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 😀

How To Enjoy Paris In One Day – A Semi Walking Tour

I have been to Paris a few times. Once for only a day even. I honestly didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I know what you’re thinking: You didn’t love Paris?… WHAT?! It’s not that I don’t love Paris, I just didn’t like that day. I was on a school trip and we drove to what is supposedly the city of love for just one day.

We went to the Louvre (for those of you who don’t know: this museum hosts the Mona Lisa), we took a Bateau Muche ride on the Seine (transl.: we took a boat ride on the river) and we had an hour to walk up and down the Champs-Élysées (one of the main avenues in Paris). What I disliked most about this day was that I didn’t get a feel for the city’s character. It didn’t feel like I was in the most romantic city in the world.

When I think of Paris I think of croissants and coffee in a little café, eating crepes by the Eiffel tower and watching the sun go down with someone you love. I couldn’t believe how disappointing my school trip to Paris was (and then again, how many school trip are really that great?), so I decided to use the knowledge on Paris that I have gained since then and share with you how you actually can enjoy this beautiful city in just one day.

Whether you have a long layover at the airport, you are just traveling through by train, or you are planning to use the days you have there most effectively, here are my top tips on how to experience Paris to it’s full potential in just one day (note: if you are staying longer than just one day, you could definitely plan visits to other museums or busier sites on those other days). And because seeing the city on foot is one of the best ways to experience the sites here, this could really categorise as a semi-walking tour. PS: It’s also budget friendly. Phew, that was a long intro.

Now then, let’s get straight to business:

enjoy paris eiffel tower

WELCOME TO PARIS

One: the Metro & Notre Dame

Wherever you are arriving from, take Metro line no. 4 to Saint Michel Notre Dame (side note: if you haven’t had breakfast yet, grab a croissant or pastry  and coffee at Boulangerie Saint Michel, right around the corner). After that, head on over to our starting point:

La Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris. In other words: the big cathedral from the Disney movie “The Huntchback of Notre Dame”. While it may look beautiful from the inside, we won’t have time to take a look inside. Not only because it’s so big, but because no matter what day of the week or time of day it is, there always seems to be an endless line of people waiting to get in. If you really want to see it, plan to be in the city longer than just 12 hours.

Two: the River Seine & PONT NEUF

While this also counts as another attraction you can check off your list, it also doubles as our method of getting to the next major site. Head north-west towards Pont Neuf, the bridge that will lead you to the famous museum I was talking about. Cross the bridge and continue left onto a street named “Quai du Lourve” keep walking and you’ll get to the side entrance of the museum’s courtyard.

Three: Le Louvre

Another suggestion on my behalf: In order to experience this museum to it’s full potential, plan a WHOLE day to be there. This is an all or nothing sort of experience, which is why I wouldn’t recommend adding it to our one-day-itinerary, plus it’s super busy ALL THE TIME. The courtyard with it’s famous glass pyramid (also featured at the beginning of the movie Wonder Woman!!!) and the gardens (Jardin de Tuileries) belonging to the property are just as worth seeing as the interior of the museum.

paris louvre france one day

Four: Champs Élysée & ARC DE TRIUMPH

Once you’ve made your way through the jardin, you’ll reach the Place de la Concorde, one of the major squares in Paris. Cross it and you will reach the Champs Élysée. This major avenue will take you all the way up to the Arc de Triumph, the cities famous arch and round-a-bout. On your way up to the arch, I highly recommend stopping at the Häagen-Dazs ice-cream parlour. While this may not be French, it’s absolutely delicious (and no, this little treat is not so budget friendly). Also plan on making a few stops in the different stores along the way. They have everything from Disney to Louie Vuitton. Side note: you can climb up the Arc de Triumph, but again, it’s not as affordable and very busy. Stay tuned for my  special insider tip on how to get the best view of the city.

Five: Eiffel Tower

This next stop is probably the most visited attraction in the whole country. The Eiffel Tower. Start walking down Avenue Kléber from the Arc de Truimph to get to the famous landmark. I highly recommend getting a crepe or sandwhich or both for lunch and finding a bench to enjoy the view. Bienvenue a la France (Welcome to France). This is where it really hit me that I was in Paris. I honestly feel like there are no further words needed. Actually there are. Here is a little tip for you: don’t plan on going up the Eiffel tower because no 1 the lines are waaaaay too long, no 2 the entrance fee is waaaaay too expensive, and no 3 I have a hidden gem in Paris up my sleeve that I will share with you. I know, I know, I’ll tell you in juuust a second, but first take out your polaroid camera (if you haven’t already) and get some candid snaps of this iconic view.

Six: My hidden gem: LA Tour Monparnasse

paris tour montparnasse skyline

You’re probably thinking like: What on earth is that? I ain’t going on no tour. First off, it’s not actually a tour, it’s a tower. One of the highest buildings in the city… and it has a viewing platform. Why is it my hidden gem? Because it’s typically not as busy as the Eiffel Tower, it’s more affordable AND you actually have pictures of the city with the Eiffel Tower in it. And because you’ve made it this far in my post here’s another tip: plan to be there to watch the sun go down and watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle for the first time that night. I now conclude: no words needed.

VIEW TOUR MONTPARNASSE

In order to get there, take a metro to Gare Montparnasse on line 6 from Passy or Bir Hakeim which are located close to the Eiffel Tower. After your visit, you can walk back to Gare Montparnasse which is one of the main train stations in the city. From there it will be easy to continue on your journey. If you still have time, you can always find a nice restaurant to experience an authentic French dinner. I recommend L’Atlantique because it’s close and also open until 2am, so there is no rush to get there.

This, dear traveling friends, concludes how I would spend just one day in the most romantic city in the world, because honestly it kind of is. Even if you only have 12 hours, it’s truly worth it! I hope you enjoyed this post and got some ideas about what to do in this wonderful place.

If you are a traveller on a schedule or you are just curious about what other insights I can give you, click here for my post on How to enjoy just one day in NYC.

I’m always looking for new sights to see and experience. If you only had one day in this beautiful city, where would you go? Have you been to the Tour Montparnasse viewing platform? What did you think? I can’t wait to hear, so let me know!

See you soon, Sophie

How To Enjoy Just One Day In The Big Apple

New York City, The Big Apple, will always have a special place in my heart. From the first moment of having my coffee in Manhattan, to the last moment of seeing the lights glisten in the distance from the plane window, I knew I would always want to come back. Again and again. It is for this reason that I want to give you a simple guide on how to experience this wonderful city, even if you only have just one day. I promise you: it will be worth it.

manhattan bridge new york

Although taking an Uber or the subway is a great way of getting to and from different locations faster, walking will allow you to experience (almost) everything there is to see and enjoy in NYC at your own pace. (Note: If you are arriving from any of the many airports, I highly recommend taking an Uber to get into the city. Taking the subway would be a huge waste of time considering we don’t have many hours to spare.) Without any further a do, here is how I would spend just one day in New York City:

One: Columbus Circle & Central Park

Have your Uber drop you off at W 58th Street and 8th Ave, essentially Columbus Circle with a little less traffic. If you want to get breakfast, there is a huge number of cafés and coffee shops to choose from, but oddly, I absolutely love the Starbucks coffee in New York. It tastes different… in the best way possible. I usually also grab an oatmeal raisin cookie and am on my way (but maybe that’s just me). Venture east taking one or two of the walking paths through Central Park to get to 5th Avenue. If you wanted to, you could even stop at “The Pond” and enjoy your coffee and cookie there; depending on how early you arrived and how much time you have.

TWO: 5th avenue & Rockefeller center

From the corner of W 59th and 5th Avenue, head south towards Rockefeller Center. You will have a million and one things to see on this walk alone. Be sure to have your camera ready and your outfit on fleek. Stores and buildings you will see include: Tiffany and Co., The Trump Tower, Apple, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and a large number of other designer brands. Keep walking, past E 50th and 5th, look right and you will have arrived at Rockefeller Plaza.

new york central park top of the rock

If you are planning ahead, I highly recommend buying tickets to the Top of the Rock in advance. Select your time of entry and pay ahead of time in order to skip the long lines and get to the top as fast as possible. If you have never heard of this attraction, please keep reading.

Yes, I know the Empire State Building is THE building to go up when in NYC, but A. it’s A LOT more expensive, B. it has WAY longer lines, and C. you don’t actually have the Empire State Building in the pictures you are taking. The Top of the Rock offers a great alternative and a solution to all of the above issues. By no means don’t never go up the Empire State Building, just do it when your budget and time allow you to.

THREE: TIMES SQUARE

Although this attraction is tourist heavy, it is a must see when visiting NYC, especially for first-time visitors. After your visit at the top of the rock, continue south on 5th and head west (turn right) on W 46th Street. It will lead you right to the center of the famous and ever flashy Times Square. Give yourself some time to take it all in.

A New York City Insider Tip:

Have you ever wondered what it would take to be on one of the big billboards? Fame and success? Well yes, but you could also just walk into American Eagle, talk to one of the employees and ask them about your 15 seconds of fame. Take a picture in front of their screen, enter your name and email, exit the store and what for 5-15 minutes to see your face show up on the big screen for the whole world to see. It will show up a few times, that way you can get different angles of your grand appearance. You’re welcome!

If you are feeling a little lunchy, then consider getting a snack or sandwich at Tonic Times Square. It’s a fun sports bar and restaurant that serves great food and delicious New York Cheesecake. You could also opt to have a really expensive hot dog or even just some street food, which according to New Yorkers is really really good. Whatever you are feeling for.

FOUR: GRAND CENTRAL STATION & EMPIRE STATE BUILDING

Continue south again, this time on 7th and turn left on W 42nd Street. If you want, you can stop at the New York Public Library on your way to Grand Central Terminal. Once arrived at the train station, make sure you get a good shot of the famous clock and ceiling. To get to the Empire State building, head south on Park Ave. You’ll start getting a great view of the high rise once you get to E 34th Street. The glory of New York City!

FIVE: STATEN ISLAND FERRY & STATUE OF LIBERTY

Now would be the best time to take an Uber. We are heading all the way to the pier to take the Staten Island Ferry and get a little closer to the Statue of Liberty. This ferry is 100% free. When boarding, make sure you are on the right side of the boat to get the best view. Once you arrive at Staten Island, just hop on to the next ferry heading back to Manhattan and get your second close up sighting of Lady Liberty.

manhattan view staten island ferry new york city one world trade center

SIX: SUBWAY & BROOKLYN BRIDGE

After you get back to Manhattan, take the subway to Brooklyn. While I believe that walking is essential to embracing this city, what’s a visit to the concrete jungle without taking the subway and not being able to understand the conductor? On your walk to the subway station, stop at the Charging Bull of Wall St. From the Whitehall Ferry Station, head back north on Whitehall St. It’s only a 5 minute walk. Just 10 more minutes up Broadway to get on an A or C train to Brooklyn Bridge/High Street from Fulton Street.

If you are ready for some dinner, there are is great diner just a little south of High street/Brooklyn Bridge Station that is open 24 hours on weekends. They have everything from omelettes to pies and other goodies. To walk off those calories (not that you haven’t already today!!!) walk back to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge. Our last and final attraction on our one day endeavour of the city that truly does not sleep.

From there, either take the subway or an Uber to wherever you are headed next. I prefer the latter, since it’s safe, affordable and easy. I hope this helps you plan your day in New York City.

What is on your must-see list if you only had one day in the Empire City? I can’t wait to hear!

Sophie

 

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