12 on the 12th

I started something this year with my kiddos. For each of their birthdays, I write them a letter telling them things I love about them. The number of things I list corresponds with their age, so today, I write 12 things about Jeremiah that I love. For those of you who know him, you’ll agree, or may even want to add your own here. Feel free to jump on!
Here’s my letter to Jeremiah

My son,
I wanted to start a tradition with you to share with you on your birthday things I love about you. I wanted to do this in writing so that you can keep them, if you’d like.

12. You have such a patient nature. I admire that.
11. You enjoy the outdoors, and are always up for an adventure!
10. You love your family in a way your age don’t.
9. I never could have imagined that, at 12 years old, we would be able to talk about the deep things we talk about. You’re a great thinker.
8. You have great focus. When you set your mind on something, you see it through.
7. You have a genuine, Christ-like care for people.
6. Your love for reading is something I really admire and love.
5. You have such an easy-going demeanor. You’re not easily rattled, and you take life in stride.
4. You care deeply for spiritual things, and are growing in Christ.
3. You often teach me important lessons in life, and are used often by God to help me develop my character.
2. You show a sensitivity to the needs of others, to peace, and to being a peace maker. That’s a rare quality in adults, let alone a teenager!
1. But most of all, I love that you remind me so much of Jesus. I am so proud of you, and if I’m this proud of you, I can’t imagine how proud Christ is of you.

Happy Birthday, Jeremiah. I love you!
Dad

My Wife

Whoa! How long has it been since I blogged? Honestly, even though I’ve had a lot on my mind to blog about, Language School keeps me pretty whipped. Even as I type this, I should be studying for an 80 word vocabulary quiz I have tomorrow morning. Sprachschule gehts sehr gut. Wir sind fast half fertig! (Language school goes really well. We are almost half way done!) But, with all the ministry, language, transition, blah blah blah, I wanted to take a break and talk about Caryn. On the 16th, we will celebrate our 16th anniversary! Last Friday, as we were strolling on a street in North Hamburg, enjoying the weather and walking arm in arm, we began talking about life. We were speaking about what great kids we have, and how we could not have imagined that our lives would look ANYTHING like they look today. And, we both agreed, it is by God’s grace that we are where we are. I also believe, though, that it is because I am married to the most amazing woman on the face of the planet! She manages our home, coordinates travel, keeps the kids organized, AND puts up with me. Caryn Bishop is a full time language student, is working on undergraduate hours, lives 7,000 Km from her family, makes cookies for her neighbors, builds relationships with teachers, makes it to the market every week for fresh fruit and flowers. I could go on and on about how amazing she is. Never in my life, though, could I have imagined all the ways I’ve been blessed by her. Thank you, Caryn, for 16 amazing years. I look forward to 60 more!

Germany so far…

We’ve just completed week 3 of living abroad, so I thought I’d blog a little about similarities and differences in life here compared to life stateside.

WEATHER:
There have been many differences, but the most striking so far has been the weather. I think we’ve had one day where the temperature got close to 80F/27C. And it has rained almost every day since we arrived. As I sit in our living room writing this, it’s Sunday morning, raining (since Friday), and is 52F/12C. This may be our high temp for the day! And because of our northern latitude (same as Edmonton, Alberta), it’s light from 05.00 (5a) until 22.00 (10p). It will be like this for a short part of the year, then make the shift to being dark from about 17.00 (5p) until 09.00 (9a), giving us about 8 hours of sunlight.

DRIVING/TRAVEL:
We have a car, and are allowed to drive for up to 6 months with our Texas license, meaning we’ve been able to drive since the day we got here. It’s not too different than driving in Texas, and we’ve only been honked at a few times for mistakes we’ve made (like right on red…only exists where specifically indicated by signage). The speed limit is in Km/H (kilometers per hour) instead of MPH. When you are driving through town doing 50Km/H you’re really doing about 35 MPH (multiply by .6 to get to the standard value). And, although we’ve driven on the Autobahn several times, we haven’t hit any of the no speed limit spots. That will happen in next week when we drive to Slovenia and Austria! Yeah, I’m pumped and Caryn is terrified. I may need some homeopathic tranquilizer recipes from you!

The primary form of transportation where we live is still the car, although bikes are probably a close second. Many people walk or bike where they need to go since almost everything is within walking distance. But, we live in the suburbs. In the inner city of Hamburg, the transit system is the predominant form of travel. The trains, buses, and harbor ferry are amazingly efficient and easily accessible. We’ve utilized these forms of travel a few times since arriving. We will use them MUCH more when Caryn and I start school in August.

FOOD:
There are some food options that are very German, as well as Turkish. Our favorite ethnic food so far has been the Döner. It’s a shaved meat, either chicken or beef at the stand we go to, stuffed into a grilled flat bread and topped with lettuce and sauces. Of course, Cayla orders chicken nuggets there! I’ve had some schnitzel, which was delightful! Imagine a breaded, thin-cut pork chop. Mmmm!

Starbucks has some of the traditional offerings, too, but not the drinks we have liked so we’re trying new drinks. But we’ve found a local coffee shop called Sorrano’s that we really enjoy. The owner, a man named Tarak, has been so friendly. He speaks English very well, but has told me he will only let me get by with English for a few weeks. He will gradually only do German with me. It’s a great thing that I can order all of our drinks in German already.

There are Ice-cream stands everywhere! And the kids have found their favorite flavors. Here, ice cream is called Eis (say it like “ice” but more of a “z” sound for the “c” rather than an “s” sound).

There is also a bakery that is within walking distance of our house. The kaffee (coffee) is alright, but the pastries are amazing! We were told about a pastry that is a regional pastry called fronzbrochen. It’s like a croissant/cinnamon roll. Cayla loves it and wants to stop for one every day when we leave our neighborhood!

PEOPLE:
Contrary to what you hear about Germans, our experience has found them to be friendly and accommodating. Two of our four neighbors popped-in with house-warming gifts (potted plants). We’ve delivered thank you gifts to them (Caryn’s famous chocolate covered/white-chocolate swirled strawberries). Many of the people we’ve encountered have spoken English. The ones that didn’t were very patient and helpful. When we’ve ended up in a language pinch, we’ve resorted to motions and sounds in a way that is probably VERY entertaining to the people around us.

You may have heard people mention the orderly nature of Germans, and we’ve found that to be pretty accurate. There are certain lanes for certain speeds. There are certain procedures that no one would ever violate. Now, there are some people, just as there are everywhere, that put their needs above others and buck the system. But they are not the norm.

Germans enjoy conversation and relationships. It’s the norm for a wait-staff person in a restaurant to assume you’ll use your table for more than an hour. They don’t get antsy and try to move you along. It’s part of a good meal to have good conversation. And when you visit their home they expect you to come in, sit down, and stay a while. We have really enjoyed the people we have met so far.

SUMMARY:
I could go on an on about the banking system, media, recycling expectations, holiday traditions, etc. But, I’ll sum it up by saying that we are really enjoying our time here. The people are great. The food is great. The weather is generally pleasant. Thanks for your prayers in this transitional time for us!

“Stick-To-It-Ness”

Back in September, I wrote about Jeremiah’s first attempt at his Black Belt. You can read about that here: http://www.thejiggybishop.com/?p=279

But tonight, 7 months later, he accomplished a goal he set out for over 4 years ago. It was a much different thing to see him work hard, and work toward this. Sometimes, when things get tough, people measure whether it’s really worth the effort. And MANY times, people walk away from hard things. But not Jeremiah. He put in the work, invested himself in teaching many of our White, Orange, and Yellow belts (and many of those 1 on 1), and never gave up.

Tonight, Jeremiah didn’t just accomplish passing a test, he proved what I knew all along. Even though he’s just nine, he’s a man of character. I’m proud to call him “son.”