Sunday, May 31, 2009

We Make a GREAT team!

Disclaimer: A very long blog entry...but packed with lots of pictures and fun (don't forget you can click the pictures to enlarge them). Happy reading!

We really do make a great team! We want you all to know how very often we say, "I wish all of our supporters could be here right now to experience this!" There are SO many things that happen here that are just so beautiful and amazing and you are our partners in helping make these things happen. I (Susan) wish my words were adequate enough to convey how very blessed we are to be serving here and how extremely grateful we are for your obedience in supporting us here. WE LOVE OUR MINISTRY and you are a part of it! Thank you, Danke Schoen, Vielen Dank, Gracias, Gracie, Merci, etc. You get the picture...we are thankful and ask you to please keep giving. Your support is making a difference and here are just a few highlights of how:

On one of our volunteer nights at Storch dorm, we moved dinner outside to a nearby park. It was a beautiful evening and the girls needed an emotional boost, so dining al fresco with playtime at the park was just the ticket!

Meredith enjoying (my words not hers:)) some dorm food with the Storch girls.

Mark getting in on the playground fun with the kids. He played hard and felt it the next morning, but he says it was worth it to see their smiles and hear their laughter!

Bethany looking beautiful for the camera and having fun with the balloons the dorm parents provided for the evening. It's amazing what a few balloons and a beautiful sunset can do for the psyche.

When you live a small town like Kandern, you have to be creative in coming up with ways to entertain yourself. Meredith and her friends decided one morning to walk to school via the creek (aka Kander River) that flows through our town. This is actually quite tame compared to some of the crazy antics that our students can dream up:)

A couple of weeks ago, the middle schoolers had a talent show and Evan and his friends performed. They have named themselves Radium and for a bunch of 13 year-old boys, they are really good! I was one proud momma!

Mark's small group got creative in their support of Evan and his band and spelled out Evan on their stomachs! We love how much the students around here encourage one another. It truly is such a joy to be a part of a community of kids who are "for" each other.

Over the past few months you've seen lots of pictures of the students in our small groups. At the beginning of this school year, Mark and I volunteered to each lead a small group of students. We meet with them every Wednesday night. Small groups (what they're called around here) are designed to provide a place where students can connect with one another and be mentored by their leader. Mark and I have been immensely blessed during these special times and have grown to love "our kids".

Mark's small group

Susan's small group

Last week we treated our groups to a cookout for our last meeting for this year. God has been so gracious in providing us with spectacular weather for all of our year end activities and the evening of our cookout was no different.

One of the unexpected joys of being here is how much the students love Ethan! His life is being changed and blessed by all the adopted big sisters and brothers he now has.

You can't have a cookout in Deutschland without die Bratwurst!

A school wide spring party was held last Friday and it was an incredibly fun time. Once again, Mark got in on the fun and helped our freshmen (Mark and I have just been appointed their newest class sponsors) defeat the sophomores in tug of war.

The seniors and juniors then went at it and fought each other til the bitter end...of the rope that is. If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you'll see bits of rope flying everywhere. Yep, the rope snapped and juniors and seniors went flying.

Exams have now begun and students are celebrating their accomplishments in various ways around campus.

"Yay, I'm free and flying high!"

"Two thumbs up...I aced that one!"

"I can't believe I actually passed my German exam!"

"We did it!"...Aren't they such beauties?

"We're going crazy trying to keep all of our activities straight and help our own kids pass their exams!" - Not really:) We are having so much fun and really wishing this year wasn't ending so soon. We're not ready to say goodbye yet. Speaking of goodbyes...

This is Yuni, one of the girls in my small group. Yuni's parents serve in a closed country in Central Asia. Due to financial constraints, Yuni is unable to return to BFA next year. Will you please pray for her? I have seen so much growth in this precious young lady and I am so sad to see her go, but trust that our Savior has a special plan for her life. She will be homeschooled but will get to attend an international school one day per week as a tutorial. I keep telling her that I am "praying her back" to BFA. I want the Lord's will for her life, but my selfish, human self doesn't want to say goodbye to her. Please pray for a good friend for her, for her English to continually improve and most importantly for her spiritual growth as she has to leave a place that is familiar and special to her.

You made it to the end! Many blessings to you for reading this and being our partners in ministry to these precious students. We really do make a great team.
The school year may be coming to an end, but check back soon for more pictures of graduation and stories from families about what BFA means to them. Please also pray for safe travel for many parents and family members who will be traveling here soon for graduation ceremonies.

Peace and love,
The Powells

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Busyness of May

Wow has May been a busy month! The weather has been wonderful for the most part (except on field trip days) and we have been enjoying lots of fun activities and events with our beloved students.

Mark helped chaperone a field trip to a Bio Mass Plant in Basel, Switzerland. As you can see from the above picture, the kids weren't especially thrilled with the aroma!

Mark sharing an umbrella with Youjin on a rainy field trip day.

It's easy to tell that Spring has sprung and school is almost over. Attention spans are constantly decreasing and restless students make for challenging small group devotions. So...last week our small groups went to play on a playground and enjoy popsicles. It was such a fun night!

During one of our recent volunteer nights at Storch dorm, Ethan "rolled up his sleeves" and helped Jim (dorm dad) do a check on the dorm vans.

Our soccer and track teams have been performing so well this season. We've really enjoyed watching "our kids". Here's Meredith going for the ball!

Some of our talented track stars.

Our middle school students get to take part in experiential learning for a full week in the Spring. On one day, the 7th graders went to a nearby ropes course and Mark was asked to go along and help.

Mark and Evan exhibiting great teamwork on the ropes!

Getting suited up with safety equipment.

Hmmm, how do we look in these lovely safety helmets?

Two of Mark's small group guys wanted him to take them on a bike ride to the top of Hochblauen, an 1165 meter high mountain in our area. Here they are after almost 3 hours and lots of moaning and groaning (from the boys - not Mark:))

We only have two more weeks of school and in that time much will be happening. There's the middle school talent show, our small group cookout, dorm cleanings, soccer games, exams and then graduation. Emotions are running high around here as many goodbyes will be said over the course of the next two weeks. Please pray for our students and for us that we would all "finish strong" and serve one another well. Please also pray for all the parents traveling here for graduation and all the students who will be traveling home to their respective countries.
More pictures and updates to follow soon!
Blessings and peace,
The Powells

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Evolution of a Salad Bar (for 21 girls!)

About once a month, the "parents" who serve at each of our seven dorms get a well deserved weekend off. This past weekend the Patersons, our friends who serve as dorm parents at Storch took the weekend off to spend time with their older boys who are visiting from Canada. Mark and I volunteered to take care of preparing Sunday lunch for the girls while they worshipped at church. We washed, chopped, sliced and diced lots of veggies and prepared other items to put together a salad bar.

BFA contracts with a local company to provide meals to the dorms Monday through Friday. Imagine institutional food - heavy on the sauce covered meats and carbs and light on fresh, colorful produce. So, when the girls walked in and saw this...

They did this...
I love hugs!!!

Ethan got in on the hugs too! This is Yuni, who is one my small group girls, thanking Ethan. She and Ethan are big buddies.
Mark and I continue to be blessed by the time we spend volunteering in the dorm. We both feel very fulfilled in our professional positions at the school, but connecting with the students in moments like these can carry us for days!
Blessings and peace,
Susan and Mark