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Still House Hunting

Blog -> Family

Dear Friends,

thank you so much for all the encouraging feedback we got from many of you all over the world. We feel so blessed to be part of God's family. And though we feel a bit isolated and lonely these days, we know we're not alone. Thank you so much for all the prayers, support and encouragement we received from all of you.

So here's an update: The main challenge is: We're still looking for an apartment. And what doesn't make it easier: From the outside there doesn't seem to be much happening right now. The first week, we were able to look at three places. This week, we have nothing lined up so far. A few tentative leads. But nothing concrete yet. Frustrating. 

On the positive side: I did look at a place last Sunday. And I got a sense in prayer that "this one is it". Ryoko felt similar about it (independently). We just hope and pray that this was really from God, not our own imagination, impatience or wishes. We were one of ten parties who took a look at the place. We don't know anything about the others (Whether they applied for the place, whether they have a better application than ours, etc.). We handed in our application for the place, waiting to hear back from the landlord and/or the agent. (We haven't heard back from 2 other applications we handed in last week. Not sure if that means we didn't get the place, or if they're still evaluating the candidates,...)

It's funny how God operates: Because other than the apartment, things seem to be going quite well. We got some admin stuff done (medical insurance, bank account, documents we needed to apply for, etc). We met a person today who has been a church leader before, but doesn't have a church home here in Munich right now. Sounded to me like he's the kind of person who is looking for the kind of church that God put on our hearts. We'll talk some more with him soon, maybe we have just found another founding member and leader of our church.

We certainly feel way more comfortable here today than we did last week, when I wrote the previous blog. We love the environment, enjoy a lot of things that we didn't have in Shanghai (We're aware that's the "honeymoon stage", we will eventually fall into the "(back) culture shock" hole). Ryoko has made some mom friends here, even met a Japanese mom living right next door, kids were having a play date already, another one tomorrow. We had some fun outings here, going to parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, etc. Kids are getting used to the new environment more and more, and they really love being here. They're missing friends. (They won't be in school until mid September, so they'll probably feel a bit lonely until then). But otherwise they are very excited to be here, and they love Germany and the city. So yes, we're all thankful that God called us into a new season.

Shanghai seems a lot further away than 2 weeks (We left SH 2 weeks ago today), and we feel like we belong here already. This has really already become home. Overall we are doing pretty well. 

Then I got a definite confirmation that I'll be working freelance from September 01st onwards, with my previous client. We know and trust each other, we know we will work well together. And it'll keep us above waters, financially. It won't make us rich, but it'll give me the flexibility to put food on the table while still pursuing the church project. My client knows that I won't be doing this long term, and he's fine with that. It's really an ideal arrangement for this season of our lives. 

It's just that the apartment search hangs over us like the proverbial Sword of Damocles (Is that saying known in English? If not, ask a German speaker to explain! :P). Everything else pretty much hangs on it, everything is stalled until we find the apartment. It's frustrating.

If it was anybody else, I know what I would say: Something along the lines of "Don't worry, there's still so much time. God won't let you down. He made it so clear to you that He wants you to be in Munich, He knows your needs, He doesn't forget about giving you an apartment. In a few weeks, you'll be sitting in your new place, and you'll ask yourself why you doubted God.", etc. We know all that in our heads. Just when you're in the midst of this situation, and you wonder where you and your kids will sleep a few weeks from now,... then head knowledge is just not enough to calm your emotions,...

Last night, I was "complaining" a bit to God about this whole thing. And I felt He gave me 2 words:

To minister to those who will be going through the same situation

2 Corinthians 1:4 Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them who are in any trouble, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God. 

Since we plan on starting a church here, we'll deal with a lot of people who will move here and face exactly the same challenge that we are going through right now. I believe God wants us to experience these emotions we are experiencing these days, so that in months and years to come, we can minister to those who are facing the same challenge. 

To know God's hand in this

If God had simply dropped a place on us the day we arrived here, it would have been easy to see it as our own doing, taking our own glory, dwelling in our own arrogance. ("See, if you do it right, like us, it's SO EASY to get an apartment in Munich. In other words: If you don't get one quickly, it's really your own fault.") Not that I would have said it like that. But somewhere, in the back of mind, in the secret place, that's the kind of thoughts that I would probably have had. And maybe, on a bad day, I might have let something like this slip from my mouth. I think God wants to make sure that we always know that it was Him giving us the future apartment, not our own doing.

Those words gave me a bit of comfort. And somehow, today, things do seem a bit brighter. I was finally able to get one document from the government that I've been trying to get for weeks, starting from Shanghai (It's a document that says that I am debt free, have no financial obligations, etc). Many landlords require this document before they even consider you as a tenant. Today I got the bill for that document. I assume that means it's on the way. Hopefully, it'll appear in our mailbox in a day or two, and with that, some more opportunities for apartments open up. 

Then we got a long awaited document from our bank. Now we just have to wait for our bank cards, then we can finally freely pay electronically (and don't have to keep a lot of cash in our apartment). The cards arrive next week, everything is in order now. We just have to wait for a few more days.

Then we got some new leads for apartments (some from landlords, some from agents). That gave us some more hope, even though we have nothing concrete yet, beyond a few initial "tell us more about you". And then, while helping Martin today (the guy who lets us stay at his place right now), he introduced us to the guy who is a potential member of our church. 

Yesterday morning, my prayer was that God would just give us something to show us that He's with us. He did, in several different ways. So yes, we know He's with us. But like I said, head knowledge is really not enough right now. We need God to calm and change our hearts, not just our minds.

We just pray that this season will be over soon, and we can move forward with our lives. As wonderful as things are, the fact that we don't have a place to live in a few weeks just covers everything else we think, experience, do and say. 

Alright, so that's our update for today. Thank you so much again for all the prayers and support you have given us. Let us know how you are doing as well. We'd love to hear from you.

In Christ's love,

Bernd, Ryoko, Anna, Noah and Abigail

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