Saturday, June 29, 2013

**Address Update** 

If anyone decides to send any mail my way, please make sure you send it
"care of Stephen Spanjer"
Chrissy Pursell
Karl-Friedrich-Benz Str. 2a
79395 Neuenberg Germany

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Third Grade Throwback! 
(and I don't mean the softball!)

The first few weeks of language school were not so bad. I will not go near the word easy but I will attempt less complicated? Today marks the halfway point through my first 6-week module. I now have about 5 times the amount of vocabulary, verb conjugations,  forms (which are different from our English ones) 4 hours at 8 in the morning, and a teacher who has not budged once to speak English even on break!  With my face planted in the dictionary, the two notebooks in front of me, or my coffee cup, it is really difficult to keep up visually. Today I hit a wall.

Most people who know me know that I have a mild strain of Albinism. I am mightily blessed in the fact that I have been able to accomplish so much despite the statistics that doctors gave my parents 25 years ago.  However, my vision is always a struggle especially in the academic setting and has served as a massive insecurity in the past.  Today however I feel that a new level of freedom was reached and a major step taken on my part. This week has been difficult because as usual, I try to compensate visually by copying someone's notes, getting materials from the teacher later, or asking a question. However I do not go to school in my town, cannot see well enough to just "look on" to someone else's notes, and I do not know how to formulate my questions in German! So.. the conundrum: I have never asked to be placed in front of a class. I have never wanted to stand out or be noticeably receiving any help or aid for this weakness. On our 15 minute break halfway through the 4 hour class, a few of my new friends in the class approached me and asked if I was ok because I did not seem myself. I just decided to be honest and tell them that I could not keep up with the rest of the class, could not see what was being written on the boar, missing half of the notes, and embarrassed to ask questions or tell the professor.  They could not believe I had not said anything sooner and immediately grabbed Frau Bangkhert so we all could talk about it. Humiliated that she might think I was using a physical handicap as a crutch for not doing well in her class, I explained to her my situation and was surprised when the tears unexpectedly accompanied my request to sit closer and have my sweet friend Nageejah sit with me. (She told me to call her Nudge) So Nudge is a tiny little girl from Singapore who has married a German and now lives here. She is quite good in this course because it is not her first time. For some reason she sits next to me and each time I answer a question wrong I wonder why she does. But she is such a help and was my partner and half my courage to sit in the middle and front of that small classroom today. Who would foresee that in in Bad-Krotzingen Germany in a German Integration class full of Muslims that I would feel the nearness and heart of God as I trust that when I am weak, He is strong. And know that if I am faithful He will use the weak things of the world to lead the strong? Crazy.

The title really has no symbolic meaning especially in light of the fact that NEVER in my 20-something years of schooling have I done what I did today... and in doing so, I felt like a child in grade school- thrown back to al of the days where i pretended that I could see and function when I had no clue what was going on. How much more could I and WOULD i have done had I not so much pride standing in my way to ask for help? All of those years that I could have just been myself instead of drowning in insecurities that no one noticed but myself?! Because by the time you are 26 you have of course realized that you are not so important that everyone is thinking about you, how silly you might look, or heaven forbid- how you FEEL! Nope, I once again was reminded by my best friend Pride that i am not actually that important :)

2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Not really sure why anyone really would want to know this, but since it is not the most normal thing I am now doing on a regular basis I thought I would share with all of you dying to know!

I am sitting outside our little church door in a crazy creak from JH Ranch (fond memories) and bumming the internet off of the locked building at 10pm at night. Its so wonderful, I thought you could all share in my anticipation of waiting of the gypsies that I hear frequent this street, and wait with me and my camera for them to arrive! I am currently blaring Barenboim's recording of Beethoven's Op. 111 Piano Sonata and siting in the dark blogging... I have reached a new level of emo and artistic, I believe.

I took my first trip in to France this afternoon and visited my first mall with one of my softball girls and her aunt, who is a regular member of the NIC where I lead worship. Just so none of you are worried, I acquired the best cup of coffee since making my presence known in Western Europe ONE MONTH AGO! Don't worry, it was truly a cup smaller than the ones we use for espresso at O'Henry's. I am not sure if it was Espresso or coffee in the cup but the French pastry and coffee were divine. I will admit to something embarrassing, however. The man I ordered coffee from did not speak English... nor did he speak German. (or chose not to with me) and I got mad at him for not speaking German! I mean, we are 20 minutes from the border, how hard could it be?! Although I have not mastered my bike and may or may not have had a wreck on Saturday in front of three grocery stores, I have become a European snob. I might look Swedish but I am developing a German heart. Great. Love you all!

(f anyone wants to know more details on my bike wreck... well... two words: Recycling and me).

Sunday, June 23, 2013

End of the Month Madness…!

         I am three days from approaching the one-month mark of being 2,000 miles from home.  Each week has built with more and more activity, responsibility, and relationships.  We have gotten our new Yamaha E-piano and this is my second Sunday to lead worship from behind it. There is a great servant Johannes, as 23 year-old German brother who has been helping to teach me the German. It is so fun. Thursday night we met with the pastor to plan for the next week months and the open slate of possibility and growth to take place is a growing excitement for me!  While playing soccer at a cookout last night Johannes’ friend Manuel asked me, “Isn’t is so exciting to live the Christian life? You surrender your plans to the Lord not knowing what He will do, but knowing that whatever it is always for your good!” (Ha, so much easier to say than to feel sometimes)  BUT:

“Let all that I am praise the Lord! With my whole heart I will praise His holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord. May I never forget the good things He has done for me. He forgives all of my sins and heals al of my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with tender love and mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!”
                                                                                 Psalm 103: 1-5

This morning worship was such a blessing. It was wonderful to be singing "Praise to the Lord the Almighty" and seeing an equal mix of German brothers and sisters loudly praising our God. The piano is a huge addition to the church and service- next Sunday we will begin actually having a prelude time five minutes prior to the service so that people can prepare their hearts... Old concept for us back home, especially in Baptist churches, but here in the NIC and this tiny church body, it's a new concept. Praying for favor :)

Thoughts from Friday morning’s theology class:

Here I thought that I graduated from Samford on May 18 but somehow I have managed to be in class every day of the week here in Germany! While we are in language school Tuesday-Thursday 8:30am-12:30pm, Monday evenings consist of a World Views class which is for anyone in the church and community to attend.  However perhaps the most impactful time of learning for me is on Friday mornings at 9am-11, where myself and the other two summer interns are able to sit under our pastor as he breaks down Biblical theology for us, filling in the broad timeline from Chaos to Order. From Gen. 1- our Earth being formless, empty, and dark, through the meaning and power of the Word, ultimately leading us to the Life, Light, and Order. The same concept I get of studying music at a University level is so applicable in this study of the Word, “The more I learn, although becoming more skilled, the greater my standard of excellence becomes because I realize how much I have yet to learn and how little I really know.”

LOVE- A Throwback to the Concept of Humility?

OK so each week we are beginning the class with a time of discussion on our private devotion with the Lord, focusing on the fruits of the spirit. (Gal. 5:22-23) For this week we began with Love.  I was brought to tears as we began discussing the concept of “Love” as we understand it. What IS it exactly? How is it tangibly displayed for man to see and feel? Do we really understand what this means? After thinking on this the past day or so I read a passage in Manning’s Ruthless Trust that riveted me:

         It is of immense importance to understand that every word spoken and written about God is delivered in the language of analogy.  In any divine analogy, there is a similarity between the human words and of God himself, there is also a radical dissimilarity.  What is affirmed in one sentence must be denied in the next.  For example, we liken divine love to human love.  The similarity induces us to think that we are getting a grip on God’s love.  And yet, though human love is the best language we have, it is utterly inadequate to express the love of the Infinite.  Not because human love is too sugary and sentimental or because it is too passionate and emotional, but because it can never fully compare with the source whence it came- the passion-emotion love of the Totally Other.
         The more we let go of our concepts and images, which always limit God, the bigger God grows and the closer we approach the mystery of His indefinability.”

         I know this is such a long entry but I was just so convicted of how often I have used my earthly concepts and imagery of tangible love to measure that of my IN-TANGIBLE God.  And although I will be limiting Him yet again an hour from now with my grief and worries, I pray that this becomes ever more real to me- as human relationships and achievements (although sometimes indescribably wonderful) can and will fail at some point. My God is not so small and I praise Him for that!