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!

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!

Settling in, just before the holidays

The last time I wrote – it was some time ago, I admit – we were considering renting a house in the older part of Niederdresselndorf, where we have chosen to live and enroll the kids in school. That house proved to be too much for our budget, but that same week we saw an apartment that we decided would suit us well. After a little renovations, some minor repairs, and painting all over, we moved in around the middle of November. Here are some pictures that I hope will give you a feel of the place:

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We’re still working on furnishing and modifying the apartment, which used to be an occupational therapy practice, but we are quite pleased with our new home. It’s only a short walk from the boys’ school, two bakeries, a grocery store, the church, and the homes of new friends. When the weather is good, I can ride my bike to the office in the next village over – and even come home for lunch at midday – without much effort.

In a few days, we’ll have our first guest! Katherine’s sister is going to visit us for Christmas and the New Year. The boys are just a little bit excited to have their aunt here. Our tree is waiting in the garage for this weekend, when we’ll put it up together.

This week, I’ll be writing each day about the different things that have happened to get us to this point. Stay tuned for the story behind our car!