediately knew it was someone coming for her sister. She went into her sister's room to warn her of the danger, but her sister told her to go ahead and open the door despite the impending doom. So, he opened the door. At the door were two armed men. The men pushed their way inside the house and asked Sis. Mestre where her sister was. She wouldn't answer them. Finally the men threatened to kill her if she did not answer their questions. She continued to deny them answers. She says she remembers as one of the men put a gun to her head and she remembers feeling the bullet as went through her jaw. She says she remembers falling to the ground. She was shot in the neck, and two more times in her side, but she couldn't feel anything. She says she felt her spirit leave her body and float in the air. She says she looked down at her dead body, riddled with bullet holes and blood in utter confusion. She was talking, but no one could hear her. At this point in her life, she had no knowledge or understanding of God at all. She heard of God, but truly only believed that he was an entity of fiction. She was still floating above her body when she saw this vision of her mother's bible, glowing, open to a passage in Psalms. Then she remembers nothing. Out of nowhere, she heard noises like those of an airplane engine in her ear. She awoke to see the two men get in a car and drive off. She was disoriented. She touched her face and felt the bullet holes and blood oozing out from the wounds. Why was she alive? She sat up, to realize that the two men had dumped her "dead" body into a garbage. She somehow managed to get out of the garbage, and despite the blood loss, ran home to see if her family had survived. She arrived home to find that her sister and nephew had been murdered. A very sobering discovery, yet she was amazed to be alive. She knew that she had God to thank for it. Her story was very much publicized in Colombia, which meant that she and her family (husband and children) had to leave as refugees. I don't remember all of the details, but Switzerland got wind of the news and called her family up asking if they would like to start over, free of cost? So, long story shorter, that's how they are in Switzerland, trying to start up a Spanish speaking church in Lausanne. I'm a little hazy on how her surgeries were taken care of, but somehow they were. Now has a metal plate in her jaw, and can't eat certain kinds of foods. One of the bullets from the gunshot to her neck was not retrievable, therefore, she still has a bullet in her neck. You would not know any of this just to look at her. You truly wouldn't...and don't! She has no visible scars and has the cheeriest disposition. Through all of this, she has decided to worship God and give him the glory for bringing her back to life on that fateful day. It's just impossible to know what people have lived through.

After the Pillar of Fire, we went back to our hotels, where my roommate Amanda and I wandered off to Sarah's room to hang out for a little while. This is when we realized just how sunburned we were. I really looked quite ridiculous. I kept praying that God would have mercy on me and let the burn turn into a beautiful tan. Fingers crossed! Pretty soon, Sarah's roommates began to fall asleep, so we went back up to our room where we had ourselves a party! It was Amanda, Sarah, Linsey, and myself. Linsey kept saying and doing the craziest things, which cracked us all up. I actually have video evidence of her hilariousness, but I still have to edit it. Don't worry, I will share once it's done. Ah, well...I guess that's it for July 12th. As you have read, it was quite an eventful day!

The sun smacked us...HARD!
Sarah Beauplan from NY (left). Amanda Lussier from Wisconsin (right).