Thursday, February 23, 2006

our living room is now yellow!

the view from my bedroom window

the other view from my bedroom window

Bern Bears

"awwww, beeeears!"

Gena's favorite part of Bern was the bears. These are only two of the ten pictures she took of them... Bern means "bears," and the city has apparently kept bears for over two hundred years. I don't know... they didn't look that old. *mwu-wah-hah*

another bear

285 steps of Bern

beth, whitney, and me. gena was behind the camera. we took a weekend daytrip to the Swiss capital. it's about two hours away from kandern, or, as i like to put it, a full four games of sudoku.

we climbed this there...

in order to see this. looking closer at our view, we discovered dirty laundry, an empty birdcage being used as an outdoor fridge, and i revisited a bout with fear of verticals.

why yes, that is the celebrated ogre-eating-children fountain that you have heard so much about.

now that's a slide.

whitney had seen the spinny-thingy from the top of the cathedral and just had to sit in it...

so we did, too

a musical fly... we apparently hit the city during a protest of the World Economic Forum that was soon to be held in a Swiss resort town. this guy sure made me think twice about my use of the Dsus in a C Minor world...

me, beth, and cappuccino in bern

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dear Miss Emily

Dear Miss Suzanne,
Hi, I am ******'s daughter. They have Awana Clubs here in Missouri. In my Awana book says that I need to write a letter to a missionary and ask them some questions.Could you please answer some questions:
Where do you work? What is your job? What is the hardest part about being a missionary? What do you like best about being a missionary?Thank you for answering these questions!




Dear Miss Emily,

Thank you for your letter! I am so glad to hear that you are involved in Awana there in Missouri. I remember having a lot of fun in Awana clubs. I think I enjoyed all of the crazy games the most! :) Our gym floor at school had a HUGE red, green, blue, and yellow circle outlined on it--and it was just for us kids. I felt so special... Which group of Awana are you in now? What's your favorite part of going to Awana?

Ok, now you had asked me some questions...ah yes, here they are. Let's see, first, "Where do you work?" I work at Black Forest Academy in Kandern, Germany. (I think you probably remember a thing or two about that place! :) ) "What do you do?" I teach piano lessons to 39 missionary kids this year. My youngest student is in second grade, and my oldest students are in twelfth grade. Now, answering those two questions was pretty easy for me to do. It's your next two questions that make me think a little bit more. That might also be the reason I didn't answer your email sooner--sorry. It's just that your questions were so darn good!

"What is the hardest part about being a missionary?" Emily, I think the hardest part for me is trying not to live up to the word missionary. Have you ever known someone that you really wanted to be your friend? What did you try to do to get them to be your friend? Did you make something for them? Did you do nice things for them? Did you want them to see how well you could sing or draw or dance?

I think sometimes I think being a "good missionary" is treating Jesus like someone that I really want to be my friend. I try to impress Him by how many students I can teach or how well I can teach them to play scales (your dad has taught you about scales by now, I'm sure!). But Jesus doesn't want to be my friend because I can do all these things for Him. He wants to be my friend because He already loves me. Wow... that's pretty incredible, isn't it? Can you imagine if every person you ever wanted to be your friend, already liked you! Well, the best friend out there (the one that sticks closer than a brother... that means closer than Calvin... ok, maybe you'll understand that one better in a couple years... Calvin, be nice to your sister!) eh-hem, the best friend out there wants to be my friend already. And sometimes the hardest part is to stop trying to impress Him and to start getting to know my Friend better.

"What do you like best about being a missionary?" I am sooo glad you asked that question! My students are my favorite part of being a missionary. I think it's because they are teaching me so much about the countries they have lived in and the friends they have made there. They tell me funny stories and ask me questions that make me laugh and (not very unlike your questions) make me think. They make me want to get to know our Friend better.

Now, I'm no C. S. Lewis, but I hope this email answered your questions well. And I hope that you will get to know our Friend better, too.

Lots of love, Emily,

Monday, February 13, 2006


Tonight's the Valentine's party at school, and I've been home sick all day sleeping, coughing, blowing my nose, and watching the sixth season of Frasier (thanks, Sharri). On Friday, the high school guys were supposed to wear a hat to school if they were available, and the girls would then pin something to the hat of the guy they asked to the Valentine party. Girls at the dorm on Thursday night were a bit giddy, and I hear that there was a crowd of girls waiting for the guys' dorm vans to arrive early Friday morning. :) Sorry I missed that photo opportunity!

Last weekend, I went with the strings and choir kids to a church in France to do outreach. First, we visited a hospital and a nursing home. It's been a long time since I visited a nursing home. There are two that I walk past on my way to school every day. If I leave early enough, there's a woman who will be in the common room on the second floor of the building closest to school. She'll wave down at me, and I'll wave back up. If I forget to look up, she'll rap on the glass to remind me. I haven't left early enough in a couple weeks. And it certainly hasn't occurred to me to go in and visit her. I'm sure there are whole college courses on this subject--I know it's gotta be related to my fear of being in there myself or the inability to face old age. Whatever it is, it sucks, and I don't like it.

Maybe I expect them to be cranky or not care, because I was really surprised when the men and women in Mullhouse were appreciative and some followed us around the entire time. One old man was walking around and clapping for each song. The ladies with us explained that he was a pianist and had been pretty famous in his younger days. He wanted to give us a concert, too, so we agreed to meet him downstairs by the piano after we were done.

A few choir members and one of their faithful fans.

One woman started yelling unintelligible syllables while the kids were singing a capella in the hallway. I had designated myself official photographer, since we decided not to lug a keyboard up and down the halls. I don't know any French, so I motioned to some of the women that did. "I think it might be too loud for her," I offered. The lady chaplain went in to speak with her. "No, she just wants the group to come into her room so she can see them," the chaplain explained.

She had explained to us earlier that nearly all of the 400 people in that hospital wing would be in a bed for the rest of their lives. So 20 of us crammed into the small hospital room and sang "Give Me Jesus." The last verse was especially moving to those of us who spoke English..

Oh and when I come to die
Oh and when I come to die
Oh and when I come to die
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
Oh and when I come to die
Give me Jesus

Dangit, I want to have Him before that! After writing all of this, I have visions of myself becoming the next Florence Nightingale to the nursing homes of Germany. In high school, I started walking to the nursing home across the street with my piano books. I played on the baby grand in the foyer, and there were lots of folks who would wheel or walker themselves in to listen. But then they started asking for requests. I didn't know the pieces they wanted to hear, and I felt like I disappointed them. So I didn't go anymore. Maybe that was just my excuse, though, to not have to go back.

The formerly-famous pianist gave us a delightful concert on the electric piano downstairs. He and his knobby, niccotine-stained fingers played Chopin, Debussy, and a familiar French tune. I sat right by his hands, and he looked up, smiled, and winked while mumbling in French. We cheered and clapped, and some of the kids played for him, too. As we left, I gave him the traditional French kiss-on-each-cheek goodbye. He grinned and reached for his cigarettes that one of the chaplains was holding out for him.

I guess walking in was relatively easy. It was the walking out that was hard. Walking out is still hard. Maybe that means I should be walking back in more often . . .

(pictures from the trip)