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).

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Boat Tour of Geneva (Geneve)

Wednesday, July 11th
Another fabulous, yet crazy busy and exhausting day in Europe. haha! How awesome is that? To be able to say I'm in Europe...so crazy.
Anyhow, today started off with a very long and tiring walk to the breakfast hall (my feet have never hurt so badly in my entire life), where along the way I stopped to take a picture with a very sweet older man.
The very sweet and silent older man.

After breakfast, we divided into a bunch of smaller groups. One group of guys got ready to go to the US Open, a group of about 15 of us girls got in a group to go to a women's shelter, and the first group got ready for the boat tour of Geneva. The rest of us would have an opportunity to go on the boat tour after our volunteer work.

Those of us who were a part of the volunteer work at the women's shelter were put in the Sayer's group, which was a benefit due to their language fluency and connection to the lady who runs the shelter. The shelter we went to was called ASFAG, which stands for: Association Solidarite des Femmes Africaines.

Ok, so in English: African Women's Solidarity Association. It's a women's shelter for African women of all walks of life. Those who have come from abusive relationships are welcome there, and refugees are welcome there. The things that they do for women in horrible situations is really quite amazing and wonderful. Unfortunately, I really didn't get any pictures inside of the facility. The lady in charge (I have forgotten her name) asked us if we could help her out by cleaning the facilities from top to bottom. Apparently, the facilities really only get cleaned once a year and she can't do it by herself. We said, "Of course we will help!".   She wouldn't let us begin work until we had some refreshments. She made us some homemade beignets, which are essentially really doughy donuts that are deep fried in vegetable oil, and she offered us an option of Hibiscus juice or Ginger juice. The beignets were absolutely delicious. I tried the hibiscus juice, but because it is a flower, it did have a bit of a grassy and weird aftertaste. Overall, I still enjoyed it.

These are the Beignets
Cleaning that place was a lot of work! A small group cleaned the dining room/kitchen area, while the rest of us cleaned the seating/living room area. I decided to take on the sweeping of the living room and hallway floors leading into the kitchen. OH MY WORD! It was so much work! I am so out of shape. I was so exhausted afterwards. All 15 of us girls, plus Sis. Sayers were completely and utterly pooped afterwards. But let me tell you, the place looked immaculate! After we were all disgusting, we took a group picture with the lady in charge and one of the members of the shelter. It felt really good to participate in something like this. I felt really useful to be able to help some ladies who genuinely needed it. We finished at the shelter about 1:30pm, but had to be at the docks for the boat tour at 2:00pm, meaning that we had no time to stop for lunch. We had to suppress our hunger until after the boat tour, and none of our stomachs were very happy about it. Our bellies growled in ravenous hunger and anger.
ASFAG group picture
The boat tour was EPIC. Seriously, it was so amazing and beautiful. I took way too many pictures, but I just couldn't help it. I think for the first time, it hit me. I am in EUROPE right now: I am in SWITZERLAND; I am on a BOAT! It was just such a surreal moment for me.
Oh-and I saw swans for the first time! No biggie!

After the tour, our group was finally able to eat lunch. We went to this Pizza-Kebab place that had the most delicious food ever. My New York buddy Sarah and I shared a Margarita Pizza, which was nom-nom for sure! After we ate, it was back to work for our group. We stopped in front of the United Nations to sing and hand out some more fliers. Little did we know, while we were working our bums off, the rest of the groups went souvenir shopping! We were so mad when we found out. Now that we were full and upset, it was time to meet the rest of the AYC team for dinner. Dinner was at a fancy restaurant, but I will admit that the food was not so "nom-nom", it was gross. After the yucky dinner, we took to the streets for what was dubbed "Pillar of Fire" by Bro. Tony Puckett. Basically, all seventy-something of us reunited and took to singing in one giant group and we walked throughout the streets. We ended up in front of a giant Catholic church that is now a museum, and we sang a concert as an organized group. People walked over to see what we were doing. Some were moved, some asked for prayer, some stopped to watch, and others just laughed and walked away. Overall, it was awesome.
 After this impromptu concert, we headed to another location known as the "Parc de Bastions" which featured the Reformation Wall with statues of four influential Catholic influences in Switzerland. One of the statues was of John Calvin, and another was John Knox. We had another concert there. The funny part, is that as we began to sing there, a random guy in the audience stood up and started dancing to our voices. He was doing a mix of ballet and interpretative dance. I found him to be immensely entertaining.
Reformation Wall in the Parc de Bastions
We ended the night with a long walk and tram ride back to our hotels. On the tram ride to the hotel, my Canadian buddy Lauren (I hung out with her in NY) was the victim of an attempted pick-pocketer. She said that she noticed the man sitting next to her pulling his hand out of her purse and then putting something into his pocket. She decided to confront him and ask him what he took. The man was unresponsive to her questions, so a few of the AYC guys tried to stop the guy and retrieve whatever he took from her. One of the guys, John McAlpin (who was already in a boot due to an ankle injury), got punched in the face by the thief, who promptly ran off of the tram. An eventful tram ride, to say the least.
When we got back to the hotel, I hung out with Melinda, Danita, Kayla, and Natalie in their room. I stayed until everyone except Melinda and I were asleep. Since everyone else was fading, Melinda and I decided to eat a whole box of her gourmet Swiss Chocolate.
It was divine.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tent Service in Lausanne

Tuesday, July 10th
Today has been incredible to the infinite power. Really quite spectacular, actually. Last night, the AYC group had a prayer meeting about the city of Lausanne and today we saw a lot of those things we brought forward in prayer come to pass.
After breakfast this morning, we were put into one of six mini-groups who were responsible to head out fliers to a worship concert that us AYC-ers were going to put on in the middle of Lausanne's train station. the service was actually a tent that we all stood in and sang out of to the passers-by. I had a lot of new and fun people in my group. We were told to go to an assigned area of Switzerland and outreach. Our leader couldn't quite find the route, even though she has lived here for six months. hahaaaaa!!!  So, instead we just decided to wander the streets and hand out fliers to whoever was on our route to our lunch destination.
Let me just preface what I am about to share with you by saying that this whole trip, I have been feeling extremely convicted by the fact that i am not fluent in Spanish, or at least not as fluent as I feel that I should be. Being here in Switzerland has been (ironically enough) a constant reminder of this particular inadaquacy. Maybe I'm stupid, but I never expected that Spanish would have such a presence here in this part of Europe. Every single time that I hear someone speak the word of God in Spanish, I just start bawling. i really feel that I need to push myself to learn the language upon returning home.

Now back to my story, while we were handing out fliers, we ran into a motorcycle riding/hippy-ish looking dude who was wearing reflective sunglasses, his hair down in a shoulder length curly mess, a bandanna around his head, and dangly earrings (like a pirate). Anyhow, he was handed a flier and then proceeded to ask some of the group members where they were from, in French of course; we responded and then shared looks of confusion and he attempted to have a conversation with us in French. Our group leader was the only person in our group who actually speaks fluent french. The rest of us are completely useless when it comes to that. unfortunately for us, our group leader was nowhere to be found and so we (a group of about five) were completely on our own. The man, upon realizing that we are tourists, then looks around and directly looks at me before asking if anyone in the group speaks Spanish. My heart started racing, and all of my insecurities came forward in my mind. I spoke up and told him that I spoke Spanish. It was God, but I was able to have a whole conversation with him. he first asked if we were a sect. I told him that we weren't a sect, but that we were Pentecostal. He then talked about how he didn't understand the message of Christianity and how it is all essentially the same repetitive idea. He asked if we were Catholic. I told him again that we were Pentecostal. He asked what that meant, and I explained about the day of Pentecost and as much as I possibly could about how there is only ONE God. He said that he didn't understand this concept and that he hates Catholics. Random right? Eventually though, he starts saying how he is an Atheist and then he begins to bash Christianity. I asked Kim, a member of the group, to go and get our group leader. Our group leader showed up and spoke a few words to him in French, and the man handed her the flier and walked away. The interaction was very strange, but that man can't say that he never heard about God. Also, it was a great opportunity for me to trust in God and just trust my instincts with relation to my language abilities.

After this interaction, we stopped for lunch at a Pizzeria that only serves one kind of pizza...Hawaiian pizza. The good news, is that lunch was delicious; the bad news is that we got lost on our way back to the the tent service and were a few minutes late.

The group at the pizzeria

When we arrived to the tram (train. It's a lot like Oregon's max/trimet stations) station, where the tent was set up, part of the group was already there worshiping and praising God. People passing by started to gather around the tent just to see what all of the commotion was about. We stood in that tent and praised God in worship songs for three hours. In the beginning of our service, there was a gay couple who decided (upon realizing we were a Christian group) that they were going to sit on a bench in front of the tent, where we could all see them clearly, and make out. Still, we worshiped God. Some people stayed in the audience for the whole three hours. We saw an African American woman who just could not leave. She would stand in the audience, obviously moved by God and she did not know how to react. She smiled and sang with us. She would leave, only to return time and time again. There was an African American couple who stood for the whole time and sang along with us. They could not bring themselves to leave the area. This whole time, I have been praying for God to send us the hungry souls, when God does exactly that. God sent us a man who asked for physical healing. A group of us prayed for him, and you could tell that he was overwhelmed by God's love. He told us how he felt something different than he ever had in his life and how he no longer felt the pain in his back. He was so excited to tell us that God had healed him. He wept and told us to wait as he went to get his family; he wanted to share his experience with them. He returned maybe twenty minutes later with his entire family. This man brought his wife, his brother, his children, his mother, and anyone else he could find. All of these people were prayed for, and wept in the presence of the Lord. None of them received the Holy Ghost, but the seed was definitely planted on fertile soil. A lady in her mid to late fifties watched as we prayed for this man's family and approached a small group of us ladies, led by Bridgette Mann, asking if we would pray for her. She was already crying. She told us how she needed us to pray for her son, and also for her loneliness. She said how she was all alone, with no friends and nobody to talk to. We prayed for her and she could not contain herself. She hugged us all and kissed some people on the cheek. She was so surprised that complete strangers could show this kind of love and friendship with her. She could not say "Thank You" enough. We asked for her contact information, but she told us how she had discontinued her phone service, simply because no one ever called. We gave her the Lausanne church information and she left to bring us her husband. We never saw her again, but I believe that she left us with a sense of happiness that she did not come to us with. The audience would watch as we prayed for people in awe, and we actually had some people dancing as some of the group who could speak french witnessed to them. It was just awesome. It was absolutely incredible. A few of the AYC-ers testified and gave God the glory while some of the audience listened. Vicente Mestre, the pastor who is actually starting a church in Lausanne from our efforts, spoke to us about how God is doing great things and how us being there really made a huge difference. I mean, think about it: WE are responsible for starting the Mestre's church (which will be Spanish speaking)! How awesome is that? It's only epic. We went to the dinner hall, where we were served Colombian food by Sis. Mestre, and then we prayed over the Mestre family. Only God knows what is in store for them, but I am sure that it will be absolutely fantastic.
Here's a taste for what we did in Lausanne, Switzerland.
I apologize for the poor video quality.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Craaaziness, but Goodness

I meant to do a post yesterday, but the WiFi in the Liechtenstein hotel decided that it just wasn't going to work for me. All that means is that I will have to catch you all up on two days again instead of one.

Sunday, July 8th
We went back to the church in Liechtenstein to continue helping out with their services again. God stepped in and moved in a very powerful way. Their small, local assembly rented out a conference room in one of the Universities in Liechtenstein for the two revival services that we helped out with. Our job was to basically come into the service and just worship alongside the members of the church. Some people were asked to testify, some to sing, and a group of us participated in a choir performance lead by Bro. Puckett from North Dakota. It was our responsibility to show up and just usher the spirit of God into that place and to encourage and bless them. The set up of their service is pretty awesome. The youth leads the worship and they sing all of their songs in both English and German. They even sang one of the worship songs in Spanish!

God moved through some of the absolutely incredible testimonies from members of our group as well as through the choir and prophesies about a revival in Liechtenstein started to come forward from members of our group who felt to share a word from God on their heart. According to the pastor of the Liechtenstein church (I don't remember his name, but he was cool), there is a lot of spiritual warfare in Liechtenstein and as he put it, "A dark cloud of opposition" that surrounds the country and prevents revival. By the end of that service, it was prophesied that there will be a world revival happening soon and that it will start in Liechtenstein and spread like wildfire. I believe this to be absolutely true. God just poured out his blessings in that service and on those sweet people. I can't wait to hear the updates on what God plans to do next.
After service we went to dinner and ate the MOST DELICIOUS roasted chicken with rice and carrots. The chicken had this amazing gravy over it that was insanely good. Strawberry ice cream followed dinner, and a nasty rain storm followed desert. We all got completely soaking wet! Some of my clothes are STILL wet from that event. We then headed back to the hotel where we all just hung out until midnight.

Monday, July 9th
Today has been crazier than crazy. Our group is so big that we have had to divide up into two groups and we travel around in two giant buses. Our chaperones, The Manns, The Pucketts, The Kellys and Bro. Stirnemann hired the bus drivers to take us on the long distances to the various locations. Unfortunately, our bus drivers don't seem to realize that when you get paid for something, you have to actually provide the goods. Pray for our bus drivers. They have been the most difficult and rude people. They keep screwing up our schedule and plans because they don't want to drive us certain places (did I mention they are getting paid A LOT?). Today we were supposed to visit a castle in Liechtenstein, and then go to a city called Bern in Switzerland, for lunch and touring for 2 hours. The bus driver not only didn't get us to the castle, she almost got us killed a few times and then stopped at a sort of rest-stop supermarket for lunch and told us that she would not drive us into Burn until she ate lunch. Let me tell you, she took her sweet time eating her lunch. The frustrating part is that she knows we are on a time schedule. When she was done, she drove us into Burn, giving us only 45 mins to try to find souvenirs for our families. That obviously didn't work. What was supposed to be a relaxing day of tourism, ended up being a crazy bag of ridiculousness. She put us 2 hours behind schedule for dinner and then had the audacity to be annoyed with us. Still, the day was good just because I got to spend more time hanging out with some awesome people on the long bus rides and also, how can a person possibly be mad when they are in Europe? We also had a delicious dinner with the Sayers (who planned out this entire trip), followed by a very powerful prayer service for the service in Lausanne tomorrow. My new friend Melinda and I pulled some pranks today on some other new  friends when we were in Burn, we saw a weird guy in Geneva who upon looking at his reflection in a storefront mirror petted his reflection, we had some epic personal/real conversations, and we laughed at some crazy weird people.
Tomorrow will be an incredible and exciting experience as we will have a prayer walk/evangelism followed by service in Lausanne, Switzerland (where they speak Spanish! WooHoooo!!!). We know that people will receive the Holy Ghost and that God will use signs and wonders. Keep the city Lausanne, the country of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and the AYC-ers in your prayers! Oh and also, pray for the bus drivers!!!
Well, I'm pretty tired after a full out day of traveling; today we drove from Liechtenstein to Geneva, Switzerland and then from Geneva, Switzerland to Gaillard, France where our hotel is located.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Who needs sleep?

My days are already blending together. Between all of the time changes and long traveling hours, I really don't have a chance.
July 6th and 7th have been rough days. We got on an 8 hour flight to Geneva on Friday and arrived in Geneva around 9 am-ish on Saturday. The flight was absolutely exhausting and most people weren't able to sleep at all due to all of the anxiety and excitement for this experience.
After the 8 hour flight, we jumped directly onto a 5-hour bus ride to Liechtenstein, where we jumped off the bus and into a worship service for a brand new Pentecostal church. Many couldn't sleep on the bus ride either. All of us are absolutely exhausted, but proud to have been a part of the launch of a new church body. For those of you who are reading this, please pray for Liechtenstein and the surrounding areas, that people would have a hunger for God and be drawn to the truth. There is a resistance for revival and I know that if we bind together and pray, God can do amazing things. There is just so much anticipation as to what will happen next. Please also continue to keep the AYC group in your prayers, that God can use us to our full potential.

Other than getting ready to hit the hay, this experience has been amazing so far. I have met a lot of really great people that I plan on being friends with for a long time to come and I plan on getting to know more of the group members better as this trip continues. There are, after all, 74 people on this trip (not including the chaperones).  It's just been really nice to do this on my own and put myself out there in a way that I maybe wouldn't have if I had gone in a group of people that I already knew. It's also comforting knowing that despite the initial nerves and stress; this has all been ordained by the hands of God and I'm exactly where I should be. Who knows what the future holds? As long as I am taking one steady step at a time.

The view from the airplane upon our descent into Geneva, Switzerland

Let's hear it for New York

I finally have internet access again! So, I will do two (yes, TWO) posts to catch everyone up on everything. Ok, so let's start with my thoughts on New York!
A group of the AYC-ers for the Swiss trip decided since our meeting place was in New York, that we should meet up a day earlier and explore the city a bit. I decided to be one of those adventurous people and I joined an awesome group of others. I met Michal and Lauren, cousins from Canada; Kara and Scott from Texas, and John from Oklahoma. 

As a group we explored the city for about 9 or 10 hours. No joke.

First of all, I will admit that the subway scared me. It's definitely not glamorous. The stations smell like pee and human feces and you really would be wise not to touch anything. It was also a bit intimidating to just figure out where to go without making it too obvious that we were tourists.
Subway Station!!!

The deal with New York is that people are straight up rude and have a tad of a superiority complex. The subway station ticket sales guy told us the wrong directions to Ground Zero memorial just because we were tourists and he thought it was funny. NOT so funny when you have to pay for each individual ride on the subway. New York does not sell day passes. Panhandlers are also an issue, only in NY, panhandling is an acceptable occupation. For example, on our way back from Ground Zero (which was terribly sad and beautiful at the same time...more on that later), there were two kids of about the ages of 8 or 9 who started break dancing on the subway. They were impressive, but afterwards they went around the subway demanding that people pay them for their show. I don't remember asking them to do that, so why exactly should I pay for entertainment that I didn't ask for? Kara payed them a couple of bucks because she wanted to film them for a video she is putting together of her travels. The boys were adamant that she owed them more, but ended up accepting her offer. A lot of immigrants were standing around the square in costumes, hoping that tourists would stop to take a picture and then pay them for their "creativity". It was sad what people resort to for a few dollars, but New York is an expensive place to live and that is how many people were making their living.  There were men bodly asking for money to support their marijuana habits in Times Square, and plenty of exhibitionists. There was "the naked indian", "the naked cowboy" and "the naked old lady" (the old lady one is really gross, so I won't post it). 

The Naked Indian

I think they expected people to pay them for looking gross...
Times Square is pretty cool looking both in the daytime and night-time, but there was SO much to look at. It felt like a page right out of a science fiction novel. There are moving, TV screen ads everywhere you turn. Just to operate the square for one day must cost millions. We stopped by a Sbarro pizza restaurant that looked tiny, but had a giant downstairs dining area. It was just so weird how many things in New York are literally underground, just to provide space.


Ground Zero was powerful, even just what we could see from the outside. Almost 11 years after the tragedy and things are still being rebuilt. There are memorials everywhere and flags waving high and proud for those who lost their lives in the tragedy of 9-11. It was a bitter-sweet experience.

Michal and Lauren went and saw "The Lion King" Musical and said it was absolutely spectacular! While they did that, the rest of us walked our feet raw through central park and wherever else our feet would take us. For me, New York was a fun and new adventure on my way to my adult life. I was lucky to get to spend it with such an amazing group of people. I very much enjoyed the experience of New York, but I would definitely never ever want to live in the city. It's a cool place to check out and visit and it definitely has it's own "atmosphere" and "attitude". My pictures don't do it justice. It's similar to Portland in some ways, but pushed to the extreme. The buildings are taller, the people more outrageous, and the arts more centralized.

(from left to right)
 Scott Goss, Michal Pickard, Lauren Christopherson, Me, and Kara DeLaughter

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The start of the beginning

Well, I figured it was high time that I got into the habit of blogging again...especially since I leave for SWITZERLAND on a Youth Mission Trip tomorrow! Gah! I am still in disbelief that this is even happening! I will admit that I had a sort of mental panic attack before I boarded the plane for New York last night. It was my first time on a flight by myself, but I am so proud of myself for taking my big-girl pill and doing it. Signing up for the trip was the easy part, following through with it all is going to be the difficult part. When I applied at the beginning of the year, July seemed like a time unimaginably distant in the future. I guess it isn't anymore!

I really can't say thank you enough for those of you who contributed financially in order to make this trip a reality for me. I wouldn't even know how to begin to express my gratitude to you all. For those of you who have prayed for this trip...KEEP PRAYING. We want to do God's will and make an impact in the European countries that we will be stationed at for the 10 days of the trip.

The flight was beautiful. We could see the fireworks from the sky. The earth below us looked like a series of lit up computer chips with colorful explosions lighting up the entire grid. It was magical.
Bleh! It's SO early. It's 3:54 am Oregon time and 6:54am New York time as I am writing this. I have at least four hours to wait for the other three girls who are planning on arriving early so we can hang out before the official start of the trip. Still, I can't make myself sleep in public places. I'm always afraid that someone is going to attack me in my sleep or rob me. Is that weird?

I will continue to blog and write about my experiences on this trip as often as I can. For those of you who are interested, just keep stalking my facebook page.

Want to hear about my adventures so far? Nothing too exciting, but I did meet some interesting people. I befriended a lady on my flight named Marilyn right off the bat. I think I made her nervous at first, but she seemed to come around. She was on her way to New York for the first time to meet up with her brother who lives about an hour out of the city. Her brother promised her a tour of the statue of liberty and other locations in the city that he had yet to explore. After visiting with her brother, she will have a few more stops along the way (a few more friends to visit), and will end up in Portland, Maine. Upon talking to her for a while, I found out that she has a daughter who turned 19 on the 4th and who was only slightly upset that her mom would be leaving her on her birthday. Her daughter has traveled to Japan a few times through her school and through the Japanese language program that her school has. We chatted a while at the gate before boarding and noticed that as we talked, more people would join in our conversation. Somehow we got on the subject of books and we started having a conversation with two other people (I didn't catch the name of either). One of the people was a guy with fly-away blondish hair and a person who was seemingly very into his computer, which is why we were startled when he started offering books that he has enjoyed. We found out that he was on his way to New York to meet his wife, who moved to New York a few months ago to build her work experience in the legal field. He sounded sad, but said that sacrifices had to be made in the name of work, which is hard to come by now. Oh and I also found out that he lives near the Hillsboro airport.

A boy of maybe 18 or 19 with a Justin Bieber style hair cut then started asking me about the book I was reading and offered his input on books that may or may not be worth reading. He then asked me about my trip. I told him that I was on my way to Geneva, Switzerland for a Youth Mission Trip. His eyes lit up and he told me how his mother is Swiss, but that he has never been to Switzerland himself. He told me that he was excited for me and then said, "God  Bless You!". I thanked him and then we all went our separate ways.

On the plane, I was seated next to a Norwegian pilot named Lars. He was pretty talkative most of the flight, but I did have a hard time hearing him because of how flights affect my ears and my hearing. What I gathered is that he was on his way to visit his sister who lives and works in New York. He didn't know how long he would stay, but just that they planned on going bicycling a lot. He attends the Hillsboro Aviation school, and from what I understood, he also lives in the area.

I don't pretend to know what the purpose of seemingly random encounters with strangers are, but I do know that they aren't random at all. There is a reason for everything. Every conversation is significant.