Newsletter, February 2018

At last, the air is clear of the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and … my hometown team winning a certain celebrated sporting event. Valentine’s Day, the Olympic Games—they’re all behind us. May we all breathe again now?

Apart from the activity of the above, our time in the U.S. has been fairly uneventful, which is just as a so-called “furlough” often should be. Jonathan and Caleb are doing well in school. We get to spend a good amount of time with my side of the family, most of whom live in the area. It has been a period of restfulness threaded with an urge to return to work and life in Germany.

Part of this time is intended for reconnecting with those who faithfully keep us busy and active while we’re serving away from home. During the busiest times of year, though, it’s not easy to visit those folks. With spring arriving, our schedule of events is picking up. Here’s where we anticipate being over the next several months:

  • March 4: The Blue Church, Springfield, PA, 9:00–1:00 PM (combined Sunday school class, worship, lunch)
  • March 10: Aldan Union Church, Aldan, PA, 8:00–10:30 AM (missions conference breakfast)
  • March 14: Aldan Union Church, Aldan, PA, 7:00–8:30 PM (missions conference panel discussion)
  • March 18: Aldan Union Church, Aldan, PA, 9:00–1:00 PM (missions conference Sunday school, worship)
  • April 13-15: Pender United Methodist Church, Fairfax, VA (missions conference)
  • April 29: Parkwood Baptist Church, Annandale, VA, 9:30–12:00 PM (combined Sunday school, lunch)
  • June 11-13: South Carolina (tentative visits)
  • June 13-19: First Presbyterian Church, Duncanville, TX (worship, friends in vicinity)
  • June 19-27: Centennial, CO (family visit)
  • June 27-July 2: Brookdale Church, Saint Joseph, MO (worship, family visit)
  • August 3: Germany?

If you live near any of these places (or along our likely route) and would like to get together with us, please let us know! You can find our email address in the newsletter:

February 2018: A Liddle Good News (for viewing on-screen)

February 2018: A Liddle Good News (for printing)

When you pray for us, please keep our stamina the threat of travel fatigue before the Lord our God. We are grateful to you for being a part of our Wycliffe ministry!

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A moving experience

Once we returned from that working vacation to Austria during spring break, the preparations for our return to the U.S. began in earnest. It was a busy time that had its high and low points. To be honest, getting settled here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has those extremes, too. Let’s try to keep things on the bright side, shall we?

Katherine and I are thankful that our household belongings in Germany are safe—and only stored in two places. A couple from church generously offered the use of a room in their cellar, at no cost to us! And Wycliffe Europe Area allowed us to store items in unused attic space that they have. Maneuvering things into those spots was often a challenge—especially during rainy days—but we are pretty satisfied with the results. The old apartment was emptied and turned over to new faces.

It took me a while to distribute the nearly 400 pounds of luggage among our eight allowed bags, but I managed it. How does one pack to spend a year ‘away from home’ while ‘at home’? We’re still not sure, but this is what it might look like:

The back of the van that took us to the Frankfurt airport.

Shortly before we left, Caleb celebrated the end of his two-year-long Bible study course, which he completed with other youth his age at the church we attend there. It’s not easy to get all four of us into one picture, but again, we managed it!

After the bible study graduation service.

In fact, we did it a second time a little bit after that. At the outskirts of every city, town, and village in Germany, there are signs indicating the town limits and the distance to the next place along the same road. I thought that you might be interested to know how far we’ve come on our ‘road’ to the U.S.:

Would an arrow have been pointless?

After arriving, we recovered from jet lag and began getting reacquainted with the Lancaster area. It’s now been one month since I collected our stateside things from storage and brought them to where we are now:

Into and out of storage

As for where that is exactly, I have no objection to telling you outright—the address will be in the next newsletter. However, being an aficionado of cartography and ingenuity, I think it would be more fun to do it another way. There are three words that can describe where we live now. Those three words are “erupted”, “dockers”, and “imitations”. Write to me to confirm your guess. If you don’t figure it out, contact me so I can send you information on a fascinating way in which truly remote areas are getting addresses.

How can you pray for us now? Well, moving stinks. Being close to family is great. The differences between the German and U.S. school systems can be challenging and confusing. The good start those strapping young men have at school and in youth group is encouraging and relieving. The distance we have to go yet in settling and getting reconnected with supporters spread across half the country is intimidating. That’s when an excerpt from Paul’s letter to the Romans comes to mind:

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. (Romans 5:3-4)

Our hope of salvation is one of the driving forces behind our ministry with Wycliffe. We’re glad to know that you’re reading, and praying, and helping to keep us moving. Thank you!

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All work and no play …

… could have made working in Austria very dull.

The Wycliffe office in Linz, Austria, needed an update to its network equipment, if you’ll recall. With the boys’ spring break around the corner, Katherine and I planned for the whole family to make the trip together. She found a great place for us to stay in a village about 20 minutes from the city:

The view from our vacation apartment outside of Linz

Just one day later, the view looked like this:

How Gramastetten looked the day after we arrived

The funny thing was that I had put our summer tires on the car just a few days before we left. The day the snow fell was the very day that I drove down to the office in Linz to do my work. I couldn’t be sure how much snow was going to fall in the upper elevations—the village of Gramastetten being  915 feet in elevation above Linz, and I was a bit concerned about my return trip up the windy rural roads. Despite the worry, I got the job done:

New and rearranged equipment, reducing chaos

The installation that I did there in Linz became the first location in which all of the networking gear comes from the UniFi line of products from Ubiquiti Networks. The software in this inexpensive equipment makes it easy to us to monitor and manage it all from one central location. That feature takes a burden off of both local staff and those of us who support them. It’s working great, and everyone is quite satisfied with the improvements.

With that day of productivity done, Katherine, the boys, and I could enjoy the remainder of our time in Linz. We visited a few museums, took a long bike ride along the Danube, and enjoyed the traditional afternoon coffee and cake.

A view across the Danube of the Lentos Art Museum, from the Ars Electronica Center

When we drove to Austria, we arrived there after dark, so we couldn’t enjoy all the scenery along the Danube—though the lights of villages across the water were enchanting. On our return trip, we were treated to a number of small towns tucked into the folds and curves of this beautiful river. And we saw that we weren’t the only ones:

Ships like this one are a common sight along the river

After our return home to Germany, our preparations for our furlough in the U.S. began to accelerate. In late June, we moved out of our apartment and over to the Wycliffe center. As I write this, we are five days away from our departure. Nearly everything that needs to be stored for the next year is in a cellar or attic location, and the last bits of sorting and packing are underway.

In the U.S., we’ll take up residence in a townhouse in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, just minutes from my younger sister and her family. My mother is not much further away. Jonathan and Caleb will be attending Hempfield High School, which we’re all sure will be a vastly different experience from Dietrich Bonhoeffer Gymnasium and the German school system. The next year could be quite the adventure!

When you pray for us right now, thank the Lord our God for keeping us so well here over the past six years. If we get to share with you in person about this time, you’ll understand how much we have cherished it. Ask him also to give us endurance and perseverance as we pack, giving us the wisdom to know what to take and what to leave behind. And may we have patience with one another as our flight home draws nearer, and nearer, and nearer …

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