Then & Now

IMG_6154Then

It’s me, three bags and a violin, and climb the three floors to my new apartment downtown at the end of a hot summer day. I’ve taken three trains today, from Austria to my new home in Southwestern Germany. This morning, my new boss told me that I wouldn’t be teaching the classes I’d planned on all summer, middle school English and history, but instead high school English and Canadian history. I would be more frustrated if I had planned anything for the middle school classes, but I haven’t. I probably should be more nervous than I am, since school starts on Tuesday and I’ve never even been to Kandern, the village where the school and my flat are located. I should be, but I’m just tired.

Now

It’s me and Luci, a baby carrier and a yellow umbrella, four floors up in our apartment at the top of the town, in the middle of a rainy summer day. We’ve left the house once today, this morning for groceries, where I bought food for the weekend and chatted with a friend in the produce section. Other than that, though, we haven’t been out much, and I haven’t done much planning for the classes I’ll teach in three weeks. Mostly we’ve sat on the floor and played with cups. Until now, when Luci decided that the cups were suddenly not interesting enough to distract her from the late-afternoon malaise of being a baby and teething and walking and bumping into things. So we leave.

Then

My new roommates have secured a few items of furniture for my attic bedroom. A bed with blankets, a wardrobe, a red end table for a desk and a brocade chair. It’s not much, but it will be enough, and it’s more than I expected. I look at the peaked ceiling, peer through the slanted windows at the little town I should start calling home, its tile roofs warm in the golden sunlight.

“Can we go for a walk?” I ask my roommate, Emily.

Now

We wander around the apartment getting ready. From Luci’s room a pink coat and little shoes. From my closet a pair of sandals. From the side table in the hall Luci’s baby carrier, a present from my parents that has taken us through half a dozen airports and countless hikes. I pull Luci close to me and loop the straps over my shoulders, and we stand by the living room windows, looking out at this familiar town, at the tile roofs gleaming in a break in the clouds.

“Let’s go outside, Luci,” I tell my daughter, grabbing an umbrella as we go.

Then

Emily and I drift through the narrow alleys of the village we don’t know yet. “Can we get up there?” I ask, pointing towards a high, round hill at the end of the town, atop of which a gazebo appears to be perched. Emily shrugs. She hasn’t gone there yet, but she’s willing to explore with me. We wind our way through the town, the hill in our sights. I get acquainted with the town, sweet smelling and still mostly silent, and my roommate, hearing about her summer and her first weeks in Kandern. We’ll become friends, but today we’re just almost-strangers exploring a place and each other.

We don’t find the gazebo, or the way up the hill, but we walk and talk, and I’m satisfied as we climb up the stairs, the sun setting on my first day living in Germany.

Now

Luci and I climb the hill behind our house, my feet carrying us automatically up the little-known road that leads to the trail that leads to the shorn, grassy path that leads to the gazebo high above the town. At the top of the hill it starts to rain, so I unfurl the yellow umbrella, which makes Luci laugh. Larger drops make a louder sound, and she keeps laughing, craning her neck to see more and more of the flowery roof over our heads. She can’t be bothered with the view, doesn’t know how precious it is to me or how special this place is. The gazebo I didn’t find with Emily on that first night, the gazebo where my husband gave me a green mug and told me he liked me, yesterday forever ago. Someday she’ll care, but not today; today is it’s all about the umbrella.

So I leave her to her giggling and spend a moment remembering. How simple life once was, just me and my bags and a vague idea of what I’d be doing here. It was a minimalist’s dream, that life, the ascetic attic with its sparse furniture, my capsule wardrobe that I could carry in a single backpack. Now it’s complex, layered, three of us in a home full of everything we need that may fit into ten suitcases whenever we leave this place, if we can sell a lot of it first. I suppose I could have kept the minimal life. But as I stand in the rain on a favorite hilltop, six years later, with my umbrella and my giggling little girl, I thank God for the beauty of complexity.

Under the umbrella

Under the umbrella

Walking

The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.

Psalm 37:23-24

These days are about walking.

Teacher preparation starts in two days, and school staff are filling our town and keeping Timmy busy with airport runs, moving help and welcoming new TeachBeyond colleagues. I’ve corresponded with students, cracked some genuine American literature, and listened to the Hamilton soundtrack a few times for good measure. As usual, listing out tasks completed and coming up makes it sound like August has been a busy month. It has, but mostly, August has been the Month of Walking.

Some of the walking has been practical, mundane, even… pedestrian. (Pun intended… I can’t help myself.) Though we’ve been blessed with the car of a former staff member, mostly we walk everywhere here. To the school, to the grocery store, to friends’ houses. We walk for fun, too, in the hills and forests and most often down to the creek. After driving an hour each way to Seattle for a year, speeding up and down Interstate 90, we’re getting used to a different pace of travel, one day at a time.

The more important walking, though, is done down near the ground, by a person just over two feet fall. More and more, our daughter has destinations–Walk to the chickens! Walk to the hall to chew on shoes!–but her walking is mostly for its own sake. Luci walks–arms raised for balance, eyes wide with curiosity and excitement–not to run errands or because she wants exercise, but because she can. She walks for the steps themselves, each one precious and more sure than the last.

And watching her walk, gaining new appreciation for the miracle that any babies, all of us at one point, ever learn to walk, I’m reminded of the many places in Scripture that we’re instructed on walking, our steps and God’s part in them.

And He delights in his way. I think about the great delight that we take in each of Luci’s steps right now, no matter where she’s going. Later, I’m sure we’ll love the metaphorical ones, too, reveling in the moments when she makes wise decisions or acts of kindness.

I think about these verses differently now than I have before. Not as an adult, for whom walking comes as easily as breathing, but as one just learning and the ones teaching her. Because we’re delighting in her steps, we’re holding her hand, sometimes guiding her path. And though the other kind of walking, the expert kind, has its merits, I’m glad of the reminder that on this journey with Christ I’m as new at this as Luci, that He delights in my steps and holds my hand to keep me from falling.

 

August: News, Thanks and Prayers

Playing Bananagrams at our conference in July!

Playing Bananagrams at our conference in July!

News and Dates:

  • August 7-12: Counseling residency at Regent University in Virginia (Timmy)
  • August 18-30: Staff Orientation at BFA
  • August 31: First day of school!
  • Timmy will spend the second week of August in Virginia beginning his Masters in Counseling with Regent University. While the program is mostly online, there are three weeks in residence throughout the three-year program.
  • While Kristi will still be teaching American Literature and mentoring new teachers, this year she’ll also be teaching Public Speaking for the first time!
  • Luci is getting more mobile every day! She’s loving exploring our new apartment on hands and knees, and even took a few steps the other day!

We’re Thankful For:

  • A Great Week at the Avant Europe conference at the beginning of July. We were thrilled to spend the time getting to know some great kids and learning more about what this mission does throughout the world.
  • Financial Support in the last few months that has added up to our monthly goal. Thankful for the one-time gifts that have helped to make up the difference in our monthly support shortfall.
  • Time to Rest before beginning the busyness of the school year. Even Luci has started to sleep better!
  • Our Home at the Art Factory, which has started to feel more and more homey. Thankful also for our landlords and the community that surrounds us here.

Please Be In Prayer For:

  • Transitions. Pray for us as we transition into the new roles and routines of the school year, both in our individual vocations and as a family. Pray for clear communication and that we would use the time given us here to God’s glory.
  • New Staff. Pray for the families and individuals traveling to Germany in the coming weeks to start their lives here, and that God would reveal ways that we can show them hospitality as they engage with the community here.
  • Financial Support. Our monthly support goal is $5500, which will cover the added living expenses of our growing family, and we currently have about $4315 pledged monthly. If you are interested in helping us return to this ministry fully supported, please visit our Getting Involved page or our online giving page with TeachBeyond.

We continue to be deeply grateful for the support and encouragement we receive from all around the world. From showing us hospitality to blessing us with financial support, we couldn’t possibly serve without your involvement. Please let us know if there are ways that we can be praying for you, or if you have any questions our life or ministry.

Peace in Christ,

Timmy & Kristi Dahlstrom

and all shall be well

and all shall be wellAh, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

Mary Oliver, from “Starlings in Winter”

It’s a summer of contrasts.

Last night there was a suicide bombing, again in Germany, in a town to which I’ve traveled often for track meets. And another shooting in Florida. Three days ago, a young shooter attacked several other teenagers at a shopping mall in Munich. Before that was a coup. Before that there were policemen and black men, killed and killing. Before that were more guns, more bombs. Violence and injustice, innocent lives lost everywhere. The speaker at church on Sunday scrolled backwards through this litany of terrors–just in July–events in America and around the world that remind me of a line in Romeo and Juliet: “For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.” Except this isn’t Tybalt killing Mercutio, or Gatsby’s great, heat- and rage-fueled car crash. It’s real violence, not literary, and it won’t pass with the hot days of summer.

Meanwhile, we’re a town so quiet that we can hear horseshoes clattering or cats fighting on the street four floors down, and accordion music floats lazily through our window in the evenings. We spend most days watching a person grow. (Slower than grass, but so much more entertaining!) We watch her standing, balancing on her toes then heels then toes again. We hear her trying to talk, telling us in dozens of syllables all of her thoughts and feelings. We give her watermelon and peaches, delighted to see them disappear into her toothless smile. We take her to the pool and learn she’s afraid of cold water (But who isn’t?), then exult when she consents to sit down and splash for ten merry minutes in the shallowest part of the wading pool. These are my days, both dark and bright.

And a sentence keeps running through my mind, one that I’ve loved for a long time. And all shall be well. Part of Revelations of Divine Love, by medieval mystic Julian of Norwich, these words have run like a line of music through the last decade or so of my life, a promise of God’s power and goodness that has carried me through more than a few times of upheaval. Still, I confess it’s only today that I remembered to be a dutiful English teacher and look up the context of the quote (beyond the two lines around it, borrowed by T.S. Eliot in “Little Gidding”).

I discovered that the lines were Christ’s response to her question–why was sin necessary? As God replied to Job, Julian received a reply, but not an answer:

“But Jesus, who in this vision informed me of all that is needed by me, answered with these words and said: ‘It was necessary that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.'”

Sin was necessary, but all will be well anyway. God will make all things well.

Psalm 23 tells the same story:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me…

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23:4,6

I feel the tension between the beauty of my daily life and the pain that surrounds me, but this is nothing new if I’ve been paying attention. Life in Christ is a tension between contrasts. Light in darkness. Beauty in brokenness. Sin all around, but sin conquered at last. Goodness and lovingkindness following me–not puddles or moments of it, here and there–even through the shadowy valleys of these dark days.

Thank you God for the beauty, for the all that shall be well. Oh God, walk with us through these valleys.

The New Kids

Some leisurely sketching on a conference afternoon.

Some leisurely sketching on a conference afternoon.

The conference ends with the new kids.

Timmy, Luci and I have been at the conference this week for Avant Ministries, a mission agency dedicated to planting churches internationally. Though still very much members of TeachBeyond ourselves, committed to sharing Christ in educational settings, we’ve been asked to host the youth program at the Avant conference this week. And so, with eight days in Germany under our belts, we drive four hours north to a retreat center in the windmill-populated hills of the Rheinland-Pfalz Westerwald.

It has been a week of games and discussion, with many new friendships for us, forged in the family camp atmosphere of the conference. Watching the teenagers this week, I remembered my own summers at Capernwray Harbor family weeks in British Columbia, and my dad’s memories of Mount Herman camp from his childhood. I’m keenly aware of the privilege and stability that these “summer places” represent, and so I’ve been pleased to see it reflected here, among the children of missionaries who so crave long-term relationship and the common denominator of a place to return to, year after year.

For the youth, though, week is more family reunion than family camp. All week we hear stories from these kids, many of whom have spent the majority of their lives planting churches with their parents. I know firsthand the investment that comes with having parents who work in a church, especially a new and small one, and some of these kids have done this many times already on multiple continents. One young woman, ready to start her post-high school life in America, remembers growing up overseas, far from most of her extended family.

“These,” she motions at the long, noisy tables full of missionary families in the dining hall, “These are my uncles and aunts and cousins, really. This is who I’ve grown up with.”

At the end of the conference, after the final songs and thank yous, someone asks the children of the new missionaries to come to the front of the hall. Many of them are young, some even toddlers, and they sit patiently on the steps of the stage while the smiling teenagers line the center aisle that leads out of the room.

The speaker tells them what they already know. Moving to a new country—to Poland, to Spain, to the Czech Republic—can be hard and scary. Some will start at new schools soon, many in new languages.

“But look at these teenagers,” the speaker continues. The teens grin back at him, at each other, knowing looks of shared experiences. “They’ve done it, too.” He points out one young man who’s lived in Japan, Poland and Spain, and a young woman who grew up in Ecuador and France.

“How many of you,” he asks, “Have started school in a classroom where you didn’t speak a word of the language on the first day of school?”

Most of the teenagers raise their hands, nodding dutifully and doubtless remembering those confusing, isolating early days.

“But how many of you learned that language eventually?” he follows up. The same hands go up, this time with proud smiles.

Earlier this week with the youth we discussed the call of Abraham, a tale in which these international kids find themselves easily. They each recall similar moments, relating not always to Abraham himself but to the huge entourage that he took with him out of Ur, a family and household uprooted from a comfortable place by God’s calling. They’re thankful and genial, this particular group, eager to take ownership in their families’ ministries, but I’m struck this morning by the many journeys reflected even in this short demonstration.

I can’t know what the new kids think about this, as I stand in the back with Luci, but it is a powerful moment for me. It’s a reminder of the resilient, adventurous kinds of students that we work with at Black Forest Academy, but it’s also the first time I encounter these kids as a parent myself. I wonder when a baby becomes a missionary kid? When she goes to Kindergarten in a different language? When she understands what goodbye means? When she starts to develop strong opinions or habits around airports? I try to squint ahead and imagine Luci in a few years, wondering what her life will look like, and if she’ll one day identify with these nervous toddlers or confident teenagers.

As usual, this kind of future-squinting uncovers more questions than answers. In the end, I can only pray that if God keeps us overseas for the long haul, if Luci’s childhood is a multilingual, many-miled sojourn, that she’ll greet it with the open hearts and eyes that I’ve had the privilege of meeting this week. They are young people who’ve chosen adventure and obedience, and I am delighted that these are the kinds of students we’re returning to serve at BFA, the people who will surround my daughter in her first years of life.

July: News, Thanks and Prayers

Our little family on Father's Day!

Our little family on Father’s Day!

News and Dates:

  • July 2-10: Avant Ministries Conference in central Germany
  • We sold our car on our last day in America! Thank you for all your prayers along these lines; it was a huge blessing to be able to tie up that loose end.
  • Speaking of cars, we were given a car to use in Germany this year! Again, thank you for your vehicle-related prayers.

We’re Thankful For:

  • New monthly support in the month of June! As you can see from our thermometer, we’re still creeping up on our goal, but this last month saw some great progress.
  • One-time gifts this month, which encouraged us so much and will go towards the expenses of setting up a new home.
  • Safe, smooth travel from Seattle to Kandern. It was a long trip, full of stages and transfers, but we made it, all three of us, in relatively healthy and happy fashion.
  • A new home here in Kandern, a top floor apartment with one of the loveliest views in town. We’re loving settling in to our familiar village, and thankful for our great landlords and this pretty place we get to live in.
  • An amazing year in America, rich in rest and reconnection with friends and family. To all who were a part of this great season, we thank you, and we’ll miss you deeply.

Please Be In Prayer For:

  • New Roles. Pray for Timmy and Kristi as we prepare for new roles that start in August. Timmy will be working part-time with TeachBeyond Member Care, providing pastoral care to our fellow missionaries. Kristi returns to the classroom, teaching Honors American Literature again and picking up a new class with Public Speaking. Pray for us as we get settled this month and prepared to begin serving again next month.
  • Financial Support. Our monthly support goal is $5500, which will cover the added living expenses of our growing family, and we currently have about $4370 pledged monthly. If you are interested in helping us return to this ministry fully supported, please visit our Getting Involved page or our online giving page with TeachBeyond.

Throughout this year in America, we’ve been overwhelmed with the support and encouragement we receive from all around the world. From showing us hospitality to blessing us with financial support, we couldn’t possibly serve without your involvement. Please let us know if there are ways that we can be praying for you, or if you have any questions our life or ministry.

Peace in Christ,

Timmy & Kristi Dahlstrom

Grateful Goodbyes

Proud Papa dedicating his first granddaughter at Bethany Community Church.

Proud Papa dedicating his first granddaughter at Bethany Community Church.

Here are the hard goodbyes
Love you ’til the day I die
Here’s where regrets all fade
Into the light from which you’re made

And here is the warm sand
Sifting through your perfect hand
Here’s where you laugh again
In the memory of a friend

And here’s where you find the truth
It’s the heart and soul of you
Here’s where the body fades
Beautiful in every way

Here’s where the songs we’ve sung
Weave into the constant one
Turn all your fears to love
There is nothing left undone

Julia Massey, from “Here Is A Stone Wall”

Goodbyes are knit into a teacher’s existence. At the end of each school year, we watch some leave forever, and mourn the quieter endings of sweet, intricate classroom communities, built of shared words, spoken and read. The kids depart and I grade the last essays, bringing the year to a stumbling halt, like running down the stairs in the dark, when you forget how many stairs there are. Seven years out of nine (everyone has rough years–mine were the first two), I’ve thought a little sadly that I won’t love any class more than the one I just finished with. All that investment, all those hours, and they’ve moved on, leaving me behind. But then August comes, and usually between September and December I fall in love all over again. Hello and goodbye.

And because I was a teacher for a long time, and a student for ages before that, perhaps part of me thought I’d get out of the goodbyes, just for one year. That somehow I was taking a break from not only the planning and grading and disciplining, but from the adapting and knowing and loving that comes with it. Not so, I find today, as we do one last load of laundry and pack our last bag, counting suitcase pounds like pennies in a piggybank. I’ve fallen in love again, and I’m saying goodbye. Again.

There’s a quote that goes around this time of year, Graduation Season, that goes “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” I doubt that Winnie the Pooh actually said it, as it’s often attributed, but frankly it doesn’t matter. It’s true and beautiful, and today it’s exactly how I feel, sitting on my parents’ couch and watching the hard June rain soak Snoqualmie Pass one last time. It hasn’t been a year of classroom laughter and epiphanies, but it has been a good year.

I look ahead a few days, squinting past air travel with an infant, rental-car machinations and autobahns that will deliver us back to our village, and I know that it is also home. That we’re going, again, from one home to another, from one good to another good. How lucky we are, really, that we’re neither fleeing danger nor heading into exile, like so many are today. From home to home, love to love.

It’s still hard. We reach the end of our year at home with tightened bonds, strengthening the knots that tie us back to people and places an ocean away. I’m sad and thankful, excited and mournful, wondering how I could possibly have forgotten after all these years that beginnings come after endings.

Mostly I am grateful for a year. We once thought of it as an interruption, a tax-mandated pause in ministry, but this time has been infinitely more than that. It’s been a year of family. That lazy proximity to my parents and siblings that I’d been missing for five years, space to know one another again, and for them to know my husband and now daughter. It’s been a year of time. Time to think, to rest, to write, to prepare, to love. So much time that it seemed endless at points, until it wasn’t. Until today.

We take last photos, give last hugs, and say goodbye. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again, the sweet cost of loving. A family, a home, a year. And I am so grateful.

This is my family, sharing Thanksgiving in June on our last night in Washington. I miss them already.

This is my family, sharing Thanksgiving in June on our last night in Washington. I miss them already.

Baby Goals

Luci practices her standing with Aunt Holly at the bakery.

Luci practices her standing with Aunt Holly at the bakery.

“She just wants to be a bigger baby.”

We say it a lot these days. My daughter wistfully watches me make dinner in the kitchen from her spot in the living room, and I can almost see her plotting a route to me. I’ll stand up, then walk around the corner and stand there with Mom, she’s thinking. But she’s only seven months old, so it doesn’t happen. She tries to pull herself upright with one hand, only to lose her balance and spin herself to a sudden fall back to the floor. Then she cries and cries, perhaps wishing for the words to tell us what’s wrong, how far her strength fell short of her desires. I know we wish for them, those magic words.

Even more, though, I want the words to make her understand that she’s fine, just now, the way she is. That we’re over the moon about her new comfort with sitting upright, laughing at us and repeating B sounds over and over. Walking and talking will come; just wait. You have some growing still to do.

We live in a world of goals by many names. There are the tongue-in-cheek #goals of social media, the five-year plans of corporate mobility, the Disney movie dreams we’re supposed to fight for at all costs. And they’re all good, these goals, as anyone who’s ever worked with hopeful teenagers can attest. Goals are motivating and pristine, places we’d like to go and, at their best, plans to get there.

But my daughter’s woes remind me of another kind of goal, a kind that I’ll call a “baby goal.” We don’t talk about babies having goals–though I’m beginning to think that they do–because it’s too silly. Why would they resolve to do something that will happen naturally, if they’re only patient enough to wait, strong enough to grow? Baby goals are the goals that are more or less out of our hands, requiring time or the input of others or, quite plainly, the intervention of God, to come to fruition.

How often, though, do I get frustrated by my own baby goals? We’re still fundraising for our return to Germany, now just a week away. We’ll go, still hoping for the rest of the support that will shore up our finances and encourage us in ministry in Kandern. We’ve written letters, hosted events, and pursued leads all over the country and the world. We’ve had a marvelous team of friends, family and churches praying for us from the beginning. We’ve worked as hard as we can towards the goal, but I forget that in part it’s a baby goal. Because our ministry at BFA, our finances, and the dozens of other ours I could string together now, aren’t really ours at all. And the timing and sources of our support, which we pray and stress over, aren’t really ours either.

Of course, we’re not without responsibility, even for baby goals like these. Luci will never learn to walk if she lies on her back and giggles at the ceiling fan all day; she has to practice, as well as she can, and risk a few falls. We have to show up, too, by communicating our needs clearly and effectively. In the end, though, we’re waiting. Waiting on God to provide what we need for our daily life and ministry in Germany. Waiting on others to come alongside us in that ministry. And in the waiting, we’re growing, drawing closer to Christ and holding this calling with open hands.

All Here

Enjoying at day at the Zoo with my sister (and Timmy, Luci and our new brother-in-law, Chris).

Enjoying at day at the Zoo with my sister (and Timmy, Luci and our new brother-in-law, Chris).

What I Expect of You:

2. You’ll be Present. Come to class on time every day.       When you are here, be fully present with your body, mind and soul. Some of you know one another very well, but your social life belongs in the hall. In here, you are scholars, readers and writers. Treat one another this way.

What You Can Expect of Me:

2. I’ll be Present. I am thrilled to be here and be your teacher for the year. I will come to class on time each day, and give my whole attention—body, mind and soul—to helping you learn and grow as students.

From my Honors American Literature Syllabus

It smells like summer here at Snoqualmie Pass, but this afternoon–after answering several emails from next year’s Honors American Literature students–I’m thinking about my syllabus. Specifically, I’m thinking of the three exhortations on the front page:

  1. Be Prepared.

  2. Be Present.

  3. Be Respectful.

And while preparedness and respect are important, it’s the second command that I’ve stalled on today. Be present.

I think ahead to a few months from now, when I’ll discuss this point with a new class of teenagers. “Be fully present,” I’ll tell them. “As in, here in the classroom physically, but also mentally, emotionally. Not that thing where you’re here, but not really all here.” They’ll nod knowingly, the future students, because they understand. We all do.

Fully present. It was a point in my dad’s sermon on Acts 17, another undiscussed thought in common that punctuates these days. Because it’s easy, right now, to be partially present. Sort of here, yes, enjoying sunny late-spring days with my family in this chalet on Snoqualmie Pass. But also sort of not here. Sort of in Kandern already, unpacking things into a new apartment. Sort of walking well-loved trails with my daughter, showing her this place where she began. Sort of daydreaming about reading my syllabus with students I haven’t yet met. Transition is the enemy of full presentness.

I think of Ecclesiastes, the preacher exhorting “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” and Paul’s Collosian callback, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” With heart and might, be present. Be here.

Being present means writing letters to friends, seeking new supporters to shore up our finances before returning to Kandern. It means writing thank you notes to those who’ve given time, money and encouragement to us while we’ve spent this year in America. It means mailing out postcards and magnets all over the country, hoping our faces will grace refrigerators and our names the prayers of friends.

But being present also means having dinner with my sister and her new husband, watching the NBA finals with my dad, going to get my hair cut with my mom. It means watching my grandmother play with my daughter, and cherishing the last few weeks we have living with four generations under one roof. It means visiting the new baby boy of my college roommate, and making plans to see friends “one last time” before we leave. It means tightening the bonds that we’re blessed to have, knowing that the relationships will soon stretch out over a continent, an ocean.

And it occurs to me now that each kind of presentness–the practical work of support-raising and the time set aside for relationship–is important to this season. That neither the preacher nor Paul said, “Work hard, all the time” or “Play now, because you’ll never get to again.” Both said, “What you’re doing, whatever you’re doing, do it well. Be all here.” In that sense, even the preparing for the future, oddly, is being present, as we focus on letter-writing or suitcase-packing so that our last days in Washington aren’t a whirlwind.

It takes wisdom to know exactly what to do with each moment, some days more wisdom than I feel I have. In these busy last weeks, I feel the familiar tug of other endings, not just of the next place I’m going, but the seven things I could reasonably do with each day left to us here at the Pass. It’s been a sweet year, rich and blessed, and we savor each remaining day we have in this place. If you think of us in the next two weeks, in between prayers that the last 20% of our monthly support will appear, pray for this wisdom. To know where God wants us to be, completely and wholeheartedly, as the days count down to our next journey.

June: News, Thanks and Prayers

Visiting our friends, the Kings, on San Juan Island last month.

Visiting our friends, the Kings, on San Juan Island last month.

News and Dates:

  • June 10: Dinner for Snoqualmie Pass neighbors
  • June 19: Luci’s dedication at Bethany Community Church
  • June 23: Return to Germany!
  • The good news: We’ve gained several new supporters this month, bringing our monthly support to $4250! So exciting to see God putting this team together as we prepare to return!
  • Because of a change in the way that TeachBeyond collects income taxes, our support goal has been moved to $5500 for full support. This means we still have a little way to go towards being fully supported and able to purchase a car once we return to Kandern. Please pray about joining our support team if you haven’t already!

We’re Thankful For:

  • New Supporters who have joined us in the last few months. Thank you for the encouragement that you are to our ministry, and for making it possible for us to work and live in Germany!
  • The Roe Family for hosting our Kaffee & Kuchen gathering in Seattle last month. It was a great time of fellowship with new and old friends, giving us the chance to share our heart for the work God is doing in global missions at BFA and in Kandern.
  • A Year of Milestones that we’ve been able to be a part of during our time here. From weddings to new babies to significant birthdays, we’ve been so thankful to be on this side of the ocean to take part in these celebrations.
  • Our neighborhood at Snoqualmie Pass, which throughout the year has been a place of genuine community and encouragement to us as we’ve become a family of three. We love you all, and will miss you greatly!

Please Be In Prayer For:

  • Travel & Moving! Pray for us as we return to Germany at the end of June, for safety and health as we cross the ocean for the first time as a family. Pray also for us as we settle into our home in Kandern at the end of the month.
  • Financial Support. Our goal for returning to Germany in June is $5500 in monthly support, which will cover the added living expenses of our growing family, and we’re currently receiving about $4250 monthly. If you are interested in helping us return to this ministry fully supported, please visit our Getting Involved page or our online giving page with TeachBeyond.

As we look ahead to returning to Germany in June, we’re overwhelmed with the support and encouragement we receive from all around the world. You are so instrumental in keeping us in ministry; we couldn’t do it without you! Please let us know if there are ways that we can be praying for you, or if you have any questions about what’s going on in our lives these days.

Peace in Christ,

Timmy & Kristi Dahlstrom