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Holiday Greetings from the Armbruster Family

Blog -> Family

Hey everyone,

Holiday greetings from the Armbruster family. We had a crazy stretch over the last few months, but we are now in the first week of a 2 weeks break off everything. It’s a much needed and much awaited time of rest. And it allows us to do a few things that we didn’t have time for in the last few months. Including writing our blog. So here are a few things that have happened since the summer.

Towards the end of the summer we took a week off, met up with a friend that we knew from Shanghai, and spent some time with my family. During that time I was looking for a new project, as it seemed necessary, to sustain ourselves financially long term. Let’s just say it this way: Things didn’t go very well for a while. It came to a point when I got so frustrated that I basically threw in the towel, and I told God: “If you want to tell me that I shouldn’t look for another project, and simply focus on Aletheia, and you’ll provide for us in some other way, then so be it. I’ll stop applying. It’s your responsibility to provide for us!” So I lived with that conclusion for a week or so, when suddenly, totally out of the blue, I got an email, offering me a project. Obviously I was very confused. Was this God? Or was it a distraction from the devil? Did God honor my willingness to trust Him financially, and now He was answering my request by giving me a project without me doing anything? Or was the devil trying to distract me by limiting the time I can spend on Aletheia? Well, after some prayers I felt peace about this project, and decided to accept it. Financially, it is a huge blessing and should sustain us for quite some time, even after the project finishes. But of course, it also means that I was really, really busy since October. But even in all of this, I saw God’s hand of protection. For example: In October there was a Pastors’ Conference in Bratislava that I really wanted to attend. It’s organized every year by the FEIC Network, the network that Aletheia is also a member of. After I accepted the project, I kind of gave up on the idea of attending this conference. But God is good. The project owner told us that he will be out of town for 3 days, so he gave everybody those 3 days off. Guess what 3 days those were!? Exactly the 3 days of the conference. Those three days were wonderful. First of all, I was able to catch up with Pastor Dale, who attended the conference as well. And the time was soooooooooooooooooooo refreshing. Finally a church event where I didn’t have to plan, organize, preach or do anything. Just come and be filled. It was the first time I had such an event in a truly Spirit filled environment since leaving SCF in June 2016. I so needed that. During those days, God allowed me to refocus on “why we originally came to Munich.” And He also gave me a goal: I believe He told me that by the time of the next FEIC Conference (October 2018) Aletheia will be a lot bigger. He even gave me a number. I came back from those three days being completely reenergized and refocused on the whole Aletheia vision that we got in Shanghai.

Once the conference was over, the busy stretch started. The next ~2 months until Christmas were basically fulltime work and Aletheia, with hardly any time for anything else. It was a difficult stretch. But since I knew from the beginning that it is “just for a short time” I was able to do it. Now we are in our Christmas break, reenergizing. Then I will continue on this project for another 3 weeks, and then work on another project for the same client for another month. My goal is to do good work for them, for them to see my work, see my contribution, etc. And then hopefully to find a deal for 3 or max. 4 days a week long term. That would allow me to dedicate enough time and focus for Aletheia, but at the same time, would put us in good financial shape. That’s my strategy for the moment. Let’s see if it works out.

As for Aletheia: We are getting more stable, step by step. We are now having 14 committed members who are basically coming every week, or if they can’t, they have a good reason, and they tell us that they can’t come, and why. Of course life still happens, so not all 14 are there every week. But it’s a healthy Core Group, and gives us a certain assurance that “a certain number of people will be there each week”. (That’s a huge step from a year ago when we regularly had to cancel meetings because people canceled last minute,…) We can also see in people’s giving that many are very much committed to our church. On top of these regulars, we had A LOT of people trying out our services over the last few months. We love that our members are now getting into the habit of inviting their friends. On most Sundays we are having a “surprise visitor” because someone within our congregation brought a friend along. Many of those respond positively, love the fellowship, love the services, they like the sermons,… Now we just need to find ways for them to come back, and not disappear again after their first service. (We’ll probably start another Explorer Group in the Spring, that would be a great opportunity for one-time-visitors to stay connected)

Additionally, we are close to getting registered legally. In early January, we’ll have a phone call with a lawyer, to go over some legal questions we have. If nothing unexpected comes up during that call, we will probably hand in the necessary paperwork in January or February. Once that is done, it’s a matter of a few weeks until we have the legal status as a non-profit organization that should open a lot of doors for us. First of all, we can provide tax-deductible receipts for donations we receive. Then it allows us to rent an outside place as an organization, not an individual. (Many state-owned facilities can NOT be rented by individuals, only by state recognized NPOs, etc) It allows us to hire people. And, and, and,…Once we are able to meet in an outside location, it would take a lot of burden off me and my family, because hosting a service and small group each Sunday at our home is a lot of work. If the hosting isn’t on us any longer, we might even be able to hold a weekly service. So as you can see, this legal registration is really an important step for us to move forward. So that’s what we’ll pursue now, to get that done as soon as possible.

As for the rest of the family: The kids are doing fine. Noah started school in September, and he is doing very, very well. Looks like he is stepping into Anna’s footsteps, being one of the top students in his class. He has also grown a lot in his behavior, and it’s really a joy to see him embrace more and more of our family values. (A few weeks ago over dinner, he suddenly, totally out of the blue, asked the question: “Mama, Papa, when I want to marry a woman, how do I know whether she is a Christian?” He’s thinking a lot, asking a lot of questions, often totally out of the blue. But he’s definitely growing in the right direction) He obviously has his moments, but overall, he is growing in his behavior in a wonderful way.

Anna is also doing very well, but she did feel a bit stressed in the last few weeks. She’s now Klassensprecher (Class representative, attending school meetings with teachers, etc.) which suits her perfectly. But in the last few weeks, her attitude and also her grades have gone down a little bit (Which is of course a relative term. She’s still doing very well, just not as “perfect” as she did at the beginning of the year). Hopefully she was just exhausted, and she’ll do better again in the new year. But I’m not worried about her, most likely she just had a bit of a “tired stretch”.

And Abigail is just the usual amazing little girl. She loves her kindergarten, settled in there faster than pretty much anybody else. She makes friends, she loves people, others love her,… Teachers love her and are amazed by her maturity. She’s just amazing.

Ryoko has now completed her Integration Course, even though she is still waiting for the result of her last test. But at least the German Test, the difficult part, she definitely passed. (That was a huge relief!) Now she is taking another voluntary German Course. Her goal is then to get a spot in a class that allow her to work in a kindergarten a couple of years later. The problem is that those spots are hard to get. So she’s preparing herself now with this German Class and a test in February, in the hope that it’ll be enough to get into that school. If not, there’s a Plan B, to apply for another school that offers a similar course. Hopefully, one of them will work out.

Overall, I would say that things are moving in the right direction. Of course, we are still far from what we envision Aletheia to be one day. We are still not as settled financially long term as we would like to be. Ryoko is still not 100% sure about her long-term direction here in Germany. We are still trying to figure out how to balance family life, work life and church. And yes, emotions about missing Shanghai friends and missing Japan (on Ryoko’s side) are real. So overall I think we can say: We still haven’t fully arrived here yet. There are great things happening, we can see God’s hand in the work we are doing, and we can see how things are moving forward, step by step. But at the same time, parts of us are still arriving here, and we are still having to deal a lot with ourselves before we can think of reaching out to others. It’s an exciting journey. But certainly also one that requires a lot of patience and trust from our side.

We appreciate your prayers as we continue to pursue the vision God has given us here in Munich.

Thank you very much for all your prayers and support. We can say that we wouldn’t have made it this far without all the encouragement, prayers and love we have received from many of you all over the world.  

In Christ’s love,

Bernd, Ryoko, Anna, Noah and Abigail

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