Settling Down and Getting Ready
Blog -> Family
the last couple of weeks have been less exciting/scary than the first few weeks here in Munich. But nevertheless, we're certainly not bored. We are basically taking turns between "being really busy" and "taking a much needed rest".
I wrote the last blog on the night of the day we got the keys to our new home. As you can imagine, things just got busy from there. First of all we had to move in here, including a whole day (and expensive) trip to IKEA, to get our furniture. Then we helped our friends getting their apartment empty. (The lease for the place of our friends where we stayed for those 40 days was up end of August. Since they just had their second baby and couldn't really be in Munich, we did some of the work for them, to return their apartment) And then of course there is a lot of legal stuff to do: We had to register with the government that we live here now, we had to register kids for school, we had to update our information with our bank here and the insurance company. It's just been a very hectic season, every day running to one or two places in the morning, before coming home and then spending the rest of the day setting up beds and tables, drilling holes in the walls to hang stuff, etc.
In the middle of all this, we spend 5 days at my home village. It's been 4 years since we saw our family. It was also the first time we came back since my mom passed away, the first time we saw her grave in person (We've seen pictures of it before). We didn't know what to expect, how we would respond. I can't speak for both of us, Ryoko's reaction was a little bit different. But for me, I can say that it didn't affect me as much as I expeceted. I guess I had already dealt with most of the grief, even though I wasn't physically present. So actually seeing the grave and experiencing my dad's place without my mom being there,... wasn't very sad our troubling to me. I had already dealt with that grief in Shanghai, and coming back here didn't really bring up new things that I had to deal with.
But other than experiencing my home without my mom for the first time, it was a very restful time. If you follow us on WeChat or Facebook you've gotten a pretty good idea of what we did: Time to catch up with the family (esp. my dad, who is 80 now), kids were able to reconnect with their cousins. (Anna has one cousin who is around 3 years older than her, and the two of them get along pretty well) Lots of time in nature, admiring stars in the evening sky that we had (nearly) forgotten exist (Seeing hundreds of stars with the naked eye is just breathtaking). Kids went horse riding and simply enjoyed the experience of "living in nature". And then I was told the true story about the cow that fell in the swimming pool and had to be carried out again with a digger.
It was a very, very restful week we spent there, with perfect weather for us. We were reenergized for what lies ahead of us. And we are thankful that we can now visit my family several times each year, and don't have to tell them that "we plan on coming again in 2, 3 years, but we don't know yet".
So we came back to Munich last Friday evening, spent Saturday at the swimming pool and Sunday at church. Then on Monday the "admin stuff" started catching up with us again. I'm in the process of registering as a freelance programmer, kids' registration for school needs to be completed, etc. We still need to buy things (e.g. we don't have a telephone or a toaster yet), etc. It's still quite busy. But there's light at the end of the tunnel. Today we were able to set up our cuckoo clock and some decorations that were given to us as gifts in Shanghai. Now some parts of our apartment start being very unique to us, with things that are very personal to us. So it really starts feeling like "our place". And that's a wonderful feeling to have, since around 2 weeks ago we were wondering whether we would have to stay in a hotel or leave Munich altogether, if we can't find our own place in the next few days. God is good.
Getting Ready for the next steps
We realized over the last few days that we are about to end "Season 2" in Munich and start "Season 3". Season 1 was the apartment search season. Season 2 is the season of "moving in", which is slowing down now and soon coming to an end (hopefully). And now we are about to start Season 3. A lot of things are about to start:
- I'm starting my freelance work next week. Going to be a bit of a challenge, since I haven't done any serious programming for 5 years. But I'm looking forward to it.
- Kids are starting school on Sept. 12th. That's going to be a huge change for them: Different base language (German instead of English), different culture, different system (True Vine in Shanghai was mainly individual learning, Germany will be much more of a group setting). And of course, different people. It's an elementary school. Anna will probably spend the next 3 years there, Noah 4. There'll probably not be much change in the students in those years, at least nothing like what is "normal" in Shanghai. So we hope and pray that they will have good classmates and make some wonderful friends they can spend the next few years with (and maybe longer).
- Ryoko will be starting her Integration Course soon. This is a course that the German government provides for foreigners, so they learn the language, culture, law, etc. to enable them to be integrated into the German society. Thankfully Ryoko doesn't have to take it to live here (most foreigners do), she already got her visa without it. But she wants to take it, so she can live and thrive here, rather than just exist here. We're in the process of registering her for this course, not sure yet when exactly it'll start. But certainly this fall as well.
- And then we'll start our church project in September as well. We now feel ready to talk with the people who live here and have expressed interest in being part of the church before. We've already contacted many of them (you know if you are one of them *haha*), we'll present the vision that God put on our hearts, the "type of church" it'll be, etc. And then we'll let them decide whether this is the type of church they are looking for and want to be part of. At the same time we'll soon go public, advertising for this new church through internet, etc. If anybody responds, we'll do the same again, sharing the vision, the type of church we want to build, etc, and let them decide whether this is something they are interested in. And then once we have a "critical mass" we'll start our first small group. And then take it from there. Maybe a year from now we'll still just be one small group with friends we already know from Shanghai. Maybe we'll have hundreds of people knocking at our door. We simply don't know what to expect. We'll just take things step by step, as He brings people to us.
So as you can see, it won't get boring for us in the near future. In October I plan on attending a conference in Bratislava where Pastors and Leaders of many International Churches in Europe gather together. And then of course, we will need a lot of time for one another, as we all adjust to a new life and need each other's prayers, support and encouragement.
We recently noticed that we are really about to make major, long term decisions. Right now, we are completely flexible. But soon we won't be. And we really need to get these decisions right. If we choose to spend too much time on one thing now, and neglect something else, then it'll be very, very hard (if not impossible) to undo that 6 months later. If I spend too much time on the church, the family will suffer (both in family time and financially). If I spend too much time on work, then the church might never take off. There' no objective "right answer" to this question, other than some general Biblical principles. We know our time and relationship with God ist most important. We know family time and work have to come before the church. But a balance is needed.
What if I spend so much time on work, to provide for the family (which is a good thing), but God wants me to limit my hours and He plans to partially provide for us financially in a different way (e.g. donations)? Then I would hinder the church from growing as He intends it to, because I'm spending too much time at work.
Or the other way around: What if I spend so much time for the church, and limit the hours at my work. Maybe the church doesn't grow much in the first few months. And God's plan from the very beginning was to provide for us through my job, and He doesn't allow the church to grow a lot in the beginning, because we couldn't cope with it? Then I would unnecessarily bring my family in a really difficult situation, simply because I'm using my own wisdom, and don't listen to God's guidance.
Yes, there a Biblical principles. But in the end, it's really something we have to work out with God, what His plan is for our specific situation. That's something we really need to hear from God Himself. Cause anything we do could be just right, fully in line with God's plan. Or it could just as easily be a disasterous decision that messes up everything and harms this family. We really need to hear from God. We need His Rhema Word to speak to us on how to balance these elements in this new season of our lives.
It's going to be a very interesting season for sure. We appreciate your prayers as we move into this new season, pursuing the vision that brought us to Munich in the first place.
Thank you very much.
In Christ's love,
Ryoko & Bernd, Anna, Noah and Abigail
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