A Weekend (Not) in Paris

This past weekend we were planning on escaping and going with friends to Paris.  There were a number of things leading up to the weekend making it clear that we shouldn’t go.  That created space and a weekend at home to catch up on a few things.  We did however feel the need to take advantage of beautiful weather on Sunday and explore the nearby villages of Weilburg and Braunfels.  Below are some photos of our Sunday adventure.

First up, Weilburg…

Nearby Braunfels…

Both of these villages are just 40 minutes from our home and have been added to the list of “places we’ll take friends”.

It’s amazing what you can do with a weekend (Not) in Paris!

Transformation: Project Compassion 2014

“You will never fully understand who God is without going on mission with Him.” – Unknown

Every year I struggle with how to recreate, in words, the week spent with students on a Project Compassion trip.  Project Compassion gives students an opportunity to serve those in need and each night hear about the hope and love of Christ for each one of them.

Every year God shows up in unexpected ways. This year we traveled to Croatia and served in several different places between the northern coast and the Bosnian border.

Each day students served at one of several sites. (Click on images to enlarge)

Food delivery: A portion of the fee paid by students to attend Project Compassion was used to purchased needed food items for families who live in the hills not far from the Bosnian border. Many of them were refugees who lost everything during the war and have never recovered. Some walk 3-4km each day for clean water.  They have very little and were some of the most generous people I have ever met. At each stop we were given whatever they could spare: Fresh eggs, cookies, coffee, meat, and bread.

Painting: Several “kid spaces” had been painted with graffiti. Our students, with the help of a local artist, created murals and beautified these spaces. The children were overjoyed to see the progress.

Outdoor/Garden Renovation: An orphanage, homeless shelter, and old folks home all had mostly unusable spaces that students transformed.

Clown Therapy/Soccer: Students got a chance to dress up, entertain and love some adults and orphans that needed their day “brightened”. Those same groups also put on a soccer camp for kids the second part of the day!

It was an incredible week of service and each night students got to hear about, and witness God’s great love for each of them from incredible staff and volunteers! We’d love to have you join us next year!!

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A chance to be involved in Project Compassion!

Every year we take international students from around the world on Project Compassion to serve the poor. Here’s a group that we’d love you to praye for as we depart on Project Compassion 2014 this coming Friday!

PC14 Names

If you’d like to sign up to pray for a specific person Click Here.

Thanks for standing with us as we serve those in need and our students get to hear and experience the never changing love of God!

A Quick Video Between Trains

Please excuse my clogged sinuses…I had a few minutes between trains.

If you want to be a part of what we’re doing…

Buy a Brick for Project Compassion!

Our goal is to raise 5000€ ($7000) to cover the cost of the actual building materials “bricks” students will use, as they serve people who could never repay them.

Would you consider joining them by donating a brick ($10) or more today?

Money contributed to “Buy a Brick” will be used only to cover the cost of building materials used during YouthCompass’ Project Compassion trip. Your support will directly impact a community in need and the lives of teens from around the globe. Buy a Brick Here!

High Speed Transition

I’m returning back from Düsseldorf. It’s becoming a regular trip and one of my favorite places. The 1.5 hour journey on the high-speed train is barely enough time to get comfortable.

Transition at high speed gets blurry.

My view from the ICE – Transition at high speed gets blurry.

Düsseldorf is one of my favorite places for one reason: Nick and Megan. In June, YouthCompass loses an incredible staff family as they transition back to the USA and on to their next adventure.

The entire Coleman family has loved international teens very well for the last three years. They have continued a legacy of YouthCompass leaders and volunteers who care for kids in that city. Most importantly, they have been friends to us. Having another family with young kids to share the joys and struggles of ministry and life overseas has been invaluable and an answer to prayer.

Thank you Nick and Megan! Thank you for modeling Jesus to kids and to us through your actions and words.

Whether or not you know the Colemans, if you’d like to leave a comment of thanks or encouragement for them I’d be honored to pass it along.

Side note: If you’re looking for staff for your church, Christian organization or university, contact me! I know an incredible couple with great qualifications!

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Nick and Megan being cool.

Kim Jong-Un and a missed opportunity.

Kim Jong-Un’s recent call for the execution of 33 Christians is a call to prayer and a reminder of a missed opportunity with an international school student in the 1990s.

The following content is from Thomas Speckhardt, YouthCompass International.

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The capital of North Korea lies over 5000 miles away from Berne, Switzerland. What does Berne have in common with Pyongyang? The current dictator Kim Jong Un, along with his brothers, lived there undercover with an aunt and uncle in the mid-1990’s. Some of the most formative years of Kim Jong Un’s life were spent attending international and local schools near Berne.

Another excerpt from Time:

“Despite the deception surrounding his true identity-Kim Jong Un once confided to a schoolmate who he really was, only to have the other laugh it off as a joke-the boy lived what his fellow students say was a normal life. He stayed in a nondescript apartment block about a 10-minute walk from school, and his love affair with basketball intensified. At a time when Michael Jordan was dominating the NBA, Kim became a big fan of the Chicago Bulls, says onetime classmate Joao Micaelo, now a chef in Vienna: “I think 80% of our time we were playing basketball.” Kim sometimes wore the jersey of Dennis Rodman, the flamboyant Bulls power forward known as much for his body piercing and tattoos as his rebounding. When they weren’t on the basketball court, Kim and his schoolmates played combat video games, watched Jackie Chan movies and occasionally did homework.”

YouthCompass helps to create positive community in international cities by gathering the sons and daughters of international business, non-governmental, and yes, governmental organizations, navigating life with them. Our leaders walk with students every day, entering their world and loving them unconditionally-modeling respect, trust and friendship. These values reflect our commitment to Jesus Christ. We are able to be a true friend in the midst of cultural transition, coming alongside those that are often challenged with the difficult questions of adolescence in a cross-cultural and mobile environment.

I often wonder how Kim Jong Un’s life would be different if he would have had the opportunity to experience something like YouthCompass in Berne. It also leads me to wonder, out of the over 250,000 14 to 19 year old students currently enrolled in highly mobile international schools across 170 countries, how many future leaders are going without someone navigating life with them?

“Autocratic, repressive, isolated and poor with not an iota of freedom.”

Could there be a starker contrast between cultures? There was an opportunity in the mid-90’s to connect with the current leader of North Korea, in a free, democratic country. 

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We are walking alongside students from around the world and hoping to impact the lives of future leaders. Would you help us expand the opportunity to engage with those currently in international schools around the world right now? You may just be helping to shape the future.

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