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!

Looking for a place to call home

Please pray this week for our efforts to find a house or flat that we can call home. The best leads here come through word of mouth, and we are thankful to our new friends and colleagues for asking around on our behalf. There may be one or two more options to explore, but the opportunity that pleases us the most is a newly-renovated house across the creek from the village’s main church.

Every locale has its own set of laws, guidelines, and practices for the rental of homes. We’re working with our German colleagues to navigate the terms and criteria involved in setting the rental price. The house owner is new to renting, and we’re new to Germany, so there are plenty of opportunities for miscommunication and error. When you pray for this need, please focus on the need for good relationships, friendly communication, and accurate information. The place has its quirks and challenges, but it’s in a great location and we like it a lot. The boys would have just a short walk to school (which starts in just two days). And a creek. Guess which one they like more?

Here are some pictures that will give you imagery for those times of prayer – as well as another glimpse into what life is like here. Enjoy – and pray!

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