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!

The Gift of Wheels

For two months after we arrived in Germany, we made do with vehicles that we could borrow from friends or the Wycliffe offices. There was a waiting period for receiving our setup funds, so we couldn’t buy a car of our own immediately. That didn’t stop from researching the possibilities, and I felt ready to pounce on some good used cars when those funds came through.

One day, though, a friend and colleague at Wycliffe Germany stopped me and mentioned that he had received word of a person who was interested in giving a car to a missionary. Might this be a good option for us? I’m still not sure how one says “Duh!” in German, but I probably replied “Stimmt ja!”

After receiving the contact information for the donor, I carefully crafted a message in German that explained who we are and how very much we’d like to have the car. Would he be willing to send me more information?

Later that day, he wrote back. In English. Yes, he had a car for us. Could I call him so that we could chat about it? And, indeed, his own mother tongue is English. Will God’s wonders never cease? (No, they won’t.) I had been a little nervous about conducting potentially complicated transactions, such as this one, in German. Double Hallelujah!

This fellow and his wife came to Germany from South Africa to work with their respective companies German offices. They had lived here for several years, and now it was time to go home. As followers of Christ, they felt that at least one of their possessions here – this car – could benefit someone doing work for the Kingdom of God. And now they were very generously giving it to us!

Well, perhaps I shouldn’t write that they gave it to us. To reduce the complexity of the transaction, we agreed to conduct it as a sale. We set a date to meet in Köln (a.k.a. Cologne) at the main train station, and I set about arranging for insurance.

[singlepic id=58 w=320 h=240 float=left] So in the second week of October, I rode the train out to Cologne. But shortly before my arrival at the Hauptbahnhof, I got a call from the donor. There was a lot of construction traffic around the main station – could I get off a stop or two early? I got off the train one stop ahead almost exactly after I got off the phone. Whew! Now to wait for them to arrive …

While I was waiting, a fellow walked up to me and asked how to get to the train platform – the path wasn’t terribly obvious from the parking lot. I gave him awful directions. Not long after that, though, I got another call from the donor. He was on the platform – where was I? I’m in the parking lot, I replied … oh, you were just there? Ah, I see.

[singlepic id=59 w=320 h=240 float=right] Can either of us be blamed for not recognizing people we don’t know? Well, all’s well that ends well. I clambered into the car that was soon to be ours, and we drove off to a shopping center where there was a copy service to take care of our sales contract. His wife gave me an overview of the car – it had been her main vehicle – and we transferred the snow tires from the back of his car. Most importantly, I handed over our payment: a single 1 € coin. Hallelujah! After many signatures, we parted ways, each of us thankful for our God’s provision for our needs. They had a car they needed to give, and we needed to receive one!

What a blessing this car has been to us so far. It’s perfect for our daily use. And we know who to thank: “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.” (James 1:17) Thank the Lord our God with us for our little Renault Mégane!

Next up: the boys’ experience of school in Germany … in German (not the next post – the experience)

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!