Wednesday, August 27

Getting Settled

This is our first post from Germany. Its been almost a week and so we need to apologize for the delay! It hasn't been intentional. We're still in the midst of getting things set up, which includes our internet access, and have not really had the opportunity. We promise this will be the exception.

Its hard to believe its been almost a week since we landed on the ground in Basel, Switzerland. Our host was at the airport and was a welcoming sight after the long plane ride. Save the fact one of our bags got lost in the stop over in Munich it was a pretty smooth journey. The good-bye, on the other hand, in Newark was a bit tougher. It was a bitter sweet experience. It made me realize in a new way how much I really love my family, and even more, how much they truly love me.

The past week has been packed. We really haven't had time to stop and are looking forward to the upcoming weekend where we'll be able to catch up on some much needed sleep. The jet lag hasn't been too bad. In fact, being sore from a night of basketball was more of hindrance to my sleep pattern then the time change was. I know, that doesn't say much for how in shape I am. The fact they title Monday night basketball as "Geezer Ball" doesn't say much either.

Looking back I can't even remember all we've had to do. Its all included registering at the townhall, starting our visa process, 3 trips to IKEA and one planned for the near future, shopping for a car, buying a car, getting insurance for that car, getting that car registered, shopping for for furniture, moving furniture (up three flights of stairs), starting our jobs, registering for utilities, and 50 other things I'm forgetting.

There have been a few frustrations and delays. We're learning and doing almost everything from scratch. There is an obvious language barrier. This time has absolutely been a lesson in flexibility and patience.

In the midst of it all one constant has emerged. Rarely a day goes by Stephanie and I don't look at one another and communicate how blessed we feel to be here. Its pretty much intangible at the moment. We don't have any hard evidence, but we feel joy in being here and that excites us.

The people and our host family in particular have been unbelievable. Almost not human. Their patience with us and sacrifice of time and resources is a testament to the work God has done through them and in them. There is so much we will be able to learn here about how God wanted us to act as a community.

The area is absolutely beautiful and while Steph and Myself haven't been able to get out and explore too much. We look forward to, once we're able to take possession of our car, get out and familarize ourselves with this new place. It seems like every five miles there is another town pulled right out of a story book.

We thank everyone for they're prayers. Please continue to lift us up. Pray for our time with God as that has been a challenge with everything we have on our plates. Also, please pray for our transition in our jobs. Its new and exciting, but is going to take some time to learn. Please pray for our patience.

We enjoy hearing from you so please don't hesitate to email us with updates.


Sunday, August 17

We planned...God laughed.

The day finally came where we received word that we could buy our tickets to Germany! Since we anticipated leaving August 10th, this past week has been one in a waiting room. As the week began we were doing everything we could think of to get ourselves more prepared and to call everyone we hadn't touched base with. As the days passed and we were still kept waiting, it began to be apparent that God had more in mind for this time than we bargained for. I must say that Luke caught on much more quickly to what the Lord was teaching him during this time, but it was more of a struggle for me to catch on to this 'divine plan.' A wise and wonderfully joyful person said to me at church today, "We can either be flexible for the Lord or he'll break us," and I chose the route to be broken. Hopefully next time I'll smarten up:-) Without going into tremendous detail I just wanted to convey that this extra time we've had in New Jersey has been one full of blessings, surprises and growth. I'm blown away everyday by what this journey has brought into our lives and I continue to learn from all those around me. Thank you for your prayers during this time, I can feel His protection and guidance on us. We will be leaving Tuesday night and will have limited internet until we get our apartment hooked up which could take a couple weeks. We promise to update everyone as soon as this happens! In the meantime, please be praying for our flight over and our transition into the school and culture. (i.e. getting settled into our apartment, getting updated from orientation, finding a car and getting insurance, getting settled into our jobs quickly because students come August 24th!).
In His Grace,

Monday, August 11

Vacation and Guatemala

We got back from vacation a few days ago. It was good. Good times with Family and an opportunity to rest our minds for a few days.

Now we're getting back into the swing of things and starting to see what's left to be done before we leave. We're eager to get over there so we can have some time to adjust and prepare before the students arrive on September 1st. Ideally, we'll be able to purchase our tickets this upcoming weekend or early next week.

August 10th was our original departure date. Financially, things are still coming along. God continues to show his faithfulness. We're not quite at the 80% benchmark needed to purchase the tickets but getting dangerously close. We're considering adjusting our budget temporarily and going without a car for a time to ensure we're able to get over there before the kids do on September 1st. With most of our fellow missionaries already at BFA there is a sense of urgency in the air, but we do feel at peace with where we're at and trust in God's timing.

On a separate but related note:

Yesterday was dubbed, "Guatemala Sunday" at Mendham Hill Community Church. Its the Sunday after all of the church members get home from our church's annual missions trip to the Guatemala City dump, where literally tens of thousands of people live their lives among the garbage. Every year this Sunday is especially powerful and this one was no different. Walking into the service there was some insecurity around the fact that we'd already said good-bye to number of people we were about to see again in just few moments. We hadn't hit our original goal.

Guatemala Sunday is made up mostly of interviews with a short message at the end summing up the experience. The interviews were emotion filled and left a powerful impression on everyone in attendance. In the end our executive pastor John approached the experience from a different angle then I was expecting. You see, one thing Mendham Hills Community Church brings to the situation in Guatemala is money. We've become a big financial supporter of the ministry down there. Each year the number of MHCC members that go to Guatemala grows, this year being 64. Its a powerful statement and an impressive figure. Lots of homes are built, doctors provide medical care, and sports camps are run complete with uniforms and all.

John has been going to Guatemala for a number of years now. He sees the difference we're making with our dollars and will admit its impressive in some ways and a blessing to the people who live in some of the direst conditions on the face of the earth. However, his message wasn't about counting new homes, the number of lunches given out, or new children sponsored. It was about the true reason MHCC continues to go down every year. With all of the money in the world our church wouldn't be able to fix the existences of everyone in that dump. We wouldn't be able to take the pain of life away. We might be able to make people less hungry or prolong life through better living conditions and better health care. This would not however make these people's lives filled with more joy or purpose. John's purpose in the dump has changed. He goes now because of the potential eternal impact his actions and those going with him might have on these people. Many of the men, women, children, and babies will die before their time in this place most people would say God has forsaken. However, there is a small ministry down there working with a relatively small church who has decided to make building the Kingdom of God on top of garbage a priority.

The service yesterday left me feeling connected. My process now is related to every single one of the sun burnt faced people who came back from Guatemala. The connection is not complex. In the end we're all charged with Building the Kingdom. Whether its doing it brick by brick in a dump in Guatemala City or doing it through the lives of missionary kids in Kandern, Germany. We desperately want to be part of this organism that is proclaiming the love of Jesus to those who don't know him.