Growing up in Pakistan I got very used to having someone watch out for me. It was not really culturally appropriate for me to go out alone as a young girl and usually, whenever I went to the market, either my dad or my brothers would be my “body guards” and it made me feel completely at ease. I trusted them and felt loved and safe. It never bothered me to take one of my brothers with me, I enjoyed their company and it was nice to know I could rely on them. Moving to Germany ten years ago I knew in my head that things would be different – I knew that I didn’t really need anyone to go with me anymore and I would be ok on my own. But I found that I did miss my dad and brothers sometimes. Knowing someone’s got my back. In our time of feminism and gender equality I sometimes got strange responses from guy friends if I asked them to be my “body guard” for an occasion and step in the place of dad, brother or husband. Some would be happy to oblige, others thought it weird and told me to just look out for myself instead of “relying on a man”. It was funny because being single didn’t bother me that much – not having “brothers” did. But then I also realised something – in the end, no matter where I am, I am never alone because God is with me. I experienced that a lot of times over the years – in Pakistan, in Thailand, in Germany, Spain, Mexico – God is with me. Jesus stands behind me and says “Don’t worry, I got your back.” And even if it is nice to sometimes have someone with me on a journey, I know that I am also totally ok on my own. Now, living in Pakistan again, this topic is once more on my mind. When I first arrived my dad and little brother were still in the country, but we weren’t always together and two months ago they moved back to Germany. I am slowly getting used to moving around by myself. Driving on my own. Doing grocery shopping on my own. It is different…but I realise it is also part of growing up. Moving around on my own would never have bothered me in Germany and is something I have to learn here in Pakistan. Thankfully, I am not really alone. Once again it is true that God is with me always, here too.
I wrote this post last year when I was about half-way through my Slackline Challenge and realised that I never published it…happens a lot. I write something and think I just want to edit it a bit and then forget. In this case I decided to publish it now, despite the delay. Visiting Freiburg in June I actually went back to the slackline and tried crossing it again – I wasn’t able to do all I could do last year but then I have been without a slackline for over seven months so I’m not too surprised…it was still cool to be able to cross it, even though I lost my balance trying to turn around.
The post from October really just contains some thoughts on perseverance:
It is erroneous to think that success should come easily as a result of being naturally gifted. Perhaps, to a certain degree, natural aptitude does play a role – but the greater part is hard work, discipline and perseverance.
I once had the chance to listen to a concert pianist practice.
He had started playing at a very early age and it was soon apparent that he was gifted in music. He received tutoring and was supported and encouraged to develop his talent and pursue music in his studies. He would practice five hours a day, sometimes more.
That dedication was evident in listening to him.
What does it mean to persevere?
Am I someone who perseveres?
I think the three questions that influence whether or not I persevere are:
1) Is it worth it?
2) How badly do I want this?
3) Do I believe I can achieve the goal – or am I heading towards failure?
If I am pursuing something but continuously pondering these questions in my mind, it is unlikely that I will press on. If I am not convinced that something is worth it, if I am not fully engaged or if I have doubts about being able to reach the finish line – these thoughts alone are enough to hinder success. Like I wrote in my post on marriage and running – if you start running a marathon but don’t commit to run to the end, you probably wont. Committing and making a personal decision to follow through help you to focus on your goal and to give it all you got.
But how do you answer these questions? I think everyone has their own way of weighing up priorities, risks and setting goals. I find that for me, it is really important to allow myself to actually care enough about something to really fight for it. To permit desire, passion, determination. Sometimes not caring is more convenient – because that way you are never disappointed. But then you also miss out on the joy of experiencing what you dreamed of, or achieving what you set out to do. You need to dare to care and spell out exactly what you are going after – and then not allow the fear of failure or the uncertainty of whether or not you have what it takes distract you.
It is like climbing. Choosing a route to climb is risky. What if I go up half way and realise I lack the strength to finish? What if I slip and fall?
Once I was climbing in the gym and my climbing partner suggested a route with a slight overhang. It looked like an interesting route and I wanted to give it a go – but when he pointed out a few things to watch out for after the overhang I replied something along the lines of, “I’ll keep that in mind if I even get there!” He responded that I probably wouldn’t if that was the attitude I started out with!
And its so true. I need to face a task with a positive “I shall conquer this” attitude, rather than a non-committed “we’ll see how this turns out”. I need to be focused on the goal, rather than distracted by the fears or possibilities of everything that could go wrong.
I also experienced this in slacklining. I am now half way through the slackline challenge and its been so much fun! The first few days I felt I’d made a lot of progress and was very excited to be more and more comfortable balancing on the line and taking several steps. Then I had to pause for three days because I had no slack line or it was raining – but somehow I expected to be just fine starting up again. Wrong! I felt like I had to practice a bit more before feeling the same confidence on the line as before. It was discouraging – but instead of letting that bother me I decided to take it as a challenge and put in more effort to regain my balance. In the end, I managed to cross the slack line and successfully did some turns on the line – both of which were goals I had wanted to achieve. I also learned a few things about myself and how I work best. I realised that its easier to slackline when there aren’t a lot of people around to distract me and its also easier during day light, because I can see my focus point better. While walking across I usually focus on a point in the distance on the other side of the line and that helps me to keep my balance.
So once again, I find that sport offers a nice metaphor for life. In slacklining you want to keep your focus, ignore distractions and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep going. Don’t let people’s comments or your own fear of falling stop you from pursuing your goal. And don’t compare your own achievement to that of others! I watched some videos on youtube of slackliners doing amazing tricks on the line and its easy to feel silly celebrating my small victories compared to their jumps, flips and longlining or highlining – but that’s not the point. I am not competing against them, my goal of what it means to conquer the slackline is defined by me, not by what they can do.
And the same is true for life! Its also important to stay focused and not compare yourself to other people. Don’t let fear or people’s opinions dictate your next step. Celebrate your big and little victories and don’t mind if you fall, just get up again.
At the end of the 30 days I had completed all my goals.
When I started on day 1 I went from not being able to balance at all to being able to balance on either foot and count to 20 and take seven shaky steps.
After thirty days I wanted to be able to:
– balance on either foot for as long as I like (say 2 minutes)
– walk the length of the slackline and back again
– get up on either foot without losing my balance
– change direction midway
I was able to do this after 28 days, some things sooner. Achieving some goals quite quickly, like balancing on one foot or walking the length of the line,
I tried other things like:
– the chongo mount
– the sit mount
– jumping onto the line
– jumping on the line
– lying on the line
I was not always very successful with those things…but it was fun trying. My highlight was being able to do a really short highline in the climbing gym with harness 🙂 (I didn’t measure it, would guess it was 3m high and 4-5m in length)
This month I am doing a new 30-Day-Challenge – its a 10-minute work-out every day. I was inspired by the Monsoon rain which makes it hard to do any sport outside. I realised I was getting rather moody, was not sleeping well and felt the need for exercise…I was always a bit skeptical of work-out videos but its been fun and I intend to keep it up. It usually ends up being more of a 20-30 minute work-out but saying 10 minutes makes it seem like I could definitely fit it in any day of the week and tricks me into getting started – and persevering to the end! 🙂
Last weekend I decided to take the day of rest seriously. I have always believed in the concept of a Sabbath and had read the words “keep the Sabbath holy” countless times, but I had gotten a bit lazy. Yes, lazy in keeping a day of rest. I would remember something I had to finish for a class on Monday. Read an article. Work on a presentation. I’d try to keep it generally free, but slipped into a mindset of still doing so-called “emergency tasks”.
But then, what really is an emergency? Isn’t there always going to be some more work to do? Is it not a decision you make to stop, leave everything and rest from your usual work for one day? Isn’t there something healthy and wholesome in obeying God by entering his day of rest and honouring this age-old practice?
A book I found at my church this summer has been challenging me in this. The Swedish original by Tomas Sjödin is called: Det händar när du vilar. I‘m reading the German translation, Warum Ruhe unsere Rettung ist, which means “Why rest is our rescue/salvation/deliverance”. A strong claim, though I’d say I prefer the Swedish title: It happens when you rest. The author is a writer, pastor, speaker who went on his own quest to discover more about rest by looking into how the Sabbath was and is celebrated in Jewish tradition. His approach is a refreshing combination between a good grasp of present-day reality and an insightful description of age-old practices and principles. I love how Sjödin lets the reader in on his own thoughts and reactions as he learns about the Sabbath, including rhetorical questions that lead one to reflect why one lives life with or without rest. One key thing that has intrigued me is the idea of rest not being passive, but active. Rest is not about “doing nothing” but about doing something different. And, in a way, you have to “be active” about resting in the first place.
Some of the questions asked:
What changes when you finish what you are working on and postpone rest for half an hour? What really changes? Nothing. But this is where we go wrong. We say “I just need to…do this one thing. Finish this one thing. Check this one thing…” and the clear cut between work and rest disappears. Finishing „one thing“ ends up being “and one other thing too”. The Sabbath in Jewish culture starts abruptly and deliberately. Friday evening. One moment people are still working, the next it is time to stop everything. People go home, change their clothes and begin the Sabbath by sharing a meal together. It is a deliberate stop of work and beginning of rest. I feel this is a really important aspect of rest. It must be deliberate. It is not the same to rest at random – unplanned rest often feels guilty. You think “I should be doing x”. This is not the case when rest is planned, anticipated, scheduled. There is nothing else you should be doing right now. It is time to rest.
Why did God rest on the seventh day? Did he need to rest? Was he exhausted? The book offers this interpretation: God created rest. Just like he created everything else before that. God created rest, for us. He established a pattern, an order – just as he established the order of all nature, of the universe, with days and months and seasons. And so the life of man and woman, created on day six, began with rest.
What is the relationship between work and rest? Work as God entrusts it to us is a responsibility, a privilege and a duty. We are not slaves that must be afraid of a god who enjoys seeing us suffer. Instead, God gives us responsibility to care for things on earth and responsibility to rest. To spend time alone with him, but also in fellowship with friends and family, to enjoy meals together, to praise God for his goodness and seek him.
In reading, I begin to remember something that I‘ve thought about before: the discipline of rest. A discipline to be cultivated, practiced, respected.
In our culture today it often seems almost sinful to be rested. Being stressed, having a lot to do, and too many people that demand your time is almost synonymous with being hard-working or successful. Sleeping in past 7am? Unthinkable if you want to make it in life. Maybe that’s an exaggeration…but I do find that “busyness” is highly prized and rest is saved for the yearly holiday where everyone tries to catch up on what was missed.
I’m in the middle of this. Not working or even doing homework on a Sunday used to be a no-brainer for me. There wasn’t even an option, this was Sunday. Family time. God time. Leisure time. The whole day. But like I said, I got lazy, especially during the last couple years. I got pretty stressed with finishing Uni and investing in different projects and trying to figure out the future…and kept thinking „when x is over I‘ll be more relaxed.“ When I pass my chemistry exam. When I‘m done with my thesis. When I’ve moved house. When I’ve completed my degree. But that‘s not a very helpful mindset: there will always be different stress factors in every phase of life. The question is, how do I deal with them? I’ve felt God leading me to rediscover his rest in the midst of the chaos of every day life. Slowing down. Taking things one step at a time. Focusing on the task – or rest – of the moment. It’s not always easy. I love making plans and starting projects and being involved in lots of exciting things…but am realizing that not everything worth doing can and must be done right away, or even by me. And I can commit my ten-year plan to God and trust that being present now, he will guide tomorrow. I am trying to work towards working when it’s time to work and resting when it’s time to rest. There is something liberating in following rules and principles. As Sjödin observes after an interview with a nun – the nuns he met at the convent live in a very strict manner with a lot of rules and regulations and yet, they were some of the most relaxed people he had ever met! We love being flexible and enjoying our “freedom” – but might there be something worth discovering in the freedom of living according to strict principles?
It’s something that‘s really true for lots of areas in our lives. The freedom that the Word of God gives when things get confusing, when emotional turmoil or stress would turn life upside down. Continuing to follow Jesus regardless of the storm, keeping my eyes and heart fixed on him and obeying God’s word give safety and direction and stop me from making rash decisions in moments of instability. Decisions I’d probably regret a little further down the road. I want to apply this to resting and discover what happens. Make rest a habit, a principle – a mindset. I haven‘t finished the book yet and am excited to see how it will challenge me further and what I can learn from the Jewish Sabbath teachings. The last part I read talked about not even trying to change anything on the day of rest. I like that too. Just let things be for one day. Don‘t fret about what isn‘t, be grateful for what is. Let things that are on your mind settle a bit and you never know, you might get peace doing nothing but resting.
What are your experiences with rest? Do you deliberately keep a day of rest every week? Saturday or Sunday or another day that suits your schedule better? Or do you tend to work more and not make a clear distinction between times of work and times of rest? Would love to hear your thoughts 🙂
I tend to be quite sensitive when it comes to the messages I perceive around me. A movie I watch or even a book I read or song I listen to all have the potential to move me deeply and make me think about what they convey. This also means I can only tolerate certain messages when I’m stressed, tired or upset. They are times I prefer to curl up on the sofa with a positive book or lighthearted kids movie, rather than exposing myself to the wars of the universe and plight of mankind.
I really noticed this once again coming back to Pakistan last week after my 6-week trip to Europe. I was really tired, drained by travel but also by a lot of time with lots of different people and just felt like I had a lot to digest and was emotionally strained. I knew I would soon have to dive into lesson planning and needed to be wise in using my energy and recharging. What did I do? Besides sleeping, cleaning my flat and listening to music – I decided to chill in the living room with a feel-good kinda movie. I ended up watching something a friend had recommended, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. (Spoiler alert) All I knew was that there were epic landscape scenes in the mountains. A volcano. A sweet longboard scene. Sounded safe to me. (Ok, after about fifteen minutes of watching I confess I read the summary just to make sure it had a happy end…beard guy was getting on my nerves, but I only do that in emergencies…honest!)
In the end I was surprised, though. I had just expected to find a fun movie, but really loved the whole feel of the story, the main characters with their quirks and especially all the beautiful little moments. That moment when Walter imagines his crush singing “Ground Control to Major Tom” and decides to brave the odds and runs to the helicopter. That moment where he offers his mom’s cake to the warlord to gain passage over the mountains. And yes, that moment when he straps rocks to his hands and goes down the winding mountain road on a kid’s longboard! But I think my favorite moment is the one when he finally finds Sean up in the Himalayas, in search of a rare mountain lion. When she appears, Walter asks Sean when he plans to take the shot and Sean replies – sometimes I don’t. Sometimes he just likes to enjoy the moment. When he really likes something, personally, he doesn’t want the lens to get in the way.
In a time of endless selfies and instagram and who knows what…I find it refreshing to not capture every moment. Don’t get me wrong, I love pictures. But especially since my camera broke about a year ago, I began to indulge in that freedom of not taking the shot. Just living the moment. Now my brother recently gave me a phone with a pretty sweet camera (thanks again!) and I really am excited to take more pics and hopefully share some beautiful moments and places soon…but I know I won’t share everything. At times I’ll decide to put the camera aside and just cherish the beauty of a moment by being in it. Chase a ghost cat and keep her to myself. Beauty that often goes unappreciated; if you don’t take care to look closely, it might pass you by.
From Freiburg to Wiedenest to Pakistan.
Its high time for another post! Yes, I made the slackline challenge (hurray, more in detail to follow) and no, I’m not in Pakistan yet – but I have left my home of seven years and moved away from Freiburg. Its been a pretty busy few weeks. Transition time. Packing time. Goodbyes. Painting my room. Presenting the work I will be doing in Pakistan. Getting rid of stuff. A lot of stuff. Writing Emails. Making phone calls. Trying to study in the midst of it all…a bit too much going on, really, but also an exciting time of change and transition. Just a few too many goodbyes. I tend not to think much about the implications of leaving until after the fact – makes things easier while there is still work to be done. But the last week in Freiburg I found myself saying goodbye to friends at my University, colleagues from work, neighbours, flatmates, girls from youth group, friends from church, random places that I knew I wouldn’t visit again…and caught myself feeling slightly sentimental. Seven years. I had never lived that long in one place. Ok, I left Freiburg a few times before as well and moved house like five times…but still. Its a long time all the same.
Somehow I both love and hate goodbyes. I love the excitement, the change, the anticipation of the new that is to come…and I hate having to organise a move, figuring out the logistics, and actually saying goodbye. Let’s make it short. Bye. See ya sometime. God bless.
I guess its just one of those things that doesn’t really get easier either. You’d think after moving so many times it wouldn’t matter anymore…but somehow it does.
And yet, its still not a final goodbye. I’ll be back for my Spanish exam in two weeks and Lord willing back to visit sometime next year. But I must confess I actually started writing a goodbye song…trying to put my thoughts into words. Maybe I’ll manage to finish it before I fly and can share it with you 🙂 For now – I am in the midst of preparations for moving to and working in Pakistan, continue to study and will hopefully manage to keep writing too.
I started writing this post about two months ago and MUCH has happened since. Publishing it got buried under other tasks – like that exam I mentioned, preparation time in Wiedenest, packing and moving to Pakistan!
That place between the pages of two chapters.
That no man’s land.
That moving truck between a home and some place new.
Those strange in-between days that don’t quite belong to any season.
Closing the chapter “Student Life”, whatever that means.
A chapter of learning, discovering, trying things out, meeting people, getting to know yourself a bit better, perhaps, and figuring out life, setting goals, being idealistic and hoping to somehow change the world for the better. No routine or strict schedule – though I suppose that depends on what it is you are studying. Not accountable to anyone and free to learn or not as you please. Flexible. Able to travel at a moment’s notice. Student discounts wherever you go…its been real. Time to be a responsible adult now.
Closing the chapter “Freiburg”.
Pretty little city. Warmest region of Germany. Wine-growing area. Black Forest (Must say I did enjoy being a tour guide there…) Flammkuchen. Tannenzäpfle (though I must confess I never much liked the taste). Schwarzwälder Schinken. Bicycles. Dreisam. Bächle. Friends. Home. Place so full of original and alternative style I always felt one could do any strange thing and never receive an awkward glance. I could go to class barefoot, no one would mind.
Closing the chapter “Germany”.
After 9 years, my passport country has found a place in my heart. (I’m probably far more German than I even realise. Not too punctual though, I’m afraid.) Efficient. Organised. Productive. 😉 Autobahn without speed limits…and people (mostly) adhering to traffic rules. Old castles, old churches. Half-timbered houses. Nice cars. Free education. Chocolate. Hefeweizen. Sauerkraut. Semmelknödel. Rotkohl. Rinderroladen. Spätzle 🙂 Beautiful landscapes to explore by bike, beautiful lakes and refreshing rivers to jump into, beautiful rocks to climb. People with a variety of different lovely German dialects…Alemannen, Schwaben, Sachsen 🙂 and I especially remember the cities where I preached or shared the gospel with some friends. Freiburg. Munich. Erding. Ulm. Nürnberg. Siegen. Berlin. Spending some hours on the street, talking with random strangers about life, faith, hope. Its the 500th anniversary of the reformation this coming year – I wonder how many Germans know the good news of Jesus and are aware of God’s amazing love?
The room a mess. Boxes everywhere. Piles of clothes and random things to give away or throw in the trash. Doctor’s appointments, last minute check-up at the dentist. Vaccinations.
For a few weeks, I have no home.
Living out of a suitcase. Instability. Strange combination of excitement and exhaustion.
Apprehension and longing. Happiness and a sense of sadness.
What day is it again?
At the airport in Leipzig.
Suitcases all checked in.
Final goodbyes said. Hugs.
Waving one last time as I move through the passport control.
Take off the shoes. And belt. No belt? Forgot it. Don’t ask me how.
Laptop and liquids separate, please.
Sitting in the waiting area – time to board the flight.
Writing messages to family and friends until a stewardess bids all passengers to switch off their electronic devices.
Layover in Istanbul.
Standing at a counter waiting.
“So where’s home for you?” The man in front of me asks, a kind smile in his eyes.
“Everywhere and no-where,” I reply.
I like layovers.
I like long journeys.
They allow you to take time for that in-between phase.
They help you take a moment to reflect and look back on that last chapter, remember what was wonderful and let go of what wasn’t.
They give you a moment to hold your breath as you think in anticipation of what is to come, as you wonder about the new chapter ahead – wonder what is in store and whether it’ll be all you expect or quite different.
They give you a moment to rest, to be in no-man’s land and just sleep.
There is time still. The flight isn’t leaving for another few hours. Just stop for a bit.
Regain your strength. People used to go by boat, they had a long time for transition then.
Everything moves faster nowdays.
That time and place between the pages of two chapters.
That no man’s land.
That moving truck between a home and some place new.
Those strange in-between days that don’t quite belong to any season.
It ends soon.
I began my studies in Freiburg in October 2009.
Last Thursday, I went out for a special buffet breakfast at the fancy Serena hotel with my parents and little brother in Islamabad, Pakistan, celebrating the success of my final exam in Spanish on November 18th 2016, marking the end of my studies. (Time for a little victory dance, it is finished! :D)
Now, I am starting a new chapter:
Chapter “teaching” and “Pakistan” and “let’s-pretend-to-be-grown-up”, or something like that.
I have already arrived.
I have a new phone number, some new clothes and will soon have a new apartment: a new place to call home.
Excitement outweighs doubt or apprehension:
This is going to be a good chapter, I can tell!
My favourite way to start the day is when I manage to get up early, go outside and have some time just me and God. Go for a walk, a run, a swim – whatever. Just enjoy being out in the cool morning air, hear the birds chirp and maybe even watch the sunrise. When I was in Ulm two weeks ago I did just that – one morning I jumped in the Danube and another I cycled up a hill to the Wilhelmsburg, an old fortification with a tower that offers a great view of the city.
And the sun was just rising as I reached the top – it was beautiful. I had my Bible with me and randomly opened it at Psalm 113 – and it couldn’t have been more fitting!
Praise the Lord.
Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.
The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high,
who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes, with the princes of their people.
He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children.
Praise the Lord. (Psalm 113 NIV translation, emphasis added)
It is truly good to praise God! It is the best way to start the day and the best way to finish the day. No matter what is going on, there is always reason to praise God because HE is good. Because He is just. Because his love never fails. His mercy is new every morning.
I was so happy that morning – happy for the sunrise, happy to be cycling, happy to spot a hot air balloon in the sky. Happy because it was the day we were making parathas for breakfast and going climbing. Seemed like the perfect start to a perfect day. And I thanked God for it. But even though in every day life I don’t always take the time to go out first thing in the morning – either because I’m too lazy or because I feel like I have too much stuff to get done…I realise that taking time to at least thank God for a new day and recognising how much I have to be grateful for also contributes to cultivating a positive heart attitude, changes my perspective and automatically makes my day better as I am reminded of God’s goodness in the big and little things.
So here are some things I want to praise God for this week:
- Last weekend we had a leadership retreat from my church and it was so encouraging to spend time together, read the Bible, pray for eachother.
- We were in Breisach, right next to the Rhine river – and again I managed to go for an early morning and evening walk and enjoy the beauty of the moment. (I had to skip the slackline for three days – didn’t have one there! Really noticed it on Monday…)
- Work was good last week, I enjoyed the tours with my tourists and had good weather, a friendly group, not too much traffic – and generous tips 🙂
- I found out when my last exam is going to be (mid November) and have three more weeks to study than I expected 🙂
- I found out a friend from church actually goes rock climbing and we went climbing last week which was pretty cool – hope to go again these next weeks, so climbing partner prayer answered 🙂
- I’m doing some teaching at a discipleship school these next few weeks and am excited and encouraged to see God at work in the students’ lives
So I know I promised some more pictures and details of the Black Forest and hikes…things have been a bit crazy lately and I didn’t really get around to it. After my Black Forest camping trip and super important final exam I had some time with friends and family and actually even spent a day at the North Sea 🙂 and then had to do a lot of work for Uni, organizing some stuff and actually preparing for what comes next. I’ve talked about finals and how I’m in my finishing sprint for exam but never really mentioned what I’m going to do when those exams are done. Two years ago I shared my post “A choice you make“, saying how in the end, no matter how many things you’re interested in or passionate about or how many options might even make sense – you can’t do everything and have to be brave and choose something while saying no to something else. Finishing Uni the logical step would have been for me to do 1,5 years teacher training at a school in Germany – working and preparing lessons and already with a salary but under supervision and with some additional classes and testing. Another option would have been to take a bit of a break – since the last two years of studies were rather intense – to just keep working as a freelancer and take time to rebalance and invest in church and evangelism and student ministry. But there was this dream I had as a teenager and it never went away – I always dreamed of going back to Pakistan one day, as an adult, not just for a visit – but to stay, for a minimum of two years and give something back to the country and the school that meant so much to me growing up. Of course my childhood wasn’t perfect – there were things that were hard and I might even wish different – but I think that would have been just as true if I had grown up anywhere else. So at some point as a teenager I prayed about this and told God that I didn’t really know where I would live and work and build a family long term, but that maybe two or three years in Pakistan could be a stop along the way? That was about ten years ago. Now, as my studies are ending and I’m ready for the next step, I’m preparing to go to Pakistan for 2,5 years. I’m excited and happy to be going back after nine years and hope and pray that God will bless the road ahead and give me strength and wisdom for my new role and responsibilities in this post-student-life chapter.
So that’s also why things are a bit crazy – in the mist of my exam preparation for my Spanish finals I’m also preparing to move to Pakistan, praying for my Visa and thinking about how I’m going to say goodbye to Freiburg and Germany – a place I really grew to love and appreciate, despite myself! And a place where I was blessed to meet so many amazing people that became friends and classmates and colleagues and neighbours – and family. But that’s not really the topic of this post, because it’s still too early to say goodbye! I still have a couple months and have my own little bucket list of things to do before goodbye really does come. What’s on that list? Well, I won’t share everything…but here’s one for starters: I really wanted to go on a bike tour! Why? Because I love riding my bike and that’s one thing I won’t be able to do in Pakistan – and I must confess I’ve never really been on a bike trip longer than one day…somehow always found the task of organizing that too daunting…
But that’s what I’m doing right now. I talked with my brother about the idea and he had been thinking about doing a tour in Switzerland, in the end we decided on a 3-day tour along the Danube from Freiburg to Ulm via Donaueschingen and Sigmaringen. I’m super excited and happy to be on the road, getting plenty of beautiful landscapes, fresh air and exercise and just hope my bike holds out for the whole trip 🙂
Today was a light start of just 30km from Titisee to Brigachtal – I took a slight detour but that brought me to some really pretty villages and woods so it was totally worth it. Tomorrow should be about 90km til Sigmaringen and there’s some really amazing cliffs and rocks along that stretch of the Danube so looking forward to a beautiful day 🙂 and on Monday we’ll have about 110km from Sigmaringen to Ulm. Will let you know how it works out, but I’m confident that it will be a nice little adventure 🙂