There’s no place like home(ish)

After a whirlwind 5 1/2 weeks, we came back to Germany and hurried to settle back into a routine before our son started back to school (less than a week later!) and our busy schedule resumed. Our first visit home was a wonderful, busy, fun-filled time, but even though we were technically going “home”, there is still no place like home (as in the place where your bed resides, your clothes hang, your kitchen is your wonderland, etc.). We have taken a little communication break the past couple of months to get our heads back in the game, and now that a bit of time has past, we want to share some reflections on some of the major differences between living in America and living in Germany.


Here we are! In this picture, we had just arrived after 20 long hours of travel to greet our families at 2:00 am.

Round 1: Transportation

If you’ve never traveled to Europe before, you’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying real, effective public transportation in its finest form. Sure, there are cities in America with train systems and cities where you can ride a bike, but they just don’t do it like the Europeans, especially not like Germany.

In America, we were once more dependent upon cars (big shout out to my parents who leant us a car for the whole trip!!!), which is shockingly hard to do after living in Germany for awhile. The kids weren’t too excited about being hauled around in a car all the time. They missed hopping on the train or riding their bikes (very safely with perfectly marked bike lanes, I might add) to get around, and so did we.

That being said, we miss the SUPER low prices of American gasoline. In case you are curious, we pay around $6 per gallon here in Germany.

Round 1 Winner: Germany

Left: Nick and our friend Jake enjoy a train ride in Hannover. Right: Clara is all strapped in for a bike ride, equipped with plenty of safety and Clara humor. 

Round 2: Food

I might catch some flack for this, but I am not a huge lover of German cuisine. There are a lot of yummy German foods, but since I am not much of a meat eater and can’t eat gluten, a lot of German food just isn’t my thing. Nick, on the other hand, is a huge fan. Sign him up for a currywurst and brötchen any day!

When people ask us what we miss most about America, we say (other than the people we love) the food. Here is a short list: Mexican food, barbecue, salad places, and healthy food stores (Trader Joe’s, Lucky’s). Even Aldi in America is better with a lot more organic and healthy choices, despite being a German company. I will say that gluten free options in stores here in Germany tend to be tastier, but the gluten free options in American restaurants (particularly in Louisville) are abundant and totally delicious. Sigh, dreaming of all the yummy food now.

Round 2 Winner: America

Pic 1: All the delight of Halo Top ice cream. Pic 2: A gluten free, dairy free cupcake from Annie May’s in Louisville. Pic 3: A pizza from Pieology. Pic 4: Drool. Real Mexican food.

Round 3: Language

We are more than two years into our life here in Germany, and we are all fluent at this point. Still, there is nothing like being able to speak and think in your mother tongue without worrying about mistakes or sounding unnatural. Nick loved being able to preach again in English (click here if you want to hear his sermon from our time in America, episode: Who wears your crown?), and I loved hearing him.

However, coming back to Germany was equally as nice in terms of language. It was so reassuring to come back to Hannover and ease right back into speaking German, rather than feeling like our 5 weeks of English immersion took away from German ability. Nick preached shortly after returning, and he reported feeling more comfortable than ever speaking German in that context.

Round 3 Winner: TIE!

Our reporting trip this summer really solidified what we already felt to be true: we have two homes now, and God is moving in both of them and using us whenever and wherever we open ourselves to being used.

Thank you to everyone who opened their homes and lives up to us this summer. We enjoyed the food, the coffee, the hugs, and the laughs. See you again in 2021 (or when you come to visit us)!

Two Year Deutsch-iversary!

We are a couple of weeks late in posting this, but… we are celebrating TWO YEARS of being on the field as missionaries in Germany! Time has flown by, and we couldn’t be more excited with where we are and how God is using us. March 17, 2018 was our official second Deutsch-iversary, so we wanted to share a few reflections to mark the occasion.

When you first start serving in a country that speaks a different language, things move soooo slowly. Until they don’t. 

Upon arrival, our lives were basically just a series of filling out paperwork, visiting offices with insanely limited hours, and struggling to figure out things like how to pay our bills or install lights. Immediately following, we embarked upon our language learning journeys. We quickly learned that fluency is not a finish line, but it was still challenging not to be able to express ourselves (Ich kann mich nicht ausdrücken!).

Once we started settling into using German everyday, we had to figure out what it looked like to, you know, live here.  Before we knew it, we were celebrating our FIRST Deutsch-iversary, we sent Cade off to first grade in a German school, and we just generally breathed a sight of relief. Alles hat gut geklappt (everything worked out well)!

After we announced our plans for 2018, things accelerated very quickly. Our first home group is thriving, and we are so blessed to be a part of that. It took a long time and a lot of learning to get to this point, but things are happening! We are just along for the ride the holy spirit has us on in Germany.

Here are some things we look forward during our third trip around the sun in Germany:

  • Nick co-preached with our teammate, Eide Schwing, today at a church about an hour away. They will preach again together next week.
  • On May 6, we will have our second quarterly service with Christus-Gemeinde Laatzen. Nick will preach, and Mallorie will lead the children’s program.
  • We will continue being involved with Christus-Gemeinde Hannover.
  • In May,  a good friend of ours who is praying about God’s calling for him in Germany will visit. He will stay with us for most of May, and although we are hoping and praying that he will join our team, our real hope is that God would reveal himself clearly to our friend during his time with us.
  • At the end of May, we will help lead a workshop on acculturation in a foreign context at Kontaktmission’s Crash Weekend, a weekend designed to prepare and send short-term workers. We will also lead worship that weekend. This is part of a larger role we have taken on with KM this year as the European coordinators (or something quasi-official sounding like that) of GoConnect, the short-term branch of the organization.
  • Speaking of that role, we will work to coordinate several short-term visits for prospective missionaries and expand our relationships with missionaries across Europe to better develop those opportunities.
  • In the middle of June, we have an awesome couple coming to stay with us on part of a global tour. The husband was one of our youth (How cool is that?! Also, how old are we?!), and he and his awesome wife are making this trip to better understand where God wants them to serve. We would love for them to serve in Europe, but regardless of where they land, we are THRILLED to see where he leads them.
  • At the end of June, we will fly to Louisville for our first reporting trip. We won’t have all been in Kentucky together for almost 2 1/2 years, so this is exciting. We look forward to catching up with our family, friends, and supporting churches.
  • The fall holds two more quarterly services, more meetings for our home group, and who knows how many other new ministry opportunities. We will keep you in the loop!

Thank you so much to all of you who have prayed for us, encouraged us, and supported us financially over these last two years. You are such a blessing in our lives and enable us to do what we do each day. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Please keep praying that our friends and neighbors will see Jesus through us and will want to know him for themselves.

If you would like to join our support team by giving a one-time or monthly gift, please click here.

Here’s to many more!

Nick and Mallorie

A Tale of Two Cultures: A Cautionary Tale

Two years into our life in Germany, and I’m still having “aha” moments.

I had an “aha” moment last week in our home group, and it may forever change the way I prepare for Bible studies.

When doing ministry in a foreign culture (read: that includes anyone who has not been thoroughly churched), be ready to be hit with perspectives that you’ve never considered. Heck, you better be ready to be hit with perspectives that no one you know has ever considered.

Allow me to set the stage.

The Woman at the Well — The Traditional Take

We were discussing the story from John 4 where Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman at a well. He gives her a little ribbing for having been married 5 times before finally giving up on the whole enterprise and moving in with her boyfriend, but then Jesus gives her the good news that he is living water, and that whoever believes in him will never thirst. This is all a spiritual metaphor, of course. The woman runs immediately to town and tells all her other Samaritan friends what she had seen and heard, how Jesus knew her in a way no stranger could. The people were amazed and many of them believed on Jesus that very day.

The way I have heard this taught 100% of the times I’ve heard (or taught) it, the end of the story is a great victory! Oh, the power of a personal testimony! What an amazing account of Jesus winning people over by displaying the power of God amongst people! All the woman had to do was tell people what happened to her and say “come and see.” Evangelism can be simple!

You might see where this is going.

I prepared for questions I thought people would have (i.e. What is a Samaritan?). I was ready to push people toward seeing that Jesus is living water, that he knows us and loves us. You want application? Love across borders and demographic lines! I was ready to go.

Then I wasn’t.

The problem was that I was thinking like a Christian. Here’s the way some of our friends read this story.

The Woman at the Well — Take Two

The first part was pretty straightforward. Jesus is at the well. There was a woman (What is a Samaritan? — I was one for one. So far so good.) and that woman talked with Jesus. He did some amazing thing and told her about living water. Check. Check.

Where things diverged was the attitude toward the village people (and to a lesser extent, the woman herself). There was almost universal agreement that the people had behaved foolishly when they believed in Jesus.

“Why would you not investigate the claims for yourself?”

“It seems irresponsible to change your whole world view because of someone else’s experience.”

“What silly villagers! Even the woman should have been more discerning.”

The story that had always ended in triumph was now one of embarrassment. It represented something foolish and silly that modern people are now too smart to fall for.

Disclaimer: All this was to say nothing about the value of whether or not Jesus is worth following, just that the people had no way of knowing on the small sampling of data with which they were provided.

How I should have responded

I spent a week mulling this over. It doesn’t change my view. I still think this is a great victory for the gospel and the power of personal testimony. But what is the best way to answer challenges like this? Here are some things I could have said:

  • How do we know (since it isn’t apparent in the text) that the people didn’t spend some time debating and considering the ramifications of their decisions?
  • How else could Jesus have known those things about the woman? After all, there were no paparazzi or media, no way to stalk someone on Facebook and learn their secrets before meeting them. What other explanations could there have been?
  • What would an appropriate response be if you were to witness the power of God? What about if you were convinced someone you know had witnessed His hand at work?
  • If a testimony doesn’t cut it for you, what would be the threshold of proof that you’d need to make a decision to follow Jesus?

The Woman at the Well — Take Three (third times the charm?)

All of these would have been better than how I did respond, which was with a “uh huh. It’s really interesting to me that you all think that, because it’s so different than how I have always viewed this story.”

I was so blindsided that I really had little-to-no response, other than to share my side of the coin. That wasn’t all bad, because it was diplomatic and gentle. But it left something lacking.

But then…

After rolling this around for a solid week, we decided to put off our next lesson and just hang out in this story. I wrote down the questions above (in German, of course), printed them for the group, and just explained that our prior discussion was really interesting and we’d like to go further with it.

We asked our questions, and it went really well. The conversation that followed allowed room for honesty and questions about each other’s testimonies, and it turned out to be a really great night.

The Takeaway

Why am I writing this? Because I think it is good to get out of our comfort zones and let people challenge us. But also because it is always okay to not have the answer you think you need right on the spot. It is okay to leave a topic and come back to it, as long as you are diplomatic and don’t burn bridges along the way.

We are formed (for good and for bad) by the way we were raised. Experiences like this will change the way you read scripture and prepare for discussions. They expose blindspots and help us figure out why we believe what we believe.

Go. Interact. Get humbled. Grow.

Bis zum nächsten Mal (until next time),



HOW TO: Start a home group in a post-Christian culture

We did it! After almost two years of learning and volunteering, we have finally set out to start our own home group. In our own home. With our own friends, some of whom are Christians, and some are not.

The work is LONG from over, but we feel like this group has gotten off to a good start, and we want to share what we are doing with you, as a resource and an encouragement.

What it looks like

One of my good friends likes the saying, “Meeting without eating is cheating!” Every Wednesday night we meet at 5:30, which is early enough for most people to get home from work and head on over. We provide dinner for the evening so that no one has to worry about cooking or feeding their kids. This is a great way to start each meeting, as it just loosens everyone up and gets people talking about our weeks in an informal setting.

Speaking of kids . . .

We have recruited a member of our church (we are the second home group that makes up the church) to help with children’s programming. What does that look like in this setting? A (VERY) brief lesson related to our lesson for the night, and the kids all playing in our kids’ room while the parents chat. It is great for allowing the adults to have some sustained discussion.

What we study

We decided, based on our context here, that we really want to spend this year talking about who Jesus is. What is at the core of his ministry? What did he set out to do? And, most importantly, if this Jesus character was real and was who he said he was, what does that mean for me in my life?

Keep in mind: Discipleship begins LONG before conversion, and it is good to teach people to follow the teachings of Jesus before expecting them to give their lives to him.

To accomplish this, we are covering stories from the Gospels that touch at this theme. Here is a brief list of the passages we have used (or will use soon), as well as the key point that we’ve distilled out and would like to communicate to people.

  • Zaccheaus (Lk 19) – God is not looking for the big crowds, but wants to dine with the one.
  • The Bread of Life (Jn 6) – Jesus describes who he is with the ultimate metaphor for fullness and satisfaction.
  • Jesus heals a man born blind (Jn 9) – We are given our circumstances to bring God glory.
  • Jesus washes his disciples’ feet (Jn 13) – The servant is not greater than the master. Jesus’ call is for us to serve others selflessly.
  • Laborers in the Vineyard (Mt 20) – God gives generously to all who come to him, regardless of the circumstances surrounding that decision.
  • Jesus’ Mother and Brothers (Mk 3) – Those who “belong” to Jesus are those who follow his commands.
  • The Light in You (Lk 11) – The things we focus our lives around affect our hearts. If we want to be lights to the world we need to focus our hearts on the One who is the True Light of the world.
  • The woman at the well (Jn 4) – We are sometimes not honest with ourselves about the state our lives are in. But Jesus knows us. And he offers us a relationship despite our shortcomings.
  • A Sinful Woman Forgiven (Lk 7) – Jesus wants our love and devotion, not in a desperate attempt to be liked, but in an honest response to who he has proven himself to be.

How to do a Bible Study without being a Bible Scholar

You don’t need to be an expert in ancient languages to have a Bible Study in your home. We are using a study outline known as “Discovery Bible Studies,” which aim to offer meaningful discussion based on a given passage and that alone. Discovery Bible Studies ask questions such as:

  • What stands out to you about this passage?
  • Based on what this passage says, what can we learn about God and his character?
  • Based on what this passage says, what can we learn about mankind?
  • Based on what this says, what is something I could do differently in my life this week?
  • Who do I know that should hear this message this week?

Each week we offer a chance to share experiences from the last week (living out our challenges), and a prayer for the week to come.

You can do this!

We are not doing anything special with these “Hauskreis” (home group) meetings. It’s not anything (frankly) that we even came up with ourselves. Nonetheless, once a week, we are leading friends into discussions about Jesus and hopefully challenging them to change their lives based on the truth Jesus offers.

You can do this. With your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, and your relatives. You don’t need someone’s approval. Go do it. And start making disciples of all the nations, starting where you are.

When you get down to it, that’s the name of the game.




The Gift of Opportunity

I really love the Christmas season. Any of you who know me (Mallorie) well know that I grew up in what basically equates to Kentucky’s local version of Santa’s workshop, including a head elf (aka my mom). Christmas just brings something special with it: a sense or excitement and renewal. It is impossible to duplicate the feeling any other time of the year. In the last few years though, I have acquired a strong new feeling as well: a sense of purpose.

Germany has a lot of traditions that are founded in Christian faith, yet faith in the Christ child born to save us from our sins has gotten lost over time. For example, every single German I know has an advent wreath (Adventskranz) in their home and lights it faithfully each week. I received no fewer than five texts from girlfriends wishing me a happy (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) advent because it such a big deal here. However, it is no longer a way of reflecting on the role of Christ in the Christmas season for most. I think we are all guilty of losing Christ in the Christmas season, regardless of how much “Jesus is the reason for the season” type of decorating we do.

As I was reading Romans 1 today, I was convicted of not allowing Christmas to be a great opportunity for to talk about Jesus as often as I should. In our home, we are really intentional about Jesus being the focus over presents and Santa, but I’m dissatisfied with myself when it comes to using that opportunity to share the gospel outside of our home. Romans 1:14-17 says:

God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

This passage is so convicting for me. God has opened the way for us to share the love of Christ with those around us during the Christmas season. There is no other time in the year, in my experience at least, where people’s hearts are more open to Christianity and the word of God, and we need to seize the moment and share the good news. The savior of the world was born on Christmas to a virgin mother. He grew to be a sinless man, a bold leader, a healer, a prophet like the world had ever seen. He was convicted of nothing, yet sentenced to death by people who days before has praised him. He was betrayed by those he loved, both before and after his death. He was killed in a horrific way: death on the cross.

But. But. But. The story doesn’t end. You know it. I know it. Now let’s get excited about it. Let the love of Christ and a personal relationship with him be the greatest thing in your life this Christmas. Crack open your bible for the first time in awhile. Give yourself the gift of prayer time alone with your Heavenly Father. Share the good news of a risen savior with your friends and family who need his love and mercy. I know I need it. Merry Christmas, friends!

2018 Vision Casting

Looking forward to the future

What a ride the last year and 7 months have been! Before we share our 2018 plans, we want to thank you for your steadfast prayers, support, and encouragement. Thank you for being patient with us as we learned German and adjusted to the culture. Thank you for your excitement over the little and big things that we have shared. It means more than you know, and we are so thrilled to be part of how God is growing his kingdom in Germany!

With that being said, here are the three big 2018 announcements!

1. An official commitment

Three years ago, we met Eide Schwing on a Skype call. During our last year in America, he and his wife, Helga, mentored us and agreed to continue doing so once we arrived in Hannover. At the time, the Schwings had just planted Christus Gemeinde Laatzen, and it was a small home group with a handful of people. Fast forward to today, and the home group has grown to 15-20 regular attendees whom we have seen grow radically in their faith. That may not seem like many people, but considering most churches here average about 30 people every Sunday, it is really quite a large number!

After a lot of prayer and counsel, we have decided to officially join the Christus Gemeinde Laatzen team. That means we will stay in Laatzen for the foreseeable future, serving this suburb of Hannover and working to reach some of its 50,000 residents.

2. Starting a second home group

The next step in growing the church is starting another home group and trying to reach a new set of people. God has blessed us with so many relationships here, and we are praying for those friends to be part of a new home group we are starting in January. We plan to meet once a week with the people God will send us. Right now, the idea is that we will have a community dinner together, followed by a conversation around spiritual topics. One of our big goals was to be able to serve families, and an amazing woman from Christus Gemeinde Laatzen has agreed to come every week and do a kids’ Bible lesson and watch them while the parents talk. God is already opening doors for our group to be successful!

3. Quarterly worship services

This was one of the ideas we were most excited to share with Eide and Helga during our vision casting meeting a few weeks ago, and we were so excited that they were excited! Basically, there is a lot of excitement on our team! In 2018, Christus Gemeinde Laatzen will host four worship services to bring the two home groups together and to give the people in our community an opportunity to see what a worship service that truly honors Christ looks like. This is a HUGE step for the church, and we know God is going to bless those services and use them to reach new people in Laatzen.

It’s safe to say that 2018 is going to be a year full of change and growth, and we are looking forward to being a small part of that in our corner of the world.

What else we’ve been up to

The last couple of months have been really busy for us in the best way. Here are some highlights:

  • Nick has preached twice in the last month and will preach again on November 19 at Christus Gemeinde Hannover.
  • Mallorie took on the role of leading the children’s program at Christus Gemeinde Hannover for the rest of this school year. She leads the program 2-3 times a month now.
  • The Alpha Course, an introduction to spiritually and Christianity designed to reach non-believers, begins this month, and two of our friends, M and A, have committed to taking the course! Nick met M and A in language school, and after inviting them to church, they are now regular attenders and are having conversations with Nick about what it means to be a Christian. We are praying for them to accept Jesus as their Savior and be baptized! Please pray for them and all of the people who will come to Alpha Course. Nick will also be a part of the team hosting conversations each week.
  • Nick travelled to Wüstenrot to visit Kontaktmission’s headquarters for the annual German church planters meeting. This was a revitalizing time for him, and he came away with some great ideas.
  • We travelled as a family to Dresden at the beginning of October to help our friends and fellow Kontaktmission missionaries, Ryan and Elyse Dillon, open up Cafe Story. The vision of Cafe Story is to reach people in the community for Christ by offering a safe, unassuming place to encounter him. They have already hosted some cool events like a family pumpkin carving and worship evening, which brought in several new families from the community! Cool stuff happening here!

A humble request

First off, thank you so much to those of you who have given faithfully to our ministry. We are so grateful for you.

If you haven’t already, we need you to become a monthly supporter. Donations from people like you make our ministry here possible, particularly as we move into 2018.

As with any growing ministry, more influence in our community means more financial needs. Please become part of our ministry support team today by clicking here, and help us continue reaching Germans for the gospel!

One more time!

Thank you so much, friends! We are so thankful and blessed by you. If we can pray for you, just respond to this email and let us know how.

Your brother and sister in Christ,

Nick and Mallorie Burczyk

Breathing a sigh of relief 

You know that feeling you get when things are really, really surreal? It’s that feeling that you’re a bit outside of your body. You might even wake up not really sure where you are. Before we arrived in Germany, I experienced that feeling a lot when we would travel to different places, and I loved that feeling. Being on the mission field provides this feeling a LOT in the beginning (and sometimes much later as well), but it isn’t always a feeling you love having. As we celebrated being here in Hannover for a year and a half this week, I thought I’d share with you some of the surreal feelings we had upon arriving and how they have taken shape over time.

1. Holy moly, Batman. How will I ever speak this language?

Anyone who has ever tried to learn German will tell you that it isn’t easy. A lot of Germans will even tell you that it isn’t an easy language. Compound the difficulty with the fact that German has several very distinct dialects, and you might realize that you have surmounted a seemingly insurmountable task. But then, something changes. Nick has written before that fluency isn’t a finish line, and it really isn’t. Both of us hit points where, after tons of hard work, we climb over another obstacle and suddenly can just… understand. It’s really weird how this happens, but man, it is so encouraging. Words, sentence structure, and idioms just start sticking, and suddenly you can say to other people, “As a matter of fact, I do speak German!”

Being unable to communicate well was one of our biggest discouragements in the beginning, so I thought I’d share some of our tricks to learning a language quicker:

  • Eat, sleep, and breathe that language. Don’t make excuses for it either. Watch TV, read the news, and listen to music in your new language.
  • Ask people to correct you. Accept the correction humbly and don’t be afraid to just keep speaking.
  • Work harder than you ever have to learn something, and then do something to step it up another notch. For me, that meant doing everything in German and writing down words I didn’t know. I literally had a list on my phone that I would add to as women in my daughter’s play group said things I didn’t know. And I told them what I was doing, which meant I got even more help.
  • Don’t try to translate everyday sayings directly from English. Instead, ask someone to help you express the same idea using the structure your new language uses.

We can’t express the relief that comes with finally speaking your newlanguage, but it is a BIG, BIG relief!

2. Will my kids have friends here, or will they be outsiders? Will we have friends here, or will we be outsiders?!

In 2012, we moved to Muncie, Indiana where Nick pastored a great congregation for a year. Any of you who know me personally know that I am extremely extroverted, so when we moved from the city to a smaller town, it was a very hard adjustment for me. I was fiercely lonely. Eventually we made some fantastic friends, but that time was really difficult for me.

That’s why one of our biggest prayers was that we would make friends fast. Cade and Clara are also super social, so we really hoped that for all of our sakes, meaningful friendships would be easy to come across. Wow, wow, wow… God has really shown off in this area. Not only do our kids have a great little tribe of friends around them, but Nick and I have also found wonderful, caring, funny friends that have become our little tribe here — both Christian and non-Christian. These people have helped Hannover feel like home very quickly, and we are most certainly not lonely.

3. What in the world will our days look like? This life is so unstructured for my structured brain! 

To be honest, this one can be kind of stressful sometimes, but overall, we have found a groove in creating our own schedule. Missionary work doesn’t exactly conform to the traditional 9-5 schedule, and you really need to be disciplined in order to make things happen. At first, we committed our work time to learning German well. Learning the language and culture was our job. Our days are quite a bit different now.

We spend a lot of our time with people, which is fantastic for this family of social butterflies! Nick and I have been very intentional about setting a schedule, which means scheduling time to be with people, time for prayer, time for sermon prep, and time for meetings. We try to protect a couple of nights a week, but a lot of our nights are just not free anymore. Last week we hosted people four nights during the week. Sometimes that can be stressful, but it is worth it to have so many conversations that point toward Jesus.

If you want to know more about our daily life, click here.

4. Will we ever feel at home here?

Two weeks ago we went to a festival called “Brunnenfest” in a part of town close to ours. This festival takes place every year, but last year we had no idea it even existed, despite the fact that it is literally right outside the door of Cade’s old kindergarten. When you first move somewhere, it is hard to discover the traditions that make it feel like home, but if we compare last year to this year, the difference is amazing. Not only do we know what’s going on in our community, but we are actually there when things are happening. The best part is that when we go to these events (or even just to the store or the train station), we see people we know. People know us. While there are a lot of things we miss about Louisville — which is a seriously cool city, by the way — Hannover is also really cool and has a lot to offer. And it is feeling quite homey these days!

Thank you for your support and encouragement over the last year and a half! We are so grateful for the opportunity to represent the body of Christ here. Here’s to many more!

Our son ist “Erstklassig” (First class!)

A lot of people are curious about the cultural differences between the U.S. and Germany, and there are many. One of the biggest cultural differences is the approach to schooling, especially for younger children. While the upper levels of schooling (5th-13th class/grade) are also approached very differently, I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about “Erste Klasse,” or first grade.

In America, kids start school in kindergarten when they are five years old. Before that, they might attend pre-school and start learning some basic skills, such as writing letters or learning to use scissors. Kindergarten here is very different. Kids attend kindergarten from age 3-6, and the focus is largely on play. They will do some arts and crafts, stories, games, etc., but these activities are meant to stimulate imagination and play rather than intentionally improving a certain school skill.

Here in Germany, kids don’t start school until they are six years old, at which time they enter “Erste Klasse,” which literally translates to “First Class” and means in American culture “First Grade.” Unlike America, there is no cut-off birthday for starting school (i.e. August 1, September 1, etc.). Instead, every kiddo born in a certain year is eligible for school. Parents and kindergarten teachers can decide together for a child to stay in kindergarten a year longer to develop more socially and emotionally, which happens sometimes, especially for children born later in a year. Likewise, some kids (like our big guy) will be younger in their year because they have a late birthday.

Probably the best thing about starting school here in Germany is “Einschulung,” which is the first day of school and takes place on a Saturday. Although I’m not sure everything is the same in each German city, I will share what it’s like here in Hannover. The kiddos come into school with their “Schulranzen” (the most legit, awesome backpack style ever) and their “Schultüte,” a giant cone filled with goodies from the parents. For those of you who are curious, Cade’s had some cool school supplies (ruler shaped like a sword, anyone?), a kid-safe pocket knife, a wallet, a space snack container and water bottle, a book, and some of his favorite candies.

Check out that handsome fellow! The Schulranzen (backpack) is large, sturdy, and ergonomic. Plus, it is super cool looking. They are quite expensive, but students use them from 1st-4th grade. The Schultüte is 2-3 feet tall, and most parents make these giant cones themselves based on their child’s interests. Cade’s Schultüte was space themed!

The official ceremony began with all of the “Schulkinder” (school children) in a large space with their families. The 4th grade students presented a skit and a song to open up the ceremony. After that, the principal walked us all through the general expectations and introduced the teachers. Sometimes students know their classes ahead of time, but Cade didn’t know his. The sorting (Come on, fellow HP fans! You know you love the idea of being sorted.) took place at the end. Cade was sorted and left with his class for 45 minutes of “Unterricht” (teaching/lesson). While he was in class with his new classmates, we waited with the other families for our big guy to finish up his first lesson.


Cade’s class being sorted. Don’t worry! He’s totally a Gryffindor. 

After that official lesson, most families leave and celebrate. We did just that! We had a special lunch with our family and Nick’s parents at the local American style ’50s diner (mmm… milkshakes), then we headed back home to prepare for Cade’s Einschulung Party. We had so much fun!


Now our big guy is officially a “Schulkind” and is loving it! We hope you enjoyed learning a bit about his Einschulung and this awesome German tradition 🙂


His first official day in school. IMG_3606

Einschulung got us like… zzzzzzzz 😉

The Art of Losing Myself

Your will above all else;
My purpose remains
The art of losing myself
In bringing you praise

I have always liked this song—and this line in particular (at the 1:40 mark in the video below)—and I think I have figured out why.

There are lots of things in life that need to be “nailed” to the cross. We need to “crucify our old selves.” Our old selves need to die. All that is true, and biblical, and important. But that’s not what this line says. Read it once more, this time written as a sentence:

Your will above all else; my purpose remains the art of losing myself in bringing you praise.

Our purpose is to LOSE OURSELVES in bringing him praise. So much so that it should become an artform!

This doesn’t just refer to music (though it is sung in song). The times in my life when I have had the most satisfying relationship with my King are when I have literally lost myself, getting wrapped up in bringing him glory.

They’re the seasons when I don’t have time to pursue foolish or sinful or fruitless things because I am spending the days serving him.

I used to stress this with our youth: the “secret sauce” of gospel living is not in trying to focus on being better. It’s focusing on serving Christ and pursuing him. All our other struggles will, over time, simply fall away. It’s what Jesus means when he says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). The “these things” Jesus is referring to here (in context) are the worldly things we think we need to provide for ourselves. They are the things that “trap” us.

But rather than focusing on all those things, our purpose is the art of losing ourselves in the act of bringing God praise. I don’t need to worry about not sinning, because in those days I have lost myself—my old self—in the wonderful feeling of meeting the purpose that I was made in his image to fulfill.

We serve an amazing, wonderful, magnificent, powerful God. And he calls us his children, and claims us as his own.

Let’s get lost finding ourselves in that identity.

Mach’s gut!


Speaking to the heart

love-313416_1280Throughout my life, my mom has been really good at gift-giving. It wasn’t just the big gift-giving seasons that really showcased her aptitiude; it was also an ability in the small moments. When I was still living at home, I would come home from a regular old Tuesday at high school to find a funky pair of socks or a bag of my favorite candy laying on my bed, and she would always be thrilled to see how excited I’d get. In fact, when I visited the states with the kids in February, she had a little stack of perfectly curated gifts on that same bed awaiting our arrival. Any of you who know her know that this is just a particular, thoughtful talent of hers. She knows how to speak to the hearts of others.

While learning to speak German, there has constantly been a motivation in the back of my mind pushing me to go through flashcards in the wee hours of the night: I want to be able to speak to the hearts of others. I am not necessarily as good at little surprises as my mom is, but I am working on honing the craft in other ways. One of those ways is learning to speak German well enough that I can listen to a friend and really understand her emotional needs. I want to be able to offer prayer and encouragement in my new language that is authentic and shows that I have really heard them.

There are a lot of people in our lives who don’t know the love of Jesus, and it is up to us to start becoming fluent in the language of their hearts. How can we serve them? How can we encourage them? How can we breathe the good news of the gospel into their lives? It has to begin with us desiring to speak to their hearts.

Please pray for one or two people this week whose hearts you’d like to speak to.

Liebe Grüße,