Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Unexpected

I don't know how to begin this post, so I will begin by saying I don't know how to begin. That should do the trick.

John's memorial tree with a plaque we made
Since my last post I traveled to the USA and returned to Germany. I spent nearly 8 weeks back in Arkansas with my family. It was a blessed time to be with loved ones and rest. I didn't do a whole lot, but I rested, went camping a couple times, visited with some people, and went to California to go to my cousin's wedding and visit John's grave site. While it may not have been the most eventful summer ever, I feel more prepared to face this year at BFA because of it. And I will never complain about being able to spend time with my family. How precious they are to me.

The school year ended fairly well back in June, and though it was hard to say goodbye to my 3 seniors, I am excited for their future endeavors and all they will learn. Please pray with me as they enter this first year out of high school that they would rely on the Lord's strength and grace to see them through all the transitions and adjustments. When I left Storch for the summer, I felt grateful for the rest, but I was also excited to have my second year back at the dorm with the girls. I had been able to get to know them over the course of the year and was looking forward to building on that. When I came back to Germany almost 2 weeks ago, I was still looking forward to it. I was envisioning how our team would work to improve our partnership and make the dorm feel even more like home, how I would strive to deepen relationships with the girls, and how it would be to see them through another year at BFA. But if there's one thing I've learned recently, it's that the unexpected has a way of showing its face where you least expect it. Go figure.

Liel Dorm, in the town of Liel
A couple days after returning to Germany, our dorm staff was called into a meeting with our Residence Life supervisors, who explained to us that the German Youth Authority has regulations regarding the degrees held by Res Life dorm staff. They require that one staff member per every 12 students holds a Bachelor's Degree in either Social Work, Education, or Psychology. They were willing to overlook the exact ratio as long as there was at least one person in the dorm who had one of those degrees. Unfortunately, Storchenblick was the only dorm that had zero staff with such a degree. My co-RA, Callie, has made a commitment to stay at BFA for a total of 3 years, while my commitment stands at 2, so our administration decided it would be best if I were to be the one to go in order to maintain as much consistency for our girls as possible. This makes sense. It was also very hard to hear. And it came as a complete shock. We tried to appeal to the government by arguing that my degree (Intercultural Studies) could qualify me to work in certain areas of Social Work, and also by providing evidence that I was employed in the field of education for the 3 years prior to coming to BFA. This wasn't sufficient, however, so I am now no longer a part of the Storch dorm staff. I was able to give my supervisors my preference for where I would be placed, and now find myself an RA at Liel dorm, a girl's dorm with 13 high schoolers.

New Liel dorm staff!
While I am grieved and disappointed over the unexpected loss of my life at Storch, I am looking forward to getting to know the Liel girls and loving on them this year. The dorm parents here, Mike and Sabina Tackett, are new as well. They have two precious little boys, and I'm sure the girls will love to have them here! My co-RA is Tara Ritzenthaler. She is a huge blessing to me in all of this because over the last year we have developed a wonderful friendship. I am happy to be able to serve with her and the Tacketts here at Liel. It is currently and will continue to be a significant change and adjustment for me. I am going through yet another process of grief as I make this transition, but at the same time I am certain that God still wants me here to serve as an RA this year, and apparently He wants me at Liel. So I wait in anticipation to see what plans He has in store for us as a dorm this year.

Please remember me in your prayers. I find myself very tired of all the loss that I've experienced in the last 6 months. One of my former students from when I worked in Arkansas passed away this spring, and while I was home this summer one of my friends from college took her own life. This is the same friend I mentioned in my last post who encouraged me after John's passing by telling me that the unseen is more real than the seen. I don't know why the Lord is allowing me to go through this time of testing and stretching, but pray that it is a process of refinement, that He would be bringing forth the gold and removing the impurities. I don't like being on the anvil, but if this is what it takes to get me where He wants me, then so be it. But please pray for extra strength and grace, especially during this period of transition for me. My stress levels and emotions are pretty heightened, which doesn't make it any easier. Thank you for your support in this.

Tara and I on dorm staff outing to Colmar, France
I also ask that you would pray for Storch as they transition with getting a new RA, a few new girls, and losing the ones that graduated. Pray that I would be able to maintain my relationships with them even though it will look different now. Pray for Liel as we build our new team and prepare to welcome our girls. Pray that the girls would be ready to come back and open to forming new relationships with dorm staff. This is a very transient community that we live in at BFA, and it's not easy to have people come and go constantly in one's life. I know these are a lot of things to remember, but know that I am so very grateful for this team of prayer warriors, encouragers, and supporters that God has put together for this journey. You are loved.

A passage of Scripture that the Lord gave to me during my time of waiting on the decision of my dorm placement comes from Psalms. I was feeling very anxious about it all, and needed this reminder that God alone is my constant, my hope, my salvation. I think this will become a theme verse for the year/for forever.

Psalm 62: 5-8
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

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