Today is the day we have to say goodbye to Germany and leave our new Central Asian friends! While we are all excited to see our families and sleep in our own beds, we most definitely have left a part of our hearts here. Since we all stayed up late last night soaking up the last little bit of time we had, it was good to sleep in just a little bit this morning.
After waking up, the team went to breakfast...one last local bakery. That also meant our last local coffee (Kaffee or Latte Macchiato) and the coffee here is so amazing that it may have made leaving this beautiful place and these beautiful people even more difficult. Then it was off to the airport about 30 minutes away via the autobahn. The Düsseldorf airport is sprawling and most of the signs are in German. That made returning the rental car and getting though security a bit of an adventure (in case you’ve ever wondered, “rental car” in German is Mietwagen), but we found several friendly locals to help us navigate.
The flight from Dusseldorf to Atlanta was 10 hours. After a short layover, a little Chick-fil-a and Five Guys in the Atlanta airport, it was off to Nashville for the last leg of a long day of travel. There were no major hiccups today and the team is excited to be home and thankful for the Lord’s protection.
Words really do fall short in describing the this trip. These Central Asian people are the most gracious hosts any of us have ever had the pleasure to be around. They are hungry for community and hungry for Jesus. Matthew 9:37 says “The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few”. That summarized the statistics well for this area and this group of believers. The group we served is the largest unreached people group in the world. Two very distinct cultures (Central Asian and German) collide with very different beliefs and viewpoints on most every issue. This creates a unique and challenging dynamic for the missionaries we work with and for the teams as we serve these people. Please be in prayer for both. And if you’d like to know more about this trip, anyone from our team would love to tell you more. Maybe over a cup of coffee?
Happy Thanksgiving Day!
Starting early this morning at 5:30am, we had a nice walk to the train station to catch a train to visit Cologne. What a great morning of inspiration! Just beyond the station in Cologne was the Domforum (Cologne Cathedral). Building it began in the mid 1200s and continued for over 100 years. An amazing structure, it even survived the Cologne bombings of WWII some 70 years ago. Inside we all stood in awe and wonder: how could they build such a structure? There were many areas to discover inside the cathedral, an one section even had a crucifix that dates back to 976. In our daily devotions we have been studying that we must take up the full armor of God. While in the cathedral one of the stained glass windows had panels for each of the parts of the armor of God including the shield and the sword; what terrific symbolism from our devotionals.
We arrived early before the sun rose and had time to taste some of the best apple strudel in Germany, oh so good!
After the heavy dose of carbs, we walked to the EL-DE house. This house was used as a Gestapo prison during WWII. The pain and suffering and eventual death of over 400 prisoners by hanging was felt as we walked through the basement and cells.
Early that afternoon we began our preparations for 27 people for an American Thanksgiving: food prep, transporting tables and chairs, moving furniture and decorating the tables. Our guests were Turkish or Kurdish and consider themselves Muslim. We had several hours of fellowship, and many of our guests speak multiple languages. Our hosts told us that one of the guests, H, said, “If this group is what religious Christians are like I want to be a Christian.”
It was a great Thanksgiving!
Written by Phil Campbell
Our day was exciting from start to finish!
We got up early to take full advantage of our free morning and headed out to the train station for our trip to Amsterdam. Unfortunately, the parking garage at the train station was full! After backing down the parking garage ramp, Mike and Scott dropped the rest of us off at the station and headed out to find alternate parking. We were all a bit worried that they were not going to make the train, but at the very last minute after the train had already arrived, they came running up to the platform, winded, but we all made it on the train! (Jesus is concerned with every detail of our lives! Even down to finding parking and making trains!)
Once in Amsterdam we enjoyed our best meal yet-which is saying something as we’ve had some pretty great food-and then went out to explore the city. We took a canal cruise to see the sights of the city, did some shopping and of course had a coffee or two! We finished the day in Amsterdam at the Anne Frank Huis. It was very sobering to think of not only the time the Franks spent in the home but also what drove them to endure such measures.
Once we arrived back in D City, the guys hosted a lively discussion with a men’s Bible study at the church we’ve been serving with, and the ladies met with some of the women in leadership at the church to encourage and love on them.
Our evening was complete after preparing some of the foods we will serve local Muslim friends on Thanksgiving! (Cooking a Thanksgiving meal for 30+ people in a small oven and only 3 stove eyes does have its challenges!)
I’ll sum up the day with a quote we heard at the Anne Frank Huis from the great theologian Emma Thompson, “Her ‘would haves’ are our possibilities. Her ‘would haves’ are our opportunities.’ Please pray that we take full advantage of all the opportunities we have left here in D City!
Written by Jamie Hulker
Today has been a full day: a day filled with challenges and wonders and very intentional conversations. God has created many opportunities for us to grow in our own faith as well as to help others grow. It was a humbling day for many of us as we are in awe of the work God is doing.
We started the day a little later than normal but used the extra time to gather items needed to brine the turkey for the coming Thanksgiving dinner. Fortunately, there is a small market at the base of our hotel that had just about everything we needed to complete the task. We spent a decent amount of time looking for simple items like salz (salt). We even knew how to say it, but the lady still couldn’t understand us. Must be our southern dialect that threw her off. Nonetheless, after a few more helpful translations, we completed the project.
We then had an opportunity to enjoy brunch at a charming restaurant that looked very Hansel and Gretel “ish”. It was beautiful place with excellent food placed in a wooded setting. We were able to meet our host’s team leader and enjoy good fellowship while encouraging this team.
Following this wonderful meal, we headed to A’s house, the pastor of the local church we are working with. A and his wife, S, hosted us with even more food and pastries and Turkish tea. It was a good time listening to A tell his testimony. A’s story is filled with past gang life and significant violence that eventually turned to a confrontation with Christ and turning to a new life. He even tells a story of returning to a man that he had severely beat to ask for forgiveness. It was a strong and compelling story.
Later that day the guys and the girls split up into two groups. After a nice meal not too far from our hotel, the guys met M at a local Starbucks to participate in his English Club. This is a conversational English group that allows M to build relationships. This night the group consisted of folks from Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, Germany, Syria, and Iran. Many are students that are quite adept at English which allowed for great conversation. Si, from Hong Kong, said he is an atheist but allowed Tim to probe deeper, learning that he really is still searching for truth. Abdullah is a refugee from Syria who fled from his war-torn country. He was quiet and struggled the most with our language. By the end of the evening, a Bible story was told, relationships were built, God’s name was mentioned, and a promise for prayer was offered. This is hard work for our hosts but very effective in a tough culture.
The ladies attended our host’s Thursday night bible study. Christine was the “bomb” at teaching marriage principles. Carrie and Haley spoke on being faithful to the Lord through all life stages. There was a lot of coffee, tea and chocolate around conversation about holiness.
The night ended close to midnight, full of wonder and awe at God’s greatness and grace.
Written by Mike White
Day four was one of my favorites in part because of the sheer amount of food we ate but mostly because we got to explore the local Turkish community. We met our hosts at a cafe for brunch where everything was prepared by hand and with so much care . The cafe owner had to send another lady to grab more eggs to prepare us a traditional Turkish breakfast so in the meantime brought us cheese, olives and 2 baskets full of homemade bread.
After carb loading, we went with our hosts to a local grocery store (basically Germany’s version of Target). Needless to say, money was spent not only on ingredients for our Thanksgiving spread but multiple cups of coffee, decorative pillows and chocolates. After this Target-like expedition, we went to Little Istanbul market square where we had lunch at a traditional Turkish restaurant and ate the best baklava ever in the history of ever. Our hosts ordered Ayran (a mixture of Greek yogurt, water and salt) for us to try and Scott Koon loved it the most!
After eating our weight in baklava, we walked around the square and went into several Turkish owned shops and a few German shops to spark conversation with the local community. The highlight for me was walking into a cafe and sitting next to an older German gentleman. While sipping our teas, I asked if he spoke any English; he just smiled at me and proceeds to practice his English with me and Carrie Dodson. As we were leaving, he excitedly and quite proudly says, “Bye, bye!”
Written by Haley Baker
After a long day 1 everyone looked refreshed and ready to go on the morning of day 2, especially after we enjoyed pastries, espresso and tea. Our host had us try a drink at breakfast he called “Turkish eggnog”. This brought the quote from Scott, “I trust our host with his food recommendations, but not his drink!” We laughed and you would have too if you tasted it.
Our first stop was church with the Bulgarian folks we had met the night before along with many more. Although we didn’t understand most of the words sung or spoken, it was a great worship. It was pretty neat when they broke in to a Hallelujah chorus and later “I lift your name on high”. They also sung How great though Art in Bulgarian, while our crew joined in singing in English of course. Our host brought a message in Turkish which was translated into Bulgarian and Scott prayed at the end of the service. I was struck by the passion of the Bulgarian people, one person may lead a prayer, but most also prayed at the same time.
It was time to leave this city behind and head back to our main city. After checking in to other hotel it was off to our host’s church for worship. The pastor, had just had an unexpected surgery so our host once again delivered the message. During the singing we found the Turkish language a little easier to follow along with. Again, we didn’t know what we were signing, but we did know we were signing praises to God. A couple of us used our Google translator app to convert the words on the screen. Christine and Scott delivered testimonies at the end of the service. We later talked about how neat it was to see God bring everything together. Although, the testimonies and our host’s message were prepared independently, they aligned perfectly. God is good!
We then had a good ole American cookout with the team grilling burgers. Yes, they were very very good. It’s a good thing we’re all into grilling; The locals got the grill pretty hot, so the guys had to swap out and dance around the grill a bit during the cooking. Scott no longer has any hair on his knuckles. After dinner Jamie gave a great testimony. Mike got up and introduced himself for his testimony saying, “I’m Mike but my friends call me Mikey. A bit of an inside joke, but very funny.
We also got to hear testimonies from three of our Turkish brothers and sisters including Papa ,the patriarch of the group, who gave an incredible account of his journey.
The day was simply awesome. There’s never a shortage of joy and laughter with this group. God’s message has been clear and consistent: He loves us, pursues us, convicts us, and calls us His own when we repent and ask Jesus to take full control of our lives.
Day One and Two
Our trip got off to a dramatic start on Friday morning with a forgotten passport and a plane with electrical issues that led to seven of us racing through the Atlanta airport just in time to board our flight overseas. Thankfully, we all made it safely and (mostly) rested to our destination. Phil was already in the country for a business trip, so he was able to meet us at the airport with one of our hosts.
After packing all of our suitcases into our cars, we headed to the host home to spend a few hours getting familiar with the culture and schedule. They had prepared us a German spread of sandwiches, potatoes, white cabbage, and German sodas. (Apple, cola + orange) After lunch our hosts helped wake us up with lots of tea and coffee, and then most of us walked to a nearby grocery store and got lots of German pastries for snacks.
The evening looked like it was going to be a bit uncertain since the pastor had emergency gallbladder surgery and our translator had multiple setbacks and wasn’t sure if he could make him. The Lord worked it all out, though and eleven of us were soon packed into two cars and headed to the first city to meet with a Bulgarian youth group.
When we entered the room we were so warmly greeted! Every person there shook each of our hands. The students sang several songs for us in Bulgarian and even asked us to sing for them in English! Four of us were able to share our testimonies and how Jesus is working in our lives. These testimonies went through two layers of translation: English —> Turkish —> Bulgarian. Our host preached a short sermon as well.
We enjoyed pizza and took lots of pictures and selfies with the students! Finally we headed to the hotel to get rested for the rest of the week!
Written by Christine Satterfield