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. :)