Service Interruption

This was originally written on December 8th.  It’s just taken a little while to get it posted this month:

Being the person who has their phone and internet turned off for not paying the bill, is not a part of my normal self image.  In fact, I typically see myself as a good credit rating, bills-paid-on-time sort of person.  So Friday when our phone suddenly stopped making outbound calls (but continued to recieve calls) I figured that our prodigal Telkom was striking again.  That may require a bit of clarification.  Suffice to say that we’ve had all sorts of problems with Telkom, from failed/sub-standard hardware, to service outages, to inexplicable billing.  Friday morning, when the phone stopped, I thought we’d give it a bit of time and see if things resolved themselves.  This was an easy decision since I don’t really like talking on the phone much.  Saturday morning when the internet went out, I got a little more uncomfortable.  But I figured that was just confirmation the line was messed up some where and I assumed they were working on it.  However, by Sunday, when none of our neighbors were having problems and we were still without service, I picked up the phone — the cell phone — to call Telkom.

I’m not a fan of making phone calls.  I don’t know why, but I have an almost irrational fear of it.  Making them in German is even more scary.  Often, when conversing in German, my fears are realized, and I can’t understand a word the person on the other end of the phone is saying.  However, this phone conversation went fairly smoothly, and after a few attempts the Telkom representative made it clear to me that they had not received our last payment.

Virtually everything here in German is handled via electronic funds transfer.  When you recieve a bill, it comes with a little yellow slip you fill out to have the funds transfered, or you can go online and transfer the funds directly from the bank.  These transfers are not instant, however.  They usually take 24 hours.  You probably see where this is going.  We’d payed the bill, but because it’s been a very challenging season for us financially, we’d paid it at the last minute.  Some hiccup in the process meant that Telkom didn’t process it before the weekend, and so they shut off our service.  It took until Tuesday to get our service restored.

This came at an interesting time for me, though.  I don’t know if it’s a stage of culture shock, or just a lot of stress, but I’ve been finding it more difficult to really make a connection with God.  I often feel like He’s terminated my service, and I don’t know why.  It seems arbitrary and unfair.  But when I’m really honest, I realize that my sense of disconnection isn’t coming from God, but rather it’s the result of my own actions.  I rush through my devotional and prayer time to get on to “more important” things.  I get angry when He leads me to some struggle or trial that’s meant to shape me into a better man, instead of leading me to the prosperity and ease I desire.  The communications disconnect isn’t really God’s doing at all.  It’s my own, just like our service getting interrupted because we paid the bill too late.  Unlike Telkom, though, God doesn’t punatively disconnect my service, He’s always tuned in.  I just can’t hear Him when I drown out his voice with my own noise.

Everything and Agent Cox is on a mission…

Our March newsletter is out.  It contains a special assignment briefing from Agent Brittany Cox sure to be fun for the entire family, and also a story about one of the ways God is working in our lives, and hopefully the lives of others here in Germany.  Here’s a quick preview…

EVERYTHING

What if God gave us freewill solely so that we can freely decide to give it back?

One of the harder moments in our long run up to the field involved a change in ministry. For a long time, I believed I was going to train European believers in video production. This was a really exciting idea to me, because I believe media is such a crucial battlefield. That’s no longer a part of the our ministry vision and that loss was very difficult for me. I fought against the change, because in my heart I firmly believed that was a critical part of God’s plan for me. It’s been several years, and God has done a lot to teach me about trusting Him, serving where He places me, and accepting the authorities He places over me. All hard, but important lessons for the work ahead.

Recently, I had an incredible opportunity. Many of you may be familiar with Erwin McManus and the Mosiac Church in Los Angeles. In a nutshell, Mosiac has decided to throw off their traditional structures and ideas, while holding fast to scripture, and truly focus on the salvation of the lost. At the invitation of our German church, a team from Mosaic came out to share what they’re learning from this process. The result was a conference called Origins.

I found the conference to be tremendously challenging. They challenged my assumptions about all sorts of issues from discipleship to what church should look like. I was particularly struck by one story: One of the speakers, Eric Bryant, was talking about his conversation with a lesbian woman who attends their church. She asked him, “[if I accept Jesus,] do I need to give up my lifestyle?” At this point I was riveted. There are few questions more bitterly defining the struggle of the church in the 21st Century.

Read the rest.

AGENT COX HAS A MISSION

During Spring break March 28- April 4, 2009, small groups of scheming and calculating BFA (Black Forest Academy) students will be dispersed to various and strategic places all over the world- each group has a top priority mission to carry to completion. Each mission is tailored to that particular group’s highly unique and most valuable capabilities. Brittany Cox is an agent assigned to one of these posses, the one destined for Suceava, Romania. The Mission: to spread word that her Employer, the Boss, the one with the power, power big enough to knock people dead with his pinky finger, is now at large. Yeah, that guy, his name is rumored to be “Jesus,” but he’s got other ones. It’ll be this group’s mission to warn the kids at Filadelphia Christian School (FCS), this guy is presently on the lose and… loving people? Wait, what?

Read the rest.

UPDATE: I have to apologize.  Someone just let me know the “Read the rest” links on both articles was broken.  It should be fixed now.

Legal

We just wanted to drop a quick note to share with you all that we got our 1 year visas today!  While it took a long time for us, our process was fairly quick compared to many that were in the pipeline ahead of us.  Praise God and thank you all for your prayers.

Nearly two months later…

Well, I can hardly believe we haven’t posted since Aug. Life has been busy, busy, busy. But not in the way we had expected. But let me give you the run down on the family and see if I can post some pictures this time.

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Well as a family we took a trip to Ulm, (above) which is where Ted and I met when we were 15, the first weekend in Oct. It was a very fun trip and I think the kids even liked it. We bookended it with a couple of very awesome castles so what’s not to like right? We stayed in a very nice bed & breakfast in Neu Ulm, so if you’re ever going that way we’d love to recommend it to you. We got a 3 bedroom suite for what we thought we were paying for one room. Awesome, very awesome.

Ted and I have been somewhat disappointed that our language classes have still not started back up. The school we began them in has had a very hard time finding other individuals interested in continuing them, so we are looking else where. Right now we are working a couple days a week with a German couple from the Meyer’s (our neighbors & co-workers of Ted’s)  church. Hopefully the beginning of Nov we will begin a more formal arrangement with a private tutor and 2-4 other individuals. Please be in prayer about this.

Due to the lack of finding language classes Ted has continued his work at the barn. It is coming along nicely. The hope is that it will be finished by January and all the offices will be open for business shortly there after.

I have been mainly figuring out what it means to have two children at BFA and one in German school and juggling all the various schedules, while trying out new recipes and seeing how adventurous my family is. They’ve been quite accepting of my crazy inventions. I’ve joined a bible study with some other English speaking ladies, we’re studying Beth Moore’s Patriarch’s. It’s very good.  My afternoons are pretty busy helping Faith translate her homework, so I’m getting some extra German practice even if I’m not in a formal school yet.
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This is Faith and Annalyssa.  They are really good friends and go to the same German school.  They are in different grades but get to ride the bus sometimes together and play during recess.  Annalyssa is the daughter of another missionary couple that lives up the street.

Faith has been doing wonderfully in her classes. She was very excited about school and her new friends the first few weeks.  I think the next stage of culture shock is settling in for her and she is becoming less and less eager to go to school, “where they don’t speak  English to me at all”. Her teacher says she’s doing great and she needs to speak English less and less to Faith because Faith is understanding German more and more. But Faith would really like to just speak in her own language and be understood the first time. Anyone who has moved to another country has experienced that. So please be praying for good spirits for Faith.

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Isaac has joined the Middle School Praise band and when he’s not playing the trumpet, he’s the only male singer in the group. The soccer games after school have been a huge delight to his afternoons. He’s always asking to go hang out with the crew of guys his age in our neighborhood so they can invent a new game to play with one another or just hang out and play computer games. Sometimes before the homework is done…Oh well, boys will be boys, right?

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Britt is still loving BFA. She has been learning how vast all the cultures are for the many countries represented in her school. She loves being able to get on Facebook and chat with different friends who are in opposite sides of the world. She has been able to get reacquainted with lots of friends who are all over. Very fun.

Well I tried the picture thing, and it just didn’t work out so well.  But Ted came to my rescue so now the post isn’t quite so lame.  🙂

Blessings, Brandy

My first GEM-K conference…

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No this isn’t the hotel

Ah, Geeze… that’s really the only thing that can really cover it… actually the only thing that covers it is the name itself, GEM-K conference… Greater Europe Mission Kids (ages 13- when you finish high school) all piled together in a cozy little Hotel in Hungary for five days…

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Our scavenger hunt required that we put ourselves into, well, different situations. Yes, we are all piled into a bathtub!

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Just another jazzy picture of me and my GEM-K friends on our scavenger hunt…

Ah, Geeze. Last time I wrote to you I was talking about how I had to remember how to breathe in the first place, this time I’m struggling to catch my breath. I’ve been throwing myself into this sea-like culture, enjoying the way that the waves batter against every part of me in a delightfully foreign rhythm. Like a sea sponge I’ve been absorbing the pleasures and challenges God has laid out for me here. However, swimming is hard work. (Despite what some Michael Phelps might make it look like…) Conference was my refresher course with my personal Swim-Trainer, Jesus. And after treading in the deep blue sea it was fun to take a splash in the kiddie pool with all the other GEM-Ks at conference. In Hungary and Austria for five days filled with rather strange adventures and exploits I hung out with some of the most awesome people ever! We pulled crazy stunt after stunt, partied where there wasn’t even a party and laughed our way through each day and into the next. We pranked each other, played really weird games, stormed Vienna, dance until dawn (literally) and (in some ways) refreshed each other so that we might each return to our own unique Olympic-sized pool and continue to tread in the deep and often dangerous waters in our respective places that God has placed us. We all embraced in emotional parting. We had all bonded in astonishing ways. I blinked and now I catch myself wondering if it actually happened. Did I really truly learn to swing dance and didn’t even step on anyone’s toes? (More than five times that is.) Did I really run face-first into that wall that appeared out of nowhere in that glass maze? Did I lie awake all hours of the night playing match maker?

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Me and my match-making partner in crime!

Did I really get up in front of that group of teens and perform a practically flawless impression of Larry in the VeggieTales favorite “I Love My Lips?” [ed: see the evidence on Facebook]  Did I honestly seek out Burger King for dinner in the middle of Vienna? Did I really play Ultimate Frisbee with a frozen pigs tongue? Did I… never mind. The answer is yes. Yes, I am one of those blessed things called a MK. We get to have so much fun it should be illegal. And it’s all because my God is looking out for me and loving on my soul in ways I can’t even imagine. He knows how much stress, newness, and down right scariness I can handle. He knows how much fun I can handle… maybe that’s why I had to come home so quick…

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He wouldn’t shake my hand…