There’s No Crying in Baseball

Well, it’s official, I no longer live in the U.S. My two overweight checked bags and I have made it to beautiful South Africa. Leaving behind the most wonderful people I have ever met was definitely one of the hardest and emotional things I have experienced. Fortunately, I was given the incredible opportunity of accompanying one of my close au pair friends, Flo, and his host family to Colorado the week before my departure. Seeing the mountains and experiencing a new state kept me occupied and distracted from the emotional days that were to follow. Since I didn’t have a car to use freely anymore, my amazing friends came to pick me up and drive me around to get some last minute errands done. Walking through Target for the last time had me in tears over the fact that I wouldn’t be able to buy a fridge, bananas and that cute off shoulder dress in the same place anymore. My friend Hannah gave me the tough love I needed to cope for the next few days: “There is no crying in baseball!” A famous quote from the movie A League of their Own starring Tom Hanks. Any time I was close to tears, we would repeat that sentence, breath and finish our to do list (hence the title of this post). If you are wondering why I am leaving the US although I would have given the world to stay, you can read my last blog post here.

via GIPHY
During my last weekend in Minnesota, I made sure to spend as much time with my friends as possible. This included a final sleepover with my sweet friend, Lydia, and a girls night turned surprise going away party on Sunday evening. I have never felt more loved. So many people came to say goodbye and write words of encouragement into a journal they had bought, complete with a polaroid picture of everyone who came. I can’t even put into words how grateful I am to everyone who came. And remember, there’s no crying in baseball!

On Monday I went to hand in my paperwork for the missions trip I signed up for. (More info on that at the end of this post.) I went to bed emotionally drained and exhausted. Not being able to fit everything in my suitcase was giving me a headache, the crying that followed didn’t help either (forget baseball!). On Tuesday my wonderful host mom drove me to the airport after I said my goodbyes to sweet little Matthew, whom I will miss immensely. At the airport I was greeted by all my friends who were sending me off in prayer and with all the love in the world. 15 of us gathered for a final goodbye. Such a precious yet heart breaking moment. I didn’t want to leave and I didn’t want this season to end. These have undoubtedly been the best two years of my life (literally crying as I write this), but I choose to believe that God knows what He’s doing and that He has even better plans for my future. It’s really hard to believe for better when you think you already know the best.

“It’s really hard to believe for better when you think you already know the best.”

Luckily, I am currently surrounded by blue skies and palm trees, and squawking Hadeda ibis birds in the back garden. South Africa, or tropical England as I like to call it, is filling my soul to the brim. The view from the Hartbeespoort Dam on Saturday reminded me once again of the beauty of God’s creation. This was exactly what I envisioned Africa to look like. Now all that’s missing was Tarzan swinging from the trees. That same day I had my foot licked by a lion cub, trying to take my flip flop, I had my hand covered in saliva after feeding a giraffe some peanuts and I got to see the wilder beasts that reminded me of the stampede in the Lion King. More than anything, I love getting to spend time with my all time best friend, Marisel, who is showing me her home country. She is a gift from God, a pure and loyal friend whom I love with all of my heart. I can’t wait to see where the road of life will take us. She is my favourite thing about South Africa.

Although my future is somewhat uncertain, I do have some exciting news to share with you: I have signed up for a missions trip organised by my church in Minnesota, led by my campus pastor there. In July we will be going to Spain where our team will be working with an international church in Barcelona, mostly focusing on creating a vacation bible school program (VBS) and caring for the children and families in the area. This includes outreach opportunities, prayer and small group engagement. I will get to disciple kids and use the abilities I have to engage children in fun activities, leading them into a greater understanding of our heavenly Father’s love for them. The church I attended has always had a heart for the nations and I’m excited to be apart of fulfilling the vision they have to reach the lost. Although I’ve lived in Europe for the majority of my life, I have never been to Spain. I’m believing this will be an amazing experience. About a year ago I had a dream of being in Spain. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but now I realise that this was a nudge from God, encouraging me to overcome my financial insecurities and take the leap of faith and trust His miraculous provision as well as spiritual guidance.

As I prepare for this trip, your prayers, thoughts and encouraging messages are greatly appreciated. I have to raise about $2000 in total, and $925 by April 2nd. Since I am currently unable to work (I am planning on finding a job when I get back to Germany… prayers for this are also very much appreciated!) I would be more than grateful for your financial support. In faith I paid the $200 deposit and am hoping to contribute more after I find a job after I return home from South Africa. Any donation you can give will bring me closer to being able to spread the love of God to children who may have never experienced His goodness before. To make a tax-deductible donation via check or online, please follow this link to download the instructions: Tax-Deductible Giving. To give through other money transfer services or if you would like more information on this trip, please don’t hesitate to fill out the contact form below. I will get back to you with more information.

 

Another simple way of getting in touch with me is by emailing me at contact@sophiesnewintown.com with any questions you may have.

I look forward to sharing more of my adventures in South Africa with you and keeping you posted on everything that is happening in this new season of life. Unfortunately, I am unable to upload any pictures due to a slower connection and restricted data. If you’d like to see what I’ve been up to, be sure to follow me on instagram, where I tend to post the most. Click here to get to my profile: Cherrytree127.

I know all my Minnesotan friends are ready for spring to come soon, and I hope that this change of season leaves you refreshed and ready for new things to come, no matter where you are.

Love, Sophie x

Back in Town – Why and When I’m heading Home

Believe it or not, in four weeks I will be leaving this beautiful place I have called home for the past two years. I have lived here longer than in my apartment during college. Some of you may know that I applied at the German immersion school in St Paul and was asked to teach there next school year. The only catch is that I need professional experience in my home country first before being granted a work visa to the U.S. So that door shut, really the only open door was pointing towards Germany, which is exactly opposite of what I had wanted.

“When God shuts a door, somewhere He opens a window.” – still one of my favourite quotes. And boy, He does not disappoint. Not long after that door shut, did a beautiful window open. A window that would be taking me back to Germany on a slight detour. This detour is taking me to the southern hemisphere, to my best friend in South Africa. Three weeks of exploring a new country and continent before taking Marisel (the aforementioned best friend) with me to … England, where I get to show her my country of birth and where we will both witness my sister’s wedding in April, followed by 24 hours in Paris and a short week in Germany (a short week for her that is).

After that, I still have no idea what my life will look like. For now: spending lots of time with my parents and family there. Then: we shall see. I’m not particularly worried. As I might have mentioned before, I don’t think I want to teach anymore. Somehow I believe God is leading me in a different direction. Again, I’m not sure what that will be, but I’ll let you know when I know.

Meanwhile I have been enjoying my time here to the max. Minneapolis hosted the Super Bowl this year which is a once in a lifetime experience. Although attending the game would cost about $10.000 (yep, das espensive) I did make my way into the city to see all the activities with my friends and go celebrity hunting. Just when we thought we wouldn’t find anyone daring enough to brace the snow and cold, we found Jimmy Fallon from The Tonight Show filming in a heated booth/studio. Although the ice sculptures were pretty impressive, nothing beats Jimmy Fallon. Except maybe my friends. They are pretty great.

This year I got to watch the Super Bowl with the sweetest family from church. I’m so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life. All the more reason to return to Minnesota, really the main reason I would have loved to stay here instead of returning home.

Did any of my fellow Europeans stay up to watch the Super Bowl?

Love, Sophie xxx

PS: In the post Minnesota?! You know it’s cold there. I wrote about how I assumed football and the Vikings were a big thing. I proved past-me right by buying a hat from the NFL store. If you can’t tell what the logo on my hat is, let me help you… it’s a viking 🙂

 

Trot Gobble Wobble – Thanksgiving 2017

As I am writing this, it is currently 10 minutes to midnight. The day Americans celebrate as Thanksgiving is almost over and I cannot help but think about all the things I am truly thankful for. I hardly know where to start. My friends who make great babies, my friends who take great pictures, my tribe here that breaks the mold of any expectations you may have regarding friendship and that is the reason I confidently call this place home. I have family here, this is my literal happy place. This was confirmed once again last weekend, when all the girls from church got together to have a special friendsgiving. Never have I been surrounded by such a wonderful group of people.

Friendsgiving – Thanks for the great shot, Hannah!

Although you may not be thankful for an alarm clock waking you up at 6:30 am on a holiday, I was. I started my gobble day with a turkey trot. 6k to be exact, and I jogged/ran it all the way. Something this fluffy bunny is very proud of. We celebrated our individual victories with a delicious breakfast that of course would be followed by… you guessed it…. more food later that day.

I celebrated Thanksgiving with my wonderful host family in their beautifully decorated house. Yes, the Christmas tree is already up and I’m loving the cozy atmosphere. I had my first green bean casserole, which is a big deal here in MN. I loved it. My host mom is the green bean casserole queen. As is her mom, who also slayed every other dish we had for lunch. I got to have dessert with my other family here in the US. Marisel’s host family who never fails to make me feel welcome in their home. The pecan pie was to die for, as was the ice cream sitting on top of it. Americans will never fail me with their Thanksgiving holiday menu.

You may think my day ended there, but oh no, dear friends, it continued. With more friends who are really like family. Marisel and I joined our friend Hannah for some non competitive rounds of the game, Settlers of Catan (which I can highly recommend) and a late night, almost Black Friday, shopping spree at target. If you read my blog last year, you may see a tradition forming here. (click here if you don’t remember)

I currently don’t know where life will be taking or keeping me next year, but no matter what happens, I am thankful for everyone I have here in MN. There is no doubt in me that this is where I belong. Whether immediately, in 6 months, 2 or 10 years after returning home to Germany, I know I will be back. I am definitely looking forward to seeing my family again after such a long time, I’ll admit to that. Another thing to be thankful for. My family. I love you!

I hope this post leaves you all well and hopefully also a little bit thankful for the blessings in your life (even if you don’t celebrate thanksgiving). Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas season and all the best for the new year. You’ll be hearing from me again soon… or maybe later… you never know J

Love, Sophie x

PS: I’m working on some travel stories and life updates. Promise 😀

Belated, But Updated

…Before I get started, here is a major prayer request for a couple who is part of our family at River Valley Church: A few weeks ago I went to a friend’s bonfire in Minneapolis and had the pleasure of meeting some new people. Little did I know, that one of guys I met would soon be fighting for his wife’s life just weeks later. “[…] Bethany was unexpectedly admitted into the hospital due to immense pain occurring throughout the left side of her body and the inability to move her left arm & hand. While the doctors worked to find answers, a benign brain tumor was also discovered and Bethany began to experience seizure-like episodes.” (from https://www.youcaring.com/bethanywesleyschrock-829831 “The Story”) Please pray for breakthrough in this situation. If you can, please consider donating to their medical fund (even if it’s only a small amount). The power of community and unity is incredible. You can click here to donate and read more about them and the situation. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Belated, But Updated

When your dad (who doesn’t love reading) reminds you that he misses your blog posts and you go back and realize that the last one was two months ago, you force yourself to sit and and write at least something, so here it is:

I still love my job. Matthew and I have a lot of fun playing LEGO, learning to read and, enjoying bike rides and walks to the park when the weather is good. This spring Minnesota has blessed us with a lot of rain and even some snow in May. At this point last year, I already had a tan. I still love my church. The summer internship program at RVLI starts in just a couple of weeks and I can’t wait to be more involved with what is going on and how God is moving in MN and the city of Woodbury.What I love even more is my tribe, my peeps. I cannot believe how blessed I am to have so many wonderful people in my life who I get to call friends. Having a community that builds you up and sets you up to win is so valuable. We are all learning and growing with each other. I’m learning the importance of having life-giving friendships that are not based on my feelings and myself, but on love and how that translates into how I treat others (wow, that was deep…). I was recently challenged by a post on the soul scripts blog about what true friendship is really about. (Click here to read the post). Other than that life is pretty normal. I do have a few trips planned for the summer and the fall (ahem, excuse me, autumn). I am also expecting visitors this year. Last year I did all the traveling, and this year I get to show some of my family what life looks like up here. You know, the lakes, the mall, and well that’s about it. Maybe a day trip to another state?

In just a couple of weeks I’ll be a year away from not knowing what to do with my life after the internship. Yay! And for those of you who are wondering or just wanted some clarification: no, I have decided I am not finishing my student teaching in Germany. I don’t actually think I’ll go back to Germany… at least not to live there. Some more questions you may have:

One: Where will you go? I have absolutely no idea. The world is my oyster, although to tell the complete truth: I would love love love to stay here.

Two: Do I regret my choice of studies? No, the moment my acceptance letter from Frankfurt University arrived I knew that that’s what God wanted me to do. (I had been accepted to all three schools I had applied for that summer.) I know that there is a purpose in His will and I know that nothing is ever wasted with God.

Three: Am I worried? Not really. Sometimes I catch myself freaking out, but I know that everything will become clear when the timing is right. Without faith, yes I’d probably be crying on the floor right now.

I appreciate your prayers and all your encouragement, no matter who you are and where you are reading this.

Love, Sophie x

Potential Unleashed

If you read my last post you will know that I left you hanging on my plans for the summer. As many of you may know, I have been living with a new host family since January. With this new host family also comes a new schedule that leaves me with more free time than I have ever had (not including the breaks I had during school and college). I know that God wanted me to stay in MN for a reason, moreover, I know that God has called me to the Twin Cities area for a reason. Despite all the odds, I actually stayed here and found a new home very close to my church in Woodbury. Although I absolutely love my job as an au pair, I sensed that God was calling me to more. He kindled a passion for my church and the young adults in the community inside of me. Throughout the last four months I have been serving more at my church and becoming connected with different life groups and ministries. I still didn’t feel like I was doing enough. I wanted to get involved more, I was and still am hungry to make a difference. I was also eager to use the gifts that God has given me, the main one being: leadership (whether you ask my parents, my first teacher in pre-school or someone I have only known for a while, they will all confirm that I am truly an ENTJ woman – for those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, I’m referring to my Myers Briggs personality, The Commander). I’m sorry you’re probably all thinking – we know, get to the point… well here it is:

A few months ago I started talking to some friends who have been interning at the church. I distinctly remember one of them saying: you should totally intern, Sophie. And I was like: Ya, no! Well, we all know that God works on our hearts and our desires and I am excited to announce that as of June 3rd I will be an official intern at River Valley and will be apart of their leadership institute. The goal of their program is to unleash potential and help you grow and develop as a leader. Although I could see myself in the worship, youth or even media production track, I believe I have been called to the pastoral track. I am so excited to be working with my amazing campus pastor, Alan Pastian and getting more involved in what is going on at River Valley Church, especially in Woodbury. You can read more about RVLI (River Valley Leadership Institute) here and you can read up on Pastor Alan and what his passion and vision is hereIt’s a three-month summer program with the option to extend for nine months in the fall. Take a wild guess on what I’m planning on doing. 😉

from: http://www.rvli.org/ (03/24/17)

I am beyond grateful at how my heavenly Father works out everything for us. I am blessed to be here as an au pair, which means that I can support myself, I have exclusive access to a car and I have a great community that is encouraging me to pursue more. Please pray that I would be able to manage my time well, since the work load for nannies and parents usually increases during the summer months, pray that I would continue to be hungry for more, that I would continually learn to hear the voice of God and that He will use me to change the community I am working in. Please pray for a great working environment, for good communication with Pastor Alan and the team at River Valley Woodbury, for more willingness to serve and a willingness to be open to learn new things in order to refine my skills as a leader in the church and the world. I love you all, and I am excited to be sharing more of this journey with you as I am on it. #thebestisyettocome

 

Love, Sophie x

No Snow in Florida

Indeed, it has been a while. Not due to lack of events, that is certain. I have found myself quite busy. The usual, you know: working, discovering new cafés with friends, going to life groups, having family dinners, serving at church, going to the world’s toughest rodeo, watching the super bowl and well, flying to Florida. Yes, another state I can check off the list.

I am so grateful I got to visit Florida with my host mom and her son. It’s not called the sunshine state for nothing. As my host kid pointed out when we arrived: No snow in Florida. We stayed with their family in Naples, which meant that we were able to spend a day at the beach and then drive up to Orlando, where the Magic Kingdom would await. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what I was more excited about whilst driving: finally getting to Disney World or trying to spot an alligator on the side of the road. Sadly, Mickey Mouse would have to suffice. No luck spotting any gators. Not to worry. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love Disney and that I was getting a kick out of seeing all the princesses and characters. Not to mention Cinderella’s Castle. We spent almost a week at the resort enjoying the pool and lazy river just outside. My absolute favourite thing about Florida though are most definitely the beautiful flowers and palm trees. This trip reminded me of how diverse the US. Flying from almost freezing temperatures to shorts, tops and sunglasses was so much fun. This definitely makes me feel less sad about not being able to leave the country until next year.

Remember when I told you that going to a high school football game and the fair was my most American day ever?

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe I can top that with the most American weekend ever: the rodeo and the super bowl, all in just two days. Patriotism at it’s finest. “…that we are the greatest nation on God’s great earth…” A quote from the opening prayer at the rodeo. Don’t get me wrong, I love the US, but maybe the German inside me holds up a big subconscious warning sign when hearing words like that. I’m going to assume this is a cultural thing. 🙂 My favourite thing about the super bowl? The food and the company 😀 Marisel and I drove up to Maria’s parents’ house with “Mom and Dad” to watch the big game and enjoy some family time up at the lake. At this time of year it was frozen enough to drive on, so we took a stroll and some pictures. I was reminded again of why I chose to stay here. Winter can be so beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for the game itself, I still don’t understand all the rules, and honestly didn’t really have any connection to either one of the teams. I hope I’ll be able to report more on the game when Minneapolis will be hosting it next year in the brand new Vikings Stadium. Never mind, let’s not kid ourselves, I probably still won’t have a clue what’s going on.

In other news: I have something very exciting to share with you on what I have chosen to do this summer apart from working as an au pair. It’s something I never thought I would do. God has been opening doors and is giving me opportunities to grow in who I am and how He wants to use me. Stay tuned!

Love, Sophie x

Winds in the East

As most of you may have heard, a couple of weeks ago I moved to a new host family. The east wind has truly taken me a little further west. A little closer to the cities, a little closer to the airport, and even a little closer to the outlet mall. Yay! However excited I was for my new adventure to start, I only realised how much change I would encounter as the day grew closer and as I started to live the change. A new town, a new home, a new schedule, a new car, a new family, new pets, new school, new neighbourhood, new food, new new new. But just as overwhelmed as I am by all the change, I am equally overwhelmed by gratitude. I am so grateful I did not have to weigh my bags before I left. That for sure would have resulted in a melt down. How does one accumulate so much stuff in just a year? I might have to apply the Konmari method, where you get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy. Sadly, I don’t think my tax paperwork counts. I am grateful that my friends and church are still close. I mean 15 minutes? That’s nothing… especially in the US. I might as well walk. Just kidding (again, I’m in the US). I am grateful that my schedule allows me to have some time off in the mornings and afternoons… to sort out all my stuff perhaps? I am grateful that I have a car for personal use. This is a luxury not all Au Pairs are granted. I am grateful for a wonderful host mom and host child. I am grateful for everyone who has supported me through this process of change, who has prayed that I find a host family close to where I was and who has encouraged me along the way. I am grateful for both old and new friends.

I would never have dreamed of having such incredible friends here. Although I don’t disagree with having friends who are Au Pairs, I strongly recommend anyone who is in the program to look beyond the horizon of what is known to them. Don’t settle in your comfort zone. You’ll be so greatly rewarded if you choose to discover more. Get to know the people where you live and get to know your community, so you can call it home. I have met so many au pairs who only spend time with other au pairs. Granted, it’s a safe environment, but having friends who are actually from the US is so much more satisfying in this cultural experience. At least in my opinion. One of the reasons I decided to move to the US was to experience life beyond the vacations here. I have always had the US on my heart. Maybe because I have been exposed to American’s since I can remember, maybe because the majority of my best friends in elementary and middle school were American, maybe because my church had always been influenced by American culture. Either way, most times I told my fellow Germans that I loved the U.S. they always told me it would be different if I actually lived here. Challenge accepted. And here I am, staying another year, because guess what?! I actually like living in the US. I’ll even go as far as saying that I actually like living in Minnesota. Did I really just say that??? Ok, so this just turned into a completely different post than I had envisioned. What I’m really trying to tell you guys is that I am thankful for where God has placed me and that I know that right now I am exactly where I need to be. There is not a hint of doubt that I should be anywhere else in the world right now.

Wherever the wind may be blowing you right now, I hope that you find time to take a step back and see everything there is to be grateful for. I’m sure we can all find something. One more from me: next month I have another trip coming up. Hint: it’s one of the 40 states I have not yet been to.

Love, Sophie x

Wont be home for Christmas

This year’s Christmas came with some very significant changes and differences. The most obvious one: I wouldn’t be home for Christmas. For the past 23 years I have always spent Christmas with family and as we got older and grew up instead of going our own ways and doing our own thing, our family would make a point of establishing and continuing the family traditions. We always sing carols on Christmas eve and commence the German Christmas cookie eating after our meal together. This meal has been the same one for years. We sit down amongst lit candles and decorations and read the Christmas story. On Christmas Day we revert back to our 8-year-old selves. Yes, we wake each other up playing loud Christmas music, we still unwrap our stockings really early in the morning and we can’t go downstairs until Dad puts on the Christmas tree lights and plays our family Christmas album. We still peak through the stairs to see how big the gifts are and spend the day in our PJs until it’s time for our traditional English Christmas meal. Turkey and the whole shebang.

This year I spent Christmas with a number of people. I spent Christmas Eve with my host family’s extended family in International Falls, the icebox of the nation. It was fun to experience their traditions and be part of something different. I sound like I handled it well. Let’s not tell anyone that I burst into tears when I facetimed my parents and saw our table at home set with only two plates looking very very lonely. I’m very grateful though for everyone who made me feel so welcome over Christmas this year. I was probably more sad about my mom and dad being along than me not being there. The most different and probably craziest thing I have ever done on Christmas Eve is have McDonald’s for dinner. One 6-piece chicken nugget meal coming right up. This obviously does not compare to my mom’s homemade pork tenderloin. But hey, it’s important to embrace change and enjoy the new. Can I have some barbecue sauce with that order?

On Christmas Day I opened gifts from Santa with my host family and was invited to brunch with Marisel’s host family. The afternoon I went to my new host family’s home where I spent most of my time hugging the dogs and building legos. In the evening I topped off the day by watching the movie “Elf” with Maria and Jeff. To the dismay of many, I had never actually seen this film until that evening. Along with The Santa Clause movie, I added a couple more motion pictures to my Christmas movie repertoire this year.

My favourite experience this Christmas happened on the 26th, Boxing Day, or as the Germans call it “The Second Day of Christmas Celebrations”. And that’s exactly what it was. Marisel and I were invited to Jeff and Maria’s for dinner and a small family gift exchange.

We put on Christmas music, wore Santa hats, stuffed not only our bellies, but also each other’s stockings and opened gifts. What I loved most about it, is that it felt like we were starting a tradition. This was something I know I’ll be doing again.

Although my New Year’s Eve was nothing compared to Marisel’s experience, I still enjoyed my evening out with friends. We went to dinner at a really nice Italian restaurant, I was given complimentary desert because my salmon was cooked medium rare instead of well done and we watched the ball drop on TV with more friends from life group drinking a little bit of bubbly and eating left over cheesy bread. Marisel on the other hand was standing slap bang in the middle of Times Square. Unlike me she hadn’t eaten or drunk anything the whole day. How can you when there is no where to go to the toilet? Fortunately I didn’t have to wait long to see that she was having a good time despite the lack of said facilities. No, she didn’t text me, she didn’t snap me… she was too busy dancing along to Mariah Carey’s preposterous performance… on national TV. See for yourself:

(you can forward to 0:47 minutes to see Marisel)

In other news: I have exactly one week left before my time with my current host family is over. How has time flown by so fast? Wishing you all the best for 2017. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me and for you. I know it’s going to be amazing and I know that the best is yet to come! You’ll hear all about it.

Love, Sophie x

 

Baby it’s cold outside!

Yes, it’s true. It’s the first thing everyone says when I tell them I live in Minnesota. So far, I have made it through these very very very low temperatures, although I’m told it’s supposed to get colder. That’s right, cold-brrrrr. This weekend we hit -30 degrees Celsius (which is close to -14 degrees Fahrenheit). The coldest I have ever experienced. And I’m still alive. We also have gotten lots of snow. This of course calls for various sledging (or sledding) competitions, whether I’m racing South African snow-virgin Marisel or my five year old host kid… bring it on.

And finally, some other exciting news besides the weather: I attended my first ever Ugly Sweater Christmas Party. img_2556-2Probably not the kind of news you were hoping for, but it was so much fun I had to throw it in here. I didn’t realise that ugly Christmas sweaters (or jumpers, for you English out there) were an actual thing. In Germany everyone is way too serious to wear an ugly sweater, especially to a Christmas party. I was very excited, and although not everyone showed up wearing an ugly sweater, we had a great evening eating unhealthy food and watching Christmas movies. Thanks Meranda, for hosting such a fun night for the River Valley Woodbury worship team. img_2557

Although I enjoy this time of year, wearing ugly sweaters, eating really bad food or being outside in the snow, when my hands start freezing (and I mean I can’t feel my fingers anymore) and I spend 10 extra minutes trying to get my car ready to drive, and I have snow coming in the top of my boots because there’s so much of it, and your window is frozen shut so you have to walk through the drive through, and your snot freezes when you’re outside setting up welcome banners at church, I find myself wondering why on earth I want to stay here. I had various offers from Tennessee, Utah, Arizona, California and other warmer states, but I turned them down because for whatever crazy reason I know that God wants me here, in Minnesota, in the cold. Some of you may be rereading that last bit. That’s right, people, you heard me: This girl is staying in MN.

About three weeks ago while I was in Ohio busy prepping for the wedding, I got a phone call from a host mom, who lives about 25 minutes away from where I currently am. She needs an au pair for her 4 year old son. We talked, we laughed and we talked a little more. After a couple more phone calls and texts we agreed that I would come and meet her in person along with her son and their two labradors. My puppy-loving-heart be still! She showed me her house and explained the expectations she had. We connected instantly and she invited me to be part of her family as of mid January 2017. The crazy thing is, she wasn’t even on the au pair address list, and even if she had been, I would have thought nothing of it, since she has only had her current au pair for five months. Things didn’t work out, which is where I come in. I am so thankful to God for providing a job out of no where. I couldn’t have done anymore more than trust Him. Trust, that He would bring the right family at the right time. My next steps include getting a visa extension and moving all my stuff. Can we take a moment to appreciate that I have no weight limits on my bags this time. Hallelujah!

I hope this post finds every one well. Thank you for praying and standing with me in faith. I appreciate every single one of you! Wishing you and your families a very Merry Christmas! Lots of love, Sophie x

Best Day Ever

Nope, not Thanksgiving or Black Friday, although, yes, I did that too. I actually joined the millions of Americans who participate in a near death experience to find anything and everything that is cheaper than it usually is. Ok, it sounds worse than it it. Many non-Americans won’t know that Black Friday actually starts on the evening of Thanksgiving, right after everyone is thankful for what they have, they go out to buy more. Tummies full of turkey, stuffing, pie and a whole lot more, Marisel, Kristin, another au pair and I headed off to the outlet mall to see if we could find some good deals. We headed into the vast density of people to look for some winter boots. One thing I’ve learned: on Black Friday you need to shop for specifics. We found our boots… along with a few other things. Oh well, it happens. When Old Navy has 50% off your entire purchase, specifics get thrown out the window, or in this case, your shopping bag.

.img_2363img_2368I got to bed at about 11:30pm, set my alarm for 4:45am and tried to get some much needed rest. As to be expected, Marisel was on time and we headed off to Victoria’s Secret to be the second ones in line for when the store opened at 6 in the morning. Only a couple of people were there, so we waited in the car and started watching Gilmore Girls which had aired only two hours before. A pair of panties for 1$ was probably the best deal I got. Ok, enough about underwear, although there will be more later.

 

Alright, let’s get to the good stuff: The Haney-Rowe Wedding!

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picture: simplyjordanlee

This was literally the best day I have ever experienced, and I wasn’t even the one getting married. December 4th 2016 was perfect! From the moment we got up until our heads hit the pillow again, God was there. This day was all about Him. Everything pointed to Him, and that’s what made this day so special. His Spirit was there as we were getting ready and making boutonnieres the morning of (yep, I did that too). He was there as we worshipped Him in song and as He was lifted up during the ceremony and Lilly and Wes’ vows. Can we all take a moment to appreciate that my dress had pockets to inconspicuously hide my soggy tissues. God was there as we enjoyed time together during the reception and even as we all hit the dance floor and partied.
img_2445lillyhenHe was there as Lilly unwrapped way too many of Victoria’s bags at her bachelorette party and lingerie shower and while the bride to be endured our endless comments about her wedding night and honeymoon. Yep, girls do that too. 😀
One thing I will cherish the most are the people that were brought together through this celebration. Friends and family from the UK, Finnland, South Africa, Canada, California, Florida, Arizona, Germany and even Australia (for the weekend I might add).img_2458 We all bonded in a way that I could not have foreseen. Although I have only known these people for a week or less, I feel like we have always known each other, and I can’t wait to see them all again. Bring on the next wedding.img_2441

Lilly and Wes, you are two of the most amazing people I know. Your commitment to making your relationship as Christ-centred as possible leaves me blown away and encouraged. You are, as Jordan their photographer put it, two people who remind the world that true, powerful, and anointed love still (and always will) exists (instagram: simplyjordanlee).

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Enjoying the smores bar with Marisel and my future brother-in-law, Tim.

One day, I want what you have. I am so proud of your journey and I am beyond excited for what the future holds. I bet I’ll make an awesome aunt one day, just sayin’ ;). Thank you for letting me be apart of this day, for letting me stand right by your side as you commit your lives to each other and for including me in your forever. I am so blessed.

Love, Sophie x

PS: In the next couple of weeks I will be letting you know what the next steps for me are with regards to the Au Pair program. All I will say for now is: I am astounded at what God has been doing in my life and in my heart. No matter what, He is a good God!