Bowden Update: October
October 4, 2012
Dear friends and family,
Exactly two months ago today our family arrived in Munich, Germany. Over these past two months a song from “Fival”—one of Andy’s favorite movies as a kid—has often gone through our heads. In “Fival” as the mice are sailing to the new world imagining that everything will be perfect and wonderful, they burst into song: “There are no cats in America and the streets are paved with cheese…” Our attitude in coming to Germany was very similar to the mice in this song. In reality, however, these two months have been extremely stressful and difficult for various reasons. For Andy, these two months may have been among his most stressful ever. Nevertheless, God has made it perfectly clear that this is where we are supposed to be, and he has been faithful every step of the way.
We sensed God’s faithfulness in this process from the very beginning, when we decided we would definitely move to Germany, trusting that ALL the details would fall into place. And that is exactly what has happened! As we’ve already reported, just weeks before our move, the last of our stuff sold, and Andy found out he had received a partial research grant.
Upon arriving in Germany, after the “newness” began to wear off, we ran into several obstacles. We were denied the “ideal” gesetzliche insurance (due to the fact that Andy is a doctoral student) and were left in a huge lurch. Without insurance we would not be allowed to begin studies or remain in the country. Furthermore, Andy was preparing for his German proficiency tests, which if he did not pass would again mean we could not begin studies or remain in the country (nothing like a little pressure). But as it turns out, these obstacles were overcome: we were able to obtain private insurance and Andy passed his tests, allowing him to officially matriculate as a student. That left one last hurdle—obtaining our residence permit from the government authorities. For this one needs a notebook full of forms and documents, a lot of patience, and a little bit of luck (for example, one should hope that the government representative is in a good mood that day). With this in mind, we arrived first thing on Tuesday morning this week to apply for our residence permits. We waited in the initial hour-long line, but when it was our turn we were quickly dismissed: “We’re sorry, since you have a child you need an appointment.” Are you kidding me? So we made our appointment and came back a couple days later—and successfully received our two year residence permits!
Now that all the bureaucratic hurdles have been overcome, we are looking forward to settling into a routine. Hannah-Joy begins her part time nannying job this week. For 3 days a week she and Melody will be looking after a seven-month old girl for a couple of hours a day. Andy’s studies officially begin in the middle of October. In addition to his research grant, an opportunity has also opened for him to work part time on a publication project for Professor Jörg Frey.
On a cultural note—especially since Oktoberfest is in full swing at the moment—we thought it would be interesting to highlight how proud the locals here are about their beer. Fellow students living in our apartment complex were quick to inform us about the 6 breweries located in Munich, each of which conforms to the 500 year old Bavarian purity laws. Additionally, instead of there being a soda machine in our apartment, there is a beer machine. There are beer gardens all throughout the city. This week in the public transportation office, around 10 in the morning, we noticed that a couple of the workers were sipping beer at their desks—and that was perfectly acceptable!
Most of all, here are some things we’re thankful for, and some ways in which you can be praying for us:
- Praise God that every bureaucratic detail has been successfully taken care of
- Praise God that He has more than provided for us financially
- Praise God that Andy passed his German tests
- Pray that Hannah-Joy will have the opportunity to befriend other mothers, and that Melody will be able to meet other kids her age
- Pray that we will have wisdom about whether to get involved in a German or English speaking church
- Pray that Andy will have wisdom as he begins researching and writing his dissertation
- Pray that we will be faithful to share the gospel as the Lord gives us opportunity, that we as a family will be able to partner together in doing so, and that God would keep our marriage strong despite the stresses of a new culture
Finally, you continue to have a standing invitation to come see us in Germany. We’ll eagerly welcome visitors any time. Please let us know how we can be praying for you.
Andy, Hannah-Joy, and Melody