OUR PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR
Have you ever planned a trip, but certain events changed so you felt you could no longer go on that trip? That is what happened to us as we planned what we wanted to do next year. We had already been accepted to teach at a wonderful school in Thailand where we wanted to go. But we changed our plans due to unforeseen circumstances.
As we discerned the Lord’s will through His providences we have come to believe we should remain here as Dorm Parents for another year and then return to the US and look for work. So we are now planning to remain here until July 2018, which would be four years at Black Forest Academy.
Dorm Parenting is a ministry we have come to embrace but it is hard to explain to people. It has two main roles. First, it’s an incarnational parenting ministry to the girls that live in our dorm. Second, it is a ministry of service to the missionary families which allows them to stay on the field. Without schools like this with a boarding program, more missionaries in the world’s hardest locations would be leaving the field. If the gospel is going to go into all the world there is a need for schools like this.
However, Dorm Parenting is difficult because it is living an un-normal lifestyle from what would be considered normal for most people. Unlike a normal job where you get a salary from your employer, here we pay the school to live and work. Unlike a normal job where you go to work and then go home, here we live alongside our coworkers in a small apartment next to an industrial kitchen and laundry room in an often busy, noisy and people filled dorm. Unlike most jobs with a clear structure, here our living/working, on-time/off-time, becomes a blur and is often indistinguishable. Unlike a normal life where you can choose “alone” or “quiet” times when you want them, here you take them when you can as a high school dorm is full noise, people and activities. Unlike cooking for yourself, here we cook for 25 or more and shop for that many multiple times a week.
So it didn’t surprise us that the school is having great difficulty replacing not only us but four of the six current dorm parents.
Yet it is a life we have come to embrace and enjoy. We enjoy the relationship with “our” girls even though we know they are not ours. We enjoy knowing we are helping their parents who are serving all over the world. This morning I took a set of parents who were visiting their daughter to the airport to go back to a country that does not allow Christians to serve. There we tears as they said goodbye to their daughter as they left her. Counting the cost for Christ used to be more theory to us than practice, now it is more reality than theory.
Allow me to give you a small window to our world. As I type this out on an early Sunday evening after dinner this is what is happening around me in the dorm. I am in the main lobby, it’s large like a hotel lobby with large glass windows on one end with a dining room and a seating area with tables and couches. On the opposite end is the entrance, a computer room and the upstairs prep-kitchen. Here with me on the tables and couch are two girls studying, both with headphones on. Head phones are almost a requirement for this new generation as they are continually on some type of device and often with headphones in their ears. In our computer room at the end of the lobby there is loud laughter coming out as a group of girls watch something from a laptop. There is a couch for two in that room and four are snuggled into it laughing loudly. High school girls laugh a lot. In the upstairs prep-kitchen at the end of the lobby next to the computer room are two girls doing the dinner dishes and two girls talking with them as they do them. It also means loud music because whenever the dish team does the dishes they plug in a device to the upstairs kitchen speakers and loud music blasts. In the downstairs main-kitchen which is just under the upstairs kitchen and down a set of stairs, there are some girls cooking and some other girls doing “pots and pans” from dinner and of course they too have a device plugged into speakers with their loud music. Yes, at the same time as the other loud music and I can hear them both. Outside there is a group of guys and girls hanging out. We have two boy dorms next to us and they seem to be attracted to our dorm for some reason. The dorm would be busier now but there is another group of girls that went to the German movie theater with two RA’s (Sunday afternoon’s movie is in English) and we are waiting on them to return to have Sunday night dorm fellowship. Two girls are trying to play soccer on the stairs (I will be back), they are no longer playing soccer on the stairs. Sunday evening means “Dorm Fellowship” which varies from a bible study to games. Tonight we will make Ice Cream Sundaes and then have our annual “Ask Anything” where they can write any question anonymously and ask Uncle Bryan and Aunt Jennifer. Last year it was about, of course – boys, and lots of other things from sex, theology, homosexuality, and of course personal questions such as, “how did you fall in love?”, “when did you first tell Aunt Jennifer you loved her?”, “What was your first kiss like?”, “do you think it’s right and did you have sex before marriage?”. Now the music from both kitchens has stopped and I only hear the downstairs piano where someone is practicing. It was being played all this time but I am only hearing it now because all the other noise has stopped. The dorm has transformed from a rock concert to a beautiful piano recital in a moment of time. I hope this lasts but I know it will be only a few minutes before it changes again into something else. This is the life we now live. Jennifer will stay up late tonight with another RA making sure everyone is home and in their room at a certain time. (based on their grade) I will try to get to bed early (10:30) as I will be up at 06:15 to start breakfast. Tomorrow is a Monday and Mondays can be long because it’s the RA’s day off so we will be all alone with “our” 21 girls and Monday is also our larger shopping day. Yet we enjoy Mondays because it’s just Uncle Bryan and Aunt Jennifer and “our” girls who are not really ours but in our care and whom we have come to love.
So we are coming back to live in a dorm for another year. Mainly we are coming back for “our” girls and to bless their families some who serve where we cannot go.
However, another reason we are staying for just one more year is finances. We believe we have enough support for one more year. Our support has significantly declined since we started. We are hoping and praying to raise and live on $4,000 a month between now and June 2018. We thank you for praying for us and also for supporting us financially. We would humbly ask if you could continue to support us in any way to help us remain here through next school year, to we hope July 2018. We do so appreciate it and Thank You!