At the end of our time with the Nelson’s, my friend Kirsten and I laughed about our conversation that we’d had at Chick-fil-a in the early fall of last year. That day, Kirsten asked me if I’d thought about where we were going to live next because at that point, we’d begun purging all of our stuff and had reached our funding goal to apply for visas. Shortly into that conversation, she invited our family to live in their basement until we left for Austria. We were both really excited about the idea but thought we should maybe pray about it and run it by our husbands first. Thankfully all parties agreed and shortly after that conversation we moved in fully expecting to leave in 6 or 8 weeks at the longest. Well…Six months later, we sat and laughed at the reality of the length of time we actually ended up together.
Today, we are in another situation where we are living with a sweet lady from one of the local churches here. She opened her home to us while she was on vacation and unfortunately our permanent space was not ready when she came home. The weekend before she came home we were preparing to make yet another move and we were not looking forward to moving 10 gigantic bags to another temporary space. Over the phone she offered to live in a space above her home and let us remain in her house because she thought it would be more comfortable for us. Amazing right??!! We told her we were prepared to move to a hotel and she insisted that we stay. To make a long story short, we’ve ended up sharing the same living space with her- at her request. She did not want our family to have to go to a hotel and she said she was happy to have us until our home was ready. She is recently widowed and is enjoying the noise and life back in her home. The first few days, we were very nervous about how this would all look. I mean, we are literally sharing the same bathroom and kitchen and to further complicate things she speaks no English. My mind was racing with questions about the logistics of everything but she has gifted our family amazingly with nothing but kindness and grace. We’ve shared many meals together and Ian and I often laugh thinking about how funny it must look to her the way that we do things or the foods that we eat.
Both of these stops have been necessary for our family. With the Nelson’s we learned so many practical things about true community, raising children, marriage, friendship and the logistics of running a home well. Here with Frau T, we have learned about how to manage a home here in Germany. For example, what do you do with mushy left over cereal in a country that recycles everything (more on that later) or how do you handle doing laundry and drying clothes when washing machine cycles take well over an hour and you are hard pressed to find a dryer in anyone’s home.
But, the real lessons we’ve learned are deeper and richer than housing logistics. In both situations we’ve been faced with difficulties as well, and I’m sure our hosts would agree, but we’ve learned that left to our own devices we would always choose the easier route. Knowing in advance what a circumstance may look like or how long it will last would deter us from that decision. In these cases, we would have missed out on all that God wanted to teach us. We would have missed the chances to really live out true community to really be authentic and to be vulnerable.
God is continually teaching us to be thankful for His provision for our family because we’ve seen that what He has in mind for us comes in packages that we don’t expect. When we open ourselves up to that idea alone, the benefits have always been greater than we could have imagined.
This post is mainly a reminder as we will inevitably face difficult situations with schools, in churches and just in normal life here. God’s ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts. This past year has come with twists and turns that we would have never expected, but the gifts that have been given to us, both tangible and intangible have come as a result of being placed in often uncomfortable situations that require dependency on Him.