Deeper into the Wardrobe

For months now I have been praying and seeking wisdom about what will happen next. When I originally came to Germany, the plan was to stay for four years, maybe more. I always said, “at least” four years, but I wasn’t sure what was beyond those four years. After three years in Germany I was asked to consider doing some leader development training, but it would mean I had to stay an extra year…so I did and I don’t regret that decision at all.

As my 4th year ended and my new agreed upon length of stay approached, I knew the decision loomed ahead. I needed to figure out what life was going to look like for me going forward. Where would I live? and what job would I have? were the most pertinent questions I needed to address. I’m an over-analyzer so you better believe I had plenty of “options” to choose from. I had seriously considered all of the following (though some were more plausible than others):

  • Return to Toledo and open a boardgame cafe
  • Move to Freiburg and open a boardgame cafe
  • Return to the US and get my doctorate in Instructional Design or User Experience
  • Return to the US and work as an instructional designer
  • Return to the US and work at GEM’s headquarters in one facet or another
  • Return to the US and work at MTI (where I had my pre-field training)
  • Stay in Kandern with eDOT
  • Stay in Kandern, but switch to EuroTeam and work with TEFL

I’m sure there were other options that came to mind at some point, but these were all of the ones I at least spent time researching. The problem I ran into was that all of these options were enticing for one reason or the other.

  • The boardgame cafes were interesting because I love boardgames and have a lot of ideas on how to run a community impacting cafe.
  • I’ve always wanted to get my doctorate, because I’m weird and I like school.
  • I enjoy writing curricula and thought working for a large organization designing their training could be a tough challenge for me.
  • I like the idea of recruiting people to join GEM, or helping them get to the field or designing and leading orientation.
  • MTI is an amazing experience and helped me adjust to life as a missionary. Having a chance to help others would be incredible.
  • I like my team and we do good work, so why change?
  • I love camps and curricula development and believe I am skilled to do both.

I could justify any of those. It was like staring at a counter of cookies and being allowed to only choose one. But they all look so good!

I did have a few major concerns, though, including, “Where does God want me?” and “Where do my passions lie?” After a long while, God finally got me to recognize something I had said many years ago while working at COSI (hands-on Science center) where I wrote curricula and taught camps. I said, “If I could do this full-time and make a living doing so, I would work here in a heartbeat.” COSI barely paid a living wage and I wasn’t ready to do that kind of work full-time yet anyway, but God has been preparing me for this ministry choice for years. I will soon get to say that I am developing curricula and leading short-term teams to teach at English camps full-time.

This is what I get to do…and I’m ecstatic about it. Don’t get me wrong, it was not an easy decision. I didn’t come to this lightly, nor consider all of the things that I would be giving up by living here. I thought about silly things like not being able to get a good hamburger or not having stores open pretty much all day everyday. Then I thought about more difficult things like being far away from my mom and brother and how hard that is at times. I thought about not being there to watch my nieces and nephews grow up. There are many things that made this a difficult decision, but in the end, I am confident this is the right decision; this is where God wants me and so I have said “Here am I, send me.”

So What Does This Mean For Me?

Well, in the short term this means I will be still with GEM eDOT until around March of next year when I make the official switch to GEM EuroTeam. I will continue to develop the Narnia (Adventures in the Wardrobe) curricula and complete my leader development studies. At the end of April I will return to the US for a mandatory year out of Germany (laws are weird!). While in the US I will be talking to churches and individuals about partnering with me and filling in my faithful ministry partners on what things will look like after the year in the US. I am also going to be recruiting short-term teams to come and teach at one of our camps the year I get back (if you are at all interested, please let me know). Potentially I will also be going to colleges to help recruit future TEFL missionaries. I’m not sure if this will happen, but I hope it does! When I return to Germany in 2019, I will work with GEM EuroTeam┬áin the running of TEFL camps and the development of English as a foreign language curricula.

But What Does It Mean For You?

If you are currently a ministry partner of mine, all it means is if you want to continue that partnership you don’t have to do anything. You can certainly alter the partnership with zero hard feelings on my end (contact me if you need more info), but if things are staying the same, then you are already done! If you aren’t a ministry partner of mine, but are curious of learning more, then please let me know and I would be happy to talk with you!

A Church that Sends

This weekend was jammed packed with great things. As I mentioned in my last post, I was taken to an Ohio State football game as an early Christmas present from my brother and parents. Even though Ohio State didn’t play that well, it was a great day. It was nice to get away, spend some quality time with my brother and my cousin (who goes to school at OSU). The whole day was great and something I will remember fondly for a long time to come.

On Sunday I was a part of a missions event at the church I attended from a really young age and until I left for Maryland. The event had 18 different missionaries representing local and international organizations. Each missionary had a chance to talk about their ministry and a common, but not exclusive, connection was that the missionaries came from Church of the Cross. It was something that I knew, but often times I forget. Church of the Cross is a sending church and I don’t just mean they give money to a bunch of missionaries and “send” them that way, which they do, but they also have a lot of missionaries that come out of the church. There was a couple and single who weren’t at the event, but are supported by CotC. Had they been there, there would have been a total of 21 missionaries and over half of them could have said, “I grew up in this church,” or “I attended CotC for years before going on the mission’s field. Can most churches say that? Maybe they can, but regardless, it is impressive.

I am a part of those that grew up in Church of the Cross, and I am honored to stand side by side with that church and all of their missionaries.

 

I will be around Toledo until next Wednesday so if you would like to grab some coffee, lunch, dinner or just catch up one way or another, let me know, because I would love to catch up with as many people as possible.

A day of family

After a solid 8 hours of sleep, I woke up at 4:30…yeah, still too early, but I’m adjusting. The plan for the day was to go get some shopping done (I remembered all about tax this time) and then head back over to Jupmode to do some more work for them. Then I would return home to meet my niece, Sabrina, for the first time. I was a wee bit excited, to say the least.

When they arrived, Sabrina had the gall to be sleeping, so I had to wait patiently to hold her. In the mean time we exchanged some Christmas gifts since my brother and parent’s gift to me was a bit time sensitive. My brother had told me to keep Saturday the 29th open, but wouldn’t tell me why. I found out why, I was going to go to an Ohio State football game with my brother including going to a “Skull session” and having brunch with my cousin who attends OSU before hand. Again…I was stinking excited!

Holding Sabrina for the first time felt good, even though she was a wee bit fussy. I enjoyed every second of holding her and even got her to smile at me for a while. These are the things that can be tough when you live so far away. You miss a lot. Sabrina is 3 months old and it was the first time I got to hold her. You better believe I will be soaking up as much Sabrina time as possible whenever I can!

To end the night Ray, Ben and I all went to my cousin’s high school football game where I got to see my aunt, two cousins and my goddaughter. Family time is very important for me, so yesterday was a good day.

As you are reading this I am on my way to Columbus for the Buckeye game…O-H!

On Sunday I will be at Church if the Cross in Toledo for their Missions Sunday and I’d love to see some of you there! 

You will do better in Toledo

Waking up at 3:30 in the morning really allows you to get some stuff done before the rest of the world wakes up. . .but it also means you are up at 3:30 in the morning!

So the day didn’t start out the best, but the rest of the day ended up being pretty great until I crashed at the early hour of 8:30 PM. 

After the rest of the house woke up my mom and I went to the gym for a good workout. The rest of the morning was full of some errands including getting a Sim card for my phone and my jet-lagged brain had a hard time with paying. I totally forgot about tax so when I handed the cashier “enough” money to pay for the item, she looked at me and said, “The card cost that much, but either tax it’s. . .” Oh yeah, tax, I kind of forgot about that. 

In the afternoon I got to work for my friend who has his own screen-printing business. I asked him if he needed some extra help so I can earn some money in order to get back and he gladly accepted my help. I had a great time working for Jupmode and am very appreciative of the opportunity. 

After getting back to my mom’s house I had another good surprise in the form of another sizable donation from a friend and neighbor. Day one was a full day and another great one.

God has blessed this trip so far and i can’t wait to see what He has planned for the rest of my time here. 

4 Countries, 3 Airports, 2 States and 1 HMA begins

Yesterday morning I left Germany, via France and the Netherlands on my way to Perrysburg via Detroit. Traveling back to the US always results in a long day, especially when you start your day 6 hours ahead of the people with whom you end your day, but overall it was a pleasant trip. I even got an empty seat next to me, which is always a bonus! 

Walking out of the airport and seeing family is great. As I was approaching the van, my mom was headed into the airport and she didn’t see me. I know, it’s tough to imagine, but there was a giant SUV that was blocking her view of me, so it’s justified. I yelled for her, she turned and rushed I’ve to give me a hug, the kind that only moms know how to give. 

After an easy and uneventful drive we arrived at my mom and Ray’s place. It was dinner time, though my belly and brain didn’t quite comprehend that. It was 12 AM according to my body’s clock,  after all. 

After relaxing a bit and fighting sleep, my aunt came over and provided one of the first major praises for this trip. She told me they were going to make a sizable donation and also provide a rental car for me when I go to North Carolina and Maryland. I was flabbergasted (I love that word and wish people would use it more often). Both of those are huge answers to prayer and ended a pretty eventful first night back in the US. 

My apology for apologizing

During my six weeks back in the US I met with individuals, groups and churches and told them about what I, eDOT, EuroTeam TEFL and GEM do. I wanted people to get excited about what I am excited about. I told the same stories over and over again, I explained the details of what the heck an instructional designer actually does and then towards the end I asked if people would like to join my ministry partner team prayerfully and/or financially. All of this was fine, nothing was done horribly wrong, except one thing…I apologized.

Now, my parents raised me right and taught me to apologize when I did something wrong. The problem here, is I didn’t do anything wrong. I was apologizing because I was asking for money. I apologized because I know that being asked over and over again to donate money to one cause or another can be super annoying. I apologized because, well, I felt uncomfortable asking.

Here’s the problem and the reason for this apology: I had nothing to apologize for, but by doing so, I didn’t properly invite people to join in and participate in the ministry to which God has called me, where my talents are being used, where, only by the grace of God, people may hear about Christ and choose to follow Him. I was contacted by someone I respect who called me out on this and told me to never apologize when inviting people to help reach others for Christ. I failed, and for this I apologize.

My plan is to properly invite people into my ministry partner team, where they can truly feel and see their impact in Europe. It won’t stop at the invitation though. Through this blog, my newsletters and any conversation you all have with me about my ministry, I will strive to inform you on my work here in Germany. You all deserve better, and my hope is to help you understand just how valuable you all are to me, the ministry and those that come across the curriculum I design.

I’m sorry and I hope you all will feel like more of a team from now on and will better understand how important you truly are.

The toughest blog I’ve ever written

I’ve been writing on this blog on and off for the past 2.5 years and I’ve never had a blog that is as hard as this one to write. It’s not that the words won’t come out, or that it is physically hard for me to write this blog, but this blog is tough for a completely different reasons.

So why is this blog hard to write? It’s one of the more vulnerable posts that I’ve written, but that’s still not even the issue. I’m asking for help, that’s why. Normally I have a hard time asking for help from people unless it is something that I literally cannot do alone. Asking for a ride to the airport is no problem for me, but asking for someone to come help me move a large piece of furniture might make me try it myself first. Then once I get started trying on my own, don’t even bother asking me to help…I can be a bit stubborn.

Today though, I must come to you all for help. I must lower my normal defenses to present my struggle and ask for you to stand up next to me and partner with me. As you may or may not be aware, I will be making a trip back to the US this August and September in order to find more ministry partners and meet with existing ones as well. I thought I would be fine until then…but I’m not.

Let me break down the numbers a bit for you:

$5400 – My monthly support need

$5100 – My monthly pledged support

$4400 – My monthly average support received

$1000 – Need

 

As you can tell, each month that goes by I am short by around $1000 and this quickly drains any reserves that were built up over the last two years or so.

This blog isn’t to guilt people into supporting me but it is to help explain the need and to ask for help. The good thing is, help can come in a variety of ways that I will lay out for you below.

Current Ministry Partners:

  • Pray, pray and then pray some more
  • Prayerfully consider raising your current pledged amount by $5-10 a month
  • Share this with a friend
  • Invite me to share with a Bible study, church, your friends, etc. when I am back in Aug/Sept

Everyone else:

  • You can pray too!
  • Prayerfully consider joining my ministry partner team (either e-mail me or go to my support page for more info)
  • Invite me to share with a Bible study, church, your friends, etc. when I am back in Aug/Sept
  • Share this with a friend

I know God will take care of my needs, but it is not without effort on my part. I appreciate all of you who have read this far whether you feel led to help in one way or another.

Thank you.