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A Story of Patience…

Posted by on July 9, 2016

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This past week has been a lesson in patience and a reminder of the cost of living/serving far from home. We consider it a gift to be serving here in Germany, but it doesn’t mean we are exempt from the short and long-term “hiccups” that accompany this call. The wonderful thing is that God can and does use all aspects of life to teach us and show his love to others. Sometimes, this happens in the most interesting ways. Let us paint a picture of our week for you and share how we were surprised by a friend’s reaction to tragic news.

Stephanie’s grandfather passed away late last week. Stephanie was planning to take Madeleine to attend the funeral in Pennsylvania. The only problem was that with Maddie being so new, we hadn’t received her passport yet! We decided to purchase the plane tickets and hope we would be granted an emergency passport before the scheduled departure.

Because July 4th fell on a Monday, the US Consulate was not open until Tuesday. Stephanie’s flight was scheduled to leave on Wednesday! We knew there was a chance we could lose the plane ticket money but proof of travel was needed for the application. We got up early and drove 2 hours to the nearest office. (Hamburg has a consulate, but it does not issue passports).

We arrived on time but there were 3 people ahead of us. When we were finally seen, we were told this particular consulate did not have the ability to issue emergency passports! (We called the Department of State and were told different information).

The clerk made some calls for us and said we would need to go to Frankfurt or Berlin. Germany is not nearly as large as the USA but it’s still pretty big. To travel to either place would require a minimum 3-4 hour drive, taking the girls out of school, and either an overnight stay or very early morning trip to make the 8:30am appt. On top of that, we would have to pay fees and an increased ticket price to change Stephanie’s departure.

We prayed about this option and realized we needed to let the trip go. ¬†We wanted Stephanie to be there to support her family, but it would have been too much for us in this season of life. We have learned that in a foriegn country, we cannot have high expectations for things. As foreigners living far away from home, we can’t always expect the same fast turn arounds we were accustomed to at home. For example, we had to travel 3 separate times to the consulate to apply for Madeleine’s regular passport (this last trip not included). We are learning to be content with what is, instead of what we have been accustomed to in the past. We are required to be flexible and wait a little longer for many things, big and small. Being flexible with making another trip, or waiting a little longer, is required of us. This is difficult for anyone, foreigner or not.

As we mentioned in the beginning, God can use everything! As devastating as it was for Stephanie to miss her Grandpa’s funeral, God has shown us his power through this experience. A German friend came over the other day and asked about the situation. We explained what happened and tears began to form in her eyes. We didn’t need to understand German perfectly to connect with the human being inside her.

We couldn’t help but wonder if in that moment, she sensed the costs associated with living cross-culturally and being missionaries. On top of that, she is not a Christian but seems to be very interested in knowing more about our lives and the choices we have made. This situation with Stephanie’s Grandfather got her attention, and The Holy Spirit may have spoken to her heart in that moment. This is just one of the ways God has shown us his faithful presence with us this week. May we all continue to be open to the movements of the Holy Spirit and the workings of God in our lives.

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