Be careful what you write about …

… you just might get more of it.

Winter must have read what I wrote recently and taken affront at the title. “Discontent? I’ll give you discontent!” The week before last, one crucial element of the network in Austria—a switch that I’m scheduled to replace next month— decided to quit outright. Anything that couldn’t connect over the wireless network was out of luck. Incoming VPN connections? Nope, sorry. But let’s now give Sabine Oetzel, the director of Wycliffe Austria, a round of praise for her willingness to let some IT goon in Germany talk her through the process of re-routing cables so that essential hardware and services could be connected again. The week after Easter, Katherine, the boys, and I will take a working vacation to Linz so that I can install the new equipment.

Maybe it was our planning another working vacation that triggered the next thing. (Or maybe it’s just a little bit fun being mock-superstitious.) The last time we made a trip like that, it was to go to Amsterdam to replace the Bomgar server that enables our IT staff and many other people provide remote support.

Amsterdam, May 2012: Objects in picture are now taller than they appear.

So what happens this week? That replacement appliance decides to get finicky and stops working. With help from the people who run the data center, I managed to access it again and download fresh backups of settings and user accounts. The next day, it went down for good. Argh. Please pray with me that its replacement arrives in time to go with me to the Netherlands at the end of the month. I’ll be going up there anyway to provide support for a large conference.

I promised that I would write more about our upcoming furlough. This summer, we will have been living and working here for nearly six years. Now it’s time for a break. In July, we will come back to the U.S. to spend one year away from Germany and with our family, friends, and supporters. Lord willing, we will return here in July 2018—but not to the exact same work situation.

Over the course of our time here, I have realized a few things about myself. I have felt somewhat unfulfilled in the remote support work that I normally do. It’s not that the work is unnecessary or unworthy of attention—the stories I have related here make that point.

What I realized over much time, thought, and prayer is that—despite being a ‘healthy’ introvert—I have a strong need to work with my clients face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder. When I have those faces in front of me every day, I perceive an added dimension to the service I provide and the satisfaction I receive from it. Remote work often feels empty to me.

I approached my team leader, Martijn de Vries, with my dilemma. He approved an idea I had to approach Wycliffe Germany with the suggestion that I work exclusively (or primarily) for them. With the addition of the new Karimu conference center, they have the largest campus in Europe and the greatest need for on-site support.

Courtesy of https://tagungszentrum-karimu.de/internationales-tagungszentrum/tagungszentrum-fotos/
Wycliffe Germany and the Karimu Conference Center (Photo courtesy of www.karimu.de.)

Wycliffe Germany does not have a staff member dedicated to technical matters, and that situation could easily threaten or reduce their ability to host effective meetings and conferences. So I went to them in October and said, “I see your need and would like to help.” In December, their leadership team replied that they would gladly have me there full-time.

So we have a plan for our return: Katherine and I will each be spending our working hours with Wycliffe Germany and Karimu. Our plan for furlough is still developing, but a few things we know: we will be living in vicinity of Lancaster, PA, and we will be visiting the people who have been faithfully praying for us and supporting our ministry with Wycliffe.

When you pray and think of us, please pray for successes in my trip to the Netherlands and our trip to Austria. Pray for wisdom and perseverance as we plan and sort and pack in the coming months. Finally, pray for a satisfying schedule of appointments with folks during our furlough … and for rest. Thank you!

Newsletter, October 2016

“Excuse me,” you say, “but it’s not October. It hasn’t been for, well, almost a month.”

Oh, but don’t you wish it was? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could do Thanksgiving all over again? You could skip the regrettable things you did—like have that fifth piece of pie. Really, four was plenty.

The printed and mailed version of this newsletter of ours did indeed go out in October. They were fiber-rich and fat-free. The ones linked from this message are equally so—you may read either without fear of overstuffing yourself. Please do, because we don’t want any leftovers.

October 2016: A Liddle Good News (for viewing on-screen)

October 2016: A Liddle Good News (for printing)

The following pictures will help you see how I (David) have occasionally kept myself busy with bigger projects:

Installing APs in KarimuMounted AP, completed KarimuNew phones come in ...... old phones go outPhone lines aren't pretty, but useful

Workaround, workaround … I work around!

You know, half of my job exists because people have problems. Most people don’t come to me unless they have one. Sometimes the problems are small and easy, and sometimes the problems are—well, not.

A crane hoists a wall into its new position on the upper floor.
A crane hoists a wall into its new position on the upper floor.

Back in March, I heard that there had been a little incident on the construction site at Wycliffe Germany, where they are busy expanding their lodging and meeting facilities. In the initial excavation phase, a machine had severed some of the phone cables that traverse the center. Oops. Most of the lines in two buildings lost their connections, and several others were reduced to poor quality or instability.

Later that month, I was approached by their business manager about the possibility of installing a VoIP-based phone system to restore the lost phone lines. (The network cables had been untouched.) Such a system is what I installed in our own office in 2013. One difference was that this new system would have to work for a while with what remained of the old one. It was destined to become the only system, but it would be just a workaround in the meantime so that some important calls could get through.

To make a long story short(er)—remember, this happened back in March—my colleague and  I installed the new system and the first of the phones. (That was a really long workday.) Later, we tested and recommended some cordless units to put to work in the tricky areas where corded desk phones just won’t work. Slowly, we are going to plan and install our way from the initial workaround to the final replacement system.

The excavator and its companion in front of our building (on right).
The excavator and its companion in front of our building (on right).

It seems that we’ll be needing some kind of workaround at home, too. The road through our village is being repaved and the sewer system renovated, and the sewer work is right in front of our apartment now. On Friday, the excavator stumbled upon an undocumented pipe—our building’s drain pipe, from all appearances. If the window’s open, and we run a little water, then within minutes we hear a trickling outside. Fun, huh?

Earlier, I didn’t mention that one of the phones I replaced is the one used by my wife. If I can wrangle a picture or two out of her at work this week, I’ll write about what Katherine is up to these days over at Wycliffe Germany.