What Heaven Will Be Like

Way back in the day, when people all spoke the same language, they decided to build a tower to the heavens by their own power and craftiness. And God scattered them by confusing their language, because of how great we inherently assume we are (Genesis 11).

Thousands of years later, the spirit of God allowed the first disciples to understand and communicate in many languages, signaling that the church age is one where the message of the Gospel is meant to reunite all the nations of the world under one Kingdom, this time rightfully understanding our dependence on God (Acts 1-2).

We are here this week in the Kontaktmission Headquarters in southern Germany, and we are reminded of how spectacular God’s tapestry of nations really is.

The event this week is a once a year new member orientation. And this year’s 18 new families are encapsulated in the following chart:

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In addition to the four languages on this chart, we also had Portuguese and French represented, but not spoken in the room!

ALL of this diversity is represented by just 18 missionaries (12 different families represented).

In the room, we have German as the primary language, and English being translated up front. Behind me is a Spanish translator speaking into a headphone system, and to my right is a Polish translator sitting between a Polish husband and wife, translating live as we go. It’s a loud room, but it’s amazing.

 

We are reminded here why we wanted to partner with Kontaktmission to begin with. This map shows all the places KM has sent missionaries (blue), what countries have sent missionaries to Europe through KM (green), and where these other KM outposts (like KMUSA), have sent missionaries on their own (in red).

 

This terrible shot of a powerpoint slide, this RIGHT HERE, is Kontaktmission in a nutshell. BLUE LINES = Missionaries sent FROM our Germany office. GREEN LINES = Missionaries coming TO Germany FROM other parts of the world, and the RED LINES = different arms of KM in different nations, sending their missionaries to other nations!

Even since we came in March, they have added Spanish as an official language (to the already-official German, English, and Russian). This is only possible because the presence in South America is growing so rapidly.

 

A Good Reminder

This whole week is simply a good reminder if how international—and universal—the Gospel is. We come from a very strongly Christian country in America, but we do not have a monopoly on the Gospel. In fact, we are commanded to take that Gospel to other nations! And that command doesn’t come to us as Americans, but as Christians!

It is such a blessing to have such unity in the Kingdom of God. And it is a good reminder of what heaven will be like.

But also, it’s snowing.

It’s definitely going to be snowing in heaven. 🙂

Mach’s gut!

Nick

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!