Our first Deutsch-iversary!

We are just going to be super cliché here. Time flies. One year ago, we stepped off of a plane and started our new lives as church planting missionaries in Germany, and it has been a whirlwind ever since.

There is so much to be celebrated from this past year, so we have gathered a collection of things we are proud to have been a part of. Here goes!

  • We knew our lives would be a bit more cosmopolitan here, but we had no idea just how much. Since we arrived in Germany, we have developed relationships with people from Germany, Iran, Australia, Tunisia, Syria, Turkey, Italy, South Korea, Afghanistan, China, Sudan, Portugal, Brazil, Poland, and Kosovo. It is absolutely mind-boggling, and now we really appreciate that “every tribe and tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
  • We have completed four language courses and some private tutoring, and we are all at a pretty high level of fluency, especially considering that we have only been here a year. We are also confident communicating the foundational aspects of Christianity in German, which is leading to more and more conversations about Jesus. Learning German has been a source of fun rather than stress on most occasions.
  • We have quickly planted roots in our local community. Cade has blossomed in the local Kindergarten, Nick is coaching Cade’s soccer team (which is also incredibly international), and Mallorie is part of a mom’s group with Clara.
  • God has blessed us with meaningful friendships with Christians and non-Christians. One of our fears before we came was that we would be lonely and wanting for intimate relationships, especially for Mallorie, the resident extrovert in our marriage. However, God has richly provided wonderful people for us to befriend, and our social calendar is always full.

Now we want to give you a peek into what the next year will look like for us. Some plans are really coming together, and we look forward to more specific vision casting in the future.

  • We will continue working with Christus Gemeinde Laatzen and Christus Gemeinde Hannover in different capacities. With the Laatzen church, we look forward to expanding home groups and working on a curriculum for the groups to study. With the Hannover church, we look forward to serving in different capacities, but especially in a massive community outreach undertaking in the form of a musical comedy production. Nick is leading the choir for the play, and Mallorie will be playing the part of the Queen of England. Yes, there will be pictures and video.
  • We are shoring up on our knowledge of other religions. We are encountering a lot of other religions here, particularly Buddhism/New Age and Islam, and we want to be able to minister to those people more effectively. We anticipate this being a big focus during our next year of ministry, especially considering some of the relationships we have begun to develop.
  • A lot of Christians don’t know how to share the gospel. That’s something that will drive our future here. Be on the lookout for a post about this in the next week!
  • What we have come to learn about life in Germany is that it is very relationally-driven. Your ability to speak candidly about important things is in direct correlation with how close your relationship to someone is. Because of that, we want to focus on the block where we live. We want to grow a community that becomes the core group of people with whom we do life: from grocery shopping to double date nights to going to the park to throw Frisbee.

This is just a glimpse into our year past and our year ahead, and we are so excited to be a part of what God is doing here in Germany.

We want to say a special thank you to everyone who has supported us in the last year (and the year before as we prepared to come here), whether it was through prayer, encouragement, or financial support.

Right now we are still about $400 short of what we really need every month. God has richly blessed us in this area, and since we arrived, almost every month has been covered by unexpected gifts. We are constantly blown away by his goodness. We would like to ask two things of you:

1) Would you give a special Deutsch-inversary gift today? This money will go into our ministry account to be used for things like training and bigger expenses (ministry opportunities, reporting trips, etc.). If you would like to do that, you can click here and donate right now. All donations are tax-deductible through our organization, Kontaktmission.

2) Would you become a monthly partner in our ongoing ministry here in Germany? No amount is too big or too small, but it adds up to keeping us here on the field. The money our monthly partners give goes directly toward our salary here, pays for all the day-to-day ministry we do, particularly the hospitality ministry that is our focus right now as we build relationships, and helping Kontaktmission manage all the nitty gritty details (i.e. taxes) so that we can focus on the gospel. Again, these donations are tax-deductible, and it is super easy to sign up. Just send in this form with a voided check, and your donations can be automatically deducted each month. If you’d rather not do an automatic deduction, you can click here for other ways to donate.

So as we celebrate today, we want to say, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” We love being here and sharing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we couldn’t do that without each of you. Here’s to many more!

A day in the life

When we first began doing research into missionary life, one of the questions we asked missionaries we met most often was: “What does your day actually look like?” We received a wide variety of answers, which was both helpful and unhelpful for our overly-analytical brains. Needless to say, there were two big take-aways that we heard over and over again (and have proven to be true for us): 1) missionaries need to be self-starters, and 2) missionaries need to be flexible. 
Our schedule has been in a constant state of flux since we arrived in Germany, largely because of langauge school and Cade’s activities. Still, we wanted to give you a peek into what our lives look like right now and share some of the things coming up that will need to find their place in our schedule.

Monday mornings: While Cade goes to kindergarten, Mallorie and Clara go to “Spielkreis,” which is a community play group. Nick meets with people and studies German. 

Monday afternoons: Mallorie takes Cade to piano lessons, and Nick goes to langauge school. 

Monday evenings: This is one of the only evenings where we don’t have a lot going on as a family, so we try to take it easy and enjoy each other’s company. 

Tuesday mornings: Cade goes to kindergarten, Mallorie meets a Christian girlfriend for coffee and laughter, and Nick meets with Eide to discuss church planting and the “Hauskreis,” or home group, that will meet later that day in Laatzen, the suburb of Hannover where we live.  

Tuesday afternoons: Nick goes to language school while Mallorie stays with the kids. Soon Mallorie will be teaching English as a second language on Tuesday afternoons to some new friends preparing to move to America. 

Tuesday evenings: We eat dinner together before Nick goes to Hauskreis. Then he is gone, and Mallorie puts both kids to bed, which is like herding cats. 

Wednesday mornings: Cade goes to kindergarten, Mallorie studies German (alone without tiny people… woot!), and Nick hangs with Clara. 

Wednesday afternoons: Nick goes to langauge school, and immediately after it is finished, he picks Cade up so they can go to “Fußball” (soccer) training. Nick is one of the two trainers, and that role has already opened up a lot of doors in our community. 

Wednesday evenings: These are basically a frantic sprint to bedtime! Nick and Cade don’t get home from soccer until around 6:30, so it gets crazy! 

Thursday morning: You guessed it! Cade does, in fact, go to kindergarten. This is the other big study day for Mallorie, which means Nick is hanging with Clara. Oftentimes this day is flexible, and we will meet with people when necessary. 

Thursday afternoons: While Nick is in language school, Mallorie usually plans a play date with one of Cade’s kindergarten friends. We have gotten to know so many families this way! 

Thursday evenings: This is one of the nights where we host people pretty often, but soon it will be the night when the choir Nick is directing meets. More on that later. 

Friday mornings: Cade talks for thirty minutes straight on the commute to kindergarten (we take a train and then walk) about the inner-workings of kindergarten politics. Mallorie goes to Spielkreis with Clara, and Nick almost always meets someone for coffee and conversation. 

Friday afternoons: Nick gets a break from language school on Fridays, but not from soccer! He and Cade train every Friday afternoon. 

Friday evenings: See Wednesday evening. Rinse and repeat. 

Saturdays: Saturdays are usually taken up by either a soccer tournament (did you guys know Germans are super into soccer?) or hosting people, and oftentimes it is both. 

Sundays: We attend church in Hannover, and it is great. The people there and at the Laatzen Hauskreis have become our new church family. Sometimes Nick plays in the band, and he will preach more later this year. Sunday afternoons and evenings are either spent as a family, hosting people, or being hosted by someone. 

As you can see, the bulk of our time is spent learning the langauge or building relationships. That’s the most effective thing we can be doing right now in order to bring people to Jesus in the long-term.

We have mentioned it in other places, but it’s worth mentioning here as well that the church in Hannover is producing a musical comedy in November. Nick is directing the choir, and Mallorie will play the part of the Queen (yes, the one from England). That will start taking up quite a bit more of our time. Other things that are coming up that will impact our schedule include: Mallorie taking another language  course, Nick preaching and leading more in German, people visiting from America, our organization’s yearly meeting, and Cade starting “Grundschule” (elementary school). 

It’s going to be a busy year, but we are thrilled to be part of what God is doing here in Germany! 

Cultural Quirks

Hey, guys! I have been reflecting lately on some of the cultural differences that we have experienced and appreciated, and here are some of my favorites). Enjoy!

  • Germans are awesome at picnicking. You wouldn’t think having a picnic could be an art, but with German friends, it is. Everyone brings delightful homemade goodies, huge blankets, and a laissez-faire attitude that makes having a picnic with Germans incredibly enjoyable. It is hard to pinpoint what it is exactly that makes them so special, but trust me when I say they are.
  • Facebook is a whole different beast in Germany. Not only is it not nearly as popular, but people also rarely use their full names. People value privacy here a lot more than in the U.S., and they behave on Facebook accordingly.
  • It is also worth mentioning in the realms of tech-y stuff that all Germans are fluent in at least one other language: emojis. In America, we would occasionally throw in a friendly winky face, a heart, or something to that effect. If you really wanted to get crazy though, you’d throw in animals and party themed stuff. When Germans text (which is exclusively through WhatsApp, by the way), they are professionals at communicating everything through emoji. It is adorable and awesome. Sorry if you get a text from us now with a billion faces, cakes (because Germany), and clovers. We have been inoculated to the language of the people.
  • Public transportation and biking are wonderful. We live right on a UBahn (like a cable car) line. Not only is it surprisingly quiet, but it is also really convenient. When we aren’t taking the train, we are riding our bikes as a family. It is totally normal to see kids as young as three riding alongside their parent; interestingly, it is totally normal to see older people riding their bikes everywhere. When we aren’t riding our bikes or the train, we are walking. Most things are pretty close together, which makes staying active really easy and fun. Suffice it to say that my Fitbit and my pre-pregnancy jeans both love the extra activity (insert emoji of your choice here… you have to learn sometime).
  • Money is a fickle friend here in Germany, or at least the access to money is. Most places don’t take credit cards (and almost NEVER American credit cards), so you really do need to have the money to pay for things you want to buy. German stores are also very strict about EC card (debit card) usage. You have to sign the back of your card, and EVERY cashier at EVERY store will watch you sign the receipt to make sure your signature matches. That means Nick can’t use my card, and I can’t use his. This is quite different from American card usage. For example, when Nick called to order driving records, the woman on the phone didn’t ask any questions when he gave her my card information. I wasn’t even home when he called to verify over the phone or something. Honestly, both systems have their pros and cons, but I don’t mind that the Germans err a bit more on the side of safety.

Germany is a lovely place with very kind people, and we are enjoying acculturating very much!

You make beautiful things

  If you haven’t given the band Gungor a chance yet, you are missing out on some pretty great Christian music. Their most popular song – “Beautiful Things” – has the following chorus:

You make beautiful things 

You make beautiful things out of the dust

You make beautiful things 

You make beautiful things out of us

Woah. What a powerful statement: God can bring life and beauty from nothing. Genesis 2:7 says, “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” 

The idea of “nothingness” into “somethingness” is special. It is a theme that appears in all aspects of our lives, from science to movies to the food we eat. I believe that’s because our creator knew that human beings would enjoy watching this idea of things coming to life – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

In Germany, there are a lot of people waiting to go from dust to life. We have met people here whose testimony demonstrates this amazing transformation that only comes from a relationship with Christ. Our prayer is that so many more people will experience the feeling of “somethingness.” Will you join us in praying right now not only for the people we are building relationship with here in Germany, but also for someone (or several someones) in your life who needs to be made new in Christ?