If me not writing in nearly six weeks tells you anything at all it should say we are once again crazy, nuts busy here in Germany. It's a good crazy though which is different from the just crazy crazy of times past. :) Here's what we're up to...
Language School - Alan was going every day through February and into March which meant I stayed home with Chloe until 2pm and then got about one day a week where I could go into Heidelberg and try to catch up on ministry stuff after he got home. The other days I had to watch her pretty much constantly because Alan is in the B1 level of German now and it's really tough so his homework time took about as long (or some days longer) than the four hours of class each day. He really loved the class though and learned a ton. He even got to share his faith with the class after a conversation he was having with a Muslim man who was trying to convert Alan to Islam ran over the break time and the teacher allowed the two of them to continue their discussion with the attention of the whole class.
About two weeks after he started language school I went back in the evenings on Monday's and Wednesday's. My class is B2 and it last 4 months. It.is.hard. I will probably take this class several times given how I'm faring so far. Still, I can manage to hold my own with the other students but the teacher often gets impatient with us stressing that we should know things already that the majority (ok all) of us don't apparently know. I struggle with basic stuff like articles for nouns and knowing what things mean. Unfortunately in German if you don't know that then you are really, really in trouble because everything else is dependent on that. The way the article of the noun changes depending on the case, the way the ending on the adjectives changes depending on how it's used in the sentence. It's complicated. English is a simple language. I like simple! If nothing else going to the class gives me the opportunity to hear and speak German for 6 additional hours each week with people from 11 different nationalities. In my class there are two girls from Iran, the teacher and one other from Morocco, a Hungarian, a girl from Holland, one from Croatia, another from Bulgaria, a guy from Iraq, a girl from Poland, me from the states, a girl from Romania and I can't remember the others. I usually write all the class members down on a sheet of paper and where they are from but I can't locate the one I did for this class. Still, I think language school is one of the best ways to meet other foreigners desperately trying to learn German to have a better life.
CVJM construction - Alan has been working since school ended 3 days a week when at all possible on continued renovations to the CVJM loft project. We really wanted to get approval from the board of the CVJM in writing that we could have use of the loft for missionaries coming to work with us from around the world for 2 years after the completion of the construction work. We went to the pastor and his wife with this request and they went to the board and permission was granted. What this means is Alan is now targeting completion for spring of 2015 and with this permission in writing we can begin to actively recruit new members to our team who could live there on a short or medium term basis. God of course knew that permission was going to be granted and in his great way has organized for us lots of interest from potential Venture and other more long-term candidates which is exciting. More on that below...
Teams and new team members - This year we will have two site visits in July - one from a young man from Alabama who attensd Lee Anne's old church in Birmingham where David Platt is the pastor - he's interested in our University ministry and youth work and another from a couple from Ohio - he is a pediatrician, she's a stay at home mom who are interested in church planting in Germany. Both really feel called to Germany which is neat. We also have one of our Edger's who is in the application process to join us full-time next Spring and we have multiple GAP or Venture students talking to us as well - three in fact from Australia. Super excited about that! The Teen Missions team we hosted in January is really bearing fruit!
In July we also welcome the first Great Exchange team from our sending church Watkinsville First Baptist. Actually I will say they are from our sending church but the majority of folks that have signed up are from other churches across Georgia. The team is being orchestrated by Jon Deans, missionary and champion of the Great Exchange in the United States. The Great Exchange is an evangelistic outreach using spiritual background surveys with University students. We have used Jon's survey at the University here since we arrived three years ago but this will be a 10 day concentrated effort with our church and many others we hope in the area to reach students with the gospel. We are excited to be the first international location for the Great Exchange. For more information about the trip, message or email Jon Deans.
MOPS - As most of you know I agreed to help out the organization Mother's of Preschoolers here in Heidelberg to get to know other women in our area, help Chloe practice her German in the nearly twice weekly meetings and use some of my expertise in computers to be a blessing to the group. I have really enjoyed working as the registrar for the group welcoming new women to the group, managing all the Evite's for the various events and helping to ensure everything runs smoothly. Please pray God will raise up other leaders for this group because while the work I do is desperately needed and it does bring women closer to God, it does not align completely with our vision and so at this time I do not plan to continue into next year. I have been asked to share my testimony to the group on the May 6th meeting so if you could pray for that I would appreciate it. Right now we have between 30-45 women that attend these meetings plus nearly the same amount of children. The mix is roughly 50% German, 20% American and 30% International. It's a great group.
Chloe - Our precious, couldn't be any more adorable Chloe turns three in May and goes to Kindergarten in September although where exactly is still TBD - please PRAY! We've applied to the Evangelische Kindergarten in Kleingemund where we will be living as of May (more on that below) but the administrator has not gotten back to us with whether they will have a place for Chloe or not. I have not investigated too many others at this point as this Kindergarten is only about 700 meters from our house and with only one car it would be ideal. So please join with us in praying that we will hear something soon and that the answer will be positive. Other than that, Chloe has learned her abc's and numbers up to 10 and lots of sweet songs like Jesus loves me which she sings over and over and over again to her daddy and me. She's such a trooper and makes being a missionary here so much fun.
Jesus Abend with SAM and the Refugee Camp - Every Friday night Alan has been attending with a friend of ours who volunteers his legal expertise with SAM a Jesus Abend which is a bible study and meal with men from the local refugee camp. He really enjoys this time as a way to practice his German, meet many men (mainly from the middle east) who are recent converts and partake in the bible study and great food. Please pray for additional team members to join us who have a heart for refugees!
InTent in Altensteig - In two days we head to Altensteig, Germany again for our 4th and final InTent Pioneers European conference. We are not attendees but rather helping out with facilitating the communications with the hotel and airport transfers. At the end of April we head to an area conference near Budapest, Hungary for our area conference as attendees. We've been told we are being made Team coordinators for Pioneers in Germany but given it's been nearly a year since this was first mentioned and it hasn't been finalized yet we're not holding our breath. :))
Holland with mom and dad - in mid April mom and dad pay us a visit from Georgia and we join them in a house they've rented for a week to attend the Tulip Festival. If you know me pretty well you will know that tulips are my favorite flower and my mom and dad and I have always wanted to go to this festival. Such a treat that it's only 5 hours away for us by car!
MOVING!!! - when we return from both conferences and our trip to Holland we will be moving about 15 minutes closer to both our church and our work in Heidelberg. We have found an apartment within a home to rent that has a fireplace, winter garden (or conservatory) and a large garden for Chloe. It has a fish pond too which thrills us even though I've warned Alan he's not allowed to go fishing! Please pray that we can get all the things done we need to get done between now and then. It's a little overwhelming at times!
Finally it's our 5th wedding anniversary in less than 2 weeks!! (wow how time flies)- Alan and I will be celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary on the 4th of April. Although we've had our share of ups and downs over the past five years we're both so happy with the place God has us right now. In the last 5 years we've managed to live and work with homeless families in England for 2 years and then be in Germany for 3 years doing the work God has called us to do. God has helped us to have a little girl, host 27 missionaries to work alongside us, do massive construction work at the CVJM, volunteer hundreds of hours with die Birke (ProLife) and MOPS here in Heidelberg and still manage to go on some great hikes, swim, attend several conferences and visit England and the US at least once each year. SO very blessed. Thank you to all of you that have been part of our lives for all or a part of that time!
So that's about it. Sorry for the great length but God is doing great things and we wanted to keep you updated with it all.