This past weekend, Whitney, Yvonne and I headed over to Germany for a conference. A few thoughts come to mind:
Thankfully Whitney had the foresight to rent a car with GPS. The very detailed instructions would have been extremely helpful if only they had been in English instead of German. We became quite adept at recognizing "gerade aus weiter" and "links halten" as "stay straight" and "continue left." Despite the maps and oral directions, I managed to get us lost at least once a day. GPS lady was not happy about that. "Falsch, falsch! Bitte wenden!"
This is a brilliant invention. We stayed at some guy's house for four nights for free. Yvonne contacted him through the couch surfing site, and he was so accomodating. Since we arrived in Basel somewhere around 2am Wednesday, he willingly left his key in the mailbox and we let ourselves in. We did have to layer up because it was FREEZING in the room and rotate turns on the floor, but for the price there are no complaints.
Origins was by far the best conference I've ever attended. Granted, most of the conferences I've attended recently have been of an educational nature which doesn't lend itself to much excitement. The basic idea of the time was for Mosaic to share what has worked for their church. I really appreciated the passion and expertise of the presentations. I do think that some of the strategies that were offered wouldn't work for every church, but I found many things applicable to the individual. Three things that stand out to me (without looking at my notes) are: 1) People are most happy and effective if they are serving in their areas of talents and interest 2) Creativity is the natural product of spirituality. I'm not sure how I feel about the theology of this comment, but it rekindled a desire to create: to do something magnificent. 3) One must earn the right to speak into another's life. A person can't just expect their words (witnessing) to be accepted if they haven't invested in the "target" and proved that they care about them on a personal level rather than as a potential convert.
On the way home on Sunday we traveled through four countries in one day-Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany & Austria (did you even know Liechtenstein was a country-I don't think I did till we were talking about going there). We left Basel (where we had been staying) at 9:00. After a brief, but illegally parked, trip to Starbucks, we were on our way to Liechtenstein. We saw about 10 people down the main drag of Vaduz. Granted it was a Sunday, but it seemed to be quite a small town. We walked around a couple of blocks, saw a government building and a church and kinda felt like we had seen the downtown area.
From there we continued through the Alps to Innsbruck. I must admit that I thoroughly enjoy the ability to say that I have driven through the Alps. Once in Innsbruck we walked around some more, enjoying the architecture and colorful houses.