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).

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