Archive for the ‘Go Encounter’ Category

Germany on Friday and Saturday

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

On Friday…

We went to the schools early in the morning and spoke in the English and Religion classes. This was a harder day for some of us because the kids were less willing to talk with us in the Religion class. But this is understandable because it would be like us having economics taught in German. Religion is taught in the school system like any other subject. Thankfully the teacher in the class that Nate, Regina, and I were in is a believer and strong Christian.

One of the coolest moments of the day happened in the Religion class.  In Germany, the population of born-again believers is around 2%. Many people say that they are Christians but really they just go to the State/Government church (the protestant or catholic church recieves tax money from the state). Young adult believers are under similar pressure to the peer pressure in the States. It can be hard for them to share their faith for fear of ridicule. It is even harder here because of the few number of people in the country who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and live accordingly. We have many many many free churches in the states while those in Germany are considered  like “cults” or “sects”.

In this Religions class, the teacher asked the students “Who was Jesus Christ”. Only a couple of students answered, but one girl (around 15-16) said “He is the Son of God”. The teacher replied, “Do you believe that?” and she said “Yes.” Under his breath the teacher said “Halelujah!” This was very courageous of her considering that the students dont even like to talk about what bands or pop culture preferences they have for fear they will be ridiculed in a group of friends.

Later in the day we had team time and Regina and I have been blown away (as I am sure others have felt) with the spiritual lessons we have been learning here. Sometimes it is hard to take it all in becasue of both the new things learned in another language/culture and those spiritual eye-opening experiences. But the group time with Kip and all of us has been very beneficial and our group talks A LOT. 🙂 We have all gotten to know each other very well.

That night the young adults of the church came over to hang out at the church building with us and play games. THIS WAS A BLAST! We played lots of card games, table tennis, and fooseball. Talking with these young adults was SO encouraging and amazing. They are wanting to be bold in their culture and stand for Christ among their co-workers and fellow students. Please pray for them for it is very difficult here to do that because of the culture and the deadness of the religion. We talked about things that we have been learning (both German and American Christians). Dennis, a guy who is a strong believer talked about learning about wisdom in Proverbs and in Job. He speaks very good English and often opporates as a translater in our interactions with those our age.  The girls, Vivi, Angelica, Monica, Mellisa are all reading (if I understand correctly) in the Old Testament. I can tell that there is deepness to their thoughts even when they don’t express it because of being able to speak little English.

Today (Saturday)…

We got together as a team around 9:30 am. Our host family did not have heat or hot water this morning so Regina and I skipped showers and were able to have breakfast with the whole host family. Andi, Annika, Lucas, Aaron, Micha, and Judith. A typical breakfast is EXCELLENT bread, jam, and hardboiled eggs. They also will eat “bretzel” for breakfast (pretzel) because it is. offered in the region and not in others.

Our team practiced singing together to be able to lead the English worship service tomorrow afternoon. Both Regina and I are giving our Testimonies tomorrow. Please pray for us as we are really exhausted right now and have been up late the past couple of nights. God has been good and the jet lag is gone, but the late nights and early mornings are catching up with us. We also had our bible study with Kip leading and we have been learning about how “Jesus is the Real thing and offers people what they really need”. It is a study in the book of John. We just finished the Samaritan woman at the well story on Friday.

Then a few of us went to the Pappas’ house to call home and (for me -to get a shower). Their home is wonderful and looks out over a beautiful vally with lots of house rooftops and trees shooting up on the hills on either side.

We went back to the church where Janell, Regina, and Kip were. Then Leoni (Nate is living with her family) and Vanessa (who has VERY good English–very clear English), and Dennis all came to the church to go with us down into the village. We brought fliers to hand out to young people downtown to invite them to come to the movie we showed tonight at the church. It was “The Blind Side” and was shown in English with German subtitles. This was definetly stepping outside our comfort zone by just greeting people who do not speak the same language on the street,  but it was good. The group broke into two groups and while one group went shopping and to hand out fliers, the other group headed a different direction to hand out fliers. Later we met up for dinner downtown.

Then we headed to the church to set up for the evening’s movie watching event! We set up tables to look like a cafe’ and had candles lit on the tables. We also had german gummy treats (Haibro) and other snacks. The movie was a hit, and it seemed to be well recepted. Some had seen it before, but not many. there were not a lot of people who came from the community, but there were a lot of people who came from the church and it was good to hang out with those young people again.

Tomorrow is a full day. First there is the German church service that lasts from 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours and then a small break for lunch (provided by a  member of the church) before we launch into another 1 hour English church service (without translation). Kip is preaching, Nate is singing a song and playing the guitar, Janell is playing the guitar as we all sing some praise and worship songs (known and unknown to German people), and I (Katelyn) and Regina are giving 3-5 minute testimonies. Later after the church service we will go home with our host families to spend the evening with them as we have not had a lot of time to spend with them.

Finally Settled

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Hello All!

It is my pleasure to announce that we have (fairly) constant access to the internet for the remainder of our trip! I’m sure everyone is happy about that. Since it has been several days since our last update, I will attempt to let everyone know what we have been up to and some of our plans for the rest of our time here.

In the few days after our last post, our group has been touring up a frenzy! Sunday after our post all of us went to a street market for supper. Teresa bought her first sari, and most of the others got great deals on clothing or little trinkets. Afterward we attended a sound and light show at the Red Fort in Delhi. It was a very dynamic and informative drama about the reign of the Mughals in India up to the time of the British.

Our bus on Monday left around 5 AM to start the long 5 hour drive to Agra, the town housing the Taj Mahal. Our first stop in Agra was to Sikandra, the burial place of the great Akbar who was a Mughal emperor known for uniting India and establishing a tolerance of all religions. After exploring the tomb, we headed for the Agra fort. This fort was every little boys’ dream of what a Middle Age castle should look. The architect structured it to be an ingenious defense against attacks on the glorious palace inside. The Mughal emperors were fond of blending Hindu, Persian and other styles into their architecture; our last stop was the magnificent Taj Mahal. No words can really describe how we all felt after seeing the Taj; Dr. Norris even said pictures do no justice to it. There is an ethereal affect the entire layout of the area has on the spectator. However, something we all discussed later is the amount of effort put into this one tomb. It seems that kind of splendid talent should be used for more than death. I guess when death is the end of the story for most people, they want to go out with a bang.

Tuesday: After just a few hours of sleep, we had another early start as we headed for the state of  Rajasthan’s city Jaipur. The sites here were fabulous as well. Everyone got to ride an elephant up the winding stone roads of the Amber Fort. Our tour guide gave us an intimate show of the halls and courtyards still remaining in this palace of Maharajas. After walking back down the hill, our bus took us to our lunch in the Palace Hotel of Jaipur! We had a lovely meal in the five star restaurant located just beside the courtyard of the Palace. I think Rebecca and Ryan discovered a giant set of chess pieces on the marble tile checkered to look like a chessboard. Our final stop in Jaipur was the City Palace. The king still lives in one part with his family, but the rest was open to visitors as a kind of museum. The guys were disappointed to not get to see any royalty while we were there, but we did see plenty of soldiers!

Wednesday was our check-out day at the ISI place that we stayed. We packed up for our train ride, then got to see a few more stops before leaving Delhi. Our sights that day centered around different religions of India. We stopped first at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, which was eerily quiet but very pretty. Our second trip was down the road to a Sikh temple (called a gurudwara) where we all had to take our shoes off and walk around the block. The Sikhs were also preparing food for the community. (It smelled so good since we were all hungry!) We waited to eat until after we saw a (very empty) Hindu temple. Everyone was gawking at all the gods images on the walls. No one was there because it was lunch time (about 1:30 pm here in India.) Our next stop was to the Delhi Haat, a kind of craft-workers’ market. Most of us ate Momos from a vendor when we arrived, but some were experimental enough to try something not similar to dumplings from the States. I personally almost burned my mouth off and tried to cool down with some ice cream (Yay ice cream!!).

After our busy day, we rushed to the train station. Our train ride just ended a few hours ago, and we are sooo happy to be on solid ground. At first the dirty compartments were shocking to us, but we got used to it. Sleeping passed the time pretty quickly. Ryan and a few of those in my compartment got a chance to talk to a guy from the Indian army about the Bible and Christ. He is decidedly Hindu, but since he gifted us a book he was reading, we felt it necessary to give him a Book also. 😉

So now that we are settled here at DJ’s parents’ home, you should be hearing more from me as well as the other kids! Hopefully we get a few courageous writers on our blog before too long.



Today is a step back into history: A tour of Rothenburg

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Today was a “day off” for our Go Grace Germany team. We decided to travel to Rotenburg (sounds like Routenburg). It is only 40 minutes away from Aalen. We got to ride on the “Auto Bahn” (the German equivilant of our highway). They do not have speedlimits on most of the Auto Bahn. There are certain areas were limits are strictly enforced (though not by police cars, but by cameras which take a picture of your license and they send you a bill).  It is a VERY old history part of Germany. Rotenburg was a walled city that has never been destoyed and rebuilt like most other parts of Germany that are historic. The wall is much like that of a castle. The village is still LARGLY intact from the 13-15th centuries with upkeep. It was never bomed during either WWI or WWII. The houses are colored deep reds, pinks, yellows, tans, and blues complete with sort of like tudor-style wood on the outside. My favorite part of the the buildings were the beautifully carved doors that are everywhere in the city. Such architecture!

Inside the city of Rothenburg, there are two towers that are highly photographed by tourists. The streets are all pedestrian and the cobblestones are still old and yet function well! We ate at a “Roten Hahn” (The red rooster). It was a very traditional german resturant. Very quaint and filled with charm. I had Schnitzel (our equivilant of Pork Tenderloin) and it was really good! (Zair Gut!)

We took lots of pictures in the town and we girls were able to go shopping later in the day while Nate and Kip went to walk all the way around the city  on the wall. We also went up on the wall quickly before we left. It gets dark here early in the winter (5pm our time). It rained all day, and most of us eventually gave up on our unbrellas because of the wind.

But one of the most exciting things about this tour was “The Torture Museum”. This might sound strange, but it was really cool! The building wich functioned as the law enforcement center in the 12-15th centuries was this large builidng that had a dungeon and lots of tools used back then to torture people who disobeyed the law. This disobedience could be anything from laziness to murder and other heinious crimes. Though it sounds really morbid, it actually was very interesting and we were able to get through the museum in an hour. There were some English descriptions of what we were seeing and it was neat to see how everything looked back then.

Tonight we had chinese/Tai food and had great discussions over dinner. Regina and I have stayed up late talking with our host parents (a young couple named (Andi, and Annika). We are headed to bed here shortly because we need to get up really early to get to the school system to work in the English and Religion classes again. Tomorrow night we will be having a get together with the Young Adults and Teenagers of the church. We are looking forward to that! We are also preparing the English speaking service that will be held after the German service Sunday afternoon.

Pictures of Germany-Travel and First Full Day

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

the outside of the German Church!

downtown Aalen Germany at night

the Paris airport ceiling. Parisians are very in to modern architecture.

Nate, Kip, Brittany, and Regina (and I) all on the first train from Stuttgart to Aalen Germany

Safely in Germany!

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

The GoGrace Germany team has made it safely to Germany! Our flights went smoothly for the most part. Kip, Katelyn, Janell, Regina, Felicia, and Nate all arrived in Detroit just fine. Brittany was supposed to meet us in Detroit, but her flight was canceled. The airline gave her a direct flight to Paris and she ended up beating us there by 3 hours! The rest of us slept a little bit on the plane ride from Detroit to Paris, but not much.

In Paris we went back through security and the border crossing just fine. Janell left her coat on the airplane, (but got a great one for a great price here in Germany). We all ate some baguettes, cheese and meat for lunch in the airport, and then took a nap.

After our long layover in Paris, we boarded our flight to Stuttgart with everyone in tow. All of our luggage made it safely to Stuttgart. John Pappas picked us up at the airport. Janell and Felicia went with John and the luggage to the church. Kip, Katelyn, Brittany, Nate, and Regina all took a series of trains from Stuttgart to Aalen Germany! It was quite the adventure, and we made the train we wanted to catch (though there was some running involved). It was neat to see the train system and learn how to navigate the way.

John picked us up from the train depot in Aalen and we got together with everyone to eat dinner. It was a wonderful meal of bread, meat and cheese. The large soft pretzels were amazing! That night our host families came to get us and we headed home with them. I am staying with Regina and a young family from a  neighboring village. they have 3 boys (ages 8-4) and a 2 year old daughter. We chatted with them a bit, but then took showers and headed to bed.

We were picked up this morning at 8am (Germany time) to go to the school system to participate in the English classes there. Regina, Brittany, and I all headed to a middle-school type of school while Nate, Felicia, and Janell headed to a college-prep type of school. The public school system is different than in the states with students staying in one room, and the teachers switch classrooms.

The teacher I had was really great! She was very friendly and nice. She managed the classroom superbly, and the students were very responsive. We were even introduced to ALL of the teachers at the school. They seemed really happy to have us there and the kids cheered when they heard we are coming back to their classes. We spoke to 5th and 7th grade classes. They asked good questions (nothing too hard). My favorite was they asked how many fast food restaurants there are in Indiana.

While Nate, Janell, and Felicia were at the school system, Katelyn, Regina, John Pappas, and Brittany all headed to the little downtown of Aalen. Today was one of the two fresh market days they have a week. The fresh produce and meat and cheese was very interesting. We didn’t have our money with us, but we will be going back there sometime soon for a shopping trip. The others were able to explore a bit later too.

Right now we are just chilling out and taking naps (while I type this at the Pappas’ house). Nate is going to basketball practice with John later and the rest of the group is going to dinner together.

Tonight there is German Bible study at the church at 8pm (our time).

Tomorrow we head out to our first “day off”. We might go to this ancient walled city’s ruins.

~Katelyn Mithoefer

A Quick Update

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

For all you family and friends concerned for our trip, I (Lindsey) am here to tell you that we are all safe and sound in India! As it is currently quite difficult to access the internet from where we are in Delhi, this is my first opportunity to inform anyone outside about our arrival and first two days. I’ll give you a few highlights in the precious few minutes I have here.

Yesterday (Saturday) was our first full day in Delhi. We arrived the night before fairly late and so only had a few hours of sleep before our early start on Saturday. Our entire day was taken up with the wonderful sights of Delhi. We started very early at Jama Masjid, where Jeremy and Zach decided to run throug h a bunch of pigeons. We also visited Raj Ghat (the place Gandhi was cremated), The Gate of India, Humayun’s Tomb, and Qutub Minar. Everyone was excited to see monkeys and dogs all over the place, and the people were very interesting as well. We did a bit of shopping, and Teresa got to hold a snake (no fangs, don’t worry!).

As soon as we get more time to write, I will give more detail. For now, rest in peace that we are fine and having lots of fun here!

Yours truly,


A Day To Be Thankful

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Blog for Day Two

Today was a full day! We saw Tel Dan, Caserara Phillipi, Capernum, and also took a boat ride on the sea of Galilee. It’s almost too much to process all at once. Many of us have been videotaping and writing down the things that we are seeing and learning. I’m pretty sure Dr. Harmon had over 10 hours already 🙂 Its been amazing yet challenging to realize that these are the places that Christ walked. Challenging because it’s hard to see an ancient world in modern surroundings. Yet amazing because once you can get past the visual hindrances you can begin to feel yourself transported back in time. 
Today at Tel Dan we saw two different city gates. One looked exactly like something out of Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. Incredible to think that something so intricate and old has been preserved over the ages. The other city gate looked just like what I imagined. I could feel the brush of ancient merchants clothes, the smell of horses and donkeys, and the shouts of trades and barters. It was so intact, I for the first time without using my imagination felt like I was in the first century. 
When we were at Tel Dan, Dan McNamera (how fitting!) lead us in devotions. The heart of his message was gratefulness. Thankfulness to what Christ has done for us, what the Father has given to us. How often we forget this simple thought. We are so selfish and self-centered, that we have learned to take everything for granted. We forget to count our blessings and take into account all that has been given us. Being in Israel has reminded me how little I thank God or even think about what I have been given from above. So here’s my challenge to myself and to you, think about what God has bestowed you and thank Him whole heartily. Not just today & not just tomorrow but for the rest of our lives. Shalom!

Day 3 in Israel: Peter’s House and More

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Greetings from Israel!!

Today starts our fourth day from departure and third day in Israel. Yesterday we had the privilege of touring Caesarea Maritima, Herod’s palace by the sea. We toured a theater where Cornelius had no doubt be present at some time as a Roman soldier and a likely place for the Apostle Paul’s preaching. We then checked out the port that Herod built, which at the time was state of the art, saw a hippodrome (horse-racing track and place for gladiator fighting), and saw the place where Paul likely defended himself to Agrippa. There was also a stone tablet that mentioned Pontius Pilate as the prefect of Judea during the time of Tiberius, emperor of Rome. It signifies, for all, that Pontius Pilate was historically real and provides further evidence of the accuracy of the Gospel accounts of Jesus.

Next, we traveled to Har Meggido (“Armageddon”), the mountain where nearly 20-30 civilizations have lived, fought, and died, being built atop of one another. We also saw the Jezreel Valley where the world’s armies will assemble to fight the Lamb of God in the final days, until they are slain by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who puts all enemies under His feet. We also toured a cave pathway to a water spring outside the city, one deeply worked into the ground and chiseled by hand. It provided the water source for Meggido and was fortified in case of war. Finally, we traveled to the Sea of Galilee to observe a first century fisherman’s boat discovered only a few short years ago.  A good portion of the boat was preserved for all to see. No one knows for sure who the boat belonged to, but it’s possible that it belonged to Jesus and His disciples, to fisherman of the time, or to soldiers.

Today, we’ll be visiting Dan, where idol worship was prominent, Chorazin, the city where Jesus pronounced judgment due to its hardness of heart, and Caesarea Phillipi where Peter first confessed that Jesus was the Christ.  In Capernaum, we’ll see Peter’s house where Jesus’ ministry was most likely “headquartered,” and the potential place of the healing that took place through digging through a rooftop and lowering the lame down to Jesus. Peter’s house was overlaid with a church, as were many historical holy sites. Much of Jesus ministry took place in the city of Capernaum.

Thanks for journeying with us via blog and we appreciate your prayers. The Lord has been very gracious and we look forward to His continued provision. May we all grow in our love for Christ as a result of our experience in the place of His life and ministry. Shalom (“peace”)…

Caesarea: Day 2

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Today we went to Caesarea, Mt. Carmel, Megiddo, and “Jesus’ Boat”
 For the sake of computer usage/time/internet availability, you can go to Ashley House’s Facebook  page for updated photos at:

 Continue to pray for us as we travel around Tiberius tomorrow. Pray that God reveals Himself in new ways as we explore this Promise Land.

Blessings and Shalom. 🙂

We made it! Yay!

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

After a long long day of traveling we finally made it to the Holy Land. It’s been so amazing just to be here the past few hours knowing that this is where our Lord and Savior walked years ago. We were able to meet our guide a lovely messanic Jew lady who had us laughing the whole time in the bus on the way to our hotel. We must have been quite a sight, 41 frumpy looking Americans 🙂 but we got settled in and all ate dinner together! What a great experience to taste and see and feel a new and different cuisine. It was wonderful and we all enjoyed it greatly! There is a storm outside raging on the mediterranean sea as I write this and all I can think about whenever the lightening strikes is the time that there was a storm on the sea of galilee and the disciplines woke up Jesus is sheer terror. And he said to them and to us in Matthew 8:26 ‘why are you afraid, ye of little faith?’ What a great reminder. Why are we afraid? God is in control of everything. We need to leave our worries and burdens in His more than capable hands. So that’s my challenge to myself and you, that we begin to build our trust slowly yet surely in the almighty father. There will always be storms in life, why not be sheltered by the best protection available? Shalom!