As I was reviewing 2015 and dreaming big about 2016 I took some time to flip through my (sporadic, okay very sporadic) journal that I kept through last year and in them I noticed the hard. Amidst those challenges I noticed the great things that God had done over the last year. Honestly, I loved last year, the hard parts were hard, but the good parts were so very, very good. And looking back through those momentary memories, I know that the good parts far outweighed those harder parts that grew me in unexpected ways last year.
Looking at them I can see that winter was my most challenging time last year. Those days were filled with learning how to navigate doctor’s offices and medication boxes with instructions I could not understand. In addition to winters here being dark, gray even after the sun has risen, and rainy/drizzly/foggy, it was also the low point in my first year that every expat had warned me would come. But doesn’t everyone have those times no matter where in the world they live? I think so, but it could be my optimism trying to shine through my realistic nature.
Last year came in with hours of fireworks outside our window and left in the same way- it is like we are celebrating in joy the ending of one year and the excitement of the year ahead. Here’s to pressing in to the uncomfortable situations in life, growing into someone you never imagined, and coming into the New Year enjoying the fireworks as a sign of the great to come. As we have done in years past I want to share some of our highlights with you from 2015 because there are 15 of them, because hey- why not, I’ll post some today and the rest later this week.
- For our anniversary Denny and I enjoyed a date day with a big German breakfast, a boat tour on the Spree River, and enjoying some craft beer at a festival with some friends.
- In May we attended our church retreat. It was in a place just outside of Berlin that reminded me of where our church in Minnesota would have their annual retreat and it was on the same weekend as our friends at that same MN church were having their retreat. Denny and I helped out with the kids program a little and enjoyed all the social time and worship. It was a weekend way out of my comfort zone, the language barrier was draining for me, but I am glad we went. It allowed me to see some of the great ways that God is providing for our family the things we may have missed but now do not have to.
- In the summer I helped work with the TREK7 Berlin team for 6 weeks. It was amazingly wonderful and challenging as it was my first year working on the project. The experience was great and I look forward to it again this year.
- In July we had a ministry conference in Slovenia for a week. The kids attended a kids program and we all had a wonderful time. It was certainly a summer highlight for all five of us.
- At some point in 2015 both Denny and I reached (a little more than) functional German. Which is a highlight and an accomplishment. The language learning continues, but at least now we can actually communicate with people while we improve our vocabulary.
- Language school in general was so great. We found friendships there that continue outside the four walls of our classroom. We had the best German teacher we could have asked for, if you move here, we would recommend her.
I am excited to reminisce on more highlights from 2015 later this week.