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Adjusting to Munich life

Blog -> Family

Dear Friends,

Over the last few days I had several people asking me how we are doing these days. My first reaction was: “Read our blog!” Then I realized that actually, I haven’t written a family update for quite some time. So instead of blaming others, I guess I should first look into the mirror and tell the guy in the mirror to get his act together. So here is our update from the last few weeks:

Overall, I feel like we are through the valley. Last time I wrote about the struggles we had, especially Anna. Well, looks like she is the one who had the greatest turnaround over the last few weeks. Back in Shanghai, she loved her school. She talked about her teachers, her classmates, etc. all the time. She showed pictures, she told everybody about the projects they did, etc. Obviously, she didn’t do that last month. But we see that coming back. When we have our CG on Friday nights, she starts showing pictures, telling everybody about her school, etc. It’s such a joy seeing that come back to her. She obviously still has her struggles, she’s still sometimes frustrated catching up with her German, esp. when she can’t fully understand what’s going on, etc. But overall, it really looks like she’s through the worst. We are very thankful for that.

Noah seems to be doing well too. When it comes to learning the language, they are total opposites. Anna is very careful not to make mistakes. So her way of learning is to think it through, and not to talk until she knows what she’s about to say is right. For Noah, he couldn’t care less if what he’s saying is right. He just talks. And you really see the difference between them in this season, how they learn. He just fully dived into Kindergarten life and just enjoys it. Other than some of his classmates being mean to him (and I think they’re more mean in general, not just to him) he’s just all in. And we have seen such great growth in him over the last few months. He’s more kind, more responsible, more understanding and more generous. We’re not sure if it’s just his age, if it’s the kindergarten environment, if it’s Germany. But he’s really way more mature than he was 3 months ago. And that’s very joyful for us as parents to witness.

Now the kids at times start talking German to each other. It’s still mainly English. But at times, they suddenly switch. Which obviously makes me VERY happy. But now Ryoko is of course thinking how to connect them to their Japanese roots. We won’t do anything for now, we’re all still arriving here. But we are thinking of sending them to Japanese lessons or something like that in a year or two. We’ll see what life will be like by then.

Abi had a few rough days recently. We’re not sure what exactly is going on. She’s still mostly herself, the peaceful, joyful, happy and lovely little girl. But at times she just shows a total different side of herself: Angry, aggressive, demanding,… Then she just screams with such force that we hardly recognize her. We’re not sure what exactly that is. Maybe just being 2? Maybe the weather, and not being able to play outside a lot? Maybe the change of being in the nursery for 3h a day, 4 days a week? Maybe being a bit sick? Maybe not enough sleep? (She’s so eager to play with Anna and Noah that she just won’t sleep by herself, if she knows that the others are around and playing.) Maybe a combination of several of these factors?

We’re not sure what exactly is going on. It’s not bad, it’s not that she’s always cranky. She just recently started having “those moments”. And they seem to be getting a bit more, a bit longer, and she’s getting more determined. We need some wisdom in how much we should adjust to her and her wishes, but also when we simply need to say: “Scream all you want, you won’t get what you are asking for.” As she is changing and getting bigger, we need to change our parenting style to her as well.

As for Ryoko: She’s in a new class now for her German lessons, they’re now being held in the morning. This teacher is VERY different from her previous one. The previous teacher took things more slowly, and things were more interactive. Ryoko likes that kind of style. This teacher however is much faster and also spends way more time teaching, and less time practicing. Ryoko was struggling the first 1, 2 weeks to adjust. But we can see the results already: Ryoko can now have simple conversations with me in German. J I’ve seen so much improvements on her German, it was pretty amazing: Grammar, vocabulary, etc. At this speed, I’m not worried about her being able to be pretty fluent in German within the next few months.

She’s now also doing some more research on what she could do from next year onwards. This coming Wednesday, she will have a meeting with Noah’s Kindergarten teacher, to talk about “what it would take to work in a governmental kindergarten”. So she’s now exploring different options, and we’ll then see how God leads in the months to come. As I said before, her goal is to either start studies or work in the fall next year, once the integration course is completed and Abigail goes to Kindergarten. Still has some time, but at the same time, she can’t decide in August. So we’ll have to see how God leads in the months to come.

As for myself: I’m getting more comfortable in the programming world again. In the first couple of months, I wasn’t too happy with my own performance. But now, slowly but steadily, things start to flow again, similar to the way I was able to work until 2011. Today I was very encouraged by some feedback we got. I’m working for a guy in the U.S. and he has a customer that he builds software for. Last week they requested a simple change to their existing program, that took me around 1 ½ to 2 days to implement. They were so happy and so excited about this change that they are now considering giving us a new project. That would of course be fantastic for everybody.

As for my 2nd project: Unfortunately, not much happening there yet. To be honest, I didn’t have the time to really put the necessary efforts into that. The last few days were a bit crazy, had to do all kinds of bookkeeping stuff, etc. for the freelance business. So I’m hoping to be able to pursue this 2nd project again now. I’d like to have something else to work on after the Christmas break.  Prayers appreciated.

Our CG is great, even though we of course still have our typical challenges when you start something new. The main challenge is attendance. Today all our members but one are out of town, so we couldn’t meet. But the discussions we have together are really inspiring. We love our group, having some old faces from Shanghai with us, and some new faces of people we met here. And we love how we are growing together and getting to know each other. And by now we can also read the group a bit more, see the needs people have, etc. And so adjust our topics accordingly. We are small so far, but we are excited about what God will do from these small beginnings.

As for Christmas: We’re looking forward to taking 2 weeks off. I missed having a “real Christmas”, was only in Germany for Christmas once in the last 12 years. It was the only time of the year I truly missed my home country. So I’m very excited to finally have a “real Christmas” again this year. Munich has several Christmas Markets that we want to visit. Then we’ll spend the 24th as a family (like all Germans do), and spend the 25th at MICC (the church we are currently attending here, until we have our own service). Then we’ll spend one week in my home village. And then after we come back we’ll have a few more days in Munich to relax, do some family activities, etc. Before school, work and integration course restart on Jan. 09th.

This season was always my favorite time of the year. It’s a bit similar to CNY in a sense that most people are on holidays. So you can really feel the difference, everybody is a bit more relaxed, everybody has a bit more time, many people use the time for a short trip, etc. We are looking forward to stepping back a bit from our new routine, reflect a bit on “how far God has brought us since our arrival in Munich”.  And then to simply enjoy some time to relax as a family, which we didn’t really have since our arrival. We really didn’t have a time in Germany yet to simply relax. First there was the stress of finding an apartment, then it was the stress of moving in, then there was the stress of starting school, work, integration course, etc. and adjusting to all that. I think these two weeks over Christmas will be the first time since we arrived when we can simply relax, sit down, and reflect, without any major pressure from the outside. And of course, processing it all together with God and one another.

From the very beginning, even before we arrived in Germany, I always saw two major points in time when things were going to change: One was the end of the calendar year. I don’t know why exactly, but I always expected that the first 6 months will be the first season. I always felt that these six months would be “survival mode”. I felt it was a season when God would “hold things back” because we simply couldn’t cope with them yet. And yes, a lot of our time here was exactly that. We had lots of plans and ideas of “what we want to and could do in Germany”. But so far, we simply weren’t able to do many of those things yet, because we just had to “survive first”.

And then I saw another milestone, and that was the end of the first school year, Summer 2017. I always felt that these 6 months in between, the first 6 months of 2017, will be when God will release things, set things in motion to set our direction for our future. Church, job, finances, Ryoko’s long-term calling, etc. I always had this sense that the first half of 2017 will be the “time between”. When we’re out of survival mode, when God will reveal His long-term plans to us, and “make things happen”. We’ll see more clearly what God has for us, and He’ll open doors that we have been praying for. This will be a season of realizing what God has planned, but still not being fully released yet. Maybe it will be a bit like those 4, 5 months in 2011 when SCF and I agreed that I will start working for SCF fulltime, but I had to finish my previous job first. There was a sense of “knowing what the next season of life is going to be, but not yet being released into it”. And we feel that these first 6 months of 2017 might be that kind of season again: God will show us clearly WHAT exactly He wants us to do from Fall 2017 onwards. But we’ll have to wait until then to actually step into it.

I don’t know how exactly this will all shape out. But this is the timeline that I have been sensing from God for many, many months already. So as we are stepping out of the “survival mode season”, we are excited to see what doors God will open soon in the new year.

Thank you very much for all the support we are still receiving from many of you, all over the world. We are so grateful for His love that He is showing all the time through so many of you.

With thankful hearts,

Ryoko & Bernd

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