Happy New Year from the Armbruster Family
Blog -> Family
Happy New Year to you all. We had some very busy weeks before Christmas, and have taken a good break since. That’s why we haven’t posted much over the last few weeks. But as we were able to regain some strength, we now feel ready to do some work again. With the beginning of next week (Jan. 09th) life goes back to normal. Until then, we enjoy some slow time.
So, here are a few things that have happened since our last update:
Overall, we are getting more and more settled here in Munich. Of course, we are at very different levels. I still feel surprisingly comfortable here. I expected a lot of struggles, and back-culture shock coming home. But so far, that has hardly happened. On the contrary. I have come to appreciate so many things here that far outweigh the struggles. And I’m more and more thankful that God called us here. (My first day at the Indoor Swimming Pool and Sauna in 12 years yesterday was just yet another highlight of my reintegration)
Anna and Noah start feeling more comfortable here as well. Especially Anna has taken some huge steps. One turning point was a birthday party she was invited to in mid-December. A classmate invited her and some other friends to an afternoon at an indoor playground. Anna soooooooooooooooooooooo enjoyed that day. She is making more friends, she feels more and more comfortable speaking German, etc. (She is now finally at the point where she can speak German naturally, when she doesn’t even have to “think to speak German” any longer, etc.) Of course, she’s not fully integrated yet. But it’s fun to see her progress, and her joy of learning coming back.
We see a similar development in Noah as well. He’s still having a few more troubles making friends (His kindergarten group is less inclusive, small kids are a bit more cruel towards those whose German isn’t that good yet, etc). But overall, he’s also integrating more and more. And he’s not shy to use his German, no matter if his grammar is correct or not. In this case, his character to simply “do stuff and think about it later” comes in handy, because he really learns the language by simply using it. He’s definitely on the right track.
In addition to that, he finally had his small surgery the week before Christmas. Surprisingly, he was completely fine within a few hours after the surgery (It happened at 9am, by mid-afternoon, the day was like every other day). He went back to Kindergarten the next day, and life went back to normal. We’re thankful for the smooth recovery.
Now he’s finally all done, all the small health issues he faced are now dealt with. Hopefully no more doctor visits from now until his 7-year checkup in the fall.
Of course, Ryoko still needs some more time to be on a similar level. The German classes are very helpful, e.g. she is now able to have some simple conversations with my family in German. But classes are also difficult and exhausting. Plus, she wants to make a decision on her future career path very soon. Add to that the fact that we still don’t have many Christian friends here, this week we have really cold weather (Friday it’s supposed to go down to around -20 degrees at night), uncertainties about our future,… All of that together at one time is just a lot for her to cope with. We’re spending some time these holidays to talk about these topics,… But it’s difficult to make plans when we simply don’t have answers to so many basic questions yet. How long will it take until Aletheia can pay our salary? Will we be the Pastor of Aletheia until retirement or will we hand over the church one day and then do some other ministry work? Will God call us out of Munich again one day? How much time will we need for Aletheia five years from now? Will I still need a fulltime job AND be the Pastor of a church of 200 people on the side? Or will I be able to be fulltime by then?
We are at a crossroad in our lives, now we need to make some long-term decisions that will affect the rest of our lives, incl. retirement, etc. But what decisions can we make without having answers to some foundational questions that will influence these long-term decisions?
We really need God’s wisdom in this area and appreciate your prayers along those lines.
Last week we spent 6 days in the village I grew up in. We had a big family reunion and then spent a few days there mainly with my dad. It was good to catch up with my dad and spend time with him. He has changed since my mom passed away around 4 years ago. Before that it was mainly my mom who took care of relationships. (e.g. If I called them and my dad picked up, he quickly passed on the phone to my mom) Since her death, my dad is now much more eager to spend time with me, with us and with the kids. He’s more generous, more open and enjoys having us around much more. It’s wonderful to see how an 80 year old man can still change. I am now having a much better relationship with my dad than I ever had before. And we’re thankful for this, while my dad is still alive, strong and fully conscious. We don’t know how long my dad still has. But I guess it’s safe to say that we won’t have another 10 years with my dad as strong and healthy as he currently is. So we enjoy being able to spend time with him like that, while we still can.
The kids also feel very comfortable there, they love the nature, the freedom, etc. It’s wonderful to see them now connecting with their father-side roots. Something they could hardly do from Shanghai.
I’m not sure if I’m writing this by Faith, or if I’m just overly confident and optimistic. But I feel like we have reached a breakthrough moment in December. There was one regular Friday night meeting when we only had 2 members coming in addition to us. But that night felt like a breakthrough. I couldn’t sleep that evening, felt spiritually drunk. I knew something had happened in the spiritual world that night. And somehow, things did feel very different from that night onwards. We are still relatively small (7 regular members, plus us). But there’s a lot of momentum going on now. We plan on starting a seekers group in January, and we have between five and ten potential members for this group already, all friends of current members. Most members now start to contribute to the group in some way. Some started to contribute financially, some started contributing through prayer, others contribute by inviting their friends,… These are all great signs that people start taking ownership of the group.
Then just before Christmas we had a special evening that we invited seekers to. We had 6 non-Christians with us (5 of them being Chinese). So I was able to step back into my old Alpha shoes, give a seeker friendly talk, mess up people’s minds,… It was fun. Praying now that the evening will have sparked an interest in them so they will come back to the seekers group.
With all these promising signs, we now have 2 goals. We want to have our first Sunday Service by Easter Sunday (April 16th). And we want to have a weekly Sunday Service by the fall. Of course, we’re open to starting earlier. But this is a general timeframe that we are working towards.
What we will need for these goals are two things:
- We need a worship leader. For the kind of services we have in mind (Spirit led, allowing prophetic words during the service, etc), we do need a worship leader who is not only a skilled musician, but also knows how to flow in the Spirit, respond to the promptings of the Spirit and then to adjust the worship on the fly, etc.
- We need around 10-15 more people. What we learned so far is that you have to expect that on any given day, around a third to half of the people who are committed members simply won’t be able to come. So if we have another 10-15 members, and expect that at least around half of the people show up each week, then we have a healthy group for a service each week. And we feel that once we have a service, more people will be drawn to us. (It’s much easier to invite new people to a Sunday Service than it is to invite them to a smallgroup)
So these are some of the recent developments for Aletheia. It’s moving slowly, but it’s certainly moving in the right direction.
New Year Goals
With all this being said, we now have these goals for the new year. We would appreciate your prayer support in these areas:
Getting financially more stable
I always saw these first six months in Germany as “survival time”. God has been very faithful in providing for us, our savings have actually increased quite a bit during this time. (Despite low income and costs of relocation) However, we always knew that we need more income long term.
So now that the first six months are over and we are much more settled, I’ll make the search for additional projects and income a higher priority. I hope to start working on new projects within a month. Once we have the additional income, we need to start making long term financial plans (life insurance, retirement savings, etc).
Ryoko will have to make some key decisions this year on her future. We need God’s wisdom to know His plans for her future.
Starting Aletheia Services
As stated above, we want to have our first service by April 16th, and weekly services by the fall. If God surprises us and we can have these milestones even earlier, great. J But we will be working towards these goals now, as we feel God has been given us these timelines.
Alright, so these are the updates from us for the week. Thank you for standing with us in your prayers. We truly appreciate all your support and encouragement we receive regularly.
In Christ’s love,
Bernd, Ryoko, Anna, Noah and Abigail
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