Search This Blog

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Three days in England and now we're heading home

Although I wasn't sure I would be glad I came, I am. The 15 hour drive was very long but Alan stayed safe and we got here and had the opportunity to rest for a couple of days and get caught up. I've spent the bulk of my time online working out our budget versus our actual spend, getting caught up with friends and family and trying to get the last remaining items handled in a country where folks speak a language I can understand!

We heard today it was snowing in Heidelberg so hopefully the mountain passes aren't too difficult for us to get through on our way back to Schönau. Today we will drive only to Northampton to spend the night and then in the morning we will go to Eric and Ellen's hotel to pick up two suitcases they are bringing over for us and then we catch a ferry from Dover to Calais tomorrow afternoon at 2:00pm. We're taking webster with us and we made sure to get his European Pet Passport (he even has his picture in it) to take with us as well. Hopefully there are no issues bringing him over.

After returning home I want to spend the weekend finishing putting the Ikea furniture together and unpacking and organizing everything. Then Sunday we'll go to church and out to lunch with the folks there. So far we've really enjoyed getting to know folks over our last two trips to Heidelberg. Now that we've moved we hope to really start building some strong friendships and accountablity relationships.

In a lot of ways I'm sad leaving here because neither Alan nor Margaret are christians and it's hard saying goodbye to them not knowing if we'll ever see them again. Alans dad is in such poor health but we're praying God will keep him alive long enough that he'll recognize his need for a savior and put his faith in Christ. In other ways I'm glad to go because it's as if Alan becomes a different person when he's here. He watches WAY too much television and he lets his mother wait on him hand and foot - like he did when he was a kid. I told him to snap out of it but it's hard for him because it's what he's used to. I end up spending a lot of time up in our room doing budgets and paperwork and writing supporters because if you go downstairs to try to talk to anyone you feel like you're interupting something very important that they're watching on TV - even if it's only the Jeremy Kyle show (the UK's version of Jerry Springer - YUK!!!).

Ah well, they take very good care of us here and are loving and kind so we'll miss them. Sometimes I feel like when I talk about Jesus it goes in one ear and out the other but I don't care I'm just going to keep doing it until the Holy Spirit does a work on their lives and opens their eyes and hearts to him. It's so frustrating when those you love can't see the truth that is right in front of them. It makes me want to take the devil by the throat and strangle him for what he's doing to people that I love. The only thing that matters to me in life to me is seeing the people that I love and the people that I meet come to know Jesus. Everything else is just "stuff" that gets in the way.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Our first week in Germany

Well, if I said it was one of the hardest weeks ever in terms of physical exhaustion I don't think I'd be too far off the mark. It seriously felt like we were going to work ourselves to death. At our apartment we have about 34 stairs outside up to the front door from the road down below (no ramp) and another probably 15 or so inside to our first floor apartment. Given I'm 5 months pregnant, poor Alan had to lug everything - somewhere between 3-4 tons of stuff by the end of the week up all those stairs by himself. We were sore and stiff every night as we crashed into bed but still praised God for his goodness and faithfulness to us for that day. The way God came through for us every step of the way continues to amaze us.

I left off 2 days and 12 hours prior to leaving. The day we left was a Sunday so we spent the day before packing and repacking the van and trailer loaned to us by a friend at our church. We barely got everything in so we have no idea how we would have made it with our original plan which was just to make a couple of trips in the car. Sunday we went to church and I had told the youth that Alan and I wanted to take them out to lunch as a special treat but they could only qualify if they came to church and they needed to be on time as well. Well we got there and pretty much every youth had shown up which is unusual given most of them have become complete slackers in the last few months and stopped going to church completely. I'm disappointed that the pull of the world is so strong and so many of them are willing to compromise their faith but they are young and they'll have to learn the hard way I guess. Ugh.

Anyway, church was good and after we took the youth and Joan and Iain out to lunch at Pizza Express at Cheshire Oaks mall. Fortunately Mihai and Simona got to come too so that was nice. Alan and I had to take off pretty quickly after eating so we could make the six hour drive down to Dover to catch our ferry. We made it with a bit of time to spare and once we got into France drove about an hour to our hotel. Unfortunately we forgot we lost an hour upon entering France instead of gaining an hour which we thought originally so our clocks were completely wrong when we woke up the next morning and we missed breakfast. Because of our late start we didn't get into Schonau until nearly 8pm and it was super foggy for about the last 45 minutes which made mountain driving really tough but we got there, met Herr Dei and was able to get his help to unload the mattress so at least we had a place to sleep that night. Alan got a few other things up like our clothes for the next day and we were so tired we didn't do much else.

Tuesday morning Alan wanted to get everything else inside and he did, 50 someodd steps at a time - van plus trailer. I felt sooo bad for him but he refused to let me help so I stayed inside and unpacked and tried to put things in the right rooms at least even though we had no furniture to put them into. That afternoon we went by the church and dropped off our trailer thinking we wouldn't need it the rest of the week and then we went to the T-Mobile (also Deutsche Telecom) to try to get phones and setup our internet. Long story short, it's not as easy as you might think as they require all kinds of information and most importantly a German bank account which we didn't have. We tried to go and get one only to find out that the banks close at 4pm on Tuesday. Who knew...

On Wednesday we focused on trying to get a bank account setup and on getting some furniture. I didn't want to do the whole Ikea thing but I couldn't for my life find a furniture store with anything in our price range. We couldn't find consignment stores (we didn't even know the German word for consignment). We couldn't find goodwill stores or anything similar. All the new furniture stores had this horrid, expensive stuff that just was ick so we ended up at Ikea. We actually found a Media Mart next door where we stopped first for a kettle, toaster, router and washing machine and dryer. Then at Ikea we got a few bookshelves and dressers. That night Alan spent the first few hours trying to get everything upstairs and then our door buzzed and we were surprised to find that Ken and Danine had stopped by to see us. We had gone to their house a couple of times that day and left a note in their mailbox that we wouldn't be able to join them for dinner but I guess that was their German mailbox that they never check so they came all the way out to Schonau to see us which was really nice. We ended up going to dinner in Schonau and having a nice schnitzel and enjoying the conversation. It was a break that we needed and it was really appreciated.

Thursday Alan put furniture together and we went by the bank to finish opening our account as it had to process overnight. We then found an internet cafe to finally check in with family and friends back home. We then met Danine at the church to get the kitchen stuff we had taken down and stored back in October and then went back to T-Mobile to get our phone and internet and about two and a half hours later finally got everything sorted. Thursday night was a long night of unpacking and putting stuff together and Friday we decided to stay around the house to do more of the same until we realized our brand new washing machine had a bad motor and would have to be returned. UGH!

Saturday we knew it was our last day with Alan and the van so we were determined to find a living room set and dining room table with chairs. Fortunately God was good to us and at the 11th hour, helped us to find what we were looking for at a good price. Unforunately they didn't take credit cards and Alan had to go to the church to get the trailer so we could fit everything in. In the meantime I walked about two miles to a local mall to try to get money out of every bank account we had. After 5 different bank machines and trying every card we had twice I sat down and prayed. I said God, we believe you led us here to buy this furniture and if you want us to have it you're going to have to somehow provide a way for us to get it. I decided to try the same cards that had been denied twice in another bank machine and was able to get 10EURO more than we needed to get all the furniture. Alan was not having as good of a time though as on his way back with the trailer he got lost and couldn't find his way back to me. In the end we both made it back, completely exhausted but knowing we now had a van and trailer FULL of stuff AGAIN, it was dark outside, we had no help unloading and Alan had to leave directly after church the next day. It was going to be a long night.

Have I mentioned how much I love and respect my husband? Honestly I think he's amazing. Not only does he treat me like I'm the most important person on the planet but he is incredibly strong - physically and mentally. He's also just a good person. Poor thing though I thought he was going to have a heart attack taking up this last batch of stuff. He was committed though and wouldn't stop and at 11pm after two guys visiting friends and leaving for the night offered to help him bring the washing machine up the stairs, the sweet lady underneath came out and asked us (in German) if we were just about done. I apologized and we decided to go to bed and just finish the rest after church. Alan would have to take a later ferry.

Church was good. Ken and Danine were in Garmesh skiing with friends so Matt preached on relationships. We both enjoyed seeing folks we hadn't seen since October and meeting new people as well. After church Matt and Tamra and John and his wife Michelle came over to help Alan get the last piece of sofa bed up the stairs then they stayed a bit to see the apartment and to chat. Alan was late getting off back to England and when I thought about how lonely I was going to be without him I decided to go as well. The drive was long (15 hours) but I was glad to be with him and he was glad I think for the company. We got into England early yesterday morning and went straight to bed, then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening just relaxing with his parents at their home.

Today we gave the van and trailer back to Iain and got our car back, went to Tesco for some shopping for Germany, went by the hospital to get my paperwork and then came back to Alans parents for some lunch and to do some work on the computer. I feel so much better now that I've rested and now that my feet aren't killing me. Our plans are to head to where Eric and Ellen will be staying on Thursday night and spend the night getting our two suitcases from them Friday morning before taking the ferry over that afternoon and then driving the rest of the way. We'll both be glad I think once we're home and we can finish putting the Ikea furniture together, finish unpacking and start our ministry. We're thankful for all our friends that have prayed so faithfully for us and are so excited about this time in our lives. Chloe seems to be doing well (I'm getting fatter!) but I still haven't felt her kick yet. It's 22 weeks on Thursday. :)

Thursday, 6 January 2011

We're almost on our way! :)

Well the countdown continues - 2 days, 12 hours to go until we begin our drive to Schönau, Germany - our new home. I guess I would say I am regularly a busy person. I like doing things. I don't like just sitting around. That being said, I have been borderline swamped, overwhelmed and just plain exhausted these last six months. Ever since we became appointees with Pioneers and started to plan our move Alan and I haven't stopped. Fortunately we're almost there.

Alan spent today in Liverpool working on the trailer that a friend from our church is letting us borrow for our drive to Germany. He's also loaning us his van so that we can take everything we own down. Both of us discuss regularly just how much God has blessed us in the past year. He helped to rent our home in Georgia at the 11th hour, provided the support we needed for year one through friends and family, reducing our budget in a couple of key areas (rent) and allowing the EURO to fall rather than rise against the dollar. He also helped rent our house in England to sweet friends, find a great apartment for us in Germany and so much more it's hard to not go on forever.

I spent the day tying up one thousand loose ends - packing and repacking, going to the library, bank and post office to send tons of documentation to our insurance broker in Germany and another set to the Revenue and Customs department in Newcastle. I worked on our budget, sent final necessary paperwork to Pioneers, looked into internet providers in Germany and talked to our landlord about last minute details.

Tonight I have to get our stuff together for going to Bawtry in Yorkshire tomorrow and write thank you notes to our supporters in England. That was supposed to be Alans job but he's been so busy I told him I would do it for him this once. Alan just got home a few minutes ago and he's heading out again to put some fuel cleaner in the car and top it up as well as go to Tesco to buy cling film so that we can wrap our mattress so it won't get dirty.

Tomorrow night we'll have chinese here with Linda and Richard and Alans parents then on Saturday we'll go to our friends to pick up the van and trailer then to Arrowe Park to get our paperwork before we meet the youth at the church that will help us pack our things at Mihai and Simona's and then bring them to Chester to pack everything here. On Sunday it's church, lunch at Pizza Express with the youth group and then we're off. Our ferry in Dover is at 9:20 and we hope to stay in a hotel in France that night before finalizing the rest of our trek on Monday.

The last week here has been good. We especially enjoyed going to church and seeing everyone there, visiting Alans sister and nieces and their kids in Wrexham yesterday and I enjoyed teaching my last Influence at the church last night. During my quiet times this last week I really felt as if God wanted me to speak on his second coming and on the tribulation. I also really wanted to encourage the youth in our church to get back in church and be strong witnesses for Christ in Birkenhead. I told them I know it's very difficult to be a christian in England. It's much, much easier to be a christian in Athens, Georgia but still, they can do it - especially if they stick together and encourage and hold eachother accountable. I have really grown to love this group of students. They aren't the easiest group, they have at times proven themselves to be undisciplined, lazy and too willing to compromise but for the most part they are hungry to learn, eager to serve, struggling to find their individual identities and wrestling with God. Alan said to me, I don't see how you get away with yelling at them like you do but they don't seem to mind it. I said - they love adults to challenge them, to treat them like they have brains and to not accept lackadaisical behavior. They are really talented and can change the world if they set their minds to it. I'm going to miss them - big time.

Well is blogging any different from blabbing? I feel like they are one in the same with this latest blog so please forgive my rambling. Alan and I can't tell you how much we appreciate all of you in our lives. Thank you for the encouragement, the support, the prayers. One of the things I have enjoyed the most these last few months is pouring over the prayer requests from our supporters. For those of you that have sent prayer requests to us, know that we are praying for you and we would LOVE to hear any updates when you have them. We especially like to see God answer prayers and we're keeping track so we can remember how faithful and good He really is. He is faithful and really good, isn't He?