They know the title of “missionary” doesn’t imply their works are whatguarantees them as acceptable in God’s standards; they truly seek tofollow Him and live for His glory.
GR: What is one highlight or story from your experience on your venture?
SJF: At the German pottery studio there are big windows which line the walls facing the neighborhood sidewalks. One evening I was throwing clay on the wheel by myself, and when I happened to glance up there stood a grandfather and his two granddaughters watching me with open fascination. They ended up standing there for a solid 30 minutes as I crafted my piece. A couple of days later the grandfather came in and shared how he and his granddaughters had never seen anything like that before, and wanted to purchase the piece I had thrown that evening. Later the girls’ mother came to leave her phone number for us to contact her once the piece was finished.
When it came time to ring her, we noticed that the phone number she wrote down was incomplete. So we did the next best thing we could think of and wrote “Frau Tomka your mugs are ready” *in German* in chalk on the sidewalk outside the shop. A few days went by, but the woman came in with one of her daughters to get the mugs! She ended up coordinating with my supervisor a time for her and some of their friends in the neighborhood to come in for a pottery workshop.
One thing I admire about the pottery studio there in Cologne is how genuinely it attracts and welcomes people to come through its doors. I love the story of Frau Tomka, it reminds me of how people in a neighborhood are nearby — all we had to do was write her name on the sidewalk in chalk for her to know to walk in. It was so simple, but profoundly relational.
GR: What do you want to remember about your experience?
SJF: God follows through. You just need to show up, and join in where God has already been working.
GR: Tell us about the team you worked with.
SJF: I worked with multiple people while in Germany, but I was mainly living and creating alongside the Byer Family. They are such honest people, with a deep understanding of how the Gospel covers them. They know the title of “missionary” doesn’t imply their works are what guarantees them as acceptable in God’s standards; they truly seek to follow Him and live for His glory.
GR: Tell me about the people you met.
SJF: In addition to my internship at the pottery studio, I also took a German language course. In that class is where I had the privilege to develop many personal relationships with people around my age. Every person I met reminded me more and more of how God has already been there in that place before me. So many of the people I met were just looking for friendship and relationships to take part in during their time in Cologne. From my language school class, to the pottery studio, and to the cafes I was a regular at, the relationships I made were so beyond what I could have mustered up for myself. Thankfully, God knew exactly what I needed during my stay.
GR: What was the most difficult part?
SJF: My housing arrangements — every few weeks I would have to load my stuff up and head to a new housing location. I learned that I could lug two large suitcases around the old German city all by myself, but that definitely shouldn’t have been the case. Despite that being the most difficult part, God still provided a roof over my head at all times.
GR: What is God teaching you as you get back into your routine here?
SJF: He shows up. He shows up in the mundane and He is faithful. I remember walking the streets in Germany one day and having the thought, “wow, God, I trust you. I actually trust you with my life”. I’d say getting to reflect on that now as I write it, is a good reminder to look back and see how He follows through on things I didn’t even realize He was working on.
GR: How did God change your view of the world?
SJF: This trip serves as a reminder of how big the world truly is. Classmates at the language school hailed from Greece, France, Turkey, South Korea, and South Africa. All these people, from all over the globe, were all new to the same city and looking for friendships. No matter where you are, people are always going to crave relationships.
GR: How did Go Rings help bring your community (friends/family/coworkers) together to help you fundraise?
SJF: Through fundraising with Go Rings, I had the privilege to see how folks from all phases of my life showed up to support my internship. People who knew me as a child, previous coworkers at a bakery during my early college years, my parents and extended family, my siblings and their spouses, friends of friends, to my friend’s parents — they all came together and supported me. A few friends from college all got the hoops from y’all and now call them their “SJ Hoops”.
GR: What advice would you give to someone considering fundraising with Go Rings?
SJF: It was definitely outside of my comfort zone to post on social media and ask people for support, but I tell ya it really helped knowing the product and mission I was highlighting were both awesome and meaningful. I would say don’t wait until it feels right, just take the leap and get moving. Call your local boutique to see if they’d be interested in wholesale, go to your favorite restaurant to inquire about a fundraiser night, remind your friends and family about that time they said they were going to buy something for you (lol). It is fun if you let yourself enjoy it. God will provide for your trip, so remind yourself to not fear how your “control” over this fundraising process will make or break your trip from happening.
GR: What is your favorite Go Rings product?
SJF: My favorite product is the Go Ring for sure. Staple piece right there. I wear it almost daily.