Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Jup. Holland. Jup.

Here's are group with Guus and Ellen. It was an evening of conversation and great friendship that I will never forget. To think that 8 weeks ago I never knew any of the guys that I went to Guus's house with, and less than a month ago I randomly met Guus and Ellen through happen stance at a restaurant in the Czech Republic. The 6 of us shared a lovely dinner and evening together in Holland on the evening that the Netherlands was playing for the World Cup final. Wow. God is good. Praise the Lord, and thank you all so much for your prayers for our night with Guus and Ellen. God was definitely present.

Here is the fish that Ellen brought out to us on the back patio as soon as we got to their house. It was raw Herring. It is a Dutch tradition for everyone at the table to stand up and swallow the whole fish. So what's the Golden rule? Love your neighbor as... wait.. no I mean, "When in Holland do as the Dutch do!" So we picked up the fish, with lake water still dripping off of it, and dropped it in our mouths. Three of the four of us did it no problem... I'm not going to mention the (city boy- Jake) who made up a 15 minute excuse that he just got off a 2 hour "hot" train ride (that was air conditioned), and his stomach wasn't feeling well so he could only nibble on the fish.

Believe it or not I actually really enjoyed it and ate 3 more! I've never had such fresh fish in my whole life!

Here's a picture of one of the streets as people were gathering to watch the game. In most towns there were huge screens set up outside in the city square that showed the world cup games. It was pretty amazing!

I had a huge test today that I actually spent more time studying for than I have for all of my tests combined in my college career. It was a pretty good size, six essay exam. Anyway Chris, Taylor, and I decided that we were going to bring our "A" game for this test so we came down at 8am for the test "dressed for success."

Tomorrow we're going to Brussels to visit the European Parliament. I'm pretty excited about this visit and I'm definitely going to ask them to give me there true opinions on the Greece Sovereign debt crisis.

I can't believe we only have a week left in Holland. We have another exam Friday, A presentation and ten page paper due on Tuesday. Then we'll be on our way to Paris on Wednesday. Again thank you all so much for your prayers and I want to leave you with a few lines from a song that has been playing in my head all day.

To the cross I look, to the cross I cling
Of it's suffering I do drink
Of it's work I do sing

For on it my Savior both bruised and crushed
Showed that God is love
And God is just

At the cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees, and I am
Lost for words, so lost in love,
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered

What a priceless gift, undeserved life
Have I been given
Through Christ crucified

You’ve called me out of death
You’ve called me into life
And I was under Your wrath
Now through the cross I’m reconciled

Namaste.

Trav

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Waffle Me.

I don't know if I've ever experienced anything like it before. Rich chocolate being poured across my plate of strawberry's, vanilla ice cream, and most importantly giant waffle. This is what they call the world famous "Belgium Waffle". Oh that I may partake in consuming such a marvelous creation..
It didn't come without a price of course. Along the way many became faint of heart and turned back, but those who kept their eye on the reward, basked in it's grandeur. Indulged in it's effulgence, and consumed it's sumptuousness. Yes, we were the few, the proud, the Belgium Waffle Brigade 2010.
When we started we had two maps (only one that actually was relevant to where we are in Europe. I gave the other one to a few other guys so it would keep them occupied for awhile), a high chance of rain, and 27 people very excited to conquer the Belgium Waffle. Five minutes into our trip the floodgates of the heavens opened up. Immediately two of our compatriots turned around and headed back for shelter. The rest of us pressed on.

Once we came to the first town called Tillburg, we took the biggest hit to our numbers. We had a planned stop in Tillburg to get cash out and grab some water for those who needed to, and also so we could find a path to Belgium. We told everyone to meet back at the bikes in 10 minutes. We waited 20 minutes, had to cut our losses (5 people), and moved on. Over the course of the next hour there were two bike wrecks and a few emotional break downs that cut our number to 17. After almost 3 hours we finally made it to the land of milk and flowing waffles.


On another note Holland is in the World Cup FINALS!!! It's really funny that no matter where we go people are always trying to get us to buy Netherlands soccer jerseys. They think that since we are Americans we are all rich or something... HA! Anyway, the game is at 8:30pm Netherlands time on Sunday. It works out really well because the Dutch Business man some of us guys met one night in Czech Republic invited us to go to dinner and watch the game with him and his wife on Sunday. It's definitely going to be a night to remember.

On a side note... The Dutch business man is named Guus and from our 2 hour conversation in Czech, I didn't gather that he knew the Lord as his savior. He is 60 years old now, very wealthy and very knowledgeable. God has put it on my heart to share with Guus because who knows if he'll ever sit down with another group of Christians for dinner. The challenge is Guus is being very hospitable and generous in having us for dinner so I don't want to be a young rude Christian who shoves Jesus down his throat.. Well I want to... because I know we're talking about his soul for eternity here... but I don't think that will be the most effective and lasting impression on this type of man. My point is please pray that the Holy Spirit will direct the conversation between us on Sunday and that his heart is tender to the gospel. I am very nervous because my heart is burdened for Guus and I want to see this man saved.

Namaste.

Trav

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Hog in Holland.

There she is! Such a pretty little thing. Yup, I'm a lucky man... She's mine, all mine for 3 weeks! This is my mode of transportation to get around Holland. Well, there's a train but who wants to pay for that? I won't even pay to swim at the pool, (I jumped two barbed wire fences) why would I pay for a train ticket? Haha instead I've decided to spend hours on my "hog" cruising from town to town. It's actually been really enjoyable riding through little towns and across the countryside.
And... As far as I can tell, almost everyone in Holland feels the same way. Below is just one of the bicycle parking lots in a town I was at yesterday. They actually have entire underground parking garages for bicycles! Wild!
We've been taking trips in groups just in case someone has a problem with their bike and they are an hour from Oisterwijk, our home location for the next few weeks.
As you can guess, even in a community of so many bicyclist, we stick out like a sore thumb. I don't know if it is because we ring our bells on our bikes to wave at people and say "Hello", and instead in Holland it means "Watch out" or "move, I'm coming through". Or if it's the fact that we don't wear our shirts half the time because we want to get a tan when everyone else is fully clothed and on their way to work or the store... either way, when we are riding through town in our big bicycle brigade, i feel as if we're being looked at as creatures that has never been seen before. Quite humorous to say the least.
Home Sweet Home! They grow a fair bit of corn outside of the town we're staying in... it's kind of funny but it does make me feel more at home.

We started International Trade & Finance this week which has been very interesting. I love to see how we are interacting with the world through trade and how we, as the U.S., have such a huge impact on the rest of the world. I've been reading several essay's and articles about globalization and international trade and what a Christian Perspective looks like in these areas. It's been very encouraging to me to see that Christianity and God can and should play a huge role in this process. I just read an article today that was Written by an atheist titled "As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God." He was not being facetious, but was honestly stating the need for Christian morality to drive globalization in Africa. This has also been the thought of many other respected economists not only for globalization in Africa, but globalization in general, no matter what country we're talking about.

Personally, this makes me very happy. Being a supporter of Free Market economy myself I see the need for some sort of moral guiding principles and a small governing role to set guidelines in market exchange. I am a Christian by thought and practice, so I would make an argument that the moral guiding principles for market exchange can be found in the Bible. Many have the view that Free Market exchange and capitalism are the tools to make the rich, richer, and the poor, poorer. I believe that this undoubtedly has been the case since the top 1% of the world population is richer than the bottom 56% of the world population combined. To even think that these two groups mentioned above live on the same planet is astounding. 5/6 of the World lives on $2 or less a day... I can't argue that some of this is at the expense of capitalism. By capitalism, I mean private companies using and abusing some 3rd world countries.

On the other hand a "restrained" free market exchange can be an indispensable tool to give the poor a hand up if used in the proper way. In Brian Griffiths essay "The Challenge of Global Capitalism, A Christian Perspective", he explains that the basis of the early Jewish economy was land, and when the promised land was settled, each family was allocated a plot of land. The laws took great care to protect property rights, but these rights were never absolute the ultimate ownership of the land belonged to God and property rights carried obligations. Freed slaves were not to be released empty handed but given resources to look after themselves. Those with wealth were to give generously to those in need. Those who borrowed were not to be treated as debtors. When fields were harvested the edges of the field were to be left unharvested for the poor and the stranger.

The right to property gave each family the freedom to buy and sell, to save and invest, to take risks and innovate. But it was not a laissez-faire system (An economic theory that argues that an economy works best when it is governed solely by market forces). Restrictions were imposed on the labor, capital, and property markets to ensure that each individual and family was treated on the basis of justice. The sabbatical year was an occasion when the land was to lie fallow, slaves were to be freed, and debts forgiven, and land returned to its original owner. One of the consequences of this redistribution was that each family retained permanent stake in the economic life, which was land, in the community. It was a way of preventing the development of a permanent underclass. Restrictions were also imposed on the capital markets to prevent the exploitation of people in need.

This is some of God's standard for economic life, and because of that, it contained principles which have relevance for us even today. It respected the dignity of the individual, their right to own private property and their freedom to do business. It was organized by way of a simple market economy set up with an agriculture background but still has relevance today. It was a market economy that was guided by some regulations to ensure justice.

There is hope! The UN has stated they are trying to make what they believe a tangible goal of achieving universal primary education by 2020. That means that every kid that is born in 2020 and after will be able to obtain a 6th grade education. In today's world education is the same as owning land back in the time of the Jewish economy I was talking about above. Technology is blamed for 80% of the continuing separation between the rich and the poor. So when you give a person some sort of education you are giving them a chance in today's economic system.

The other problem I see on the horizon is that globalization can cause materialism and selfishness. Do we really want to spread the same thing that we fight as Christians in America. Is there a way to use globalization to spread the gospel and improve living conditions without spreading materialism? I think it's possible. One thing to watch is that with increased income there is a direct correlation with spending on unnecessary materialistic things. The Bible warns us about this... When a man acquires more worldly possessions he starts to hang on to his life and falls in love with the world. Our goal as Christians is to not hang onto our life and separate ourselves from the world in that way.

I guess that's something to think about. Namaste.

Trav

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Spinning Out of Control.

Above is a view from 16,000ft on Mount Blanc in France. We were able to take a day trip to the mountain and again... I was brought to my knees in view of God's creation. How small are we compared to the World? Sometimes I think that my problems and my life are so big that I'm afraid to give it to God to even handle. Then I see things like this and realize Ecclesiastes 3 is telling the truth when it says, "I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him. Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before."

While we were up there I was standing and watching a group of climbers making their way up the mountain. It seemed as if they were only moving a few feet every couple of minutes. That's what really put it in perspective for me... Can you imagine how we all look to God wondering through his creation. Someone beside me said, "Man, I hope they don't fall in that hole." (We saw a whole in the snow in the direction they were traveling.) I looked at him and said "I think that hole may be as big as the dorm we're staying in... I'm sure they'll see it!" Now thinking about it, I wonder how many times in my life there has been a "hole" in front of me as big as a college dorm, and God put red flags all around it but still I missed every sign to stay clear and walked right into the enormous hole of pain, sin, and suffering.
On another note me and some of the guys saw some fresh powder that was waiting to be broken in. But what were we to do without sleds, ski's, or snowboards? What's that... Body Sled of course!!
We made our way over to it, counted to three, and took a running start. We all slid feet first but I quickly started gaining speed and went into a front flip and heard a "Riiiiip". Once I came out of the front flip I ran into Mike, as you can see above, and then we both went into another flip and I heard another "Riiip".
Then as you can see I ended the 100 yards of spinning out of control with an ending none short of Shawn Johnson's 2008 Olympic gymnast floor routine.

I got up, humbly accepted the applauses, and looked down only to see a 10 inch rip down the middle of my Jeans... If I had a dime for how many pairs of Jeans I've ripped this year... Right Ma?

We've finally finished up Comparative Economics and Global Marketing and now have a couple days off before we start International Trade and Finance. We visited the World Trade Organization two days ago and had a meeting with a guy who worked as a negotiator for a number of years. It was really cool to see how over 140 countries have to come to a consensus to put Trade laws into effect, who said "We all can't just get along"? haha, yes I know that doesn't mean there is World Peace but it's still kind of a cool thing. And Yes, dad I tried to have a talk with them about getting China to lower their tariffs :)

Namaste.

Trav

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Refreshing.

What a Honda in Switzerland?! Good Man!
I was very tired and needed a place to sleep, so I found a nice bear sitting on a bench to snuggle up beside.

We traveled from Lucerne to Geneva today. On the way there we stopped to eat lunch in the valley that you see in the picture above. Me and four other guys decided to go exploring and found...
A WATERFALL! It was amazing! I finally have seen a waterfall. It's always been a dream of mine to bathe under a waterfall so me and the boys did just that! Took a little shower under a waterfall in the Swiss Alps. Refreshing.
Obviously I had to rehydrate with fresh mountain water, before the rest of the hike... water has never tasted so good!
We continued the hike up to a ledge that overlooked the valley. The view quickly silenced the 5 of us boys and almost brought me to my knees.
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
Mathew 6:27-29

Psalm 104

1 Praise the LORD, O my soul.
O LORD my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

2 He wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent

3 and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.

4 He makes winds his messengers,
flames of fire his servants.

5 He set the earth on its foundations;
it can never be moved.

6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.

7 But at your rebuke the waters fled,
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;

8 they flowed over the mountains,
they went down into the valleys,
to the place you assigned for them.

9 You set a boundary they cannot cross;
never again will they cover the earth.

10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.

11 They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.

12 The birds of the air nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.

13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.

14 He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for man to cultivate
bringing forth food from the earth:

15 wine that gladdens the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine,
and bread that sustains his heart.

16 The trees of the LORD are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

17 There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the pine trees.

18 The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the coneys.

19 The moon marks off the seasons,
and the sun knows when to go down.

20 You bring darkness, it becomes night,
and all the beasts of the forest prowl.

21 The lions roar for their prey
and seek their food from God.

22 The sun rises, and they steal away;
they return and lie down in their dens.

23 Then man goes out to his work,
to his labor until evening.

24 How many are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.

25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number
living things both large and small.

26 There the ships go to and fro,
and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

27 These all look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.

28 When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.

29 When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.

30 When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.

31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works-

32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the LORD.

35 But may sinners vanish from the earth
and the wicked be no more.
Praise the LORD, O my soul.
Praise the LORD.

Love and Miss you all. Namaste.

Trav

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What is a man?

Every boy grows up to become a man. How does that happen? For some, their circumstances make it happen fast. Others slow, and everyone else falls somewhere in between.
How do boys know what a man is or looks like or what that even means? For me all I have to do is look at my dad. My dad is a Man. He has showed me what it means to work hard and take care of his family. He has worked his whole life to support our family the very best he possibly can. I know if he could go back in life he probably would have chosen a different career, but like he say's he chose what he chose and now he works at it as hard as he can. Almost every person that comes home from working 25 years in the Honda factory is groaning about how bad they have it, and how bad their job is. Not my dad. You know what I've always heard.. "Ya sometimes it gets repetitive but I'm blessed to have a job, and God has blessed me with certain relationships with people that I never would have met otherwise." Another thing that I always hold near to my heart is that my dad never chose work over family. He had opportunity after opportunity to get a promotion and make more money and have a better job.. but guess what.. He wanted to coach my Baseball team, he wanted to be at home every night to have dinner with us!
My dad has shown me what it means to Love your family with everything you have. I think he would be the first person to tell you he hasn't done everything right as a parent or as a husband but I will be the first one to tell you he has done an amazing job, second to none. I know that he wore the same two pairs of jeans for 8 years so he could spend his money on buying me American Eagle and Hollister clothes through middle and high school so I could be "cool". I know that if I ever find myself in any sort of bind all I have to do is dial his number and he will jump in his jeep and be there before I hang up. I know that I can be at my lowest of lows and he'll be the first to lift me up. I know without a doubt in my mind that there is nothing on this earth besides his relationship with God that means more to him then my mom, sister/paul, and me.
My dad has shown me that a relationship with Jesus is the only thing that matters in life. He has shown me that there is nothing more important than spending time with our Savior. He has showed me that you can spend time with the Savior in anything that you're doing, whether we're working on the car, or riding a roller coaster. When my dad shows me love I know that it can't come anywhere else but from the Savior. He has told me who he was before he was saved and I see who he is now. He shares his stories so that I know the only way him and I can control our stubborn personalities is through Jesus.
My dad went to almost every College football game I've ever played. No matter the distance, no matter what he needed to get done, he came. Him and my mom wouldn't let anything stop them from showing their support for me. I thank God for letting me be the son of Rock Powers. He has been the most influential man in my life and I am so very grateful for that. I feel lucky to have been raised by a loyal husband, loving dad, and wonderful Christian man. I hope that one day I may be able to be as great of a dad as he is. He has more love for me than I can ever realize and I know that.

I love you Dad. And I want to thank you for being the Man that one day, I hope I can be. Happy Father's day Dad.

Mountain Lake.


Today we went out to Mountain Lake... so of course I decided to go for a swim! The water on mountains isn't much over freezing, but no one relayed this "BREATHTAKING" information to me. So I sprinted and dove in... and before I realized it I'm kicking and flailing my way to the surface trying to get air. Before I dove in my lungs were full of oxygen, as soon as I hit the Artic water it all disappeared. It was like a magic trick...
But after the first time in I was golden. The old lungs became immune and I could swim for days in that pool of ice. As you can tell it was probably the most beautiful place I've ever swam in. It was tucked in the mountains by a beautiful little town. There were people out paddle boating, and kids playing by the shore. They had a very nice sand volleyball court right by the water. We broke up into 4 teams and started a tournament. It was a blast.
I can't seem to stop taking pictures of mountains. Even though they are everywhere, I find myself not getting over how beautiful they are. I have Chris Tomlin's song Indescribable playing on my ipod most of the time that we are driving on the coach. It's a side of creation that I've never seen. I stare sometimes for minutes on end because all I can think about is how beautiful God is.
Chris and I took a little adventure today to get a few photo's and then postcards. We went and took photo's first and then walked into town. After walking 3 miles into town we found out at 6:16 that all the shops in Austria close at 6:00. Joyfully... ha... we walked 2 miles back to our hotel only saying a few sentences to each other. When we were almost back we started laughing and said How can we be upset that Austrian store owners aren't concerned with being at their shops to sell stuff to more customers as much as they are concerned with getting back to their families to eat dinner with them. Walking 5 miles or not... I can't be mad because they have their priorities right.
Chris caught me trying to pick up this mountain so I could take it back to my parents house and put it in their backyard for them... Maybe one day Pop's!

Miss and Love you all. Namaste.

Trav

Monday, June 14, 2010

The One. The only. Mom Dance.

I can only start this post out one way… with the mom dance! Yes, words can’t even describe! I know at least Kylee will enjoy it. I captured this stunning performance by one of the older female fans during half time of the U.S. World cup game.

video

Saturday night we went down town to watch the U.S. team play England in the World Cup. The atmosphere was unreal. It felt like we were at the stadium. Chris and I went to get food and a soda and it took us a half an hour of being cut off and flipped off (Chris was wearing his U.S. soccer jersey) by England fans before we could get to our spot in the middle of the American Group. Believe it or not there were other American’s there!

When England scored the first goal 5 minutes into the game I quickly learned that 80% of the people there were rooting for England. Not good… numbers mean that they feel like they have the right to say and do anything they want to us. But that’s okay.. we stood our ground. Toward the end of the first half we had our turn to taunt them with a goal of our own. They gave us a hand gesture that I think was supposed to mean “good job” but I’m not positive.

The game ended in a tie which is probably the best scenario for all parties involved. I’ve never enjoyed watching a soccer game so much in my life. Me and four of the guys walked across town and got a table at this little restaurant right on the edge of the river. We were sitting there for a bit talking then all of the sudden an older man sitting next to our table leaned over and said something because he overheard what we were talking about. His name was Gus. He and his wife asked if they could join our table and continue the conversation. Of course we all said “Sure”! Gus is one of the most interesting men I have ever met. He is one of those guys that know how to talk to people. He can provoke thought and conversation and brings everyone into the conversation. He owns his own company and has done business all over the world. He just turned 60, and celebrated it while he was in China on business. He knew quite a few languages and you could tell he was a very smart business man.

He shared insight after insight about business, people, life, government, politics… we talked to him for 3 hours! He paid for our meals and then gave us his contact information. GET THIS… Gus lives in the Netherlands! We are going to be in the Netherlands for 3 weeks and he invited us all back to his house for a home cooked meal while we’re there! Like pop’s always said, “If it’s free it’s me!” But really I’m very excited to sit down and pick his brain again. God has blessed me with wild opportunities like this on our trip! He is good. Praise the Lord.

We left Czech and headed onto Austria. On the way to Austria we stopped at a former Nazi Concentration Camp. I’ve read about them and even saw a few images of them on the History Channel, but nothing compares or prepares you for actually visiting one. I don’t know how much detail I can go into on this blog about what I saw, one because I’m still processing it, and two because I don’t know exactly how to describe what I felt. This was real life. People really suffered and died. How one human can possibly treat another human being like that and feel okay about it is beyond my grasp. I walked into the crematory, where they burned the bodies, and almost couldn’t hold it together. Here’s a picture of one of the ovens they used to burn the bodies.

I just imagined them putting body after body in there and burning them one after another. Also I walked up to the firing wall and touched it with my hand. I didn’t want to, but my mind began to think about all the blood being splattered on the wall when the Jew’s would line up to be murdered cold blooded. Then there is the gas chamber that was disguised as a shower room where people would walk in and suffocate to death. I still don’t know what to think about it.. I pray to God that something like that never happens again.

On another note we’ve made it to Austria! We finally are getting into the mountainous region. We are in a town that is completely surrounded by mountains. It is absolutely beautiful. Our hotel is right at the bottom of one mountain and I was lucky enough to get a window that faces it. Waking up to a view of fog rolling off of the mountains isn’t too bad of a life eh?!

This week isn’t too bad at all. We have two classes in the morning and the afternoons pretty much free. I did laundry today… I don’t want to talk about it. At least it’s done. I forgot to mention we’re staying at the Olympic facilities here in Austria! Yes, that means we have access to all kinds of sports arenas. There is a pretty sweet part of the mountain that they do the ski jumping at too that is lit up at night. I’m fairly impressed with the facilities to say the least.

Tonight we played soccer down on one of the fields in the outdoor complex. It was one of those field turf facilities. It’s pretty nice. Me and some of our IBI group went down there and played with a few locals. It was actually really fun. I think I’ve found my spot right back there at goalie. Yup, I’ve finally found my calling. All this World Cup action has made me a dreamer, one day; I will play in an old man’s soccer league. One day. Does it really get any better than playing soccer on a field that has the Alps all around? It’s absolutely beautiful everywhere I go outside I can’t stop looking around. I think I was born to live in the mountains! But then I couldn’t grow corn… hmmm my hearts being pulled.

Tomorrow after class we’re heading to the mountain lake to go swimming. It should be pretty terrible, I mean there’s no reason to really envy me.. I’m in Austria swimming in some lake in the middle of the Alps. Dang it.

By the way I’m in the middle of Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love. If you don’t have a book you are reading right now, pick it up and read it. Right now. That book calls you out and doesn’t let you settle for less. It makes you look inside yourself and ask yourself the deeper questions. Yes, I think most of us Christians have enough church knowledge to give a good answer to any question but when it’s just you and God, it gets real. There’s no churchy answer that gets us by, he sees our heart. I just want everyone to know and feel in their heart God’s love. How could you not want to give your life for that? Is there anything sweeter?

Love and miss you all. Namaste.

Trav


Friday, June 11, 2010

Czech it out.

Debroi Den! We’re in the Czech Republic. It’s pretty awesome.. It was also a former Soviet Republic just like Russia so there are some similarities. But the countryside gives Germany a run for their money. Germany was absolutely beautiful but on our drive across Czech, to our corporate visit with Black & Decker/DeWalt Power tools, I saw a few images of God’s creation that I thought only existed in paintings. My limited vocabulary and inadequate skill of photography cannot give you the image of it for yourselves. But that does give us an excuse to come back here together. Let’s start savin’! I know somebody has enough frequent flyer miles for the both of us.. (yeah, you have to take me of course, so I can show you where it is J).

Yesterday, after class we were able to take a walking tour of Prague, which is the capital of the Czech Republic. After the tour we all had a few hours to spend in the city, so about 8 of us split off from the group and went searching for food. We sat down, got replenished, and then came up with a great idea. We would make a scavenger hunt! We came up with 10 items that we had to find and take pictures of around the city, and then we had to meet back at the clock tower in the middle of town in exactly an hour. For every minute you were late it deducted one point off of your team’s total. We split up in two teams of four. The teams were Me, Ryan, Clark, and Jen and then Chris, Ryan (blonde one), Mark, and Kati. The 10 items we had to find and take pictures of were as follows:

- A mullet

- Street Musicians

- A guy with his shirt off

- Someone wearing yellow shoes

- A flag of another country that is actually hanging from a building

- Something made in China

- One of our group members standing on a boat

- A couple in the process of PDA

- A sign for McDonalds

- A person playing in a Fountain

Now being a college athlete I have a tad bit of competitive nature inside of me. Just a little bit. I made our team take off like a bat out of Hadies. Which in the end was a smart move because we made it back to the clock tower three minutes early and waited for another 13 minutes for the other group to get there! That’s right we won not only because our pictures were better than theirs, but because all of their pictures were cancelled out by the penalty for being 10 minutes late!

Here are a few pictures that captured us the victory:



































Just to make sure they knew what they were we put this at the end of our slideshow.

On another note the World Cup starts today! Holy BIG DEAL! It’s wild to see all of the places down town get ready to host this huge event. They have set up huge screens and stadium seating in the town square for thousands of people to watch the games! I’ve actually really enjoyed “football” being such a big deal here. It’s a really cool atmosphere.. still though no matter how many soccer jersey’s I wear or how much I try to fit in, no one mistakes me for anything but an American football player. Yeah, I kind of stick out like a sore thumb, but I’m trying.

I think we’re all heading down town tonight to eat and watch the games so it should be a pretty cool experience. I’m going to wear a white t-shirt so I can stay neutral and also so some inebriated fan doesn't mistake me for rooting for the team that just beat their team. I here that is serious business and I don’t feel like putting my life on the line for a soccer team. Well maybe tomorrow when the U.S. team plays I’ll wear something John Deere. Since it’s an American based company it's like inadvertently tying myself to a team. Who I am kidding though, I love America, I’ll probably paint my face red, white, and blue!

To finish the post off I wanted to inform you of something that’s been really heavy on my heart since I’ve been here. I’ve found out that Czech Republic has more citizens that claim Atheism than any other religious belief. I think it is about 40% who claim it as their belief system. That breaks my heart. A lot of the old architecture around the town has crosses along the top of their structures and there are many statues of various saints. We also visited one of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve ever seen. But there’s one problem, no one uses any of these facilities anymore. They are all just tourist sites. Pray for the Czech Republic, and pray that the Christians here have the strength to passionately relate the gospel to their culture.

Also I wanted to leave you with a thought that has been with me all week. Every day I wake up and try to figure out how I am going to get the most satisfaction out of my day. What am I going to partake in that I will enjoy and that benefits me the most. That is not inherently bad in and of itself but something that I realized is I’m living every day for myself. I will only do things if I enjoy it or if it brings me peace. Why have I come to a state of forgetfulness that I’ve been given the gift of life. I have came to a place where I felt that I had the right to life. That I deserved it. In all reality, I have no such right. My right and my desire should be to serve my creator. He is the one that created me and he is the one that I should look to live for. I think he does want us to enjoy our lives but that’s not all we are suppose to think about. When we are one with him and think about where he is moving in our present situation and surrounding, that’s were the fun starts. He is ready to take us on a wild ride if we’ll drop our nets and follow him! Also I always look to when I’m going to serve somewhere off in the future. I make plans to always start my ministry later.. Why not start it now in my present situation? I should have plans for future ministries but not forget the chance of ministry in my present situation.

Much love. Namaste,

Trav