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.
All I know is that eventually, I fell asleep.