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 :)



Tuesday, June 22, 2010


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.


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.


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.

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.


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,


Sunday, June 6, 2010

When in Rome.

I’m going to go into my next story even though I know it’s going to put my mom’s blood pressure through the roof. This story is going to sound irrational, irresponsible, and insane. But don’t worry ma the risks were strongly taken into consideration, as well as a lengthy opportunity cost analysis. Hahaha I know you’re still thinking, “ya ya don’t give me that boy!” Well be what it may I’m alive and well, and still able to share the story! I love you mom! Without further adue:

My buddy Chris, who I talk about fairly often, was down at the river journaling and reading. He sat down on a bench beside a man named Norbert. Chris began a casual conversation with the man that lead into a whole life story. An hour into the conversation Norbert invited Chris and one of his friends to go out to eat with himself and his wife that night. (That was last night). Anyway, I was the lucky friend. Chris said, “Trav are you down for going to dinner with this guy I met today and his wife?” I said, “Okay, keep going…” Then he said, “Yeah, I met this guy today at the park and he invited me and a friend to go to dinner with him and his wife. His name is Norbert and he owns two businesses here in Heidelberg. He has traveled all over the world and knows like 6 languages. He said he’ll pick us up at about 8 in front of the hotel in his black convertible car.” After thinking about it for .5 seconds, I said OF COURSE! We said a quick prayer out loud that God would use this night to speak to our lives and theirs and of course to keep us safe.

There I was at 8 o’clock, meeting Norbert and his wife Patricia, and getting into his foreign black sports car. We all started talking and I got the background of both of them. Patricia was from Ecuador and spoke, Spanish, German, and English. Norbert grew up in Germany, but also spoke those languages and a few others. He owned two real estate companies here in Heidelberg. He said that he often travels and he enjoys his experiences so much more when the locals reach out to him and share their culture. He was just trying to pay forward the kindness. By the way, Chris met Norbert in the park because Norbert is training for his 8th Marathon and he was just sitting down on that bench after his daily run. Anyway Norbert explains that he’s taking us to a festival about a half hour away. The only reason it was a half hour away is because he went over 220 Kilometers an hour on the highway. I guess you’re allowed to do that here. Yeah… NBD. We drove and ended up driving to where the farm fields met the mountains and came to a town that was tucked back in between the two. It was by far the prettiest view I’ve ever seen in my life. The sun was setting behind the mountains and there was wheat and vineyards as far as the eye could see.

We get out of the car and start walking toward the crowds and crowds of people. We found a little restaurant and Norbert showed us two authentic German dishes that were a must have. One was liver and sauerkraut and the other was pig stomach and sauerkraut. I know it sounds disgusting but it really was quite good. A very nice couple asked to sit down beside us and we began to talk to them. They also spoke a few languages. At one moment during dinner there was three languages being spoken, at our table, at the same time. The man that was sitting by us ended up being the judge of the highest court in Germany. It was pretty random, but I guess normal considering the story as a whole. There at the table you had Chris and I who met each other about two weeks ago, Norbert and his wife who met Chris and I a couple hours earlier, and the judge and his wife who met all of us at the beginning of the meal. We sat there for about an hour just enjoying each other’s stories and company. It was surreal to say the least.

We said our goodbyes to the judge and his wife and kept walking. Soon we found the live music and German dancing in the middle of the square. There we spent the rest of our time enjoying conversation and watching “veterans” as Norbert called them, enjoying themselves dancing the night away. They played classic German songs that everyone else sang a long to, and then it happened. Sweet Home Alabama came blaring through the speakers! No way! Everyone started screaming just like they do back home, and said the famous line “Turn it up!”

We left the festival around mid-night and enjoyed a beautiful star filled drive back to the hotel. Norbert gave us his business card and we said our goodbyes. When they pulled away, I looked at Chris and said, “What just happened?” Neither of us had an answer other than a shrug of the shoulders and a smile bigger than our faces. “When in Rome”, right?

Today we visited a castle and it was an awesome experience. I’ve always heard about castles growing up but assumed they were just a part of history and long gone. They are still around! It was absolutely beautiful. We had a tour guide and he shared all of the history. The castle that we went to was constructed around 1534. It made it through many battles and attacks. I’m not very good at explaining what I saw all that well, but don’t worry I have plenty of pictures.

I love and miss you all.



Friday, June 4, 2010

Run. from. Laundry. with. Scooters.

This morning I took one of the most beautiful runs of my life. I woke up right after sunrise and put on the asics. I left the hotel and headed toward the Rhine River. I crossed the bridge and made it to a beautiful park on the other side of the river. I started running through the park and made it down to the edge of the river. I ran along the river and was stunned by the view of the mountains and cottages on the hillside. Then in the distance I saw a castle that I had to make it too. I ran to another bridge and crossed the river again. I ran toward the castle and made it to a little village below the castle. This was a well kept old fashion German part of the town. The streets were all coble stone and the buildings were all very close together. In front of every store front were tables and chairs and Old German men drinking their morning cup of coffee and reading the paper. I immediately decided when I got back from my run that I was going to take a walk after class, on the same path, to get pictures. Also I selfishly wanted to make you all covet the view... evil i know.

Today is laundry day. Anyone that knows me also knows that I am dreading this. I'll make it through I guess, maybe. I don't know what it is about laundry, I just immediately become a debbie downer when I have to do it. But to counteract my misery, yesterday I found a place where I could rent a motorized scooter for a day! It's only twenty Euro. So I've convinced all the guys on the trip that this would be a good investment of their monetary capital. I also figured it out so it would match our collective budget constraint compared to our indifference curve as a group. So I decided me and the boys are going to take the scooters up the mountainside tomorrow and grill out in the park at the top. Yeah, now that I think about it, I can make it through this devil of a task, they call laundry.

On another note I just finished the book by Mohammad Yunnus, "Banker for the Poor". This book is all about micro-financing for the bottom 50% of the Bangladesh country. Basically I have seen that through business I can do so much more than give a poor person in need food to feed them one day. It has pushed me to try to come up with business plans to give them a chance to get back up on their feet to feed themselves and their families for the rest of their lives. Don't get me wrong it is not a bad thing to give to the poor and donate things, but through this book I've realized that with business I may have the opportunity to do more than just help them for a short time. They will be able to get their dignity back. Through this I think that I may have a platform to share the gospel. I know that personally if someone gave me a second chance in life I would give them the time of day to share their heart with me. I guess it comes back to the old phrase "you have to give respect, to get it." Needless to say, I would encourage you to read this book even if business doesn't excite you. It's a really neat prospective. I just started Crazy Love today, by Francis Chan. I can tell already it's going to be a good one. I know a lot of you have already read this book so I will definitely be looking forward to talking about it with you!

I hope you all are still doing well! Love and miss you all. I just got done with about 5 hours of class time today, and we have an exam tomorrow... But it's so nice out. Pray that I actually have the self-control to study tonight. Maybe i'll just go to a coffee shop and study outside. You guys would be so amazed by how many coffee shops there are and every restaurant has outside seating right along the road. I love it. Everyone is sitting outside eating and socializing all through the town. It's pretty cool. P.s. I really enjoyed my sisters last post on her blog about the word Namaste. I think from now on that is how I want to end my posts. I would encourage you all to check her blog out. It's She's an amazing girl, if you don't know her, i hope someday you get the privilege to meet her. I feel so lucky to be her brother and I'm not just saying that either. She has blessed my life in so many ways. She has a pretty cool husband too. He's a baller. Well in the historic words of Ron Burgandy, "Stay classy San Diego!"

Love and miss you all. Namaste,


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Farewell Russia. Hello Germany!

It's been less than a week since my last post but my oh my I have so much to say. We didn't have internet in Russia so I have a lot of catching up to do... This is my warning you may not want to read this post in it's entirety in one sitting. Alright, in the wise words of my father, "you can't say I didn't warn ya!"

On our way out of Lithuania we stopped at a place they called the hill of crosses. This hill was filled with over one-hundred thousand crosses that people have made/bought and dedicated for various reasons. The hill came about during the time the Soviet's controlled Lithuania. It was a silent protest against the Soviet's to say they wanted a free country and they had faith that God was going to give them that country. In Soviet time religion was highly looked down upon and usually punished in various ways, sometimes with the loss of life.

Taking the mile walk up to the hill was very sobering in a way. I walked slowly taking it all in imagining each individual who snuck up the hill and placed their crosses on it. As I walked through all of the crosses I could imagine the prayers that were being poured out to God as people placed their crosses on the hill. It was truly a time of no words. I didn't know what to say. I still don't know what to say. Praise the Lord, praise his name that there is so much more to live for in this world.

On a lighter note, I finally rode an overnight sleeper train. There is a picture of my buddy Chris modeling off his luggage, with his two inch chrome wheels, before we got on the train. To be honest I was very excited to take this 14 hour train ride to Russia. And to be even more honest, that excitement quickly vanished. Wow that was an experience. Now everyone knows I'm not a dramatic person, so I'm just going to tell you the facts.
-There were four grown men to one berth (That's what they call a "room").
-The berth was smaller than the crib I slept in when I was first born (but seriously it wasn't much bigger)
-There was no A/C or windows to even crack or open
-No fan
-And did I mention there were four grown men in that small enclosed area.
Anyway after we finally squished all of our luggage in every open inch of the room we sat down on top of it/our beds. I got my Business Analysis papers done from our previous corporate visits and tried to lay down. I don't want to be graphic but I stripped down and laid completely still on my bed and still sweat flowed like the Nile off of me. I'm not even going to go into the hour of the train being stopped and dead silence when the Russian border police came on the train and checked our passports. Those guys aren't necessarily worried about making us enjoy our experience on the train. Oh and I won't mention them wanting us to pull our bags out of all the places we stuffed them away and let the nice German Shepard with huge fangs sniff them for ten minutes. Anyway I finally got to sleep and woke up in Russia!

Wow was I excited when I woke up. Okay that's a lie. Who really is excited the moment they wake up? Actually when I woke up I felt so sweaty and sticky and I had to find my dress clothes and it was all a mess... but that's another story for another time. Needless to say we were in Moscow! Wow that city is awesome. I was so excited when I started to see some of the things that I've only read about in text books. I walked across the red square, where a little more than 20 yrs ago no American could walk across. I got to take a look at the Kremlin, which is the Government buildings/fortresses... Out of these buildings flowed so much oppression and suffering, and now there's hope. It was all a pretty surreal experience.

Then came the Russian Ballet!! What the?! In my last post I said I would conquer something... well that something was sitting through 3 acts of the Russian Ballet! I mean after the first one I was like Oh Bravo... that was a cool experience and started to get up and walk out. Then everyone said it was intermission and to sit back down... so I mentally prepared myself for the next act by singing Brad Paisley's song "I'm still a guy". The second act came and went and I just focused on being "Cultured" and tried to have an open mind. Again I got up to leave and even walked to the doors and my classmates yelled and said, "Wait, bro there's another act." I turned around, my face as pale as a ghost and said alright, I'll be right there. I went to the bathroom threw up a little and got back in my seat. Barely made it through the last act and sprinted to the bus. It was cool to see the famous "Russian Ballet" I just wasn't mentally prepared.

Sunday was my absolute favorite day in Russia! We went to a little baptist church 2 hours from Moscow. It was a small church with older and younger people. When we got there they were singing in Russian, and since I only know ten phrases in Russian I couldn't follow along very well. (On a side note Chris and I decided to learn ten phrases in every country we go too... It's pretty comical to say the least.) Anyway since I didn't know what they were saying I just stood and watched.

A fierce wave of emotion came over me as I watched this row of elderly women passionately and freely worship God. These women had to be in there late 70's and definitely lived during the time of the Soviet Reign. I'm sure they were oppressed for years and could not worship openly. Now, you couldn't stop them from worshiping. One of the older Women got up and came back in ten minutes later with fresh cut flowers. She laid them on the pulpit and smiled at the pastor. The pastor was quite a bit younger than them and I could tell he had a deep respect for these older ladies. Another one of the ladies got up out of her seat and came back with a vase full of water to put the flowers in. It was amazing to see these women be so free.

All of this was occurring while everyone else was singing. After the singing the rest of the service was kicked off by prayers form this row of older ladies. Then the pastor called a few of our group members forward to lead a song and share some thoughts. After that the pastor gave an inspiring message that was translated for us and again the older ladies closed the service with prayer. It was so amazing to see this church mix it's contemporary style with such a deep respect for the elders.

Afterward one of the older ladies pulled me over and had one of her younger friends translate. She shared with me how thankful she was to worship with us and how blessed she felt by us coming. I told her how much she touched me and we just smiled. Another one of the older laddies grabbed my hand and said something in Russian that I couldn't understand but I could feel it. If that makes sense. I knew what her eyes and her heart and her touch said. Gosh, that's how I want to be. I want to be so filled with the Lord that even if people don't understand me they can understand that my touch, and my eyes, and my heart are all saying God loves you, I thank God for making you.

Later that evening we went to the Russian Circus which was by far the most amazing circus I've ever been to. Wow I don't even know how to explain it all, but I know is that I never imagined the human body could do half the stuff they did. Also there was an act of the circus dedicated to poodle tricks and that made me think of my mom and her dogs. She would have loved it. I now have a new respect for poodles and when I get home I'm putting my mom's dogs through vigorous training.

I'm trying to rap this up fast for you all... so last night we flew into Amsterdam and then we drove to Germany today. We stopped and toured the John Deere plant which made my life!!! Wow that was amazing. I was like a little kid in a candy shop. I asked so many questions our tour guide stopped calling on me. Still, it was by far the best corporate visit I'm going to have while I'm over here! I know it. They took us through the whole factory and I got to see part by part how the tractors were made. If anyone wants to check it out sometime, call me and I'll go to the one in Iowa with you for sure!!

On our drive from Amsterdam to Germany I was amazed at how beautiful it is. It really is the most beautiful countryside I've ever seen. It has mountains and crops and rivers and historical buildings and castles. It is absolutely incredible. We are staying here until next Tuesday, which I"m excited about. We are right on the edge of a river and a mountain and then to the other side of the town is beautiful farm land and hills. The town is breathtaking. It has old paver stone roads but then it has tons of local stores and also department stores. It has the best of both worlds. It is a modern town with an old feel.

We have four class sessions tomorrow and I'm getting sick. Pray for me. I think it's because I've been drinking the water maybe or maybe not. I figure my body will adapt eventually. I just have to break this headache I have. I know every medical professional would be so mad at me but it's nothing 6 Advil can't fix. Much love and sorry this post was so long. Love and miss you all. God bless.