Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Language Learning Woes at the Playground

It's 4:00.  I will have a phone meeting at 5:00 and want to make sure I get outside since I've been inside the whole day other than hanging my laundry up to dry (very European thing to do).  It's not just that I like to get daily exercise and fresh air, but I hear that the nice weather will change tomorrow; which makes the pleasant thought more of a priority.  So, I hop up and head out to the fields.

The slide is what first caught my eye :)

As I'm on my way, admiring the new playground that's been installed since I left in April, I see a young girl of about 8 or 9 approaching.  I can tell she's going to speak to me, so I slow down.  Then she asks me a question that I'm sure I should be able to understand.  She's a child after all; but all I can muster is "Bitte?"  (Excuse me, as in "could you repeat that, please?"). So, she repeats the question which really doesn't give me any more clues.  I'm pretty sure she's asking if I'm the new so-and-so at the school or somewhere.  Perhaps it would be more humble or honest to tell her I don't understand, but implicit to living in foreign places comes a high tolerance for ambiguity.   

Picking up that it's a yes/no question, I give her a warm smile and say "Nein" (no).  (After all, I'm not the new anyone that she would know of).  Then she proceeds to explain why she's asking me the question.  Since I'm not quite ready to give away that she can speak better (German) than the lady she presumably thinks to be a teacher, I simply smile and slightly nod my head to the side; it's my way to nonverbally communicate that I really am listening and care what she has to say even though I'm not using words to answer her.

As I walk away, I realize that the children's book I picked up from the box of free books outside of the library yesterday was a good move as I'll clearly need to increase my efforts to incorporate practicing German into my daily routine along with the French.  Then maybe if I run into this social little girl again, I can rise up to her reasonable expectations and actually have a conversation with her!   

Friday, August 24, 2018

From One Adventure to the Next

Clearly by my blog's title, adventure is a part of my life, right?  I wonder  what you think of when you hear that word.  Excitement?  Intrigue?  Exotic places?  Unforgettable experiences?  

With the exception of a three-week period, then a 5-week period--both in the first half of the year--I haven't been in the same location for more than one week at a time this past year!  I wouldn't be completely honest if I didn't say that it's not tiring at times; but that's how it's been...and it seems will continue to be as I keep up the pattern, at least over the next month.  

But I'm not complaining.  After all, it's part of the adventure, which if I can give my two cents' worth, is code for unknown, risk, and sometimes (perceived or real) danger.  And did I mention unknown?  Hence I try to focus on the above characteristics, which are equally present.  

For me, it's not that my personality is conducive to so much unsettled, un-planned spontaneity or flexibility.  (I'm a super strong J on the Meyer's Briggs Inventory, ha!).  Yet I find that following the Lord and His plans are worth the discomfort and stretching of my personal temperament; and that I can even yield that to Him...though it seems to be a life-long process.

Sometimes I wonder if this training in transiency has a greater purpose.  Time will tell, but as Christians we are called to live with a temporary mindset while on earth, to not get too comfortable here.  If nothing more, I can see how my not settling in one spot helps me with this.  That and this Swiss weather, which went from very warm to quite cool within a matter of minutes.  😜

Monday, August 6, 2018


I think it's apparent from my last couple of posts that life hasn't been exactly relaxing.  On the contrary, the more desperate I've felt to slow down, the more intense things have seemed to be.  No matter that I said "no."  No matter that I resisted.  Some of my choices invited stress; others simply couldn't avoid it. While I've been hoping and searching for reprieve, just over a week ago, I did get a beacon of hope and even power in the example of Jesus, the One I try to follow.

As part of my goals to exercise my French listening skills, I have found some online resources to watch and listen to.  I had just listened to what seemed like one of the best Easter sermons I've ever heard, on John 11, which so inspired me that I returned to the text the next day.  A couple of things stood out to me: first, Jesus' ability to so closely connect with His Father that He quickly knew what He wanted in a situation and second,  Jesus' self-control to carry out what His God and Father wanted.  

John 11 is when Lazarus, one of Jesus' good friends, had just died.  Not only did Jesus love him; but he loved his sisters Mary and Martha as well.  Remembering that Jesus was fully human and seeing His pain and sorrow later on when he was overwhelmed, troubled, and burst into tears upon his arrival on the scene; I can't imagine how painful and stressful it must've been to not respond to his friends' news or go back with the messenger they'd sent to Him.    

Can anyone else relate to emergency situations that come out of nowhere into a busy schedule and life and demand you to come and save the day?  This is where Jesus is so wise and strong to me.  He didn't react or cave into the pressure of expectations and needs.  He immediately checked in with the Father (or was already so "checked in" that He automatically knew!) because it says in verse 4 that "When Jesus heard this, he said, "Lazarus' sickness won't make him die, but it will serve to bring glory to God...".  

While that is admirable enough, the greater strength to me is that in order to do things God's way, He waited two whole days when the ones that He loved needed Him and were counting on Him.  As far as they were concerned, He completely let them down as a friend and as their Lord.  He simply wasn't there for them in their time of need.  

Of course, we know the, as He put it, glorious outcome.  After sharing in the mourning and suffering with His friends, Jesus did save the day after all.  Since His Father wanted to show His power to defeat death, His plan in this case was to have Jesus raise Lazarus back to life, which He did.

What if Jesus had caved into the emotional and relational stress and bee-lined it to Bethany?  Supposedly He would've healed Lazarus before he died, which would've spared everyone pain and sorrow; but it wouldn't have brought the same level of glory to God or to Jesus; and according to the passage, the disciples wouldn't have had the opportunity to believe in Jesus in the same way that this act would require.

Since encountering this very needed, yet challenging lesson, I've been more aware of my own response in times of crisis or just responding to others' needs.  Unlike Jesus, I quickly go into stress or solution mode.  While I may not be as in tune as Jesus was with discerning the Father's heart and mind on-the-spot; I am trying to yield my natural tendencies and exchange them for prayer and self-control.  I expect this to take some time; but I'm so thankful to have a God who came and modeled how to live in a way that would bring Him glory.