Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by thy life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives, and reigns with the you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever. Amen.
Germany: June 1992-April 1993
Our move to Germany happened very quickly. Shortly after Christmas 1991, I told Kelly that I wanted to get away. Family visits over Christmas had been emotionally charged and difficult. I wanted a fresh start where our little family didn’t have to fit into anyone else’s pattern. So in late February, Kelly put in the paperwork for an “accompanied, overseas, extended long” tour of duty. We left the location open so that we’d be at the top of the list for “send them anywhere as long as they go as a family.”
In late April, Kelly called home at lunch and asked how I felt about Germany. I loved the idea. “When?” Six weeks! By the time he got home, I had the bathroom and part of the bedroom ready. We sat down and talked about the base. It was a base closure assignment: short-term and then you can choose your next base. He signed the paper the next morning and the merry-go-round started immediately.
Passports (on rush), shots, medical clearance — all in the first week. Spouse counseling, international driver’s licenses, and loads of paperwork — week 2. Movers for bulk shipment (by boat) — week 3. More paperwork, more shots, and finish up all stateside business — week 4. International bank account and movers for express shipment (by plane), pick up passports and exchange some dollars for DM, and say goodbye to Ohio. — week 5. Visit Kelly’s family to say goodbye, fly to Atlanta to say goodbye to my family, and finally board the international flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt Germany — week 6.
We got to Germany and stayed in a hotel for a week and then we moved into a base apartment. Germany was an amazing experience. We spent our weekends exploring the country around us. We found our favorite places (Trier, for one) and picnics on the Moselle River (which was quite near our base). We traveled rain or shine and even in the snow. We knew our time there was short and we made use of every free moment.
Germany was also the place where my kids got chicken pox, ate from street vendors, climbed over ruins, and learned that friends don’t always speak the same language. We went to church where German, Croatian, Russian, English, and Sudanese were all spoken. We had earpieces for the Sundays when the sermon language wasn’t English.
One Monday in early April 1993, the movers came again and packed up our express shipment (which went by air from Germany to the US and then on another plane from US to Turkey). On Wednesday and Thursday they picked up our bulk shipment (which had to go from Germany to the US by boat before going by boat to Turkey). Friday we took a shuttle from our base to the airport. We spent the night in a hotel, and early Saturday flew to Turkey on a C-130.
When we left Germany there were piles of snow and it was cool (45-50 degrees). When we landed in Turkey it was green and brown and 85 degrees. We knew we were in for a huge change.
- dumpster filled and removed
- decide if we need another dumpster this winter to finish up back woods
- 12 more bags to Goodwill
- 1 bag full of movies to Buy Backs
- Movies: watch movies on “Watch and See” list and decide if we want a digital copy
- begin property and house repair list and prioritize
- medical bill 2– still working on
- Complete wardrobe planning
- Complete sorting through personal items, book list — anything not going has been moved out of the room
- Complete living room sort: the living room will remain mostly as is until right before we move. A few things into a shipping pod, the remainder to Goodwill
- Started kitchen sort: eating area complete, dishes complete. Still to do: cups, mugs, water bottles, cooking equipment, utensils, etc
- shed cleaned out
- garden work and help with yard work
- found home for a chicken tractor
- Books: a few more books put into the Goodwill pile
- DVDs: finished sorting, iTunes list made, and some to Buy Backs
- Yard work: grass, garden, rabbit hutch, finished dumpster loading, cleaned up burn area
- sorted through her books, movies, photos, papers,
- Drove load 1 to Goodwill
- Drove load 2 to Goodwill
- Drove load 1 to Buy Backs
- *Her room is pretty nearly completed on the sort through. Repair list started.
Week 5 checklist:
- Dumpster filling
- Insurance calling
- Picture taking
- Medical debt 2 is now 40% paid off
- media list: sorted into get on iTunes, watch again to decide, and watch again and donate
- cookbook: put our favorite recipes into a new folder and donate books that are intact
- Michael — begin sorting through personal books and media
- He finished his first pass through his books.
- He started and finished the DVDs
- This week he donated 1 bag of books and a half bag of DVDs
- Property prep (cont): grass mowing, dumpster filling, built small rabbit hutch
- Began cutting our neighbor’s grass to earn a little money
- Hannah —
- Continue working on novels.
- Sort through belongings and books
- 3 bags to Goodwill pile
- 1 bag of garbage
- Bitty Baby and all her gear given to young girl — see picture above
- deciding to write or look for 2nd job
- Kelly —
- Property prep work (continued): dumpster filling, weeding and planting garden, helping with grass and general yard work.
I think the most profound lesson I learned in Texas is that adventure (and living in a culture radically different than your own) is not scary, is not dangerous, and is not necessarily expensive. It may seem strange to call Texas a radically different culture than southern Indiana, but when all you know is Midwest, English speaking, white people . . . Texas is worlds away.
I came away from our time there with a confidence that I could communicate with anyone. A few words in a language (not your own) shows respect, a commitment to relationship, and a true interest in those around you.
I also learned that it is important to find people and a place where you can worship regularly.
And food . . . I definitely learned to eat like a local. Find the places where the locals go and eat there, buy food in the local markets, and get a cookbook so you can try out food on your own.