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Archive for July, 2011

Water, water, everywhere!

HOLY BUCKETS, BATMAN!

Sorry, that’s the first thing that popped into my head this morning upon seeing the effects of the flash-flooding, room-shaking, ceiling-leaking monsoon that meteorologically drop-kicked Dubuque last night. We had 10+ inches of rain in less than twelve hours. If that wasn’t bad enough, the thunder storms were partying it up all last night and well into the morning. It hailed for a while as well. Not for long, and it wasn’t that big, but of course it had to hail in the short span of time when Kelly, Deb, Mary and I decided it was time to visit the president’s house for some ice cream. The ice cream and people were both amazing and loads of fun. I can’t quite say the same for the piece of hail that struck my toe. OUCH! I’m still waiting to see if I’ll have a nasty bruise. Hopefully not.

In any case, that’s all the bad news I have to report. I do hope everyone who reads this would take a moment to pray for the families and individuals affected by these storms. The castle, while still standing tall, is also a little soggier on the inside than what anyone would like to see. Other than that, however, everything is going great here! As you may have noticed by my mention of Kelly, Deb and Mary, I am quickly meeting new people and making new friends here. I must admit our group may contain some of the most…enthusiastically energetic… of the greek students, but we’re learning hard and having a blast while doing it!

Greek is going quite well for me, though I am still dreading the first exam tomorrow morning. Hopefully the experience won’t be too excruciating. I did get a perfect score on the vocab, so that’s a plus. Now I just have to hope for a repeat performance tomorrow. Yet in some strange way I seem to get more satisfaction out of helping others with their vocab and studies than I receive from getting a perfect score. For example, Karen-a truly lovely and quirky woman in her 40’s or 50’s (I’m terrible with age)- was having a hard time memorizing the words. She printed off the entire sheet and wrote down all the definitions she could remember. Out of 72 words, she got a little over twenty. After studying with our group of quirky, zany and frazzled group, she tried again. And got well over 50. I thought that was amazing! We’re already discussing study nights and community meals so we can study together more often.

Thank God for Mendota room 101 as well! In this wonderful, glorious, already-memorable room, one whole wall is nothing butt white board. This gives us plenty of space to write out our vocab words, fill out conjugation charts, parse out the words in our assigned sentences, and most importantly HAVE FUN! There’s something incredibly satisfying about figuring out an especially hard sentence with the encouragement and support of your fellow classmates. Equally satisfying is urging on others and providing words of encouragement as they, too, figure out these complex (well, for us) sentences and uncover the meaning behind these still somewhat-foreign letters.

Besides hanging out with the greek gang and enjoying ice cream while drenched to the bone, there are already so many more opportunities for fun and learning here at Wartburg. Today the Middler and Senior classes are putting on a spagetti dinner for us greek students, and later on in the evening Wartburg will be hosting Bach and Brownies (music by the famous composer paired with delectable edibles) before the weekend. Next week holds a lasagna supper at Holy Trinity Lutheran and a Cookies and Lemonade Social by the Fellowship of Wartburg Spouses.

Don’t think this means we are not working our fannies off. Turst me, between review sessions, chapel, class time, meals and sometimes sleep, you can be sure to find us diligently flipping through vocab flash cards, writing out assignments, quizzing others with flash cards, filling in conjugation charts and writing up new flash cards. Did I mention the flash cards?

On a final, and personally very happy note, I am happy to report that since moving to the seminary and establishing a life in the castle, I have managed-through much prayer, power of will and lack of time- to lose over six pounds. Six may not seem like that big of a number, but seeing as how doctors recommend losing no more than 2-3 pounds a week and I’ve only been here for two weeks, I’m right on track! Each and every day I pray to God, asking him to help me be more aware of my habits and strengthen my will so that I may make better choices. Each day he answers my prayers, making it possible to slowly make changes for the better. I still haven’t gotten a chance to ride my bike yet, but I’m hoping once these storms clear out (and I don’t have my nose buried in my Greek book) I will be able to put those wheels to the pavement. Until then I am making smaller efforts inside (t0 avoid either melting in the heat or drowning in the rain) to become a healthier, more active me.

That’s all for now, so I will part ways with a thank you to all the lovely people reading this blog, and a reminder to pray for the families affected by weather, poverty, war, and any other struggles.

Thank you, and God Bless!

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Hello Again!

Hello again from Dubuque!

I hope this post finds you all well. I know I am having a wonderful time down here. If the weather would cooperate a tad more it’d be absolutely perfect. Not that the weather is horrid, but it seems to be too hot, too humid, too wet or a combination of the above. I must say, however, that the thunder storms for the last two days have been absolutely exquisite! I love the sounds of a good storm at night, and have been quickly lulled to sleep for the last two nights by these storms. Waking up at two in the morning because my whole room is illuminated by lightning is another story. Still, the storms have lowered the temperature to something manageable, so that alone justifies their presence. I can’t wait to see what other meteorological surprises Iowa has in store for me.

Now that Summer Greek looms ever closer and more students are joining the ranks here, I have quickly come to the realization that I am horrible at remembering names. I helped out my neighbor, a pleasant woman also from Wisconsin, move in yesterday, and for the life of me I cannot remember what her name is. I’m thinking it’s Tammy, but I can’t be sure. Horrible, I know. During the Library Orientation yesterday I felt completely helpless as everyone introduced themselves. I did snag some names and manage to retain them, but a fair chunk went in one ear and, despite my best efforts, out the other.However I have a whole year to get their names down. It may take a while, but I’ll get there.

As for my neighbors (and fellow classmates) I can only say positive things. Everyone here seems to be nice and friendly, and not in that awkward “I don’t want to offend anyone” sort of way either. I only hope the others see me the same way. Already there are connections being made and friendships being forged. Movie nights are being planned, and there always seems to be someone around when you need a little help. People I didn’t know until arriving here already feel like close friends or long-lost relatives. The community here at Wartburg is definitely a close-knit group.

As for the more mundane aspects of life, such as laundry, dishes, food prep and of course studying, I can only say that I am starting to get the hang of it. I must give a major shout out to my parents for all the years they had to deal with me and my less than ideal house-keeping skills. Sure I’d go on a cleaning spree from time to time, but my parents made sure there was food on the table (or at least in the fridge and cupboards) dishes were done before the mountain grew too large, and when there was studying to be done they made sure to nag the heck out of me until it was finished. And I do mean “nag” in the nicest way possible. While I’m here, I’ve quickly found that if I don’t do the dishes no one else will, and I have to make sure to motivate myself into studying.

In that regard, I must say I miss everyone back home terribly. Despite the fact that Summer Greek hasn’t even started, I am already looking forward to Christmas time when I will (at least hopefully) be able to return home and enjoy the company of those I have left behind. I don’t want everyone to think I hate it here, or that I’m not happy, because I am. It’s just that I miss all the random events and get togethers that happened in De Pere.

I must say farewell for now, as my laundry is nearing the end of its cycle, but I promise to return before too long with yet another update. I am so ready to worship tomorrow and then begin the encounter with the best that is Summer Greek. Remember to pray for me and keep me in your thoughts as I will be doing the same.

As always,

God Bless!

Daily Bread

Greetings from Dubuque!

I know I said I would hopefully post by Saturday, but unfortunately I just got my internet hooked up today. Besides the delay in internet connection, I also had plenty to do with unpacking, shopping, and spending two wonderful (albeit far too short) days with my parents (hi mom and dad!) I have already met with some lovely people and have gotten to know Kelly K quite well through our chats and shared meals/shopping trips together. She is originally from Texas, so I’m quite sure she understands my feelings of a great distance between me and my loved ones. I thought I had quite a hike to get here, but it took her a week to drive to Wartburg! It just makes me realize even more the far-reaching impact God makes in our lives. Oh, and even though she’s managing the heat much better than me, I have a feeling I’ll be much more comfortable once the snow flies. I think she said she’s seen it only a couple of times back home.

In addition to moving in- a process which took far less time than I had feared- I have managed to familiarize my self with the stores around Dubuque and had a wonderful time on Sunday at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. The people there were extremely friendly and made sure to make me, my family, and Kelly feel welcomed at their place of worship. We enjoyed a refreshing rootbeer float after service, and later that evening were contacted by Andrew, a member of the church, who brought us even more goodies including a visitor packet and a big jar each of homemade brownie mix. (YUM!)

Of course I do still miss all my friends and family back in De Pere, so don’t think that I have forgotten about you! I must give a special shout out to the Tollefsons and Labs, as their support assisted me today in acquiring some much needed supplies. I would, of course, like to thank everyone who helped to support me through this process over the past several years. I would not be here today, anticipating Summer Greek and more, had it not been for your amazing support and selfless acts of love. My success is your success!

On a final note -though I will warn you it is quite long- I would like to share a revelation, or new understanding, that I came across today in my readings. I was reading Luther’s Large Catechism, specifically the part referring to the Lord’s Prayer, when this understanding suddenly hit me. Luther was explaining the meaning of “daily bread” as meaning more than just food, but rather the food, preparation, and everything else required to provide our daily bread. It made me realize that this seemingly simple prayer is really an extremely condensed prayer for everything in our lives which God has provided for us. Our house, in which we prepare the daily bread, our money, from which we acquire the bread or supplies necessary to make that bread, our friends and neighbors, who keep us and our possessions safe from harm… The list goes on and on. It just really clicked in my brain that this short little prayer is secretly asking for everything and anything that we could possibly need from God in order to survive in this one little phrase. Looking at the other parts of the prayer, I noticed the same thing as well.

The whole experience just made me realize that God really has provided us with all we need in life. He asks us to pray to him, and has given us this prayer to ensure that we are asking for all that we may need. In other words, a little bit of effort on our part results in an extraordinary feat on God’s part to provide all that He does so that we may thrive as a community of believers. In reading Luther’s explanation, I realized that there would be no way for us humans to devise and interpret how to adequately ask for all that we need. And yet God, in anticipation of this struggle, has already provided us with the answer.It seems that the answer to all our problems ends with God, and the means to asking for the answer is always meaningful prayer.

I hope that you consider this the next time you pray to God for advice, support, strength, peace, etc. I also hope that you don’t wait, but pray right now, trusting that God does provide.

God Bless!

A New Look at Life (and my blog)

Hello All!

After all the farewells and such that I have received over the last couple of day, I felt it was time to make a fresh start. Now I know some of you may be thinking “But Paul, you haven’t even left De Pere yet, why the fresh start now, and not on Friday?” To this, I must simply say that the wonderful transition from one place to the other has already begun (most of my belongings are now safely nestled in totes, tubs, and bins)

Packed up

All boxed up

and by the time Friday gets here, I doubt I’ll have any energy reserves left to type. With that in mind, I felt it best to update and freshen things up a bit; both on this blog as well as in my personal life.

The changes to the blog, if one has had the chance to peruse the site before the changes, would no doubt be quite evident. I much prefer this theme to the former (I do apologize if there are some who preferred the old) as this theme seems much livelier and full of potential! I look at the page and just feel energized to write something. I do hope this feeling of renewed energy continues through the school year, as I’m sure I’ll need all the extra energy I can get.

As for the personal changes…well, those aren’t quite as visible as of yet. I’m working on my personal discipline in order to create a stable and reliable morning routine. Now that I am no longer working crazy shifts at work (or any shifts, for the time being ) I can finally set up a routine, perhaps have an actual normal wake up time, rather than an alarm clock going off due to obligations. Other than the morning routine, I’m also working on becoming more physically active (believe it or not, I do have a weight problem) and more aware of how much and what type of food is going in my mouth and when.

I’ll try to remember to post more photos as time goes on (first one on my blog was entered today), so that everyone can not only read about my adventures, struggles, and joys, but also see them. I ask that anyone reading please keep me and my family in your thoughts and prayers through this transitioning time. I know the process is going to be difficult on an emotional level for us all. I will, as always, keep you wonderful people in my thoughts and prayers as well.

As always, God Bless!

Bittersweet Goodbyes

The last two days have certainly been an interesting and exhilarating adventure. I have said goodbye to so many loved ones, both at Festival and at Church. Yet I know these goodbyes are for a good reason. It certainly doesn’t make them easy goodbyes, but perhaps not quite as difficult. Besides, I fully intend to keep in contact with the people here throughout the next four years. Whether through e-mails, facebook, phone calls, skype, or letters, I will remain connected to the people who have worked so hard to nurture me and develop me into a respectable and hardworking individual. I don’t mean to “toot my own horn” with this statement, but rather acknowledge all the hard work that others have put into me.

I will miss each and every one of you during this four year process, and hope that these posts will be a helpful tool to stay in touch and let you know that I continue to do better myself and continue on my path, doing God’s work and spreading the Good News.

Despite these bittersweet goodbyes, I do look forward to the future. I am sure there will be many new and amazing people to connect with, to know and to love. Besides, these goodbyes don’t have to be final. I sincerely hope they won’t be. Rather, let this not be goodbye, but rather goodbye for now and I’ll see you again!

As always,
God Bless!

Two Weeks…

Welcome to any new readers! I hope this blog can be a useful resource for staying connected to all my friends and family while I progress along my path towards ordination. Please feel free to comment and, if you enjoy what you read, subscribe to the blog! If you’d like to make a private comment, please feel free to e-mail me at Paul.Johnson1@snc.edu

 

Wow! I can’t believe it’s already July first! It seems like only yesterday I was welcoming in June, and now it’s already come and gone! I guess knowing that it’s July just hits me especially hard because it means I have two weeks left in De Pere, only four shifts left at Festival, and a mere two Sundays left in the area! I feel a sudden urge to pack everything up, and an equally strong urge to put off packing as long as possible. Where did all the time go?

I guess I must be pretty late in this realization, since my friends and family have all been nagging asking me to hang out for over two weeks now. I kept thinking there would be plenty of time to get it all done. Now I’m worrying about how I’m going to get everything done in time. There’s so much to do and I have absolutely no idea where to start.

Which, of course, is not true. I need to start with a big, cleansing breath and a moment of thoughtful prayer. It seems like far too often in my life (and I’m sure this goes for others reading this as well) there seems too much to do and not enough time to do it in. Instead of seeking guidance from God in prayer, the knee-jerk reaction is all too often to stand there and worry about everything. Which, of course, accomplishes nothing. Well, nothing positive at least.

In these next two weeks, I am going to try to focus on Matthew 6:25-27 (click the link to read it, go ahead). Rather than worry about what I’m going to do and how, I’m going to spend my free time praying to God and seeking guidance from Him. Afterall, He’s the one that put me on this path, so if anyone knows what I’m supposed to be doing, I’d go with Him.

Now for anyone reading this, I have a favor to ask of you. When you see me over-ridden with nerves and unsure of what to do (I say when, not if, because I know it’s bound to happen) remind me not to worry. Maybe walk up to me and whisper in my ear “don’t just stand there; pray for guidance!” Believe me, I’m going to need plenty of reminders.

Thanks for reading! As always, God Bless!