We Have Arrived in Hamburg

Just a short update:

We have arrived in Hamburg! We are in our apartment and have been here one day or so. The flights went well. Our cat Augustine was an absolute champ in terms of staying calm and not losing his mind in the midst of being stuck in a cage for 20 hours and being jostled around endlessly. We had no issues with customs or baggage size restrictions. Thank you Lord.

We went shopping the large part of yesterday to make sure we had some food to eat and tools for every day life. Shopping is a chore and you must visit a different store for every little category of thing you might need. It’s a bit frustrating, but we actually don’t mind it. It makes it even more difficult when you don’t have a car, because when you’ve bought large things, you’re stuck carrying them! We carried a new litter box for Augustine about 2 miles yesterday because we wanted to enjoy the streets of Hamburg instead of riding a bus. Typically, one would take a bus or train and can get anywhere in the city within 30 minutes.

The weather is Fall-like. It’s like we took a flight a month into the future when the U.S. finally becomes cold and the leaves start falling.

The language barrier is not *too* challenging. I (Evan) am so thankful for the benefit of having studied German as much as I have (which hasn’t been enough, but has been helpful). We have had conversations with several Germans. The conversations are a bit awkward because even knowing Hoch-Deutsch (High German), there are different dialects and of course cultural colloquialisms of the different cities one might visit that, believe it or not, make one stick out quite a bit for not knowing. Still, I don’t know how this would have gone without knowing a little bit of German beforehand.

We are so excited to attend a church tomorrow. We are yearning to find Christian fellowship and to be encouraged by / encourage other believers. We’ll let you all know how it goes tomorrow (Sunday).

That’s it for now. Here are a few pictures from our journeys so far. Thank you all for your prayers in support. Much love from Jodi and I both!

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Quick Update

Hello everyone,

I wanted to let you know that since the last post we have continued to meet various requirements for living in Germany. Thanks be to the Lord for his help and sustenance.

Two weeks ago I received approval from the German Government to work there, which means I will receive an E.U. Blue card. Later we got our flights booked, we signed our apartment contract yesterday, and we will be leaving on Wednesday.

Needless to say we’ve been arduously packing our things and getting rid of whatever we can (since we only have four suitcases we can take).

A few prayer requests:

– Since it is comparatively cheap to take an animal to Germany we have decided there is no need to part with our best furry friend Augustine, so he will become a Germany kitty soon. Still, this has been one of the most challenging parts of setting up our plane tickets because there are so many different rules that are airline/country specific when it comes to transporting pets. Please pray that Augustine will have a safe trip and that he won’t be a bother to other people in the cabin (he is a very vocal cat and sometimes, we think, likes to meow just to hear his own voice).

– Please pray that we will have the energy to take care of all the administrative tasks we need to when we arrive. We will be arriving and moving into our apartment within several hours of arriving. I (Evan) can speak German almost conversationally, but I doubt I will be the most apt linguist with only a few hours of sleep.

– as usual, please pray that God would protect us and grant us a safe trip.

Thank you all and know we will miss all of you and intend to stay in touch!

Nach Hamburg

“It is our confidence in the sovereign grace of God that gives us any hope of success in missions.” – Kevin DeYoung

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God has provided for us in so many ways since we originally decided to go to Germany to serve the church and bring lost people into God’s kingdom. For those of you that would like to know more information about our situation, please check out the previous post.

I graduated from my Web Development school in June of this year and received a job offer no more than two weeks later from a company in Hamburg, Germany. We will be working with a relocation agency sponsored by my company to move our belongings to Hamburg on (or around) August 1st, a month from now.

We want to thank everyone who has supported us monetarily in any way, prayed for us, let us stay in their home, and of course my parents for allowing us to live in their house while I completed school. We ask for your continued prayers that we will 1) be constantly abiding in the Lord, renewing our minds with the ocean of grace and truth that is His own mind, 2) continue to persevere in cultural integration, language learning, reaching out in every-day life to make friends, and living missionally in general despite the toll that working full time takes on us, and 3) pray for the church(es) that we will be involved with, extending their ministry in any way we can while building relationships.

A few Sundays ago, we unexpectedly met a couple in our church who were very enthusiastic about a simple ministry strategy for those who want to make a huge impact for God’s kingdom but didn’t consider themselves full-time evangelists. They introduced us to a simple strategy for missional living called ‘BELLS’.  I won’t go into too much detail about the strategy because it does get a bit wordy, but in short it is an acronym for weekly goals that encourage the type of ministry conducted by the early disciples. The BELLS method of ministry focuses heavily on one-to-one discipleship.  We intend to abide by this strategy in order to more precisely put into practice what we believe is important in evangelistic outreach.

We do not intend to take Hamburg or Germany by force. The strong advice of others who have gone before us has been to build trust first. We believe working regular jobs and living long-term among Germans will help us build that trust. As the ‘BELLS’ PDF mentions, we want to live ‘questionable’ lives: lives that evoke questions from those around us. Once trust is built, we pray that hard and honest questions about God, Christianity, and theology will begin to flow, that interest will be rekindled, and that, by God’s grace, Christianity will be taken off the “that’s for lunatics” shelf in people’s brains.

We ask for your prayers that God would help us live as full-hearted Christians in Germany and that He would help us serve His Church with all of our ability.

 

Waiting and Learning

Greetings to everyone! I decided I would take a moment to record some long overdue updates on our progress towards integration into German culture for the purpose of spreading the kingdom of God.

Our long-term plan since we were married has been to move to Germany, integrate into German culture, and live as Germans while working to be witnesses to Christ for our fellow Germans, advocates of apologetics and good doctrine, and instigators of discussions about the hard parts of Christian theology and philosophy amongst our German peers and college students.

At the moment, however, we are not in Germany. We’re in a small town in North Carolina. Although we have been to Germany, we cannot live there on a long term basis yet due to the need for a visa. Many missionaries support themselves by means of donations from their local churches and working with international missions organizations that have a local base in the host country as a means for living long term in these cultures.  Our intended style of outreach, often called tentmaking, however, is different in that it involves integration by means of regular employment to support our efforts.

Efforts to spread the gospel of Christ in post-Christian cultures start with goals of integrating as fully as possible into the host culture, forming authentic relationships, building trust with our surrounding community and peers, and only then reaching into the lives of our friends to show them how God’s glory has transformed our own lives and can transform their own as well. We believe that a tentmaking strategy fits best with a long-term approach.

Currently, we are not in Germany for one practical reason: we need a legal reason to be there for a long time. We’ve entertained multiple possibilities for accomplishing this, one of them being Jodi’s attendance at Hochschule Rhein Waal University of Applied Sciences in Kamp Lintfort, DE to finish up her Graphic Design Education. This would grant her a student visa, by which I could join as a spouse.

But the problem with this is that while it would give us a legitimate reason to be there, we would eventually need money to sustain our existence there. Due to the EU laws requiring EU employers to favor EU residents for hire, it is unlikely I would be able to find a job in this time without a specialized skill set.

The second possibility we currently pursue is my (Evan) applying to work at a German Web Development company. While EU employers must favor EU residents for potential employees, there are certainly no restrictions on hiring an expat from another country who has the skills to get the job done. German companies often do hire International and non-EU members for web-development careers, as you can see from Stack Overflow’s job search results for German jobs with employers willing to sponsor relocation and a working visa.

In pursuit of this goal, I have enrolled in and attended a very well-reputed web-development ‘bootcamp’ called Thinkful, which is a career-focused online immersive Full-stack Web Development school which guarantees they can find you a job (in America, that is). This is a six month long course that teaches the theory, tools, languages, and wisdom needed to be a web-developer in the Javascript world in great depth.

God has blessed us in many ways through my joining this school. I have been put in direct, first name basis contact, not only with the owners, senior developers, and managers of different web development companies in America, but also of companies in Berlin, Germany. One of the teacher’s assistants who is present with us in our online courses as we work through different challenges is a German who co-founded a web-services company in Germany. He has been extremely helpful in pointing me towards the right resources and advice for finding a job in Germany. He is connected with around 50 German recruiting companies and is glad to show them my profile once I reach the point of graduation from this school.

So, this is our outlook for the near future: Once I graduate from Thinkful in June I may immediately find a job with a German employer in Berlin. If so, we will leave for Germany immediately.

If for whatever reason I am unable to find a job in Germany immediately upon my graduation from this school, I will seek a job at an American company to gain the employer’s ever-sought 1-2 years of ‘experience’ needed before they will hire an employee, while applying to German companies, seeking a job offer.

Jodi has been working remotely for a graphic design company in Athens called ‘H.W. Creative’, doing paintings, murals, and side graphic design work to help support us financially. Jodi has become active in Awana, contributing graphic design work to our local church in Wilkesboro, and helping at the Homeless Soup Kitchen ministry, (along with myself, when my school schedule allows me the time). Meanwhile I have been trying to use what time I have free to dive more deeply into some of the theology and philosophy books, podcasts, and articles I’ve been wanting to spend more time on.

We live with our parents in Wilkesboro, NC, and we are so grateful for their being willing to support us by giving us a place to live while I am not employed, removing our need to pay rent, utilities, or food. We have very much enjoyed living in the mountainous parts of North Carolina and would certainly consider calling it our home, were we to stay in the U.S.

Our thanks to everyone for your support and encouragement in this process. Please pray for us as well as the Germans who live in darkness and don’t jnow the joy of living for Christ.