Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dinner is Served

Community is very important, no matter where you are in life. I'm blessed to have two communities over here in Germany. My BFA community in Kandern and my Basel community both at ACB and beyond.

Last night, I was invited to dinner at the Hunkler's home outside of Basel. The Read's were there as well and we had a fantastic meal together and laughed a lot. These two families have been so special to me and I consider them my 2nd families over here, along with the Hakkaart family, who I au paired for 10 years ago. I spent the night and then went into church today with the Hunkler's and it was just nice to be with friends I consider family.

Today as I was moving out of one temporary apartment to another (more on that later), the Tackett family, who lives across from my 1st temporary place invited me, Amy, Rachel, and Taylor over for dinner. The Tackett's are new to BFA as well and super fun. They have two little boys, Preston and Brayden, and we had fun playing with them before dinner (and during and after!). The dinner tonight reminded me once again of how thankful I am for this little community up here in the Black Forest.

I'm not dealing so much with the transition of missing the States or home, I'm dealing with the transition of trying to find a rhythm and balance over here since not having a permanent home just yet. Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to Saturday when I move to my apartment and can really settle in!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Stick. Standard. Stink!

I'm eligible for a driver's license in Germany (thank you Massachusetts for the reciprocity!), so today Katie took me out for a lesson in driving a manual car. Several thoughts raced through my mind as I shifted and stalled my way through Kandern, one of which was - WHY DON'T THEY LIKE AUTOMATIC CARS OVER HERE?! You can find them, but they're super expensive and hard to come by. So, like any good staff member at BFA, I'm struggling through the process of learning to drive this kind of car. I do not like it so far. Katie was quite patient with me. Even when the car sounded as if it was going to explode. Also, why in the world would anyone want to drive a car that rolls backwards when you are shifting at a stop sign? AUGH. I have full faith in myself that I will improve. I must improve. Otherwise, it's going to be a loooong walk to Sitzenkirch (the village where the Middle School is) and although I do enjoy exercising, I don't think it will be a good idea to come sweaty and panting to Middle School Chorus. 

Pressing on!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Up on the Mountain

Sunday I enjoyed a fantastic day at church, followed by lunch w/my pastor's family and the Hunkler family. Afterwards, I met up with Heather, Amy, Rachel, Brittany, and Karen. Heather had the awesome idea of driving up to the top of Hochblauen, the highest peak in this part of Germany. You could see into France & Switzerland and it was absolutely beautiful watching the sunset behind the mountains....

Friday, August 17, 2012

In a Week...

Monday, the Loops, Karen, Rachel and I went to the Eis Cafe and while they enjoyed some gelato, I enjoyed a latte macchiato

Tuesday, BFCF (Black Forest Christian Fellowship) had a cookout for all the newcomers in the area and I got to meet a few of my soon to be kiddos. Then, I headed over to Jill's and Emily's to watch a movie with a few other people (sadly, no pictures from this day).

Wednesday evening we went into Lörrach and I found some cheap housing items at a second hand store (i.e. a coffee maker for 7 euros!) (no pics from here either :( ).

Yesterday, we all went to IKEA and I found some bedding as well as some other stuff for my kitchen and living area.

Today for our German class, we went on a scavenger hunt around Kandern. Aren't we a good looking group?

after German was another success as a family who is leaving the area was selling some items from their home. I got a bookshelf, a toaster, and an ironing board for 5 euros each!

Tonight I am in Switzerland spending the night with the family I used to au pair for nearly 10 years ago. It's been such a relaxing evening and I've enjoyed every minute of it. I'm looking forward to getting back to Kandern and seeing Amy, who arrived today!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Orientation Begins!

But first, wrapping up on Sunday...

Sunday turned out to be an all around wonderful day. When I went back to ACB, I was warmly welcomed by old friends and was formally welcomed back in the service! It was great to see everyone and get reacquainted! After church, I headed down Steinenvorstadt to the Starbucks there to meet up with Jo and Vanessa. These two girls were wonderful friends of mine and my roommate Anne’s when we lived here 2 years ago. We caught right back up where we left off it seemed and are already planning to go on a little weekend away trip in the Spring.

Later that afternoon, I met up with Kelly, a former co-worker of mine from RIA. It was so wonderful to see her and have a meal together! I’m so thankful for the relationships that have stayed in tact over the last 4 years and that God is good to bring us back together!

Yesterday was our first full day of Orientation. We will be doing German this week and next week will be School/Classroom Orientation. The week after that will be the All Staff Conference and then the kiddos come back! This marks the 4th time I’ve been in a German class.I’ve already promised myself and others that I will be fluent sooner or later this time around!! It’s pretty interesting to see what words I’ve picked up and what I remember!

Afterwards, Heather invited some people over for lunch and had made sandwiches and homemade chocolate chip cookies. It ended up being me, Rachel, Karen, the Loops, and the Summers. We sat around Heather’s living room and chatted and had a really great and relaxing time just getting to know everyone better. We then headed back into town and I met up with the Loops, Rachel, and Karen at the Blumenplatz in town. After checking in at the bike store (it was closed), we decided to walk down to the Eis Cafe. This time I was good and just ordered a water and a latte macchiato instead of ice cream. I’m trying to get on a good eating regiment here!

Last night I met up with Katie at the Italian restaurant in the Blumenplatz. It was great to get to talk with her and share stories of our love of music and the arts! She is going to be a great supervisor! It looks like I will officially be the Middle School Drama director, High School/Middle School Choir director, and Middle School Handbells director. I’ve never done handbells, so it’s going to be interesting, but I’m honestly excited about doing something new like this. Bring it on, baby!

On the way home from dinner, we walked past the Tanzschule (dance school) and I saw they offered Zumba classes! I’m considering signing up for the month of September!

I ended up visiting with Jill and Emily and they graciously let me check my email and FB while I was over. It’s such a great community here. I cannot emphasize that enough! I have loved running into people on the Hauptstrasse, randomly ending up at people’s homes, and just the bond that is so present here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


...will be spent in Basel attending ACB. Today is my first Sunday to try this out. I have to leave Kandern on the 7:20am bus and arrive in Basel a little after 8am. Church doesn't start until 10:30 but I had googled the closest Starbucks to that particular bus stop and saw that it opened at 8am, which I thought was perfect. Well, either their website hasn't been updated or the barista forgot to unlock the door. Because Starbucks was most definitely closed in Claraplatz today. On top of that, I had to go to the bathroom and if you know anything about European public restrooms, they are few and far between. Thankfully, there was a restaurant open and they graciously let me use their facilities! I tried the Starbucks again and it was still closed, so I decided to hop on the #8 tram and ride it to the Basel train station (SBB). The Starbucks there was open and so I ordered my non-fat latte macchiato and plopped down at a window seat. Unless I get a car or start riding in with someone, this is going to be the norm from now on. Hope these Starbucks baristas don't tire of seeing the American ;)

Here are a few pics of my first few days in Deutschland. Happy Sunday!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Liebe aus Deutschland

Aug 9
I am finally getting a chance to sit down and type about all that has happened in the last two days! I left Orlando at 6:30pm after one last day spent eating lunch with my parents and then hugging them goodbye. It wasn’t as awful as I’d imagined. Mom and I teared up and Dad managed to hold it together and not break down on my shoulder like last time.

I had a 3 hr layover in Miami and flew out at 10:45pm. I slept for 4 hours, which is longer  than I’ve probably ever slept on an overnight flight! I landed at London Heathrow at 12:15pm, quickly went through security, and had an hour and a half to spare. I ended up eating lunch at Wagamama (of course!) in Terminal 5 before catching my flight to Basel. I ended up flying with three new staff members as well as 2 returning from BFA! The flight to Basel was quick and painless and as we touched down, I couldn’t help but smile to myself and thinking “I’M BACK!”

We were met at the airport by TeachBeyond Member Care staff and a few teachers from BFA. I guess you know you’re back in Europe when it takes you three countries to arrive home! Even though we landed at the Basel airport, we were really in France and drove a little ways through small areas of the country til we into Germany. 

My temporary housing is not too far from the center of town and close to the Eis Cafe (uh oh!!). It takes about 10 minutes to walk to BFA. Once I got my luggage into my space, one of my hosts, Emily, took me grocery shopping at Hieber (one of 3 grocery stores in Kandern) and then on a mini-tour of the school. I got to see the Music hall as well as the front offices and the gym. We then went back to Emily’s house where she had prepared dinner for me and Lexie, another returning teacher. It didn’t take me long to fall asleep last night and I only woke up once for a/b a half hour and then slept until 8:30 this morning.

After breakfast, I did a workout in the spare room and then decided to venture out into town. At the last minute, I thought I’d take the bus into Weil am Rhein, the town I used to live in 4 years ago. The bus ride was only about 20 minutes and it was nice to walk around the Hauptstrasse and see old places that were familiar. I didn’t make it to my old apartment or where the former site of the school was because I had a meeting with the housing director at BFA. We were able to tour the apartment I will be getting and meet the current tenant. It’s a small apartment, but really perfect for one person! It has two very spacious balconies, one off the bedroom and another off the living area. I will probably be moving in on September 1 or around that time. 

I went back to the school and checked email and Facebook as my internet will not be up and running until next week. I grabbed a few small items I’d forgotten yesterday, this time at Penny Markt, another grocery store. I came back home, unpacked, and about that time, Emily came over and invited me to have dinner w/her and her roommate, Jill, who is my other host. Katie, who is the head of the Music dept, was also there and so it was nice to get filled in on info about school and life at BFA. 

Overall, I’m really not struggling too much with jet lag. I really think the late flight had a lot to do with it because yesterday I got in so close to dinner and then was able to sleep three hours after landing. I’m planning on going into Basel on Sunday for church and then to meet up with some old friends, which I’m excited about! 

My eyes are growing heavy now as it’s after 9pm and I’m probably headed to bed soon! More tomorrow!

Aug 10
Remember what I said about not struggling with jet lag? Lies. All lies. Last night I went to bed at 10:45, only to be woken up at 2am and didn’t fall asleep again until 6 and my alarm clock went off at 8. Yuck.

The day began with Jill taking me to get a cell phone at a place called Pearl in a little town called Auggen just over the hill from Kandern. Cell phones work differently here. I don’t have a plan, but instead just fill up a SIM card with minutes that I buy from the local grocery store. We then did some grocery shopping and I was able to find a hair dryer on sale at Penny Markt. After lunch, I came back to Jill’s apartment and she so graciously set up my phone for me. I came home and decided to go for a run and ran into the Kreugers and the Sommers! I hadn’t seen them since Orientation last month and it was so great to see familiar faces!

After my little jog up what felt like a small Alp, I came home, showered, and met Lexie at the Asia Wok restaurant for dinner. It was great to be able to have some one on one time with a new friend! We then went to the Eis Cafe and the Sommers met us for some yummy gelato! Afterwards, we went to Katie’s house for a small party and played the infamous game of Fishbowl, which we’d played at Orientation. Rachel Nicholson and Karen Rempel, friends from Orientation were there and it was SO good to see them! I also met several other returning teachers and am growing even more thankful for the new community in my life!

It’s now 10:30 and I’m trying to make it to 11 so that I’ll sleep more soundly tonight. Tomorrow I’m going into Basel for the first time in 4 years and I can’t wait!!

TODAY, August 11
I slept better than the night before, woke up early, and headed straight into Basel. I hadn't been back in 4 years and so I was inwardly giddy once I crossed the bridge over the Rhein. I'm now sitting at Starbucks and people watching and so grateful to be where I am right now. Why I ever doubted that God would bring me back here, I don't know. I do know that the last 10 years, he has been preparing me for this exact position at BFA and for that I am so grateful.

Since this is the longest blog post in the world, I will close and add more in the coming days.


Monday, August 6, 2012


I ran errands with my mom (Target, Old Navy, Sephora, Vitamin World, Costco...I think I'm well-stocked)

Packed (still have lots to finish, but this is the norm because I do better under pressure)

Am enjoying one last dinner with my fam (lobster, steak, baked potato, & sautéd mushrooms)

Trying to wrap my mind around the thought that I am actually, really, truly moving to Germany again.

Posting tomorrow from the Miami airport before I board the plane to London. Don't know when I'll post again, but hopefully before the weekend.

24 hours.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Last Sunday in Jax

Today my home church in Jacksonville commissioned me and I also was privileged to sing alongside my parents in a trio during holy communion. After church, the five Strouds headed to River City Brewing Company for a last Sunday lunch together. I'm trying not think about how hard it's really going to be on Tuesday to say good-bye to them. So thankful that I was able to spend this summer with them.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Surprise! Guess Who's Still in Control?

If God has called you to something don't be surprised if the enemy tries to snatch away your joy.

Today I received an email from the housing department at BFA letting me know that there was a small chance I might not be getting the apartment originally assigned to me. The girl who is living there presently has not been able to find a new apartment yet and so she will either remain another year or I will have to wait until September to move in.

Now, I could choose to view this one of two ways. I could pout, act like an orphan, and throw my hands up in the air and get really mad at God for not having this apartment ready when I needed it. Or, I could thank God that there was another option for sharing with another teacher temporarily and be thankful I had a place to stay at all.

When I read the email, option 1 crossed my mind.

I chose to go with option 2. In the long run, it's better to keep in mind that God called me and he's not forgotten that I need housing. He's just going about it in His way.

3 days.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Down South

If you know me at all, you know that I love South Florida. This past weekend I was privileged to go and visit my sweet friends down there one last time. I stayed in Ft. Lauderdale w/Laura, Val, & Liz and then headed up to West Palm Beach to see Kaylee, Dannie, Jon, & Brian. I didn't get to see everyone because it was such a short visit, but I'm thankful I was given the time to do this before I left for Germany.

Laura and I celebrated her birthday salsa dancing with friends in Boca!

Kaylee and I met up with Dannie at Toojay's Deli in Palm Beach and then headed to The Breakers to see old co-workers/friends

My favorite spot at The Breakers, the Beach Lawn. 

Seeing Brian was so much fun as always!