2 Necessary Stops

At the end of our time with the Nelson’s, my friend Kirsten and I laughed about our conversation that we’d had at Chick-fil-a in the early fall of last year. That day, Kirsten asked me if I’d thought about where we were going to live next because at that point, we’d begun purging all of our stuff and had reached our funding goal to apply for visas. Shortly into that conversation, she invited our family to live in their basement until we left for Austria. We were both really excited about the idea but thought we should maybe pray about it and run it by our husbands first. Thankfully all parties agreed and shortly after that conversation we moved in fully expecting to leave in 6 or 8 weeks at the longest.  Well…Six months later, we sat and laughed at the reality of the length of time we actually ended up together.

Today, we are in another situation where we are living with a sweet lady from one of the local churches here. She opened her home to us while she was on vacation and unfortunately our permanent space was not ready when she came home. The weekend before she came home we were preparing to make yet another move and we were not looking forward to moving 10 gigantic bags to another temporary space. Over the phone she offered to live in a space above her home and let us remain in her house because she thought it would be more comfortable for us. Amazing right??!! We told her we were prepared to move to a hotel and she insisted that we stay.   To make a long story short, we’ve ended up sharing the same living space with her- at her request. She did not want our family to have to go to a hotel and she said she was happy to have us until our home was ready. She is recently widowed and is enjoying the noise and life back in her home. The first few days, we were very nervous about how this would all look. I mean, we are literally sharing the same bathroom and kitchen and to further complicate things she speaks no English. My mind was racing with questions about the logistics of everything but she has gifted our family amazingly with nothing but kindness and grace. We’ve shared many meals together and Ian and I often laugh thinking about how funny it must look to her the way that we do things or the foods that we eat.

Both of these stops have been necessary for our family. With the Nelson’s we learned so many practical things about true community, raising children, marriage, friendship and the logistics of running a home well. Here with Frau T, we have learned about how to manage a home here in Germany. For example, what do you do with mushy left over cereal in a country that recycles everything (more on that later) or how do you handle doing laundry and drying clothes when washing machine cycles take well over an hour and you are hard pressed to find a dryer in anyone’s home.

But, the real lessons we’ve learned are deeper and richer than housing logistics.  In both situations we’ve been faced with difficulties as well, and I’m sure our hosts would agree, but we’ve learned that left to our own devices we would always choose the easier route. Knowing in advance what a circumstance may look like or how long it will last would deter us from that decision. In these cases, we would have missed out on all that God wanted to teach us. We would have missed the chances to really live out true community to really be authentic and to be vulnerable.

God is continually teaching us to be thankful for His provision for our family because we’ve seen that what He has in mind for us comes in packages that we don’t expect. When we open ourselves up to that idea alone, the benefits have always been greater than we could have imagined.

This post is mainly a reminder as we will inevitably face difficult situations with schools, in churches and just in normal life here. God’s ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts. This past year has come with twists and turns that we would have never expected, but the gifts that have been given to us, both tangible and intangible have come as a result of being placed in often uncomfortable situations that require dependency on Him.

First Day of School

So…today was Ellison’s first day of school. I’ve had so many mixed emotions leading up to this, but honestly today I felt at peace. So many of your have been praying for this transition and I really know that God honored your prayers and they were felt today.

Last week we went to the school board and they enrolled Ellison in an ubergangsklasse. This class is a special class for children who come from abroad and who do not know any German. That is a HUGE benefit for Ellison! All along I’d been envisioning that she would be going into a class with native German speakers just having to hold her own, but this alone is a big blessing. All weekend long she’s been showing everyone her bookbag filled with all of her supplies but this morning she was very nervous as the actual day arrived.

We tried as best we could to calm her fears and to remind her that she would not be alone even though we were not with her. As she walked out the door she was greeted by some signs that her daddy made for her last night.

These really helped to lighten the mood and she was smiling on the walk to the car. On the drive in, we listened to our Seeds of Courage CD (love this resource!!) and she was singing right along.

We loaded up the whole clan pretty early and headed in because the school is out of our zone and it takes about 25 minutes to get there. We got there so early that we stopped into a local bakery and had a second breakfast :-). I’m really glad we had this time with her to relax and that she didn’t feel rushed.

After breakfast, we all walked her up to her class which is on the 4th floor. After we caught our breath, we walked towards the class and waited our turn to meet her teacher who was talking to another new little boy from Romania starting today as well. When she saw Ellison she said “Hello Ellison. It’s so nice to meet you.” In perfect English! This put her at ease and she smiled so big! The teacher then told us that she would respond to Ellison in German and that she will allow Ellison to use English for the first few weeks. Gradually the teacher will move Ellison towards only using German to ask for what she needs and responding to questions.

School here ends at 11:20 on M,W and F (and 12:30 on T,Th) so we just ran some errands around the city and headed back to pick her up. When I met her at her classroom she was still smiling and said that it had been a good day. We talked about some tough moments (people whispering and her getting confused after snack time about where to go) but we also talked about some great parts of the day too. She actually wants to go back tomorrow so we are considering that a very good thing!

Thanks for continuing to pray for her quick language development so that she can interact with her new classmates and begin to really feel a part.

*BTW- The school year goes until the end of July and picks back up in September.

These 3

Call me mama and I am so thankful for that today. Hope you’ve had a great mother’s day!

This week in Augsburg

We have a lot things happening this week and just in case another post doesn’t go up, we wanted to keep you in the loop :-).

Monday we will be meeting with a potential German tutor for us! I am really excited and am hoping to be able to buy some new notebooks and pens :-). I love learning and I’m pumped to get into language study!

Monday night, Ian has been invited to play men’s volleyball with a new group of men!

On Tuesday we get to be a part of a local children’s club that happens twice per month in neighborhoods. One of our friends here, Angie, hosts it in her home and invited us to be a part.

Wednesday we are headed to the School Board for our appointment with Ellison. There was a mix up last week and they had to reschedule. Ellison is really excited about heading to school soon.

Thursday we hope to return to the Driver’s License office to get some more questions answered and to start that process.

Friday is youth group at the church we will be interning at here. The youth group is for 7-12 year olds so Ellison is included in this group.

Somewhere during this week we will be moving to another temporary location :-(.  We are not sure yet where that will be but we have some great potentials and are gearing up for the move.