Watching faith become sight

In the letter written to the Hebrews, we read, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV) While preparing for a new term overseas in our Wycliffe ministry, I’d say that we’re witnessing many instances of “what we hope for” as well as “what we do not see”. You’ve probably gone through such periods in your own life—it’s the details that appear different. Read on to understand what it’s like for us right now.

Our family is about two months from our scheduled return to Germany. In faith, we have purchased tickets for a departure on August 5th. Each of us has a valid passport. These are things we do see. Easy enough. There are other things, which we do not see but we hope for, that must take form so that we can actually go.

The faithfulness of the churches and individuals who support us allows us to report that we do see a great portion of our monthly financial needs met. That is thanks to the Lord we serve, who works through these generous people. The “ministry budget” approved for our next term in Germany, however, is more than what we receive now. The difference is driven by increases in the cost of living and the need to plan for sudden, large expenses. To reach 100% of our ministry budget and be free to depart, we need to receive an additional $270 each month. This amount is part of what we hope for.

One sudden expense came from the home that we own in Texas, which we are renting out until we can sell it. Early this year, we were surprised by a large bill for repair work done between tenants. These expenses are being paid back by the incoming rent, thankfully, but now the rent isn’t covering our mortgage. Until the end of the year, provision for the mortgage payments and our own housing expenses is another thing we do not see … yet.

We also experienced higher expenses during this year in the U.S., where the cost of living has been greater than in Germany. These situations have taken a worrisome toll on our savings. The increase in our ministry budget will help us prepare for and recover from such periods as we serve Wycliffe internationally.

Our initial home will be an apartment in the building close to the top of this picture.

Without faith, those things that we do not see could tempt us to lose confidence. But our amazing God has bolstered our faith by encouraging us and lifting our hopes!

He has blessed us with certainty in our housing over in Germany. When we arrive, we’ll be staying in an apartment at Wycliffe’s Karimu conference center. The original booking went through the first few weeks of school.

This is the front of the house that we hope to call home beginning in December.

We were thrilled to have time to look for long-term housing, but our Lord wasn’t done yet! We received word that a family we know from church is building a new house and wants to rent their current one after they move in December. After some waiting and uncertainty, we learned that the house would be available to us! It seems just what we hoped for.

What a relief to know that we would have a place to call home! But our Lord wasn’t done yet; he wanted to take care of the interim period, too! The fabulous folks at Karimu worked hard to clear us to stay in the apartment all the way until December, barring extreme circumstances. We are amazed by all these developments and thank God continually for his goodness to us. As we face so many things that we do not see, the gift and blessing of assurance in this aspect of life overwhelms and encourages us.

We are confident that our Lord still isn’t done. If he can settle our housing arrangements in Germany, well in advance of our departure, then surely he can and will provide for everything else. Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, “… I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6, NLT) Katherine and I believe wholeheartedly that God’s “good work” in us includes our serving him and Wycliffe in Germany.

By what means will he “continue his work”, transform our faith in what we do not see? It will include our brothers and sisters who care for and pray for us. Perhaps it will be you. Perhaps it will be someone you know who also understands the importance of continuing God’s work in this world. Please think about this and consider supporting our ministry regularly so that we can resume our service to Wycliffe in Germany:

The Wycliffe Ministry of David & Katherine Liddle

That link to our ministry page at Wycliffe’s website can always be found on the “Join Us” page at Liddles.net. Regardless of whether you give or not, we ask you to pray to the God we serve that he will give confidence and assurance to all the areas of life in which there are things we do not see. We can’t do this on our own; we need the Lord, and we need you. Thank you for your love, and your concern, and your generosity!

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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!

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Beyond the countdown … and getting adjusted

It’s been a whirlwind of a few weeks, friends, but at last we are here in Germany!

After leaving Missouri with a full trailer behind our car, we bolted east to Pennsylvania, where we spent time with my (David’s) side of the family down at the shore and in lovely Lancaster County. Then the real packing began, and we managed to fit all of our belongings into duffels, trunks, and boxes that met the weight requirements. There was so much that we needed a limo service to cart us to the airport.

We had some concerns that an air traffic controller strike in Frankfurt might cause some delays for our flights, but that strike never happened. Praise God! Our travel through London-Heathrow to Frankfurt went very smoothly. We even found a restaurant in London that could accommodate Caleb’s food allergies and provide him with a hamburger patty. Again, praise God!

In Frankfurt, we were met by my colleagues Martijn de Vries and Jeff Pubols, who lives and works in South Africa. They brought two vehicles to carry us up to Niederdresselndorf, where we are staying at Meisenweg 1 at the home of our director and his wife, Frank and Uschi Lautenschlager. Jonathan and Caleb are thrilled to be here, and it’s hard to rein in their curiosity and desire to explore absolutely everything.

Katherine and I have accomplished a few of those little bureaucratic details since we arrived. Yesterday, we registered with the township, the Gemeinde Burbach, which is an important step towards acquiring the final work permit and visa. We looked at a flat to rent, but it was too small for us to be content during the long rental period required by the landlord — we do expect guests, after all. We also made arrangements with Wycliffe Germany for them to handle the transfer of donations from our generous financial partners through Wycliffe USA. Thank you, friends, for making this all possible!

This morning, I’m going to drive out with Martijn to Muecke and the site of the Deaf Bible Translation Conference that we will provide support for next month. We’ll be assessing what we need to help make the technological part of the conference a success. It’s great to be getting down to work again!

More to share, including pictures, later — tschuss!

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