Monday, September 29


Stephanie and I sub at one of the dormitories on Thursday nights. Its the dorm parent’s night off so we go over and help out the RAs and spend time with the guys. There are about 25-30 male high school students at Haus Bad Reidlinger (HBR) and it contains every bit as much action as you might think a house with 25 high school guys living it might have.

It originally had been a huge question mark. We were already doing a lot. Steph was coaching volleyball. We were both doing small groups on wednesday nights. Just living life was a challenge in this new and foreign place. We were determined not to commit unless we planned on showing up and being consistent. These kids depend on consistency and being the couple that shows up on random thursday nights doesn’t do much for the students or dorm staff. In the end we felt it would be a valuable time to connect with students. Neither Steph or Myself hold typical teaching positions and therefore don’t come into contact with students on a regular, period by period, basis. This would allow us to do that.

The thing I noticed the most the first night I was the noise. It was intense. Everything echoed off the walls and it seemed like utter chaos. I looked around at some of the other RAs who were just sitting there as if it was any other night. Apparently it was. Being honest now, I thought to myself how glad I was it was only going to be Thursdays. Last thursday I realized I was making more noise then most of the guys. There really isn’t anything quite like banging on the kitchen table for no particular reason. 

After dinner I go out and play basketball with the guys for about an hour or so. Its a lot of fun and has become a bit of a tradition. Although, Stephanie still rolls her eyes at me when I come in drenched in sweat. “You don’t have to go all out” is a phrase I’ve heard..... nonsense. 

Then comes study hours at 8:00. Two hours of them. I usually hole myself up with a student in a study room. We work on geometry or chemistry..... that’s right.... I help kids with geometry and chemistry. Recently, I’ve been reading American Literature short stories with on of the 11th graders. Its been a win/win because there hasn’t been a story I remember reading in high school yet so I figure picking it up the second time around is as good as the first. 

We usually try to get out of there around 10:00 but rarely end up leaving before 10:30 or 10:45. I usually get caught up playing a game of college ball (remind me to teach you) or making some cinnamon toast with the guys. I have learned, by the way, there is never a bad time for toast with cinnamon sugar on it.... seriously. 

Dorm night Thursdays has become one of our favorite nights. We hope the students and dorm staff benefit from our presence there. I hope the students I help study do a bit better on there geometry or chemistry exams. I’m sure the guys gain little from my over competitive basketball sessions. God has blessed us amazingly from our time spent at the dorm. He knew our love for these guys would grow through our opportunity to see them in their element. It has encouraged us in our everyday routines at school and enabled us to approach our interactions with more empathy and confidence. 


Thursday, September 11

After School

Up until this point our days have been largely focused on the job. From about 8:30 in the morning to about 4:30 or so we're working with students, planning college fairs, sending high school transcripts, checking graduation requirements, and a whole lot more. Its our jobs, and thus far we're really enjoying them. From 3:50 to 6:00 Steph moves from the role of teacher to the role of volleyball coach. She really enjoys this. In the midst of all the transition there have been moments of questioning the decision to take on so much so early, but in the end, we think it was the right move to make. While she is at volleyball practice I usually run a few errands and get dinner started having just enough time to swing back by the school to pick her up. A few days she's ridden the late van back to one of our neighboring dormitories, which has saved us time and more importantly.... $9 per gallon gas. Our days have been busy and at the end of them we've been tired. We've enjoyed sitting on the couch for an hour or so, watching an Office or Monk episode and hitting the sack. Overall, a more then satisfying day.

All this to say that Small Groups started up last night and both Steph and Myself decided to lead. Steph is co-leading because of her commitment to volleyball, but I get a group all to my self. I can't really speak for Stephanie although I know she had a good time. My group was really fun. They're a crazy group of Sophomores. Typical of what you might expect at any high school except these all come from a different country and most speak more then one language. One of the first things I noticed is they all have big hearts. The second thing I noticed was there was no way any of them are going to be able to sit still for an hour and a half. I'm going to need to get creative.

Honestly, I didn't know what to expect last night. I had a lot of different emotions running through my body. I was excited but also anxious. I didn't feel really equipped to handle it but was faithful God was in control. I just didn't now what the dynamic would be.

I asked them all 5 or 6 questions which I feel they answered honestly. The last three where. Give me one thing you like about BFA (Black Forest Academy), give me one thing you don't like, and why are you in a small group. The answers didn't vary all that much. All of them said the thing they liked the most about BFA was the "people or their friends." The things they didn't like about BFA was either "the food," "the rules," or the "repetitive nature of they're routines." All of them said they were in a small group to "get out of the dorms and hang out." None of their answers surprised me.

Being an MK (missionary kid) is tough. I was a PK (pastor's kid) and that wasn't easy either. There is pressure to know the right answer. Pressure to present yourself a certain way. Its not all bad. If fact, in a lot of ways these students are leading extraordinary lives. However, there comes a point, and I remember these times pretty vividly in my walk as a PK, that you just want to stop giving the "right" answer. I remember a lot of time I just didn't want to give an answer at all.

So I don't think there will be any right or wrong answers in my group. At least not for the time being. I'll be praying that God will allow these guys to see the miraculous changes God has made in my life and how serving him more fully everyday is the most important thing in the world to me. But they might not be in a place to see that for awhile and that's OK.

I let them decide what we could do for next week's small group. They decided they wanted to try the gallon of milk challenge. Basically, the goal is to drink a gallon of milk in an hour. If you haven't tried it and you feel the urge don't waste your time. Its impossible. Your body can't digest that much milk in an hour. It always ends in projectile milk. This is going to be interesting....... I did say I needed to be creative.... right?


UPDATE: By the way. For those of you concerned. We never attempted the milk challenge. Heard too many horror stories. If they're going to do it.... its gonna be on their own time.

Wednesday, September 3