Saturday, December 31, 2011

Moving to Japan

Jesse here: Kerri just sent out a great news summary of our move to Japan. I'm going to post it here. Some additional minor details are that I'm going to be working at the Yokosuka Naval Base, which is a couple of hours south of Tokyo. We'll be in a hotel on base for a few weeks until we find our house. That's about all I know at this time!

Here is Kerri's email:

Here are some details on our upcoming move to Japan. I was writing this email and realized that it would make a good family and friends newsletter of sorts.

There really is nothing like having a house full of guests and getting the news that you are moving 10 days after they all leave. I can honestly say that this is a first for me. Jesse had been talking with the hiring manager from this company that had jobs in Japan, and did finally have an interview, but we hadn't heard anything back for several weeks. We started thinking that it was falling through, or it would be delayed and put it out of our minds. So about two days after Steve and Mayen arrived, Jesse got a phone call saying, "You're hired". They asked when he could start and he said that mid February would be ideal. They came back to him with, "we need you to start Jan. 17th."! It really took me some time (maybe a week or so) to even comprehend what that meant and that it was really happening. I just kept saying, "Oh, it will be fine." A lady at church said, "either you have a really good attitude or you're in some serious denial." I think maybe it was a little of both, but mostly denial. Don't get me wrong, we really want to go to Japan and have for a long time, it's just the crazy timing and the speed at which it's happening.

When we moved to Germany and purchased all our furniture (having sold everything in Kuwait) we decided to get decent stuff that we wanted to keep and actually ship it to the next place. Well, as it turns out, this job doesn't offer shipping. We had a guy come and give us an estimate for what it would cost for us to ship the stuff on our own, and it was more then we paid for the furniture in the first place. So once again I am selling everything we own (for the third time in a row). In Kuwait it was easy because we lived in a complex with tons of people who were in and out and always looking for cheap furniture. Then there were the maids to take all the small odds and ends. Here, everyone is moving out since the base in closing and not many people are coming in. I was quite worried that selling furniture would be very difficult, especially in the midst of holidays and people on vacation. Even so, we have already sold almost everything to a new family in Heidelberg that we actually knew in Kuwait. They just moved in to their house and needed a lot of stuff. They are also graciously allowing us to keep the stuff until we are closer to going. So I just have a few big items left, and I can take small things to a thrift store in Heidelberg. Another big difference this time is that Jesse is around for the actual packing, selling, and moving. I have done it myself in the past and the whole process is kind of like a black box to him. I'm not sure yet if having him around will be a good thing or not, but at least he will have a better understanding of all that is involved in an international move. It turns out that you don't just pack one bag and get on a plane! Also for the first time we are flying to our new country together. We have tickets for Jan. 14th, which is exactly 10 days after everyone leaves. We will get it all done, but I won't pretend that it won't be a stressful 10 days.

Rowan never really took to Germany, so he is ready to go. That makes things a lot easier than leaving Kuwait, which he loved so much. He would still rather go back to Kuwait, but the idea of sushi and noodle soup being a stone's throw away has him pretty excited. The saddest part about leaving Germany is saying goodbye to our landlords who have been the most wonderful people to live with (they live in the bottom apartment and we live on top). They had all of us down for a big meal last night and we had such a wonderful time. They have truly been a blessing to us and we really hate to leave them at such short notice. Other than that, it really isn't a big emotional hardship for us to leave Germany. It's funny, because we really loved Kuwait and most people hated the place so much, but most people really love Germany and we are rather indifferent. It's not that we hate it here and there are many good things, we just feel (and have felt from the beginning) that it wasn't the place for us. We are really hoping that Japan is a place that we can settle down for a while, maybe even a long while. I think we are ready to stop this crazy pin balling around the globe and just settle somewhere. We plan to have a guest room so please feel free to stop on by!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Latest News

Wow...things are not going well for this blog so far.

I don't know what it is but for some reason it's just not flowing like it did in Kuwait.

Oh well, if I keep putting it off I'll never post anything.

Since the last post:

We got our bikes! Yay! Kerri and Rowan have been riding everywhere on the tandem (at least twice a week to do laundry on the base). My folding bike is awesome too.

We've started riding in to Heidelberg on Sundays for church. It's about 20km and takes about 1.5 hours. But the train is 1 hour and costs 15 euro, so we have some pretty good motivation to bike. And now that the sun is rising earlier and it's not so freaking cold outside, it's getting easier.

We went to the Starkbierzeit (strong beer festival) in Munich a couple of months ago. That was our first trip via train out of town, so it was a learning experience. But we had a good time, travelled with a friend from work, tried the strong beers at least 4 different breweries. Generally we prefer the strong beers because they have more flavor. However, I tried the Augustiner Heller (a lighter beer with a nutty flavor) and was pleasantly surprised. We also met up with an old friend of mine from the Philippines (Sarah for those who know her) and her husband Martin and 3 little girls. They live about an hour west of Munich and drove in to see us and have a lovely picnic lunch in the Englischer Garten. They were really cool and we hope to go visit them again in their little village which is near Lake Chemsie. It was only for the weekend, and there was so much we wish we could have seen, but it's only 3 hours away by train so pretty sure we will get back to Munich again.

We took another day trip to Wiesbaden which is close to us. They have hot springs and otherwise a nice town. The base in Wiesbaden is one of the possible places my workplace may be relocated to eventually.

Speaking of day trips, we've been using 60 Day Trips in Germany as a very useful guide for our travels. It is oriented around day trips that you can get to by train from 4 major hub cities. We're trying to concentrate on Germany since we are living here, so the rest of Europe is kind of on the backburner. I'm sure we'll be back this way again someday.

Between Heidelberg and Mannheim is a cute little town called Ladenburg. I rode through it by accident when riding to church and we've been back several times. They have a lovely cobblestone downtown area, with buildings that are from the 1600s. Restaurants and a green seems off the beaten path and there is little information about it. Most of the "tourists" are Germans out for a weekend walk. This is becoming our "town" that we take visitors to see. It 's about half way to Heidelberg, so about 45 minute bike ride. We figured out how to get there by train the other weekend and took Kerri's dad who is visiting.

Kerri's been to Poland with some friends to buy pottery (beautiful and cheap!), and we hope to go back for our church retreat in about 3 weeks.

As I said before, Kerri's dad is visiting and they are all (including Rowan) currently in Venice for the weekend. She'll put her dad on a boat and he'll do some more travelling on his own.

We're getting more involved at church, as much as we can living where we do and not having a car. I've taken over doing the church bulletin as the guy who used to do it will be leaving soon. Also starting to learn the sound board. The worship leader is leaving soon too and no one has stepped up. We could do it...but being so far away puts a damper on being able to get to rehearsals and such. The local home group we've been going to has started meeting at our house as the leaders (worship leader again) are leaving soon. We hope to keep it going after they leave but so many people are leaving there might not be anyone left. This is normal for around here though, so we hope some others will show up. There is a John Deer factory in Mannheim, so there are some expats living here associated with them.

We took a german class at a nearby "people's high school" (volkshochschule). Once we had our bikes and we heard about it, the price was right, and it was Tues/Thurs from 6-7:30pm, so we signed up. Did that for about a month and half til the class was over. We opted not to continue on to the next part as we got what we wanted and were getting pretty tired of having Tues/Wed/Thurs evenings completely taken over (homegroup on wed). So now we are back to normal.

There was an incredible (and incredibly funny) cultural experience we had a few weeks ago at our landlord's surprise 60th birthday party, but I'll let Kerri write a post about that.

I think those are all of the high points since the last post. We have a few pictures, but really not enough. Getting the pictures off the camera, into the computer and then sorted through is just not happening lately.

Work is...meh. I could vent more but why? I can make it through the 1.5 years left least there is plenty of other stuff to enjoy. We are once again aiming our sites at Japan/Korea/Asia after Germany. I heard from several people after the tsunami along the lines of "good thing you weren't in Japan!", but I actually felt sad that we didn't get to be there to live through that experience with the people. Maybe we could have been a more direct help to them. Kerri and I are more and more finding our hearts drawn to the Japanese people and culture. We are hoping to see if after moving there we can find a way to become tentmaker missionaries. The gospel is sorely needed there.

Anyway, that's it for's to ge to bed.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Quarterly Update...

Let's hope not!

I can't believe how long it's been since the last post. Seems like no time has passed at all to us. We are definitely into a day-to-day rhythm that seems to make the time fly by.

We had a very snowy winter, through which I rode my bike to work every day. That's pretty much gone now, and it's mostly grey and rainy now, with spots of sunshine. Kerri's bike arrived a while back, but since Rowan isn't riding yet, she's restricted to using it mostly on weekends or for quick trips. Our tandem and my fold-able will be shipping soon from Bike Friday and we are looking forward to being more mobile as a family.

We found a great church in Heidelberg, Grace International Baptist, and have become members as of last Sunday. We take the train through Mannheim to Heidelberg for about an hour, so Sundays are Heidelberg days. We finally got to the old town a couple of weeks ago and found a local brewery called Vetters. The beer was pretty good, not great, but better than most. The food was really heavy though.

We really don't have much time for exploration yet. The weather hasn't been very compliant either and the most we've done is go downtown Mannheim a couple of times, or eat out at a few of the local restaurants near us.

There really isn't much else to say...not much is going on. Someday soon we might finally put some pictures up of our house and stuff, but not quite yet, still waiting for a few things to be put up on walls and such.