Munich Adventure

Nathan, Rada, Anya & Aleksa's move to Munich…

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From Vauxhall to Volkswagen & the Fear of Bureaucracy/Man

A blog post from Nathan…

It wasn’t possible to find some clear information about what the law said but we knew we couldn’t keep our UK registered car in Germany for ever.  So, we decided to make use of the lack of any forthcoming Kindergarten place for Aleksa and go on a father-son road trip back to the UK with a view to getting our Astra sold.  Within a few days of returning we had managed to buy our first ever German car (a VW Golf – you know ‘when in Rome, live as the Romans’ etc!).

7:15am – Queuing outside Munich council offices

There was just the simple task of re-registering the car in our name.  Surely, that just requires a slip of paper to be popped in the post?  Nope.  This was to be one of the seemingly never-ending tasks that are subject to German bureaucracy.  Of course, German paperwork and public workers have a certain reputation but I must be honest that sometimes the simplicity of a process can surprise you and, generally, the helpfulness of office staff is outstanding.  However, more often than not reality lives up to reputation and you are left with hours of your life sacrificed and a little more hair torn out.  This was one such case….

Nevertheless, after the phone calls, internet searches, face to face advice, queuing in the open air from 7.15am, formally defacing the old number plates in the council office, then nipping to the bakery(!) next door where you have the new number plates made and paying 76 euros for the pleasure of it all we were the proud owners of a Munich registered car!

Munich plates!

Our apartment comes with an extra garage space which we are trying to rent out at the moment so this morning I was sticking up posters in the neighbourhood and putting flyers on cars parked outside.  Every time I heard somebody come out of the  apartment block I noticed an anxiety in myself, similar to the feelings endured in the council offices at various points over the last six months.  The feeling that I was about to be told I was breaking some rule and must stop at once otherwise I will face the penalty.

 

Reflecting on this I don’t think it would be fair to blame my trepidation on German culture.  As an immigrant there is genuinely a feeling that you must negotiate all the processes perfectly without guidance otherwise you will be in trouble.  However, I am sure this is not deliberate and that most Germans, whilst they don’t enjoy sitting in waiting rooms any more than the next person, are quite comfortable with the system. (I’d be interested what Germans think?)

So what is the root of my anxiety?  I think it ultimately comes down to a personal weakness of ‘Fear of Man’ – or worrying about what others will think of me.  I know I am not alone in this but I believe it is a trait that holds us back from achieving our ambitions and obeying God in the big and small things of life.

One example of this fear holding me back is in how I interact with the community around us.  We live in a neighbourhood that is saturated with families, students, Germans, new immigrants and established immigrants.  Many interesting and wonderful people that we would love to get to know and participate with in community life.  We believe we are in Munich because we have something to offer to the local community but it is often a real challenge to break the ice and start talking with strangers.  Yes, our limited German is a genuine obstacle.  However, I observe that beyond that for me is this ‘fear of man’.  I am sometimes more concerned what a stranger might think of me if I started talking to them than I am of the potentially positive consequence of our encounter.

I write this not to be self-deprecating but because I think a little accountability to those who support us and are interested in us is helpful.  Also, because I believe this is not a weakness unique to myself and I believe that it is God’s desire that we are not held back by such fear.

The Bible records the story of Pentecost.  After Jesus had ascended to heaven the disciples were gathered, fearful in a house unable to begin the the mission that he had called them to.  But then the Holy Spirit came and filled the place where they were and filled them too.  They were equipped to go out and proclaim the Good News of Jesus and make disciples of all nations.  That promise of the Holy Spirit is for all Christians.  It is so helpful to make it a daily exercise to recognise that the Holy Spirit dwells within you and to ask that you would be equipped to do all you need to do to be a disciple of Jesus.

You can read this first hand in the book of Acts, chapter 2.  In the meantime, please do keep praying for us and praying that, whether we find ourselves sat in a council office waiting room or walking through our neighbourhood, we would be engaging with the Holy Spirit so that we can impact the communities around us and that God’s kingdom would be built.

Faith

 A post on faith from Rada…

I love books! I’m not quite sure where this love of reading came from but I remember devouring the writings of most famous Yugoslav writers.  After that I discovered Russian authors and that was the point that sealed my love for reading. Dostoyevsky remains my most favourite writer of all time.  Apart from the amazing descriptions and deep understanding of historical realities, his ability to capture the psychological make up of the human race is staggering.  It was from Dostoyevsky that I first understood the complexity of human nature as I was trying to analyse and identify with some of his characters.  I found this to be an exhilarating and deeply troubling process.  Not that I knew it then but the verses from Psalm 14 picture the state of humanity Dostoyevsky wrote about:

The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.  They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

But it is enough to read about Alyosha Karamazov, his search for God and finally his enlightenment, to realise that there is hope.  I found this hope one sunny day in a park while my friend passionately introduced me to the one who lived, was dead and is now alive, Jesus Christ. Hungry to find out more about this love, I read the Bible a lot which served me as a manual for life, provided great historical narratives, captured my heart by beautiful poetry and tickled my imaginations about the world to come with its apocalyptic writings.

 

 

Moving to England and learning English was so exciting not least for opening up the whole world of Christian literature (a word of caution here; there are lots of weird and not so wonderful things out there, so if you’re just starting out, ask for advice). I lost the count of the books I read but I always remember details from the biographies of Christians who sacrificed everything they had to follow Jesus and serve him.  They are so inspirational, awe worthy and challenging. I have never read one and was left feeling that I’ve got it sorted or that my relationship with God is something to be taken lightly or that it doesn’t really matter how I live my life.

George Müller

Apologies for such a long winded introduction to what I really wanted to talk about, and that’s two books I reread again recently, the biographies of great heroes of faith Hudson Taylor and George Müller. I guess these two are particularly close to my heart because they both were foreigners in the countries where they were serving, and since I’m a foreigner in every country I set my foot in (now including my birth country) you see the appeal.  Apart from these two things, serving God and being foreigners, any similarity between the two men and me ceases to exist, to my dismay.  Taylor and Müller’s ability to present the gospel clearly AND passionately with humility and empathy is a thing to behold! Their love for the poor was all consuming.  Their close fellowships with the friends, co-workers and spouses is breathtaking and something to aspire to.  The number of virtues and gifting of these men is too long to even list.

Hudson Taylor

But there is one gift they excelled in that I absolutely love and eagerly desire and that’s the gift of faith.  What else one can dream of but to be able to completely and utterly rely on God for absolutely everything, from the clothes on your back and your daily bread to being satisfied if you lack them, for the health of your family to being able to commend them to the Lord if they are to die, from the workers you need for the task before you to the promise that God will build his church and lastly from the hardship of this life to the hope that one day every tear will be wiped off, every sickness healed and every broken heart mended.  These two men don’t have to strive anymore, they ran a good race and finished it well. My hope is that although I’m a slow learner, by the grace of God I’m getting better at this and one day I’ll master it, although not on this side of eternity. I’m looking forward to meeting Taylor and Müller one day and sharing funny stories about our lives as foreigners. But before that I might even write a blog about it.

Calling All German Students!

We are beginning to gather a Core Team that will be the beginning of the Church Plant here in Munich.  One of the no-brainers to gathering a Church Planting team is that if you have students in the city then they can be invaluable when it comes to providing the energy, creativity and hardwork required to get a Church Plant off the ground.

Do you know anybody studying German as a foreign language who will need to do a year or six months in Germany?  Maybe Munich could be an option for them?

Or do you know any native Germans who are in their last year of school and planning to move to Munich for further studies?

If the answer is yes to either of these questions they might be interested in getting involved in a pioneering ministry in a beautiful and exciting city then PLEASE do put them in touch with us.  Drop them a message NOW before you forget.  You don’t know what difference the contact could make to us, to them, to Munich…..

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We have had a great Christmas in Germany hosting a good number of friends for a Christmas Day Brunch, as in Germany the main Christmas celebrations take place on Christmas Eve night.

We then spent New Year in the UK where we attended a special wedding and spent precious time with family.  Now we are back in Munich and the temperatures are plummeting with -18 degrees forecast for overnight this weekend.  Our location really is beautiful though and it so pleasant getting out and about.  Every day is different but there is a sense of routine building with the most regular activities being language learning and job searching.

 

Catalyst Video Blog

We are really privileged to have been featured on Catalyst’s social media today.  We were asked to put together a video of our journey so far.  See the video below and the text from the Catalyst Facebook page:

“When God calls people to new towns, cities and countries it can all sound very exciting. And most of the time, that’s exactly what it is! We often forget however, the challenges that our friends who move away may face once real life sets in. 
We caught up with Nathan Adams and Rada Koprivica-Adams who moved to Munich from Wolverhampton in Summer this year. With their first term nearly over, and their first Munich Christmas in full swing, we wanted to share how they have been getting on. Have a watch of this video! Thanks Adams for sending it, and good luck for the new year!”

We are very grateful to be part of such an inspiring network as Catalyst.  There are so many churches and individuals within Catalyst who have been so supportive, thoughtful and generous.  Thank you to all of you!

Video Credits:  Camera – Janet Johnston, Child Distraction – Andy Johnston

Work in Progress

A blog post from Rada:

View from our new loungeWe have been in our new flat for five weeks now! It’s a big place, full of light and warmth, set back from the main street in a quiet pedestrian area, full of playground segments, paths and trees.
It’s particularly beautiful in the evening as the neighbours decorated their bushes and trees with Christmas lights. We are really close to beautiful parks and the Isar River, less than a mile from a zoo and ten minutes away from the city centre on the Underground.

Yet, the last five weeks have been full of challenges, from broken beds to a washing machine flood, to walls that can’t be drilled, to language difficulties, to troubles with health insurance and kindergarten spaces…to mention just a few.

As humans we would always opt for an easy life, void of challenges and difficulties, but I believe that would leave us quite empty and shallow.  It comes as no surprise that life is a synergy of hard and beautiful.  If it was just beautiful, we would not appreciate it.  If it was just hard, we would give up.  If you are older than 16, you would know what growing pains are, a necessary ingredient in order for our bodies to achieve full maturity and make us ‘fully grown’ (apologies to anyone under 5ft 5in!)

img_1331So it is with the pains of everyday life, obstacles, disappointments, relationship difficulties; without them we cannot grow properly and be who we are – special, beautiful altogether with our scars, limps and bandages.  But these difficulties can also teach us about what we think about and cherish the most – ourselves! When you squeeze a tooth paste, the only thing that can come out is what is already inside.  At the moment I am learning, probably more than ever, about what my values are, where they are coming from, where my security lies, who do I trust in, etc.   Some of the things I’m finding out and realising about myself are great, others range from slightly disappointing to plain ugly!  There should be a huge ‘Work In Progress’ sign on my head and on yours probably as well!

You know that feeling when you read something that you wholeheartedly agree with, but the person who wrote it is much more eloquent and smarter than you, so you just point and say ‘that!’.  So I will leave you with one such sentence that I don’t only agree with, but am so desperately trying to make it truth in my life and wish the same for you….because life is hard but it’s also beautiful!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.     James 1:2-4

 

Church Planting update from Calais Shuttle Freight Terminal

Apologies for the dishevelled look, barely comprehensible jabbering and sloppy camera work – this was 1am on Saturday morning after about 1600 miles driving and lots of loading and unloading!

 

Housing news…!

A lot of people keep asking us about our housing situation here in Munich.  As we were unable to secure anything permanent before we arrived we booked an Airbnb apartment for the first two months.  We knew that finding 3 bedroom apartment in Munich is tough but we hadn’t anticipated just how challenging! To say we have been consumed with the task would be an accurate description….100s of enquiries, dozens of visits and full applications…sometimes hope dwindles but you just have to keep faith that God has the right place for you and his timing is perfect.  We had become reconciled that we might not have anywhere by our 1st November deadline and further temporary accommodation may need to suffice.

This was immensely frustrating as we are eager to set up a great home that we can use for family life, hospitality and ministry.  Without a place to call home it feels like a significant part of this venture is on hold.  Not to mention that we miss all our belongings that are still in storage in Wolverhampton!

However, yesterday morning, we received the seemingly elusive email that we had been longing for.  We had been accepted for an apartment!  And not just any apartment.  This is bigger than we should be able to get and is in a fantastic location for us.  The feelings these last 24 hours since we got the news have been a bit crazy – relief, excitement, exhaustion and maybe a bit of hyperactivity for one or two of us!

View from our Airbnb Apartment....but only for two more weeks!

View from our Airbnb Apartment….but only for two more weeks!

We still need to meet the owner to sign the contract but we wanted to share this news as so many people have been so supportive and we just want to continue sharing this journey with you.  We are so grateful to God and thankful for the challenges in this aspect of moving as it has forced us to rely on him in a more tangible way than we have often previously known.

Next three main tasks:  Searching for jobs, finding an awesome Kindergarten for Aleksa and pressing on with the language studies.

When being in Narnia feels mundane…

A blog post from Nathan

It seemed to Lucy only the next minute (though really it was hours and hours later) when she woke up feeling a little cold and dreadfully stiff and thinking how she would like a hot bath.

I came across this whilst reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with Aleksa the other night.  Narnia fans may be able to work out where Lucy is….

She is in the beavers’ hideaway hole and it is just before the children meet Father Christmas and receive the gifts which were to go down in Narnian folklore.

It is fascinating that Lucy’s mind was on such physical and mundane matters just before such a mysterious encounter that was to pave the way for the salvation of Narnia and was to go down in the nation’s history.

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We have been in Munich just over 3 weeks now and so much of our time and thoughts seem to be taken up with the mundane.  Although, unlike Lucy, we are fortunate enough to have access to hot running water we do often wake up with our thoughts are crowded by matters of physical comfort, food, budgeting, bank accounts, health insurance, registrations, schooling, haircuts, language learning, recycling, broken appliances, jobs and, probably most pertinent for us at the moment, apartment searching.

It is so easy to get caught up in all of this.  However, we have a God who intervenes and encounters us right in the middle of the difficulties of everyday life.  Lucy, Peter and Susan did not ask for the gifts that Father Christmas gave them.  They were gracious provision.

Father God knows what we need and provides it at the right time.

Yesterday we took some time out and had the privilege of a family day out in Salzburg.  This week we will visit Oktoberfest and enjoy a friend’s gig one evening.  The sun is still warm in Munich and the afternoon’s still feel like summer.  We have received such a warm welcome from the Christian communities that we have encountered so far.  There is much to be thankful for.

And yet we feel the pressure of these mundane but important needs.  Please pray for us to know God in the midst of the ‘everyday’.  And please pray specifically for a wonderful apartment that we can make home that will enable us to love living in Munich and be able to serve God here.

Journey home from Salzburg

Journey home from Salzburg

Home, Sweet Temporary Home

A report from Anya on our first few days in Munich

Progress has finally been made! Victory at last! We have figured out how to use the coffee machine!!! Now as some of you may be aware, we don’t possess a coffee machine. Or this hammock that I’m sitting in. Or the flat that we are living in. That’s right, you’ve guessed it, we have made it to Munich and are staying in an Air BnB! (Basically just a furnished flat.) But at last we’ve got somewhere to live until we can find a proper, more permanent place.

We’ve had a chance to explore a bit of Munich today, tracing my school route on the underground, then going into town and buying Aleksa some long awaited Lego City toys, before stopping off in MacDonald’s for lunch. And the simple fact of it is that none of us have ever experienced the feeling of actually being full after eating MacDonald’s. And it is a wondrous, if not slightly weird feeling.

We have also explored some of the surrounding streets and parks and plan to go swimming tomorrow. We look forward to exploring more of Munich as well as its culture, cuisine and many other things too.

The Day After…

By Rada

Sadness is a peculiar thing, it catches you unawares and leaves an unmistakable trail in your day, popping up its head at the slightest encouragement, reminding you that it’s never far away.  I was happily packing up our belongings yesterday, often distracted by things I forgot we had, pictures of loved ones that are not here anymore, invoking all sorts of memories, mainly happy ones, although tainted by dull pain coming somewhere from deep within.  The news of a mass shooting in Munich provided a rude awakening from my somewhat dreamy state, and the sadness of life loss and the brokenness of our world achieved that sharp edge that causes tears and compassion.

Messages flooded in from the loved ones and friends wondering if we were already there.  We were pleased to hear that our friends in Munich were safe.  The frantic internet search for any more news followed, looking for a reason of this senseless act, as if that would make things easier.  This is the city where we are moving to in few weeks, the streets we’ll be walking with our kids, the shopping centres we’ll be shopping at,a the underground we’ll be taking.  The mind starts racing, arranging many different scenarios of how to best protect the ones you love.  But then, in the chaos that only one’s mind can create, a still small voice places a gentle reminder that He is in control, that our lives are secure with him (either here or in heaven), that our job is to love people wherever we are.  So we are going to Munich to share this love, to offer hope in this world void of hope, to comfort those who need comforting and to laugh with those laughing.  As the darkness of this world becomes darker, His light is getting brighter!

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