Afterthought(s)

dinner pic
The last supper (and yes that is non-alcoholic beer)

Hello there. I know it’s been a long time since I wrote, but some stuff happened. I got sick, and then I was caught up in the final days of my time in Germany. I’m back in the States now, having returned early for a family member’s wedding. But now that the wedding’s over and the jet lag is wearing off, I find myself with the time to write one more time.

In our pre-departure training, they talk to you about “reverse culture shock,” but I assumed that it wouldn’t be a problem for me. Normally, I am happy to come home, back to a familiar place. But I feel like I left before I had the chance to understand why I was there, and that emotional baggage finally made its way across the Atlantic ocean. I also just miss being in Europe, living independently in a foreign place. Gone are the long bike rides and produce markets and endless trains. Family members have been kind and tried to avoid bombarding me with too many questions, but I know I will be expected to talk soon. What did I learn? What were my favorite things about being there? How did the ministry work go? Perhaps I can try beginning to formulate an answer to some of these questions here.

During my last week, several things happened that left their mark on me. One of these was a discipleship-mentoring training given by Danny and Fran. We spent the day at Fran’s apartment, looking at Scriptures and trying to understand our call to make disciples. One thing we did was actually practice sharing the Gospel, something I am relatively unfamiliar with. Even though I didn’t get the chance to put my training into practice while in Germany, I feel more equipped now to seek future opportunities to do so. The other event that sticks out from my final days was a conversation I had at our English conversation group. Usually, I’m not the one leading the conversation by any means, happy to just sit back and let others talk. But for whatever reason, I ended up at a table with three young university students, my team mate Emily, and two Arab men. The conversation of church came up because they were wondering what I was doing in Germany. Before I knew it, the conversation became a full fledged inquiry into the complexities of the Christian faith. One of the men offered his opinion, saying that while he admired religious piety, he himself was faithless. “F*** the rules,” he said. “That’s my life philosophy.” The conversation was all over the place, but it was an interesting window into the life of someone incredibly different from me. Perhaps I take for granted my faith, a somewhat comfortable thing that I’ve had the chance to grow in almost my entire life. Either that, or I’ve bought into the lie of a “comfortable” Jesus because no such person exists. He doesn’t promise that this will be an easy life.

I can say with certainty that one of the biggest relational highlights of the trip for me was with my team mates. Upon arriving, it instantly became clear just how radically different we are. While I may not have chosen them as my comrades, the Lord did. From that came a summer of learning how to relate to other people, through conflict and differences. We had to be real with each other, in all of our frustrated, messy-haired glory. They were my greatest reminders of Christ over the past months, and I miss them greatly.

There are a myriad of other things I could talk about, but that seems like enough for now. If you’re reading this, I’m charging you to ask me as many questions as you like. Like any life experience, not everything makes sense, and that’s ok. Right now I’m genuinely grateful for the opportunity and the experiences. With this, I’m officially handing the metaphorical torch to Emily, Sophia, and Anna. You should be hearing from them soon. Thanks for reading.

All my love,

Jess

 

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