You already know when I post late it's for a good reason, so let me tell you about my packed full week of new adventures and old friends and warm welcomes and sweet goodbyes.
I mentioned last week about being welcomed into the home of a family who just moved to the area this year and what a joy it was to spend time with new people even as I prepare to leave well. This past Tuesday was the opposite end of goodbyes as one of the very first people I ever met in Kandern came to visit me with her four year old daughter. Dayla was my housemate my first year in Germany, and she was with me at the hospital when I had my accident, visited me weekly for coffee and Netflix during my months in REHAB, and would have regular dinner nights with me for the years we shared in Kandern before she got married and moved a couple hours away.
There are not a lot of people left in Germany from my first year here, and it was incredibly special for me to spend time catching up with Dayla who was such an important part of my start in Kandern. I'll forever be grateful for her willingness to drive out to visit me at the closing of my time in Europe, but more importantly, for the valuable life on life moments we've had together at the start of my overseas life. If you were to go through my blog archive, Dayla is frequently featured in photos and adventures as she was there the day I got my custom made Swiss braces and shoes, she gave me the iconic hat I wore so much in the REHAB because I mentioned in passing being embarrassed about my greasy hair due to infrequent showers in my initial weeks post injury, she took me to my first movie theatre visit in a wheelchair, she picked me up for my first day trip out of REHAB to go see BFA's graduation, she took me to the Zürich library on my first car day trip post accident to let me wander aisles of books, she created a McMenamins imitation cajon tots and Terminator milkshake recipe with me, and so many other important things. The most important, however, is that Dayla prayed for me. She still prays for me. She's a regular prayer warrior on my team eagerly awaiting the Lord's next movement in my healing journey. Saying goodbye to Dayla is a really important bookend on my time in Germany, and I'm grateful she was willing to make it happen.
Later that evening my friend Joy stopped by for our intentional goodbye as she's on her way to a study leave in Scotland for the year, and I loved the chance to share deeply with her about our love for learning, literature, and loving Jesus. The next morning, I loaded up into a car with three incredible women for my last grand adventure on the continent. I was careful in my selection on this one because I don't want to spend ten hours straight in the car with just anyone, and let me tell you, this was the absolute best crew. Heather came to Kandern ten years before me, but we've only overlapped here for the past three; Aly showed up barely a year after my accident, but our friendship grew the most the year she lived in my building; Margaretha arrived as new staff this past year, and she was such a bright spot in the library every time I saw her.
I ended up buying more pottery than I needed (with no regrets), but the real treasure of this trip for me was the conversations in the two days of non-stop driving. First, shout out to Margaretha who was a total boss on the road when the rain made for less than ideal driving conditions. But genuinely, these women are such dedicated Jesus followers and incredible encouragements to me in my pursuit of loving God and loving others. The four of us have vastly different life stories (though Heather and I both grew up in Oregon), but they are so much fun to hang out with, and our conversations were so filling to my soul.
When we got back, my introverted self needed lots of sleep and a day to read a whole book alone, but I am forever grateful for this wild adventure that these three women agreed to go on for me. Sure, they wanted some pottery, but they also knew this was my last European adventure (as Aly pointed out to anyone who asked to join our trip and was refused a spot). Absolutely zero regrets.
Arriving back in Kandern on Friday evening, I texted my friend Chris who'd just returned less than 48 hours earlier from his year away. Chris's family have been an irreplaceable part of my life the past several years, and I've missed tacos at their house while they were in Colorado on totalization. I confirmed that they knew I was expecting tacos with them their first Tuesday back, but I got a bonus when they all trickled through my house on Sunday afternoon and evening. Obviously, I plan to post my blog on Sunday afternoons, but I dropped that plan when Chris and two of his kids showed up. I got to see his wife Chrissy and their third kid briefly before the family left around dinner time. After feeding myself, Aly texted to see if she and Chrissy could come back and hang out which was an obvious yes on my end. When they left around midnight, I chose to go to bed instead of writing this post last night.
Tacos with the Bryans will be another important closure moment for me. This family is really, really important to me, and I am grateful for the chance to say my goodbye in person and get these valuable moments with them before leaving. This morning I woke up to call my friend Annie who is my official "member care" person with TeachBeyond. We were talking about the intentional things I'm doing to leave well, and we talked about the things outside of my control as well. There are a few unresolved things about my time in Europe to which I cannot manipulate any change. Most obvious: I'm writing this while sitting in a wheelchair. What a beautiful resolution it would be to miraculously walk onto the plane in two and a half weeks. I absolutely believe God could do it; I'll ask you to pray with me for the wild miracle.
For some people, that's not a big ask; for others, it is a huge leap. I was sharing with my friend Amanda on the ride home from church yesterday that in my mind it was a much bigger miracle to see someone's heart of stone softened than for my physical recovery. But at the same time, why not ask God for both? As my friend Hannah was tasked with reminding me regularly: Plan A is everything today. While I've said most of my goodbyes in Germany from the wheelchair, there's still plenty of time for God to write another ending to this season that has me dancing and leaping out of here in my final goodbye to the continent.