Sunday, August 3, 2008

Depature and trip home

It's almost midnight Richmond time, so, according to Mark's blog entry, everyone should be getting up about now in anticipation of the trip home. Youth One prayed for your safety this moring and the extended Joyner/Hurst famiies continiued to do so through out the afternoon and evening. We were very releaved to hear the the Lufthansa strike had ended and are praying for a smooth trip home.  We will be in the FBC parking lot with "bells on" as the old saying goes this evening.  We love you!
Mom and Dad (AKA Martha and Charlie) Joyner 

We are ready for home.

It's now 11:00 PM in Berlin after another long day of travel and sightseeing.  We've had our final night of sharing and instructions for the morning.  Lynn has set up 5:45 AM wake-up calls for everyone and we are to be on the bus at 7:00 AM to leave for the airport nearby.

Today started with the final celebration in Leipzig that lasted 3 hours and included a one-hour broadcast (live) on local television.  We had to say goodbye to our traveling companions from Slovakia as we headed for Berlin.  They were taking the train back in the evening but wanted us to go back with them.  

After hearing some of the stories tonight, I think everyone had a great experience at the conference and met many new friends.  The family groups allow you to get more personal with several people.  Most groups get quite close and keep up with each other after returning to their country.  FYI, the next one will be in Brazil in 2012.

Berlin is a city of contrasts.  There are parts that look untouched for 50 years and other places that sparkle and are full of people.  There are still many old (or rebuilt) structures right next to new metal and glass buildings of all shapes.  After a 2-hour bus and walking tour, we all had dinner together in a restaurant - which served us 3 types of meat, fries, and veggies.  

Tomorrow will be a very long day (30 hours to be precise) of travel.  Thankfully, the airline has settled the strike and we're set to leave for Frankfurt at 10:25 and connect there with our flight to Dulles.  We hope to sit closer together than we did on the way here.  I don't think three people sat together on the way here.  There will be a lot of tired people returning with many memories to share.

This will be the final post on this site other than posting a few pictures when we get back.  Hopefully it has given you a sense of what has been occurring on the mission trip.  If you don't already know, FBC should be proud of how these young people worked together and connected with others from around the world.  I suspect the trip has touched many of them deeply.  They were wonderful representatives of the US and our church.  

You are welcome to continue posting notes on the page.  I will leave it up for quite a while.  It would be great if you would encourage the youth to write a note about their experience or one special memory. 

Mark Larson 

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Day 26

     For you this is day 26!! One more to go. I'll have mac and chesse ready for you but probably Tuesday night. Your sheets are clean and the cats can't wait to see you. We can't wait also. See you Monday.

Friday, August 1, 2008

View of Thomaskirche - Church of JS Bach for 27 years

Celebration Time

Friday in Leipzig

As in all days, this one started early and ended with a bus ride to the hotel at 10:00 PM.  We usually have a meeting when we get back - to go over the next day's schedule but Lynn called it off tonight since most everyone is quite tired.  

The past two days were spent mostly at the sprawling conference center on the outskirts of town.  The only thing around it is a German equivalent of a Kroger (certainly not a Ukrops). Today we got some rain which cooled the temperature down from the 90 degree days we've had.  The barrel-shaped glass space which holds some exhibits gets quite warm.  The meeting spaces are in another space - much cooler.  It is interesting to be in that glass barrel when there's lightning and a heavy rain outside.

The conference program and speakers and topics challenge everyone but are geared to have the youth step out of their comfort zones - and try to "bring a little heaven to earth".  The main speakers at the evening services have been 16, 24, and 28 years old and spoke to some very big issues that they are leading.  The 16 year old spoke of his petition to the UN with 160,000 signatures to end slavery in some countries.  I saw him profiled a while back on CNN "Heroes".

The speaker last night (Shane Claiborne) had some provocative views on world events.  When he was right out of high school, he made his way to Calcutta and worked for a period with Mother Theresa.  He uses his activism to highlight social issues.

The young lady tonight spoke of her work in "Volunteers Without Borders".  She is in Brazil now and works as a coordinator for conferences.  All these young people are quite impressive and want to create big changes with their lives and faith.

With regard to our youth, they seem to be having a good time and are getting along quite well.  The 10 Slovaks who came with us are interacting well with our youth and have become fairly integrated.  The college-age kids have been feeling a little cooped up out here in the suburbs and wanted to see Leipzig before all 7000 go down there tomorrow afternoon.  Lynn consented and let them take the tram to the center of town provided they were back for dinner at 6:00 PM.  Despite few English signs, they got around quite well and managed to see much of the central city in just a few hours.

As I mentioned, the entire conference is moving downtown tomorrow night.  Our conference will set up in 3 squares for early musical performances - John Ivins is one of the performers.  Their local TV channel will broadcast the event live.  Isn't it amazing to think that 20 years ago, this city was in Communist East Germany and the practice of Christianity was forbidden?  While there are many challenges around the world for Christians, one thing this conference really makes clear is that some countries like Ukraine are having a revival of faith.

There are 4 Nigerians now in my family group and they speak about their faith in very clear terms.  They spoke of how they use their faith daily to stand out in their country where the Christian ethic and culture are not the norm.  To be a Christian in some countries, one must endure isolation and more.  One young man in our group came from Bangladesh and spoke of the challenging time getting to the conference because of politics. 

I see that there are many messages since the last time I was able to log on.  These will be passed on at breakfast in the morning.  I bring this computer to breakfast and let the folks read the messages on the blog.  The internet is wireless here so I can bring it down there.  We leave for Berlin on Sunday so I'll try to log in once more Saturday night before we leave.

All for now, tomorrow will be a fun day for everyone as we go into town for the entire afternoon and evening.  I'm not sure Leipzig is ready for 7000 Baptists - but here we come.

Mark Larson
Hi Everyone!

What wonderful memories the blog brings back! We went to Zimbabwe to
the Baptist World Youth Alliance in 1993 with Wendy and Matthew and
other youth and LYNN! So we know you all are having an awesome
experience! It has been great fun looking at the blog and following
your trip.

Sarah and Nick, we are delighted that our Sunday School class is
represented by Ken and Ann's daughter and Martha and Roy's son!

Scott, we have been following your trip via phone calls to Todd and

Barbara and Steve, Happy Anniversary! We know, Barbara, that whatever
you are doing, you are doing with great humor!

It is wonderful to see all of you on the blog! We look forward to
hearing about your trip when you return!

Gail and Jim Markham