Thursday, November 27, 2008
I'm so excited and relieved to finally have this huge chunk of my job squared away that now I can't sleep. I want to keep being productive! I tried laying on the floor for about 2 whole minutes then gave up on being able to shut my mind off anytime soon. So I did some nonograms (the silly little puzzles Nate got me addicted to), and my time was better than when I'm rested and such. Strange.
If I were in the States, I'd go grocery shopping then start cooking for Thanksgiving. But not only is everything closed in the little burb of Kandern, but I'm also locked in the school until 6am...Supposedly in an effort to discourage people from being workaholics, the sensors in the locks are changed so that people can't get in or out during the late night/ early morning. Then they just get people like me who stay the whole duration. Eh... oh well. I've got all day tomorrow to shop, cook, and move my bedroom back downstairs... unless I can figure out how to make the heater in my bedroom work. Literally, Monday night Cara and I were talking in my bedroom, and it was so cold we could see our breath!
So, everyone who has been asking why I am so happy to have my new sweatpants, there's the answer. My bedroom is the artic tundra... and because they make me want to run and slide across a smooth floor.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I think it's impossible for me to savor chocolate. I've been practicing not chewing and making them last longer. But I never make it past about 40 seconds. I just don't have that kind of self-control.
Today I felt very European walking the cobblestone streets in my pointy, knee-high boots with swirly tights sticking out the top, and having various oversized accessories. Next on the list: learning 5 other languages and dying my hair funny colors.
I just realized yesterday how much more entertaining it makes calling various embassies if I call ones other than in America or Germany. I hear those accents all the time, but yesterday I got to listen to British, Scottish and Aussie as well!
Sometimes I justify early morning naps to myself by saying I need to warm up the day's clothes by holding them under my pile of warm blankets for a while before putting them on.
Country music makes me miss the States more than any other genre.
I've noticed I get grumpy when I don't eat enough green, leafy vegetables. Good thing I like spinach enough to eat it everyday.
An finally for now, Christmas break at BFA starts in 29 days!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Here are a few photos from Sonne's thanksgiving celebration last week and the prettiest flowers I've ever received. I didn't get any pictures of the meal or even the nice spread, because well, I didn't want to miss out on the rolls. But here are some post-meal dogpiles. There was blood.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
After two days of limited productivity at work, Kristi told me to "rest" today if my email still wasn't working. So I am. And it has been wonderful. The goal of today was to have a quality date with our God and thus regain my sense of daintiness.
I realize that probably sounds silly, but spending time in the Word, prayer, journaling, and just being still with God make me feel protected, and well...dainty. God and I mulled a lot of things over today, but here's something He challenged and encouraged me with, Hebrews 6. 9-12:
But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
He is telling me, his beloved treasure, that He has good things in store for me, as if salvation isn't already enough and infinitely more than I deserve! He sees my work and the things I do in love for Him and for the missionary families that I'm currently serving. He is faithful. He sees my efforts even when I face disappointment and discouragement from those around me. He wants me to be diligent and not fall prey to the discouragement.
As I read and prayed through that passage, I could feel his shield going up around me. I have let myself be dragged down by disappointments these past few weeks and forgot that I had a stinkin big and strong Shield in front of me the whole time. I do not have to fight on my own, which is wonderful because it's really tiring, and I'm a weak little thing. "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." Amen. Thus, I once again feel dainty and protected. My Shield has been there all along, I just forgot and have been peering around it's edge for too long.
Actually, after my date this morning, I felt so light and taken care of that I came home, turned on The Penguins, danced around for a bit, then tried on the only little black dress I brought to Germany. But when I looked in the mirror, I saw all the soccer scars on my legs and suddenly felt out of place in my own skin. What I was feeling on the inside didn't match the outside; just because God did some quality mending work on my heart this morning didn't mean he would take away my physical scars. And that's ok.
So, with my new found inner daintiness, I ditched the dress and heels and got the sweats back out and set to work on insulating the house, tending to the yard, working on the car, and rearranging furniture. I probably don't look too dainty right now, but I am so thankful that God is the keeper of my heart and that even as I strengthen my body and handy-woman skills, He is continually tending to my heart.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Friends are addicting, and fun is my drug of choice. The problem with drugs is the crash after you quit. I’ve had a lot of fun the last few weekends; they are what got me through the weeks. But as I laid in bed this morning trying to talk myself into parting ways with my mound of warm blankets to welcome another cold day, it hit me that I have no more “fun” activities planned. Nothing at all. There are hypothetical things like hopefully some day I’ll get to snowboard, hopefully something fun will happen during my three weeks of Christmas break, or hopefully I’ll go back to the States sometime next year. But there’s nothing concrete- nothing to look forward to and make paper chains to help me count down the days. I would choose excitement over a nice, calm peace most any day, but excitement for me requires other people. Yes, I could go snowboarding by myself, hop on an easyjet and go to Glasgow for Christmas then Prague for New Years and make friends with strangers. I can go to sporting events by myself or get dressed up and go out. I can do the things I want to do, but really, where is the fun in making memories by yourself (or with people you’ll never see again)? My fun comes in seeing fun on the faces of those I love.
I like BFA. I like my job. But neither in nor of themselves are “fun.” This is hard, draining work, but it is GOOD work. I am not Sarah when sitting in an office shuffling papers and answering phones. I am Frau Haymond. Going back to my thoughts on Sarahness from a while back… Sarah needs to stretch her lungs, be sassy, get out and play, and take care of people… but I just feel so broken right now. I can’t carry on a conversation with anyone, can’t do silly dances, can’t make people laugh. Mir ist kaputt.
I went to visit Denton this weekend in Lausanne and feel pretty bad for him having to put up with me in my somber state. I really wanted to be fun and charming, but the more I tried, the emptier I felt. So, thanks D, for putting up with my crap. Poor guy... he’s too good to me.
The sermon at his church was about how God works through processes. I don’t know what kind of process I’m in—maybe realizing how much I crave relationships and how much more effective I am when with others—but I’m definitely in a process of some sorts. Several weeks ago, Mari Ellen asked me if I need people, to which I replied “no…not really.” And although I still stand by that— that I do not need people to live— I do need people to keep me shiny. Without others challenging me and encouraging the aforementioned “Sarahness,” I turn into a dull penny. When I’m alone for a long time, I stare at walls (aka Mr. Jones) and selfishly turn my thoughts inward. But when I’m with others, I can think about how to serve and love them (except Denton because homeboy doesn’t know how to let anyone do anything for him). So, I’m thankful for the friends God has given me and for their willingness to let me love them. Just while typing this, even, Timmy, Alyssa, Kristi, and Cara all came by to talk life. I like that. They are great. I do need people.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
So at 9:30, Kristi hopped into my car and we headed to the Basel train station. Tickets from my favorite ticket salesman who reminds me of Mr Bean. Hot chocolate from Starbucks. A solid, uneventful start...then came the fun...trying to figure out how to get 3 boxes of black insect pins and amoeba slides out of customs. We found the airport and drove around in a few circles trying to follow the directions that were given to us that went like this "if you're coming from the city, you'll get to a traffic circle. Right after 100m by the casino. Tollstrasse. Cargo (not terminal). Look for a four story building that says FRET" (French for freight, although we wanted the Swiss side).
Whoever gave these directions to the guy who gave them to me should never give directions again. But Kristi has hawk eyes and saw FRET from probably a km away. A few more circles later we found our way to the locked-down building. So we went to the open building next door that had a Frachthalle sign outside. They sent us toward the locked down building. There was no way in. We must have looked pathetic standing in the huge parking lot full of UPS trucks and semis because some French speaker swiped his badge and pushed us through one of those turny-gates and into the world of FRACHT/FRET. He escorted us to the office of a man who spoke German who sent us through the intimidating warehouse double doors and to an office of another French speaker. She directed us to an office on the first floor. The lady upstairs took our money and explained that we needed to go to another office on the second floor, then the third floor, then back down to the warehouse except around the corner by the big ramp.
So we ventured to the second floor into another world of French (ahh!). Luckily the guy spoke enough (heavily French accented) German for us to communicate. And another hour and sum of money later we were on to the third floor. I handed them the stack of papers we'd collected from the lower two floors, and no one in that office seemed to know what they were or what to do with them. They advised us to not claim anything at the border and just "put the things in the back and hope you don't get stopped." They gave us whatever stamp we needed and moved us on to the warehouse...back to the little office we saw at the beginning. I signed some French papers, then the lady shooed us away... through the doors, to the right, at the end another right, through the other doors like these. We follow the instructions, laughing at the fact that we were just walking around these "highly secured" loading docks as if we ran the joint. I wanted to throw some boxes in the back of a truck just for the heck of it. But we continued.
We rounded the corners and found the doors, opened them and TAA-DAA! The French woman who had just given us directions on the other side of the warehouse was right there unloading our boxes. She must be a ninja to be that quick. I signed some more papers in French (even though we were supposedly on the Swiss, and therefore, German-speaking side). The man told us to stop at customs in Weil to "get money back." We were thoroughly confused since the people upstairs said go and hope you don't get caught, and now this guy is telling us to intentionally stop for our money back.
So, Kristi picked up the body-sized box, and I grabbed to two smaller ones. We started across the parking lot back toward the car and soon realized that we were trapped like rats in a cage! Where was our nice French man to swipe us back out of the compound?! We were standing by a place where cars could exit after a lady in the booth swiped their card and raised the traffic arm for them when some funny man drove by saying "hey what's up?" then motioned for us to walk behind his car as he drove through. But... we got caught. Apparently two giggling girls carrying a 5-ft long box isn't very sneaky.
It worked out to our advantage this time that the lady only spoke French. After asking us a few questions and us just staring dumbfoundedly or answering in other languages, she told us to just go. Yay! We could see the car!
There were probably about 100 men standing outside and maybe 5 women... it looked like a jail, or the military. We got stared at A LOT. I'm not sure if it's because we were trekking through the parking lot of semis or if we just are that attractive, but we'll choose the latter.
So, let's see. I made another wrong turn. The Swiss border at Weil was empty, so I stopped at the German side and asked him what to do with the papers to get money back. He sent us back into Switzerland and through another checkpoint, a place booming with business. As we approached the border, we had three lanes to choose from: the first was for cars with autobahn stickers, the second was for cars without stickers, and the third had a picture of a truck and said IMPORT. Kristi chimed in with the enthusiasm of a 5 year old, "let's be a truck!!" So I drove into the line of semis. We were importing, afterall.
The booth in which the customs worker sits in considerably elevated since the line is meant for semis. So when it was our turn at the booth, I had to get out of my squatty little car, stand on my toes and was still just barely tall enough to slide my papers into the slot for the lady. I could not stop laughing at how funny it must have looked. I looked around, and indeed, there were multiple people staring and laughing. The lady sent us away to "number 3." So I drove into lane number three...which ended at an empty booth with another traffic arm. So I backed up and drove the wrong direction until I could park in the truckers lot.
We went inside to a building full of little booths, like a row of bank tellers, except with a thick plastic partition between the employees and "guests-"one side of 12 Swiss windows and 12 German on the other side. A very outgoing man greeted us while we stared at the windows trying to decide where to go; I showed the German man our papers, and he said "Oh Black Forest! We have some Africans!!" He disappeared and came back with 2 Africans in tow. I guess they were to help with translation, although the man didn't give them an opportunity to speak, and after a few moments, he sent us to the Swiss side.
The Swiss guy looked comfused by our papers, asked to see our car, but when he realized we parked all the way down by the trucks instead of in the logical parking lot right next to the building he said that was good enough and went back inside. He gave us another paper to add to our stack and sent us "outside, around the corner, you'll get money back there." We followed the directions, met another person who looked at our papers as if he'd never seen anything like it before, and sent us to someone else who gave us our Swiss import fee back and sent us back inside to the Germans. While waiting for an available window on the German side, some man told us we had to go back to the Swiss side first. So we did. They stamped some more stuff and kept some of the papers, then sent us to the German windows. The Germans didn't know what to do with the papers and after the guy helping us had asked all the others in his little cubicle area some questions, he gave us some more stamps and a token to get out of the trucker parking lot.
Like the initial booth at this border, the token machine to raise the arm was also made for semis. Kristi took a picture of me on my toes, arm fully extended trying to get the token into the slot. I jumped back in and raced off in an effort to beat the arm coming back down. Finally free!
On the way back to school we also saw an old man literally stop in the middle of the street to check his watch. As if Kristi and I hadn't laughed enough, that was the icing on the cake for how ridiculous our morning was. So... 4.5 hours later we were back at school with the insects, amoebas, train tickets and empty Starbucks cups.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
The main point was that it is easier to practice religion than to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
It also makes me think about what I do out of obligation and what I do because I want to. For example, people expected me to be at FeG this morning, but if I had gone, that would have been the only reason why- to fulfill the expectations of others'. So I had a good time in the Word at home and prayed that next week I will have a legitimate desire to fellowship with others.
Just to clarify, there is an English-speaking church at BFA called BFCF, but I've learned that I can't be there and not work. I want to meet with other believers for the purpose of growing closer to God while encouraging and being encouraged- not doing things to get a head start on the work week.
Love God. Love people. Serve. Be peacemakers. And be genuine in all of it. Wouldn't that be incredible?