Saturday, June 30, 2007

the singing campaign

Last week, the Chemnitz church finished up our annual two-week campaign with the singing group from OC. As I mentioned in a blopgost from a few days ago, this is the campaign that originally led Ed and me and "a horn-shaped container filled with fruits and grain emblematic of abundance" (aka a cornucopia) of people to full-time and part-time work with the church in Saxony. When we were still living stateside, Ed was part of this campaign group for 8 summers in a row, starting in 1994; and I was part of the group 5 summers in a row, starting in 1997.

And, as I have also mentioned in previous posts, it's interesting to see how God's plans are often so very different from humans' plans. When Ed and I moved to Chemnitz, we thought our work with the singing campaign was done. Oh, we knew that we'd still be working with this group every summer, because Clyde and Gwen and their successors would continue to put the group together and come to Saxony every year. But Ed and I thought that from the time of our arrival in Chemnitz, our role would be solely a "native" one: helping coordinate and organize and encourage on the Chemnitz side of things; introducing the group to the church and to the city every year; offering our car (when we still had one) for transportation needs; bringing drinks and snacks to the gospel meetings at which the group would sing; things of that sort. We thought that as far as being part of the group was concerned, that chapter of our lives was closed.

But God had other ideas. Apparently, he still considers the Singing Campaign Chapter of our lives to be very much open, and he has been proving this to us over and over again during the past few years. I guess it started when in 2002, we innocently stood up with the group to sing with them a few times. Just for fun, you see. But that started a pattern of singing with them "just for fun" a few times every year. Shades of things to come!

Then, in 2005, for various reasons that would be too long to explain, the group wasn't able to come to Germany. Suddenly, the Saxon churches in Chemnitz and Oelsnitz were without a yearly summer campaign team. Chemnitz chose to focus solely on Let's Start Talking that year; but Oelsnitz wanted to go ahead with their gospel meeting, and they asked us for help.

And so, the "Chemnitz A Cappella Singers" were born. ;o) At that point, the group was an octet consisting of April and me (soprano); Amanda and Karen (alto); Alex and Steffen (tenor); and Ed and Larry (bass). Since then, we've added Jan on tenor, which makes our group a...what? A nontet?

Anyway, our Chemnitz group sang in Oelsnitz in 2005, and we've been singing together ever since. In 2006, Chad and Stefanie Anderson brought the singing campaign from OC, and they asked our group to sing with theirs. While they were in Oelsnitz, we sang with them as often as schedules permitted. While they were in Chemnitz, at least part of our Chemnitz group sang with them every day.

This year—as in, starting about two weeks ago—our Chemnitz group did the same thing as last year. So, in essence, we were part of the campaign team: not just in our “native” roles, but also as “full-fledged singers” in the OC group. And that’s why I say that the Singing Campaign Chapter of the Cantrells’ lives isn’t as over as we originally thought it would be.

Not that we regret this. It’s a lot of hard, challenging work and requires tremendous amounts of flexibility, but we consider it an honor as well as great fun to be able to sing with the OC group. :o)

Anyway…all of this leads into telling of some of the thoughts about the future that Ed and I have had recently. Recently, as in, during the course of the last year. In considering our move to Oklahoma, Ed and I have been very clear (I believe) in telling people that even though we are leaving Germany for now, this doesn’t mean we aren’t coming back! Either on a temporary or on a long-term basis. Yes, we are keeping our opitions open…and our hearts open to wherever God might lead us when. If he leads us to Africa or Brazil or Denmark, then that’s where we’ll go. Suffice it to say that we’ll go where he wants us to go, wherever that might be.

But as far as Chemnitz is concerned: We do plan on coming back, if it’s God’s will. At this point, he seems to be pointing us in the direction of……you guessed it……the OC singing campaign! It’s too soon to tell, of course, and I don’t want to count any unhatched barnyard fowl…but there’s a possibility that Ed might get a job in OKC which would allow us to have summers off. And if we had summers off, then we would be free to join the singing campaign and come back to Saxony with the group every summer.

NOTE: All of this is SPECULATION. We’re making no guarantees, and at this point we’re not going past the stage of merely hoping. We’ve talked with Chad and Stefanie about this, and they’re all for it. Ed and I are all for it, too, if it works out the way we hope it might.

My point in writing this isn’t to make some big announcement regarding our future plans. Although it probably seems like I’m standing on a corner, blaring out the news! ;o) No, my point in telling this long, epic tale is merely to show that once again, God is showing us so many more possibilities than we ourselves ever thought of originally. He always has something different and something more wonderful in mind than we do.

Yes, it’s an uncertain life we live, in the sense that we never know what’s around the next corner. BUT! it’s a *wonderfully* uncertain life, a grand adventure with the Lord as our guide, our protector, and our encourager. We have faith in him and trust that no matter where this grand adventure might lead us, it is all within the confines of his perfect plan, and his loving hand is sheltering us every step of the way.

My hat is off to you if you've read all of this. I don't believe in cutting my thoughts down to bite-size simply to satisfy a world with an ever-decreasing attention span. ;o)

all comments answered

Let me know if I missed any.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

catching up

So, in a shell of nut, the posts that follow are some of the things I've been thinking about recently but haven't had time to write about. These aren't the only things; I have a whole list of items to check off; a plethora of topics, if you will (or even if you won't); but these will do nicely for starting my catching-up. So here ya go. ;o)

Will try to answer comments soon.

joggers are happy people

This is the conclusion I have come to over the last month. Recently, I took up running. Sort of. I do a fast walk from our house to the park, which takes about 8 minutes. Then, I run around the pond and back home the long way around, which takes about 15 minutes. I haven't done this during the last twelve days, simply because our schedule was so full while the campaign was underway. But for about 3 weeks, I was in a really good rhythm of running at least 5 days a week. I plan to get back into it over the next few days (provided I don't get another sinus infection, which currently seems to be coming on) and start working my body up to running longer.

'Cause yeah, I know that 15 minutes of running doesn't sound like a lot. But for a former heart patient who has never EVER been a runner in any shape or form, 15 minutes is a major breakthrough.

Anyway, about the happy joggers. I have noticed, on my morning runs, that the 'other' athletic people (I put 'other' in quotation marks because, while these people are actually what one might call 'athletic,' I am not.) always make eye contact with me as we pass each other. And not only do they make eye contact, they actually smile.

Why is this significant? Well, it's significant because these are Germans. At least, I assume that they're Germans and that it's not only we foreigners who get out early in the morning and go do something exercisey. ;o) But one thing about German culture: In general in Germany, strangers who meet each other on the street rarely make eye contact with each other, and even more rarely do they smile. This is not a right or wrong thing, and it doesn't mean that they're unfriendly. It doesn't even mean that they're unhappy, which the flippant title of this post seems to imply. Eye contact and smiling simply aren't ways that Germans connect with strangers on the street. Which is why I was surprised to find it happening with my 'fellow' intrepid exercisers on my morning runs.

And there are several that I see on a regular basis. And we even say "guten Morgen" to each other. I cannot describe how this just makes my day.

I figure that maybe worldwide, people who exercise are just happy. It's probably adrenaline, endorphins, and sweat. Who'dathunk? I never knew that working out could feel so good. Outside and in. :o)

Jesus doesn't have a blog...

...or a Myspace page. Or a Facebook page. Or anything online of that sort.

Recently, I've been seeing blogs and homepages and whatnot that purport to be written by Jesus. As in, the administrators of the blog or page write their entries in first person singular (that is, from an "I" perspective), as though Jesus were the author of the words that appear in the text.

A lot of people are going to call me an old-fashioned stick-in-the-mud, but I don't care: I have a problem with this.

If it were only a matter of scripture quotations, that would be one thing. Actually, I think that would be a great idea, provided the scriptures were being quoted in the context in which they originally appeared in the Biblical canon. However, the websites to which I'm referring all contain explanations of scripture (read: interpretations) that are penned by an "I"-narrator, as though the interpretations were the direct word of God.

In my opinion, the people who are writing these interpretations are going against what God has always required of us humans: that we not speak as though we know the mind of God; that we not claim to speak for him; that we don't add to the words he has given us in scripture. I think that the authors of these blogs and sites are in direct violation of those commands.

Some will claim that in the paragraph above, I am "speaking for God" in the same way as the website authors I'm talking about. Well, my answer to that is that I say quite openly that these thoughts are *my understanding of scripture*; I am not claiming that these are the words of Christ himself.

The scripture that comes to mind most readily is Proverbs 30:5-6: "Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar" (English Standard Version).

The Good News Bible also has an apt translation of verse 6: "If you claim that he said something that he never said, he will reprimand you and call you a liar."

I understand that most of the authors of these blogs and sites have good intentions. I recognize that they are only trying to spread God's word and increase people's understanding of Jesus's teachings. But the ends do not justify the means. In the very least, I think the authors are putting themselves in a spiritually dangerous position. For them to respond to readers' comments with "Yes, I am Jesus" and "I am the Son of God" is akin, I think, to walking a tightrope with no net and no tightrope.

I fully support sites that quote directly from scripture; but the authors who write as though they were Jesus himself...these are another matter entirely. The words 'presumptuous' and 'disrespectful' come to mind. I'm not angry at these people; yes, I am slightly offended on a spiritual level, but mostly I am afraid of what the consequences for them might be.

my parents are leaving europe

So, the Big Move is finally taking place. Last week, the military sent movers to my parents' house in Mörfelden. They arrived on Monday, packed for two days, and took the containers away on Wednesday. Mama and Daddy stayed in the house a few more days; then, the owner told them that he would like them to leave *now* in exchange for not having to clean and paint the entire house over the course of the next week. So, though this initially caused them quite a bit of extra stress, they went earlier than planned to the home of a friend in the Wiesbaden church. They will stay there until this coming Monday, when they plan to travel to Chemnitz and live with us for the next month, minus a 10-day trip to Greece.

I have to say, I don't think the magnitude of it all has hit me yet. Since I didn't see the move take place, my brain is still telling me that the Mörfelden house is still as full of their possessions as it has been for the last ten years. I feel like I usually do at this time of year: My parents will go to Oklahoma for the summer and then come back to Germany to start the new school year / opera season. I feel this, even as I know it's not true. Possibly, my feelings won't catch up to my knowledge until fall rolls around and my parents are *still* in Oklahoma, without return tickets.

Hence, I haven't really started to be sad yet about their move. A little, but the rest of the mourners are still waiting in the wings, I suspect.

Mama and Daddy have lived in Germany for 27 1/2 years. Originally, they only intended to stay for five! Recently, as I hadn't heard this story yet, I asked Mama how they made the decision to stay past the 5-year mark. She told told me the following, to me highly amusing, anecdote:

When we had lived in Germany about 3 years (so this was sometime in 1983), the three of us were at the Woog, a small lake in Darmstadt. Mama and Daddy were watching me play, when Daddy suddenly turned to Mama and asked, "If we were to leave Germany now, what would you miss the most?"

Mama thought for a minute and then answered, "The Autobahn."

Daddy nodded and said, "I'd miss that, too."

And until retirement came around, that's the last time they ever talked about moving. ;oD

On a more serious note, I'm concerned about how they'll adjust once they're back in Oklahoma past the "vacation-period" time span. Twenty-seven years is a long time. Germany is their home. They are not "coming home" to Oklahoma; they are moving to a foreign country. (The same applies to Ed and me regarding our move in November, but that's another post and shall be blogged another time.) Mama used the right word when she described leaving Germany and leaving their jobs as "bittersweet." I imagine that their arrival in and adjustment to Oklahoma will be much the same.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

signs of life

Yo. I thought I'd give a quick run-down of the goings-on around here.

Last week, finished up our yearly 6-week Let’s Start Talking campaign.
Had a great team this year: Bekah, Erin, and Greta, who are/were students at Pepperdine.
Lemme tell ya, they rock the LST world.
They really swing the LST verge, if you will.
Or even if you won’t.
I won’t say too much here about the positive, encouraging effect the three of them had on me while they were here.
They already know. :o)
But they were part of helping me through a rough spot a few weeks ago.
God showed himself to me through them, right at a time when I needed it.

During the last five days, toured Chemnitz schools and marketplace with singing campaign from Oklahoma Christian.
This is the campaign that led Ed and me to Chemnitz.
And April and Clint.
And Karen.
And Stoltes and Carrolls and Martins to Dresden.
And a plethora of other people to other places in Europe.
And a whole kit ‘n’ caboodle of other people on short-term missions worldwide.
All thanks to two amazing people, Clyde and Gwen Antwine, just serving God where and when and as they can.
I can’t describe how much these two people mean to me.

Anyway, Clyde and Gwen (aka Dad and Mom/Queenie) are in Dresden for a few weeks, and they came to hear the campaign group (with us Chemnitzers) sing last night.
155 in the audience.
80 guests.
Clyde and Gwen led a standing ovation and made me cry.
We had two encores.
It was great.
People told us that they could see our love for God in our faces when we sang.
He definitely had the hearts and voices of our whole group in his hand.

Trying to keep up with the campaigners has shown me I am no longer 20.
This is a rather disturbing realization.
But I wasn’t too bright when I was 20.
So I still think 30 is pretty cool.

I’d like to write more, because a lot has been going on in my head/heart, but I don’t have time.
This is a weird blopgost.
But it was fun to write.
Gret’s “staccato” email inspired it.
I’m looking forward to some downtime this coming week.
But I’m also enjoying all the hullabaloo of late.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

ten ways to destroy earth

You will need: a big heavy rock, something with a bit of a swing to it... perhaps Mars.

This is number three on the list of Ten Ways To Destroy Earth, which I found here. Though my personal favorite was actually the giant black hole of method #5, I thought the description of #3 was catchy.

Go check it out. It's kinda fun. ;o)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

just for today

Father God, just for today
Help me walk Your narrow way.
Help me stand when I might fall.
Give me strength to hear your call.

Here I am just for today.
Live in me, have Your way,
For my desire when this race is run
Is only to hear You say, "Well done!"

May my steps be worship.
May my thoughts be praise.
May my words bring honor to your name.
May my steps be worship.
May my thoughts be praise.
May my words bring honor to your name

--by Marc Schelske

Thursday, June 07, 2007

a moment in the life of a germerican ;o)

I got this list from Allison's blog. I've seen it in various forms through email forwards over the years, but this one seems to be a little more up-to-date. Nearly every single one of these (please forgive the redundancy, but I'm trying to emphasize something here) applies to me. Read this, and you'll get a glimpse into my life. ;o)

You Know You've Lived In Germany Awhile If...

1. You refer to other Americans as "they" or "Amis".

2. You REALLY think AFN (Armed Forces Network Radio) is quality entertainment.

3. You realize that Ausfahrt isn't the biggest city in Germany.

4. You forgot how to use round doorknobs.

5. 100 MPH seems like you're really driving slow.

6. You start converting prices from euros to dollars in your head (Yeah, but that cup of coffee is FIVE U.S. DOLLARS!!)

7. Even at home you don't put ice in your drinks.

8. You never leave home without your keys, ID card, license, and passport.

9. You answer the phone "Hallo" instead of Hello.

10. You need a power drill and sledgehammer to hang a picture on the wall. (Or, if you're in the former East, you can't hang any pictures on the walls because the walls crumble at the slightest touch.)

11. You're used to the fact that there's a crane outside your house.

12. Sunshine actually becomes a topic of conversation.

13. You play "guess what town" the driver in front of you is from (HD, MA, KL, PS), based on their license plate.

14. You are incredibly careful about being loud during the "quiet hours" of 7 p.m. – 10 a.m. and 12 – 3 p.m.

15. You don't drive anywhere that you can take a bus/tram/train to.

16. You get excited about the great deal of paying under $4.50 a gallon for gas.

17. When visiting the States, you think that if you want to buy something that costs $0.99, it'll actually cost that exact amount.

18. For you, pay toilets mean there's another woman standing outside the "public restroom" with a change dish, glaring and demanding her 50 cents.

19. You know David Hasselhoff was a singer, and you think "I've been looking for freedom" is quality music.

20. You can wear black socks and nothing else that's black… and it's okay.

21. The only contact you have with other Americans is through Myspace.

22. Nature becomes its own entity for you (I went out into "the nature").

23. Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Presidents Day fade in favor of Tag der Deutschen Einheit, Nikolaus, Erster Mai Tag and Heiligen Drei Königen.

24. You start writing the number 1,000.25 as 1.000,25 and your ones look like sevens and your sevens are a molestation of a 7 and a T.

25. Finger food ceases to exist. There's a utensil for EVERYTHING.

26. You know the lyrics to American Oldies in German – i.e. the Beatles' "Komm gib mir deine Hand".

27. You start to refer to hip hop, rap and R&B as "black music".

28. You've gone back to calling clubs discos.

29. When you think of fast food, Döner comes to your mind quicker than a burger.

30. The sauna doesn't scare you anymore.

31. You start introducing yourself with a German accent to your name.

32. You refer to your friends with the word "the" in front of their name. As in "the Valerie" and "the Leah".

33. You catch yourself putting verbs at the end of sentences in English.

34. You watch German T.V. and GET the jokes.

35. When people come to visit you, and you start telling them historical facts about the things you drive by.

36. Meeting people from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East is a normal daily occurrence.

37. You crave cake and coffee at 4:00 pm.

38. You start saying things like "I'll meet you at sixteen o'clock".

39. Bread, cheese and cold cuts constitute dinner.

40. You can name more German politicians than German actors/actresses.

41. When purchasing presents, you prioritize them as useful over being enjoyed.

42. You heat each room in your house separately.

43. When you talk about a two room apartment, the living room counts as one of those rooms.

44. Everything you eat needs to have nutritional value and you justify fatty things with "it's healthy".

45. Driving half an hour to go somewhere is a hassle.

46. $1,000 a year tuition seems like a lot of money.

47. You think soccer is the best sport ever invented.

48. Aldi satisfies all of your shopping needs.

49. All of your shoes are sensible.

50. You call your cell/mobile a "handy".