The last time I blogged, I mentioned how much of a whirlwind our first day in Germany was; and it hasn’t stopped since! There has been so much to see, so much to do, so many people to meet, so much to pray about—I really don’t know where the day goes!
Over this past week, I’ve been amazed at how beautiful this place is, how fun discovering new things can be, and how much God has really gifted me with being able to be here. I feel like every day I’m in a new episode of that cartoon “Dora the Explorer;” we’ve done or tried something new every day! Here’s the Reader’s Digest version of what our time in Germany has been like so far:
Monday—All of us slept in (praise God!), trying to get the best of jet-lag from the get-go. I’m not going to lie, it was nice to sleep until noon ☺ The church bells woke us up and then Wendy (one of the teens who goes to Life Teen in Süsterseel) came to our house. She prayed mid-afternoon prayer with us (we kinda missed morning prayer…), and then she came grocery shopping with us. It turned out to be a good thing she was there, because we forgot that going grocery shopping in Germany involves reading labels in a different language—something we’re not entirely skilled at yet (we guess a lot). Wendy was more than willing to help, and the trip ended up being a live German lesson, with all of us asking “Was ist das?” a lot, and her rattling off another German word: “mütze” “kraüter” “jacke” “blumen” etc. All in all, it was a pretty successful trip.
Tuesday—Unpacking! We spent the day getting used to living in this house, moving things around, and generally starting to try and make a house a home. We’ve been so blessed with donations from all sorts of people—everything we have was given to us—but we’re still sort of half living out of suitcases. Today was also spent trying to figure out how to work the radiators in our house. We met Gaby and Regina, who work at the church in Süsterseel, to get to know them and to try and set up our German classes.
Wednesday—Bernadette and Monica (JJ’s mom and aunt—what a small world!) came over to the house to meet us and to talk and pray about what’s going on in youth ministry in this part of the world. It was so great to meet them; hopefully we’ll have lots more interaction over the course of the year! It was also great to meet a little bit of JJ’s family (thanks for sharing them with us, brother!) and see just how far God’s family reaches. It’s been really awesome to see how comfortable it feels to meet and pray with other people who are trying to grow in faith with God; it turns out, relationship with Christ really is a universal language! We all felt incredibly hopeful after we met; we all walked away with the feeling that GOD IS HERE! and I just can’t wait to see what else He’s got in store for all of us.
Thursday—Most of the day was spent praying and talking about what we received in prayer; we joined in the Life Teen holy hour a little early since there’s such a big time difference from here and the US. God moved in holy hour (of course!) and really confirmed a lot of what He’s already revealed in prayer about this community, this year of mission, and each of our hearts. We walked away from that feeling renewed and re-encouraged that what we’re doing is exactly what God has in mind for us. Thursday night is also a big night at the Life Teen office; we have open office hours starting at 5 pm, and then a Bible study that starts at 8 pm. It was really good just to be there and see some of the teens we’ll be journeying with this year—to connect through music (a universal language!), to talk about what it means to be a missionary, and to have some more German lessons ☺ We spent the majority of the night talking with a young man named Mark who is really interested in Scripture, and who faces a lot of opposition from some colleagues at work about his faith (keep him in your prayers!). Between his limited English and our limited German, we were able to have a really great conversation, dank sei Gott!
Friday—We spent the day in Aachen (a city close by) with our new friend, Rosa, who is from Mexico, lives in Germany, and speaks great English! We had a great Mexican lunch (go figure, smack dab in the middle of German countryside on the border of the Netherlands) and then went with her to see to her husband’s beehives and pick chestnuts. We spent the day talking about our conversion stories and how we’re all trying to be faithful to where God is calling us! She is going to be one of our prayer warriors here, I’m sure.
Saturday—We went grocery shopping again (things come in much smaller quantities here) and met Wendy’s parents at the grocery store. I can’t believe how many people we’re meeting so far! In a small town, news of new people travels fast; everyone knows who we are. We found out that our German classes start next week; we have a private tutor coming to the house until January, when we’ll start regular classes at a school. We spent some time in prayer discerning what to do for the Lifenight on Sunday; there was some schedule re-arranging and we’re running our first Lifenight in Süsterseel, “Meet the Missionaries,” tomorrow. All I can say is that our night involves the “Bunny Bunny” game and a pretty funny skit involving Sr. Mary Assunta. We also went to have dinner at Gaby’s house tonight, which was so great! She has some really awesome stories of places she’s moved with her husband, who’s in the military, and she just extended hospitality to us in an amazing way. Hopefully soon we can return the favor!
Phew! It’s a lot, I know. There’s been tons of meeting and greeting and praying and learning since we’ve been here, and God is not done yet! I’m excited at the thought of just having scratched the surface of how God wants to reveal Himself to us through this community, our prayer, and the exchange of hospitality with the people who we’re now living with. I could write a whole other blog about hospitality and it’s important place in this mission (hmmm, foreshadowing?). As the Life Teen Missions Rule of Life states, “Life Teen Mission bases are welcome places;” I think now, more than ever, I’m realizing that the posture of welcoming first starts in my own heart, and only then can I open up for everyone else. Thank you for all your prayers as I wait on the Lord and how He wants to move.