Dear friends, This time we're particularly late with our newsletter, but you can make the reading particularly quick: We have created a rough framework here that allows you to get a quick overview of what has been happening. For most topics, you can then call up further details, often with additional links and / or photos, depending on your interests. We can, based on the bible verse of the year for 2023: “You are a God who sees me”, confirm that he has never lost sight of us – neither in suffering (death of Christoph's mother), nor in joy (religious marriage ceremony of Colin and Karoline).
On April the 28th, Christoph's mother Ruth died at the age of 93. Having been bedridden for years and eating less and less in the end, it had been expected for months. The way God worked it out was a great relief for us, and especially for her husband Hans. On that day, the funeral service was held for Pastor Köhler, who had officiated in Neuengamme for decades and had e.g. performed the confirmation of Christoph and the wedding of his sister Birgit. Therefore, Birgit, her husband Erhard and we had come to Neuengamme, greeted our father and mother in their flat and then went to the neighbouring church together (without Ruth). During this time, a friend stayed in the flat to keep watch. After 20 minutes, she came into the church and whispered into Christoph's ear: "Ruth isn't breathing anymore". He then went back to the flat alone, held his mother's hand for a while and then organised the necessary steps. After the others came back from the funeral service, we were all very happy to be together that day so that Hans could deal with the situation surrounded by us. Ruth had prepared all the details of her funeral service, which was very impressive for family and friends; here is the funeral address.
Following Colin and Karoline's small civil wedding ceremony 2022 due to the corona pandemic, the church ceremony took place last year on the 2nd of September. It was a very beautiful day with a full service with communion in St Katharinen, one of Hamburg's main churches to which the student community is assigned. After a reception there with many varieties of cinnamon pastries, organised by friends, we walked to the Elbe, where a boat was waiting for us. During the cruise on the river and through the harbour, time flew by, because in addition to good food, there was also plenty of action with a quiz, opportunities to design a souvenir page for the couple with your own creative ideas and, of course, music and dancing.
Other news worth mentioning relates mainly to our sons and daughter-in-law. They write:
Karoline ... ... continues to study very successfully protestant theology to become a clergywoman, enjoys academic work and is now a scholarship holder of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation. She is also involved in voluntary work in various areas and occasionally preaches in her local church.
Colin ... ... continues to work as a software engineer at the start-up Univelop. He also takes a few courses in theology and maths at university. In addition, he is very involved in the organisation of his local church, is on the church council and various committees and was elected to the church district synod.
Chaim Lukas ... ... successfully discontinued his studies at the beginning of last year to work full-time at FDTech as a software engineer for autonomous car driving instead. In this context, he had to look for his own flat after five years in student accommodation, but finding a flat in Munich is a difficult matter. However, after several months of searching and a number of temporary solutions, he found his new flat in Milbertshofen in the summer, which he has now furnished over the last six months (with a lot of support from his family). Chaim Lukas also continues to be active in the ICF Munich, both in the field of theology and as a dancer in the latest Christmas musical.
Cyrill ... ... will be undertaking his internship as part of his studies at Move Church in Wiesbaden this year. He is really looking forward to this, as he will also be able to work with GoødWorks during his internship. The aim of GoødWorks is to support the light / sound / online teams of churches throughout Germany. Through his involvement in the local church and as part of Adonia, he has acquired a broad range of knowledge in this area. The main change last year was that his student work at Open Doors came to an end in September after three years (and previously one year as a Voluntary Service Worker). The management of the e-sport student project also enriched the past year. To our delight, despite his commitment, he has always found time for us as parents and for his brothers.
Claudia completed a six-month plus online training course to become a school mediator. The training was really interesting - let's see what activity will result from it. Christoph volunteered as a polling officer for the first time last year in the Bremen regional elections. As part of the Zellgemeinde (cell church) Bremen, a study group has been meeting at our house every week since last spring for dinner and dialogue. Apart from that, nothing significant has changed in our lives: That leaves us to report on our trips, which were particularly numerous this time after several years of a lull (several trips to Hamburg to visit Christoph's father, Colin and Karo or for other reasons are not listed):
4 - 6 January: Augsburg Due to the coronavirus, the Augsburg House of Prayer divided the biennial "More" conference into two smaller "Less" conferences in 2023, which nevertheless included many inspiring presentations (e.g. about the GlowbalAct organisation) and thrilling concerts.
30 March: Burgdorf We travelled to the vicinity of Hannover to meet Cyrill, who was helping with the Adonia musical Hiob (Job). The school auditorium was bursting at the seams and it was well worth it for all the visitors.
31 March - 5 April: Norderney The following day we set off for the North Sea, where we enjoyed the fresh sea climate. Claudia had her feet in the water every day; she says she almost froze her toes off. But we also enjoyed a lot of wellness and interesting cultural activities.
1 May: Gnadenthal We were able to see many good friends again at the Friends' Day of the Jesus Brotherhood, where Claudia had lived and worked for a long time decades ago.
18 - 20 May: Erfurt The Open Doors Days took place over the Ascension weekend. We volunteered as stewards and it was great to work together as a couple. We were assigned to stand-in duty, so that we were spontaneously deployed wherever there was a need - just what we liked. But we also had plenty of opportunities to listen to the impressive reports from guests from all over the world.
25 - 29 May: Friedrichshafen Over Whitsun, Claudia was back at the women's retreat at Bodenseehof - it was really nice for her to have her sister Sabine with her again after her successful back operation.
5 - 7 June: Travemünde Christoph met almost all his Airbus team colleagues from the various countries for the first time at a seminar by the Baltic Sea.
16 - 17 June: Giessen / Gründau We visited Cyrill to advise him on buying a tailored suit.
23 - 25 June: Altdorf Claudia's sister Sabine had invited to the annual get-together of her cousins.
9 - 16 July: Kos Fortunately, before the big heatwave, we spent another week with Sabine and Paul, her husband, in Mastichari on Kos. This time we were all able to really enjoy our time and undertake more activities. For example, we took a boat trip to the volcanic island of Nisyros, where however there was no bubbling lava, just a few thin clouds of steam and a not so pleasant smell to indicate activity.
27 July - 9 August: Brussels / Orpington / Zeewolde Our trip to England was much more relaxed this time than the year before, as we took much more time travelling to Brussels and arrived the day before, where we had enough time for a short city tour. By spending the night close to the train station, we arrived early at the Eurostar departure point and arrived at the campsite south-east of London at lunchtime, where we were allowed to pitch our small tent in the front garden of our good friends Siobhan and Peter, as the site was completely full. To make the journey worthwhile, we stayed for ten nights this time. On the opening weekend, each day several bands provided opportunities for the crowd to dance as part of "„Party in the Stark“". The time between weekends was not boring either, featuring a meeting with Claudia's old friend Sharon and two visits to London (including the Sherlock Holmes-Museum). Subsequently, the CNF weekend was the highlight. As some of the other participants also had arrived earlier, we had the opportunity to form a small choir and practise the songs for the services and lectures. As you can stay on the Eurostar as far as Amsterdam on the way back, we made a two-day stopover in Flevo Natuur before arriving back in Bremen.
11 - 14 August: Munich We then went straight on to Chaim Lukas to help him furnish his flat. It is very nice and affordable (by Munich standards), but the kitchen, for example, was completely empty. We didn't have room for our double bed and the children's bunk beds in Bremen, so we had put them in storage. We drove these and many other useful items to him and picked up Cyrill on the way. In Munich, we then had to shop at Ikea etc. choosing kitchen furniture and appliances and lots of other things, bringing them into the flat and starting to assemble them. In the end, at least the fridge-freezer in its cupboard was ready for use and the upper cupboards were hanging on the wall.
25 September - 8 October: Colomiers / Naussannes / Giessen There had thus already been many good occasions for travelling, but we had not found a suitable opportunity to see our friends in France again. Then came the news that the German School in Toulouse was planning a big school party on the 30th of September to celebrate its 50th anniversary. As Colin wanted to use this opportunity to show his wife his old hometown, he drove us south in a rented car the Sunday before. Cyrill then joined us by plane the following Friday and the five of us spent some lovely days together until Sunday, when Karo and Colin flew back to Germany. With Cyrill at the helm, we continued on to Bergerac to visit our friend Peter and then to our favourite place "„Le Couderc“" for a few relaxing days, where the amazingly warm weather (around 30°C) was very welcome. From there we also made a trip to the exhibition of Stone Age cave paintings in Lascaux. On the return journey, we dropped off the car in Giessen and travelled home by train after a night at Cyrill's.
26 - 31 October: Munich We used the second long weekend in October to give Chaim Lukas another helping hand, as there wasn't much time for housework in addition to his job and other commitments. In the meantime, the kitchen worktop had been cut and the ceramic cooktop, sink and dishwasher had arrived so that we could install and connect everything. We also slept in our bed for the first time in over three years 😊. And a large and sturdy table as a computer workstation has since been added to the furniture.
27 December - 1 January: Munich At the end of the year, we once again drove some material from Bremen to Munich and then helped to furnish the bathroom and guest room. While Cyrill and Chaim Lukas celebrated the New Year at the ICF Munich, Claudia and Christoph went to the (former) Olympic Park to watch some fireworks and otherwise took it easy. Now the new year is already a few weeks old and we trust that our loving Father has many interesting and joyful experiences in store for us again this year - and we wish each and every one of you the same hope!