After nearly two months of home assignment we returned to Germany last week ready to begin again. Fall is definitely in the air here as in stark contrast to the weather in Georgia. This was the first time we'd visited in late summer and both Alan and Chloe paid for it with numerous bug bites and bee stings. The wasps were out in force in Georgia this year. Poor Alan rather unfortunately discovered he was also very allergic to bee stings and after his second or third sting my dad went and bought him a ridiculously expensive EPI pen for emergencies because he absolutely refused to stop working in the barn which is where multiple nests were discovered.
Still, we made it back alive, not too sun burned or worse for the wear. The time with family and friends was priceless to us. We did so much that it's hard to remember it all but big highlights for me were seeing my Uncle Ron who came down for a week from Pennsylvania, my Aunt Kay also came down for a day from Ellijay with cousins Stacy from Atlanta, Joan, Marybeth, Jimbo and Dina from Athens and my Uncle Ray and Aunt MaryAnn and their children Julie and Michael and Michael's wife Holly from Rhode Island and Vermont. Other memorable non-ministry events were fishing (well Alan fished, Chloe and I swam, walked and explored), swimming with Chloe's cousins and multiple cousin play dates with my sisters, going to the zoo in Atlanta, golfing several times and meals out with good friends. Ministry wise Alan participated in several evangelistic outreaches including one with WFBC and two Great Exchange events. We also had a week long debrief in Bogart at a missions house where a counselor from Atlanta who was also a former missionary came to work with us. In addition we met with a lot of supporters, spoke at WFBC for their global missions update and traveled to Swainsboro to speak at Hawhammock church where our team from the Great Exchange this summer originated. I also had the sad experience of attending a funeral of a fellow missionary from Augusta, Georgia who I had met and we had worked alongside in Heidelberg.
Being back is good. I dreaded it at first because sometimes I feel like I am on two parallel lives. One in Georgia with my family, friends and sending church and the second in Germany. I desperately want to live in Georgia again but I also feel called and a strong pull to finish the work here in Germany. It's tough feeling sawed in two. Folks naturally ask us what's ahead for us when we return and this is what we've said. Alan wants to finish the missions loft at the CVJM hopefully in time for Nicole to move in when she arrives next July/August. He wants to start a bible/book study out of our home each week and he's focusing on our full time arrivals next year (Tyler in addition to Nicole). He's also trying to arrange a Great Exchange trip to Cambridge, England for either 2015 or 2016 and he's excited to welcome back the second Great Exchange team here in Heidelberg in June.
I have one primary goal and lots of secondary ones. Primarily I want to successfully see Chloe attending German Kindergarten without anxiety or tears in a safe, fun, challenging and sweet environment. I know I'm praying for a lot but I can't tell you how much more stressed I am about this than anything else in my own life. She is such a treasure to me and we've literally (as my mother would say) pulled this child of ours from pillar to post in her short three plus years. She's more well traveled than most adults I know but she's also had to be torn apart from her grandparents, cousins, friends, fellow team mates and just about everybody except us over the past 3 years. She goes to Georgia, absolutely adores seeing her cousins, aunts and grandparents every day and then we get on a flight and tell her she'll see them in 6 months to a year (how long is that mama?). Same with her nana in England. The teams that come that she gets attached to just leave. The TMI team from Australia and New Zealand was especially hard on her. She just cried and cried when they left. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger... does that apply to a three year old?
So that's primary. Secondarily are any preparations for full-timers and our short-term teams (Great Exchange and possibly also Edge). I want to support Alan through the book study, continue to manage our home and finances and supporter contacts and I really want to focus this year on our marriage and having some quality time just the two of us. We discovered at our debrief how really important that is for us (despite the associated cost of babysitters).
So another busy year. It might not seem this way to some but I have greatly reduced my workload in multiple areas and for this I am grateful that I had the courage to say "no" to at least a few things. I am a work in progress on this. We would greatly appreciate your prayers for the aforementioned items. We know lots of people pray for us and we are so thankful for you. In all things we want to bring God glory and we want to do His will here. This is always at the forefront of our thoughts and prayers.