Sunday, May 14, 2006

Freiburg: 2nd Sunday

We rolled out of bed early and got our stuff together to leave the hostel and head for the airport. As usual, it took some people (specifically those named Fack, jk) longer than others to pack up, but we added enough buffer time into our plans to get everyone downstairs and head for the train station. A few of the people who were ready on the earlier side waiting for everyone else in the hostel lobby:

Early February the team had a deadline to say for sure if they were coming on the trip or not (I think they had to turn in a deposit by a certain time on a certain day) in order for us to all get on the same flights to and from Germany at a relatively decent rate. Travis and Emily missed that deadline and I wasn’t added onto the team until a week later, so by the time Chip tried to get us tickets the team’s flight back to the States was full and we had to take a different route home. Instead of flying from Frankfurt to JFK in New York and then onto Indianapolis; the three of us on “bravo team” had to go through Atlanta.

All three of us had bought Albert-Ludwigs Universität (Albert Ludwig University, where we did most of our ministry) track jackets while in Freiburg, so we decided to wear them for the trip back. Travis also decided to wear the white Adidas that he bought:

Wait, then again, so did Emily (I assure you, they definitely got their fair share of teasing over buying the same shoes):

Waiting for our train to the Frankfurt airport about 15 minutes away (pictures from Liz):

Shortly after we got onto the train, Liz realized that she’d somehow forgotten her backpack on the platform during the rush to get all of our stuff onto the train and panicked. I don’t recall what items of importance she had in it, but she did have her passport on her person, so it wasn’t a total disaster. She insisted that she wasn’t leaving Germany without it, but according to Chip there wouldn’t be enough time for her to ride back to the central station, try to find it, and come back to the airport and still make our flight. Once we got to the airport, we were relieved to find that II Tim had spotted it on the platform as we boarded and grabbed it not knowing if it was from our team or not (we had to split up between two cars, so there was no way for him to tell us he had it enroute).

When we checked in at the airport for our flight, Travis decided to pick up a rather annoying habit of getting searched at every opportunity. We had to go through a little security checkpoint before they’d let us up to the counter for a little screening, and they decided to pull him (and a couple others) aside to dig through all their checked baggage looking for who-knows-what. Apparently the guy who searched Shane couldn’t understand why he’d want to buy a giant map of Germany to hang on his wall back home (he has a thing for maps, what can I say?). Then, after we’d gone through the usual metal detector screening usually associated with airports, we split off from the rest of the team and headed for our gate. Along the way there was another little security checkpoint and they decided to search both Travis and Emily (I didn’t get searched at any point on the trip, but I think they gave me the wand at that checkpoint). I don’t know why we (mainly Travis) got searched so much, maybe it had something to do with us all being dressed the same or they were just bored, but it was kinda funny. I don’t know if you’re technically allowed to take a picture like this, but while I was waiting for them I discretely pulled out my camera and got a shot of the guy searching Emily’s backpack after releasing Travis:

After waiting for about 45 minutes for our plane to arrive (where I tried to get some studying done for my big exam in Advanced Navigation at 7:30 the following morning), we boarded our Boeing 777 to Atlanta. As I’d done with our flights to Germany, I used my status as a Purdue flight student to sweet talk my way into the cockpit while the rest of the passengers boarded the plane. Simply put, the 777 is pretty sweet. When I got back to my seat, I found that I was sitting a row behind and across the aisle from Travis and Emily, so I could see them but not really interact much for the 9.5 hours it’d take us to get to Atlanta.

Nine and a half hours is a long time, especially if you’re going to be sitting in one spot for the majority of it, but thankfully boredom wasn’t going to be an option for me because they had those cool seat-back TV screens and because I had work to do that I’d soon discover wasn’t going to get done. There were two things I’d like to have gotten done on that flight, the one being study for my Advanced Nav exam (which I knew wasn’t happening already because it was all chart work and there’s no way to spread out a giant aviation map on a tray table) and the second was a bit of a special project. Our plan was to have each guy buy a bunch of postcards in Germany and write an encouraging note to each of the girls who were on our team and then give them out once we got back to Lafayette, so I was going to work on writing those postcards during the flight.

The reason those things weren’t going to get done was a ten-year-old kid named JP. JP was sitting next to me (traveling alone) on his way back home to his divorced Mom in Dallas, Texas. He’d just spent his 4th grade spring break visiting his Dad on an American military base in Germany. After getting to know him a little bit at the start of the flight, I soon discovered that he didn’t have a verbal “off” switch; he just kept talking. The only time that he would be quiet for any length of time was during the first in-flight movie (Chicken Little) and during the first showing of SpongeBob SquarePants (they showed the same episode 3 or 4 times over the course of the flight), and even then he wouldn’t keep quiet for long.

At one point I looked across the aisle and noticed the middle-aged lady across from me reading Revolution in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan, a book that I own but haven’t read (it was given to me at the Urbana Conference a couple years ago). Guessing she was a believer, I introduced myself, learned her name was Brenda, and we started talking about the book, my missions trip, and some of the other things Crusade was doing over spring break (like the ~3000 students who went to help with hurricane relief). I think it was really encouraging for both of us because we were able to meet as complete strangers on an airplane and within a couple of minutes we were no longer strangers but instead we were siblings in Christ talking about how God was working around the world.

A little while after that I got to talking with JP again and began to wonder (aka, be nudged by the Spirit to wonder…) if there was a deeper purpose for his inability to keep quiet. Over the course of our numerous earlier conversations (it was getting to be 6 or 7 hours in the air at this point), I’d tried asking him about if he went to church and other “deeper” questions, but hadn’t really gotten very far (he and his mom went to church occasionally, but he didn’t really have any idea what it meant to be a Christian or who Jesus is). I eased into the topic again and soon found myself trying to translate from memory the Would You Like to Know God Personally? (formerly called The Four Spiritual Laws, Campus Crusade’s favored gospel presentation tool) booklet into language that a 10 year-old could understand. It took a while (and a lot of jumping back and forth in the concepts) for him to really grasp it, but thankfully we had plenty of time and by the time and it wasn’t long before I became fully convinced that he understood the gospel and was in a place of being ready to make a decision. So I asked him if he wanted to accept Christ as his Savior and… (scroll down)

…he said “yes.”!!! So I asked him a few more questions to double check that he understood the question and make sure he wasn’t feeling pressured but actually wanted to accept Christ, and then, somewhere between New York and Philadelphia at 38,000ft, we prayed together and JP became a new brother in Christ!!!

Right after telling Brenda what’d happened, I handed her my camera and she took what became my last picture from the trip: JP and I just moments after he’d joined the Kingdom of God:

I introduced him to Travis and Emily and exchanged contact information, and once we were on the ground in Atlanta the four of us gathered around him and prayed for him. I think the whole thing was especially cool because we’d declared the night before that the trip was a massive success even though no one had come to Christ, and then someone did!

We got off the plane and after collecting our baggage, taking it through customs, and re-checking it, we went to find our gate for the trip to Indy. We had about an hour layover so we made a couple calls to tell people we’d arrived safely (and to find out that Tiller’s hopes to come see us at the airport fell through) and went to find some American food and Pepsi products (virtually unheard-of in Germany). It may have been overpriced, but my Subarro pizza was definitely tasty, and then, of course, there was the Mountain Dew! (seriously, I’m not addicted! I just really, really, really, really, really, etc like it!!! jk)

Before long we were on our flight to Indy (and yes, I went up to the cockpit on that flight too) and I got stuck sitting at the opposite end of the MD-80 airplane from Travis and Emily. It was turbulent pretty much the entirety of the 1.5 hour flight, so I wasn’t able to get any real writing done for the postcards like I’d hoped. Then, before we knew it, we were back in Indy waiting for the rest of the team to arrive a half hour later.

Liz’s Dad, who’d driven us from Lafayette in their church people mover, picked us up and drove us back to Purdue. Just as we were about to arrive in the Purdue Airport parking lot, my cell phone rang and I recognized that the area code was the same one that JP said he was from, so I answered it and found that it was his mom calling to thank me for sharing the gospel with him during our flight. I got the feeling that she probably isn’t a believer (or that she’s not really walking with Christ if she is), but she said that he’d gotten home a couple hours before and told her all about our flight and that she could already see a difference in him! We chatted for a couple more minutes and I made sure to encourage her to get involved with a local church before we got off the phone. I’d given him a copy of the booklet after we prayed together so he could show her (at the very least so she’d have an idea what he’s talking about and not worry that I was from a cult or something), so hopefully they’ll look at it together and it might help her move toward Christ if she’s not walking with the Lord. Then we got to the Purdue Airport, unloaded our stuff, said goodbye, and went our separate ways.

At that point our amazing trip to Freiburg, Germany was over. I had to jump my car because the battery had died over the course of the week and headed to the Quad to try to get in some studying for my major 7:30am midterm. After about a half hour of failing miserably at my efforts to process any of the material, I realized that my brain was completely fried after being up for about 24 hours and gave up to get some sleep about 11:30.

Freiburg Table of Contents
Freiburg: Intro and the Team
Freiburg: 1st Friday - 1st Saturday
Freiburg: 1st Sunday - Monday
Freiburg: Tuesday
Freiburg: Wednesday
Freiburg: Thursday
Freiburg: 2nd Friday
Freiburg: 2nd Saturday
Freiburg: 2nd Sunday
Freiburg: The Quote Book


Post a Comment

<< Home