This week at our all staff conference, Michele Phoenix (yes, the Michele Phoenix) shared an encouraging video about serving young people here at BFA. I found it particularly encouraging and sent Michele a message to let her know that after it ended. When she replied later that evening to say thanks and asked me how I was doing, I added in my response that this past year had been particularly rough as I watched a student I'd mentored for two years walk away from Jesus and spend a year spiralling into an eventual mental breakdown five months ago and release a bunch of hurt towards me, his family, and his friends. The encouragement I'd found in Michele's video was that she shared some 20 year perspective on students who struggled as young people and have found success later in adulthood; I needed that in light of my current 2 year perspective for some of my hurting young students.
There was also celebration of the countless students who come through BFA and remain faithful to Jesus through their various trials. One of those celebration stories in my own life is Seth who the Lord brought back to visit in January after an abrupt Brexit related exit from the community last year. Based on the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I invited Seth into a discipleship group with some other alumni, and we've been sharing prayer requests weekly and having monthly calls while encouraging each other to follow Jesus. Seth came back to visit last month and spent several days reading Scripture and praying and cooking with me and Maggie. He came back this week to visit one of his friends who was gone during the last visit and spend some more quality time with me.
A couple days before he got here, Seth texted me to ask if I'd be able to baptise him during his visit. There was no hesitation in my response. I was incredibly honored to be asked, and I was going to make it happen. After a series of messages to Hunter about how this could happen safely with me in various different bodies of water (rivers were quickly ruled out), Chris jumped into the conversation and suggested an above ground pool. Taking into account my balance issues, we sorted through other options, and another parent in the community agreed to let us use their pool with a sturdy frame for me to hold on to that was actually shallow enough for me to sit in my chair next to while Seth kneeled in the water.
Seth is not a perfect kid, but he wants to follow Jesus. I'm not a perfect kid either, but I also want to follow Jesus. As I sat outside in the beautiful weather staring at the trees praying to God today, I realized that I'm closer to Jesus today than I was yesterday. I love that. I want that for each of my students. I want that for each of my peers. I want that for each of my readers.
We're starting school at BFA on Wednesday, and, honestly, there's a lot of stress, a lot of frustration, and a lot of unknowns about this year already. At the same time, there's a lot of excitement, a lot of anticipation, and a lot of opportunity for growth if we keep our eyes on Jesus. These things are concurrent in life, and I won't dismiss the hard stuff to celebrate the beautiful things. I absolutely love my job; anyone who's had a conversation with me knows that. I'm excited to interact with my students again while simultaneously devastated for the hybrid start that will keep half my students online for a couple weeks.
Among these tensions, I can share the praise with you that I work in a country that has clear safety guidelines that allow for us to re-congregate on campus while asking you for prayer that all the dorm students who begin travel to Germany from various risk level countries will be allowed through safely. I can share the praise with you that yesterday during my Jahreskontrolle, my doctor was pleased with my stable condition and thought it possible for me to remain in my teaching role at the same 70% capacity while also asking for prayer that my American insurance will pay for the prescribed new wheelchair, braces, and shoes. Some of you may know I've broken various parts of my wheelchair and this frankensteined frame has reached its limit. Swiss doctors recommend replacements every five years, and this one's reaching towards seven. Same for my shoes and braces - my longest readers might remember those took a series of three letters from the physio to approve insurance coverage because they were custom made for my feet and cost over $3,500 (and according to the American insurance I had a wheelchair so why did I need shoes if I couldn't walk). The good news on that request is that I have the Swiss prescriptions which should help the American insurance process. I'm also happy to report that while I want to get those processed and cleared sooner rather than later, my old mobility aids are functional and I can keep living and working well with them.
But let's not stop praying for everything. I believe in a God who shows up, who enters into history to learn what it's like to be human, who loves me deeply and personally, who continues to work healing in my body physically, and who privileges me with sharing a testimony of grace and love in my life. That's the Good News.