Whoa! How long has it been since I blogged? Honestly, even though I’ve had a lot on my mind to blog about, Language School keeps me pretty whipped. Even as I type this, I should be studying for an 80 word vocabulary quiz I have tomorrow morning. Sprachschule gehts sehr gut. Wir sind fast half fertig! (Language school goes really well. We are almost half way done!) But, with all the ministry, language, transition, blah blah blah, I wanted to take a break and talk about Caryn. On the 16th, we will celebrate our 16th anniversary! Last Friday, as we were strolling on a street in North Hamburg, enjoying the weather and walking arm in arm, we began talking about life. We were speaking about what great kids we have, and how we could not have imagined that our lives would look ANYTHING like they look today. And, we both agreed, it is by God’s grace that we are where we are. I also believe, though, that it is because I am married to the most amazing woman on the face of the planet! She manages our home, coordinates travel, keeps the kids organized, AND puts up with me. Caryn Bishop is a full time language student, is working on undergraduate hours, lives 7,000 Km from her family, makes cookies for her neighbors, builds relationships with teachers, makes it to the market every week for fresh fruit and flowers. I could go on and on about how amazing she is. Never in my life, though, could I have imagined all the ways I’ve been blessed by her. Thank you, Caryn, for 16 amazing years. I look forward to 60 more!
This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. I think it’s because we, as Christians, are called to love above all else. Jesus reiterates the commandments when He says that the greatest commandments are: 1) to love God with all you, & 2) love your neighbor as yourself.
Our cultures want us to believe that love looks like the movie “Friends With Benefits.” The trailer for that movie was a little much for me, but it might have been the German context. Some things here are more socially acceptable to throw out there. I’d be interested to see how different the US trailer spot is. Anyway, I digress. So, I just wanted to get the ball rolling on what could be a great conversation. I’ll just put it out there early, that I’d like to hear what you think love is. The rules: no cut-n-paste comments (only your original thoughts or thoughts on someone else’s thoughts), no attacks or actions that are unloving (I reserve the right to remove any post I feel leaves the heart of the topic), and be honest, not cavalier (by that I mean, don’t just throw out a general principle that someone else should aspire to. Talk from your heart).
To get us rolling, I’ll start where my heart started with this topic. Love is more than just the fulfillment of an obligation out of a sense of duty. There are many who know this feeling of obligation or expectation that has not a shred of love intermingled. I admit that the expression of love is ripe with duty and obligation, but that’s not the motivation. Love is the motivation. DC Talk (showing my age) had a song called “Love is a Verb.” True, but I think love is the motivational foundation for whatever verb follows. For example, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prays that God would allow this cup (suffering and crucifixiton) to pass from Him. Does that mean He doesn’t love humanity? Does this mean that even Jesus had His limits of what He would do for love or that He now wanted out of an obligation He’d made because it was too hard? Hardly. Or, does it mean that Jesus only sacrificed because of His obligation? Does it mean that He had started a path he was required to see through? That’s not it either.
Jesus’ love for His Father was the driving factor in all He did. If we take our eyes off of that, we miss the bulk of Jesus’ teachings! When Jesus says things like, “As you do to the least of these,” or “If you love Me you’ll obey My commands,” He is not saying, “Keep your commitments because you’re obligated.” Love moves us to action. Love moves us to sacrifice. Love keeps us obedient. But what about those days where you just don’t feel like you love the people like you need to? What about those days when it just doesn’t seem worth the sacrifice? Those are the days that we all have. But those are the days that we’ve taken our eyes off of Our Father and put them on something lesser. The question is not what am I obligated to do. Our focus is on Christ, the only one worthy of any and every sacrifice. If you’re sacrifice is solely for people, you’ll empty that tank pretty quickly. But when you keep your focus on Christ, your dead-end, “loveless” marriage can be a place of worship. Your over-demanding boss can be a source of blessing.
This is what I take away from the Garden. When Jesus says, “Not My will but Yours,” He is showing us how to stay obedient and to live out love . It’s not about the worth or value of those you sacrifice for, or even feel obligated to serve. I think that will come, though. But at the heart of the matter is that your love for God drives you to live as He asks, love as He loved, and die as He died; and to do it all for Him.
Well, I’ve run on enough. I’ll sum up by saying that love should be/is the motivator to obedient action for followers of Jesus. What do you think? What is love to you and why?
Um halb 7 stehe ich auf. Dann lese ich die Bibel für meine ruhig Zeit. Nächste ich esse um 7 Uhr Frühstück. Oder Ihr könnt sprechen, “Ich Frühstücke.” Oft, Frühstück ist Fleisch und Brot mit Wasser. Übringens, ich mag Brötchen mit Marmelade oder Schokolade und einen Becher Kaffee. Sie schmecken sehr!
Dann, von halb 8 bis fünf vor 8 fahre ich meine Kinder in die Schule. Sie sind bei Zwei anders Schule. Von dort, von 8 Uhr bis halb 9 nehme ich den Zug, und ich gehe in die Schule in Hamburg. Ich lerne von zehn vor 9 bis 13 Uhr Deutsch sprechen. Der Vortrag ist 4 Stunden lang.
Dann um 13 Uhr nehme ich den Zug und ich fahre nach Allermöhe. Das ist wo Cayla zur Schule geht, und wo das Auto ist. Von halb 2 bis 2 hole ich meine Kinder ab. Dann gehen wir nach Haus zum Mittags. Um Viertel nach 2 essen wir Mittags.
Dann von halb 4 bis 5 Uhr lese ich mein Deutsch Buch.
Das ist mein Tag jeden Werktag oder Arbeitstag!
We’ve just completed week 3 of living abroad, so I thought I’d blog a little about similarities and differences in life here compared to life stateside.
There have been many differences, but the most striking so far has been the weather. I think we’ve had one day where the temperature got close to 80F/27C. And it has rained almost every day since we arrived. As I sit in our living room writing this, it’s Sunday morning, raining (since Friday), and is 52F/12C. This may be our high temp for the day! And because of our northern latitude (same as Edmonton, Alberta), it’s light from 05.00 (5a) until 22.00 (10p). It will be like this for a short part of the year, then make the shift to being dark from about 17.00 (5p) until 09.00 (9a), giving us about 8 hours of sunlight.
We have a car, and are allowed to drive for up to 6 months with our Texas license, meaning we’ve been able to drive since the day we got here. It’s not too different than driving in Texas, and we’ve only been honked at a few times for mistakes we’ve made (like right on red…only exists where specifically indicated by signage). The speed limit is in Km/H (kilometers per hour) instead of MPH. When you are driving through town doing 50Km/H you’re really doing about 35 MPH (multiply by .6 to get to the standard value). And, although we’ve driven on the Autobahn several times, we haven’t hit any of the no speed limit spots. That will happen in next week when we drive to Slovenia and Austria! Yeah, I’m pumped and Caryn is terrified. I may need some homeopathic tranquilizer recipes from you!
The primary form of transportation where we live is still the car, although bikes are probably a close second. Many people walk or bike where they need to go since almost everything is within walking distance. But, we live in the suburbs. In the inner city of Hamburg, the transit system is the predominant form of travel. The trains, buses, and harbor ferry are amazingly efficient and easily accessible. We’ve utilized these forms of travel a few times since arriving. We will use them MUCH more when Caryn and I start school in August.
There are some food options that are very German, as well as Turkish. Our favorite ethnic food so far has been the Döner. It’s a shaved meat, either chicken or beef at the stand we go to, stuffed into a grilled flat bread and topped with lettuce and sauces. Of course, Cayla orders chicken nuggets there! I’ve had some schnitzel, which was delightful! Imagine a breaded, thin-cut pork chop. Mmmm!
Starbucks has some of the traditional offerings, too, but not the drinks we have liked so we’re trying new drinks. But we’ve found a local coffee shop called Sorrano’s that we really enjoy. The owner, a man named Tarak, has been so friendly. He speaks English very well, but has told me he will only let me get by with English for a few weeks. He will gradually only do German with me. It’s a great thing that I can order all of our drinks in German already.
There are Ice-cream stands everywhere! And the kids have found their favorite flavors. Here, ice cream is called Eis (say it like “ice” but more of a “z” sound for the “c” rather than an “s” sound).
There is also a bakery that is within walking distance of our house. The kaffee (coffee) is alright, but the pastries are amazing! We were told about a pastry that is a regional pastry called fronzbrochen. It’s like a croissant/cinnamon roll. Cayla loves it and wants to stop for one every day when we leave our neighborhood!
Contrary to what you hear about Germans, our experience has found them to be friendly and accommodating. Two of our four neighbors popped-in with house-warming gifts (potted plants). We’ve delivered thank you gifts to them (Caryn’s famous chocolate covered/white-chocolate swirled strawberries). Many of the people we’ve encountered have spoken English. The ones that didn’t were very patient and helpful. When we’ve ended up in a language pinch, we’ve resorted to motions and sounds in a way that is probably VERY entertaining to the people around us.
You may have heard people mention the orderly nature of Germans, and we’ve found that to be pretty accurate. There are certain lanes for certain speeds. There are certain procedures that no one would ever violate. Now, there are some people, just as there are everywhere, that put their needs above others and buck the system. But they are not the norm.
Germans enjoy conversation and relationships. It’s the norm for a wait-staff person in a restaurant to assume you’ll use your table for more than an hour. They don’t get antsy and try to move you along. It’s part of a good meal to have good conversation. And when you visit their home they expect you to come in, sit down, and stay a while. We have really enjoyed the people we have met so far.
I could go on an on about the banking system, media, recycling expectations, holiday traditions, etc. But, I’ll sum it up by saying that we are really enjoying our time here. The people are great. The food is great. The weather is generally pleasant. Thanks for your prayers in this transitional time for us!
“Go forth from your country…” -Genesis 12
We are experiencing a little of what Abraham must have felt as God uprooted him from all he knew and sent him to a land of strangers. If you haven’t heard yet, The Bishop family now resides in Hamburg, Germany, where we are hoping to make strides for the kingdom.
I still remember my first trip over seas. It was to Kenya. I was 31. I’m not as old as Abraham was, but older none the less. Right now, I’m sitting in a London airport and thinking through what God is doing with our family. I see my kids sitting next to me and can’t help but think about how different life would have been for me if I’d engaged in God’s work at their age. Now 11 and 9, these two have sensed God’s call on them to the nations, and have pursued it on 3 continents. Considering all they’ve left behind, I wonder how it must be for them! They truly are leaving behind everything they know for the sake of the call, living as “sent-out ones.”
One of the things we’ve tried to do through this whole process is to nurture that sense of obedience in them. For some families, the kids are a part of the calling by virtue of having to go where their parents go. But we made this a family decision, asking them to express what they felt God was telling them, and giving them a say in this. My hope is that, through out their lives, they would pursue God’s calling for them, no matter the cost. And I pray daily that it could be said of each of us what was said of Abraham in Genesis 25:8, “Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life.”
Can you find satisfaction in knowing you did what God called you to do and let that be enough?
I think we have finally gotten “settled” in our 2-bedroom quarters here near Richmond, VA. It’s taken 3 weeks, but we are finding our stride. As usual, we will be leaving in 4 weeks, so it’ll be another adjustment. But, at least it’s 4 weeks of stability.
We live in a QUAD. Our Quad is a big house that has 4 apartments. Each apartment is equipped with a kitchen and a bathroom, and 2 bedrooms. Each apartment has a family living in it, so in our quad, there are 14 people living. 3 of these families have small kids, all of them being 5 or less! So, Jeremiah and Cayla are the oldest. Our neighbors in the next quad have kids that are 13, 12, and 10, so they have quickly become Jeremiah and Cayla’s close friends.
Our day consists of getting up at 6:20 (Caryn gets up at 5:30a to run). We head off to a cafeteria (think Youth Camp but a little nicer) for breakfast at 7:00. There’s about 40 families here right now, so we will usually see everyone at each meal.
I’m in charge of the Audio/Visual team here, so I rush off at 7:30 to make sure lights, microphones, and cameras are all set for the first session that starts at 8:00. We usually walk Caryn to the first session. It’s a “kid free” time for the moms. From 8:00 – 8:45, Caryn is having a Quiet Time and Bible study with all the other moms while the dads chase their tiny kids all over the camp! I’m blessed to have older kids, so we go back to our Quad or to the cafeteria and have our Quiet Time. Then Jeremiah and Cayla swing until it’s time for school at 8:45.
They go to school in a building where other TCK’s (Third Culture Kids) who have grown up overseas are now the teachers! Jeremiah and Cayla’s teacher is Mr. Ben. He’s teaching them about living overseas as a disciple and as an ambassador for Christ. They do a lot of reading, and they study the Bible.
From the time that we drop them off at school until 3:15, Caryn and I are in meetings. Some are fun. Some, not so much. Some of these meetings have been about the culture where we’re going. Some have been on company policy. And some, honestly, I’m still not sure what they were about!
At 3:15, there’s usually more meetings for me, while Caryn and the kids unwind from a busy day. By 5:00, just about everyone here has descended upon the cafeteria for dinner. We really look forward to the dinners on the weekends. The weekend chef is a cooking school graduate and former military man we affectionately call Mr. James. And man can he cook!
There’s usually more casual meetings after dinner. There’s an open gym 2 nights a week for J & C to go to. I’m teaching Martial Arts 2 nights a week for people as a self defense class. And, by 9:00, the compound, er, I mean, campground is quiet. Our kiddos have showered, prayed, and gotten into bed. Caryn and I sit around our kitchen table and look at assignments that are due as we talk about the day. By 10:00p, the Bishop’s section of the Quad is dark and quiet.
That’s the typical day here. We do have a not-so-typical day coming up tomorrow. It’s clinic day where everyone begins all the shots they need for overseas. Caryn and I can’t find our shot records, so we will be getting ALL of the immunizations, Yellow Fever, Hepatitis, TB, etc. shots again! J & C don’t have any shots to get yet, so Caryn and I get to be the pin-cushions!
Thanks for your prayers and support! We miss all of you very much, and are looking forward to being home from June 18 – June 29! We’ll see you soon!
We are wrapping up our first week here at The Farm. It has been a CRAZY week! I’ve gotten more information in the last 5 days than probably the last 5 years combined!
But even more important has been the spiritual and fellowship aspects. On a spiritual note, it has been a great time away from phones, texts, and to some degree, emails. I’ve had time to think, pray, worship, dream, and even plan (a little!). On Friday we had a personal retreat time where we were told to take a sack lunch and go disappear from human contact for 3 hours. Our only guidelines were to spend the 3 hours with Christ. It was a GREAT time for me. It was a time Christ reminded me of His grace and His great joy for those who come to faith in Him. As I was walking on a gravel path through the trees in the morning sunlight, I was contemplating Jesus’ interaction with Zaccheus. I could just picture Jesus looking around at the lunch guests and proclaiming with overwhelming joy and celebration, “TODAY salvation has come to this house!” The contrast was that in spite of my knowing this, and regardless of how many times I have spoken to others of God’s grace and mercy, I had forgotten what that mercy and grace means for me. I’d been operating from the mindset that God is just waiting for me to mess things up and crush me. Without boring you with a long history of my walk, this is an area I’d struggled greatly with because of my relationship with my dad. And, even through I KNOW God is not a malevolent being waiting to crush me, I’d been thinking like that for a long time. I’d been confessing sins already forgotten by God, and dragging up things He has already dealt with me on. Friday, I left that behind! And how liberating it’s been!
The other aspect we’ve encountered has been that of the fellowship of 100’s of other people who are all experiencing the SAME things we are: getting rid of stuff, leaving loved ones and comfort of home, in a long period of transition. We’ve celebrated with these new friends, cried with them, watched each others kids, shared countless meals already, and worshipped as a house church with our quad-mates. We’ve also found time to do some family stuff. Last night, I took the kids fishing while Caryn did some reading. Jeremiah and I are watching “Tron” while Caryn runs and Cayla swings at the park. Tomorrow morning, it’s back to the grind stone!
Continue to pray for us as we make this journey with the other families and singles here. It’s been amazing and it’s only been a week!
See you soon!
Today’s post is mainly for me as a sort of cathartic moment. It’s been ruminating in my brain for a week, trapped amidst the busyness of preparations to go. So, thank you in advance for for your gracious understanding of my need to write and process.
Many of you know me, and know that I’m a pretty optimistic person. Sometimes it gets me into trouble that I assume the best of people and situations, allowing me to be blind sided by bad situations. Here of late, though, I’ve been seeing the events of our life as a series of “lasts.” I.E. my last meal at Chick-Fil-A, my last Disciple Now, my last Nooma Ride, my last Sunday at THF, my last Belt Test at CrossPoint, etc. But it hit me this morning that none of these events are necessarily the last of anything! Not any more than they could have been my last on any day of my life. And even if they were, I’ve been seeing this wrong. The ending of a chapter simply means the beginning of the next! As I sat with some of my friends this morning (who happen to be former students of mine), I realized that they will not stop being my friends or former students. And just because it will be 4 years before I get to ride with my biker friends here, it doesn’t mean I won’t ever ride with them again! It just means that I’ll have a whole new batch of stories to share with them the next time we ride, as I’m sure they will, too! We will still be able to share in the victories of the faith, the trials of life, and the sorrows of heart-break with those we call friends.
Our departure for Virginia Monday only marks the end of a chapter in our lives. But it also marks the beginning of a new chapter, with new characters and adventures. Today I am making the appropriate changes in my thinking to again see the cup half full instead of half empty. We aren’t saying “Goodbye.” We are saying, “Stay in touch and we’ll see you soon!” Know that each of you are loved and cherished by the Bishop family! Sincerely, you have been such an integral part of our lives, how could any of these things be the last we would share? I’ve been bothered by calling our time with you a “chapter” because it really feels like a book!
One question we’ve gotten a lot lately is, “What are we going to do without you?” And while I know that really means “without Caryn,” I think you do what you’ve been doing with us here! Strive for excellence! Walk with Christ! Laugh often! Give generously! Share completely! Live life to the fullest! And keep on changing the world! I KNOW you have made our lives better, richer, fuller. And, I hope that our investment in you has been a positive thing. But even more so, I hope it’s something that will be paid forward. As you make life’s journey, you’re not alone, and you’re not without us! Now, make our joy complete by having Christ’s heart for your world!
In the coming days, things will begin moving quickly for us as we prepare to go to Germany. In one month, we will have to be in Virginia where our training and preparation will be intensified. We will be living at a conference center and spending 8 hours a day in classes, as will the kids. We will depart from there mid-June, and arrive on the field by July 1. In the mean time, there’s some things I’d like to do.
First, I’d like to say “Thank You” to all of you who have been praying and encouraging us in this process. Tomorrow night, we will stand before 1,000’s of people and share a very brief testimony about why we are going. And I want you to know that, in my mind, you stand there with us as those who have been instrumental in this process and in our lives. We don’t just go as the Bishop family, we go as the body of Christ. Thank you for giving so sacrificially for His cause.
Second, I’d like to continue building our prayer team. As you could read in my last post, we know that this whole endeavor hinges on prayer, and that’s one significant way you could join us in this work. It’s not too late to get in on that list. You can shoot me an email letting me know, or comment here. But I’m also wanting to build significant relationship with 5 churches in the states to be partner churches with. We already have 2 solid churches that are partnering with us, so I’m looking to build a connection with 3 more. These churches would be sending, praying, involved churches who partner with us in the ministry and allow us to partner with them for mobilization. If you are interested in that, get in touch with me.
Third, I am speaking 4 of the last 5 Sundays we have left in Lubbock. Most of those, I’ll be sharing about the work we’ll be doing in Germany. If you are interested in hearing about what we will be doing, contact me to find out where you could come, listen, get prayer cards, and say hello!
Again, thank you. I’m looking forward to watching God do His thing as He answers your prayers and makes Himself famous in Germany!
We are quickly approaching our appointment for our new ministry in Europe. With all the changes that are fast approaching, people have been asking me, “What’s your biggest need right now?” I’ve wracked my brain to try to anticipate what we might need for the coming months only to land on the obvious answer: prayer. Our greatest need now, and forever more, will be prayer. One of my favorite quotes about prayer comes from Oswald Chambers. Many of you have heard me quote him on this topic. Oswald said, “Prayer doesn’t prepare us for the greater work. Prayer IS the greater work.” As we plow, sow, water, and reap, the greatest work is prayer. And We would LOVE for you to partner with us to share in the joy of advancing the kingdom. Honestly, if people don’t pray, I can’t imagine how the work can get done!
SO, I’m beginning our prayer support list. If you would commit to make prayer for our family a weekly occurrence (or more!), I’d like to get your e-mail address so I can send you a monthly update. In the event you know people who would pray for us but don’t have e-mail, send me their snail-mail address so we can send them our newsletter via USPS.
We will be sending out updates once a month so you can keep up with our ministry. And, on occasion, we will send out more pressing needs as they become known to us.
Would you prayerfully consider being part of our team? If so, you can comment here or email me your contact info at Jason@goingglobalbishops.com. I will continue to post to my blog, http://www.thejiggybishop.com. And, we will also have a family blog that we are working on. That site is http://www.goingglobalbishops.com. It will allow you to point potential team members to our blog so they can read about our family’s. I imagine that at some point we will have a secure newsletter site, too, but that’s well on down the road.
Thanks for all you do for us and the kingdom. Will you join us in this next chapter of our lives?