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Getting ready for our 1st small group

Blog -> Family

Dear Friends,

Life in Munich continues to feel more and more “normal”. We had a few rough stretches over the last few weeks, but overall, we are arriving and settling down more and more.

Anna starts enjoying her school more and more with each week. Her language is picking up each day, she now surprises me again and again by using words I never use. She now understands (nearly) everything that is being said in the classroom, and she can now also mostly express herself in German to her teachers and her classmates. The school actually provides German classes for those who need to “catch up” with their German compared to those who lived their whole lives in Germany already. That certainly helps her. Academically she is a little bit ahead of the others, since her level at her school in Shanghai was higher than the level at the same age according to German system. That makes the transition easier, she can catch up with her German without having to worry about the other subjects,… Overall, it’s very encouraging to see her making friends, settling down, enjoying school and doing well.

Noah enjoys his kindergarten as well, even though he had some challenges (I’ll get there in a moment). Last Saturday he came to our room really early in the morning and woke me up with the question “Is there kindergarten today?” When I told him that it was Saturday, he started to cry. So overall, he really likes it. He actually now has German classes with the 1st Grade students twice a week. Similar to Anna’s school, he gets some support, as his German isn’t as fluent as that of other children his age. So twice a week, he can join the school system and learn there, have proper 1st Grade classes. He enjoys those classes. Similar to Anna, he already improved A LOT in his ability to express himself in German. So I’m very confident that he will be ready for 1st Grade next year September as well.

The challenge he has faced was that some classmates have not been very nice to him. Some boys probably trying to protect their territory against a newcomer,… There were a few incidents when they said some bad things to him, when several children started teasing and namecalling him, etc. During his first few days, he was pretty isolated, mostly playing by himself. But it looks like things are improving now, and he’s becoming part of the group. Hopefully, these were just a few challenges in the beginning. Overall, his desire to be there, his excitement to go each day,… give me the impression that there were some bad incidents, but it’s not that he’s just enduring hours of being mistreated each day,… So hopefully, it’ll all be fine from here on,…

Ryoko is continuing her journey learning German. It’s hard. She asks me many questions about the complicated grammar, “why is it like this?” My only answer is usually “Don’t know, just have to learn it.” I use the grammar so naturally, cause it’s my native language. But listening to her questions makes me realize, how weird German Grammar really is.

It’s hard, especially in these early stages. Once she can use it in every day’s life, it should be easier (learning by doing). But getting there is tough. In addition to that, German autumn has set in (At night, it’s about 2-4 Degrees, during the day it goes up to around 10). That’s of course also a bit difficult for her, coming from a tropical country. It probably won’t be warmer than this at least until April,… Thankfully our house is pretty warm. So far we didn’t have to use heater at all, sometimes even sit around in T-Shirts. So that’s definitely something very nice to have, after 12 years in China,…

And Noah can’t wait for it to get colder, so that it finally snows,…

Abigail is still herself. I now call her Happygail at times. She’s just a bundle of joy, who brings joy to all of us each day. Her name actually means “Father’s joy”. Quite fitting,… I think she felt some of the tensions  we went through during our arrival and first few weeks in Munich. We basically moved to new places all the time (Our friends’ place, then to our new home, then to my home village, then back to our new home,…) Anna and Noah understood, but for Abigail, it was probably quite unsettling, going everywhere all the time, not knowing where her home is now,… But I think now that we lived in this place for 2 months, and she has slept in her own bed every night since the end of August,… now she feels more safe again. And she expresses her joy to all of us each day.

As for me, I’m really comfortable being back home. To be honest, I didn’t expect that. Thought I’d be much more frustrated with German society, legalism, people’s mindset, etc. While I certainly have those moments, I’m really thankful that God called us here now. Last Saturday we spent around ½ day at a park nearby. It was a small sports park, where you can do all kinds of sporty things. Kids just loved it, Sunday morning Noah woke up and wanted to go back there again. And just reflecting about those moments, I realized what opportunities we have her for the family that we didn’t have in Shanghai. Something like this in Shanghai required us to plan well for days, take a taxi (usually not cheap), pay entrance fee for five people (usually quite expensive) and then getting frustrated there because there are too many people. Last Saturday we just decided spontaneously that morning, walked there and then had so much fun in a free, public park.

We’re really grateful that God knew our needs in this season of our lives and brought us here. I guess the verse that “God knows our needs and provides for all our needs, if we simply dare to follow Him” is true after all. (Well, I was preaching on that one as my farewell sermon at SCF,…) And we’re so thankful to personally experience that once again in this season.

As for Aletheia: We’re about to have our first meeting. On the 21st we are inviting people for our first smallgroup meeting. It’ll be an evening of Vision Sharing and simply telling people “what God put on our hearts”. Then from there we want to start our first small group with weekly meetings. Hopefully things will grow from there and we can open a 2nd small group eventually. And once we have ~20-30 people, we’ll add a Sunday Service. For now, everything will be unofficial. We won’t be registered as a church yet, we won’t be an official non-profit yet, we’ll just meet a people’s homes, etc. We’ll simply invite people by word of mouth. And then we’ll work towards the official registration (That’ll require signatures, finances and all kinds of legal stuff). We don’t know how long that’ll take. Maybe it’ll be in two months, maybe in 2 years, maybe in 5 years. But that’s the route we’ll take from here. And we trust that God will honor our obedience once again.

You might have seen our Logo for Aletheia. Thanks to Philip for the design. You can also follow our church through the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/aicmunich/). The website will be designed as well in the weeks to come, it’ll be under http://aicmunich.org/.

As for a few things that will come up soon, that you could be praying with us:

  • Noah will have a small surgery on the 26th. It’s not a big deal, just removing a small lipoma from his head. It’s not really necessary to remove it, there’s just a chance that the lipoma will get infected or grow one day into the future. If something like that were to happen, then it would be more difficult to remove it then compared to just doing it now.If Noah was older, they would just give him a local anesthesia and the whole thing would be removed in a few minutes. But since he’s so young, they doubt that he can keep himself still enough for the whole procedure. So they’ll have to give him a general anesthesia.It’s really a procedure that is way out of proportion compared to Noah’s condition. It’s really just because  “there’s a small chance that something might happen in the future”. Nevertheless, due to his age, he’ll have to go through it. Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about finances here, the German insurance system is pretty good. It’s just emotionally frustrating, having him go through such a procedure for something that is not really needed,…
  • Ryoko’s visa will have to be renewed by the end of the year, and we’ll start the process for that soon. We’ll have to work through some legal stuff for that. It’s not a problem, just not fun working through the German legal system,… Such things take time here and sometimes are unnecessarily complicated,…She’ll probably get a long term visa now, if all goes well, we only have to do this one more time,…
  • Ryoko is also trying to shift her classes to another time of the day. She’d prefer studying in the morning. We’re trying to work through the details for that.
  • And then we have our first Aletheia Meeting on the 21st, as mentioned above.

So that’s our update for today. Thank you so much for all the prayers and support we still receive from so many of you, from all over the world. It’s wonderful to experience how you guys walk with us and encourage us, in big and small ways.

With Christ’s love,

Bernd & Ryoko, with Anna, Noah and Abigail

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