Europe 2017 TEAM JEFFREY

Jeffrey Caviness, Austin Lovette, Madison Verkouille, Tyna Orth, Anna Newman, Michael Sewell (left-right)

Days 1 & 2: Over the Great Big Pond

By Jeffrey Caviness

Well,it wasn't the start we planned for this trip or expected but YHM is in full swing now. Day One started off at 5:00 am Monday morning, I dropped my phone and cracked my screen a good bit. Our flight was late leaving Atlanta and therefore put us being late to our connection from Amsterdam to Prague. While figuring out how to get onto the new flights we split into two groups Tyna and I led the way and Austin, Anna, Madison, and Michael followed on a second flight a few hours after us. I lost my luggage and we were all exhausted from the traveling for over 24 hours.

Now that that's out of the way the past two days have been great. I listed the negative first because that's what your mind automatically goes to when you think of the big parts of our traveling these past couple days, but no matter how negative they have seemed this trip has already had an amazing start. Austin and Michael on the flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam had great conversations with people they were sitting around from Austin being able to have deep and meaningful Gospel conversations with the girl next to him to them both getting to learn about places we should go in both Prague and Munich from a guy across the aisle.

These days have been nothing short of a blessing. While losing my luggage was stressful and a little discouraging because it felt like it was just one thing after another I was reminded through it all that it's just luggage and it can be replaced. And while it wasn't what I was hoping for or expecting I knew and kept reminding myself that this trip is so much more than lost luggage, I've been witnessing that already and we hadn't even made it to Europe before God was using the team to show and share His love to those around us. Ultimately I knew the peace I had was coming from the fact that God is in control. And even if I never see that bag again He is still in control. So yes, I started off stating all the bad that happened over the past couple days but what I want to shine over all the negative is that while all of that is stressful and exhausting the team handled it like champs because we all know where our hope comes from and it's not Delta making sure our bags get from one place to the next but from God who is always in control and can always bring peace in the chaos. Please continue to pray for us as we continue our journey across. I want to personally thank each of you reading this blog for taking the time out of your day to check in on us and see how you can continue to support us. We can't thank you enough for all of your support! We love you and will see you in three weeks!

Day Three: Prague

By Kristyna Orth

Prague was probably the best city to start in. We ended up getting there a little later than was expected. But, even though we got there late and went straight to where we could find some food, it was still great. We walked from our hostel to Charles Bridge, and found some food to eat. A Chimney Cake and pizza were our options so we went with it. We ended up walking around the Charles Bridge, taking pictures of the city and the water. We walked towards our hostel and found a park, so Anna, Madison, and Michael went and laid in the grass, while Austin, Jeff and myself talked all over the park. We went back to the hostel and hung out with our roommates.

The next day, we went on a walking tour all over Prague. We walked from New Town to Wenceslas Square, to the Jewish Quarter. Our tour guide Julie was amazing, and she continued to teach us the history of the city and the places to go and not to go. Then after lunch we went on her tour up to the castle, went from the castle all the way to the Lennon wall. There were some amazing views. But one of the best things about this walking tour was the people we got to met. We got to meet a couple who would be staying in the same hostel as us in Munich, Austin had great conversations with a guy in our group, and we became really good friends with our tour guide. After the tour we went back to the hostel to play cards and eat pancakes for dinner.

After dinner Austin, Anna, Jeff, and I went on a walk up to a look out over the city. We found this park that at night you can see everything lit up, the castle, the Charles Bridge, the dancing house, and all of the other parts of the city. There was a DJ, and a place to get coffee, but if you keep walking up the stairs there's a look out that you can sit on and see over the city.

I think for me that made it real that I was on this trip. That was the moment I knew I was here on YHM, with these people, making these friendships will last a lifetime. I'm on a trip that I will be able to grow, learn, and build relationships on.

Day Four: So Many Amazing People

By Madison Verkouille

Our first day in Munich was incredible. Today we had the privilege of meeting so many amazing people, Ashley from Australia who absolutely loves Americans and is moving here this summer. She had breakfast with us and tried to teach us an Australian accent.

And Kyle from Minnesota who joined us as we went to one of the concentration camps today. We were able to have some seriously intentional conversations with Kyle and I'm so grateful for his willingness to hang around us even for a bit.

But one conversation I had definetly made the trip for me.

As we loaded the bus to go to the concentration camp, I walked to the back beside an open seat and sat next to man whose name I soon found out was 'Ali'.

Ali is from the Middle East in Ledenburg. He is getting his PHD and was attending a conference in Munich. I was able to ask Him what he was getting his degree in when He answered, "Sociology & Religion" after that I preceded in asking what his religion was,

"Well I guess you would consider me Muslim." I continued to tell him how the Muslim religion extremely interested me, and he went on to tell me a little about it, and then told me that he was just not doing very good in his religion right now. And in that moment I was able to share a bit of the Gospel. I told him that that is one of the most beautiful things about the Gospel. The fact that we don't have to earn our way into heaven means that we realize our sin and we realize that our good will never out weigh our bad and thus we needed a sacrifice, Jesus. Ali then asked, "well wait what's your motivation to do good then?" "That's just it Ali, our motivation in Christ's sacrifice. The fact that God loved us enough to die for us, while we were still sinners. What could be better motivation to do good?" Ali began to inform me of the fact that he's never heard of the Christian faith from a Christian and that it makes sense. He asked a few more great Biblical questions and then unfortunately our conversation ended, but I have faith that a seed was planted in Ali's heart. Please join me in praying for Ali and the rest of our friends who we have the pleasure of getting to know everyday. The Lord is teaching me that whether your on a bus or eating breakfast this is your time to build relationships. This is your time to evangelize. It's day in day out seeking opportunities to build community and share the Gospel. And most importantly, if I can do that here in Europe with Ali from the Middle East, you better believe that I can do that with the people I come in contact with in the States. My whole view of Missions is changing and instead of Mission trips I must shift to a Gospel centered Missional living lifestyle.

Bruh.... and it's only country 2!!!

Day Five & Six: Nuesastine Castle

By Madison Verkouille

We arose the next morning absolutely extatic about going to Nuesastine castle. We canoed over a gorgeous lake and caught a glimpse of the snow cap mountain tops.

After hiking up towards the castle, we discovered Smoutebollen. One taste of these will change your life. It's like a beignet ball that's almost an apple taste. Through this the Lord allowed us to experience a slight taste of heaven.

Our leader, Jeffrey, is an absolute die hard Munich Bayern Soccer fan. (Literally, he bought the whole fan store with the rest of our food money) (just kidding but fr) Turns out the night we got back was the night they won the championship game. We went into town and had the time of our lives as we sang and danced to the German Celebration. So to sum it up, it made Tuscaloosa on Iron Bowl nights look like a library. (War Eagle tho)

After the celebration, we went back to the hostel and Austin was able to have a conversation with his Japanese roommate over google translate. He was very curious and not truly informed of the knowledge of the Gospel, Austin was able to ask Him some deep questions about His own beliefs and share the Gospel Narrative beginning with the beginning of life through the end. His roommate believed life is all about destiny, "life is like a train that is destined from birth". Austin was able to ask him " well who sets the course of his train?" His response was "He chooses at Birth." His roommate wasn't sure of his true beliefs and was even confused at Austins questions because maybe he truly has never thought about it. Through google translate the Gospel was faithfully presented.

One of our friends from Prague, ended up being at our same Hostel in Munich. Through some cards & pool, He noticed that our team never drank, when he asked us "why?" Our team had an open door to present a Gospel conversation. But even after He knew our beliefs he still wanted to hang out and play cards with us.

So thankful for intentional conversations & sent people.

Day Seven: Florence

By Madison Verkouille

The beautiful, amazing, culture of Italy took our hearts as soon as we stepped off the train.

God Soverignly ordained not only some intentional gospel conversations, but also gelato, and cheap delicious pizza.

As Micheal & I we're waiting in line For the Statue of David, we had a chance to start a conversation with the Australian couple behind us. They have been traveling for almost a year and a half and we're finishing up there time in Europe and then Athens. Although they never truly shared what they believed they were intentional in conversations and Micheal was able to give a beautiful Gospel Illustration and clearly share the Good News.

Our last day in Florence ended at a leather market waiting for our train to arrive. As Micheal was looking through the booths, (When I say looking I mean me dragging him because Jeff wouldn't let me walk around by myself, you're welcome mom) He met another man name, Ali. Ali began to open up to Micheal about his life and where he was from and asked what Micheal did for a living. he then shared with Him that He was a Youth Pastor. Ali immediately started to ask forgiveness and apologize for the previous words that could not be put in this blog. Micheal stopped him and told him that He did not need to apologize that Micheal is just a man. Ali asked micheal What he believed about same sex marriages, and asked him what the Bible said about it. Micheal was able to share the Gospel through explaining the picture of Marriage and the Gospel. Then he listened carefully and talked afterwards. And micheal told him that if he read the Bible, Micheal would read the Q'uran that way they could understand each other's beliefs better. Micheal then got his contact information and connected Him with the Local Evangelical Church in Florence named Mosaico Church. So he could ask further questions. This emphasizes the importance of being connected to the local church so that we can make disciples as we be disciples throughout the World.

Satan has tried to hit this team hard. Whether it's through an eye infection, three sinus infections, a rolled ankle, stomach aches, even frustrations with each other. But as I look back on how many people we've encountered and how many Gospel conversations we've been given, I am beyond encouraged. God is using this team & Satan is infuriated. Pray that we will Pursue Christ through the Attacks of the enemy and will continue to share His goodness through it all.

Day Eight: Paris

By Kristyna Orth

The hardest thing about Paris in June is where to be the happiest.

Sitting on the lawn of the Eiffel Tower, hanging out at the top of Sacré Cœur, sanding around the Louvre, and even walking through Notre Dame were some of my favorite things about this city. Two days is not enough time to see everything, so we hit the highlights. We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower, watch the guys play basketball at a park, ate some crêpes, and waited for the lights to come on. One of the most magical sights I have ever seen. It was almost unreal, I had to continue to remind myself that we were in Paris.

We went to the Louvre and found a new exhibit to see where the old castle was and where part of the old tower was which was super cool. From there we went to Notre Dame and Shakespeare and Company. After that we went to Sacré Cœur, we just sat and took in the view for a little bit. You couldn't see the Eiffel Tower, but it was still amazing to just over see the city. After sitting for a little bit, we went inside.

It's sometimes hard to walk around these churches and think about the people inside of them. This church was built to reflect the gospel and point to God, however the people inside are there sometimes just to see the stained glass, or to find a seat because they're tired of walking. It's hard to imagine walking through a place just thinking of it as a museum and not a church.

After that we went towards the Eiffel Tower, to the same park. We played soccer and basketball and just hung out which was really good. After that we got more crêpes and we're able to listen to music and have a moment to just hangout. We waited for the lights again then we went to the lawn side of the Eiffel Tower and waited for the lights to come on again. It was still beautiful and breath taking, and almost sad in a way. Sad, only because we have one more city left.

Paris is so many things to me, and no matter how many times I go I feel like I fall more in love with the city and the people.

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