Since we announced we were returning to the states, it has been nothing but a whirlwind for us. It has been all we could do just to hang on. So many people have emailed us to ask us how we are doing and how they could pray for us, but honestly, we have been so overwhelmed with things that need to be done, we just haven’t had the time to respond. So, I want to let you know, in a word, we’re doing…”fine.”
The week the packers came to pack up our house, I had to go away and do some training in Garmisch. That meant Tina and the boys had to organize and oversee the packers. When everything was gone we moved into a hotel on post, and then 4 days later we left Germany. On one hand it broke our hearts to leave, to say good bye to dear friends, yet on the other hand we were looking forward with a certain degree of excitement to see what God was going to do for us as we started a new chapter in life.
We flew out of Frankfurt with two dogs, one cat and a whole lot of baggage. We were scheduled to fly out at 10:15 AM but our flight was delayed. We ended up taking of at 11:30 Am. The flight was very comfortable. We flew in an Airbus 380-800. It is a gigantic double decker aircraft. It was very nice and it made the 10 hour flight really enjoyable. We landed in San Francisco just a few minutes behind our original scheduled landing time. Since the Army was paying for our flight they wanted to fly us into Las Vegas, the nearest airport to Fort Irwin. Since we were not sure that the animals could get on the connecting flight with us from San Francisco to Las Vegas, we chose to just fly to San Francisco and get a rental car and drive to Southern California
My sister and brother-in-law live in Orange County California. They went to Oregon to have Christmas with my mom and they offered their house to us to stay in while they were gone.
In a word, Christmas for us was….”Wonderful.” Kids make Christmas fun because of their excitement. Gunter had the hardest time waiting for Christmas. We caught him often trying to find the presents with his name on them. Ashley and Elijah were able to drive down from Washington and spend Christmas with us. It was the first time we were all together for Christmas in 3 years. It’s so much fun when Ashley and the boys get together. There is a lot of laughing and fooling around. It’s nothing but fun. We also got a chance to have one of Tina’s brothers over for Christmas eve dinner. It was very nice to see Mark again. Christmas day we went to Calvary Chapel Saving Grace, our sending church. What a blessing it was to hear Pastor Trent lay out a vision for 2017 and encourage the body to live for Jesus like never before.
A really good friend of ours loaned me a car so I could save some money on a rental car. In a word, it has been a…”Blessing.” I started my new job on December 27. I now work at the Weed Community Army Hospital in Fort Irwin. Fort Irwin is the Army’s National Training center. It’s the size of Rhode Island. For the first two weeks I have been in processing, going form office to office to get my badge, security clearance, to give them account numbers to get paid, do some training, meet the commanders of the hospital and just get to know how the new physical therapy clinic runs.
Fort Irwin is in the middle of the Mojave Desert. It has been pretty cold and rainy the last few days. It’s crazy because there are Coyotes and wild Donkeys roaming around. This guy had lunch with me the other day. He sat about 3 meters in front of my car and just waited for a handout. I shared with him some of my Speckulose Christmas cookies we brought from Germany. He gobbled them down and waited for more. Every time I feed a wild animal, a stray dog, or put out bird seed for the birds in our back yard, I think about Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” I love to think that God can to use me to feed His creation, and it reminds me that we are more valuable to Him then we could ever know.
This last weekend, Tina, the boys and I, took some time and went to Calico Ghost Town. When I was a kid our family used to go there and camp, ride motorcycles and just explore the area. It was, well in a word…”Over developed.” (I know that’s two words, but if you say it really fast it sounds like it’s just one.) When I was there as a kid there was nothing there. Now it’s a California State Park and you have to pay to go there. More than half the buildings weren’t there when I was a kid, and the street wasn’t paved. I think it’s a metaphor for Southern California. There are so many people here. It’s just over developed. The traffic on the freeway is incredible. I think I was safer driving on a two lane autobahn traveling 125 MPH than I am on a six lane freeway traveling at 25 MPH here in California.
It’s a different place were living in now. Tina and I were in a grocery store yesterday and were surprised when we turned down an isle and saw a 100 foot long isle of just potato chips. It’s going to take some getting used too.
The biggest challenge we’re facing right now is just finding a place to live. Please pray that the Lord would bless us with a house soon. The Army is paying for our hotel now, but we will be at the end of that allowance soon. We would like to get a place in Apple Valley close to the college so the boys could get there easily since we only have one car.
Thank you for your prayers. We are looking forward to what the Lord has for us, at work, in our new neighborhood and our new church. We’re looking forward to a time of healing, refreshing, renewing and revival. Please pray that the Lord would draw us close and show us His heart for the people we will be meeting here. We would very much be a reflection of Him.
That’s it for now. If you have written, forgive me for not writing back. I’m sure we’ll be getting back to normal soon. Until then, don’t stop emailing. We’re also on Whatsapp and Voxer. It might be a fast way to communicate with us now.
Gary and Tina
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God allowed us to pour into the life of many of the Bible college students while we were serving at Calvary Chapel Bible College Europe. We’re still in contact with many of them.
When God moved us to Estergom, He opened up amazing doors to teach the Bible in churches, Bible studies and on outreaches in Hungary, Slovakia, England, Wales and Scotland. It was amazing what God did.
Then about 2004 the Lord began to move on our hearts that our time in Hungary was coming to an end. Through a set of miraculous events, The Lord opened a door for us to move to Germany. He relocated us in Middle Franconia, which is in western Bavaria. He gave us a vision of reaching out to young soldiers, Germans and other nationals in the area.
The Lord had us start a small Bible study which grew into a small fellowship. We introduced many people to solid verse by verse Bible study and a God who was deeply in love with them.
We did a 5 year study focusing on Jesus’ Life and Ministry in Chronological Order. That study took us through each Gospel. After that we continued on through the Book of Acts and then into Romans.
During this time we also taught a mid week study through the 5 Books of Moses (we only got through 4 of them though.) The Lord took us deep in His word and united our hearts together in sweet fellowship.
Now after 10 years in Germany, 14 years in Europe, The Lord is moving us again. He has called us back to the states. For us it is bitter sweet. Europe is our home. The kids basically grew up here in Europe. Austin hardly even remembers living in the states. But we know that God’s past faithfulness…demands our present trust.
The Lord put it on Tina and my hearts that we would eventually return to the states so the boys could attend college and we were to help get them take the next steps in their lives.
We always knew that the time would be right when God provided a way back that didn’t cost us any money, since we didn’t have any. Well, the Army has decided to move us to California, to work at Fort Irwin. They are paying for the move. And it is happening fast. We will be back in the states for Christmas and I will be starting a new job December 27.
I have wanted to share this news earlier, but we found ourselves just trying to hang on, things have been moving so fast. Our household goods will be packed up next week and sent. We are waiting for the final amendments to our orders and we’ll be off very soon.
I trust that the Lord isn’t done with us yet and that there will more opportunities to continue to serve Him future. It will just be in the states instead of here in Europe. We will be exchanging one dark continent for another.
I hope that you will continue to pray for us and stand with us in sharing the love of Christ with a dark and dying world. It is our hope that The Lord will take us ever deeper in a love relationship with Him and that He will use us to point others to Him.
Thank you for your prayers. If you have any questions, please email us and we’d be happy to respond quickly.
For those of our friends in Europe, we’ll miss you greatly. For our friends in the states, we’re looking forward to seeing you.
Gary and Tina
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I just wanted to write a brief update to bring you up to speed with what has been going on here. It has been 5 months since my last update. The good news is that God is still good. He is still at work in our lives and the lives of those He has given us to serve. He continues to supply for our needs, pour out His mercy and grace upon us and He continues to bless.
As you may know, there was a bomb that was exploded by a Syrian refugee in Ansbach on July 24. It was during a music festival, and praise God, no one was killed, except the bomber. There were 15 people who were injured and four of them were injured fairly seriously. I am suprised how fast life has returned to normal. It has almost been forgotten.
Just days ago a six year old boy drowned in a lake near our house. He was out with his grandfather and wandered away. They looked for him frantically and found his body the next day.
These events stir us to tell people that there is a good and loving God who is willing to extend forgiveness and grace through faith in Jesus Christ to anyone who wants it. Pray that God opens doors for us to share his love with more and more people.
Tina and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary on September 1st. We took a few days off work and drove down to spend a couple of days in Italy. The boys have never been to Venice so we found a cheap hotel in Vicenza and then spent a day in Venice.
We have been working on gaining Italian citizenship. Tina’s father was Italian, and her grandparents came to America in the 30’s. We thought it might be a good thing for Tina and the kids to have EU citizenship in case God wants to utilize it in the future. It would allow us to stay in the EU, if I were ever to separate from working for the Army, which is what allows us to currently stay in Europe without a visa. It’s a long slow process, but it seems like we’re close.We also took another day off work and drove in to Austria to explore a castle. We had such a good time there. Next to that castle is the longest suspension walking bridge in the world, It is 500 feet above the valley floor. Afterwards we had a picnic near a river where we waded in the water and skipped stones. It was a great day! God really blessed us that day with simple little pleasures and family time together.
Calvary Chapel Ansbach continues to study through the word. We recently finished the Book of Acts and Sunday, September 25th will be our first study in the Book of Romans. I’m really excited to get into the book with our fellowship.
Our fellowship has been decreasing in size over the past 12 months so we dropped our mid week study. The reason for the decreasing numbers is the United States Army has been rearranging their assets in Europe to better meet future threats. It has resulted in a temporary downsizing of forces in our area. Therefore, soldiers and Department of Defense civilians have been moving from the area.
That being said, there is a plan to increase the size of the US Army in this area again in 2017. It’s just a another part of the cycle of ups and downs when you minister to soldiers and expats that are always on the move.
God seems to be opening a new door of ministry for us. I was recently asked to share the teaching, through the Gospel of John, in another village about 45 minutes away from us. I was asked to share the teaching because the leader doesn’t feel he has the time to continue as frequently as he would like to. The study is small group, primarily Germans, and will have to be translated. So, praise the Lord for another chance to share His word with hungry believers!
Finally, we need your prayers. We are facing a very challenging time. It is probably the greatest test of our faith we have ever faced in the last 38 years of Christian life. We just don’t know what to do or what’s going to happen. We are trusting the Lord to do whatever He thinks is best for us, but were on our knees pressing in in prayer none the less. Now isn’t the right time to share the details, I’ll let you know the details soon, but until then, would you please be praying for us? Pray for strength, for wisdom and patience to wait upon the Lord. Thank you.
Well, that’s about it, at least that’s the nutshell version. If you have any questions or prayers we can lift up on your behalf, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be blessed to stand with you in prayer.
Gary and Tina
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